* Posts by John Sager

310 posts • joined 28 Apr 2008

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Confused as to WTF is happening with Apple, the FBI and a killer's iPhone? Let's fix that

John Sager

Re: To be clear

As the article states, the key to the data (128 bits, 256 bits?) is buried in the CPU, and the CPU will only use it itself to decrypt data on presentation of a valid passcode. So even though the flash memory could be cloned, that is useless without the key, which stays buried in the CPU at all times. So you need both the memory and that particular CPU running valid code to be able to get at the data.

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Good thing this dev quit. I'd have fired him. Out of a cannon. Into the sun

John Sager

Re: thermonuclear FORTRAN

The electromagnetic field modelling package NEC2 is a bit like this, though one part of the user manual does try to explain things. It uses magic numbers, particularly a high value (10,000) added to the segment number. Guess what happens when you have more than 9999 segments in a model...

Of course the code was written in the days when a 9999 segment model would a) take far more memory than the computers in those days could handle and b) take longer than the age of the universe to run.

Nowadays it's still used a lot by radio amateurs to model antennas so we run into these limits (amongst others in this package). I have hacked it to model up to 30k segments on Linux, but beyond that it runs into yet another, more fundamental limit.

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Send tortuous stand-up ‘nine-thirty’ meetings back to the dark ages

John Sager

Re: 5.30 Friday is worse

You mean you actually accepted those meeting invites?

They weren't optional, and in those days it was all face-to-face. I was just a peon team leader at the time. Thankfully that project just kinda wasted away & I moved onto some more interesting stuff with a better management ethos (stayed out of my hair!).

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John Sager

5.30 Friday is worse

The project manager on a big project I was working on used to do that. OK I suppose if you retire to the pub after, but that was not my scene. Friday evening in the pub is for a nice wind-down with some friends after tea at home with the family, not a work colleagues piss-up.

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LIGO boffins set to reveal grav-wave corker

John Sager

Re: Is it a test?

I doubt they would open the envelope in front of the world, and with the paper already printed in Nature, just to find "that was a test". I suspect the envelope-opening ceremony happened in private at a LIGO meeting some weeks ago, given the time that rumours have been circulating.

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Cops hate encryption but the NSA loves it when you use PGP

John Sager

Re: Privacy

At the time he wrote that, the Internet was very much smaller & most people on it were geeks of one sort or another. So it was not exactly a dumb statement then. However AOL was connected about that time & the 'net started a long descent to what we see today, though there have been compensations along the way (Altavista & descendants, http, etc). PGP has always required some intelligent deployment. Enigmail might be just a plug-in but the real work is setting up & managing the public key infrastructure required to use it effectively as a day-to-day tool. Amongst a small circle of friends, acquaintances & colleagues that is manageable, but otherwise, forget it. And although there is now a halfway decent CA infrastructure for website certificates, that's still too hard to deploy universally for personal e-mail signing & encryption.

So non-TLS encryption is going to stick out like a sore thumb for a long long time, even TLS used in unusual contexts (not web, not IMAP etc).

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Eight-billion-dollar Irish tax bill looms over Apple

John Sager

Penalties?

Have Apple actually done wrong here? They were offered a deal by the Belgian govt, which the EU have now said is illegal state aid. So if anything it's the Belgian govt which is in the wrong. Apple can easily say they accepted the offer in good faith. No doubt the devil is in the details though.

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BBC News website takes New Year's Eve break

John Sager

Re: Erratic

news.bbc.co.uk - I get RST

www.bbc.co.uk/news works OK for me. (@ 10:55 31/12/15)

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Flare-well, 2015 – solar storm to light up skies on New Year's Eve

John Sager

Re: Never mind the US

http://www.aurora-service.eu/aurora-forecast/

According to that site it all happened last night (around midnight weds & the early hours thurs). Anyone see it? Lots of rain here & we're too far south for most of them. In the 30-odd years I've lived here (S Suffolk), I've only seen three.

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Launch embiggens Galileo satnav fleet

John Sager

Re: The US military has announced that if ...

My phone (Nexus 5, Snapdragon 800 SoC) will pick up both GPS and GLONASS sats, but I've only ever seen it use two GLONASS in the solution. I don't think the Snapdragon 800 will do Galileo, though I think the 810 will. Has anyone ever seen a Galileo in the sat list that some of the satnav phone apps have?

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Ofcom retreats from 4G spectrum auction after legal threat from Three, O2

John Sager

Re: Hmmmmm

There is 10MHz between the top of the 2.3GHz band and the bottom of 2.4GHz wifi band. Any self-respecting filter should be able to sort that out, and it's not like wifi is below the noise threshold like GPS is, so no, it's not Lightsquared again.

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Broadband's frequency hunters denied Freeview patch – for now

John Sager

HEVC

Better to move the HD channels to HEVC and/or VP9 in a few years, and migrate SD to H.264 with an eventual move to HEVC. If that became a statement of intent, then it would speed the introduction of HEVC onto HD sets as well as it now appearing in 4K sets.

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Paris, jihadis, tech giants ... What is David Cameron's speechwriter banging on about now?

John Sager

If this was politically inspired, then it's backfired spectacularly

The sample of comments in the Crappygraph's article, plus another demolition job on it in Techdirt will get wider circulation than the original article, I expect. Not to mention all the blowback on Twitter. The riposte will be complete if she gets this:

CF: Hello, I'm Clare Foges

A.N.Other: Ah yes, the clueless idiot. Can I interest you in a copy of 'Cryptography for Dummies'?

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Yesterday: Openreach boss quits. Today: BT network goes TITSUP

John Sager

Re: Just use your own.

I used to run a DNS server like that, but I found that the NS servers for some domains didn't like queries from ISP end user address ranges. It might be better now but I still have my local DNS server forwarding to my ISP's servers to avoid that.

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UK.gov finally promises legally binding broadband service obligation – by 2020

John Sager

Still waiting in our village

Although our county (Suffolk) struck a deal with BT to supply 'Rural Broadband', colour me surprised when BT promptly upgraded the rest of the cabinets in the local towns & big villages that had previously been deemed to have 'no business case for upgrade'. Of course, it's not a picnic for them to add the extra infrastructure to make sure all lines in the sticks are <1km from a FTTC cabinet, but wasn't that what the taxpayers' shilling via BDUK was for?

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How to build a city fit for 50℃ heatwaves

John Sager

Underground

You do what you need to do. Coober Pedy (AU) already has a lot of underground accommodation for that reason. I don't think the CAGWpocalypse is going to be anything like as bad as predicted, but even a degree or so rise in average temps is going to mean several degrees in peak temps in some places.

South facing windows? I don't think so in the Northern hemisphere!

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'T-shaped' developers are the new normal

John Sager
FAIL

Is this a preview of the Pageless (and Worstall-less) era of ElReg?

If so, I'm outta here. Any suggestions where to go now gratefully accepted.

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US Military enlists radio hams to simulate fight with THE SUN

John Sager

What would actually happen

A CME is a large (for very large values of large) flux of charged particles, mainly protons, moving at high speed. This causes radiation damage to electronics outside the atmosphere, hence potentially killing satellites. When it hits the atmosphere it causes all sorts of mayhem in the ionosphere, hence auroras, and stuffs up its reflectivity for HF radio. The large currents created in the ionosphere induce similar large currents in long-distance cable systems. Those (DC) currents in electrical transmission systems can saturate the magnetic cores in the transformers, reducing their inductance so that the combined overload can kll them if the circuit breakers don't work fast enough. In any case the electrical network shuts down (cf Quebec March 89).

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EU urged to ignore net neutrality delusions, choose science instead

John Sager

Re: Someone is ill-informed - and it may be me

I have no use for skype so why should my email be slowed down because some one is using skype?

But do you not use Netflix, or iPlayer? The same argument applies. Some types of traffic need timely delivery (on the scale of milliseconds or even microseconds) whereas others could be delayed by seconds or even longer. Some kind of QoS-based delivery goals would be good. But how should that be policed so that customers & networks don't cheat?

As an example, I have a femtocell gateway to provide mobile phone coverage in the house (we live in a hole). It sends the mobile data over the Internet to our mobile provider in an IPSec tunnel. I did think about using my firewall to mark outgoing packets of that stream with an appropriate QoS category, but talking to my previous ISP they said they took no notice of such markings. I ran some tests to other endpoints on other ISPs and the markings often got set back to 'best effort' anyway.

As others have said, the system should be allowed to classify traffic with different flow characteristics and treat them appropriately but not to differentially favour traffic in the same flow classes for competitive advantage.

Set the rules properly and the engineers can come up with effective solutions.

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So what's the internet community doing about the NSA cracking VPN, HTTPS encryption?

John Sager

A little clarification

The recent issue with Diffie-Hellman is that the standards, and a lot of implementations, use one specific 1024-bit prime known as 'Oakley Group 2'. The conjectured hack is to calculate a lot of specific data from this prime which can then be used to rapidly break any shared keys generated by D-H using this particular prime if the D-H message exchange is observed. The counter is not to use that particular prime. More modern implementations tend to use Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) which, as far as is known publicly, is secure with large enough fields over which the calculation is done. For example, OpenSSH has for a while used in preference an elliptic curve algorithm called Curvep25519, which is supposed to be as hard to break as 128-bit AES, i.e. impractical currently.

Note: Although thethere has been a recent debacle over the NIST Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator which uses elliptic curves in a specific, and conjecture to be hacked, way, this has no bearing on the general security of ECC.

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O2 joins Virgin Media as member of weak crypto software club

John Sager

Surprising (or perhaps not) how common this still is

I found the same issue recently with a phone app from a financial organisation who shall remain nameless. It was a server-side issue. Credit to them, they fixed it pretty quickly in comparison to the usual big org timescales after I alerted them. Since the app has been around for a while I was surprised no-one else had found it before I decided to use it.

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Beard transplants up 600% for men 'lacking length elsewhere'

John Sager

Re: I have an occasional beard...

Now I'm old, lazy & cantankerous, I only shave every couple of days or so, so I've mostly got the 'hobo look'. My wife isn't impressed but no-one else seems to care. When my daughters were little I grew a beard a couple of times as both my brothers-in-law were bearded & the girls didn't react to that too well. It was OK in the winter but it had to come off in the spring - too itchy by half!

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Bletchley Park remembers 'forgotten genius' Gordon Welchman

John Sager

Re: "The Hut Six Story" [BBC programme]

Many copies of The Hut Six Story are available for sale at very reasonable prices in the shop at Bletchley Park

Bowdlerised?

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John Sager

BBC programme

That was most interesting. I had read about JTIDS years ago but I didn't realise Welchman was instrumental in its development. They interviewed John Scarlett and as you might expect he was still pushing the GCHQ line. That seems to be a major problem with history of this stuff. Scarlett's view was "we know whether this stuff is still sensitive or not, so we should make the decision to declassify". He has a point, but it does seem hard for them to rationally appraise secret stuff to decide the balance of risk/benefit of declassification. You can see that with the whole story of BP - the history of WWII looks a lot different now in the light of those activities.

As for Welchman's book, 'The Hut Six Story' was withdawn by its publishers and copies are now like gold dust - look at the prices on Amazon!

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Official: North America COMPLETELY OUT of new IPv4 addresses

John Sager

Re: All those who claim transition to IPv6 is easy

And what good will that do, since those hosts don't speak v6 and so won't be able to communicate end-to-end with v6 hosts on the network?

The point is that the v4->v6 in the home router works in tandem with the proxy at the ISP to go v6->v4 again. The ISP could, of course, hand the v6->v4 function off to a third pary if they are themselves a v6-only ISP (more and more likely in the future).

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