* Posts by Stuart Longland

1416 posts • joined 11 Jan 2008

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City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

Stuart Longland
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(From the Celebrity Answerphones round on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue a few years ago)

God I miss that show… used to hear it on 4QR (aka ABC Radio National Brisbane; 792kHz) some mornings before 6AM as well as other BBC classics like My Word and The Goons.

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Stuart Longland
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I see Alexander Graham Bell is making a comeback on The Register… and we thought he was dead!

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Stuart Longland
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Re: Even worse

Something along the lines of "LearnToCodeProperlyYouLazyGits"?

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EXT4 filesystem can EAT ALL YOUR DATA

Stuart Longland
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To be fair, this is nothing to do with BTRFS, which I've been watching from a distance for some time.

I did give it a go on some testing servers at work in a Ceph cluster, running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS but it seemed things were not ready for prime time there, so I stuck with XFS for that, and most of our production stuff these days is XFS. Legacy production is EXT4, hopefully not for too much longer.

As for BTRFS, I guess I'll transition across to it eventually, now that it's no longer "unstable" (it carried this label for a long time). Best bet is to ensure good backups, then you can recover if things go pear shaped.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: But wait!

It does… has just worked for me longer than any Windows release has and I'll have a fix in place for this bug quicker than many commercial vendors will.

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Stuart Longland
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Yikes

Thankfully I run either XFS or EXT3 (if I dual-boot on Windows) on my machines.

That said, patching shouldn't take long.

(Versus the last batch of patches Microsoft pushed out, my work laptop started patching Friday morning and was still telling me it was applying the updates and not to turn off my computer on Monday evening. If I hadn't hard-power-cycled the laptop, it'd still be patching a week later!)

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New Windows 10 Build 10122 aims to fix file association hijacking

Stuart Longland
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Re: Now if they could just turn display of file extensions back on…

On Unix like systems a file is not executable merely because it has a particular ending on the name, it must have an 'executable' pemission and emailed o downloaded files do not have that.

The Unix executables don't even have icons, which is another area where Microsoft goes wrong. It's quite plausible to nick the icon used for Adobe PDF documents and use that as your executable's icon to help masquerade it as a PDF. On a Unix machine, it'd just show a generic icon for an executable binary.

Sure, embed an icon for the application in the .exe, even use it when someone points a shortcut at said .exe, but for Pete's sake don't use it when rendering listings of the file itself!

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Stuart Longland
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Re: Now if they could just turn display of file extensions back on…

They never eliminated it at all in 1995. It's still there, in 2015..

I didn't say they eliminated it, I said they turned off display of them. Windows 3.11 displayed the file extensions, Windows 95 changed that. Unless you're telling me that now in 2015, it defaults to displaying file extensions, my point stands.

Use a quality OS that doesn't need that silly three letter thing to to know what type of file something is.

Ohh I do, but that few hours of my week where I have to interact with Windows, particularly other peoples' Windows computers, it would make it a lot nicer if I could see what the extensions are.

Because those extensions are for us humans, not computers. The computers can always look at the first few magic bytes of the file to be sure.

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Stuart Longland
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Now if they could just turn display of file extensions back on…

You know, that parameter that they turned off in 1995, that would be grand!

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Microsoft points PowerShell at Penguinistas

Stuart Longland
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Re: Microsoft sees their admins being required to use Linux

so that they will be proficient in migrating from Linux.

Why would putting PowerShell make people proficient in migrating from Linux? If someone was clueless about Linux before, I fail to see how this tool would make them any better at administering it.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: Like grep? sed? awk?

It's worse than “php -a”, and nobody does that.

Upvoted, I didn't know about php -a, I quite liked Python's shell (although ipython is better) but you taught me a somewhat handy command should I need to do anything PHP-specific.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: End of Days

About a year ago when I built the network for my new house, I set up an RPi (1st gen, Model B) as a DNS, DHCP, file, and dlna/upnp server, and NZBGet client. The ARP table has 21 entires in it, it provides file storage to 4 computers, and movies to 3-5 devices.

To be fair, the users Microsoft have in mind have a somewhat more demanding role for a server. But it's true, some of these machines just keep running without user intervention.

19:45:22 up 289 days, 8:00, 3 users, load average: 0.00, 0.02, 0.00

That, is my company's main file server/DHCP server/pretty much everything box. I rarely have to touch it from a maintenance standpoint although at some point we will retire the box for something newer. (One of my colleagues is testing an ActiveDirectory set-up using Samba4, soon as that's ready, we'll move.)

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Manchester car park lock hack leads to horn-blare hoo-ha

Stuart Longland
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Re: i have tested it on my self

Yes but that could be wrapped around a rod a few thousand times or he could connect up to the plumbing and use that.

Well, if you can source that much wire, sure, but it doesn't make an antenna that's physically that long.

In fact, it'll be a big inductor of a size big enough to give you a nasty zap of back-EMF should you try to disconnect it from power with your fingers. (And 433mHz is pretty bloody close to DC, better wait for a zero crossing!)

That amount of wire would pose a whopping big resistance too, my bet is you'll either absorb all the power before you radiate anything, or you'll melt the coil with the heat loss.

And who would you transmit to? You'd have to find someone willing to do the same with a receiver.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: i have tested it on my self

Not if it was a quarter wave stub. And yes, I see what you did there

Nope, that's for a half-wave dipole. A quarter-wave stub would need a nearly equally sized ground-plane to sit on. You can kludge things of course but the theory does not lie.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: Down the pub

Not really, the Bean car security system requires another action to work as designed, and steering wheels are too heavy these days to carry around with you.

…and it won't stop the crims anyway:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-23/driver-charged-over-car-with-no-steering-wheel/4837680

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Stuart Longland
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Headmaster

Re: i have tested it on my self

Cool! How long have you been emitting RF in the 430mHz band? I'm sure there's a scalpel-wielding boffin or two just itching to have a 'chat' with someone like you...

Never, because a 433mHz signal would require an antenna that's approximately 345 685 840 metres long!

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Stuart Longland
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Re: Old trick that

so i you wang out static over the frequency it will stop the fobs talking to the cars..

A $50 hand-held 70cm radio, which you're legally allowed to use if you have an appropriate license, is all that is necessary to jam these key fobs. 433.920MHz is a common centre frequency for this stuff.

I learned this through first-hand experience (with a more expensive radio). Even though I was transmitting on 433.525MHz (to access Mt. Coot-tha repeater VK4RBC), the 5W signal was enough to de-sense the receiver in the car.

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Stuart Longland
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Childcatcher

Re: Hanlon's razor

Just because it's spelt TOYota does not mean you give them to your kid to play with!

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Huawei announces tiny 10 KB IoT kernel

Stuart Longland
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Re: 10KB for the OS?

As far as I can tell, this page gives memory requirements for LiteOS

http://wiki.oiotc.cc/index.php?title=Os%E5%86%85%E5%AD%98%E5%8D%A0%E7%94%A8%E6%83%85%E5%86%B5

I can't read Chinese but that table gives the three different segments: .text, .data and .bss. .data and .bss exist in RAM, .text exists in flash.

The rows from what I can tell give the usage for (in this order):

- The kernel itself

- Mutex objects

- Semaphore objects

- "Swtmr" objects (whatever they are)

- Queue objects

- Task objects.

Presumably for the Queue objects that's the overhead, and queue data will be extra on top of that. There'd be one copy of the .text for each of those included (so if you have two Queues, you'd only include one copy of the .text implementing a Queue), but there'd be a block of memory (360 bytes by the looks of things) per queue used in RAM.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: 10KB for the OS?

Indeed, RAM usage is a more useful metric… coding for tight flash isn't too bad, but coding for tight RAM is.

I once had to code for a TI MSP430F135 which is a 16-bit proprietary microcontroller with 16kB flash and 512 bytes of RAM. That was tough!

We found we were able to de-solder the original MCU and drop a MSP430F149 in its place, which gave me some much needed breathing room: 2kB RAM and 60kB flash. Not all designs permit this though, and most microcontrollers available to hobbyists are skint in the RAM department.

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Robocalling Americans? That'll cost you $1.7 MEEELLION

Stuart Longland
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Unless it's a distributed arrangement. You are hired by robocall company, they pay for a phone line to your house, you plug their device in to that phone line, then phones "home" via the Internet to get instructions. Perhaps the account is created in your name too.

Central office then instruct the army of robo-callers to call in a round-robin fashion so that the calls are coming from different places, at some randomised interval to foil automatic detection by the telcos.

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'Millions' of routers open to absurdly outdated NetUSB hijack

Stuart Longland
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When will they learn that it is free and you are getting what you are paying for?

I shudder to think how much these router makers paid KCodes for their NetUSB module. Evidently too much for what it was worth.

Thankfully it isn't a part of the mainline Linux kernel, so none of my devices are infected with it.

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Stuart Longland
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Because the company is too cool to use libusb…

I just had a look to see if this was a module they contributed to the Linux kernel or if it's something proprietary. So far, research hints it's the latter.

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Hackers pop submarine cable operator Pacnet, probe internal networks

Stuart Longland
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Re: SQL Injection?

The scary thing is the app probably was coded in 1995.

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Microsoft's certification exams: So easy, a child of six could pass them. Literally

Stuart Longland
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Re: MCS...e

As its form implies, engineer originally meant anyone who built or operated an engine. In the early days of steam, there wasn't a lot of difference…

In the early days they just had a plaque at the front of the locomotive:

Engine 'ere.

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Reader suggestion: Using HDFS as generic iSCSI storage

Stuart Longland
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Re: Location, location

Ceph does, you specify it in the CRUSH map where you want replicas placed. The CRUSH map is a tree, ultimately the leaves are individual HDDs/SSDs. Branches represent things like data centres, buildings, rooms, racks, nodes … whatever your physical topology is.

The default is to consider all nodes as branches of the root, and the disks as leaves off those branches. It'll pick a branch (node) that presently does not hold a copy of the object to be stored, then choose a leaf (disk). It repeats this for the number of replicas.

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PANIC! RSA keys are compromised!

Stuart Longland
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Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error and was unable to complete your request. Either the server is overloaded or there is an error in the application.

I guess that means my key is safe then?

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Viagra makes it HARD for malaria, bug-boffins discover

Stuart Longland
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Does this mean…

…we can expect a barrage of Malaria-themed Viagra spam emails from now on with endorsements from Bill Gates?

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Right Dabbsy my old son, you can cram this job right up your BLEEEARRGH

Stuart Longland
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Re: Ours were all Pauls

I just hope it works on Win7-64 without having to use Steam.

It does. I dug out my old copy and loaded it up on my "work" laptop (personal property) over the Christmas break. Plays alright on modern Intel graphics. Plus it's possible to install it so the disc isn't necessary, so no CD-ROM latency.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: I blame the parents...

It's Gallic for Alexander. Probably originally spelt in runes.

Like this: ᚤᚳᛁᛇᛅᚤᛁᚱ?

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ATTACK of the DINKY DRONES! US military creates ROBOTIC CARRIER PIGEON

Stuart Longland
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Joke

Finally…

The demand of the "Knights who say 'Ni!'" for a shrubbery makes sense!

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Lightbulbs of the future will come with wireless extenders and speakers

Stuart Longland
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Re: Madness

SciFi? Or did someone misread it as a training manual?

Hopefully when this IoT nonsense blows over, we can look at it as a documentary of how we went wrong.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: Uh ...

I'm sure the spooks think it's a bright idea.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: a light switch that cuts all power to the light...

The switches we have installed in this house would cut all power to the bulb completely.

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Stuart Longland
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Do these other functions work when the lamp is off?

One thing they seem to overlook, people turn lights on and off as needed, and they do so via a light switch that cuts all power to the light concerned.

Does the device have a battery that allows the light's other functions to carry on for a limited (maybe a few days) period? Or do these have to be constantly left on to work?

Not that I'm rushing to buy one. I can't imagine the sound reproduction being great from such a small space, and the Wi-Fi connectivity in this house is just fine: I put an access point (not a router) up high on a shelf in my room upstairs, and it reaches pretty much the whole house. Worst signal is out at the road, even then it works.

A feature that might be useful, is if the internal battery could power the light for about 8 hours, and have the thing being able to be turned on wirelessly. Then in a black-out, you use the remote controls to turn the lights on/off and you still have lights.

That said, we don't have that many power cuts here in Brisbane, so I doubt it'd catch on.

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That DRM support in Firefox you never asked for? It's here

Stuart Longland
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Re: DRM in open source couldn't work?

That or pirates will simply stick with 1080p.

Which for most people will probably be good enough. Unless you've got a HUGE, and I mean, HUGE, television screen, are you really going to notice the difference?

Hell, we still have a CRT-based television in this establishment and I never had any complaints about its resolution for video content. Sure text is poor quality, but that's not what they're built for, and typically not much gets shown on television anyway.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: DRM - Wont be getting my cash.

The fact you haven't lost anything to a fire yet should be considered good luck, not proof that it will never happen. But as I pointed out, it's not just fire. Animals, water, children, or just plain wear and tear will render the book useless, just like other forms of physical media.

Well, we don't have animals anymore, I'm not having any children, water might ruin a book, or the cover of an LP/CD but a quick wash in the dishwashing basin will soon fix any problems up.

As for not losing things to a fire being good luck. Losing things to a fire is a case of bad luck, and we do what we can to mitigate against that risk. In my neighbourhood, house fires are not very common, we've had bush fires more frequently and even then, a good distance away from the residential area.

The only event that caused significant loss of property in recent times would be the late-2008 storms that hit Brisbane. In such an event, I'd expect CD, DVD and LP media to survive reasonably well unless they copped a direct hit from debris.

You could do that, but more salient to my point, it's not free. You have to pay for the replacement of the item, not just go and download a new copy using your existing license.

Only if your bandwidth is free. I don't know what the system is where you are, but here in Australia, the last "free" ISP I heard of (monetised through advertising) went bust.

I have about 5GB of music these days (Ogg/Vorbis codec), it'd take a while to download all that again. Besides, you really think they'd hold onto that information free of charge? Not likely, no, it'll more likely be "We'll maintain your catalogue for you for $X/month": fail to pay that fee and your collection evaporates with the DRM license.

That's merely a technical problem, and one that's been generally solved by associating DRM with an account as opposed to a single machine. So unless you lose access to all of your accounts, the probability of losing access to the content is slim to nil.

So we have to have an account now to listen to some music we legally purchased a personal copy of? An account that is going to cost someone fees to keep active?

Well, as someone else pointed out, handing Stuart Longland Jr. your VHS, vinyl, or DOS-formatted floppy collection is probably less than useful. Either the format is such that they can no longer play it, or it's been superseded by a newer version. That old comedy album from 1965 might not have been reprinted in CD form because, well, no one liked it, so barring sentimental value, it's unlikely to have much value to whoever you passed it on to.

This is very subjective of course as to whether someone later will be interested. The fact is, I can pass them on if I so choose, or I can sell them now if I want to to someone who does find them of value. You cannot do this with digital music downloads at present.

Superceded formats are a big issue, and so far CDs and vinyl have stood the test of time, particularly vinyl. My floppy collection has already largely gone and I wouldn't expect VHS to survive very long either.

Turntables are still manufactured, sure some point out some are rather cheap and nasty, but this can be overcome. There are still places in the world that build and sell gramophones. Not many in the first world I might add, but places like Cambodia apparently still make them.

Nothing technically stops you from making a back-up of that media onto something contemporary either, which is what I've done. My records get "ripped" onto "lossless" masters (FLAC or CD), and a copy of that gets encoded as Ogg/Vorbis for general listening. The original media is then safely stored. I could pass these lossless copies along with the originals to the next party: so long as I then ensure my "copies" of the backups are destroyed or transferred to that one person, all is fine (technically). Legally they call that piracy: a point I disagree with.

The problem arises when you hand someone a copy of one of the backups without giving them the original: that is then piracy.

The problem is worse for DRM. A big reason why is due to DRM-makers desire for closed-source black boxes. Soon as they stop maintaining the black box, ensuring it can be used with contemporary equipment, it stops working and the files in that format become useless. This will happen much sooner for software than it will for hardware.

Additionally, your are incorrectly blaming DRM for what is really a licensing issue, something that is wholly separate though often conflated. If the EULA allows unlimited copying for personal use, or is amended to allow you to transfer ownership to another person, then it's no different than your collection of the 1970s greatest hits on vinyl. But that is something you, as a purchaser of the items, need to consider when laying out your cash.

The licensing issue is what bought about DRM, and both are fundamentally flawed.

In the above case, I discuss backing up older physical media onto contemporary media. DRM audio is circumvented easily due to the fact that we cannot listen to a digital signal, it must be ultimately be converted to analogue sound pressure waves that our analogue eardrums can detect.

Typically this is done using a moving coil attached to a diaphragm in a static magnetic field: a second close-proximity coil turns this device into a transformer, with the new secondary winding's terminals reproducing the copyrighted work. The same methods are used in hearing aids to allow the hard of hearing to use a telephone. The audio quality of this method would be "good enough" for many.

Video is harder, but not impossible.

So DRM as a solution to the piracy problem does not work. It just unnecessarily complicates the task of me, as a content consumer, enjoying the content that I legally purchased licenses for.

The sooner we stop assuming that DRM is some new invention designed to screw customers out of money and realize it's just a new application of existing limitations, the better we can manage our expectation and push for change or dumping of ineffective or poorly-executed DRM, and maybe start on the real issue, the EULA.

Actually, the sooner we realise DRM is the fraud that it is, the better.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: DRM - Wont be getting my cash.

Can I play a wax cylinder recording easily today?

It has been done, required some modification of an existing modern turntable but it has been done.

Are such players mass produced? No, but largely because the media to play on them is no longer in production, nothing stops someone building and selling them though.

People waffle on about how records and other analogue media have stood the test of time, whereas digital media hasn't, but few people think about the quality of the reproducing equipment.

I bought a turntable recently for AU$30 that seemed to do no equalisation at all. As it happened, I had some record conversions that had been done on a much older turntable with good reproduction (entry level professional kit).

The standard "RIAA" curve didn't sound right to me, which tells me they possibly tried to emulate the RIAA curve and botched it. So I compared the frequency spectrum of a recording from this older turntable to the new one, and tweaked my equaliser settings until I got something close.

It was then I found the newer turntable did a much better job at high frequencies. Possibly owing to the fact that the older turntable has not had a new cartridge or stylus in over 30 years. The recordings sound much like my CDs now, with the exception of a little bit of surface noise.

So you really believe that more than a handful of vinyl records produced since the 1980s are, "untouched by the digital hand"? You honestly think they're cut from analogue masters?

They probably weren't, but once transferred to an analogue medium, they cease to be digital recordings. My point stands.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: DRM - Wont be getting my cash.

Except I have records that go back to the 60's that are still playable.

The Bluray disc will probably be unusable by then.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: DRM - Wont be getting my cash.

What happens when your house burns down and some of your books are out-of-print? If your CDs get scratched or mangled beyond playable? Or if the media is just fragile and eventually wears out (a la vinyl and magnetic tape)?

Four points:

- I've lived in the same house for over 30 years, if it hasn't burned down yet, it's unlikely to without some help.

- If my media is irretrievably lost, then in all probability I can buy replacement copies from the second-hand stores, which is where much of it came from in the first place.

- If my media is lost, then in all probability, so is the computer that has the DRM key authorising my use of cloud-stored media. So this DRM thing is no better than the situation I have now.

- If the media does outlive me, it can be passed on to someone else. Try doing that with your iTunes collection.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: DRM - Wont be getting my cash.

I seem to have no problems with DVDs in-spite of region locks. This could be because the DVD is otherwise just another way to store an ISO-9660 filesystem (which is not region locked) and the actual media, whilst supposedly "encrypted", is easily broken from its DRM-prison. (Thank-you libdvdcss!)

As for music, I'm with you. Most of the stuff I listen to is available on CDs and many also on LPs, which are "good enough" and have no digital anything. I have not downloaded an MP3 in over a decade, and don't plan to start now.

Big media have shot themselves in the foot from where I sit.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: CDM is better than plugins

True, it's less proprietary code, and less that can go wrong.

I just don't like Adobe's track record and would prefer an open-sourced equivalent in its place. If I can't have that, then I guess I'll do without the content.

Over to you, content makers.

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Telstra offers six explanations for its dud Netflix rating

Stuart Longland
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Re: Give'm a break

Not a bad bunch until you spend 3 hours dealing with their helplessdesk.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: What do people expect?

I think they're planning to replace the copper with runs of wet string…

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Metadata scope creep sees Border Force ask for access

Stuart Longland
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Re: Scope Creep

Then the only thing we can do is generate lots and lots of metadata so the signal to noise ratio becomes so poor they have trouble justifying the cost of collecting and processing it.

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Home routers co-opted into self-sustaining DDoS botnet

Stuart Longland
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Mushroom

Re: Class action?

But then what happens when it's learned the cost to do it reasonable would price ANY home router out of the affordability range? What if the average home user can ONLY afford an insecure router?

Yes, it'll probably make the devices more expensive, thing is, WE as in the TECHNICALLY COMPETENT subset of the industry, are FED UP with CHEAP SHITE that winds up costing EVERYONE.

These routers feature coding and configuration errors that I'd expect schoolboys to make. Some of them aren't actually cheap routers either. I've seen industrial-rated kit priced close to four figures that feature shockingly bad security holes. (I'm looking at you, Netcomm!)

Botnets like the ones described in this article ultimately hurt everyone. Not just the victim who cops the DDoS, but also the owners of the routers compromised, who no doubt are wondering why they are burning through quota so quick.

If they want to cut costs, I have a suggestion: outsource your firmware images to the open-source community. Work with us, not against us.

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Stuart Longland
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Re: Class action?

Depends on who the target of the botnet is… if it attacks a SCADA system somewhere, or perhaps an emergency services call centre, it very well could be life and death.

I'm normally not a fan of class action type suits, but so far the home router industry has stuck its collective fingers in its ears and yelled "La la la NOT LISTENING!!!" so having a pound of flesh extracted via the courts might make them take notice.

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Mozilla flings teddy out of pram over France's 'Patriot Act'

Stuart Longland
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So what then, we start Bittorrent-ing our Linux ISO images from now on to gratuitously generate more traffic and make the haystack bigger?

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Stuart Longland
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They stuff with my infrastructure, they'll face my ban hammer.

I've noticed since I've tweaked my fail2ban rules, while China overrepresents the rest of the world by a big margin, France is up there in the cracking stakes.

My modification was to start taking into account the number of attempts from given subnets and to ban based on the number of past attempts. Hit me from one IP address and it gets banned, hit me from another IP in that subnet (up to a /16), and the subnet will get banned. Chinanet have pretty successfully firewalled themselves off using that technique, China Unicom aren't far behind and neither is Iliad Entreprises (France).

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Enjoying the Spring? Microsoft has 13 ways to fix that

Stuart Longland
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Re: Windows 10 will be updated like a Linux distribution

Since kernel v4.0, even that is optional.

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