* Posts by John Sturdy

379 posts • joined 22 Jan 2008

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Brits who live in 'smart cities' don't really know or care

John Sturdy
FAIL

A smart city shouldn't be casually detectable

If you notice your city being smart around you, it's not smart.

Things like this should Just Work, quietly and inconspicuously.

Maybe over the long term you might notice things working better than they did before, but moment-to-moment, things you notice are likely to cockups.

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Flinging Slack at them won't get team talking – senior Etsy engineer

John Sturdy

Re: WTF?

Sometimes it's handy to have something that shows the messages as they come in, without having to take an explicit step of "reading mail". IRC FTW.

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Is Dublin becoming as unaffordable as San Francisco?

John Sturdy

Re: Housing shortage

And Limerick has excess housing, and also possibly an excess of tech workers (maybe now commuting?) left over from when Dell went.

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Would you let cops give your phone a textalyzer scan after a road crash?

John Sturdy

That one's easy to filter

It's likely that what you'll do after a crash is to whip out your phone and dial the emergency number (999 / 112 / 911 / whatever) which is a distinct and well-known number that cops should be capable of recognizing.

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USB-C adds authentication protocol

John Sturdy

Yes, my first thought was "Apple are going to love this." For better or for worse.

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Tay talks back: What made you think you beat me?

John Sturdy
Childcatcher

With the latest compact hardware

Furby 3.0, thy name is Tay.

Or maybe the Barbie Liberation Front might get involved and plant some new, liberated, voiceboxes in the Barbies, Kens, and G.I. Joes?

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Blighty starts pumping out 12-sided quids

John Sturdy

Re: Parking and Vending Machines

Because it would have to be online, which requires either installing a wired connection, or paying for mobile data?

Plus the privacy concerns, of course, as raised by others.

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Reddit's warrant canary shuffles off this mortal coil

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

The NSA might even like that

The problem with that is that it gives more information to the NSA, as they look at which users stop using the service when the canary disappears; it'll be a clue as to who wants to hide what.

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Furious English villagers force council climbdown over Satan's stone booty

John Sturdy
Thumb Up

Re: The compensation culture at work!

The rock clearly is designed with human fallibility in mind: it appears to have suffered little, if any, damage from the collision.

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William Hague: Brussels attacks mean we must destroy crypto ASAP

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: Greatly reassured.

We are all known to the authorities.

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John Sturdy

The only way that banning the anonymous sale of phones is not going to increase phone theft is phone theft already being at a high enough level to cover the criminal need for anonymous phones.

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Snowden 'more helpful than dangerous' says ex-Colin Powell aide

John Sturdy

Re: BS

Or alternatively, what if he is still working for the NSA, his job being to convince the public they had less capability than they really do (but more than the much of the public previously thought they do), to get the public off guard?

I think that's likelier than your suggestion, but less likelier than the simplest explanation, that he is a real whistleblower.

At first, I thought the explanation I've written above was likeliest, because (having read "Spycatcher" and seen how thorough compartmentalization can be in a security agency) I found it unlkely that one person would have access to such a range of information, but apparently the US security agencies reduced their compartmentalization in the panic after 9/11, so it makes more sense that he is simply what he presents as.

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US govt says it has cracked killer's iPhone, legs it from Apple fight

John Sturdy

Re: I wonder if the FBI will claim they found something of value on the phone?

Whether they actually cracked it is irrelevant. We have no way of knowing what, if anything, is behind the announcement (unless someone decides to be Snowden 2.0).

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Tor Project works on anti-FBI defenses amid iOS row with Apple

John Sturdy

Re: Please let it not be shut down

Perhaps the next stage will be TOR over steganography. At least Trump's making plenty of noise to hide the signal in.

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HP Inc won't shake you down for ink in 3D printer era, says CTO

John Sturdy

Re: Great, but I don't trust them

I remember their QIC tape drives; everyone else's QIC drives looked for a physical End Of Tape marker (a small hole in the tape, detected optically). If you missed or ignored that, the tape would come off the reel inside the cartridge. HP's drives looked for a soft marker written into the data on the tape instead, and ignored the hole. The soft marker was written on when the tape was formatted before use; and HP sold pre-formatted tapes, and didn't release the formatting program.

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John Sturdy
Boffin

Identifiying the real problems

From what I've seen of 3D printers in my local hackerspace, the worst thing that's holding them back is reliability and ease of use; a lot of time is spent unclogging the nozzles, fettling the filament feed, etc; as well as re-starting jobs that didn't stick down properly to the bed on the first attempt. Maybe that's what they mean by "quality of parts" but it looks to me like there's still a lot of improvement possible in the design.

He's right about speed, though.

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Comms 'redlining' in Brussels as explosions kill up to 30 people

John Sturdy

Re: Not only in the capital

If the bastards win, that's when they will start the serious killing. Presumably all "infidel"s?

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FBI backs down against Apple: Feds may be able to crack killer's iPhone without iGiant's help

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Am I being too cynical here?

My guess is that the FBI decided that there was probably nothing of interest on the phone (after all, the user destroyed their other phones but not this one), but they didn't want to risk proving this. If Apple gave them what they were asking for, the decrypted data would then show incontrovertibly that this was the case. If a third party makes a less definitive attempt at it (e.g.a bungled one), the FBI's PR can spin it to their advantage.

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Irish shun beer, whiskey in favour of … wine

John Sturdy
Pint

Irish alchohol licencing

Possibly something to do with it being easier in Ireland to get a licence to sell wine than to sell other alcohol; see Wine Retailer's On Licence (which also applies to "off" sales, as the web page points out, or as you can find by asking any Irish village shopkeeper).

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Uncle Sam's boffins stumble upon battery storage holy grail

John Sturdy
Boffin

About "After that much driving you should be taking at least an hour break anyway."...

Other technical changes (self-driving cars) may render that irrelevant.

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Humans – 1 Robots – 0: Mercedes deautomates production lines

John Sturdy
Coat

Meanwhile in Hoxton...

Some hipsters will no doubt be trying to convince people that they'll soon be able to print their own cars to individual bespoke designs in a specialized café with a 3D printer.

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Google human-like robot brushes off beating by puny human – this is how Skynet starts

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Danger

Yes, if it had suitably generic problem-solving algorithms it should spot that the quickest way to get the task done involves taking a little time off the main task, to remove anything that's interfering with the main task.

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Drone-busting eagles to darken Blighty's skies?

John Sturdy
Big Brother

Re: Security Theatre

I suspect the cops' real interest is in removing sousveillance drones at protests. Only Big Brother will be allowed to film protests.

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Show us the code! You should be able to peek inside the gadgets you buy – FTC commish

John Sturdy
Thumb Up

Re: Wait, what?

Yes, it does look remarkably like a US public official talking some kind of sense.

That she appears to know what source code is is also encouraging.

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Forget infrasound, now it's ultrasound that's making you ill (allegedly)

John Sturdy
Childcatcher

Won't someone think of the doggies?

I doubt that cleaning up on ultrasound emissions will make much difference to humans, but other species might appreciate it.

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$30 webcam spun into persistent network backdoor

John Sturdy
Boffin

Liability AND benefit (Applies to everything?)

Although it's a liability when someone else does it, there are all sorts of benefits to being able to customize a camera yourself.

The one that appeals to me is using the steady stream of data with low information density as the carrier for steganography --- thus using surveillance equipment to counter another form of surveillance.

To get a suitable data stream, point the camera so it includes some of the outdoors in its field of view; trees waving in the wind, shadows of clouds moving across the lawn, birds flying past... an empty room might not be good enough in itself. Or maybe a fishtank would do. I wonder whether spies will now start taking an interest in anyone with a webcam showing their aquarium, and wonder what they're hiding?

That being said... being able to reflash it without physical access, or at least a user-settable password, would be appalling. But the OpenWRT instructions make it look like that's not what's happening here.

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John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: Second hand kit

Sounds like good reason to reflash all such second-hand kit whenever possible. And perhaps new kit too, for that matter.

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Sigh ... c'est la vie: France mulls mandatory encryption backdoors

John Sturdy
Facepalm

Would the banks take the appropriate measure?

Would they dare to withdraw cashpoint service and online banking? One day of that would probably be enough to change the politician's minds. (Unless their ministers, like Bertie Ahern when Minister of Finance in Ireland, don't have bank accounts.)

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Beware the terrorist drones! For they are coming! Pass new laws!

John Sturdy
Coat

Featherweight armament for attacking meatbags

You could terrorize a crowd (in, say, a shopping mall) with a quadcopter with sharpened metal rotor blades, with face detection software on the onboard computer, and programming it to aim just below the face, i.e. go for the throat. It would weigh little more than a standard one, and look the same except when examined very close up with the motors off.

Not too hard to defeat by people who're not panicking, but that won't always apply.

So a weaponized drone isn't going to be that easy to distinguish. Hope that doesn't encourage them to ban them all, though.

Mine's the kevlar hoodie with steel mesh balaclava, thanks.

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Future Snowden hunt starts with audit of NSA spooks' privileges

John Sturdy
Happy

That's comforting!

Having read "Spycatcher" and seen the level of compartmentalization within an agency (departments were spying on each other because of mistrust of potential moles, without each department spotting that they were being spied on), I had been suspicious that Snowden was an NSA plant, leaking that "we're doing X amount of surveillance" to hide the fact that they were really doing 3X amount of surveillance. But the post 9/11 sharing is more plausible, and makes Snowden more plausible to me. Not that I completely dismiss my earlier idea, to be on the safe side.

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I survived a head-on crash with driverless cars – and dummies

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: I wonder...

It should be able to avoid the holes left where the researches drilled out road sample cores, anyway.

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Mutant space germs threaten International Space Station

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Opportunistic pathogens

For opportunistic pathogens to cause a problem doesn't require suppression of the immune system; it can simply be that something that's harmless in one place is harmful in another. I've recently found this through personal experience, having had shoulder surgery in which one of the incisions happened to pass through a hair follicle, thus pushing propionibacterium acnes (the pathogen that causes acne, but otherwise lives as a harmless commensal in hair follicles) deeper into my body, causing an obvious majorly inflamed area and a risk of arthritis in two years if it got into the joint capsule. The treatment was six weeks of intravenous antibiotics. I normally shake off infections fairly quickly, so it's not as if my immune system was compromised.

(There's an interesting experimental preventative treatment for this problem, by the way: seal the skin with cyanoacrylate, thus gluing the bacteria into place.)

I guess they'll carry quite a range of antibiotics, and a quick google search indicates that crew medical officers are trained to insert IV lines. I don't know what they'd do about the equivalent of a drip chamber in zero-g, but I'm sure someone's found a way round that one.

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California enormo-quake prediction: Cracks form between US boffins

John Sturdy
Devil

Predicting one is safer than predicting safety

Predicting one is clearly the safer option, especially in as litigious a country as the USA. Remember L'Aquila?

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Linux kernel dev who asked Linus Torvalds to stop verbal abuse quits over verbal abuse

John Sturdy
Boffin

I'm pretty sure Linux has got a solid enough position that it's not likely to be displaced for a long time; the nearest direction I could see making a sensible challenge would be something that's developed with both real-time response and maximum security in mind from the ground up, rather than backfitted; and maybe a strong emphasis on keeping the footprint small, too. But I suspect people will keep patching the general-purpose project to keep it good enough in these areas to fend off newcomers.

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US tries one last time to sway EU court on data-slurping deal

John Sturdy
Big Brother

Not unrestricted

It's not unrestricted; there is a restriction, which is set to zero restriction.

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Woman makes app that lets people rate and review you, Yelp-style. Now SHE'S upset people are 'reviewing' her

John Sturdy
Holmes

$deity already gave us a warning

For is it not written in the Proverbs of King Solomon, It is better to meet a mother bear robbed of her cubs than to meet some fool busy with a stupid project.

Someone saw that one coming a few millenia in advance.

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So, what's happening with LOHAN? Sweet FAA, that's what

John Sturdy

Appropriate (although challenging)

There'd be a certain satisfaction in launching from Rockall; I think that's the best suggestion so far, and it's probably easier than from Everest.

That being said, some people say China's not bad for lack of over-applied regulations.

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VW’s case of NOxious emissions: a tale of SMOKE and MIRRORS?

John Sturdy

Re: Gaming the system

And that normally honest engineers have gone along with it because they've conceded that the official standards are unrealistic?

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'To read this page, please turn off your ad blocker...'

John Sturdy

Re: Downvotes

Sometimes I've found ads on El Reg so visually intrusive that I've copied and pasted the whole article text into an editor and read it there. I can't remember any specific articles; the last one was a while ago.

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John Sturdy

Re: liability....

Very occasionally (maybe a couple of times a year), I'll see a web advert for something I might have bought had I found about it some other way; then, to discourage (or rather, not encourage) advertising, I don't buy it.

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ROBO-TENTACLE with mind of its own wields deadly electrical power – turns on Tesla car

John Sturdy
Boffin

Put all the machinery in the car, so it goes where the car goes

I'd be more impressed with an arm that extends from inside the charging point, with a high-current plug on the end, and plugs itself into a socket that way. Or even, as a last resort, have a local domestic mains plug on the end of the arm, and plug itself into any wall socket it can see.

Then the car wouldn't have to be positioned in such an expensively equipped specific place, to be able to get itself charged automatically.

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Smartphones are ludicrously under-used, so steal their brains

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Meh

Yes, powerful phones have helped make such computing power a commodity, and the same technology might as well be embedded in the devices. But interfacing with the phone identifies you to the embedded technology, and gives it your profile / preferences / settings.

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DEATH by VEGETABLES: Woman charged with killing boyf using carrots. And peas

John Sturdy
Coat

At least she didn't resort to triangular flapjacks.

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Land Rover's return: Last orders and leather seats for Defender nerds

John Sturdy
Linux

Do the honourable thing at the end of production, please, JLR

Please, for such a heritage item... when you stop the production, please open-source the design!

Then those who wish to produce [upwards-]compatible vehicles can start from a common base, and be compatible with each other.

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ALIEN HUNT: Water similar to life-bearing Earth lakes FOUND ON MOON of Saturn

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Don't want to rain....

No doubt the Finns will be able to make a variant of salmiakki from it.

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Rackspace in Crawley: This is a local data centre for local people

John Sturdy

Re: Nice picture ....

They're all virtual, and hence too small to see ;-) That way, when the NSA break the door down, they won't find them.

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Lawyer: Cops dropped robbery case rather than detail FBI's StingRay phone snoop gizmo

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Couldn't happen over here, of course ;-)

Here we can just hold trials partly in secret. (My best guess about R. vs Incedal is that something like this was involved, but I'm probalby being naive.)

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EXPOSED: Google, Obama caught doing it once a week

John Sturdy
Thumb Up

Whatever the downsides are, it's refreshing to see a government paying attention to someone competent in a field, rather than the usual crowd of bootlicking cronies.

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Nesting falcons interrupt £200m Vodafone 4G mast upgrades

John Sturdy
Boffin

Is there anything harmful in the base station signal at such a short range? I can imagine the Daily Mail getting hold of the story and predicting huge mutant falcons within a generation!

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Cisco posts kit to empty houses to dodge NSA chop shops

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: Don't buy US kit

China seems to be a threat primarily to its own citizens, and the Taiwanese, Tibetans and other neighbours. In the west, we're more likely to be troubled by western spying.

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