* Posts by John Sturdy

356 posts • joined 22 Jan 2008

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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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Google Glass DIED from TOO MUCH ATTENTION, Captain Moonshot admits

John Sturdy

Re: Step by step

A cameraless version would have been of interest to me, for a map display while walking in an unfamiliar city in weather cold enough to put me off using a touchscreen phone (the touchscreen-compatible gloves I tried weren't warm enough for all conditions).

Having a camera on the device would put me off though, because people's response to that would damage normal human interaction, e.g. creep them out, piss them off, etc; if I want people to react this way, I'm sure I can do it without augmentation (e.g. talking about politics), but if I don't want them to react this way, I can't do that with augmentation. I don't want to predetermine that by wearing such a device.

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Going on holiday? Mexico wants your personal data

John Sturdy
Thumb Up

Re: I'm liking this Dutch MEP Sophie In ’t Veld

Even more encouragingly, she's on the USA's Secondary Screen Selection list: http://www.expatica.com/nl/news/country-news/Dutch-MEP-a-security-risk_157801.html

Perhaps that's just for supporting privacy, though.

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BBC: We'll give FREE subpar-Raspberry-Pis to a million Brit schoolkids

John Sturdy
Childcatcher

Re: bbc pi is 8bit amtelmega 32u4

The limitations may actually be the point. When kids see something as "a computer" in the modern sense, and think they're going to learn to make it do things like the ones they see computers already doing (e.g. modern games) there's a lot they have to learn to get far enough to stop them thinking that programming is beyond them; and then they will have only just scratched the surface.

But give them something which inherently limits their expectations (for example, having a small grid of LEDs instead of a full colour screen) and they'll have much more chance of taking it as far as their expectations, which is much more rewarding, and likelier to get them to continue to larger systems.

I think the Beeb succeeded because at that time the limits of what you could expect of a computer were much more approachable. Modern desktop systems have so much more in them that making progress that looks significant enough to give encouragement is much harder, and is going to be above more people's thresholds for getting disheartened and giving up.

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EU's zombie data-grab plan climbs out of coffin

John Sturdy
Paris Hilton

How would that have helped Charlie Hebdo?

So where did the attackers fly in from? From their banlieu, of course. Right, let's log and arrest everyone who flies into central Paris from its suburbs.

Paris, obviously. Probably enjoys Oysters and their discount to deter you from buying Underground tickets anonymously.

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So long, Lenovo, and no thanks for all the super-creepy Superfish

John Sturdy

The resignations won't happen

Resignation in response to this would be part of having ideas such as honour and responsibility; and if they had those, they wouldn't have done this in the first place.

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Lenovo to customers: We only just found out about this Superfish vuln – remove it NOW

John Sturdy
FAIL

This wasn't a "mistake"; it was as deliberate as you can get, and they should be made an example of.

As for them not doing it again: at best, it's a matter of them not being able to get away with doing it again. A burglar who is not currently burgling just because he got caught and is in jail is not the same as an honest character.

Unfortunately, even that's optimistic: I expect they'll try again as soon as they can. I hope that enterprise buyers will also avoid their enterprise equipment; after all, who knows what's preloaded on them, that simply hasn't been found and exposed yet?

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Mozilla mulls Superfish torpedo

John Sturdy
FAIL

Re: Antivirus collusion?

I'm disgusted by the BBC's description of it saying it "offered shopping tips"; that's too close to collusion for me.

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Watt the CHIP!? ARM pops out THE most powerful 64-bit Cortex for mobes'n'slabs

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: I'm wondering

Linaro have announced a standard for form factor and connector layout for credit card sized SBCs: http://www.linaro.org/news/linaro-announces-96boards-initiative-accelerate-arm-software-development/

And the first board available in this shape is quite decent: https://www.96boards.org/products/hikey/ (8-core A53 (64-bit) at 1.2GHz).

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Linux chaps want to recycle your mobe as a supercomputer

John Sturdy
Boffin

You could make a cluster with intact phones anyway; how about "wolftooth" for a beowulf cluster that works over bluetooth?

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Humanity can defeat SkyNet with BOOKS, says IT think tank

John Sturdy
Big Brother

Re: Reading books - wats dat ?

Unfortunately, it seems to have become a manual for some sections of the public sector.

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Buggy? Angry? LET IT ALL OUT says Linus Torvalds

John Sturdy
FAIL

Amateur? Professional?

I suspect you're trying to imply that Linux is written largely by hobbyists, with a low level of skill.

In fact, the standard of its developers is high, and many (probably most: http://www.infoworld.com/article/2610207/open-source-software/who-writes-linux--corporations--more-than-ever.html says 80% of kernel patches) are employed to work on it. And many who aren't paid to work on it will be people who are paid to work on some other software.

Not that the correlation between being paid to work at something, and being good at it, is perfect anyway.

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BMW: ADMEN have asked us for YOUR connected car DATA

John Sturdy

Re: So how much will I get paid?

Or you can let it display the ads, and deliberately not buy anything you remember having seen advertised.

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Kiss your Glass goodbye: Google mothballs techno-specs (for now)

John Sturdy
Boffin

It seemed a silly idea to me, until...

I thought it was just a gimmick, until I was trying to find my way around an unfamiliar city in sub-zero weather, when suddenly what I really wanted was a navigational display that I could use without having to hold my phone, and could operate without having to take my gloves off, and I realized that a head-up display with voice control would fit that spec very nicely.

That being said, I could have chosen a coat with a convenient phone pocket on the outside (and just hoped it was secure enough against pickpockets) and conductive gloves so I could operate the touchscreen. And when the weather's cold enough for me to wear gloves, I also wear a hat, so a head-up display in the brim / peak of a hat would have been OK. But I no longer dismiss the Glass as useless.

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This $10 phone charger will wirelessly keylog your boss

John Sturdy
Coat

So how long before some politico wants to ban Arduinos?

Someone's now sure to think the Arduino is a dangerous hacker tool that can be used only for nefarious purposes.

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Careful - your helmet might get squashed by a VOLVO

John Sturdy

Re: What a stupid fucking idea....

Or indeed educating them before the test, which is very rudimentary. One of my first laws on becoming dictator will be to make a reasonably advanced cycling proficiency certificate a prerequisite for getting a provisional driving licence.

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Hold the front page: Spain's anti-Google lobbyists lobby for Google News return

John Sturdy
Coat

This cloud thing may have a silver lining

It may be good for Spaniards (and even better for Basques and Catalans) to get their news about Spain from outside Spain, further from the influence of the Spanish government.

And with governmental behaviour like this, it's no wonder that parts of the country currently constituted as Spain want to get out of it.

It would be a delicious irony if this law is repealed first in the autonomous regions who would like to leave, and the rest of Spain has to get their Spanish online news searches from them.

"I'll get my coat" icon because I hope that the Basques, Catalans, and any other current Spaniards who would like to, can get theirs too.

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Osborne ponders giving fleeing bank customers an API getaway car

John Sturdy
Boffin

Captain CSV to the rescue!!

Well, it would be a start. Some agreement on column headings and even which order they come in. Surely not too difficult for a large industry to agree on... oh wait...

Yes, I'm sure it's not really that simple, but I'm even more sure that what they'll come up will be far more complex than really necessary, and perhaps too complex for almost anyone to use.

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Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'

John Sturdy
Alert

The timing is right

Perfectly timed for her to oversee her country falling behind its competitors, just like she did at HP.

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Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about

John Sturdy
Devil

Re: Why was Ireland 3rd most heavily targeted?

Because corruption in Ireland is pretty blatant, but there's probably a lot more material not yet public, that would be excellent for blackmailing senior politicians into compliance with external interests.

Or possibly just to make up a price list to see which ones to buy.

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John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: Not Certain

The Chinese government seems very interested in spying on the Chinese people (a bit like the American government being interested in spying on the American people, and the British government in spying on the British people) so if the software isn't found in China, that doesn't suggest it's of Chinese origin.

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Yet more NSA officials whisper of an internal revolt over US spying. And yet it still goes on

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: In defense of data slurping

I doubt they're just "logging" the data, for inspection after an incident. They'll be analyzing it continuously as it comes in, looking for things they think should be prevented or at least watched suspiciously (as in McCarthyism).

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Cold? Cuddle these HOT GERMAN RACKS, yours for only 12,000 euro – we swear there's an IT angle

John Sturdy
Boffin

Computer-powered Aga

One company I worked for in the past had an old country house for its main office, which it had to get renovated (OK, the "had to" was the asbestos removal bit, but I digress). The MD was an Aga enthusiast, and the kitchen was next to the machine room, and they looked into cooling the machine room with a heat pump concentrating the heat into an Aga just one wall away. Would have been nice in the winter, not sure about the summer though. And they ended up going for conventionall AC anyway (probably cheaper to install).

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This 125mph train is fitted with LASERS. Sadly no sharks, though

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Good, but not good enough

I'd be surprised if detecting missing clips visually at that kind of speed is that easy. Some kind of proximity sensing might be better (sonar?)

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