* Posts by John Robson

1583 posts • joined 19 May 2008

'Inherent risk' to untried and untested 4G emergency services network – NAO

John Robson
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*this*

The cost is vastly in the multiple layers of redundancy built into the Airwave network - that and the network over-provisioning for 'emergency' situations.

On the operational (i.e. radio) side there aren't many opportunities for a single point of failure. Even on the internal side there is a significant amount of resilience (way above any commercial telecoms operator) such that they can actually provide accurate 'call' data to piece together a complex event. Whereas every few weeks it seems some area of a commercial telecoms provider's network disappears for a few days.

Even when the police had to bring in thousands of extra officers (from different regions) to London for the riots - they just selected the right talk group(s) and got on with it. The increase in traffic was substantial, and somewhat extended. I don't see that sort of 'spare' capacity being available from a telecoms operator, they can barely manage to send a text message at or about the New Year.

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End all the 'up to' broadband speed bull. Release proper data – LGA

John Robson
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Virgin have(had?) two speed problems:

Contention - this used to be awful, haven't been with them for a while now, but it was a serious problem. I wasn't in a large city either...

Upload speed - I used to saturate my upload trivially, IIRC it was <10% of my download rate. That's extraordinarily poor. And with the vast increase in 'sharing' and 'using someone else's computer' this is more and more important.

The download was great - their customer service when presented with logs indicating a failed coax in the street cabinet was appalling. The failure manifested between 9:30 and 10 at night until 6:30-7 in the morning (temperature related) and they consistently sent engineers out at midday - who said there wasn't a problem.

Eventually I got an actual network engineer and we looked at the houses with issues, and decided where the fault had to be. We were right - and it took 5 minutes to fix it.

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Systemd adds filesystem mount tool

John Robson
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Re: I've forgotten...

So what happens if your precious (and now massively complex) systemD crashes, or gets stuck in a loop?

A watchdog can be coded in a handful of lines of your favoured shell script - it is therefore massively unlikely to crash an burn, since there is very little to go wrong.

Paranoia is good though, so I often use cron to run the watchdog every minute (or every 15 depending on the complexity of the process being watched) -it's fractionally slower than a tight looping check, but gives an acceptable level of response for everything except safety/life critical systems - and at far lower performance cost.

Now you ask what happens if cron fails? Not something I've ever seen actually - it's as reliable as init...

It also makes for nice easy reading, and the watchdog can call on mailx if it needs to notify you that something has died and been restarted.

Indeed it can also pop a flag file in a tmp directory and *not* restart the process more than once an hour, or until reset...

Does systemD have the option to 'try this three times, then give up and email, on success reset the counter after an hour'

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John Robson
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Re: I've forgotten...

Init starts the watchdog.... Heirachy retained, clarity brought to the world...

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John Robson
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I've forgotten...

What was the problem systemD tried to solve?

Was it just that init scripts were human readable?

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'Daddy, what's a Blu-ray disc?'

John Robson
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What...

No 3D?

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More gums than Jaws: Greenland super-sharks live past 400 years old

John Robson
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Once killed you can could the rings - if you spot on alive then just follow it to its next birthday party

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Adblock Plus blocks Facebook block of Adblock Plus block of Facebook block of Adblock Plus block of Facebook ads

John Robson
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Facebook breaking posts

By pretending they are adverts

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BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

John Robson
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You could have a unique identifier - maybe a number printed on the to license.

As a passcode you could probably just use your postcode - it's not as if it's a high value target. On second thoughts, maybe make those the other way around?

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How many zero-day vulns is Uncle Sam sitting on? Not as many as you think, apparently

John Robson
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Failure to responsibly disclose is one definition...

... Of a black hat. Isn't it?

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Jeep hackers: How we swerved past Chrysler's car security patches

John Robson
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Re: "It's hard, so I'm not worried about it"

Yes - if only Tesla could update their car's software without having to recall all the cars each week...

Oh wait, they can...

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John Robson
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OK - I can set a timer to cut the brake lines...

A phone with a little activator could cut them the next time you go over 50mph...

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John Robson
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With physical access I can just cut your brake lines...

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Bee queens are Notch-blocking their minions, say boffins

John Robson
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Pretty sure ...

That the worker forage for nectar, pollen is just a hitchhiker from the flowers...

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Reminder: IE, Edge, Outlook etc still cough up your Windows, VPN credentials to strangers

John Robson
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Dirty network...

Has SMB outbound blocked. To be fair it most things blocked, I had to explicitly enable some streaming a little while ago.

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Tesla's splitting with sensor supplier

John Robson
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Re: Hinkley Point C

Price would need to go up by a couple of orders of magnitude before petrol was competitive. Except that many people would buy and run a petrol genny before then, so the price of petrol would go up as well...

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John Robson
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Re: Getting Distracted

Tesla's selling point is that it's a great car.

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UK 'leccy car company Ecotricity patches leaky car recharge app

John Robson
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Re: Oh dear...

Yes - it relies on the larger company doing it right. but if *I* was doing it, I'd suggest that they would be better at it than I would.

And often it looks like these people are less good at it than I would be...

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John Robson
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Oh dear...

Maybe authenticating via google/fb/oauth/MS token wasn't such a bad idea. At least they have some people who can think in terms of security (not saying they're perfect, but I suspect they are better than your random startup)

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Zen loses its chill: UK biz ISP falls offline for four hours and counting

John Robson
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Re: Zen Downtime in our case was approx 8 hours (2 X Business FTTC)

You may well get a post mortem tomorrow. But since they only got it fixed at midnight - I'd give them a few hours...

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After Monday's landing, SpaceX wants to do it in triplicate

John Robson
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Yeah - but...

It's a landing pad.

Doesn't need a huge amount of complex work - a good solid slab of something that won't melt.

A road to get the crane/lorry up to it after.

Maybe some fire suppression systems in case of RUD

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John Robson
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I just love the idea of the two boosters coming down roughly together...

Crazy, crazy world we live in - and this would certainly make for one spectacle and a half...

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Linus Torvalds in sweary rant about punctuation in kernel comments

John Robson
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Re: I used to have pretty squares around comments...

"Personally, I tend to write a lot of comments while figuring out the shape of the new code, but once the code's actually working, unless the logic is amazingly complicated or obscure (usually due to external factors), it'll all be deleted. I'm much more a fan these days of making the code itself as clear and self-documenting."

Code should say what it does - Comments say why.

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John Robson
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I used to have pretty squares around comments...

But then I worked somewhere with a mandated editor and a metric crapload of macros baked in.

You'd type virtually any keyword and about 15 lines of stuff would appear - the appropriate statement, formatted according to style, a comment box, custom logging options etc etc.

It was actually really nice - because you could just write the code, and the house style just happened around you - and it made it really easy to fill in the logging details and comments.

Never had to worry about aligning the stars though - the macros handled it for me.

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Dear Tesla, stop calling it autopilot – and drivers are not your guinea pigs

John Robson
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Re: Darwin Award

"> Given a choice - I'd have an autopilot enabled car now, and use it as well. I would be significantly safer as a result of doing so.

Are you applying for a Darwin Award?"

No - I'm not.

I've looked at the state of play, I know people who work at Tesla, I know people who have them.

I have read the user guide.

The addition of autopilot is a net safety enhancement. It is not a license to kip, nor to watch a film/read a book.

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John Robson
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"The technology is several years away from being deployable safely to the masses. Driver assist systems that handle emergency braking, etc. are deployable because the driver is still actually driving the vehicle."

Clearly having a collision rate lower than that of humans is too dangerous - so we should actually ban all human drivers...

Of course not *you*, you're one of the 90% of drivers who consider themselves to be a 'good' driver.

The technology is very good at what it does - and it's capabilities are improving all the time, unlike human drivers who are generally careless and whose abilities/habits tend to degrade over time (after those first couple of years).

Given a choice - I'd have an autopilot enabled car now, and use it as well. I would be significantly safer as a result of doing so.

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Security gurus get behind wheel of driverless car debate

John Robson
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Pretty sure..

That the Jeep wasn't a self driving car.

They're right to be concerned, but this isn't a self driving issue...

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Shocker: Computer science graduate wins a top UK political job

John Robson
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Er - why

is EU hyphenated in the new acronym... As one of the few bits that's actually a common acronym shouldn't it remain?

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Tesla whacks guardrail in Montana, driver blames autopilot

John Robson
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"So how can radar and and ultrasound get confused by a white sided truck against a bright lit sky?"

The ultrasound is a very short range system - a few metres at best - good for basic blindspot and sideswipe detection, as well as basic collision avoidance.

The Radar is forward facing only - and has significant range, but it is a fairly narrow antenna array, and I suspect it is therefore making a pretty much 2-D image of the world - RADAR reflected from a flat vertical surface 12" above the unit will return 24" above the unit - so seeing 'under' a trailer is possible.

Of course we might reasonably expect it to have see the truck first - maybe some warning bleeps when vehicles cross the path?

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John Robson
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Autopilot does use radar.

It also uses ultrasonics.

The richest information source is still a forward facing camera though.

This is going to happen because people can't use their brains enough to accept that a driver aid is and aid to driving. The Tesla is not a self driving car.

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Student Loans Company burns £50 million in IT project superfail

John Robson
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Re: How the fec....?

"I guess the complexity in the setup comes from the SLC somehow integrating with the tax office"

Hang on - we have a department who already manages finances and repayments.

Who deal with underpayments from last year, and the overpayments they take...

Why was this just part of the tax office to start with. Here's tuition and a grant against future tax liability...

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By Juno! NASA delivers first new snaps from Jupiter

John Robson
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Re: Juno and its pictures...

(And yes, I just wanted to use apojove and perijove, because I'm a nerd)

But you still claimed it was moving away from Saturn...

D'Oh

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Apple crumbles: Mac sales slump while Dell, HP Inc, Lenovo shift PCs

John Robson
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Not replacing my mac...

I don't need more computing power than the i5, I've put an SSD for boot & Applications, and last week grabbed a good deal on 16GB RAM, with the 4GB that was there going to a laptop (a great bonus).

I have large amounts of directly attached external storage, and a nice long HDMI cable to my monitor.

So it's 4 years old, and likely to last a good number more years - why would I buy another computer again?

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UK.gov flings £30m at driverless car R'n'D, wants plebs to speek their branes

John Robson
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I'm not too bad at driving, until I get tired - or my kids start playing up.

A computer could certainly be better at driving than I am.

The issue is that there are edge cases which we still haven't handled - although these are clearly very rare (as in - already rarer than the cases which humans don't handle).

One key advantage is that every time we come across such an edge case - every car on the road can take the lessons learnt and apply it consistently into the future.

The self driving car will come soon, hopefully my kids will never have to learn to drive...

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Galaxy S7 Active can't swim, claims site. But it can, vendor retorts

John Robson
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Re: Metric converstion

What is this metric of which you speak.

We have El Reg units here.

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'We shall overcome' net neutrality, sing Euro telcos in the key of 5Gs

John Robson
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Services...

Surely Net Neutrality....

Is all about being allowed to prioritise a service - just not a specific provider...

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Loose wrists shake chips: Your wrist-job could be a PIN-snitch

John Robson
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Re: Pretty neat

Dyslexia is one reason to set the flag to regularise the buttons.

No branch should require your PIN, your account details and any reasonable form of ID should suffice.

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John Robson
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Pretty neat

attack vector.

Who will call for touchscreen grids which change randomly each entry?

Or at least variably labelled buttons

(And yes I know that would be havoc for disability reasons - no reason not to have a flag on the card that regularises the keypad though)

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Debian founder Ian Murdock killed himself – SF medical examiner

John Robson
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Re: With friends like that ...

"Not the cops, for sure."

Not the question asked - who *do* you call to a friend who you think is suicidal, and who lives hundreds of miles away?

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John Robson
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Re: With friends like that ...

Who would you send round if you didn't live within range?

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TP-Link abandons 'forgotten' router config domains

John Robson
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Re: Why?

So that they can put the name resolution in the router perhaps?

If you mean - so that they can use it to connect you to your router then isn't that what the .lan or .local versions were for?

Please tell me those aren't now valid TLDs...

Of course they could always use config.netgear.com anyway - since they own the domain it's not problematic - then just put a page saying that you need to connect to your router's LAN, using it's DHCP and DNS for this link to work...

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John Robson
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Why?

Do they not use subdomains?

Why does everything have to have it's own main domain.

config.tplink.com <- there, see...

Easy to type, and not going to go away any time soon.

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5 years, 2,300 data breaches. What'll police do with our Internet Connection Records?

John Robson
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They'll put them on the internet

But it's OK - because they'll know who has looked at them with the next round of data...

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By Jove! NASA's Juno prepares to slip into orbit around Jupiter

John Robson
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Orbit - not clouds...

At least not for a while.

The final plan is for aero braking and destruction in the arms of Jupiter, but that's a while after orbital insertion.

No mention of the three plucky lego figures?

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We'll smash probe into comet 300 million miles away for kicks, er, sorry, ... for science

John Robson
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IIRC it completed it's primary aims - that's why it had a battery after all.

It was the 'bonus' science it couldn't get.

It was a shame, but even a dead loss would have yielded good science. We know a lot more about space faring objects as a result of this mission than we did before.

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NVMe SSDs tormented for months in some kind of sick review game

John Robson
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So basically...

These are fast enough to make the bottleneck be somewhere else for most loads.

To suggest that other bottlenecks will appear is hardly groundbreaking. It's what a bottleneck is, that thing you concentrate on until something else takes it's place...

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Bezos' Blue Origin's first live Webcast a no-explosion yawnfest

John Robson
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Re: No explosions, no failures, and no rapid unscheduled disassembly?

"Nothing launched into space, either. <Musk fanboy mode off>"

It got launched into space, it just didn't stay there...

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John Robson
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" I'd be interested to know if they can still land like that after doing an orbital boost with a full payload."

Of course not - but then again the entire rocket is what SpaceX consider to be a first stage payload (i.e. it's less than the mass of the Falcon second stage and it's payload (the sat).

This is a strictly 'hop above the atmosphere' rocket. Cool, and really useful as a technology demonstrator, and for getting funds by selling trips to the rich... but the serious business takes a whole lot more rocket!

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Space Data dudes say Google lifted Loon balloon tune

John Robson
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Re: I just forked your ballon, guy!

They could just buy the company and fire everyone...

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SpaceX winning streak meets explosive end

John Robson
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Re: So random...

To be fair this wasn't from orbit - far too slow for that.

It was from an orbital injection flight though, and a geostationary one at that...

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