Feeds

* Posts by Chris Miller

2471 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

Ingredient found in TASTY BEER is GOOD for your BRAIN

Chris Miller
Silver badge
Pint

Re: 3,520 pints a day?

I'm there! Might have to start tonight's session a bit earlier than usual, though.

1
0

DARPA joins math-secured microkernel race

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Good luck with that

But even if it were possible to create provably secure software (ah hae ma doots), all you'd need then would be provably secure hardware to run it on and provably secure people to operate it. As Bruce Schneier points out:

the mathematics are impeccable, the computers are vincible, the networks are lousy, and the people are abysmal. - Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World

2
1

Want to see the back of fossil fuels? Calm down, hippies. CAPITALISM has an answer

Chris Miller
Silver badge

@mark 63

The geological process for producing oil, coal etc is immensely inefficient. Current global energy usage is a tiny fraction of total insolation. Look it up.

So we can easily* (even with current technology) meet all our energy requirements from sunlight. What we can't do is store it in an energy-dense form that can be as effectively distributed as petrochemicals can.

* Easily, in the sense that we'd need to invest trillions in solar farms and electricity grids, but the numbers work.

4
3
Chris Miller
Silver badge

I agree that H2 is problematic to store and distribute. But I think Tim is talking about a home-scale operation, where you have cheap solar panels to provide electricity during the day, and you crack the storage problem by generating H2 for use overnight - so you wouldn't need to store all that much of it.

I used to be with a small (compared to SSE, EDF etc) outfit called Flow Energy, who have a cunning plan to use the waste heat from your gas boiler to generate electricity. They reckon that they can afford to install the technology in your home at their own cost, lock you into a five year contract, after which time they've made a profit and let you continue using your new boiler. They have consumer trials going on at the moment, but haven't gone into production yet.

8
0

Biz coughs up even less for security, despite mega breach losses

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Estimating security breach losses

I entirely agree that it's "a hopelessly inexact science". But if a consistent methodology is used, at least the trend ought to be telling us something.

0
0

Nicked iCloud snaps: Celebrities were 'dumb' – new EU digi boss

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: The weakest link

Apple did contribute to the problem, because they (inadvertently) left a recovery mechanism that allowed unlimited failed password attempts without locking out the account. That having been said, you can't do much to help people who think "password" is a strong enough password for any purpose, or even the 'clever' ones who chose "Passw0rd"

5
0

Ello, 'ello, what's all this then? We take a spin on the new social network driving everyone loopy

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: noun too

It's a transitive verb in British English, usage as a noun is marked as 'colloquial'. 'Invitation' is the noun in Britain, but our US cousins are more laid back about nounifying verbs. I imagine that speakers of Hungarian, with its wonderfully complex grammatical structure, are sensitive to this kind of thing.

6
1

BT claims almost-gigabit connections over COPPER WIRE

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: Copper wires?

Talk to a BT engineer. I'll settle for 'many' if that makes you feel better.

0
0
Chris Miller
Silver badge

Copper wires?

Most domestic connections use truly nasty aluminium (yes, cousins, that is now the correct spelling). How will that fare at 1Gbps?

1
4

Range Rover to fit trendy new SUV with FRIKKIN' LASER HUDs

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: Call me sceptical

Very much the same in the UK. Coupled with a massive over-proliferation of street signage in towns, one might almost think the authorities were trying to catch drivers out.

@stucs201 no-one has ever seen an Evoque off road.

2
0

Will Europe's ISPs unmask anonymous IP infringers?

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: I'm confused (again)

There is a non-trivial difference. First, you can be compelled to hand over your encryption keys, but it requires a court order (not a huge hurdle, admittedly). And second, at least you know that you're being so required.

2
1
Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: Not rocket science

UK mail is (mostly) scanned by OCR systems that identify the postcode (ZIP code) of the destination and sort it appropriately. They don't work very well on handwriting, of course. To what extent this information is recorded I have no idea.

0
1
Chris Miller
Silver badge

I'm confused (again)

On the one hand, it's impossible for an ISP not to 'know' (at least at the level of a building or corporate entity) the source/destination of an IP packet. OTOH anyone (with a bit of skill) can use encryption to disguise the content and possibly (by using TOR) the identity of the 'other end' of the dialogue.

So what's this 'debate' trying to say? Do they want to make it illegal to run a TOR node or use encryption*?

Anyone?

* Don't laugh - French law did make it illegal to encrypt data for many years.

15
0

ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee

Chris Miller
Silver badge

What Sir Tim implied

The market works well so long as nobody except the government prints money. That's why there are laws against forgery.

0
0

Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't

Chris Miller
Silver badge

CTO?

I've always viewed Larry as the world's greatest salesman (OK, perhaps third after Tony Blair and Bill Clinton) - but is he anyone's idea of a technology leader*?

* Yes, I know that the concept that any manager should have a clue about what they're managing was a silly 20th century delusion.

3
0

Oracle's Larry Ellison quits as CEO – new bosses are Hurd'n'Catz

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Best of luck trying to run Oracle with Larry breathing down your neck. Still, I expect the share options are good.

2
0

Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: wtf

A sandwich made with a square sausage, of course. Another delicacy to set alongside deep-fried Mars bars.

4
0

PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away

Chris Miller
Silver badge

When that happens, the black hole we found in M60-UCD1 will merge with that monster black hole

That should be worth watching - from a safe distance, couple of Mpcs perhaps.

1
0

Boffins: Searching for ALIENS is like looking for PIZZA among students

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: Ozone?

The argument runs that on a planet without an active biosphere, any oxygen in the atmosphere will rapidly* become incorporated into material on the surface in the form of oxides and carbonates etc. This is what we see in the solar system on Mars or Venus. So ozone indicates the presence of O2 being converted by the action of UV photons.

But this article is saying that O2 could be created by non-biological processes, so a more sophisticated test is required.

* rapidly in geological terms, i.e. over millions of years.

3
0

Weekend reads: A new Poirot, drug-fuelled Champagne Supernovas and The Establishment

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Owen Jones is one of a dwindling species, someone from a working class background

Not everyone from Sheffield who can put on a south Yorkshire accent is working class. His father was a very senior trade unionist and his mother was a university lecturer. He was parachuted as a policy research wonk into the Labour party, and has never done a day's work in his life. None of us can do much about our origins, but if Owen Jones is working class, I'm Marie of Romania. His only purpose on The Guardian is to make George Moonbat and Polly Twaddle look like intellectuals. This review, like the book itself, is very poor sixth-form stuff. For a better one, you could do much worse than to look here.

12
1

Scottish independence: Will it really TEAR the HEART from IT firms?

Chris Miller
Silver badge

@IaS

Brilliant comments (which is to say, I agree). But I actually think its worse than that for the euro.

The only logical solution would be to split the euro into two: the northern countries - Germany, Scandinavia & Benelux - would have a Neuro; and the southern countries - Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece - would have a Seuro (not sure about France - their economy belongs in the Seuro, but their amour propre may require them to be in the Neuro, if the Germans would permit it).

This might have worked at the outset, but now, as Blackadder might say: it is an excellent plan, Baldrick, with just one tiny flaw. German banks hold a lot of their assets in Seuros (understandable - Greek assets were paying about 5% and German ones roughly 0% and since they were all equally denominated in euros nothing could possibly go wrong ...). If the euro were split, these assets would swiftly depreciate and many German banks would be insolvent (as you point out some are already technically insolvent and are just trying to pretend it ain't happening) and it's not clear who has enough money to bail them out.

The only sensible thing Gordon Brown ever did was to keep the UK clear of the euro, even though he only did so to spite Tony Blair, who was desperate to join, and not for any economic reason.

2
0
Chris Miller
Silver badge

attitudes towards the EU

I'm not sure that there is the strong divergence you describe - UKIP have a Scottish MEP, and though their proportion of the 2014 vote was much lower in Scotland, that's largely explained by the existence of a much better established protest vote party in the SNP. It seems strange that Scots would seek escape from the 'hegemony' of Westminster, where they have a strong representation (many would say over-representation), and then throw themselves into the arms of the fundamentally anti-democratic EU where they would, at best, be a negligible force.

0
0
Chris Miller
Silver badge

@I ain't Spartacus

Your argument is logical, but overlooks the political realities (which always trump actual realities). The UK is not the only EU state faced with a potential secession, and those that are will not wish to set a precedent and encourage their minorities by treating seceding states with generosity. Spain (Catalunya and the Basques plus possibly Anadalucia and Galicia) would definitely veto any Scottish application to (re)join the EU (any new entrant requires unanimous support from all existing members). And even if they didn't, one or more of France (Corsica plus possibly Brittany and Alsace), Italy (Lega Nord), Belgium (Vlaams Belang) almost certainly would.

0
0
Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: The REAL problem with Scottish independance

No problem IaS, just threaten to cut off their supplies of Bucky. Glasgow will be on its knees within a week.

5
0
Chris Miller
Silver badge

"the Scottish Government has always had a more positive policy towards skilled cheaper migrants" said a director of a software house.

FTFY

3
2

Airbus developing inkjet printer for planes

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Forget 'Hello Kitty'

What about this one? (Regularly to be seen over London en route between Heathrow and Los Angeles.)

10
0

Cloud? Nah, we're not bothering with that, say HALF of enterprises

Chris Miller
Silver badge

If you want to find out what businesses think about the 'cloud', you need to define clearly what you mean by 'cloud'. At one extreme, you've got 'put all your business data and servers onto Amazon/Microsoft/Google/whatever' (which no-one is seriously contemplating - are they?). At the other you've got 'colocate your web server' or 'use Salesforce.com' (which almost everyone does to some extent).

It suits the marketeers and buzz-word manufacturers to be able to obfuscate the position by claiming that everything is moving to the cloud, but it doesn't help those of us who inhabit the real world.

1
0

Ballmer PERSONALLY wrote Windows' Blue Screen of Death text

Chris Miller
Silver badge

@Gene

Sounds like you're talking about Netware 3. Netware 4 had Netware/Novell Directory Services (which MS eventually 'ripped off' to create Active Directory) and it worked very well at the thousand user level.

3
0
Chris Miller
Silver badge
Windows

Re: Maybe I was just lucky

And the more I learn about systems, the luckier I get.

1
0
Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: Hung so much?

I agree. We implemented a couple of thousand Win3.1 desktops running Word/Excel with a Novell 4.1 backend (that should tell you how long ago this was). Most users left their PCs running 24x7, logging in at the beginning of the day and logging out when they went home. We started getting occasional unpredictable errors - can't open file, that sort of thing - which were fixed by powering off and then on again (yes, I know) but returned after a few weeks.

We traced it to a bug in the Novell front end that was failing to release a couple of handles at logout. After a cycle of 20 or so, there would be insufficient handles (I seem to remember there were only 64 available to users, but memory is fading) for normal operation. When we reported it, we were told that no-one had ever seen a Windows system that had been operating so long without a reboot.

Try telling that to t'youth of today ...

7
0

The IT kit revolution's OVER, say beancounters - but how do they know?

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Y2k

Apart from the (very necessary and largely effective) recoding of antique COBOL (and other) code necessary to avoid Y2k errors, there was also a huge surge in spending (mostly on PCs). Some flim-flam merchants tried to persuade PHBs that their PC fleet would all turn up its toes and die on 1/1/2000 - this was (almost entirely) a lie. Some IT/infrastructure managers, took advantage of 'free' (at least, in budgetary terms) money to refresh their PC fleet, leading to the aforementioned surge in PC spending, followed by a compensating drop over the next few years. I know, I was that IT manager.

3
0

Vulture News anchor Regina Eggbert is (sort of) LIVE from London

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Dear Regina

There is no letter 'haitch', so it's Aitch-P, Aitch-MP etc. Haitch is very hestuary.

Thanks in advance

0
0

Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE

Chris Miller
Silver badge

@Tim Worstal

Could you expand on (or point me to an example of) what a socialist/market economy would look like? I assume it's a bit more than capitalism with people being nicer to each other.

0
0

Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Nice try

but you can't quite match the (Scottish) Sun's headline.

1
0

Loss of unencrypted back-up disk costs UK prisons ministry £180K

Chris Miller
Silver badge

$180,000 is 0.002% of the MoJ budget - that'll larn 'em. Does this involve changing the 6th significant figure in two adjacent columns on some financial controllers spreadsheet?

No doubt 'lessons have been learnt' - the main lesson being that Data Protection breaches, no matter how egregious, have no significant consequences for anyone.

11
0

My big reveal as macro-economics analyst: It's a load of COBBLERS

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: Alternative to QE?

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,

By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;

But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

The Gods of the Copybook Headings - Rudyard Kipling

3
0

BBC goes titsup: iPlayer to News websites down – Auntie working to fix it

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Cracking copyright law: How a simian selfie stunt could make a monkey out of Wikipedia

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Lots of wildlife photos these days are taken with camera traps. I assume no-one would dispute that the person setting up the equipment would have copyright in such images, even though the animal triggers the shutter itself (by its presence) ... but IANAL.

9
1

iPhone owners EARN MORE THAN YOU, says mobile report

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Mean salaries

can be distorted by a few high earners. Median salaries are generally more meaningful.

4
0

LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: A very rude man from the Ministry of Obstruction

I agree, Lester, but (let's face it) it ain't going to happen any time soon - think what it would do to (already sky-high) unemployment. A lot of Spain is quite close to the old Soviet system of "we pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us". Shame, when the country and people are so lovely.

0
0
Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: A very rude man from the Ministry of Obstruction

An admirable desire to stick to your Anglo-Saxon guns, Lester, but do you ever succeed in getting anything done through the local bureaucrats (particularly out in the wilds of Gredos)? To be fair to our Spanish friends, the pay for a lot of their government jobs isn't great and kind of assumes that earnings will be topped up with 'tips' - rather like waiters in the UK.

0
0
Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: A very rude man from the Ministry of Obstruction

How long have you lived in Spain, Lester? Did you remember to accompany your bureaucratic request with a bottle of Carlos Primero? Well, did you?

1
0

BAT-GOBBLING urban SPIDER QUEENS swell to ENORMOUS SIZE

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Spider size

is limited by their respiratory system. Spiders have 'book lungs' (and insects have tracheae) that are not capable of delivering oxygen to interior tissues if the body size becomes too large. So the biggest spiders and insects we see today are about as large as such creatures can get (which is quite large enough, thanks). Sea-dwelling arthropods, such as crabs and lobsters, are less constrained and hundreds of millions of years ago could grow to a couple of metres in length.

2
0

Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: An amazing piece of work?

"One of the most common things I do when receiving a message that looks a bit suspicious is to [...] inspect the content and headers"

Yup, that's what I do, too*. Using Outlook. But please don't let your inability to spend a few seconds reading a help file or use a search engine interfere with your apparent urge to dis all things MS.

The number of people who've set up Eudora for their grannie and think it's therefore the ideal choice for a 10,000 seat workflow driven system continues to amaze me.

* Though it's not what your typical end user will do.

12
5

Ad regulator pulls down Branson-backed magic undies

Chris Miller
Silver badge

It used to be women

targeted by these flimflam merchants. Anyone remember the lead-lined aprons sold in the 90s to 'protect' workers (especially pregnant women) from 'harmful' emissions emerging from VDU screens?

2
0

Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors

Chris Miller
Silver badge

@David L. Webb

Interesting article, and thanks for the link, but I don't entirely agree. The critical bit is:

If any of the other attack methods succeed, the password needs to be changed immediately to be protected—a periodic change is likely to be too late to effectively protect the target system.

There's some truth to this, but the biggest problem with passwords as opposed to more secure (and more expensive) methods of authentication is that you can 'lose' it without knowing that you've lost it. Periodic password changes are a long stop to catch such cases. I would argue that if your security requirements are such that immediate action is vital, passwords alone are the wrong authentication method.

0
0
Chris Miller
Silver badge

@J.G.Harston

The reason for the limitation on Visa (and other) operators is that they use the 'verified by Visa' system that asks you for the 2nd, 7th and 10th character of your password, with the actual ordinals changing randomly each time. They go up to a maximum of 12*. It's intended to make life more difficult for key loggers, shoulder surfers etc.

More generally, the reason for forcing passwords to change regularly is to limit the damage when (not if) one of them 'leaks'.

* not an unreasonable limit. If you allowed (say) 30 character passwords, the chances of most people being able to correctly identify which is the 23rd character of their password is slim.

3
1

The internet just BROKE under its own weight – we explain how

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Re: Name and er, shame?

I think most BGP routers that can't handle more than 512K routes are to be found in science museums. The problem is all the ones that can handle more than 512K routes, but haven't had their config files updated.

1
0

Stanford boffin is first woman to bag 'math Nobel Prize'

Chris Miller
Silver badge

Winning a Fields is much more difficult than getting a Nobel - they're only awarded every 4 years with a maximum of 4 awarded each time. You have to be under 40, so if you're like Andrew Wiles and crack Fermat's Last Theorem at the age of 41, you're out of luck. And the prize money of C$15,000 (Fields was a Canuck) is a bit pitiful by modern standards.

8
0