* Posts by Paul Crawford

1696 posts • joined 15 Mar 2007

The NO-NAME vuln: wget mess patched without a fancy brand

Paul Crawford
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Re: ... it could “overwrite your entire filesystem”

True, you can't p0wn the machine unless running as root (why? really why do that?)

But you could get up to lots of mischief by overwriting the user's own files, maybe starting with something creative in .bashrc

<twiddles moustache like a cad & bounder>

Can we have a Terry Thomas icon please?

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BlackEnergy crimeware coursing through US control systems

Paul Crawford
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Re: AC

"not patched, then there would be no need to reboot"

That was what I meant, these days an unmolested Windows box (as for Linux) should stay up more or less indefinitely.

The problems come when patching, and that leads you to the "soapy frog dilemma":

(1) Do you leave things alone because they are working, and risk someone coming along with a bucket of soapy frogs, or;

(2) Do you patch/update them to keep your trousers on, and risk breaking things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJF_bBiMstc

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Paul Crawford
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FAIL

Colour me unsurprised

So we have internet-connected machines running critical control stuff, probably not OS patched due to the risks of disruption from untested interactions or bad patches (and the near-inevitable reboots in these as windows-based system), and probably not application patched due to vendors taking their time and/or the same risks of downtime, more testing needed, etc.

And they get compromised.

Are there any El Reg readers who are surprised?

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MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer

Paul Crawford
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Boffin

I also wondered about that, after all correlation (which we have) is not causation. But that is science really: Find some unexplained connections, postulate a theory, and then try to perform experiments to disprove said theory. If it holds up, then it is true enough to be usable.

Until someone else comes along with something better that can be tested...

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Paul Crawford
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Re: "a statistically quite small group of people"

A few thousand folk is not, in my humble opinion, statistically small. That is the whole point of sampling a population, you can't practically evaluate all so you get "enough" to have some specified confidence interval.

Do you have enough knowledge of statistical method to comment in any more detail?

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Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET

Paul Crawford
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@werdsmith

Before criticising folk who use iTunes you have to consider the following:

1) Apple managed to get a sensible sales model from the major music labels. You need to look back a decade or so to see just how crap the industries own on-line shops were. Just who gives a fsck about which label your favourite band is on? And the incompatible DRM shit!

2) Some folk struggle to use ripping software. Hell, some struggle with the concept of RTFM, or even of using Google, etc, to find help...

3) A lot of folk bought Apple ipods, etc, and they deliberately did not document the interfaces and often changed them, so getting music on along with album art was hit and miss. Same trick MS has used...except nobody bought the Zune...

4) A lot of new laptops, and all tablets, lack CD drives and few folk will splash for an external USB one unless they can be persuaded of the benefit. Buying the CD may be comparable to, or even cheaper to iTunes in the sale/bargin box case, but buying one track at a time is popular because frankly a lot of albums are pish, with one or two redeeming tracks. If you are lucky. In that case the economics work against CD purchases.

5) While CDs are uncompressed and better than half of the MP3 tracks out there, most folk don't seem to care about Hi-Fi quality. They play them through crappy speakers or headphones and often as background music, and just don't see sound quality as important.

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This Changes Everything? OH Naomi Klein, NO

Paul Crawford
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Re: The Register should write about what it knows, this article is a FAIL.

"The only reason for the #Climatecrisis is the greed of the fossil fuel industry, and that is why this book is a must-read."

No, the reason is the collective "greed" of humans, like the tragedy of the commons. Paying more is something most folk will avoid, and even go in to denial about what the consequences are of their choices. People want, indeed expect, cheap energy and fossil fuels provide that but at a high environmental cost since folk are not paying for the consequences directly, nor are they being charged the "replacement" cost of such a resource.

Look how much has been done to try and raise animal welfare standards and yet a lot of folk still buy factory-farmed eggs rather than paying a few pence more! The same folk who bitch about petrol costs but won't change their behaviour to car-share on commutes, and need an SUV to take precious Tarquin the 1/2 mile to school, etc.

While the lobbying and dirty tricks of some of the fuel industry is distasteful, it is not unique to them but a character of our political system where those with money try to keep it by any means.

Personally I am in favour of "incentive taxes" against polluting or wasteful products, rather than the EU's approach of trying to ban things like filament bulbs, etc, as it gives folk the choice and generally the market will go that way as a result.

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Consumers start feeling the love as Chromebook sales surge

Paul Crawford
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Re: PC World

I have seen some interest in PC World while wandering around. Quite a lot if you compare the area of Windows machines to the sole Chromebook stand, but not as much as the fondlslabs and Apple kit was getting.

I suspect most ended up buying a fondleslab though, probably the cheaper iPads or Android. But then I am not a sales guru like Gartner, etc, so why listen to me?

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Vulture trails claw across Lenovo's touchy N20p Chromebook

Paul Crawford
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Biggest gripe

My biggest gripe with Chromebooks is actually the keyboard, more specifically the lack of Ins/Del/Home/End keys. Even with a web page, having to scroll all the way to top or bottom rather than using the Home/End is a major irritation.

Having said that, for a few folk I know they are ideal: cheap, simple, and virtually nothing to do to keep them running infestation-free, and not having a dozen or so updaters running in the background (of which they can't even explain what half of the stuff was installed for).

Accepting that Google's slurping is an infestation of sorts, of course...

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Guns don't scare people, hackers do: Americans fear identity theft more than shooting sprees

Paul Crawford
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Re: The media strikes again!

Wow - I had no idea that many had occurred in the USA, also if you look at the general page on school shootings, the rest of the world has not a patch on the USA for that :(

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Computer misuse: Brits could face LIFE IN PRISON for serious hacking offences

Paul Crawford
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Re: Needed

Perhaps if some of the punishment was also metered out to those ultimately in charge [1] of the systems being hacked and defrauded when they have not done a good job of securing them, things might change.

[1] I.e. at the CEO/CFO level, not BOFH. Those who decide how much to spend on security and if changes that make things better are to be vetoed for business reasons.

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MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less

Paul Crawford
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Re: Bah!

Now I'm humming along to "Hong Kong Garden"

Damn!

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UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan

Paul Crawford
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Unhappy

Systemd won't fix poorly implemented services either. Anyone who is not able to write/test/test-again something for init.d won't magically have it all work perfectly under another scheme. Upstart seems to be the least-worst option for something that permits dependency resolution and parallel starting, but its not perfect either and really should be extended to include managing the init.d scripts as well, as realistically there is a lot of stuff that won't get converted to native jobs any time soon.

At one point the Ubuntu project was doing a really good job of making a Linux distro that worked, and was fairly sane, but sadly from about 10.04 seems to have lost its way. It really needs someone like that who is interested in PC use, and not the tablets they fixated upon, to drive a project sanely.

And never listen to the GUI developers either: look how many stupid changes have been made to Gnome and Firefox, etc, etc.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Such hatred

I think upstart is a bit more sane, but even then it has its dumb aspects.

Why, for example, is upstart not calling the traditional scripts in order as well? That way you could at least use its dependency capabilities with non-upstart processes, just like the "service wibble start|stop" sort of command suggests you could.

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ESNet's 100 Gbps Atlantic link almost ready to flow

Paul Crawford
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El Reg units

I thought the correct unit for high speed bandwidth was the kilowrist?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/12/arizona_boffins_grasp_fat_pipes/

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Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know

Paul Crawford
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WTF?

Re: Ummm, no.

Exactly! A "driver-less car" has to be just that - NO driver input expected at any time, bar choosing where to go.

Otherwise why bother? You would be paying a lot extra one way or another and still expected to be sober and alert for any time the computer decides "Fskc this, too hard for me. Hey meat bag? Grab the controls, oh by the way you have 5 seconds to impact..."

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US government fines Intel's Wind River over crypto exports

Paul Crawford
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@James 100

I doubt the FPU would do it, too much science checking results to notice odd values.

Now the random number generator, there is one you could use to leak key bits in a manner known only to the creators and those chosen to be 'in the know'...

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Paul Crawford
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Black Helicopters

Re: I cant believe it.

It is pretty easy to see that the Intel AES instructions do implement the AES maths correctly, so part 1 of the tin-foil equation seems to be settled.

However, that aspect the truly paranoid would want to know is part 2 - is there an undocumented method to recover previous keys (or parts of keys) used by said AES instructions? You know, something that windows, flashplayer, or similar closed source software might just run and report as a footnote to some other data dump...

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Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM

Paul Crawford
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Re: Toilet breaks?

Just don't forget to disable the video call feature.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Plastic bottles shheesh

Gravel Roads? That were luxury!

We had t'piss in fields of nettles, and woe betide any lad who cried at his stung todger!

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Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar

Paul Crawford
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Re: Passwords work AND are easy.

Indeed!

Apart from those using "12345" or similar, just how many attacks actually guess a user's password compared to re-using a stolen password database?

I think those are the real problems:

(1) password re-use and;

(2) insecure sites storing passwords in plain-text or unsalted hashes.

Changing to a photo, etc, will make bugger-all difference to that, and once the bad guys have a copy, how do you change it?

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Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE

Paul Crawford
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Re: From ISC

Well on my Ubuntu home box:

Firefox 33 => not vulnerable

Chromium Version 37.0.2062.120 Ubuntu 12.04 (281580) (64-bit) => vulnerable

Opera 12.16 => test did not complete (probably not exploitable then?)

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Ada Lovelace Day: Meet the 6 women who gave you the 'computer'

Paul Crawford
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Did Margaret Thatcher herald a kinder, gentler phase in British politics?

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White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?

Paul Crawford
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Another factor that is often overlooked is that in a place like the UK where a lot of lighting is used in winter, indoors, and along with heating, then any increase in efficiency is going to be partly offset by the heating system making up for the reduction in waste heat.

Other than that point, I tend to agree with Tim that we will just use more of it if the running cost is reduced.

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US astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson: US is losing science race

Paul Crawford
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FAIL

Re: The United States

"there were no money to send humans anywhere else"

Alas, there was a trillion dollars to fight a pointless war in Iraq though.

Fail for us, because the well-known war criminal Tony Blair was from the UK.

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Internet Explorer stars in monster October Patch Tuesday

Paul Crawford
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@LDS

"What is better - a false sense of ssecurity, or a message reminding you you need to reboot?"

Well for a start it is better to simply restart a web browser (which is sometimes needed for other reasons) than to have to stop everything you are doing, saving sessions, etc, for that alone!

Also in the case of Linux, at least from my experience, if say Firefox is update it tells you that it needs restarting. And not the whole machine, which could be running other stuff or have other users logged in.

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Paul Crawford
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Cardinal Ximénez: Google Chrome is the browser you can update without needing a reboot!

Cardinal Fang: Firefox as well.

Cardinal Ximénez: Yes, Google Chrome and Firefox can both be updated without a reboot!

Cardinal Biggles: Whay about Opera?

Cardinal Ximénez: Among the browsers that can be updated without a reboot, are Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Konquror...

Cardinal Fang: Don't forget to mention a fanatical devotion to the Pope, and not IE

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FLASH drive ... Ah-aaaaaah! BadUSB no saviour to plug and play Universe

Paul Crawford
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Wrong direction of trust...

You have to start by assuming everything is suspect, so the PC/OS should start with the assumption that any USB device cannot be trusted.

As others have mentioned, when it is plugged in the very least an OS should do is tell you what class of device it claims to be. If it should be a USB mass storage device then that is fine, and you can proceed to be suspicious of its contents.

However, if your USB stick claims to be a mouse/keyboard/etc then WTF?

Fine for a proportion of El Reg readers, we might go "WTF? ...disable... ...destroy..." but that is not good enough for Joe/Jane Public for whom the OS needs to be a bit more protective, and query with language a bit more obvious than "enable HID?", say to something like "You appear to be adding a second mouse, is this really true? Think carefully my friend before answering..."

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Google ordered to tear down search results from its global dotcom by French court

Paul Crawford
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Same as MS & USA judge

Sadly this is as worrying as the issue of a USA judge ordering the data from MS Ireland, it is basically a power-grab where they feel that because "the internet" crosses their jurisdiction then they can apply judgements world-wide.

How long before we get other countries ordering global removal of links that don't suit them?

It may be unfortunate for the French individual to have defamatory things said, but they should take it up with the location of the comments as only a law there should apply to the other party.

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Unchanging Unicorn: Don't be disappointed with Ubuntu 14.10, be happy

Paul Crawford
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"reversed gnome 3"

Oh err, a "reversed gnome 3" sounds like some illegal pr0n move!

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How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?

Paul Crawford
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The ability to tell the difference depends on 3 things:

1) The original quality of the recording.

2) how good your system and ears are.

3) What sort of MP3 compression is in use.

Number (3) is critical, if you are using 128kbit fixed-rate coding then I am pretty confident you will tell the difference, if you are using 320kbit variable-rate I would doubt most could.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: "Everything between sample points is lost" (@the spectacularly refined chap)

The key point about Nyquist's theorem is it starts with the assumption that the signal you are interested in is strictly limited in bandwidth. If that initial assumption is true, for example that you only want/need 20Hz to 20kHz, then by sampling above twice the highest frequency (say at 40.0001kHz) than you are NOT losing any information by sampling.

What is impotent is that 20kHz is an arbitrary value (but realistic limit for most younger humans, us old buggers are lucky to get 15kHz) and to avoid the very unpleasant business of aliasing you MUST be strictly limited to that value.

Since that near brick-wall filter is highly impractical for any analogue filter, what is normally done is to sample higher than that, either a little bit more on sample rate (like 44.1kHz) and use good analogue filters, or a much, much higher sample rate and push the band-limiting problem in to the digital domain where it is practical to implement good filters (but with time delay, but for recording that in not a problem) and then to re-sample at a chosen lower rate.

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Bash bug: Shellshocked yet? You will be ... when this goes WORM

Paul Crawford
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Trollface

Re: Oh $!#t.

I picked a bad day to quit trolling.

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Microsoft sets up bug bounties for online services

Paul Crawford
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Big mistake

"Bugs requiring unlikely user actions"

Come on, just how often have you found end-users doing things in a manner thought to be unlikely/unreasonable/damn strange by the developers?

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Chipzilla promises $6 billion to upgrade Israeli plant

Paul Crawford
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Mushroom

'Infidel Inside'

It could be a new marketing slogan!

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Microsoft vs the long arm of US law: Straight outta Dublin

Paul Crawford
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Money talks

Funny how PRISM did not phase the big US companies, but the prospect of losing business did cause some backbone to be shown?

Really the lesson is don't use any company that is not 100% in our own legal territory, and (especially if you can't do so) make sure all data is encrypted with keys that only our own business has access to.

Sure that won't stop a court order to gain access, but that raises the bar from simply fishing for stuff to 'probable cause', and you also know about it so can take proper legal steps to defend against the action.

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Microsoft staff brace for next round of layoffs – expected Thursday

Paul Crawford
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Re: @Phil O'Sophical

What you can often do is convert your running XP box in to a VM, and then run that fairly painlessly under another more modern OS.

There are catches, of course, like if you have special hardware that needs an old driver, or use it for demanding games, etc, but you can get the best of both worlds:

1) All old software still working as you had it.

2) Support for new hardware and better basic security (assuming you stop email/web in the VM).

The choice of new OS is yours, could be Win7/8 or Linux, depends on what suits you best. At least Linux is free-as-in-speech to try! Whatever you do, get a new HDD to make a copy to play with, and may sure you have at least 2GB of RAM, ideally 4+, before you even consider VMs.

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WRISTJOB LOVE BONANZA: justWatch sex app promises blind date hookups

Paul Crawford
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Palm called, wants her sisters back

Luxury! When I were a lad we were lucky to dream of such things. Times were so poor we could hardly afford Palm and her five sisters.

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Citadel Trojan phishes its way into petrochem firm's webmail

Paul Crawford
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Given the trend for advanced malware to avoid running on VMs it order to evade analysis, it seems a pretty good time to deploy any world-facing Windows boxes in VMs, perhpas?

You get the advantage of threatening malware exposure to deter some, and the ease of imaging a running VM to look for boot sector or in-memory nasties that any decent root-kit would hide from AV tools.

Oh yes, and a far, far, less painful reinstall by simply copying a clean VM stored on a read-only NAS or similar if the brown stuff hits the rotary air mover...

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Run little spreadsheet, run! IBM's Watson is coming to gobble you up

Paul Crawford
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tGO79BtWUI

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US boffins demo 'twisted radio' mux

Paul Crawford
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Sceptical

AFIK the idea of OAM is the polarisation is rotating. Now you can generate any polarisation by taking a pair of orthogonal antennas and driving them with the appropriate amplitude & phase

You get linear at any angle if the phase shift is zero, with the angle determined by the magnitude of the two drives.

You get circular with LHCP or RHCP depending on the phase being +/-90 deg.

So if you were to drive the amplitude in a cyclic manner you would get the appearance of a rotating linear phase, and if at the receiving end you were to combine the similar antennas with a matching cyclic ratio then bingo - you have the original signal as if it were received by a rotating antenna.

But how is that different from any classical modulation on dual polarisations? Sure they might be claiming the equivalent of higher than QPSK-like "polarisation constellation" points, but that is not without a loss of orthogonality and hence some cross-talk and loss of SNR.

The real question then is can such a scheme deliver any better then just going to higher RF modulation constellations on two classical orthogonal polarisations?

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Be your own Big Brother: Monitoring your manor, the easy way

Paul Crawford
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Re: Security?

Unless you run at very low frame rates and resolution, or use movement detection, you can eat up 10GB surprisingly quickly! Also you might find you ISP capping your upload bandwidth quickly as well, given the true nature of a lot of "unlimited" contracts.

We have 9 cameras and they generate 6TB/week, but that is with good video quality.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: 1984

Given the history of security on these web cams, I doubt you need the NSA's resources...

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Paul Crawford
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Security?

Given a lot of, probably the majority of, these cameras have a history of really shit security and unpatched firmware, you might want to consider some 3rd party method of limiting which devices can connect in to your home network via the camera's exposed interface.

Also important if you are worried about burglary is having a recording of the images on something that won't get nicked by the thief, so it has to be pretty well hidden or to store images off-site, a potentially expensive aspect.

Not really in the 'home security' area, we have used the Vivotek power-over-Ethernet cameras at work, great as you only have a single cable to run and that can be UV-resistant cat5 for outdoors (e.g. CB14001 from CPC/Farnell) and no bandwidth problems. They come with surprisingly decent recording software, though Windows-only and only for their cameras. Oh and dodgey firmware security, but in our case they were not exposed outside our firewall for any exploiting.

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Ex-Autonomy execs: HP's latest wad blows apart fraud allegations

Paul Crawford
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Re: Sounds like a match made in heaven

Funny that, when my business sells hardware it is done for the revenue it brings in. Why is that such a novelty to HP?

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TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists

Paul Crawford
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Re: I'm conflicted

Are you sure your not in XKCD land?

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It's a pain in the ASCII, so what can be done to make patching easier?

Paul Crawford
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Windows

Re: Windows.

"If it is taking you more than an hour to patch, you have no clue what you are doing"

Please explain?

I have had a fresh install of Vista (and recent installs of Win7) that took hours to get updated, rebooted, updated and that was simply following what MS offered. Are you saying that a consumer OS should need some special magic to make it less painful than just clicking 'OK' on the update option?

With Linux it is usually 10-30 minutes for all patches, then one reboot and that is it up to date.OK, it might not run certain special applications, but I can get an XP VM I prepared earlier up and running in less than 10 minutes...so still less pain than a typical fresh installation of Windows.

Bah, pass me the can of Tenants' brain damage please...

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Linux no-reboot patching can be a mixed blessing.

I generally reboot a less-used machine after patching "just in case" something had updated and borked the start-up process. That way the running machines have a decent expectation of rebooting when needed.

Thankfully it is rare!

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Limits to Growth is a pile of steaming doggy-doo based on total cobblers

Paul Crawford
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Enery is the secret

Well, it is not really "secret" as being unknown, more as the key. If you have plenty of cheap enough energy then you can recycle the elements used to create past crap Xmas toys, etc, from the landfill in to something you really need and want right now, like the latest Orgaimator2000 robotic dildo or whatever.

I'm not sure how an economist would see it, but if someone succeeds in generating a lot of energy cheaply and reliably and without needing resources in a few politically unstable regions of the world, a lot of societies problems would be over.

Except maybe over-population, but decent education and an endless supply of the Orgaimator2000 should see to that....

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IT jargon is absolutely REAMED with sexual double-entendres

Paul Crawford
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Re: Pegging order?

Hard to say.

On the Wikipedia page for it says: "Advice columnist Dan Savage wrote that he believes all men should try pegging at least once, as it may introduce them to a new enjoyable sexual activity and illuminate them to the receiver's perspective in sex"

So far I have not has such an 'illuminating' experience, but I'm not sure if that is something to be happy or sad about.

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