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* Posts by Alan Brown

2286 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance

Alan Brown
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Re: "Who needs Alaska?"

"take Palin as in.... have an intercourse with her? OMG, she's not manly enough! And the bare chest... not enough hairs there either! "

I was wondering who else had noticed that those "manly-man" media exposures seemed to be the thing that a closetbound man might do to hide his sexuality (Thinking about Rock Hudson here)

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MIT boffins moot tsunami-proof floating nuke power plants

Alan Brown
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Re: Security risks

"This was the case at the Monju Nuclear Power Plant in a 1995 accident and fire."

Which is why the Monju plant has so far cost over $9billion and prduced electricity for a grand total of 1 hour in its entire 20+ year lifetime.

3 tons of sodium in the basement is not an "easy cleanup" and the intensity of the fire was such that steel columns nearby started melting.

Let's try to push something that's intrinsically safe please. Molten-Lead cooled reactors would be preferable and they're difficult enough to deal with...

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Alan Brown
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Re: Krugmanshima

"Political, from the Greek polis, the city, meaning all matters to do with the government of the city."

Alternatively:

Poly = many,

ticks = bloodsucking insects.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Fukushima

Or if the diesels were mounted a little further up the hillside (or Tepco had managed to install extra power supplies. The helicopter thing happened after they couldn't get roadable generators in, due to the roads being trashed.)

It was an old plant which was being run well past its design life. That it coped so well with an event well outside design parameters says a lot about the paranoia and levels of safety built into such systems - and that's despite a large number of well-directed criticisms of japanese nuclear plants where they'd covered op accidents or lax inspection regeimes.

Having said that, Boiling Water Reactors are still dangerous kludges and if better tech was used they wouldn't need to be located near large sources of water in the first place.

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Alan Brown
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Re: .. Fukishima Residents Never Allowed Home?

"Radioactivity isn't good for you"

Various studies have pretty much indicated that some minimum level of radioactivity is NECESSARY (presumably as way of dithering DNA to weed out errors in the same way that dither noise is added to a CD bitstream to eliminate audible noise.)

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Alan Brown
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Re: I'm no MIT...

"I'm not sure that a power plant nuclear reactor should be one of those."

There are a number of them there already - not just sunken nuclear subamrines, the soviets dumped at least five cores from the Lenin (Nuclear Icebreaker) in and around the Barents Sea, along with an unknown number of spent nuclear sub cores.

Several of them are very close to Finnish waters, so are watched very closely. At _no_ stage has any radioactivity above normal background levels been detected outside the hulls of the vessels, nor inside, more than 1-2 metres from the reactors.

One observation made is that natural mud level buildups means that all the sites will be completely buried within 2 centuries.

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Alan Brown
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Nuclear ships/subs use designs which are dictated by their cramped environments and military requirements.

The biggest problem with almost all land-based systems is that they're scaled up version of marine military technology, which leaves them needing lots of water, not running hot enough to be economic and with intrinsically compromised safety systems.

I'm a big supporter of nuclear tech. I'm a massive opponent of systems which use liquid metals (sodium burns like a bastard if you expose it to air) or boiling water systems (steam explosions are a far bigger risk than meltdowns and hot, high pressure water is amazingly corrosive).

Molten salt systems or pebblebeds have got to be a big step in the right direction towards intrinsically safe civil plants and I suspect that a molten salt system would be a good fit in a modern nuke boat too.

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OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts

Alan Brown
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Re: The problem is testing, not coding

There are a _huge_ number of OSS static code analysers out there and LLVM's one gives any commercial one a run for it's money.

The biggest problem is getting people interested in actually doing it (It was the LLVM analyser which pointed out the X11 bugs)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Noone Looks at Old Code

Yup and that assumption is spot on. I get told time and again that "old code is secure, why change it?" from people who should know better.

This and the recent X11 stuff plus other bits underscore the point I repeatedly make on wilfully deaf ears that virtually all old (legacy) code has never been run through a static code analyser, let alone properly audited - and that noone bothers to do it because they all assume someone else already has done it - an assumption proven horribly wrong by the X11 bug.

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IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'

Alan Brown
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As far as OpenSSL goes

They'd probably have more than 4 volunteers if they didn't discourage/ignore people who wanted to get involved.

The biggest problem with _any_ form of source auditing - and the source of the infamous "more than 4 people isn't worth it" quote - is that everyone assumes that someone else audited that bit, or that it's already been seen and reported.

Over the last 18 months it's become clear that there are a lot of such holes in OpenSource - which have usually resulted in exponential numbers of related patches as various devs have gone "I wonder if that's in my code too?". Closed source usually isn't audited and often takes months to be fixed once the makers are notified - if it ever is.

Yes there's a shitstorm flying at the moment. It's going to result in more secure code longer term which is a GOOD thing.

I've been casting my eye over a few packages and finding fairly egrarious failures - which the devs usually respond to with a "meh, so what?" (much like what happened with openSSL). It's no wonder the only way to prod people into action is public disclosure.

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Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers

Alan Brown
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Let's not forget

That in the UK, it's been the _monarchy_ (from Victoria+Albert onwards) who have campaigned to improve the lot of the poor, often in the face of govt opposition.

In a lot of cases they've acted as a restraining hand on some of the worst excesses - if the Queen said "I don't think this is a good idea" to Dave or Tony do you think they'd have pushed on regardless?

Unlike politicians (who only care about the next press release/election) the monarchy are generally in it for the long haul and would prefer that they don't find themselves run up a flagpole, etc. It's because of that that most royals can live a relatively unmolested life and not need 30 bodyguareds simply to go down to the shops.

Yes, Charles has borked a few things over the years(*) but his track record is still better than Tony or Dave can ever be.

(*) Mainly utterly fugly building plans, even if his weren't much better.

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US mobile firms cave on kill switch, agree to install anti-theft code

Alan Brown
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Re: Only in America...

"changing the EMEI is beyond the average theif."

But unfortunately, not beyond the average fence.

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Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed

Alan Brown
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Re: my tuppence worth

"On the desktop. From XP SP3 onward. Because they nobbled it."

Perhaps, but given some of the other addressing limitations, it's worth switching to 64bit anyway.

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Alan Brown
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Re: I don't know where to start

"SQL has been #1 for about 2 years now (by licensed users):"

Licenses are such a valid way of counting actual users when the most popular database systems don't require them.

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Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters

Alan Brown
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As others have said

It's a good example of why you shouldn't bother with an isp-provided email address.

Such addresses also tend to lock people into that ISP, which is one of the reasons they're offered.

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Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run

Alan Brown
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Re: Helium is *very* hard to seal systems against

"For me, that is the reason why hydrogen powered cars are perhaps a bit of a dead end. But maybe the problem can be solved somehow - we will see."

If you bond the hydrogen to carbon atoms, it's much easier to handle - and much denser too.

There's twice as much hydrogen in a litre of diesel than in a litre of LH2, without all that pesky cryonics and H2 embritllement to deal with.

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AMD demos 'Berlin' Opteron, world's first heterogeneous system architecture server chip

Alan Brown
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Re: computational density...

These were announced 10 months ago: http://www.engadget.com/2013/05/29/amd-unveils-opteron-x-series/ and listed there for $64 (X1150) / $99 (X2150)

The question will be what the X2150 brings to the party that's better than the Athlon 5350 (which is 1/2 that price) other than ECC support

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_%28microarchitecture%29

If you don't need the GPU (and most won't in a server) then go for the X1100s

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Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER

Alan Brown
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Re: 2000 dpi glossy mags

2000dpi is "average" for glossy magazines..

Back in the 97s epson ran an "interesting" ad campaign:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=PzwEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA173

A friend in the preprint industry saw it and commented that 1440 is _minimum_ for glossies and the really high quality ones run up to 5000dpi - but you have to pay careful attention to the type of paper being used and the laquer applied over the top of them.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS

Alan Brown
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Re: Biometrics...

"A bit like how supermarkets with self-scan occasionally request the re-scanning of random items from the shopping by the cashier."

Occasionally?

After 6 out of 10 shops, I gave up. It was faster to use the cashier lane.

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Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker

Alan Brown
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"Mumsnet also lobbys the government with various campaigns, and annoyingly they have traction because they do it in the name of thinking of the children."

I can think of a number of people who did stuff whilst thinking of the children. Jimmy Saville for starters.

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A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally

Alan Brown
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Re: useless

"At which point they nod understandingly and ask you in more or less broken English (or not) to complete that lost-luggage form and shut the fuck up because there's a line of 245 other passengers behind you with a similar problem."

Not if they're Ryanair, because they'll be hiding in their office, refusing to come out and face passengers (even when the airport manager demands it). That's how it happens at Stansted anyway.

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BSkyB, CityFibre, TalkTalk pull clear of bigwig BT's bundles – plan to set fibre to York

Alan Brown
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Opening the cabninet doors

There's no space inside the cabs for alternates and BT have quite deliberately NOT put POTS concentrators in the things

Combination xDLSAMS/POTS concentrators with fibre backhaul are readily available, it'd get rid of vast amounts of copper trunking and make comms lines far less attractive to pikeys, it'd also result in exchange distribution frames (and the huge amount of space they take in relation to post-1980s switches) a thing of the past, freeing up more sites for colocation.

They've also generally sited the cabs so that it will be difficult for anyone to plonk down a rival cabinet close by for interlinking.

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German space centre endures cyber attack

Alan Brown
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Bear in mind

That there are several other countries who would benefit from acquiring space technology.

The Norks for starters - they certainly have form, look at what happened with the South Korean malware infestation last year.

Other countries with orbital capabilities include Japan (whose reliability record in this area is woeful), India (quite sucessful, but needing more tech) , Brazil (when they're not blowing up their people on the pad), Israel (I wouldn't put anything past this lot, they're madder than a box of frogs) and Iran (Whose rhetoric is mostly along the lines of a threatened blowfish)

Of that list the only ones I'd discount as a possible state-sponsored source would be Japan, but my money's on the Norks.

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Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style

Alan Brown
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As my phine get smore and more messaging stuff on it I find myself making fewer and fewer calls.

It's a pity the telcos haven't caught on. I want a 200 minute plan with 3Gb/month of data - which is necessary if you use a handset as satnav with satellite overlay switched on (it'd help if they cached it properly too.)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Feels really cheap

none of the makers do a good all round job. HTC are notorious for leaving their customers in the lurch vis a vis firmware versions not being maintained even before the devices are out of warranty.

"great phones, shame about the after sales support" is exactly the reason HTV has been losing market share. OTOH as long as they don't look like something Dellboy Trotter has been flogging down the market, the samsungs have been fairly robust and well supported..

when you go down to the other end of the market things get very dire indeed. Most makers are in "fire and forget" mode when it comes to pushing kit out the door.

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Alan Brown
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Wot? No wireless charging?

It's much easier to keep things waterproof if you don't have to faff around with covers.

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Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?

Alan Brown
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"As long as you use a proper persistence/data access layer with business objects it is easy to swap the storage technology behind it. As your business grows you can then start caching objects and do hybrid approaches (mixing NoSQL/SQL) to increase performance as needed."

If it was that easy, everyone would do it.

I've done a few database migrations. They're never trivial (and mysql doesn't scale well past a few tens of millions of entries - or rather it scales linearly, whilst postgres starts out larger but doesn't grow anywhere near as big as mysql does when you have 500 million entries in it.)

As for using Access, well that's better than using Excel (which I know several large hospitals were using in the 90s and it probably explains their shitty book keeping)

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Brit boffins use TARDIS to re-route data flows through time and space

Alan Brown
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Smart ISPs

Deal with the imbalance by selling b/w to hosters (or act as such themselves)

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Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'

Alan Brown
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Re: Aint no chances?

Heinlein's books pretty much predicted the same thing, The protagonists in his moon books tended ot be ethnically russian or chinese.

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Alan Brown
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New Zealand was _only_ annexed because the confederation of Maori Chiefs petititioned Queen V to do so (there were a number of reasons for doing so). It wasn't even on the agenda before then.

I don't see any luna natives who might do that, or any worthwhile resources to go after (everything that's on the moon can be had elsewhere in the solar system for far less effort, even helium 3)

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Alan Brown
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The last time they tried.....

They managed to kill off most of the development team. (N1)

It'd be pretty obvious if someone was doing a manned moon mission. That needs a pretty fuckoff large launcher or a LOT of smaller ones.

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Never mind the HORSE MEAT, trading standards cuts'll hurt IT crowd, too

Alan Brown
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FAST are getting desperate

Because they keep jacking up their annual fees and many shakedown victims have taken the point of view that paying the fees is more expensive than moneies saved for too many licenses(*), or used it as a good reason to move to opensource.

End result is that their revenue is decreasing.

(*) What FAST don't trumpet very loudly is that _most_ businesses in the UK have more licenses for software than the software they're running, not the other way around. The audit tool is useful for finding that and reducing expenditure but once you know that and have systems/procedures locked down enough to make sure dodgy stuff isn't being installed, you don't need to keep paying FAST

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FTC: OK Facebook, swallow WhatsApp – but NO selling people's data without permission

Alan Brown
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Subscription model

As a pure coincidence, Whatsapp just popped up and told me my free subscription has lapsed, please cough up some dosh.

I wonder if Zuk is planning on improving the revenue flow in a more direct way?

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Ancient Earth asteroid strike that dwarfed dinosaur killer still felt today

Alan Brown
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Re: Fascinating

Once you've found your space rocks, what exactly do you do to stop them? (Hint, right now there's nothing in the bag of tricks to do that)

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Bendy or barmy: Why your next TV will be curved

Alan Brown
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Re: Designed to sell screens

"Purely anecdotal, but I get the impression many US homes are larger than UK houses."

The UK has the smallest houses in EUROPE, let alone the USA.

UK living rooms are decidely poky compared with most other countries.

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India's GPS alternative launches second satellite

Alan Brown
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Re: Wrong search term

Actually the USA system is called "Navstar"

GPS is a generic term and I'd argue that localised ones aren't global.

WRT documentation: thats the same everywhere in aerospace. One of the major holdups is Europe's insistance that contracts get awarded based on which countries contributed, not on technical merits of the players.

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Alan Brown
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Re: The poverty argument

A better poverty argument is that this kind of thing allows deployment of technology in the field which helps the poor lift themselves out of poverty.

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Alan Brown
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Re: What happened to

There are pieces of it sitting about 50 metres from me and 6 birds in orbit already.

It won't be particularly useful until there are at least 20 up there.

There's a lot to be said for multiple systems (hard for anyone to hold the world to ransom by switching theirs off), but that won't help much when the neighbourhood bully threatens to shoot down any which don't turn off when they say so.

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Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month

Alan Brown
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Re: What's the point?

If they have a production line then they can and should pay for a business-class service.

Dyn has been steadily dumping its free stuff for a while.

Some time back you had to start logging into the website every month or lose the domain - but you could reregister it.

More recently (4 months ago) I missed the 30 day deadline (by 2 days) and found that I couldn't do that anymore. The only way to continue was to stump up some readies.

It took about 3 minutes to setup a similar domain somewhere else. Problem solved.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Do they support the dynamic portion? No

use dynpc.com

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Helpdesk/Service Desk Recommendations

Alan Brown
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Hmm, 3rd look at GLPI

Almost all the systems pushed so far are ticketing _only_ ones.

Some of therm are extremely good (RT, f'instance)

But... Redmine and GLPI stick out as doing much much more than that.

Right now we're using a 30-year old Datatrieve thing for tracking networking layout, as a f'instance (when you have upwards of 2000 connections, documenting 'em is a MUST). GLPI looks like it'd take care of that as well as ticketing and tracking configurations, etc.

Redmine is project management software with a ticketing system. That's an extremely useful pairing if you're in rollout phase, as a f'instance.

The point raised by looking at all this stuff is "Do you want 'just' a ticketing/issue tracking system, or do you want something which does more/integrates with other packages, etc?"

There's enough material to spend weeks trying to decide which way to go and how much local coding you're willing to do.

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Alan Brown
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I have a smiilar requirement

With the proviso that it must run on Linux Desktops as well as Macs.

Windows here accounts for 5% of installations and 95% of helpcalls.

With a recent security edict from on high that any remaining XP systems will be forcibly disconnected from the network on April 10 we're _still_ finding them in various areas where people claim "noone told us about that" - we've been issuing warnings that it goes EOL soon for over a year.

It'd be good to see comparisons from people who've actually used multiple packages.

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Euro trade commish criticises Chinese telecoms subsidies

Alan Brown
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Lines of credit have to be repaid - with interest.

Subsidies don't.

Those lines of credit are available to companies which have already proven themselves in the business arena. The chinese equivalent of Dell Boy Trotter doesn't get a look in.

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Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES

Alan Brown
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FWIW my current 2Gb seacrates are at 20k hours with no problems (YET)

Treat the drives like eggs, plus use decent vibration isolation and they last quite a while.

It may come as a surprise but some of the most significant drive impulse damage events happen when putting the screws in and/or tightneing them. Don't let that screwdriver slip.

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Alan Brown
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They're already offering ethernet-connected drives and have been since late last year.

Check their website.

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Alan Brown
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Re: This is all very nice but...

Bigfoot drives were hellaciously slow and quite fragile. Are you sure you want to entrust _that_ much data to them?

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Torvalds rails at Linux developer: 'I'm f*cking tired of your code'

Alan Brown
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Re: Kernel idiot proof?

"At one time, the kernel was so vulnerable one could write a recursive for-loop in shell script and halt it. "

Wasn't just *nix. I managed to wedge VMS systems by doing much the same thing (multiply nested loops. The systems recovered once all loops had been exited)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Odd timing

> The For-Profit-Business world is full of Traditionally-courteoused sociopaths who speak what some would call "grammatically-correct English" and what others would call "Marketroid".

And one of the common tactics when they sell you software that doesn't work is to wait until you start yelling at them in frustration, then feign offence and claim they can't work with you.

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Organic food: Pricey, not particularly healthy, won't save you from cancer

Alan Brown
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Re: Luxury item

If you really want to reduce pesticides and nitrates, then polytunnels work best.

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