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* Posts by DS

24 posts • joined 10 Jan 2008

Critical Windows vulnerability under attack, Microsoft warns

DS

Make the change NOW.

For years, you've been told not to run as admin.

Take note, make the change, or pay the penalty.

There are no excuses for running as admin on your day to day account. End of discussion.

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Leaked memo says Conficker pwns Parliament

DS
Flame

Push down a policy on autorun

Problem is the prime attack vector is via RPC, and requires MS08-67 to be applied to block that.

When examined, the MS suggestion on blocking autorun was found to be fallable and another patch has had to be issued to make a policy stopping autorun work as expected.

I'll say it again, for simplicity.

MS08-67 was one of those patches, that is a zero day biggy. One that everyone reads/takes notice, starts patching. Its not a maybe. Its not a do we, don't we, its a gold plated fix and patch NOW. And that was in oct 2008. Not deploying it, was not an option. It was never an option. Seeing companies go down to downadup and conflicker is simply amazing. People need firing.

People need to be fired over this, just as people have always needed to be fired for handing out admin rights on windows boxes like confetti. THE largest problem with Windows is that its treated by every tom, dick, and harry like a playground, l want it like my home computer blah blah. And everyone persist with idocy like I want admin rights, and I don't need to patch and secure. Heads need to roll, and people need to put security first over giving everyone what they want.

Any company where unpatched boxes are common, and where you get something like conflicker/downadup happening is a fire the head of IT incident, fire the Dirtector responsible for IT/security and compliance, and drag the board together and demand serious, ground up changes.

Its time that in the case of public sector networks, this kind of negligence resulted in people being fired and cases brought for negligence against the senior management responsible.

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DS
Flame

MS08-067

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS08-067.mspx

Been available since Published: October 23, 2008

Anyone thinking this does not need application, or hardline enforcement is an idiot and should be fired. Anyone not knowing what it is (and holding post in IT) should be fired. Anyone witless enough to do nothing, and let this thing burn needs to be fired.

It's a windows RPC attack vector, it was from day zer0 worm-able and was ALWAYS going to be a worm, and everyone knew it.

Nothing should be on the network with out it being applied.

Anyone running the network/security not enforcing it should be fired.

Any Person/MP breaking the security rules, principles, and policies should have access removed.

Seeing as these assholes believe in taking away their citizens cars for not paying duty, they can suffer having their equipment crushed for placing the country's government network at risk, a far greater crime than Johnny sixpack not paying road tax.

http://www.cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2008-4250

Has been available for examination since 2008.

Tool for helping cleaning up the huge mess that should never have existed

http://www.bdtools.net/

All that being said, expecting these cretins, who are the worst government in modern history, who dream up and scheme and implement destruction of everything worthwhile, while enacting their own 1984 programme, to know what they are actually doing, to know how to manage anything, or do anything the right way is our fault. These witless idiots need to be gone, and anyone supporting them, their antics, bullshit, lies, 'ID cards' and all the rest of their crap, and the sooner these type of things are fully published to show their utter witless, pointless, enormously wasteful stupdity, the better.

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BBC botnet investigation turns hacks into hackers

DS
Flame

BBC - seriously wrong

Just because it's become a fad thing to do does not make it legal, nor acceptable. And unless the BBC took apart the code, line by line, I personally don't accept that they have 'removed' the code. They make think they have, but it's not in the interest of the bot net sellers to reduce footprint, or thus, sales, or resources.

It is very much time that people started being seriously convicted in these cases, like the Sony root kit, it needs to be made very clear to legal entities that computer abuse, of others systems is an illegal act, and where done wilfully by such entities, prosecution to the full extent of the law needs to be done.

Any claims that this was done in good nature, or in public awareness or any other claptrap is irrelevent. And by publishing this information and the ease of access, it simply furether expands the underground and illegal acts and does not help deal with the problem.

I'm not fond of people taking tax payers money, and committing crime, and stupidity on this scale. Someone's head needs to roll. Now. Today. And someone needs to be taken to court. I wonder what BBC IT and management would think if this action were reversed, and their systems were hacked to 'prove a point'. I expect that would not be regarded as acceptable.

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Criminals hijack terminals to swipe Chip-and-PIN data

DS

Its broken

A chip and pin nightmare.

It's the first of the month, and time to pay some bills. First up, my main credit card. I go to pay and there is an issue. I double check the details. I triple check the details. Payment still refused. OK, so let's call the Bank and get the low down. I ring in, and they put me through the 20 question wringer. We go over a couple of things, and they put me through to the fraud department. Turns out, on the 25th, 27th and 28th, illicit payments were spotted. The first couple were to Touch Tone, for £5.00 each. The last is an attempt to take £14.00 from a cash machine in Pakistan.

Before I go to town on the subject, I will firstly thank my bank, their watchful eye I have little doubt saved me from a painful situation. So, I'm in the situation where my debit card is nerfed. I've also had a strange kind of month for me. During that whole month, virtually the only activity I have had, besides standing orders, and direct debits is shopping. Shopping in one, and only one store. Now, just in case the lawyers are around, for now, I'm going to avoid naming the store in question. I'll refer to it as 'The Store' in the rest of this. Now, what is also unfunny, but I accept the universe likes a sense of humour, is my wife's card got cloned only days ago. And she also does most shopping at 'The Store'. When she went to the bank, they told her there was a serious problem locally going on at the moment.

So, I call up 'the store's' head office and have a chat with the customer care people. The bank were interested in knowing I'd only been shopping there in the previous 30 odd days, and assured me they would follow it up. Would the store do the same? The nice lady on the line was indeed very friendly. At this stage, it became clear that the store knew of problems, but would not discuss the details, or locations, but did offer to send me a letter.

It becomes clear that I'm not going to get very far with the nice lady, though she offered her condolences and expressed frustration at identity theft in a general and arranges for me to get a letter from them sent out. At this stage, I decide that a little chat at the store is in order. After all, they see me each day, least they can tell me what is going on. So I arrive at the store and request to speak to the manager. Of which there are many. Now at that point normally I'd expect blank looks and a sob story, or I figured I'd be fobbed off.

The manager takes your's trully to a quiet corner, and I explain in some detail what has happened, and in fact I get the whole story. What happened was in fact, one of the chip and pin machines got swiped. Now, call me crazy, but I was somewhat taken aback. The manager said she had lost £120 herself, and most of the other staff, who naturally at the end of the long day's the serve there, get their shopping there as well, had lost money. Unless there is something I am missing here, this would indicate that there are two serious problems. Both I'll cover in a moment. But I did thank the shop manager for not bothering to let their customers know. Perhaps in truth shop managers do not realise the problem until later. They got bitten harder than I did.

The first is the chip and pin machines. These tend to be around the counter in most shops, and seem to have merely a wired connection. Not a great deal to stop someone determined armed with Scissors or better. They need better security. The second, and this is a bit more technical, would be that the machines seem to store card information, including the pin (Erm... Why?, that data should not be there). Now, my understanding is that in the chip and pin install in the UK, the banks did not do things right.

Link- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1579995/Credit-card-crooks-'foil-chip-and-pin-security'.html

Link-

Of absolute prime concern here, is the statement from APACS, the UK payments association which is responsible for tackling credit card fraud, said: "The report does not identify any threats or vulnerabilities of which the industry is not already aware. In our view, the types of attack on PIN entry devices (chip and pin machines) detailed in this report are difficult to undertake and not currently economically viable for a fraudster to carry out.

Well, on the first score, difficult to undertake is meaningless. Once found and documented, its not difficult any more. The bad guys are not put off by difficult. These devices need to be fixed NOW. And the obscure method of arcane thinking along the lines of 'Its not economically viable' to steal money. All I can say is the APACS bunch seem to be rather too muppet like for my liking. If the case is how they claim, how have we reached the stage where chip and pin boxes are being swiped and everyone who ever entered their card info and pin seems up for being a victim. Now, being a layman, I can say that I don't know how much data these chip and pin machines hold. Perhaps it’s a month, a year, 10 years. But in the one at 'the store' I can say that I expect hundreds per day. Cracking that box would seem to be financially viable *now*, I know, because I've been right on the pointy end. But from where I am sitting, 'the store' and its like are prime targets. They have hundreds, maybe thousands of consumers per day going through them, and are protected by not a very great deal.

Lastly, I'm guessing, but I suspect the banks fully know about this. I very much doubt that they would have nominally stopped two £5 and one £14 transaction under normal circumstances. Which means I just got lucky. Had I been an early victim, I am guessing my entire account could have gone. On the other hand, I should be very angry, and so should you. Banks dropped the ball on the implementation, and place my data and information, and your's, where crime can be committed against me and you. At the very least now, its messing with my account for 7 days waiting for a new card. As will the hundreds, maybe thousands in the area affected on mass by this. I'll get my new card, but chip and pin will still be broken. Which means that soon enough, I'll face the same prospect, again and again, unless its fixed. Right now, the supposed security 'chip and pin' was supposed to bring us, has been replaced, with a fearsome new level of ID theft, and a serious threat to everyone's financial health.

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Cybercrime bust highlights PIN terminal insecurity

DS

Its totally broken

Its wide open now.

Not dealing with this, and I mean dealing with this is pure negligence from both retailers, businesses and especially the banks, and in particular APACS which is actually still peddling lines that are both untrue and misleading.

Having been through a recent case, I can tell you its a huge mess, and there is nothing trustworthy about chip and pin at all as it stands right now.

In fact, I'd go as far as to say the FSA and government have to step in right now, yesterday. Thats how grim the security is. And the UK banking system needs this like a hole in the head.

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Microsoft slams 'sensationalist' Vista analysis

DS

The security angle..

Vista is a bit more secure than XP.

At least thats the starting point. Vista is done right. No admin user at the start.

XP was wrong. Everyone an admin..

However, it gets amusing from then on in. You stop using admin on XP, and you can make it quite secure. Its not as bad as some claim, BUT, making it secure often creates Vista -a-like problems with applications and security.

Vista... well, how long do you think it is before users switch off the 'features'. UAC gets killed quickly and its suddenly not greatly better off than XP.

Most of the problems in Windows go way back, and reside around developers being dumb asses and creating a situation where users NEED to run as damn admin to use an app/game/whatever.

The antics surrounding the hilarious 'piss off the users to make the devs change their wicked way' via UAC is just one more really stupid MS thing of late. The regression testing right now sucks harder than it has for a long time, and the 28 different flavours of Vista just make supporting it all a pathetic affair. Should have remained as 'Home' and 'Pro'.

As for Windows devs, never has such a bunch of braindead idiots ever existed. Still - even today, more apps arrive and the devs don't see to even comprehend how to build apps right, or how to do so without forcing LAME security.

"It won't run... are you logged in as admin? Cos you need to be running as admin to run our superduper new cool tool."

People need to start being fired for writing junk like that, and the sooner it starts to happen the better.

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Raptor and Eurofighter go head to head

DS

Response

@DS and the rest of the Arm Chair CDPs

By Anonymous Coward

Posted Wednesday 16th July 2008 01:02 GMT comments in ""

"We are currently spending about £4B per year maintaining and enhancing UK military forces in Iraq and the 'Stan. Want more money spent? Ask for tax increases."

You don't need tax increases. All you need to do is trim some stupid fat in the worst government we have had in decades. Not hard when you spend your time infesting our streets with parking wardens who get more money than soldiers. 4£ Billion per year spread across two full theatres of war, and an armed forces stretched to breaking point. And yes, bottom line I want more money for it. If thjese buffoons put people - presumably people like yourself in harms way, I want you to get looked after. I am sorry if that offends your sensibilities.

"Please don't imagine buying a fleet of armoured vehicles, body armour, etc is like buying yourself a Dell Computer, if you think you can do better, please apply at MOD Abbey Wood, we need more confused blow hards (sorry Lewis, not you personally)."

If you'd bother to read anything I have said, I stated its exactly not like buying a Dell computer, and we make damn sure we can't do it with current methods. However, THAT is no frigging excuse seeing as they have for example still got snatch Landrovers and have had YEARS to replace it with something viable. Again, whining at me with your arm chair bluster is pointless.

"These two theatre's in terms of the UK are not vastly huge"

"Please feel free to hop on the regular train services in Helmand, or just call a cab in dowtown Bsara. In fact after you have got your job at Abbey Wood apply to go onto operations and work in Basra like I did for the last 6 months. You'll never whinge about the UK again."

Fine, YOU give me the job and the authority and funding and I WILL fix the issues. But we know that's a fantasy. In Iraq at this time we have 4,000 troops. Equipping 4000 people by a country like the UK is beyond us is it? Its 8,000 in Afganistan. 8000 men properly equipped is beyond us. Historically and by many a measure, that's a small operation that we should be able to equip and run properly. Again, I am so sorry its so mortally offended you that I feel you should be equipped fully and properly, have proper air cover, lift and the rest. We are at war in two theatre's, 4 Billion is peanuts.

"Less typing more action please. Clearly an organisational genius like yourself is wasting themselves in the UK. Head to the 'Stan and you can have it all fixed in a few days."

Its not going to be fixed, because the Politicians here have no stomach for fixing it. They prefer people like you die, than find the funds and money.

"And in general to all you arm chair generals (and those Junior Officers I tried to teach but were too self important to listen), when you next run a high tech military system production contract, or try to take a cold war army to war in the desert, spare athought those who have gone before."

We have been in the desert for years. Apparently, years is still too short a time for a modern, industrially capable nation to actually build, make, pay for and equip people properly. Again, I am so sorry you feel offended that someone should call it how it is.

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DS

re ratbox:

I said failures in theatre. ie equipment failings and generic stupidity.

Winning in AFGANISTAN is a different subject altogether.

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DS

STOP WITH THE CHINOOK Price comparisons dammit

If the UK Gov wanted Chinooks, it could go out and get them. Just like if they *really* wanted to, they could abandon the use of snatch landrovers.

And yes, Money will always be finite, but the peace budget being used in wartime, has a deeper effect, than merely not buying a modern air superiority fighter and instead buying a bunch of chinooks.

The failures in theatres like Iraq and Afganistan are really quite easily solved. The problem is a lack of desire to actually do so, in case it costs a few bob. These two theatre's in terms of the UK are not vastly huge, and getting a few things down pat is not beyond the wit of men. Get the troops the base equipment, body armour, personal weapons, replace the snatch landrover, and buy some second hand chinooks, or lease, or borrow similar. Add in a serious increase in available air power care of Harriers.

We fight these wars on the cheap, and cutting projects like carriers, or EF, or subs is just another nasty cheap method.

In the meantime, morale in all three forces is sinking, and is already seriously low, we're going to lose a much larger chunk of good people in the near future, and despite what is being said about Navy and Air Force, their morale is lower than the Army. Its the worst political leadership in modern times over the forces and it shows absolutely everywhere.

What is worse than all of that, is that Iraq might long term turn out ok. But the situation in Afganistan is dire, and getting worse each day. That too is a symtom of the diabolically poor political leadership this country has had overlong now.

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DS

In reply to:

Original comment in ""

"Someone further up was asking about the Tornado F3. So, the reason the F3 is so badly derided is because it was designed for intercepting Soviet fast bombers."

It was not really 'designed' but rather hacked together. And it should not be derided, overall the F3 served its function. People seem not really to understand its operations.

"The supersonic bombers that threatened the northern flank of NATO are a huge threat, and the F3 was designed to just be a very fast interceptor. Also, the dual use airframe was first designed as the ground attack variant, which it is far better at really. Basically the F3 has the turning circle of a cruise liner. Now, in the last few years of the F3 I saw it do very well against the US aircraft simply because the avionics had been so massively improved - especially things like JTIDS. These days, turning and burning is much less important than top notch avionics. In most "dogfights" in this day and age you expect to engage way before the turn and burn stage."

It was in principle meant to be a stand off platform, with a fall back to close in fighting with sidewinders. One has to remember, the all aspect sidewinders in the era reached a stage where they mattered rather more than the agility of the plane carrying them. As part of the air defences of the UK, a mish-mash was built, including the Hawk being used as a point defense platform. The F14 Tomkat was in some ways similar to the F3, it was not a great close in fighter, and its stand off design worked. If you get the Missiles right on such platforms, and in both cases I believe that was roughly correct, the platform works, and works well most of the time.

"Now I come onto Lewis' article. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with his sentiment that things like Eurofighter and Raptor are useless."

Indeed. They are fine aircraft. I believe Lewis is arguing about what the can be used for rather than purely attacking their existence. His attacks are of some value, however, he does not really account for the large picture that exists. The UK's largest failings are political in nature. Not funding enough, and badly thought out and considered strategies where everything you want to do relies on third parties. Afganistan is showing how frail such planning can be. Europe has 3000 + choppers, yet hardly any lift cap is available in a NATO op. In the meantime, the UK gov continues to play off and meddle in EU/NATO affairs, instead of telling the EU to go get stuffed. The EU military nonsense is screwing with NATO, and making a mess of any defense planning, and that's bad enough as it is with the mess NATO is today.

The Largest problem we have is a patch piece quilt defence idea, where an assumed coverage is provided by third parties. This leads to serious reduction in capability and capacity, industrially, politically, actual, and real. Someone else will provide the ships. Someone else will provide the men. Someone else will provide the tanks. Someone else will provide the fighters. Someone else will provide the bombers. Someone else will provide the helicopters. And this nonsense, because that's what it is, is squarely why we are losing in Afganistan. And it runs deeper, because this is even why as someone said, you go to a supplier, and they can't give you some Chinooks (example). They are either fully booked on capacity, or have stopped making the gear. For YEARS in the UK, we followed this. So in Afganistan we have not enough air, not enough choppers, and still drive round in snatch Landrovers. We built tiny production runs of top line gear, because *everyone* will pitch in. Only they don't. And our price per unit costs the earth. And as with Chinooks and other equipment, because the whole NATO thing is like this, its very hard to rustle up equipment to order. Its years rather than weeks, and the whole thing is a shambolic mess.

You can bet your bottom dollar, that in we were to follow Lewis's theory of purchase, the time you would go to the US needing a number of something, they would actually be flat out producing it for their own force, probably first.

It is not like Lewis's ideas have not been used previously. Its how the RAF and Government wrecked TSR2, and went off to buy cheaper 'F111' bombers.

Personally, if I were going to bitch about something it would be the F35. I'd have never started that damn thing, and would have continued developing the Harrier program, and Harrier joint strike force. The Harrier has some flaws, but its a seriously proven battlefield design and simply works. I frankly dread to think what a mess the F35 may end up being.

"The reality of it is, we have gone up against major air forces in recent times. The Argentineans had an extremely capable air force during the Falklands, and Saddam had a top air force during the first Gulf War."

I have to take issue with this. The Argentines were poorly trained, but brave. And their equipment of Skyhawks, Mirages, Super Etendards, and a mixture of other stuff paid a really heavy price in a situation where in most cases they had a strategic and tactical advantage. And anyone doing serious evaluation would question the idea that they could class as major, or capable.

Saddam's 'air force' had fancy aircraft, and little else.

"Fortunately, in the latter case he decided not to use it, but we did expect significant losses had he flown his air force anywhere except Iran. Now, the key part which will win any future air superiority battle in the future is better avionics than the opposition. The old fighters (like the F3) are an absolute nightmare to retrofit avionics into, usually requiring very expensive projects to do so. And in many cases there just isn't space in the airframe for the new avionics (try retrofitting a new radar for example). What the Typhoon and F22 both provide is a highly capable avionics platform. The turning and burning is an aside, and in reality is only a small part of the development cost."

Air warfare will always, always have variables that have to be considered. Avionics are for sure, one key area. So are weapons systems, platforms, service availability, and performance in all flight envelopes, and pilot training. The US went to Vietnam and despite having a technical advantage on paper, it came out the other side having to reshape its *entire* training system. It had bet the farm on missiles and got it all wrong.

"In my opinion there is a good chance that the Typhoon or F22 will see real operational service in their lifetimes. Of course, getting rid of the maintenance burden that the F3 has become will be great, and it will be nice having a quick jet like Typhoon on QRA both in the UK and down on the Falklands."

In *any* theatre apart from bottom end ones like Afganistan, you will need air capability. Period. Its an absolute requirement. So I think you are right, it will see action, and we'll need the capability.

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DS

Hmmm

The Tornado like the hawk was somewhat hacked together to provide air defense. The hawk got tweaked with twin sidewinders and a 30 MM Aden, and the Tornado got a mix of close in Sidewinders, and stand off Skyflash missiles.

Previous to this, how deeply do you want to examine the hacked together area defense of the UK in the NATO Umbrella? Blood hound missiles? Rapier point defense round the airfields and certain other facilities, Phantoms with hacked RR engines, Lightning, which while utterly awesome in a sort of sports car fantasy, had the range of a Mosquito if you happened to open it up fully.

The Tornado F3 was not designed to be a close in dogfighter, and any pretense or attack on it in that guise is misleading and unfair. In its role, ie UK air defense, it was hackery accepting, a reasonable stand off fighter, with some half decent missiles. It was good enough to take down Soviet bombers, and that was its primary goal.

Most aircraft are irrelevant, the pilot training makes up a much more serious potent in the mix.

Now back to the EF. Its stupid to argue the EF should be cut off because you can't see a use for it *within* current boundaires. Defense is not merely the wars you fight today, but also tommorow. And we will need these aircraft just like we really could have used to TSR2.

Blaming the EF for lack of choppers or air support in Afganistan is STUPID. We are at war, and trying to run things on a peace time budget. Period. Thats your starting problem. The choppers like some of the vehicles could be bought, we just have some miserable rabble now who won't pay for their actions.

In the meantime, we're mothballing continually aircraft that provide air support. In theory you have enough Harrier and Tornado aircraft to provide utterly enough air power for NATO in Afganistan, but then you hit the other problem. We and the rest of NATO won't commit to this. So you get a constant grind about who does what, and who pays for it.

Personally, instead of bitching about the supposed failings in the EF - which was NEVER by design meant to provide the job you whine about, you should focus on the British PM NOT sending the Harriers, Tornado's and Chopper forces our troops need.

Its patently stupid to say the EF is not dropping bombs on the Taleban, because the Harriers and Tornado's are not there in real numbers either, and they were built by design for the job.

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Be the first millionaire on your block to go Tiltrotor

DS

Costs more than a chopper to maintain...

That utterly kills it.

How this thing costs more than a chopper to maintain is really incredible. This thing had to be cheaper to be worthwhile.

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Time to move on from Chinook to the real MoD cock-ups

DS

VFM

Its likely that the Seahawk may be better VFM in a loose generic term.

The problem though is this. The Americans, or indeed some others can create and design an aircraft (or other vehicle if you will), from early stage through to in service use. Because the sheer numbers ordered are large, they can drive the price per unit downward. They also can spread the development load in terms of costings across larger orders. Its the ford model T approach if you will.

So yes, on paper, it can be cheaper. However, I think there is a balance here. You could just go and buy all your equipment from the worldwide market, and some will be better, some will be cheaper, some will be worse, and none of it was made by you.

Also, if in the case of Britain, you cut the production at home, you do lose an amount of knowledge, skill, and capability. Many of these things are not merely a few guys on some production line being thrown out. Much of this really falls into the research and development area, and of being an advanced, skilled country.

It has been a detriment for Britain to have cut its ability in manufacturing, our equipment made at home costs more because we procure in small number and requirements are high. The fact is we produce only handfulls of warships, planes and helicopters. The same goes for tanks, and other areas, and even when you go to an outside supplier, when you start talking small numbers, you can start waving bye bye to lower costs in many areas. You'll get a large discount ordering a thousand, you won't much for an order of 20. Its partly why when you only order 232 Typhoons, that they end up being so expensive. Had an oder been placed for 2000, the unit price would have been vastly lower.

The politicians as I said earlier believe in a La La land idea. Where you can rule the world as part of a new order, send 4 warships, 20 helicopters, 50 tanks, and a couple of battlegroups. Operationally, everyone is chipping in, so we all work together. We all send in that sort of weight and we can work it out.

Only real world operations show the anglo-world and a small number of friends working hard, while many in the EU/NATO sit back and refuse to fulfill the obligations required.

And in future, the real problem is easy to see. Nations like China are going to laugh their arse off when they are presented with a world order that walks loudly, and carries a very small stick.

I'll add one more thing. I look at the country, and frankly, it could use a kick up the backside. National service of some kind would certainly be a positive influence on a portion of our populace that have little direction, and are falling into misery, gun crime, knife crime, drugs, and unemployment. It would not harm Britain at all to up the numbers in the armed services, and place some decent sized orders for equipment - and by doing so, drag down the price so its competitive within a world market.

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DS

Other issues

There are a few things I wish to take issue with in this article.

Firstly, you are right, there IS a severe shortfall in British Equipment, AND in other areas. This is true. And where ever there is a short fall, what happens is additional pressure is heaped upon every area, procurement, supply, in service reliability, failures, operational use and so on.

The comparison of Chinook vs Merlin is not really a fair one. The are two designs that might be used in the same purpose, but the Merlin was never specced to be operationally a Chinook challenger.

The lack of Chinooks could be solved tomorrow if there was someone with balls to commit to it. The problem is money, or lack of, and a continual political will to keep this money costs down.

But in actual fact, this comes down to a political failure, one that may not be as obvious as it seems.

That Political failure is one that is long and complex, at its core value is the cornerstones and assumptions made by Government over a long period. These in a nutshell are:-

We are part of NATO, as such, we will operate in joint ops and share the load in future operations.

And

We need to be capable of 2-3 operations at any one time, these operations will be limited, short term, international policing like events, and will be dealt with by point 1.

In Afganistan, we are operating as a portion of NATO, and as such, its true there is a fatally short amount of supply in lift, and in many other areas. But the truth is that it was never supposed that British forces would have to go fight alone in Afganistan, and indeed we are not. There is some support in Lift and Air support and no doubt in some other areas, but its not nearly enough, and its not nearly the committed amount that a NATO alliance and its members should have committed.

The guys fighting in NATO ops are Brits, Canadians, Dutch, Americans, and a few others. There are many notable who are not and I won't name them. Thank you Denmark for letting us take your 8 Merlin's and we'll buy you another 8 later, but you could have flown those 8 in air support/Lift of a NATO operation as your damn obligations require. That goes for a lot of other nations, in our glorious EU. There are over 3000 choppers in the EU, on paper available, most states reside inside NATO as well. Yet we have not enough lift capacity available.

British procurement cockups aside, this is a bigger issue. And a serious one. If NATO does not work, there is no real point in being there. If when the crap hits the fan, we have to go buy or find all the capability ourselves, then there is no point in being part of it. If when there is fighting to be done, its only our guuys who will stand in the firing line, then there is no point.

I happen to love NATO. It stood there as a protector of my society for all my child and adult life, but no more. Consistently, NATO and some 'allies' are not holding up to their end of the bargain.

When Afganistan directly and indirectly played its part in the Attacks of 9/11, everyone concurred that it was intolerable, and this led to the Afganistan operation. The cornerstone of NATO existence is if one of us is attacked, we are brothers.

I am not seeing that. I see laudable efforts, in the main from the Anglophile world, and some others, but in many a case I don't see it from elsewhere. Not withstanding some EU areas who WANT NATO to be destroyed, it brings into question the British Defense Policy.

We cannot assume things like others will pitch in and provide equipment and men and operational help, if it does not exist.

And we cannot cut and trim the armed forces if that happens.

So either NATO steps up, We step up, or we step back. Hence its why I say its a political failure, because the politicans set out a vision of international military joint ops that is La La land, a fantasy, and British Soldiers, Sailors, and Air/men/women are facing extreme risk and hazard, AND our whole defense structure is buckling under this duress.

We have been at war fully in 2 theatres now since 2001, and had to maintain ops elsewhere (Kosovo, Cyprus, and other areas) with a peacetime budget allocated on the premise of the idea of military and operational partnerships, ones that seem broken and failing.

Even today, the RN faces being frankly obliterated because the politicians in their view see little reason to maintain it. Plenty of news out there about cutting from 24 warships down to 16 and so on. Regiments being cut, Squadrons being cut, and it continues to spiral down. The Carriers and JSF might be cut, depends how badly things go from here.

In the context, what should have happened many months ago, was that certain friends in no uncertain terms should have been told 'pull your finger out. I am not asking you to send some Helicopters, I am telling you to send them, and that does not mean sitting in Kabul fucking hookers while taking never ending RnR.'

The Polite public comment that certain countries would 'like others to do more' should have been a private bloodfest.

Europe and NATO have the choppers available, and under the defense understandings, these should have made up any shortfall in any one countries available options. Inside the EU, there are over 3000 available, and yet none can get to Afganistan oddly enough.

Its all a serious answer the politicians need to answer. Because British men and women are dying because of it, and they deserve the Helicopters flying right now, and I don't give a shit who the hell flies them, I just know they exist, and I know they should be there, and I know they COULD be there.

In that context, this problem is rather more than a procurement cockup, its much larger and uglier than that.

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Acer punts £199 Linux laptop

DS
Go

Another take

Not only is this cheaper, but I want to point something out. The HP would have been THE machine, except, they crippled it with a very low end GFX / CPU combo.

The reason this will be the killer is is simple.

Intel's 945GSE chipset in particular the gfx, which while not Nvidia/ATI level, beats the living daylights out of the awful offerings on the other machines.

Out of all the UMPCs in this grouping, that alone is the reason to take one of these over the EEE, Wind, HP, Openbook, and others.

The HP is the nearly machine, but not being able to use the webcam fully, not even coping with playing back youtube, and the other 'issues' mean its a miss. A shame, because in quite a few ways, the HP was nearly there. If only this hardware spec had been inside the HP case.

Competition in this area, gleefully for anyone willing to hold on to their hard earned £$ will mean specs rise, prices fall, and in months, not years, we'll see refreshes coming to wipe the floor with whats currently shipping

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Mozilla pilots second release candidate for Firefox 3.0

DS

Well

I sure hope they fixed some of the screw ups they made when I last tested. On the machine I tested, we installed on a box that had FF2. We made sure that 3 went in its own directory.

Post install, FF2 no longer worked, which is forgivable, but plugins and other areas of FF2 were 'meddled' with - and it took a while to correct these. But worse, after installing and then un-installing, FF3 had wrecked a little havoc in registry, to the point that third party applications and tools were affected. You could no longer click on links to open web pages, and other nasty little 'tweaks'.

Anyway, I'll wait till full release and hope its better. I was far from impressed with the registry screwing around, so I hope they changed how they handle that.

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Russell T Davies bows out of Doctor Who

DS

Good riddance

Not that this will change DW.

They brought it back. They filled the thing with pathetic, stupid politically correct nonsense, and gay heroes, garbage stories, appallingly bad effects. I know - I know, DW is reknown for it, but its not excusable today.

Its a BBC primetime blockbuster, or should be. It lacks totally the true quality of real sci fi - by that I mean the sets and effort applied to other sci fi. Battlestar G and Star gate show far more depth and quality in the sets they use - the equipment, and backdrops.

The real problem is the BBC thinks its making a drama, and all the card board toilet roll and gaffa tape special effects are cute. It meant to be sci - fi not drama, and the bog roll and gaffa tape went out in 1970.

They struggled to sell Dr Who with the sci fi channel taking it in the end with reluctance. That says it all.

It reflects fully everything that sucks royally about the stinking BBC.

I only wish they'd put some decent people into it, make longer shows, and darken the thing up. Oh, and real special effects, backdrops and a little effort would not go amiss. There is so much rich background that could be used in the WHO universe, and all they serve up is this garbage. They did bring a few things back, like the daleks, but even then, their insipid desire to meddle lead to caring, sharing daleks, and stupid idiocy. The BBC is a global media monopoly, its one sci fi show looks like it was made by a bunch of playschool children in their art class, with story lines little better.

And yes, Tom Baker was the best doctor.

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Final beta of Firefox 3 available now

DS
Black Helicopters

Hmmm

All the love is very nice.

But I have to say, I installed it on a machine with FF2 on - purely for testing.

FF2 no longer worked (not a big issue.)

All my extensions were buggered, and not one of them worked. Looks as though extensions will need to be done from scratch for this version..

In the end, I un-installed. FF2 was left in a shaky state, but worse was to follow. It seems in their wisdom, that FF screws round with the registry, and for example, Outlook would no longer open HTTP links (some might say that's a good idea..)

I had to mess around with the registry, and reset IE settings and a host of other meddling to put things right.

Basically, to cut to the chase, it all looks fine, I'm not that keen on the changes made to the registry, or the things those changes left broken on un-install. My fault, I accept, Beta, but I do hope they get fixed before release, or its going to cause problems.

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Nvidia drivers named as lead Vista crash cause in 2007

DS

Yes, well, was it not..

a shock to find that Vista, which supposedly changes the GFX driver model wholly to move in the direction of stable operation, hence the drop in performance in Vista Gaming for example, in fact has not resulted in the end product.

You could forgive Vista if GFX operations really became bombproof, but they have not. Worse, it seems to have made writing a driver a very tricky job, the framerates and performance are lower.

Another huge black mark/failure when getting down to discussing wether Vista really is a step forward.

Microsoft, again, what was the point of Vista....

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Evesham brand up for sale as Austin walks

DS

Evesham

Good staff in general, but the units I got from Evesham were questionable.

In particular I did not take at all to the idea that they would ship you a rebadged laptop, and then when you contacted them, would refer you to third party sites, and not know 'their equipment'. I had little choice in going through this, as the machine would persistantly bluescreen care of the audio driver. I'm glad I did not buy more machines, the level of support was below acceptable.

I'd like to shed tears for a 'British company', but if you just buy in re-badged equipment, offer ikky support, then its hard to really feel bad about it. However, I would echo what was said about their staff, helpful, and reasonable. But if the kit is from someone else, and your people can;t help the customer, being helpful and reasonable does not get me anywhere.

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Tiscali executes stealth LLU migrations

DS

Been with F2S for years

When I first was with them, you could actually call Chris or Nick and solve the problem. In their early days they were fantastic. They offered good deals, static IP, and good customer care.

A little of that was lost as they grew and various backend changes happened, Pipex bought them, and you have people who did not know or worse care what your issue was.

They moved my static IP without consultation, and then on far too many days I would lose connection for large chunks. My router was blamed, which seems to be *the* bogyman to pick on when you don't know you ass from your elbow.

*I* don't want to leave F2S, they *were* awesome. But looks like things are changing, and that is a shame :/

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Vista SP1 RC Refresh 2 tweak out now

DS

Hmmm

I don't like Vista. I don't like the fact that if they had to change *everything* why not break from legacy and actually provide the next level of OS.

The whole shooting match is poor, from having to retrain users to retraining staff because in your wisdom you've changed the deployment, your partners, suppliers and vendors were left facing yet another change in how the OS works, so the end users suffered with lack of drivers/bad drivers - the list with Vista goes on and on.

The best MS OS thus far, putting security aside, is Windows Server 2003, as a workstation.

Vista like ME before it is just an MS release to simply skip. Windows 7 or whatever the son of Vista gets called will probably actually be a very good OS, and some of the basic ideas in Vista will get ironed out.

Lets hope that this time they actually fix the MEMORY leakage from copy and the crashing when you have 64k of files in a directory, and the other howlers.

Lastly, I know this won't happen, but Windows gaming is now such a screwed up place that if someone *nudge* got their gaming support, API's and other offerings in place, its plausable that gaming on PC could escape 'windows'.

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YouTube biker clocked at 189mph

DS

That bike will not do 189MPH

This is the problem with people throwing out their opinion. There is no proof from the speedo, that can be tweaked. The bike itself, if the model is right won't even get close to the speed those claiming to complain about it wish to claim.

There is no law on this (well there is, but its stupid) as if you wish to nail someone speeding, it should be by properly tested and calibrated equipment.

That aside, I grew up on the IOM, I find the speeding culture (or rather the attacks on it) to be stupid. The government lies about speed, its primary action is to skim drivers for additional money. Most of its actions in terms of traffic calming or control make things worse. We lose 5,000 people a year, and there are 60 million every year taking trips care of the road. More people are being badly treated in the healthcare system than by drivers, but drivers face punitive stupidity every day.

Now, all that being said, if you want to ride a bike, and take it way above the admittedly stupid speeding limits, go and do some track days where the environment is clearly better for Hi speed antics.

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