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* Posts by Conrad Longmore

352 posts • joined 3 Apr 2008

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14 antivirus apps found to have security problems

Conrad Longmore

Which is why..

Which is why you shouldn't answer about the products you use when you received a cold call from someone claiming to be an AV vendor.

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Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series

Conrad Longmore
Coat

Re: Tachovsky would be best for this task. But he's dead.

"Scanner" is definitely the closest adaptation of a book, and not the easiest book to film. And it has the advantage that it looks amazing too.

I was disappointed that the remake of "Total Recall" wasn't actually a make (?) of "We Can Remember it for you Wholesale" which is an intriguing story in its own right.

Actually, the best PKD adaptation that I have seen recently was "Oblivion"*

*yes, I am aware that it is not a PKD movie. It just feels like one.

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Conrad Longmore

Re: Only in the Hollywood version

SPOILER ALERT (although this is actually printed on the back cover of some editions of the book).

In reality, the Allies *did* win.

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Brandon Gray aka Namejuice suspended by ICANN

Conrad Longmore

Re: Wow..

I haven't had one for a while, but the early ones were certainly attempting to gain sales through deception in my personal opinion. These people don't need an ICANN suspension, they need a visit from the police.

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Banning handheld phone use by drivers had NO effect on accident rate - study

Conrad Longmore
Facepalm

Ban? What ban?

I still regularly see erratically driven vehicles being driven by someone with a phone clamped to their ears. Unless you have a policeman on every street corner then it is hard to get these morons to stop.

However, it might help if people refused to talk to drivers without a handsfree kit, in the same way they you'd hope your friends wouldn't let you drive home pissed..

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Software giant CA Technologies dumps arcserve biz

Conrad Longmore

Another product ruined by CA

ArcServe is another product ruined by CA. Sure, when they took it over to begin with it all looked good and of course one thing CA does well is management tools.. but as usually they did a fatal combination of both mucking around with some parts of the product and completely ignoring other parts until they drove pretty much the entire customer base to the competition.

Nice.

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Remember the turbo button on PCs? New AWS instance has one for CPU burst

Conrad Longmore

Re: For those damned yoof amongst us:

I worked with students around the time these buttons were popular. And OF COURSE they are going to press a button with TURBO written on it. But the problem was that they'd tend to fiddle with it and leave it in non-turbo mode instead which slowed the machine to a crawl.

The other way around it was to let the students use the Amstrad PC1640s we had which were just slow all the time..

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Fed-up bloke takes email spammers to court – and WINS PILE of CASH

Conrad Longmore

Self regulation

The DMA in effect acts as a self-regulator on many of these issues, and they also run the TPS (which is widely abused). Of course, putting marketers in charge of regulating themselves is a bit like putting a paedophile in charge of a school.

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French IT giant Atos is officially full of Bull.... and €620m lighter

Conrad Longmore
Big Brother

A good match

Given Atos's appalling reputation in the Work Capability Assessment programme in the UK, and a criminal investigation in France into allegations of Bull being complicit in torture, then I think these two companies are a good match.

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Stephen Elop: I was RIGHT to BURN the PLATFORMS

Conrad Longmore
Meh

It's.. complicated.

Elop was right to kill MeeGo and replace it with Windows Mobile. Although Nokia's Maemo looked promising, trying to merge it with Moblin to create MeeGo was a complete waste of time which prevented Nokia coming up with a much-needed replacement for the N900. Sure, the Nokia N9 is a nice bit of kit, but it was two years too late.

Where Elop when wrong was shitcanning Symbian. Yeah.. I know it's not the greatest OS in the world, but at the time it was extremely popular. Sales collapsed, taking Nokia's profits with it. Nokia then had to retro-fit Series 40 to include some of the features that Symbian already had, and it even ended up using Android to fill the gaps.

So.. not the greatest decisions in the world, but not the worst either. It wasn't really Elop's fault that Nokia was in such a bad way.. and at least it probably won't follow the anticipated fate of BlackBerry either.

Nokia is one of those companies where people like to pretend to be armchair CEO. Elop didn't do too badly IMO. And we still need an Elop icon :)

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In three hours, Microsoft gave the Windows-verse everything it needed

Conrad Longmore

Re: None of this changes anything

Windows Phone is far from dead, but it has a long way to go. Sure, if Nokia wasn't on board with Windows then it would have gone the way of the dodo. Take a look at the Lumia 930 if you want to see where Windows is going.

As for Windows 8, it's a sound and very capable operating system which has been substantially spoiled by having two interfaces glued on top. Microsoft need to find a way to make the UI function more like Windows 7, without Metro apps cropping up when you least expect them.

As for Office.. I don't think any other application comes close to the capabilities of Office 2013. Yes, things like LibreOffice aren't bad for free, but the real thing is more capable.

Xbox One. What's that?

What Microsoft are trying to do here is play the long game. Kids these days are being brought up on the conventions of smartphones and tablets, the Win 7 desktop UI will eventually become a relic. Only Microsoft.. well, perhaps Microsoft and Canonical.. have an idea of how it will all fit together five or ten years down the road.

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ICO decides against probe of Santander email spam scammers

Conrad Longmore
Boffin

I have this argument over and over again..

I have this argument over and over again when email addresses leak out. Usually the people who've been hacked are either too stupid to understand the problem or are in denial.

Let's take an example of how unlikely it is that an email address like this has been guessed at random. If you use a 10-letter unique email address comprised just of alphabetic character then there are 26^10 possible combination to guess, which is about a 141 quadrillion to one against probability. And when multiple people report the same problem that it should quickly become apparent that the only explanation is an email address leak, everything else is statistically impossible.

Just to ensure that the email address cannot be guessed, you can combine it with a secret word (e.g. tribbles-santander@mydomain) and apply a filtering system to look for the secret word. That's quite a simple system that will cut down on directory harvesting attacks and should be within the capabilities of any El Reg reader to do.

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Reality check: Java 8 finally catches a multi-core break

Conrad Longmore
Thumb Down

Java on the desktop is dead

Java on the desktop is dead, it's primary use these days seems to be to infect your computer with malware. The best thing to do is deinstall it. I bet about 99% of people will never need it.

Servers and mobiles seem to be a success area, but really it's depressing to see smartphones running Java apps..

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Dell charges £16 TO INSTALL FIREFOX on PCs – Mozilla is miffed

Conrad Longmore

Perhaps..

Perhaps they could charge you £16 in order to ship you the actual goods that you ordered, rather than randomly substituting it with other crap from their inventory.

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Mens sana in fibro sano: Virgin Media network-level smut filters are ON

Conrad Longmore

DNS based?

DNS based? I don't use Virgin's DNS servers on my VM connection anyway, using either OpenDNS or Google as the mood suits me.

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Loki, LC3 and Pandora: The great Sinclair might-have-beens

Conrad Longmore
Thumb Up

Rick Dickinson's Flickr

There's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it link to Rick Dickinson's work on Flickr in the article, worth reposting because it's so awesome.. http://www.flickr.com/photos/9574086@N02/collections/72157608812198325/

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Life support's ABOUT to be switched off, but XP's suddenly COOL again

Conrad Longmore

Re: XP machine to live for as long as the hardware works.

If you're not connected to a network the there's really nothing to worry about. Even if it did get infected somehow (a USB stick perhaps) then the machine isn't really exploitable as it isn't connected to anything.

You might well have some stubborn XP systems on your network which will happily run if you just disconnect them from said network..

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It's Satya! Microsoft VP Nadella named CEO as Bill Gates steps down

Conrad Longmore

Not Elop then.

Mr Nadella seems to have the right credentials for the job, and I would certainly have been shocked if Stephen Elop got the job instead.. not because I think that Nokia's woes are all Elop's fault, but it was hardly the sort of turnaround success that Microsoft needs now.

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Nokia's Android? It's not for the likes of us…

Conrad Longmore

Ditching Symbian was a mistake

I've owned a few Maemo devices and they're OK, but Nokia never really gave them enough resources to succeed and the attempt to transition to MeeGo was suicidal as it meant the not-too-bad N900 never got a proper successor (until the N9 and that was too late).

Elop was right to look at the MeeGo mess and kill it off as it was never going to build back market share. Despite claims of nepotism, Windows was an obvious choice.

However, I think Elop and Nokia made a huge mistake in getting rid of Symbian. The Asha range is all very impressive for an inexpensive device, but Nokia have stuggled to squeezed features into Series 40 that Symbian already had. Symbian's hardware requirements are pretty low, and it could certainly run on an Asha-class device. So, if Nokia simply moved Symbian downmarket (which was the plan in any case) then they would have had a better Asha range and Symbian sales would probably have not collapsed in the way they did.

As for Nokia and Android.. well, if there was an Android version of the Lumia 1020 then I would buy it. Simples. But although Windows is a good platform (I use it on my work phone) I'm not tempted to buy a WinPho device with my own money. If Nokia introduced Android devices then it is quite likely that they'd badly hurt Windows sales, and for that reason I would be very surprised if the Normandy ever comes to market (or at least to most markets).

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Oi, bank manager. Only you've got my email address - where're these TROJANS coming from?

Conrad Longmore

Re: The answer is obvious

Abso-fragging-lutely. The simplest answer is the most likely one - Santander has been compromised, or one of firms that they outsource to (which I count as the same thing).

Like a lot of El Reg readers, I come across this sort of thing a lot because I also use a unique address for everything. And most of the time the people who have leaked out the information flatly deny it despite the evidence, and are often rude and hostile. And stupid, which probably explains why they got leaked in the first place.

This should probably be dealt with by whatever the current toothless watchdog that oversees the banking industry is.

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Unlocking CryptoLocker: How infosec bods hunt the fiends behind it

Conrad Longmore
Facepalm

Russia or Eastern Europe?

Russia or Eastern Europe? Really? Who would have guessed that?

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London plod plonks, er, pull request on EasyDNS

Conrad Longmore

83.138.166.114

83.138.166.114 is the IP address of rnbxclusive.com, taken down last year (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17039722)

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Java updates too much of a bother? Maybe online banking's just not for you

Conrad Longmore

Most people do not need Java

Most people do not need Java, the safest thing is to deinstall it. If you're a techy then there's a good chance that you might need it from time-to-time, but you always help to mitigate against threats with Firefox + NoScript.

Keeping Java up-to-date is essential but also futile. There's usually an unpatched vulnerability in it. It really is a heap of crap.

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Infosec analysts back away from 'Feds attacked Tor' theory

Conrad Longmore

Re: yossarianuk

Well, except that Eric Eoin Marques of Freedom Hosting does actually appear to have been busted by law enforcement, so I think the exploit should be regarded in this context.

Also, the analysis I've seen of the exploit indicates that it simply collects data and sends it back , and doesn't leverage the vulnerability to install any malware on the machine. I would have thought that skiddies would do a lot more damage than that. Also, skiddies would almost definitely not be corporate customers of Verizon in the DC/VA area. It looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck..

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Conrad Longmore

Re: I did some of the debunking on that one

The NSA is certainly a candidate for the organisation involved, or equally as well it could be another three-letter agency or a contractor working for them. The whole approach could be a multi-agency thing anyway.

Just at a guess on the very little information we have to go on - I would think that the FBI would have worked with local law enforcement (the Garda, for example) to go after the obviously illegal content. They then may have worked with other agencies (NSA / CIA are candidates) to set up the "torsploit" and access other data (Tormail for example) that might have been seized. Different agencies would be interested in different aspects of the data collected.

If Tormail is involved then that in itself is not an illegal service, but it is exactly the sort of thing that has been out of reach of law enforcement and intelligence services for some time.

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Conrad Longmore

Re: I did some of the debunking on that one

Shhhh... that's a secret.

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Conrad Longmore

I did some of the debunking on that one

The IP addresses in question, 65.222.202.53 (for the code) and 65.222.202.54 (for the data upload) were incorrectly identified as belonging to a US government contractor, SAIC due to an error with the analysis tool used.

What happened was that DomainTools accidentally reported the entire 65.222.202.0/24 as belonging to SAIC, when actually it is a Verizon Business IP range shared with many companies. Verizon then suballocates most of the IPs to their customers, almost all of whom are based in the Washington DC or Virginia area. The error was made in good faith, and looking at the underlying data it is easy to see how it happened.

SAIC has the first few IPs, the next block belongs to some ISP, then the next to the US government. The fourth block is where the exploit is homed and the data uploaded, but the IP records don't show who it is allocated to. But analysing the rest of the range shows that it likely to be a large-ish organisation physically located in the DC/VA area.

Now.. just think about the sort of organisations that operate in that physical location. It's not as if the IP traces to an apartment block next to the bus station in Tiraspol is it?

Now, assuming that Eric Eoin Marques was the person responsible for the servers hosting the tracking code, then it doesn't take a genius to link his arrest with some agency gaining access to the server farm and adding the code. It seems highly likely that the two things are connected.

This is my debunking:

http://blog.dynamoo.com/2013/08/torsploit-is-6522220253-nsa.html

This is what is in the rest of the IP block in question:

http://blog.dynamoo.com/2013/08/what-is-65222202024.html

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Malicious JavaScript flips ad network into rentable botnet

Conrad Longmore

It's hardly bloody new

It's hardly bloody new is it? This sort of thing was happening to El Reg back in 2004 - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/21/register_adserver_attack/

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How Novell peaked, then threw it all away in a year

Conrad Longmore

NDS

NDS had features in that Microsoft still haven't ported to AD 20 years later, and NetWare 4 was a very flexible and rock-solid platform but it got stuck in the File and Print niche for most customers and Microsoft seemed to offer greater flexibility.

Back then Microsoft really was a juggernaut, squashing everything in its path. Even though pre-AD Windows NT server was a horrible, horrible product businesses still bought it anyway. WordPerfect was dead the moment that Microsoft created the Office bundle for Windows and took over the market. As for Unix.. well, the irony is that Unix-derived OSes are bloody everywhere APART from the desktop.

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US gov SMASHES UP TVs and MICE to nuke tiny malware outbreak

Conrad Longmore

Nothing of value was lost

This government department cut itself off from the rest of the world, killed its email servers and then started scrapping everything. Did it have any adverse impact on their effectiveness? It seems not. It looks like the moral of the story is that this is just another pointless government bureaucracy. Perhaps the kindest thing would be to kill it off..

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Elon Musk's Grasshopper tops 300m, lands safely

Conrad Longmore

Most of the mass of a rocket is made up of fuel or the propulsion systems. An Atlas V rocket ways over 330 tons but the payload is only about 1.5% to 9% depending on where it is going. So fuel is a critical issue, and gliding down (like a Shuttle) basically uses none at all, where coming down on a pillar of fire is probably going to use almost as much as going up in the first place.

Earth has a decent amount of atmosphere for doing that. However, Mars does not and this looks like a good solution to that problem, assuming you can get all that fuel into orbit somehow.

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New Motorola Mobility badge: Too late for this pinball machine lover

Conrad Longmore
Thumb Up

I think we're missing a trick here..

I like the idea of a Williams smartphone.. how about an AtariPhone tool with a faux wood finish?

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Not work! - Firmware hacks

Conrad Longmore

Re: Motorola UK

The phone where Moto missed a trick IMO was the cancelled E1120. A great looking 3G phone from 2005 which was way ahead of most of the competition. What did we get instead? About a million different versions of the RAZR..

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Conrad Longmore

HSDPA is the problem

I originally saw the headline which refers to a RAZR V3, for which the modern 2G replacement is the Motorola GLEAM+ released last year.

But HSDPA support is the problem as the GLEAM+ doesn't do that. There's are pitifully few handsets with those specs in recent years, the LG GD580 (2010) and Sony Ericsson T707 (2009) are just about available still and have similar specs.

If you want battery longevity while sticking with a more modern Motorola, the upcoming Moto Xphone is rumoured to have a very large battery pack..

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Ex-Palm CEO Rubinstein wishes HP sale never happened

Conrad Longmore

Re: Numbers Game

Sailfish is OK, but that's about it. All very nice, but I can't see the "wow" factor in it.

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Russian cops lack kit to fight cybercrooks, says Brit security buff

Conrad Longmore
Facepalm

Yeah right..

Yeah right.. a lack of kit. And not corruption or complicity then?

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Firefox OS: Go away fanbois, fandroids - you wouldn't understand

Conrad Longmore

Re: What could possibly go wrong..

By and large, apps don't tend to install themselves as a drive-by on Android and iOS devices. The problem as I see it is that the security model creates a much greater risk that the security of the handset can be compromised by a drive-by attack.

Yes, of course iOS and Android can have malware installed in a drive-by attack despite the security model that attempts to separate the browser from the rest of the environment. In fact, most modern browsers (and plugins) attempt to sandbox the browsing session as much as possible. Firefox OS does the opposite.

So what can go wrong? Well, look at Java, Acrobat Reader, Flash, ActiveX and a number of other fundamentally broken web-enabled products. Despite all the assurances given by their vendors, they all just massively increase the attack surface area. My opinion is that Firefox OS does something similar.

It would certainly be good to have some competition to the Android / iOS duopoly. But the world isn't short of mobile OSes.

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Conrad Longmore
FAIL

What could possibly go wrong..

What could possibly go wrong? Giving web pages complete control of the handset? Oh right.. complete pwnage, that's what.

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Google cyber-knight lances Microsoft for bug-hunter 'hostilities'

Conrad Longmore
Facepalm

I just knew..

I just knew it would be Tavis Ormandy when I read the headline. I don't doubt his excellent skills as an engineer, but I think he's a bit lacking in skills in the way he interacts with these other companies. I can't see Sophos or Microsoft offering him a job at any time in the future..

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The bunker at the end of the world - in Essex

Conrad Longmore
Thumb Up

I'm not convinced..

I'm not convinced that a lot of the vintage IT kit in the bunker actually *comes* from there, I think a lot of it was added when it was turned into a museum. Still, it's well worth a visit. The bit that got me was the three-shift system for the bunk beds. A cushy little number this was not.

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Brits' phone tracking, web history touted to cops: The TRUTH

Conrad Longmore

Re: Its not very anonymous is it..

AOL did something similar a few years ago, and it was demonstrated that a large number of users could be identified by this so-called anonymous data..

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AOL_search_data_leak

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Apple asked me for my BANK statements, says outraged reader

Conrad Longmore

Re: "They've basically turned me into a future Android user"

It's not as if Google have access to your personal information. Oh, wait..

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Judge hands copyright troll an epic smack-down

Conrad Longmore
Facepalm

The tip of a very big iceberg

This is the tip of a very big iceberg with Prenda Law. If you want to know how they got to the state that a US judge basically takes the piss out of them, the full story can be found at Popehat - http://www.popehat.com/tag/prenda-law/. You will need a lot of popcorn.

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The ten SEXIEST computers of ALL TIME

Conrad Longmore
Thumb Up

I seem to recall..

I seem to recall that one of the Crays had optional leather seats that could be arranged around the core.

I always thought the the ZX80 was the best looking Sinclair, but there was certainly some inspired design in there.

Some other ones perhaps:

* The Lilith - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilith_%28computer%29

* GRiD Compass - http://oldcomputers.net/grid1101.html

* Apricot Xi - http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=500

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Scottish SF master Iain M Banks reveals he has less than a year to live

Conrad Longmore

Re: What is it with the good guys?

Philip K. Dick springs to mind too, another writer who could take you to places and concepts that you could not have imagined, also taken from us too early. Perhaps they will meet up wherever SF authors go after they are finished here.

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Conrad Longmore
Unhappy

"It was the day my grandmother exploded.."

Best opening line ever.

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Review: Renault Zoe electric car

Conrad Longmore

Indeed, this is my understanding. There is no significant difference between accelerating quickly and slowly in terms of fuel consumption. The engine has the same work to do in either scenario. This only works if you're not over-stressing the engine though, if you're revving at the limits of what it can do then engine efficiency tends to drop.

The problem is not the starting.. but the stopping. If you are constantly in an accelerate - brake - accelerate cycle then you are wasting fuel when you have to apply the brake to slow down (unless you have a car with regenerative braking). Remember, most modern engines consume no fuel at all under engine braking, so a change in driving styles can have benefits when it comes to fuel consumption.

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Conrad Longmore

Re: Do the charger leads on this (and others) lock when connected?

One of the things that puts me off an EV is the business of the charger cable and what happens when it rains and your lovely connector cable and socket get wet. I understand that there are safety protocols built in to stop you frying yourself, but the image of struggling in the rain to hook up my nearly-flat EV doesn't appeal.

If you park your EV in a garage or undercover then you won't have that problem. But with the bloody awful British weather you might. Perhaps the next stage is to introduce a contactless charging plate?

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Conrad Longmore

Re: Fail

My wife regularly gets in excess of 60mpg. It's a Mercedes C-class diesel estate which puts out just 117g/km while still having a 170 horses under the hood. So, you can have decent fuel economy in a decent car (insert obligatory sniping at Mercedes drivers here).

On the other hand, the g/km are only half the story. It really annoys me that cars get taxed on g/km at all. I own a big V6 powered Renault which puts out a frightening 271g/km.. but I don't drive it very much because the fuel consumption is frankly Not Good. The more CO2 you put out.. the more fuel you use. And the more fuel you use, the more tax you pay. And that's the way it should be. CO2 emissions and fuel consumption are directly linked.. if you drive less and drive more prudently, then you will pay less, which is exactly the sort of behaviour that is good. If you have a V8-powered behemoth that you take out to the shops at weekends, then your not doing a lot of harm.. except the people who set the vehicle excise duties will make you pay through the nose.

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