* Posts by John Sager

335 posts • joined 28 Apr 2008

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Forgive me, father, for I have used an ad-blocker on news websites...

John Sager

Re: I do not feel guilty

Me neither. I used to use ABP but now that's switched off & I've got uBlock & Ghostery. Ghostery has one or two holes in to make my online banking work but otherwise it's mostly blocked. I get blocks on a few sites I follow links to, but they can go forth & multiply. Forbes, interestingly, puts up a blank page for 10 sec & then brings up the article from the link I clicked.

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British unis mull offshore EU campuses in post-Brexit vote panic

John Sager

Lack of imagination

I went to uni (UMIST) before we ever joined the EU, and there were students and staff from all over - there were one or two Czechs too after Prague Spring - we were welcoming then and will be again, despite the 'hate immigrants' crap. Has the EU made it so difficult for academia to be as independent and world-looking as it was in those days? Deliberately? The comment from steamnut seems to suggest that the EU is like a giant flypaper (or perhaps a spider's web) so academics get enmeshed in a sticky gunk of admin that has sucked all the initiative away.

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I want to remotely disable Londoners' cars, says Met's top cop

John Sager

Helicopter & Electromagnet

Pity I wasn't on the police committee. I would have suggested in response a sodding great helicopter with a similarly OTT electromagnet to swoop down & lift the miscreants bodily off the road. No more stupid than his suggestion.

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Vodafone UK blocks bulk nuisance calls. Hurrah!

John Sager

Re: Nuisance calls are a plague

TPS is pretty much useless now. Most of the spam calls I get on the landline are either international, even with a proper CLI, or VOIP with a made-up CLI. Interestingly, many of those have a kosher UK code but only a 5-digit number. So easy to spot since virtually all UK local numbers are 6-digit (or 7 for a few) after the code. Some are withheld, and I would just send them straight to the answering machine, but unfortunately we get calls from the local hospital that really need to be answered and they withhold by policy rather than giving a presentation number. I have discussed it with them but no change yet.

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Google: There are three certainties in life – death, taxes and IPv6

John Sager

Re: Bridging the gap

It exists in theory, called NAT46.

Actually it really wants to be the other way round. I run dual stack on my home network but ideally I would go just v6. That then needs a NAT box, plus a DNS interceptor to respond to AAAA requests for v4 hosts with local v6 AAAA responses. The NAT box then does the clever 6-to-4 and back again packet conversion and onward DNS resolution. This won't work for protocols that include IP addresses in higher layer transactions, but even that might be hacked by application layer helpers that v4 NAT boxes already do.

The same principle extends outward to v6-only ISPs which need to run a beefier version of that at their interface to the Internet. This hack only needs to stay in place whilst v4-only networks still exist (though that might be a long time), but it does do the required bridging function albeit in a kludgy way.

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Great British Great Bake Off gets new judge

John Sager
Mushroom

Der Nigel und Jean Spiel

Or Die or Das? I don't do Deutsch. Anyway, I quite like the idea of N & J sparking off each other but they ain't by any means the masters of repartee, so reluctantly it had to be Clarkson.

However it looks like the programme's makers have just committed ritual Seppuku, and for much more venial motives than Top Gear.

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You should install smart meters even if they're dumb, says flack

John Sager

Engineers say no

Reading the comments, which being from a sample of Reg readers, will be by and large of an engineering bent & discipline, they are almost universally negative. Being 'little people' govt won't listen to us unless we became a big, organised angry but articulate mob, which won't happen. So we rely on engineers who have a track record of being listened to by govt to articulate our negative views. What? You mean to say there aren't any? The only ones who get listened to have been captured by the system? Quelle surprise!

I guess the classic example is David Nutt - tell us what we want to hear or you're toast. So unfortunately all the venting here & elsewhere will have precisely no effect. All we can do is to insulate ourselves personally from this madness & hope we can avoid the worst effects. I've had a diesel gen set for a *long* time. It was bought during an era of flaky countryside 11kV distribution but I've kept it for future flakiness further up the chain:(

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Printers now the least-secure things on the internet

John Sager

Re: Do printers really need to be connected to the internet?

They probably aren't, directly, but it seems that all manufacturers of kit these days want their box to phone home. Perhaps only on installation but often to keep in contact either all the time or periodically. So they talk upnp to the router and set up a little hole. I've had to put a firewall rule in to my (home-brew router) to stop my printer phoning back to HP.

I've recently bought a z-wave controller and that set up a ssh session to a cloud server to provide remote access from android/iPhone apps. No thanks. I'll do the remote access myself, so that ssh session now doesn't get started.

Supposedly to manage a Netgear WiFi extender I should log into it via some name that resolves to a cloud server somewhere and it will automagically log me on to the device. Sod that for a game of soldiers, I've set up to log on directly.

Now, I can sort this stuff, but most consumers can't. I do wonder what the motivation is here. Do the manufacturers want to make it easier for Joe Public, or is this a golden opportunity to collect usage data which can then be sold on? Either way, it's a mess.

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Net neutrality activists claim victory in Europe

John Sager

Amen. I would love to be able to use QoS markings on incoming packets in my own network. I suspect though that my ISP wouldn't be too keen on acting on QoS marks I send them. It's just too easy to game.

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New booze guidelines: We'd rather you didn't enjoy yourselves

John Sager

Lots of wonga from Brussels, which hopefully will stop in a couple of years or so.

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John Sager

Re: because you can't enjoy yourself without a drink?

It's OK the guvmint saying "don't drink to excess". However the latest value of 'excess' is patently stupid. In any case, it's hardly likely to be effective advice to people who value the feeling of being legless despite the morning-after effects.

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Power cut crashes Delta's worldwide flight update systems

John Sager

Re: @choleric

Bravo sir! However it'll take more than a few bob to do that. Perhaps if you could persuade the moneybags that it would cure Gerbil Worming then you'll have far more money than you know what to do with.

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John Sager

Re: Leap Seconds

This is why there is so much pressure to kill off leap seconds. The ITU recently kicked that can down the road for another few years, but personally, I don't see why this is still such a problem. We've had leap seconds for decades and computer time protocols have been designed to signal future leap seconds for a *long* time. It does involve the strange concept of a specific minute at the end of June or December should have 61 secs. The specs also allow for 59 secs too but that is unlikely now ever to happen.

You could write the software to deal with a step, but Google decided to just slow down the computer notion of the time in a controlled fashion for several hours so that after the leap second actually occurs the clocks are exactly back in sync. That is probably much more friendly to existing applications.

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TP-Link fined $200k, told to be nice to wireless router tinkers after throwing a hissy fit

John Sager

Re: Let me get this straight

I suppose they could localise a version of their machine for the US- and have a separate- far more useful- far more power version- with extra channels and power- for the rest of the world

It's a bit more subtle than that. The US power limits are higher than most other countries - 30dBm on 2.4GHz versus 20dBm in the UK. However they haven't got the top 10MHz of the band that we have. There is much more variation though in allowed frequency ranges in the 5GHz band across the world, and this is probably what gets the FCC's knickers in a twist.

It's one thing, though, to set regulatory limits. It's entirely another thing whether the radio hardware will actually produce the allowed power. Probably kit designed as APs will, but that will not necessarily be the case for clients such as laptops.

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IPv6 now faster than IPv4 when visiting 20% of top websites – and just as fast for the rest

John Sager

Re: We didn't run out of ipv4

Don't get me wrong, getting rid of NAT is good, and I operate an ipv6-only website which really helps to keep the peasant scum out.

True, for a while. I've just looked at my firewall logs going back about 3 weeks. In that time I've had about 40k v4 'door knockers' that my firewall dropped. The v6 equivalent is essentially zero except for a few odd probes from pnap.net which look like attempts to measure performance. This is on a home network prefix with no outward-facing servers. That won't last but I think we have a few years before it gets bad.

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John Sager

Re: And what about BT and Virgin?

Some of the smaller ISPs have been at 100% deployment for a couple of years now. AAISP have as has IDNet.

I used to be with an Entanet reseller years ago, and got connected to Entanet's experimental service, and then after a hiatus, to their main service (on a different prefix). However that eventually failed when some lash-up kit they used for connections via BT 20C networks failed. I got fed up of waiting for them to fix it & moved to AAISP a couple of years ago. I very occasionally see v6 outages - there was one yesterday for a while - which I notice when, particularly, fonts.googleapis.com hangs (lots of websites seem to use this).

Naturally I'm all dual-stack here for all my hosts except for backward vendors such as the TV kit. It would be good to go v6 only but that needs a 6-to-4 proxy service somewhere for all the v4-only services out there that will never die, and I can't do it until all the v4-only kit here goes to recycling.

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Captain Piccard's planet-orbiting solar aircraft in warped drive drama

John Sager

Re: It's a start

It is for autonomous and continuous craft.

I'll sorta buy that. It's more likely that a uav (hence no need for pilot safety & life support stuff) could be engineered within current & <10yr future constraints. That's OK for mapping/surveillance but wifi/tv transmitters will rapidly eat into the power budget. There is still the issue of energy to manufacture solar cells (and batteries) but that's the price to pay if the business benefits outweigh that.

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John Sager

No, it's not

It's a dead end. The air transport industry we currently have only works through a combination of the energy density of kerosene, the efficiency of jet engines at the end of a nearly 80 year development cycle, and similar improvements in the application of aerodynamic design.

Electric aircraft have to replicate that. They will benefit from the aerodynamic advances, but we must be getting reasonably asymptotic on that. Energy will still need to be stored as we can probably only expect a factor of 2 or 3 improvement in solar cell energy conversion and we fly at night. So we need a big step in battery energy density. Plus either an incredibly fast charge process (2 nuclear power stations at Heathrow), or a quick battery swap-out process and a slower recharge (1 nuclear power station at Heathrow)

Then how do we make an 'electric jet engine'? I guess the technique would be to replace the jet core in a high-bypass turbofan (e.g. Trent 900) with a similarly specified electric motor (about 56 MW at takeoff).

Stick with the kero & manufacture it from CO2, H2O and nuclear energy when the oil & gas runs out.

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Mobile broadband now cheaper than wired, for 95 per cent of humanity

John Sager

Order of magnitude errors

There are a few in this, and even on a cursory re-reading of the article, the author should have spotted them. I'm sure the aggregate pipework from Europe to Rest of World is more than 131kbits/sec!

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UK's climate change dept abolished, but 'smart meters and all our policies strong as ever'

John Sager

Re: All for doing away with meter reader

If 'phone home with an accurate reading' was all it was designed to do then there would be a lot less resistance. However the subtext is 'demand management' i.e. cut you off, or perhaps a bit more cleverly, temporarily switch of some appliances. That is, or should be, a no-no. I've no problem with improving energy efficiency as long as it's done in an economically realistic way (no stupid restrictions on kettle consumption). But however good or bad the energy efficiency of our appliances is, in the rich, civilised country that we apparently are, then the energy infrastructure should be robust enough to cope with the demands placed upon it both now and in the future.

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Microsoft's cringey 'Hey bae <3' recruiter email translated by El Reg

John Sager

At least it still has some English(ish) words, though the syntax grates. The way Unicode is going this kind of 'communication' will just be a string of random emojis soon.

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TP-Link abandons 'forgotten' router config domains

John Sager

Same rubbish with Netgear

I bought a Netgear wifi extender, and the setup process went through a similar DNS name. Once I worked out what was going on, the wifi extender had got a DHCP address in my network and somehow my browser got redirected to that. Anyway, now it has a fixed address in my network and after updating the firmware there's a rule in my firewall to block outgoing connects from that address.

It also has a local name in my network but for a while, trying to use that in the browser gave me a bunch of 404s so I had to use its IP address. However that now seems to have corrected itself.

At least, though, it has a web config interface. A cheap TP-Link managed switch I bought had no web config. It used a config app that only runs under Windows:((

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UK.gov wants to fine websites £250,000 if teens watch porn vids

John Sager

That's what I thought, more of our taxes spent on some useless tosser who will be dangerous because he/she has to justify their existence and build an empire.

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Pollster who called the EU referendum right: No late Leave swing after all

John Sager

An 'after' poll could show an enormous swing to 'Remain', but that would not change the result either. The result is what happened on June 23rd, for better or for worse.

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Trans-Pacific FASTER fibre fires first photons, finally

John Sager

Re: Google takes 10 Tbps for cloudy ad-slinging

10 there 10 back?

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Gravitational waves: A new type of astronomy

John Sager

Re: Poor science

It's true that the gravitational radiation has only been measured by one method, and that more independent methods would be good. However the character of the signals received corresponds with high accuracy to the expected character of gravitational radiation from that scenario and also matches what General Relativity would predict. In fact, the results validate GR in an extreme gravity regime that can't really be measured by other methods. If only Einstein were alive to see it!

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Tor torpedoed! Tesco Bank app won't run with privacy tool installed

John Sager

Re: Rooting

Just use a browser anyway, its SSL handling is 100 times more secure than a banking app

Citation? The Barclays banking app uses SSL with a cert chain similar to a browser one. I can't comment on the relative security properties of the app vs browser.

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Java API judge tells Oracle to suck it up, quit whining about the jury

John Sager

Re: Dear Oracle

Having read the judgement, it looks very much like Judge Alsup has given Oracle very little wiggle room to argue on when/if they appeal this. They can only now appeal on the issue of judgement as to law versus a jury verdict on the facts, and Alsup has taken great pains to explain why it's all down to issues of fact that a jury has to decide rather than a plain direction by the law.

I'm still surprised that the appeals court threw out the verdict that the API was not copyrightable. We've all assumed that APIs were free to use and this was a bit of a shock. Perhaps now APIs should come with a 'free to use' licence and those that don't (unless in very specialised areas), fall by the wayside.

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EU referendum frenzy bazookas online voter registration. It's another #GovtDigiShambles

John Sager

Re: I'm in two minds about this...

I'm in the 'sod them' camp. They've had plenty of time to register to vote, and there is a legally defined registration limit whatever the quality of the online registration process. I'm a bit more sympathetic to voting after the 10pm limit on polling day, if you have already joined the queue before 10pm.

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Flytenow's other wing clipped: second appeal fails

John Sager

Re: Hypocrisy

As already pointed out, the regs are there for a good safety reason. I used to have a PPL (long ago) and I knew I was only safe to fly under good weather conditions. If people are paying you its harder to say "no, we have to turn back, the weather is clamping". It was drilled into us that the issue of payment for taking your friends up for a joyride was a difficult issue. Apparently one way was to bet your passenger X amount that you could return him safely, so he would pay up on landing. Supposedly a bet got around CAA rules but I'm not sure I believe that.

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Leak: Euro Patent Office 'court of appeals' rails against King Battistelli

John Sager

Well, Divine Right of Kings & all that, & given his nationality, I guess we have to appeal to Jupiter...

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Norks' parade rocket fails to fly, again

John Sager

Rocket scientist attrition rate

Given the SOP over there for the price of failure, I wonder if they'll get a successful test before all the techs who might conceivably pull it off are banged up or executed (by ack-ack).

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Facebook promises release of own 'modular routing platform'

John Sager

Re: ISIS routing protocol?

One of the rare bits of the OSI stuff from way back that has survived. It's short for 'Intermediate System to Intermediate System'. Someone I talked to about this stuff many moons ago mused on Ancient Egyptian deities instead.

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A UK-wide fibre broadband investment plan? Don't ask awkward questions

John Sager

Radio spectrum at the useful frequencies is a finite resource, even with some of the clever coding and MIMO stuff that's in development. Within a fibre the available spectrum is orders of magnitude greater, so in the longer term, as data rate requirements grow, fibre will be essential, not just in the backbone as it mostly is now.

It would be better if the comms infrastructure were classified more like roads & rail from a state aid perspective. I hesitate so suggest the network should be in public ownership as we would be likely back to the old days of "you'll get what you're given", but if the govt can spend all that taxpayers cash on HS2 without issues with Brussels, then why not also on a fibre broadband infrastructure at the network edges?

Incidentally, where I live in a country village, I really do have to have what I'm given - no-one other than BT would look at provision locally and it's looking increasingly unlikely that we'll get a fibre cab close by, even with BDUK cash. Gigaclear would probably not consider it either, having looked at their website & the conditions they require.

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Malware scan stalled misconfigured med software, mid-procedure

John Sager

Re: Why?

Probably not. AV has to get in very early to check when USB sticks are inserted, or incoming data gets stored. So it'll be a high priority thread. Obviously a background file scan could be lower priority, but the AV may well be arrogant enough not to bother.

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Switch survives three hours of beer spray, fails after twelve

John Sager

Re: A few splashes?

Record & monitor only? Was someone else supposed to get alerts, and from other kit?

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Pair publishes python framework for rapid router wrecking

John Sager

Re: So all consumer grade routers are shit.....

Cisco 1801s are fairly readily available on eBay. Alternatively, roll your own with an embedded Linux distro - e.g. LEAF/Bering - or go BSD with pfsense, on various hardware platforms. Of course all these have a learning curve - none of them are really plug 'n play. If you already know Cisco IOS then an 1801 is easy. Pfsense and some of the specific router/firewall Linux distros are fairly easy to configure too though you need to choose a hardware platform.

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Vaizey: Legal right to internet access, sure. But I'm NOT gonna die on the 10Mbps hill

John Sager

Re: Whut??

Well, he's a politician, and like the overwhelming majority of that breed, he knows eff all about nearly everything. You would think that ministers would do a bit of homework on their brief. I suspect, though, that none of the civil servants from whom he would deign to gather advice know anything about the subject either.

I would be seriously pissed off if anyone seriously offered me Internet over VSAT as a service. I might be glad of it in the middle of Mali or Botswana but not anywhere in the UK.

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What to call a £200m 15,000-tonne polar vessel – how about Boaty McBoatface?

John Sager

Re: Good Ship Venus

Penguins would never, ever, indulge in that kind of behaviour. You can tell by the uniform.

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Electronic Superhighway 2016-1966 – a retro: Texts, ar*se and ASCII rolls

John Sager

Re: Smell of flowers

Web? 1993? It was all Gopher and downloaded software by e-mail from DEC's ftpmail server. Tim Berners-Lee was still unknown. Usenet was in its prime, and who could forget the AA BBS...

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How to make the trains run on time? Satellites. That's how

John Sager

Re: Fail-Safe

Well, the single track working problem was solved well over a century ago with the token system. Originally physical, with end-to-end interlocks between the token dispensers in the signal boxes, it's now often done electronically. No reason why they can't do that over satellites. That's what makes me so surprised about that head-on crash on a single track in Germany a few weeks ago.

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IEEE delivers Ethernet-for-cars standard

John Sager

I wondered about that, but 100M multidrop is probably hard. It's much more likely that there will be a few point-to-point 100M connections to strategically placed hubs & CAN from then on to the light clusters.

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Hand in hand, TSMC, ARM head to 7nm server chip land

John Sager

Key Stage 2

Is this now the target audience? Or are we now to assume that the average software guy has zero exposure to basic electronics?

KS2 in UK is around 4th or 5th Grade in US, I think.

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Knackered Euro server turns Panasonic smart TVs into dumb TVs

John Sager

Re: Panasonic: Sony's younger idiot brother

Yup. I've got a 2010 model Panny TV, and it recently stopped working on ITV-HD via satellite when ITV changed a parameter of the satellite signal (still within the DVB spec). I've had e-mail discussions with P about a s/w update but the probability of that is infinitesimally greater than zero. P stopped updating the s/w about a year after I bought it, and virtually all the 'smart TV' services on there at the time are now gone. My next TV won't be Panasonic!

I've recently bought a Samsung Blu-Ray player and that phones home to Korea all the time to find out what to do. It works a treat now but I wonder how long for.

4
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No more Nookie for Blighty as Barnes & Noble pulls out

John Sager

Re: Another white flag is raised

A letterbox sized screen is not ideal for reading books which, lets face it are more suited to a 4:3 screen ratio

Well, the first bit is true, but all the books I usually read have a portrait aspect ratio. The usual small size paperbacks in the UK are 198x128mm - an aspect ratio of ~3:2 in portrait. So you just turn the tablet on its side?

As for Nook, I bought one of these in preference to a Kindle as it could read a wider range of e-book file formats. I suppose I half expected some problems further down the line - the history of DRM content is littered with content lock-outs due to businesses going bust or getting out of the market. Perhaps B&N don't want to pay the publishers to licence content for the UK. I shall be royally pissed off though if any of the books I currently have get wiped by Sainsbury's because they haven't licensed it.

4
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Science contest to get girls interested in STEM awards first prize to ... a boy

John Sager

Be careful what you wish for

As always. Just to be sexist for a minute, is the lack of women in tech down to us cavemen putting them off, or are they just not interested & enthused by the subject?

I was down at the computing museum at BP last year, looking at the Harwell Dekatron computer. There was a school party there with quite a few girls, and the presenter, as a form of encouragement, was showing them pics of the early days with quite a few women in the team. In those days a lot of programming was writing code on sheets marked off into boxes with one character per box so that punch card operators could punch it up into a card deck. I did wonder whether the women were designing the algorithms or just writing the code on the sheets. In those days, 'writing code on sheets' was seen as a perfectly reasonable job for a woman, and they may well have seen it that way too, as just another sort of clerical function. These days that just doesn't wash, so girls generally don't want to do that stuff, and I wonder just how many of them really are enthused by the process of algorithm design as a prelude to the process of writing code.

3
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Sick burn, brah: SpaceX test fires rockets for SES bird launch this week

John Sager

Iain M. Banks

Since he drew the distinction.

0
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QLogic: Ready to get excited about an Ethernet adapter?

John Sager

Far too many acronyms

I think I know stuff about networking, but I would have to spend a couple of hours with Wikipedia to really understand this stuff. Could we please have a little bit more value-add in the explanatory department rather than just a regurgitated press release.

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Cameron co-opts UK mobile industry for EU Remain campaign

John Sager

Re: David Cameron... ... is starting to piss me off now.

The problem is that the UK government is also an unreformed wholly rotten organisation

At least it's our unreformed wholly rotten organisation, so we've got slightly more chance of reforming it than we have of reforming that thing in Brussels.

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Feds spank Asus with 20-year audit probe for router security blunder

John Sager

Re: Asus is Asus... it's not Cisco, Aruba, Meru, etc...

Hmm. A Windows-based router doesn't fill me with a lot of confidence but I see where you are coming from. However, although Microsoft's security processes are now quite good (though they misuse it regularly for other purposes), it took them a long time and a lot of mis-steps in the past to get there. It's also not cheap for them to manage, but only a small cost now compared with their revenue.

The same doesn't apply in the router market. One could argue that the fact that the big ISPs bundle a router with the product militates against good router security, as the ISPs demand a 'just good enough' product at a rock-bottom price. So the other manufacturers have to follow the race to the bottom to compete. Of the router mfrs, only the big iron guys like Cisco could support a MS-style security wrap and Cisco aren't really in the consumer market.

The later BT home hubs seem to have a good customer-based security wrap - a little slide-in card in the back with random Wifi and admin passwords. Let's hope the internal security config is as well thought out.

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