* Posts by leon clarke

92 posts • joined 1 Sep 2008

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Michael Gove says Britain needs to create its own DARPA

leon clarke

Questions

In creating a startup culture, where is the venture capital to come from. Surely that'd be helped by doing things that increase the amount of spare money sloshing around in the city, instead of scaring it all away.

Wouldn't startups also want a certainty of access to markets

What are the specific EU rules that prevent the UK from creating a more entrepreneurial state

What reassurances will be given that entrepreneurial high-tech companies will have access to the skilled staff they need? If staff are to come from abroad, how will they and their dependents be welcomed?

Would it be a good idea for a fan of democratic accountability to call an election after becoming leader of the ruling party, in order to give the best possible opportunity for the new PM to answer as directly as possible to the people.

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1,000 cats await stadium-sized sandwich bag launch

leon clarke

Re: And the obvious question is...

This is the Register.

We obviously want Fried Egg, Sausage and Bacon sandwiches.

0
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leon clarke

And the obvious question is...

how many sandwiches can you fit in a cubic meter?

If we knew that, we could easily calculate how many football stadiums full of people could share one sandwich bag.

2
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Met cops shop for £150m IT system. Must have: Data centre ops

leon clarke

Re: why?

I've heard the explanation that the Met is the biggest force by a fair margin. As a result, everyone else expects them to go first. Once they've done so, Lincolnshire will discover they have the same requirements as the Met. So they sort-of simulate a national system by the back door. (However, the Met's recent IT chaos has meant some people have got bored waiting for the met to order lots of obviously-needed things and gone for systems that are only as good as a small force can afford on their own)

The other advantage (for politicians in the home office) of a decentralised approach is that the IT cock-ups aren't (technically) actually the fault of the politicians.

So, al in all, a central purchase would be better for the taxpayer.

3
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Citrix asks you, yes you, to write its certification exams and courseware

leon clarke

Missing option

Happily - because I'll submit loads of questions to which I know the answer and then more easily get certified

2
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Bash on Windows. Repeat, Microsoft demos Bash on Windows

leon clarke
Linux

A very interesting detail - the root fs is per-user

The linux root fs is contained in a user directory, which presumably means each user gets their own. This may have all sorts of fun consequences, such as allowing the set of mount points to be different between different users, as is possible on plan 9.

Of course I have no idea how Linux users relate to Windows users; if you do sudo adduser, will that create another Linux user in your own private root fs, or add a user to Windows?

Anyway, there are a lot of devils in details about how the 2 systems interact, but it is possible that Windows 10 actually has useful features as an OS for running Ubuntu on which Linux lacks.

0
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Linus Torvalds wavers, pauses … then gives the world Linux 4.5

leon clarke

OK. I have to ask

What was wrong with the old handling of PS/2 mice?

2
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HPE's CloudLine gains some weight – blows up from 72TB to 640TB

leon clarke

I think that's the wrong picture

There doesn't seem to be a 4U server in that picture. And this article has a picture that matches the spec of the CL5200 which the article is actually about http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2450139/hpe-rounds-out-cloudline-portfolio-with-dedicated-storage-server

1
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NASA's Orion: 100,000 parts riding 8 million pounds of thrust

leon clarke
Joke

Re: 3 Screens?

Nope. You can't stop the solid boosters once they're going.

3
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The paperless office? Don’t talk sheet

leon clarke

Getting there slowly

Asymptotically slowly.

Now I've slowly got used to having 2 decent-sized monitors, I print out a lot less stuff. Like approximately none. I guess that a typical office now needs quite a small and cheap printer, and with time it'll get smaller and cheaper.

When I retire, I assume it'll be lower-spec than my current home printer. But will still exist.

Now can we kill office desk phones. In a typical office, everyone except the head of HR and the finance guy can't see the point in a desk phone as they just use their mobile for everything.

2
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StorPool CEO: 'We do not need another storage product'

leon clarke

Lock in

If I'm following this, they want you to be locked into their software, instead of someone else's hardware and software combo. Which is a step in the right direction (assuming the software has a sensible price). But I still see something that looks and quacks like vendor lock in.

2
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New Monopoly version features an Automatic Teller Machine

leon clarke

Re: Misses the point entirely

I assume that whoever downvoted this is an unscrupulous bastard who regularly fails to give his young children a chance at Monopoly

13
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Irked train hackers talk derailment flaws, drop SCADA password list

leon clarke

"... possible paths between trains' operational systems and passenger entertainment systems, ..."

As a workaround, train operators could ensure that no aspect of the journey is in any way entertaining.

7
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Security industry too busy improving security to do security right

leon clarke

Too lazy and cheap to fix your kit

No, the problem is that the vendors who provide all this stuff that needs upgrading have a business model in which change requests for 'new requirements' are an important element.

1
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Cyber-terror: How real is the threat? Squirrels are more of a danger

leon clarke

Re: Bottom line. GCHQ *must* have more money.

Regarding Red vs Grey squirrels. I, too, am assuming that all these attacks are the fault of dastardly foreign grey squirrels. True, patriotic, red squirrels would never undermine our national infrastructure.

3
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Behold, the fantasy of infinite cloud compute elasticity

leon clarke

Spot pricing

One mitigation to the problem suggested is Amazon's spot pricing.

When someone suddenly want 1,000 servers NOW they don't take ones that were running idle; they steal ones from people who had put in low bids for spot pricing. When sensible people want 1,000 servers they don't say they want them now, but use spot pricing to wait until the bank trading floor has finished its 1,000 server 'must be run at 4pm' job then grab all the spare servers.

6
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Royal Mail mulls drones for rural deliveries

leon clarke

Odd comment about driverless trains

Presumably he isn't old enough to remember when the Royal Mail started using driverless trains - The Post Office Railway started in 1928

6
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Encrypt voice calls, says GCHQ's CESG team ... using CESG encryption

leon clarke

CESG's hobby is promoting applications for IBE

(IBE = Identity Based Encryption)

This is an idea that was invented by CESG. It is regarded as secure. It is a very cool concept. It's probably CESG's biggest triumph in terms of academic crypto (ignoring rumours that they invented public key crypto before anyone else because inventing something and keeping it secret doesn't count as an academic crypto)

So CESG keeps on coming up with really cool protocols that use IBE. The only problem is that anything you can do with IBE can be done in a way that's slightly less theoretically elegant but more generally understandable using ordinary public key crypto. So that's what everyone always does.

3
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MPs launch 'TalkTalk' inquiry over security of personal data online

leon clarke

I'm really pleased that MPs are taking security of personal data online seriously

Another issue is making sure that ISPs or others don't store excessive personal data, such as browsing histories, in the first place. I hope MPs will ensure ISPs don't do any such thing.

22
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Microsoft's 'Arrow' Android launcher flies into Play store

leon clarke

Auto adjusting to what the user does often

This always sounds like a good idea but personally I hate it.

I want a machine to behave like a machine which means that the controls stay where I expect them to be. Am I in a minority here? The idea of being good at working something because you've got used to how to work it seems to be hopelessly old-fashioned these days.

If they're in the wrong place, I want to move them to the right place myself.

12
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TalkTalk attack: UK digi minister recommends security badges for websites

leon clarke

Re: Read the PCI DSS and weep

That falls into my 'more onerous than PCI' category. No-one will bother with compliance unless it's made mandatory, and if anyone suggests making it mandatory then some trade association will invite lots of ministers to their long conference in the Bahamas to convincingly explain why it's a bad idea. (The more factual aspects of this presentation will involve remaining competitive with economies that don't have excessive red tape. Funding this trade association's blatant bribery would be much cheaper than complying with such a certification)

I entirely agree that to offer any useful protection such auditing and insurance is needed.

1
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leon clarke
FAIL

Read the PCI DSS and weep

PCI is both an intolerable pain in the ass to comply with and completely inadequate at protecting consumer's interests. However, when you look at it, it's all quite reasonable, in the sense that if you're going to write a box-ticking assessment standard to prove a system is secure then PCI does about as good a job as is possible. There aren't absurd pointless requirements or obvious omissions.

So the question for any such kitemark is how does it compare to PCI. Is it more onerous, in which case no-one will bother. Is it less onerous in which case it gives no meaningful assurance of anything. Is it the same, in which case no-one will bother and it gives no meaningful assurance of anything.

2
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BlackBerry opens its Priv kimono just a little wider

leon clarke

Unique?

'The Priv is unique in that nobody else is pitching a security-hardened Android at businesses that boasts top-end consumer specs.'

Presumably some words in that have precise definitions in order to make that true.Does Knox and SEAndroid not count as security hardening? Or are Samsung phones not 'pitched at Business'.

I'm going to guess they are using a definition of security hardening which describes something that no-one else thinks is worth doing.

1
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Where will storage go over the next 15 years? We rub our crystal ball

leon clarke

15 year timescale

Over that timescale you have to assume some sort of technology like X-Point or some other phase-change memory will be developed. When that happens, its liable to be much more rapidly disruptive than flash was. I suspect that flash will look like a briefly-forgotten intermediate technology between disc and phase change. And things will get very hyper-converged very quickly - it's the only way to make use of the speed of phase change.

0
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BT to shoot 'up to 330Mbps' G.fast into 2,000 Gosforth homes

leon clarke

Re: Copper's last hurrah

I'm waiting for G.fastest bis

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leon clarke

Copper's last hurrah

I've hard that quite a few times before. I was going to say that I first heard it with V.90 but I think I may have heard it earlier than that.

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Drunk driver live-streams her slow journey home

leon clarke

Re: I'll give you my steering wheel...

The only thing that can stop a bad guy in a car is so many other cars that all the roads gridlock.

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Volvo to 'accept full liability' for crashes with its driverless cars

leon clarke

Re: What ifs

Re: proper audits for car software.

The good thing about the car manufacturer accepting liability like this is that market forces are correctly aligned with the interests of consumers and there's no need for complex legislation to impose proper audits. The car manufacturer, or their insurer, will want to make sure that the software works because if it doesn't they'll end up paying for crashes. This is very different to the VW situation, where there's a bit of software that wasn't really in the interests of either the car owner or the car manufacturer; not unsurprisingly this software actually did what the owner and manufacturer would want it to. I'd also assume that an autonomous volvo won't leave the drive until it's checked for security updates; volvo would have a strong financial incentive to make sure cars are patched so they'll make darned certain they are patched.

That doesn't mean we don't need audits and standards. It's just that we can rely on car manufacturers to create them, and to do a better job of creating them than would happen if they were imposed by legislation.

5
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TRANSISTOR-GATE-GATE: Apple admits some iPhone 6Ses crappier than others

leon clarke

This has interesting implications beyond Apple

The Qualcomm 810 (fabricated by TSMC) has a well-publicised heat problem, leading Samsung to switch to their own processors for the Galaxy S6 and Qualcomm to switch from TSMC to Samsung for the 820. So at the time it rather looked like TSMC was having heat problems relative to Samsung. But now it's looking like TSMC have more than got their house in order.

(Heat and power draw are basically the same thing; where else does the power go?)

1
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'We can handle politicos, OUR ISSUE IS JUDGES', shout GCHQ docs

leon clarke

The reason why is obvious - they're interacting with real spooks. How 007 is that? What could be cooler? And the real spooks said all sorts of stuff about how the meaning of the warrant is terribly complex, technical, not at all scary and absolutely essential to national security.

Oh, and accidentally destroying civil liberties is less of an electoral liability than accidentally allowing an unsuccessful terrorist plot to get further than it might otherwise do, so the safe thing to do (from an electoral liability point of view) is to sign everything put in front of you.

Simple really.

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Microsoft starts to fix Start Menu in new Windows 10 preview

leon clarke

All together now

640 kilobytes, er I mean 512 start menu entries should be enough for anyone

32
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Stench of confiscated dope overwhelms Catalan cop shop

leon clarke

External weed bins

...might be found to have the additional advantage of being self-emptying

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First pics of flagship Lumias for 18 months released … or maybe not

leon clarke

That android on Windows strategy

Makes sense.

After all, a wise man once said 'When you're standing on a burning platform, you have to jump'.

5
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Row rumbles on over figures in Oracle CSO’s anti-security rant

leon clarke
WTF?

So, they're counting bugs found during development

Oracle are counting bugs found during development! Arguably true, but not how anyone else in the universe counts security vulnerabilities.

5
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Want to download free AV software? Don't have a Muslim name

leon clarke
FAIL

'against the law'

What matters (from Sophos's point of view) is not whether or not it's legal to give antivirus software to someone called Hasan Ali. What matters is whether their lawyer says it's legal. Which is subtly different - the lawyer could get into a lot of trouble if they say something is legal when it isn't, but they're unlikely to get into any trouble for claiming something 'might be problematic' when it isn't. Hence everyone 'errs on the side of caution'. And everything gets made more general and vague a few times in the interests of 'simplicity', making the eventual rules even less connected to the original law.

The same principle causes health and safety to go mad, and it needs to be better appreciated. A law should be considered faulty if it has consequences like this even if anyone reading the actual law can clearly see that, in this situation, it shouldn't apply.

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China's best phone yet: Huawei P8 5.2-inch money-saving Android smartie

leon clarke
Stop

Some comparison with the OnePlus One please

OK, so it's much better value than South Korean flagships, but people wanting to save some money by getting a Chinese flagship already have a few options. OnePlus are probably creating the most media chatter, and I'd have thought the One is the obvious phone to compare with this.

I'd suspect the OnePlus One would be a better bet - slightly cheaper, hardware maybe a bit better depending on what metrics and benchmarks matter, and (most importantly) it comes with a more vanilla Android.

6
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YOU ARE THE DRONE in Amazon's rumoured new parcel delivery plan

leon clarke

This sounds exactly like the UK 'Amazon Logistics' operation that delivers prime stuff

...and involves random people in battered vans delivering the parcels. Either Amazon has very odd ideas about how to maintain a fleet of vans, or they're all freelancers in their own vehicles.

5
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GAZE upon our HI-RES DWARF PICS of Pluto, beams proud NASA

leon clarke

Plutonians?

How about Plutocrats

4
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One USB plug to rule them all? That's sensible, but no...

leon clarke

Re: Is there going to be a minefield with cable quality in alternate mode?

I wasn't worrying about a cable ignoring alternate mode. I was worrying about it not having the right wire, screening and so on for whatever protocol it finds itself carrying.

But I hope someone who knows more than I do about wire, screening and so on has thought of this.

0
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leon clarke
FAIL

Is there going to be a minefield with cable quality in alternate mode?

If a cheap cable just-about works for normal USB, I could easily imagine it not working for Thunderbolt. And maybe some cables would work for some alternate mode protocols but not others, while other cables will work for a different random set of protocols.

And has Thunderbolt managed to change things so it can run over passive cables? I thought that thunderbolt cables were really expensive as the actual driver circuitry was in the plug, not in the device. If so, have they solved an impressive problem or were they being lazy before?

2
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Hubble spots Pluto's moons are a chaotic mess of tumbling rock

leon clarke

Rugby Balls

I'm impressed that someone from the University of Maryland recognises the moons as rugby-ball shaped. I would have feared that people from near Maryland would mistake them for American Football shaped moons.

5
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NASA hands Boeing first commercial crew contract for SPAAAACE

leon clarke

CST-100's schedule looks interesting

According to Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CST-100

Pad abort test in Feb 2017, uncrewed flight to ISS in April, crewed flight in July. Presumably an in-flight abort test will happen in March.

That sounds like a remarkably short time to go from pad abort to crewed flight. It doesn't give much time for any lessons to be learnt from any minor anomalies between the launches.

My guess is that they've 'got' to be ready by June 2017 to get the NASA gig, but they don't think they'll be ready for pad abort before Feb. And they can pretend this is viable by assuming all those tests will go absolutely like clockwork.

So I guess SpaceX will be launching first, after 'unexpected' delays in Boeing's plans.

6
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A good effort, if a bit odd: Windows 10 IoT Core on Raspberry Pi 2

leon clarke

The Pi needs Windows for the same reason it needs RiscOS and Plan 9

14
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Ex 'Tech City' chief Shields appointed junior Fun minister for internet safety

leon clarke

Er, why at Ministry of Fun?

I'd have thought that if you wanted to do anything useful about anything to do with internet safety (as a minister), you'd have to be at the Home Office. That would give you involvement in things like the snooper's charter.

Whether or not she looks like a complete dead loss depends a lot on whether you compare her with successful people in the tech field, or whether you compare her to other ministers involved in internet stuff. I'm optimistic that she may be relatively good, because she isn't a PPE graduate who thinks that getting your secretary to print out your emails counts as using the internet (but she'll be unable to do anything as she'll have to tow the home office line on anything that matters)

4
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New EU security strategy: Sod cyber terrorism, BAN ENCRYPTION

leon clarke

Remind me who it was who organised the AES competition?

Surely they're responsible for all this strong crypto. They should be held responsible!

1
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Trading Standards pokes Amazon over 'libellous' review

leon clarke

Um, is this true everywhere

I've rung (and then been rung back by) 999 twice, both times in London. On both occasions the incoming call showed up as 999. Maybe other 999 call centers can't program the phone system as well.

6
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Google's new scribble-tab-ulous handwriting interface for Android

leon clarke

Finally

My android tablet is better in every respect than my Apple (Newton) tablet.

1
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'Why don't you buy from foreign sites?' asks Commish, snapping on the gloves

leon clarke

What's the definition of a foreign site?

Isn't amazon.co.uk technically in Luxemburg?

In which case many brits buy from foreign sites. I suspect many other national Amazon sites are the same.

(And I think there are EU countries without national Amazon sites, for whom Amazon insists on charging excessive postage fees)

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$30 Landfill Android mobes are proof that capitalism ROCKS

leon clarke

The invention that's done most for living standards in the last 50 years

An interesting question, but I'm going to argue for better semi-dwarf rice.

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