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* Posts by John Sturdy

284 posts • joined 22 Jan 2008

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Is tech the preserve of the young able-bodied? Let's talk over a fine dinner and claret

John Sturdy
Unhappy

Now cancelled, it seems

The page pointed to now says:

Unfortunately the April dinner with John Lamb on Digital Enablement of the disabled had to be cancelled. The RTC Club Committee sincerely apologises for the inconvenience.

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Bugger the jetpack, where's my 21st-century Psion?

John Sturdy

Re: It's actually quite a tricky spec.

ISTR the PC3100 was almost instant-on (although it was a resume, rather than a boot); and it ran on 3 AA cells for about 3 weeks.

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John Sturdy
Thumb Up

The one I really miss from that era was the Sharp PC3100; it just fitted in a cargo trousers pocket or a bumbag of that era. Like the Libretto (which had about the same footprint but was around twice as thick) I have one somewhere that I'd like to gralloch to fit a Pi inside.

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John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Drifting OT ... one thing I recall

That sound like the MicroWriter; the keyboard format was re-used for a PDA called the AgendA.

I don't think the mass market, even back then, was up to anything that had a learning curve steeper than pressing keys with the corresponding characters written on them in large letters.

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John Sturdy
Thumb Up

I hope to resurrect my Libretto

I think I still have my old Libretto somewhere, I might dig it out sometime and try putting a Pi or similar-sized machine inside. I expect I'll have to replace just about everything except the case and keyboard, though; but still, it's a nice form factor.

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Friends don't do tech support for friends running Windows XP

John Sturdy
Linux

Re: I've been helping friends (and businesses) upgrade from XP to ...

Yes, just helped someone switch an infested windows machine to Mint (Mate) and they're very happy with it, they say it's much better.

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Getting documents all too easy for Snowden

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: It's not exactly Mission: Impossible is it?

The problem with this is that the better they are at keeping secrets, the harder they are to oversee. Done properly, security in such agencies should keep data compartmented so no individual can see data from divisions other than the one they work for, other than by special arrangement.

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El Reg BuzzFelch: 10 Electrical Connectors You CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT!

John Sturdy
Boffin

Anderson connectors

Nice big genderless DC power connectors; the middle-size ones I use are rated at "a very high current for ten seconds, or 175 amps continuous". They seem to have dropped the 700A version, which had up to 10 data connectors in the middle; I would have called that "data + power, done properly" but it was almost the size of a netbook, which unfortunately probably ruled it out as a contender for a new variant of USB.

Available in lots of colours, too, with slightly incompatible geometries, for different voltages, although everyone seems to ignore the manufacturer's suggested colour coding scheme.

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Ex-NSA guru builds $4m encrypted email biz - but its nemesis right now is control-C, control-V

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: I'm all for bringing encryption to the masses, but...

especially a bloody ex-NSA guy

Does that make much difference? There are two specific situations in which I'd mistrust a company offering closed-box security:

1. Where they employ someone who's publicly known to have been on the NSA's payroll

2. Where they don't employ anyone who's publicly known to have been on the NSA's payroll

I might make an exception to case (1), if that person is Mr Snowden.

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Amazon's 'schizophrenic' open source selfishness scares off potential talent, say insiders

John Sturdy
Boffin

Sirius, Sirius, Sirius

Maybe banks which have strengthened the Linux kernel to meet their statutory obligations should contribute that code and let hackers see *exactly* how they should attack your saving account?

I suggest a web search for "security through obscurity". You'll find that terms such as "fallacy" occur a lot in the results.

Or, in brief (although many web pages explain it better than I can here): if the workings of the mechanism have to be hidden for the system to be "secure", it's not really secure. A really secure system is still secure even when the mechanism is publicly understood. It's the difference between having a door-handle that doesn't look like one, and having a lock that requires a key.

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Google Glass driver told she CAN wear techno-specs while on the road

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Next time ...

But as the driver's head moves, and as the vehicle moves, things which were behind the side bar will become visible; I doubt that obstacles and other road users will remain entirely hidden behind the sidebar for more than a fraction of a second.

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Human overlord Watson lives in the 'clouds' now, in a $1bn cognition unit. Don't be afraid

John Sturdy
Headmaster

The firm claims it's 24 times faster and has seen a 2,400 per cent improvement in its performance.

Would it ask the the firm to explain the distinction between speed and performance?

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Campaign to kick NSA man from crypto standards group fails

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: The enemy you can see

"every participant is untrustworthy", or just "each participant may be untrustworthy"? What if every member of the group is an NSA plant?

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Sony seeks mojo reboot with 147-inch 'honey-you-can't-afford-me' 4K home projector

John Sturdy
Big Brother

Re: Title is too long

"No more commodity products," he promised. "No more parity products. No more 'just good enough' products. We must – and we can – do better."

Well, they were ahead of the game in putting rootkits on commercial media releases.

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Coming in 2014: Scary super-soldier exoskeleton suits from the US military

John Sturdy
FAIL

Re: Battlefield Realities

On top of which, every part will presumably be made by the lowest bidder (or the highest briber).

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That Google ARM love-in: They want it for their own s*** and they don't want Bing having it

John Sturdy

One of the big advantages of ARM is that the chip is so small you can stick it in the corner of the GPU/ASIC/custom lol-cat search combobulator to handle all the ancillary computer stuff while the special silicon gets on with the hard bits

Yes, that's what I had in mind as the main possibility.

Another possibility would be something like ICL's CAFS (Content Addressable File Store) which implemented search functions in the disk controller, matching the data as it passed the disk heads (without having to read it into RAM first). But I expect they're more interested in pulling popular blocks of data into RAM for faster repeated searching.

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John Sturdy
Boffin

If they're going to make their own CPUs, perhaps they could add search-related operations in hardware (or with specialized hardware assist) --- Boyer-Moore search might be amenable to this, for example (just the "search" stage of it, not the table preparation stage).

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Los Angeles' weather is just like MORDOR, says Brit climate prof

John Sturdy

Re: Dick

On a second look, it also shows how well TeX generalizes beyond the fonts for which it was originally designed. Could Knuth be a reincarnation of Fëanor? (it would explain a lot.)

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John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Dick

All it takes for serious principles and scientific processes to look less like they're tweaked to fit a particular dataset and desired set of results is for someone in academia to apply them in a different setting, to show that they generalize plausibly.

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Brit inventors' GRAVITY POWERED LIGHT ships out after just 1 year

John Sturdy
Boffin

or regulate it electronically?

Might it be possible to regulate the mechanical resistance of the dynamo by adjusting the electrical load attached to it (like is done for regenerative braking)?

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DEATH-PROOF your old XP netbook: 5 OSes to bring it back to life

John Sturdy

Young people are getting worrying sensible these days. Some of them, anyway.

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Dropbox is most pleasurable storage cloud for the old in-out

John Sturdy

I don't think I have done anything to attract such personal attention

Isn't using TrueCrypt enough for that? Ok, not really personal, but I'm sure it will have put you on a special list somewhere.

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How Dark Mail Alliance hopes to roll out virtually NSA-proof email next year

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: SMTP?

How about making mail delivery by pull rather than push (i.e. you collect it, like in a webmail service), so that the timing isn't obvious, and whenever you pick up mail, you are also given someone else's mail, which you can't decrypt (not even the headers), to make traffic analysis harder?

Or you could run it like a forum / newsgroup, in which you pick up everything that has come in since you last looked (or some subset, for scalability, perhaps everything on a particular server) and anything that makes sense when decrypted with your private key is for you. Then you don't even need an address as such.

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Steelie Neelie bangs cloudy Euro heads together with EU-wide conduct code

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

The committee will disappear into a dark room

The committee will disappear into a dark room, where representatives of the NSA, GCHQ, and friends will be waiting to advise them.

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Why Bletchley Park could never happen today

John Sturdy

Re: No war

If terrorism were to disappear, the focus would shift to `domestic extremism'. And a lot of that would probably disappear if the government spent similar amounts on the population's psychiatric health.

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Facebook TEENS EXPOSED to entire WORLD

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

This won't make any difference to their chances of getting a job with NSA later, of course.

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NSA using Firefox flaw to snoop on Tor users

John Sturdy

Re: I would like to post a controversial opinion. It's not the truth...

Now you come to mention it... their compartmentalization looks very weak compared with what Peter Wright described in his memoir "Spycatcher". Unless, of course, there are some other departments to which Snowden never had any access.

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Robot WildCat slips its leash and bounds around parking lot

John Sturdy

Not graceful enough yet to replace horses for traditional cavalry moves such as Trooping the Colour. Might work with steampunk makeover, lots of polished brass, leather panels, etc, though.

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Cambridge withdraws from World Solar Challenge

John Sturdy
Boffin

Cugnot's fardier à vapeur had a similar problem! But that was just a road-bump, and progress has continued since then.

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A £30,000, 295bhp 4G MODEM?!? Must be the Audi S3 Quattro, then

John Sturdy

Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Yes, just program the airbags to do that.

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First rigid airship since the Hindenburg cleared for outdoor flight trials

John Sturdy
Happy

Another possible use

For the suitably rich, such a craft might make an interesting alternative to residential ships (such as Residensea's "The World").

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NIST denies it weakened its encryption standard to please the NSA

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: the NSA was one of several contributors

"You need to exclude their contributions entirely." - But how do you know which contributors are spies? It's entirely possible that some spies don't wear cloaks and carry daggers. On the internet, nobody knows you're not a dog --- and they don't know you're not a spook, either. In fact, you might be a spook dog.

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UK discovers Huawei UK staff auditing Huawei kit: Govt orders probe

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: Bah!

Read Peter Wright's "Spycatcher" for a description of self-policing.

IIRC, you have a very secretive organization "a", with secretive departments "a/b" and "a/c". Department "a/b" polices department "a/c" (but "a/c" doesn't know it), and department "a/c" polices department "a/b" (but "a/b" doesn't know it). Neither dares report their findings to anyone, but simply try to trip each other up.

I don't expect that changes in government, technology, society, will have stopped them doing things like this.

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John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: Sauce for the goose?

... if they haven't infiltrated each other by now!

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Brazilians strip Amazon of brazen .amazon gTLD grab bid

John Sturdy

Yes, I was wondering how many people would by from it as "amazon" who wouldn't buy from it as "amazon.com". But it's presumably more about selling registrations within the tld.

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Going lo-tech to avoid NSA snooping? Unlucky - they read snailmail too

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Time to start sending hand-written extracts of the Voynich Manuscript on postcards to any activists you know. It'll be decoded in no time! Likewise, Linear A and Rongorongo.

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Report: Skype set up Project Chess to enable official snooping

John Sturdy
Big Brother

Lands of the Free

Perhaps the USA's proclamations about liberty are in line with the nations that have named themselves "Democratic Republic of *" and "Peoples' Republic of *"?

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REVEALED: The gizmo leaker Snowden used to smuggle out NSA files

John Sturdy

<blockquote> I can't imagine for a minute you'd get SC, let alone DV clearance in the UK if your girlfriend was a pole dancer. </blockquote>

I don't see that that would be a problem. They're likelier to have a problem with your girlfriend being secretly a pole dancer --- blackmailability is the worry, not overt activities that some might disappove of.

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John Sturdy
Big Brother

Dr Ruth is no stranger to friction

"Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense."

Could you have imagined that NASA management would have dismissed a series of concerns flagged by engineers, resulting in a Shuttle failure?

A rigged leak is presumably to misdirect (The Thumb Drive That Never Was.) Of course, if it is rigged, one possibility is that the leak is to say "The secret surveillance is X more than you thought it was", to hide that fact that it's actually X-squared more. But I think administrative idiocy is a better explanation.

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John Sturdy
WTF?

Root password, sure, but why wasn't the data encrypted?

I don't have problems with "lowly" sysadmins being able to move data around, add devices, etc (after all, it's part of their job) but there's no need to keep the data in a form in which those who move it around can look inside it.

Gumbyshire County Council staff failing to encrypt sensitive data is a problem, but unsurprising (they're not recruited for security-related stuff) but the CIA? WTF?

Ah, yes. Perhaps they're recruited to analyze data, not keep it secure?

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Whoever recently showed us the secret documents: Do get in touch

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Aurora

Please say that the next RSPB flight project will do at least Mach 8!

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John Sturdy

Re: @mutatedwombat : Are you sure you want to do this?

"Given the context I'd say 'soliciting' is a reasonable description."

But it's also what journalists normally do.

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John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: Somewhere in the depths of Prism

My flag was raised long ago, I suspect, when I called a friend whose number appeared on some anti-war leaflets (about matters unrelated to war and peace) from the mobile cell covering Shannon Airport (which was already subject of controversy about rendition flights), and got an "error in connection". I tried calling other friends from there, and that worked OK, and I tried calling her from other places, and that worked, so next time I went through Shannon I tried again, and got the same effects.

Apparently they've stopped doing this now (I guess it was too blatant) but I'd be surprised if trying it doesn't get your mobile number flagged.

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NSA PRISM deepthroat VANISHES as pole-dance lover cries into keyboard

John Sturdy
Black Helicopters

Re: Something...

Perhaps people with that kind of job expect to be watched very closely if they book a ticket to somewhere without an extradition treaty. Perhaps they expect to have an accident on the journey.

If you worked for the CIA or one of its contractors, what do you think your boss' reaction would be if they found you booking a ticket to Iceland?

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The bunker at the end of the world - in Essex

John Sturdy
Go

Re: This could be the most visionary piece of forward planning ever.

They seem pretty thoroughly cut off from the rest of us already! Might as well complete the job.

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Penguins in spa-a-a-ce! ISS dumps Windows for Linux on laptops

John Sturdy
Linux

Re: 140 laptops onboard

"Just as mass is an issue, so is space."

So send up some Rasberry Pis! (or beagleboards, or pandaboards).

OK, you have to get the screens and keyboards up there to go with them, but with that ratio of machines to people, I guess quite a few of the machines will be running control functions that don't usually need screen and keyboard. In fact, one screen and keyboard per astronaut, plus a few spares, is probably enough.

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Thousands rally behind teen girl cuffed, expelled in harmless 'explosion'

John Sturdy

What would she have got if she had thrown a triangular flapjack at someone?

What would she have got if she had thrown a triangular flapjack at someone? Death row?

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-21923218

Perhaps Bartow High School and Castle View School should set up a twinning arrangement.

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Wealthy London NIMBYs grit teeth, welcome 'ugly' fibre cabinets

John Sturdy

Re: 6 foot?!

Perhaps they're bigger on the inside.

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Dragon capsule makes fiery entrance, safe splashdown

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Broken Tools

There used to be a story about a Swiss Army Knife being used in space, on Victorinox's site, but the page google returns for that doesn't have the content any more. And duct tape was used on the moon (to attach extensions to the wheelarches of a moon buggy)... so spannering in space is probably much like spannering elsewhere, apart from largely missing gravity and air.

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Cryptome escapes Thales' attack dogs in bank security row

John Sturdy
FAIL

Re: Publishing bank vault combinations and armoured car schedules

That's not analagous to an API definition, which is more like the instructions "turn the dial fully clockwise to reset, then enter your combination, then pull the lever".

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