* Posts by Martin Gregorie

597 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

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Alphabetti spaghetti: What Wall Street isn't telling you about Google

Martin Gregorie

Re: Botnet armies generate clicks

Human viewers employ ad-blockers.

...because ads that jiggle, flash and obscure text are annoying and because of MSAA (Malware Served As Ads). Get rid of both and you might see fewer people running ad-blockers. Do nothing and the ad-blocker kill ratio will surely grow.

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For sale: One 236-bed nuclear bunker

Martin Gregorie

One obvious drawback

I visited the nuclear bunker in Ongar, Essex a year or two back, one May. One of my main memories was that it was rather cold inside, so I think it would be a safe bet that the heating bills for this one, or any other underground nuclear bunker for that matter, would be astronomical.

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Lawyers cast fishing nets in class-action Seagate seas

Martin Gregorie

Numpty is as numpty does

So, Mr Nelson made a 'backup' and then deleted the files from his main drive?

Obviously that is what he did, or he'd still have a perfectly good copy of the lost files on his main drive. In my books that makes him 100% responsible for the data loss because the act of deleting the originals converted his backup into the prime copy but he didn't back up the now prime copy onto another disk and store that offline in a place that protected it from fire or other damage.

No data can be considered safe unless at all times there is a copy that cannot be damaged by mains spikes, fire, etc. This means that you have a minimum of two backup copies so that at least one copy is guaranteed to be safely stored offline at all times. Paranoid, moi? Yes, and a firm believer in Murphy when it comes to protecting data you value.

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Why a detachable cabin probably won’t save your life in a plane crash

Martin Gregorie

Re: detachable cabin system

Its also worth remembering that a cabin ejection is probably only survivable if it happens at altitude, and that that the majority of airliner disasters that weren't take-off or landing accidents have involved collisions, anti-aircraft missiles, cabin decompression or on-board bombs. In all these cases most of the pax would be dead before they hit the ground regardless of whether the cabin was ejected or not.

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Martin Gregorie

Re: Personal parachute

Actually, parachutes are NOT typically used in GA[*] aircraft, mainly because egress is too difficult. Most small GA aircraft only have one small door with the tailplane directly behind the middle of it. So, even if there was space to wear parachutes in comfort, its quite likely the crash would be found with one passenger hung on the tailplane and everybody else still in a scrum by the door.

I've never been offered a parachute in any GA aircraft, not even in a Tiger Moth, from which egress is easy (undo your straps and roll inverted). However, I have a feeling that aerobatic pilots may wear 'chutes, not that this affects passengers, since most aerobatic planes are single seat.

Oddly, gliders are the only class of civil aircraft in which all occupants routinely wear parachutes; in the UK and Europe anyway. In the UK this was uncommon before the mid/late '90s, but that changed after a training glider was destroyed by a lightning strike which both occupants survived because they were wearing 'chutes. This caused a sudden rethink... Besides, gliders are relatively easy to get out of (jettison the canopy, climb out and over the side).

[*] GA stands for General Aviation. This term covers all engine-powered, non-commercially operated aeroplanes and helicopters.

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Apparently we have to give customers the warm fuzzies ... How the heck do we do that?

Martin Gregorie

How NOT to make your customers happy

Sell somebody a long life item, say a fridge, from a store that's so ludicrously understaffed that it takes longer to find a sales droid than to buy the item. Immediately after delivery, start bombarding your customer with several sales emails a week that they never signed up for. Provide an 'unsubscribe' facility that doesn't work.

Curry's, I'm looking at you. You guys certainly know how to provide a perfectly dreadful UX.

In future I'll go out of my way to buy stuff from anybody else but you.

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Four Boys' Own style World War Two heroes to fire your imagination

Martin Gregorie

Fitzroy Maclean

Fitzroy Maclean's life reads like one of the more outrageous adventure novels.

He was a British diplomat in the 30s, requested a Moscow posting from where he got into parts of the USSR that no westerner had visited for 30 years, succeeding in this by sheer cheek. At the start of WW2 he tried to enlist but was prevented because the diplomatic service was a reserved occupation: you could only resign if elected to Parliament. So he stood in a by-election on a platform of immediately joining the army, won, enlisted and became one of the first members of the SAS. After serving in the desert (he he drove into Tobruk and out again while the Germans were still in residence) he was dropped into Yugoslavia to find out who or what Tito was and fought with the Partisans for the rest of the war, taking up his seat in Parliament after being demobbed.

His book, "Eastern Approaches" is a most entertaining read.

10
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Martin Gregorie

Re: Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown

Read his autobiography: "Wings on my Sleeve" to get the full story - DID and the TV docu were good but were very far from telling the whole story.

If you're a pilot or a total aviation fan you'll also want his "Wings of the Luftwaffe", which gives his impressions and handling notes for the various German aircraft he flew.

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Chinese unleash autonomous airborne taxi

Martin Gregorie

Re: Wheels

Yes, put the rotors up high, also use 5 arms, for greater stability and also for safety if a rotor fails.

Thats' already been done. See here:

http://ul-segelflug.de/f-a-e/519-volocopter-safest-airvehicle-in-the-world.html

Both have about a 20 min flight time on a full charge, but at least the Volocopter has a BRS[*] fitted for when it all goes horribly wrong together with rather more redundancy in its control systems and motor collection.

[*] BRS = Ballistic Recovery System. This is proven technology, as fitted to the Cirrus SR-22 among other aircraft. Push the red button and a rocket pulls a parachute out the top so you can float down - always provided you're high enough for the parachute to inflate before you hit the floor.

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Say oops, UPSERT your head: PostgreSQL version 9.5 has landed

Martin Gregorie

Re: Is it bad design

It looks from a quick scan of the proposed PG 9.5 manual changes that this is a reasonable approach given that the ETL crowd may find ON CONFLICT IGNORE clauses useful.

Using the proposed ON CONFLICT clause is, on the face of it, a good way to go because it looks as though not using the clause retains the current behavior, i.e. adding this SQL extension won't harm existing code and you don't have to use the ON CONFLICT clause if you don't want to.

Not using it suits my style because I tend to check whether a row with a unique key exists before attempting an insert rather than trying the insert anyway and handling the exception if the key already exists. This is probably due to over-long exposure to using 4GLs and COBOL to update ISAM files.

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IBM's $16bn software supremo Mills reportedly exits

Martin Gregorie

I understand exactly how you feel about IBM and share similar attitudes.

Nonetheless, their QA was impressive in the '90s. I did quite a bit of development on S/88 (a rebadged Stratus), S/38 and AS/400 back then. All the hardware 'just ran' and I don't recall tripping over any bugs in OS/400 or any of its utilities or compilers.

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Samba man 'Tridge' accidentally helps to sink request for Oz voteware source code

Martin Gregorie

Re: Is source code necessary to validate correctness?

No, I don't think it is. What IS necessary is that the specifications for the voting software should be published and that they should be sufficiently detailed for a competent team to develop a comprehensive test suite from it that includes a set of test cases capable of exhaustively checking the conformance of the voting software to the published specification. All such test suites should be open sourced so that they can be independently verified should their results be challenged.

Electoral law should require that any voter can check the voting software by using a test suite developed from the voting software specification and that, should a independently verified test suite show the voting software is non-compliant with the published specification, the election will be declared invalid.

This approach allows the voting software to remain proprietary while still allowing it to be functionally verified against its public specification.

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4

Entropy drought hits Raspberry Pi harvests, weakens SSH security

Martin Gregorie

Whether this is your problem...

... depends on how your RPi got Raspbian Jessie installed.

AFAICT this is only a problem if you wiped the SD card and installed Jessie from scratch.

I didn't do that. Instead, I tweaked the apt configuration so it pointed at jessie instead of wheezy and then then did an normal upgrade (full procedure described below). If you've done the same, you won't see this problem because the copy of /var/lib/systemd/random-seed that was used by Wheezy is still there and will be used by Jessie when needed.

For those who need it, here's the upgrade procedure I used.

1 Modify the file /etc/apt/sources.list. Change "wheezy" to "jessie" in the first line, so it reads

"deb http://mirrordirector.raspbian.org/raspbian/ jessie main contrib non-free rpi"

2 Modify the file /etc/apt/sources.list.d/raspi.list. Change "wheezy" to "jessie" in the first line and add " ui" to the end of that line, so it reads

"deb http://archive.raspberrypi.org/debian jessie main ui"

3 Create the directory /home/pi/.config/autostart by typing "mkdir /home/pi/.config/autostart" in a terminal. (Note the . in front of config.)

4 Type "sudo apt-get update" in a terminal to update the apt index files.

5 Type "sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade" to start the upgrade process. This will take a couple of hours.

Reboot once the upgrade has finished you will see several messages about "Calling CRDA to update world regulatory domain". Wait until these stop and then login at the command prompt as the pi user. If the GUI doesn't start automatically, type "startx" at the command prompt. The desktop will take several minutes to launch as files are updated; the screen will go black, but just wait for it to finish.

Once the desktop has loaded, open a terminal window and type "sudo apt-get install rc-gui alacarte". This installs the new packages - respectively, the new GUI version of raspi-config and the Alacarte menu editor.

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UK lawmakers warn Blighty to invest more in science, or else

Martin Gregorie

Re: Not all sciences are created equal

Maybe I should have qualified that with "highly reactive experimental chemistry is most fun to watch"?

- fixed it for you.

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Yay, more 'STEM' grads! You're using your maths degree to do ... what?

Martin Gregorie

Euclid is not outdated, worthless knowledge

Mental Euclidian arithmetic is also rather useful for anybody who needs navigation skills: think pilots and many sailors. Calculating drift, or working out your heading from a map is purely Euclid in action. Think a modern pilot doesn't need these skills because GPS? How about emergencies caused by electric power failures or when a CME takes out the GPS, Glonass and Galileo constellations?

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Skype founders planning non-drone robodelivery fleet. Repeat, not drones

Martin Gregorie

Re: Where do these people come from?

How is it ever going to cross the road

Thats easy: it just reaches up, presses the signal on the crossing and waits for the green light like any other pedestrian.

There are only two tiny, insignificant problems: it doesn't have a robot arm and button-pushing finger OR an eye to see the "cross/don't cross" lights.

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US govt drafts Google, Walmart, Amazon, BestBuy execs for drone registration system

Martin Gregorie

Re: I'll bet that ....

A license plate as sole ID is unlikely simply because many drones don't have the panel space needed to display an N number with even 25mm (1") high letters and on top of that it would be unreadable from any useful distance. That said, having the reg. written on the side of every drone is still useful as passive, on-ground ID if you're looking for a lost drone or if a cop thinks you've been a naughty boy.

I'd guess the more likely solution would be some form of low powered transponder or simply a device that broadcasts the reg. every 5 secs or so. Either should be cheap enough to mass produce because it only needs a range of at most 2-3 km (1-2 miles). Using one of the longer range IOT radio link modules would hold costs, weight and weight power use down. As a sweetener, it could double as a finder for downed or crashed drones.

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US broadband giants face 'deceptive speed' probe in New York

Martin Gregorie

main errors of concern

...love it. Noted for future use.

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'Facebook for drones' Altitude Angel offers 'cloud' air traffic control

Martin Gregorie

Re: What is Altitude Angels aim in this?

Agreed: a useful service in theory, but in practice it will only be useful for the bigger and more powerful drones and is unlikely to have much impact on the casual, know-nothing drone user.

I worry about its apparent intent to use a 'radar feed' to handle deconfliction with manned aircraft. This gives me the impression that AA really don't know just how bad low-altitude radar coverage is even in the UK: so was I until I saw the Vulcan vanish from the trackers as it headed south from Rutland Water en route for North Weald the other Sunday. And low-altitude coverage is very poor over much of the US (UAT, which relies on it, is unlikely to work anywhere in the mountains or away from city airports without billions being spent on additional secondary radar installations).

Another worry is that they seem unaware of the FLARM receiver network. This makes gliders, which generally don't show up well on radar, trackable over much of the UK and quite a bit of Europe. FLARM has other uses too: because the transceivers are small, light, cheap and use little power (600mW), they are practical for use on microlites, balloons, hanggliders and parascenders, all of which are pretty much radar-transparent and generally don't carry transponders. As a result, these don't currently get tracked.

I don't think hacking or MIM issues need be a problem: end-to-end encryption will sort that out. In any case, unless AA use cellphones for realtime UAS contact, they'll end up either using satellite links or spending a fortune on relay stations simply to get round the same low-altitude coverage problem that caused the Vulcan to drop off the radar during its last tour.

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So just what is the third Great Invention of all time?

Martin Gregorie

Re: Writing surely is second

Yes: first agriculture, then writing.

However, science trumps mass production. Look at history: the Enlightenment and associated discovery of the scientific method was well established before the Industrial Revolution took off.

BUT, science would have been nearly impossible without numeracy and the associated branches of mathematics. Algebra and geometry were understood by the ancient Greeks, but numeracy requires the concepts or number and positional notation. The latter is very important: adding XVII to LXIV is bad enough, but very few Romans could have multiplied them and it would have taken a genius to do long division. In fact, even arithmetic never really took off until the Indians invented the concept of Zero and hence decimal positional notation. So, IMO, the first few Great Inventions were

1) Agriculture, 2) Writing, 3) Integers, 4) Positional number system, 5) Mathematics, 6) Science, 7) Engineering

Book keeping and commerce was able to be understood by many people once the positional number system made simple arithmetic easy. Science laid the foundations of engineering, which in turn supported building large ships and global commerce. These, along with accountancy, helped to set up overseas empires and then the Industrial Revolution. All this was up and running long before computers were invented, and they preceeded the relational database (and IDMS!) by 30 years.

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LASER RAZOR blunted by KickStarter ban

Martin Gregorie

Re: Shark Laser Razor

A Hammerhead Shark Laser Razor with nice blue headlights for eyes would do nicely.

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Massive global cooling process discovered as Paris climate deal looms

Martin Gregorie

Re: Let me be the first to say..

The one-eyed concentration on global warming by commentards, deniers and Lewis Page is starting to piss me off. There are other good reasons for doing something about increasing CO2 levels that are being ignored.

1) CO2 emissions are increasing the acidity of the oceans, which is definitely harmful to creatures with carbonate skeletons. This is known to be harmful to reefs and plankton, so will have an impact on food supplies, DMS emissions and (possibly) oxygen levels. Plankton make DMS and photosynthesize oxygen. DMS has a role in controlling cloud cover. As we're hell bent on deforestation (trees are good oxygen sources) we may need all the photosynthetic plankton we can get.

2) The Northern hemisphere jet stream is being disrupted by something: this seems to have a lot to do with the recent weather changes, droughts, etc. that afflict the northern hemisphere. What's causing this? For all I know it could be connected with oceanic heat content changes.

I'd like to see more attention paid to these two effects and how they are linked to fossil fuel use and a little less to the rate of change of global temperature.

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Ad-blocking super-weapon axed by maker for being TOO effective

Martin Gregorie

Re: He's not making any sense

I agree that the user should be allowed to choose what to block: the problem is that this particular ad-blocker gives the user no choice other than using it or not using it. By contrast, all the ad-blockers I've used allow the user to choose which advert-sources they want to block, which is a much more nuanced approach.

I started adblocking for two reasons: (1) I hate animated ads and (2) many advertisers are cheapskates whose slow servers make page loading a right royal pain.

What I'd really like to see would be the additional ability to block any ads which are not static or contain links, i.e. plain HTML text, simple .JPG and .PNG images are OK, but GIF, flash, embedded Javascript or anything containing a link or using CSS gets blocked regardless of where it comes from.

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Sierra Nevada snow hasn't been this bad since 1500AD

Martin Gregorie

Re: it is politics, not a shortage of water

@mondoman

What makes you think that damming the Hetch Hetchy valley and piping the water to SF didn't deprive the Central Valley around Modesto of water? As far as I can see the Tuolumne river used to deliver all the water from Hetch Hetchy to the Modesto area and thence straight into the Delta. I see that SF gets 15% of the Tuolumne's original flow. How does that compare with the reduced flow into the Delta that all the fuss is about?

FYI, I know CA quite well though am not so familiar with the way the terms NorCAL and SoCal are used. Nor do I know if there's any accepted term for the middle bit which includes at least part of Central Valley, or is that whole area simply known as Central California? I know the Central Valley fairly well from Tehachapi up to Williams, particularly the areas around Taft and Sacramento.

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Martin Gregorie

Re: it is politics, not a shortage of water

That Congressman also (deliberately?) blinkered himself by considering only the Delta and the Central Valley. To me, what the good burgers of SF are currently doing to the farmers in the Central Valley looks like a rerun of what the inhabitants of LA did to the farmers in Owens Valley back in the 1920s.

Bottom line: Southern California is and always has been at best a semi-arid region and subject to droughts. The sanity of city dwellers demanding unlimited water for parks, lawns and uncovered swimming pools or farmers asserting their right to grow water-thirsty crops like almonds or oranges is, at best questionable. Both groups clearly put "I WANT" far ahead of any consideration for the environmental limitations of where they've chosen to live.

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Burn ALL the COAL, OIL – NO danger of SEA LEVEL rise this century from Antarctic ice melt

Martin Gregorie

Re: Oddly enough, our man also says 60 meters rise --

El Reg's tame climate denier isn't saying anything new. Wake me up when he does.

The total sea level rise due to melting all the ice on Antarctica and Greenland has been known for a long time and so has its timing. This says that climate rise this century will be a few centimeters at most, simply because the thermal conductivity of ice is rather low. So, about all warmer winds and water round the icepack can do is melt the surface of the ice a bit faster without having much effect on the bulk temperature of the icepack. The resulting slow melt rate can cause only relatively slow sea level rise for the next century or two.

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Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership election

Martin Gregorie

Quite. Labour needed to be rid of the last traces of the Teflon-clad, self-regarding NewLabour crew to have any chance of being electable. Now that shower have been given an unmistakable message it may become a credible opposition.

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The last post: Building your own mail server, part 1

Martin Gregorie

Re: Port blocking?

You don't need *any* ports open in your firewall or a static IP.

Use fetchmail or getmail (getmail is better because it doesn't have fetchmail's bugs) to retrieve your mail from your ISP's smartmail host via a POP3 link. No open ports needed in your firewall because getmail opens a connection to the smartmail host.

Your MTA (Postfix in my case) is set up to send outgoing mail via your ISP's smartmail host, so once again no open ports because your MTA opens the connection. Doing this avoids getting your mail blacklisted because it has come from a user's IP address: blacklisting user IPs is quite common, especially if they are dynamically assigned addresses.

The rest? My copy of getmail passes mail directly to Spamassassin. What comes back marked as spam gets quarantined and the rest is passed to Postfix for delivery via Dovecot.

I wrote my own mail archive, based on PostgreSQL. Feeding that is automatic: all incoming and outgoing mail goes through Postfix, which BCCs a copy to the archive. The archive is fast because its a database: it can find any message in 10 secs and optionally deliver it to my mailreader. That's certainly faster than I can ferret through a large mailbox regardless of whether its an IMAP store or not. Details at www.libelle-systems.com if you're interested.

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Ship-swallowing GREEN BIO-STORM spotted FROM SPAAACE

Martin Gregorie

Re: Coming soon

Its not Solaris, but it might could be Greg Benford's "Timescape" appearing 17 years late.

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Squawk, squawk: Today is Vulture Awareness Day

Martin Gregorie

It strikes me as odd that...

...an ornithologist I met in India, who was there to study vultures, knew next to nothing about their flight performance or how they operated in the sky, though she was an expert on their species and breeding habits.

As far as I know, the first study of how African vultures flew and searched for carrion was made by Philip Wills, a well-known British glider pilot, in 1936. He flew with them extensively and was able to deduce just how good their eyesight was from their preferred flying height and the way they spaced themselves out over the veldt. - "On Being A Bird", Philip Wills pp-26-28.

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Brit school claims highest paper plane launch crown

Martin Gregorie
Boffin

Re: I am amazed...

Its very difficult to make anything fly in a straight line without some sort of autopilot because even tiny wing warps mean that a gliding model will fly in a more or less constant circle. The centre of this circular flight path drifts with the wind, so the distance a balloon-dropped glider lands from its launch point is entirely due to the direction and speed of the wind drift it meets on the way up under the balloon and then, after release, as it glides down.

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Care.data is a complete omnishambles, says study into hated scheme

Martin Gregorie

Re: Data protection

I received the letter telling me about it. In the data protection section it said something like 'we have no plans to share your information...at this time'. I opted out, but to do that I had to go to my local doctors surgery in person.

You need to do more than that: read the small print.

I did and, as a result, sent separate opt-out requests to my GP surgery and to the hospitals I've been treated in and so who hold (part of) my medical history. The hospital personnel understood exactly why I was contacting them and registered my opt-out without questioning it.

Everybody who cares about the privacy of their medical data, i.e. not letting it get into the hands of the insurance industry, needs to do the same.

0
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Still 3D printing with one material? We can use TEN, say MIT eggheads

Martin Gregorie

I think its better than that...

...if I understand an unexplained feature of this printer - the scanner - I'm guessing you could use it to help print, say, a gearbox case with metal bearings embedded in its plastic walls. The scanner could be used to measure the bearings' external dimensions to allow for production tolerances so they would not be loose in the finished item. It could also avoid waste by checking the position and alignments of the bearings before starting to print.

1
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Prognosticator, for one, welcomes our new robot work colleagues

Martin Gregorie

The Future of Jobs, 2025:

No need for a report. The simple answer is that he has no future, having been dead for some time. I thought you'd have known that. Did you researcher johnnies mean "The future of Employment" by any chance? Idiots.

1
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Biz that OK'd Edward Snowden for security clearance is fined $30m for obvious reasons

Martin Gregorie

Re: Government always needs a scapegoat.

Yes, but in this case Snowden was entirely the wrong target. The people who should not have been hired were the arse-covering managers who refused to listen when he tried to report security failings to them.

Dunno about Aaron Alexis: was USIS supposed to be screening for homicidal maniacs as well as doing security checks?

And, who should take the rap for outsourcing security to a private company? It sounds like such a stupid thing to do.

23
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Linux boss Torvalds: Don't talk to me about containers and other buzzwords

Martin Gregorie

Re: This seems a very level-headed and straight forward discussion

I was a bit surprised that Linus didn't think that the OS could ever be truly hardened. Perhaps that is just a limitation akin to Godel's theorem?

What Linus said.

Bugs aside, it may be possible to formally prove that an OS can't be fully hardened unless the hardware fully implements hardware rings of protection as used by MULTICS and VME/B and that firmware, hypervisors, OS, and application code are partitioned to take full advantage of the security the rings of protection provide.

Yes, I'm aware that MULTICS and VME/B are ancient OSes and that,of the two, only VME/B is still maintained, that current Intel chips provide a reduced set of rings of protection (4 instead of the 8 used by MULTICS and VME/B) and that the likes of Windows 7 only uses two of them. They could do better: VME/B ran user code at level 7 with user data at level 8 so a program could not write to its code or be made to do so and could not access inner rings except via secure system calls. This level of code protection is totally unknown to Windows 7 (where the kernel runs at level zero and everything else is lumped together in level 2. Dunno Windows 8 & 10 do, but I'd hope the answer is 'better than that'. The same hope applies to Linux, BSD and the Apple OSen.

Can anybody point at current hardware with more rings of protection than Intel chips or at any OS that uses all the levels provided by its target hardware?

Isn't it about time any OS worthy of the name got hardened by making full use of the hardware's rings of protection. Just doing that would reduce the attack surface by quite a large amount.

12
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EU clears UK to give £50m to SABRE space launcher engine

Martin Gregorie

Really good news

That is another piece of good space-related news in the last seven days. The other is the fantastic pictures coming back from Rosetta.

I really hope this works out. If so its yet more vindication for Arthur C Clarke's vision. See his 'Prelude to Space' for one of the first realistic accounts of an SSTO space plane.

9
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Rise up against Oracle class stupidity and join the infosec strike

Martin Gregorie

Re: will it really help?

Oddly enough, yes, there are some governments and companies that can do a good job. Here's an example.

I'd been having a problem renewing a passport (no, not a UK one, but I'm not about to say who in case it embarrasses somebody who doesn't deserve that). The initial part of the online dialog was plain text (no problem there - nothing private involved at that stage), but Firefox 39 refused to start an encrypted connection for the next section (inputting details of the old passport), with the error page making it obvious that this was due to FF39 refusing to use an outdated cypher and the server insisting on it. I had a brief e-mail interchange with the sysadmins, who agreed this this was a problem that would be rectified. They also said that their change process couldn't do the update within my timescale and suggested a temporary workround which got the job done. Result.

Thanks, El Reg, for the article that highlighting the fact that the FF39 release forced the pace by deprecating the older and most broken SSL cyphers. I just didn't expect it to be so immediately useful.

This short (two e-mails each way) and very helpful exchange with the sysadmins in the passport office proves that some governmental departments are helpful and responsive, and will fix problems when brought to their attention.

I just wish I could say the same about HMG and the numptys running it. The latter don't have the brain to recognise that a clueless, tech-free bunch like GDS will never do anything except squander money.

5
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Lettuce in SPAAACE: Captive ISS 'nauts insist orbital veg is 'awesome'

Martin Gregorie

Doesn't taste that good Bones.

It has to be better than that stuff most USAian restaurants sell as lettuce.

4
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Bitcoin can't be owned, says Japanese court, as Karpeles sweats in cell

Martin Gregorie

Re: Is it or isn't it?

Fonzi Scheme ? definitely not!

Ponzi Scheme? possibly.

3
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Bound to happen: BIND bug exploits now in the wild

Martin Gregorie

..and, if you're using RedHat Fedora 20+ or equivalent, the command is "dnf update" because dnf has replaced yum.

0
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The Q7: Audi’s big SUV goes from tosspot to tip-top

Martin Gregorie

Is there a number you can call to report them for booting/towing?

Probably not. All parking areas seem to be managed by the lowest bidding private firms these days. They don't have towing vehicles because employing somebody on a zero hours contract with a book of parking fine tickets is so much cheaper.

I think this also has a bearing on last year's Government cull of valid Blue Card holders. Every disabled Blue Card holder costs us money by getting free parking, dontcha know, so if we tell the Govt its costing them money the dozy sods will believe us and put a stop to it.

3
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US spied on Japanese PM Abe, Mitsubishi, and so much more

Martin Gregorie

Re: Encryption and IT security

Why does that beggar belief?

Cameron, Millibrand and Obama are all identikit Blair clones: they all have very similar backgrounds and education, think the same way and do the same things for much the same reasons.

9
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Robot surgeons kill 144 patients, hurt 1,391, malfunction 8,061 times

Martin Gregorie

Re: How does it compare to human-only surgery?

Are robots better than humans for certain types of surgery? is the prime question that should have been asked and answered. The rest is nice-to-now but irrelevant by comparision.

IMO if the robots vs. humans surgical failure rate wasn't measured, then the source material is garbage and the El Reg article is scarely better because it apparently didn't address this point.

6
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WATCH OUT! Amazon hauled back to court in Special Ops wristjob ding-dong

Martin Gregorie

Re: Unless there is intent...

...but Amazon isn't a search engine in the general sense that Bing or Google is: it's just an in-store product finder that I'll consult to see if Amazon or one of their concession-holders stock the thing I'm looking for.

I'm with the judges on this: if I go to a shopping site and ask for a specific branded item I expect to be told whether they have it or not and the price if they have one. If I've asked for a Samsung Note 5 I do not want to be offered an MS Surface 3 or an iPad: I know what I want and all I need to know is 'We sell it, the price is £££££ and we've got 99 in stock' or 'Sorry, we don't sell that'.

Of course the situation is different if I've asked a generic question such as "Do you have 10 inch tablets"? In that case and only in that case I'm expecting to see a list of all the items that match the request.

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It's all downhill from here: Avalanche spins STT-RAM

Martin Gregorie

Re: Oh great...

I dunno, single level storage, which is what you're talking about, works pretty well and has been around for a while. It first surfaced around 1970 as IBM's Future Series project, which was canned for marketing reasons, later surfacing in the 1979 as the System/38 and getting a refresh in 1988 as the AS/400 series. It currently lives on as the POWER 7+ series. The hardware has changed, but the operating system, OS/400 and the single level storage system that supports it are still there.

The storage basis for OS/400, which has remained fairly much unchanged since the AS/400 first appeared, is that all data and running processes share a single, flat address space which was originally mapped onto RAID5 disk arrays. The main processor of course has a chunk of RAM, but this is best thought of as a page store: there is virtually nothing in it that isn't a copy of a disk block or page (the two are synonymous) and files/databases are best thought of as memory structures that have been written to disk.

I'm not an IBM fan, but I have spend a fair time using S/38 and AS/400 kit. It worked well and was very reliable, so I'm here to tell you that single level storage is not a problem.

PS: the other well-known system that used single level storage was the Palm - remember them?

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Hated Care.data scheme now 'unachievable', howls UK.gov watchdog

Martin Gregorie

Clearout time

Since care.data has now failed twice thanks to its utter failure to understand the needs of both patients and, it would seem, most NHS medical staff, its about time for heads to roll. Getting rid of everybody from project manager level upwards would be a good start. For a follow-up, Government will be doing itself a huge vavour if it also bans them from all government-related jobs in perpetuity.

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Humongous headsets and virtual insanity

Martin Gregorie

Best group VR experience?

The best group VR set-ups I've heard of are the old Fightertown simulators in CA. You and your friends got to 'fly' in a set of networked ex-USAF flight simulators, each with an accurate full-motion or fixed cockpit and flight model mounted in a 360 degree multiprojector dome. You could all see each other in the projections, radar, etc and use simulated radio comms. That setup is apparently dead and forgotten but successors, e.g Flightdeck, are providing the same level of experience.

I don't see how anybody can do better than this type of dedicated scenario system until whole body climate-controlled haptic force-feedback suits, suspended in 3D motion sensors are available and affordable. If these are to be realistic, they must provide realistic simulation of running, rock-climbing, driving, sky-diving etc, all without leaving the frame the suit is mounted in. And, of course, they must be networked with enough bandwidth so that you and friends can share a realistic group experience complete with contact with each other as well as the surroundings.

Will such a system be developed? Probably. Will it be affordable outside military, medical or professional athletic training? Probably not this decade or the next.

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As the US realises it's been PWNED, when will OPM heads roll?

Martin Gregorie

Re: Peter principle

That said I haven't seen a bio/resume for her and the CIO so just an assumption

Career summary is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Archuleta

She looks to me like a pure political appointee.

In summary: she worked at a Denver law firm, but there is no indication of where she got a law degree or if she has one. She worked for the Clinton administration, was Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation and was National Political Director for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign before being made director of the OPM in late 2013.

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Japanese female fish in sperm-producing strangeness

Martin Gregorie

Confusion in paragraphs 4 and 5

The article's author may like to revisit paragraphs 4 and 5 because, while both essentially describe the same condition, the apparent outcome is different. I may be a bear of very little brain, but I find this confusing.

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