* Posts by Francis Vaughan

383 posts • joined 28 Apr 2007

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SpaceX blast kills Zuck's sat

Francis Vaughan

Re: slippage

Might depend upon how much fuel was loaded for the test fire. The pics from the site seem to show a lot of structure still standing. It may not be nearly as bad as the failure of a fully fuelled vehicle.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: [SpaceX] called the explosion an 'anomaly'.

You will notice that they don't use the word "normal" in describing launches. They use the word "nominal". Nominal means you have nominated how it will fly. Normal is what usually happens. The goal of engineering is to make the two coincident. Sadly in pretty much the early part of any rocket system development "normal" means catastrophic failure.

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SpaceX's used flight-proven rocket to loft Euro satellite this year

Francis Vaughan

Re: SpaceX - making Orbit cheaper

So long as you don't let the flame catch up with you, all is well. If it does, you probably won't be going into space today.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: SpaceX - making Orbit cheaper

Really? You would trust a parachute that has never been used versus one that has proven it has no defects in manufacture? Never come across the term "infant mortality" in failure analysis? The most common time for something to fail is when it is used first.

Somehow there is this strange idea that rockets are intrinsically single use. Yet the problem with re-use isn't their design, it is that it is hard to get them back economically. Aircraft are not single use, nor is your car. Why should a rocket be?

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Francis Vaughan

Space Shuttle

Title says it all.

Why exactly the snide comments now?

Flight proven is precisely correct. Until the hardware has flown a mission you don't know it if it has any residual flaws that only come to light when a full mission is flown. How many would be happy taking off in an airliner if told it has actually been delivered on a truck from the factory and this journey would be the first time it had ever taken off?

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Facebook to stalk shoppers

Francis Vaughan

Lunacy.

This is going to be a self inflicted wound of mortal proportions.

The absolute last thing any purveyor of ads ever wants its customers to know, is how much that customer's adverts did for them. Because the answer is - nowhere near as much as the money spent would justify. Ad effectiveness is the big secret. Letting that particular cat out of the bag could ruin Facebook and Google overnight.

This is probably a good thing.

More likely, the system will quietly be decommissioned when the first round of deeply embarrassing results start to appear.

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Apple assumes you'll toss the Watch after three years

Francis Vaughan

Spin

Lordy, what a crock this article is. As noted above, Apple talk about first owners, not product lifetimes. And more importantly, this is information about environmental impact. Apple are being hard on themselves here. It would be in their interests to suggest longer times, and thus improve the environmental rating of their products. Had they suggested significant;y longer times they could (and should) have been taken to task for trying to soft pedal the impact of manufacturing their products.

As any owner knows, Apple stuff tends to be very well built, and outlasts kit from just about anyone else. Further, it keep its value way longer than other kit. You can argue why it might, but the reality is that it does. As products that are viewed from the standpoint of environmental footprint Apple do very well.

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US govt says it has cracked killer's iPhone, legs it from Apple fight

Francis Vaughan

Re: "they probably have their private keys"

Zero chance the FBI or anyone else has the signing keys. That simply isn't way a proper signing system works. Nobody has access to the keys. Not even anyone within Apple. The idea that there is a safe somewhere with the keys written on a piece of paper is naive. The keys will live in a set of dedicated secure key devices - devices that erase their contents if tampered with, and the signing operation will be a matter of submitting the code to signed to the secure key system. It gives you the signature back. The key is untouched by human hand. Even if the supreme court ordered Apple to hand the key over there is no technical mechanism to do so. All that can every be done is to continue to sign things using the system. The key devices are maybe subject to sophisticated technical attack - so if they were all shipped to the NSA, maybe, just maybe, after a few years of effort the keys might be recovered. But the common ideas of bribery, disgruntled employees or espionage finding the keys is fanciful.

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FBI backs down against Apple: Feds may be able to crack killer's iPhone without iGiant's help

Francis Vaughan

Re: Phone in hand.

Indeed. There is a lot of ignorance about the technical details here.

There is only one critical secret piece of information that matters. The FBI could create the needed firmware themselves. There is nothing special about it. What they can't do is sign it. Only Apple has that ability. The FBI were demanding that Apple do the slog work in writing the special version of the OS (which was going to include code that ensured it only ran on that one phone.) No matter who wrote the code, the only thing that really mattered was forcing Apple into signing it. Once signed the code is immutable, hence if it contains code to target only one phone by its unique ID, it can't be modified to run on any other phone without being signed again.

All of the questions of exploits, hacking, who writes what, or the "weaponising of the code" come down to one thing. Apple must sign it. There were rumours that the FBI would consider escalating the case to demand Apple hand over the signing key. Now THAT would be bad. Apple fought the orders to write the special OS as once written it becomes too easy for new demands for that same code to be re-signed on demand for new cases.

Letting the signing key out of Apple would be a disaster waiting to happen. One would assume that it is kept in a set of appropriate secure key devices, and is actually not known to anyone.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 grounded by 'sledgehammer' winds

Francis Vaughan

Tsiolkovsky rocket equation

The value in cooling the fuels is in the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation. The delta velocity of a rocket is proportional to the natural log of the ratio of total mass to dry mass. Anything at all that adds to the dry mass rips performance from the system mercilessly. Eventually every kilogram of dry mass added is a kilogram of payload not reaching orbit (or at least staging). Just making booster tanks bigger does not yield performance improvements as well as one might wish. Adding more fuel (and hence total mass) without any penalty in dry mass is a bigger win than one might expect. The higher effective fuel flow possible can translate to higher trust - which helps with that additional total mass on liftoff, something that matters a lot when most of the thrust is simply vanishing into balancing gravity. An even marginal change in thrust can have big knock on effects. Overall the ultra cold fuel is as close to a free lunch as one might wish for.

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'Boss, I've got a bug fix: Nuke the whole thing from orbit, rewrite it all'

Francis Vaughan

C is a glorified assembler

The trouble with C is that it is little more than a glorified assembler. The language lacks a significant number of structures that we take for granted in more modern languages, structures that make life easier when building more complex code.

But you can convince it to do things that are useful. Often with gruesome distorted bits of code that at first sight make little sense. The problem isn't that you do this, it is if these bits of code are not rigorously codified and documented, and wrapped up in a clear and maintainable manner. Macros can be one way of doing do (with a lot of care). But clear and enforced coding rules for their use is the key. There should never be a time when anyone looking at the code is in any doubt about what is being done and why. If the idiom is useful, I would expect it to be used everywhere as the standard mechanism for such condition handling. Personal idiosyncratic use of such features is the problem, and speaks of deep problems in the project.

The failure in the SSL code is not the use of the code, but rather that it is blandly written with no apparent consistency with the rest of the source. Just a one time use of an idiom. That suggests almost zero care, and is deeply worrying as a pointer to the quality of the rest of the code.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 set for fourth launch attempt

Francis Vaughan

LOX

The problem with the latest Falcon 9 and its fuels is that they are now using a much colder than normal fuel. Both the LOX and RP-2 are chilled down significantly colder than other boosters. That allows the same tank structure to hold more fuel, and thus extend lift capability. Quite significantly it turns out. The down side is that keeping the fuel cold is a much more critical and difficult task than it has been in the past. They have to load it much later in the countdown, and there is much less wiggle room with delays.

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South Australia received 100 complaints about police data misuses last year

Francis Vaughan

Logs

The other sad truth is that both the clinicians and police seem to be utterly naive. How do they think they were caught? In an age where the popular press is full of how your every move can be tracked with your phone, exactly what logs do they think might be kept about their accessing of confidential records? Logs that won't go away, and can be reviewed way after the event if there is the need.

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Lonely bloke in chem suit fuels Mars orbiter

Francis Vaughan

F16

For all the hand wringing about MMH, one should remember that the venerable F-16 powers its APU with MMH. The ground crew need to refuel the planes if there has been an in-flight problem where the APU is needed. And accidents do happen refuelling. Apparently MMH bleaches shirts and stings eyes and skin. Then results is a week of daily hospital checkups.

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CSIRO says it's not firing scientists, it's re-balancing

Francis Vaughan

Re: Science upsets the Liberals (conservatives)

Money?

Don't kid yourself that the right has a mortgage on Christian conservatism. They just make more noise about it than the left.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: Output

Imagining that simply changing a rules in HR will fix an endemic multi-decade problem is naivety at its highest.

CSIRO has been a mess for decades. Something of a sacred cow many governments have resisted the clear need make the needed sweeping changes, and also wipe out the deadwood. Much of the deadwood is at the senior levels anyway. A depressingly large part of CSIRO regard their most important task as ensuring that their department and jobs are not threatened.

The right answer would be to shut the entire thing down and start from scratch. But given that that is impossible, significant structural change is needed.

The insane matrix management capability silo structure inflicted on them in one round of restructuring essentially crippled CSIRO's ability to do anything useful. Whether a new round can do any better is difficult. History says no, but if there is seriously strong leadership and someone who isn't just managing by just parrotiing the latest idiotic fad, there might be some hope.

The entrenched interests at CSIRO will kick up, and you can be sure they will look for as much press as they can, and cast the incumbent government as the villain.

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Why a detachable cabin probably won’t save your life in a plane crash

Francis Vaughan

Fair Go

Who doesn't remember sketching such inventions in their exercise books during a really dull afternoon at school? Sure, once you reach puberty idle thoughts turn to more base topics. But as a seven year old such inventions were part of life. I mean, there was this fabulous documentary on TV all about such ideas, let me think, yes, it was called Thunderbirds.

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Stop the music! Booby-trapped song carjacked vehicles – security prof

Francis Vaughan

Scale

One of the problems with criticisms of the design of the car systems is that it doesn't fit the mindset of the car engineers, and places a model over the car that actually doesn't exist in computers either.

Last I saw your average PC was just about as open a trainwreck as the cars we are criticising. There are a huge number of separate processors, many interconnection buses, and zero security. A PC typically has a number of high speed buses (SATA for a start) talking to subsystems with their own embedded operating systems. Then there are the slow buses for trivial stuff (USB 1.1 devices) and faster USB for things like WiFi and Bluetooth. Every one of these device controllers has embedded processors, many with subvertable hardware, and known attack vectors.

I don't hear pious moaning that it should be trivial to add firewalls to all the buses inside a PC. Yet it is essentially the same problem. There are hacks that can pwn a hard disk drive (many of which run say three separate ARM processors and a full multitasking OS). Not to mention hacks that can subvert your ethernet controller or WiFi controller to take over your PC. We all know not to plug an unknown USB device into a PC - but I bet that is a rule more observed in the breach. It isn't trivial autorun exploits we have to defend against now.

Yes, car system security is a big deal. But don't pretend that somehow the mainstream computer industry has trod these tracks long ago and it is the car engineers that are dolts. Everything is built to a price, and when there isn't a clear driver for change, change doesn't happen.

The care taken in car system where the issues are understood makes the mainstream computer industry look like a bunch of idiots blindly walking into walls. These are hard real time systems, and they are tested and simulated to clock edge and instruction boundary precision. But like so many stories of security in the history of computing, nobody even thought it was an issue. (Like the Morris worm, when the first message that went out had the point that was along the lines of - "we all knew this was possible, we just didn't think anyone would be stupid enough to do it.")

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Rust 1.6 released, complete with a stabilised libcore

Francis Vaughan

Re: interesting, but...

If you have enough time and money - sure.

But we don't.

If we had some bacon we could have some bacon and eggs - if we had some eggs.

We don't have the time, the money, or the required number of skilled people. Nor will we ever. It is the nature of the world. So it simply isn't a solution by itself.

So you need better tools. Researching better tools is probably a good idea. Researching better tools seems to have provided some useful benefits in the past. It might be a good policy to stay on it. Rust may not be the answer, but C++ most assuredly isn't, as is demanding impossible funding and time.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: No it's not garbage collection but it amounts to automatic resource management

A segv is when you are lucky, and the access went somewhere protected. Program crashes right there and you get some clue as to why. A buffer overrun is when you run into the next variable allocated in memory and no protection violation is caught. Your program doesn't crash, behaves badly (anything up to your system being pwned) and you never know.

An indexing exception is what you expect from any sensible language. A segv tells you that the language or its implementation has a bug. Any language that allows you to generate a segv is insecure. It is all well and good to have the nice new abstractions. But why then does the language retain the insecure ones? If they are bad practice, remove them.

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Francis Vaughan

Last I saw C++ did not support garbage collection (they pulled it from the spec.) Dynamic memory management is not the same as automatic memory management. C++ still provides all the tools you need to utterly subvert the memory abstractions - especially when you start calling libraries that were not written with the same abstractions. You both can and must be able to find and manufacture naked pointers and use them. Once the language allows this you are dead.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: interesting, but...

Pointers are not the problem. It is any language that allows pointers to be manufactured or modified directly by user code that is the problem. Languages where you write your own loop control and indexing are part of this. That is where the buffer overflows, stack smashing, and a large number of other amusing problems come from.

Any language where type casting is allowed, or languages, that support pointer arithmetic are intrinsically insecure. It matters not that C++ has some nicer abstractions available. You can still write utterly insecure code in it. Until the language prohibits insecure code its security is only a matter of coding with a set of rules next to you. And you can do that in assembler. C++ remains syntactic sugar over the top of C for any questions of security. Unless the language stops you writing insecure code, it does not support security intrinsically.

If you want high performance numeric code you want a language that allows you to specify the mathematics of what you are doing properly, and then allows you to identify the parts where there are issues worth addressing (preferably with pragma like hints.) Modern Fortrans are actually pretty good at this. They still allow insecure code to be written, but it would not be a huge stretch to modify them to remove most of the old insecure legacy bits. Coding with forall and where clauses can capture the mathematics better, allow for better optimisation, and does not require indexes and pointers to be exposed.

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Cocky SpaceX will try another sea landing with next rocket launch

Francis Vaughan
Headmaster

Pendantry

"The launch is also taking place in California, rather than Florida. This means the rocket can't do the most efficient eastward route,"

No. It is launching a polar orbiting satellite. An Eastward route is not more efficient for a polar orbit, in fact it is impossible to reach a polar orbit insertion launching to the east. The whole point is that the launch MUST launch to the west in order to wipe off the entire rotational speed of the Earth. You need the orbital motion to go over the poles, not over the equator. It launches to the west from the west coast for the same reason eastward launches launch from the east coast. To avoid flying over populated areas.

Pedant comment:

"Which begs the question why is SpaceX doing it?"

"begging the question" has nothing to do with asking a question in response to something. It means to assume the answer to the question. It is a contraction of "beggaring the question". "Begets" the question perhaps, but "begs", is just plain wrong.

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Death Stars are a waste of time – here's the best way to take over the galaxy

Francis Vaughan

Energy

The article pretty much fails to take account of energy.

Given an arbitrary lump of mater floating about in space - say some planetoid, there is only going to be a limited amount of recoverable useful energy resource available for it. That new energy is what will limit the number of useful droids the exponential manufacturing can create. However you need to subtract the energy needed to mine that energy. Unless you have some form of matter converter to create energy directly from matter. The existence of which would be a game changer that would make droid armies the least of your plot worries.

Also, an asteroid travelling at speed is identically efficient as an energy beam. Both carry energy. It is all well and good to point out that a large rock travelling at relativistic speeds carries insane energy. But how did it get to those speeds? The energy it carries has to be imparted to it from something, and the energy must balance. If your rock carries a 100 zillion joules of energy because it is moving at 0.9C you need technology that can usefully direct at least 100 zillion joules into it. Why not just deliver that 100 zillion joules directly? It will have the same effect.

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How to log into any backdoored Juniper firewall – hard-coded password published

Francis Vaughan

No, it is clear that the vulnerability was introduced into the source, it wasn't added as a hack to a binary image. The clue is in the password string. It is one of two things.

1. An intentionally coded backdoor with a password deliberately made to look like a legitimate printf format, so that simple strings analysis of the binary would not suggest it was anything special to any potential attacker.

1a. Actually is a legitimate printf format string that has been reused for an intentionally coded backdoor.

2. It is a legitimate printf format, and someone has tweaked the source code to make it work as a backdoor password by introducing a small but critical flaw in the program.

The difference is that option 1 should show up in a code review. Option 2 may be very hard to pick up. Languages like C and C++ contain a great many ways of burying such exploits in ways that take considerable care and expertise to notice, let alone figure out. Indeed both languages seem to encourage coding habits that make such things hard to detect.

It could be as simple as an extra * in the right place, or the difference between 1 and I in a carefully chosen spot.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: I guess this would have shown up with a cursory glance at the code?

Exactly - there is existing history for security breaches that are deliberately hard to pick in code reviews, and when very well done are plausibly deniable as a simple slip of the keyboard, and not actually done with malicious intent.

Now in its eighth year - http://www.underhanded-c.org/

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Hillary Clinton says for crypto 'maybe the back door is the wrong door'

Francis Vaughan

The point was - the US isn't going to stop the Paris attacks. France might, but the US won't. Hillary allowing the FBI to decrypt US communications does not help stop ISIS wreak havoc half way across the planet, despite the implication it does. Indeed, they don't need to use encryption. Like I wrote, a note passed hand to hand will do. Or if they really are worried, a one time pad, either for the note, or for an electronic communication.

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Francis Vaughan

Its pretty clean the encryption they are worried about is communications. Data on disks is a sideline in comparison. Next, although everyone talks ISIS, the reality is, and the FBI and the rest well understand, they have just as many threats from homegrown Christian or just pain nutter terrorists as external ones. This will, and always will, be about the local population. It isn't about stopping the next Paris attack.

We already have the ironic spectacle of one part of the government inventing and popularising a secure and untraceable communication system to further its operations, and another spending great effort to subvert it again.

In the end, real terrorists resort to notes passed from hand to hand, and one time pads. No Manhattan project can solve a one-time-pad. Demands for weakened or backdoor'ed encryption are a solution to a problem that only uses existing encryption because of convenience. If it is not possible to use common encrypted channels operationally, terrorists simply move to other methods. Methods for which current meta-data analysis probably have less traction - making the job of the security agencies harder, rather than easier.

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EU's Paris terror response includes 'virtual currencies' crimp

Francis Vaughan

Re: Roads....

I think everyone has missed the phrase "in line with the risk they present" in the quote.

This isn't a call for blanket controls and surveillance. (At least not yet). Mostly it is sensible.

Assuming it is in-line with the risk. But it isn't as if they have infinite resources.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: Stopping movement of non-banking currencies

Been watching too many movies. The problem with diamonds is that they are implicitly an illicit commodity. Outside of the controlled market of deBeers - where the prices are artificially high, diamonds are dirty from the outset. So you are already dealing with other criminals, or shady to black markets. This is not a sensible place to be if you are trying to be discreet and move money about to fund anti-state activities. What is needed is proper first class fungible assets. You can buy anything with a fist full of Euros or Dollars. The first thing you need to do with diamonds is to try to convert them into Euros or Dollars. It is at this point you need a market that wishes to buy your diamonds - for which you can expect a highly discounted price, and you will be selling them to an untrusted, implicitly criminal, buyer. Assuming it isn't a sting run by the local security agencies. A sack of greasy Euros won't attract attention on the black market. Diamonds most certainly would.

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Taxi for NASA! SpaceX to fly astronauts to space station

Francis Vaughan

Re: Isaac Asimov on the subject of rocket fuel

And to follow up my recommendation for Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants, I got a copy down, and guess what? The Asimov quote is from the forward, written by Asimov. Asimov knew John Clark as a fellow chemist and SF writer.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: Crazy Fuel

¿Que? They use LOX and RP-1. Same as the Saturn V 1st stage. V2 used LOX and ethanol. M163B used hydrazine and hydrogen peroxide. There is nothing about the Nazi era fuels that is unusual either. Hydrazine is a very popular fuel, it even powers the APU in an F16 fighter.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: Isaac Asimov on the subject of rocket fuel

"LOX/H2 or LOX/KEROSENE are pretty ok."

You are welcome to drink a cup of either.

The cannonical book of liquid rocket fuels is Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants by John D. Clark.

If you want insane rocket fuel oxidisers - try Chlorine trifluoride. It will burn asbestos, sand and concrete. Glass ignites on contact. It isn't clear how you would die if you had some spilled on you, it would be a matter of which of a number of horrific and painful mechanisms got you first.

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Tor Project: US government paid university $1m bounty to hack our networks

Francis Vaughan

Exactly. Somehow it is forgotten who invented Tor, and for what purpose. It is hardly the first time that the the spooks and the FBI are on opposite sides. Neither are exactly working with clean hands, but that is more a reflection on the nature of life than much else.

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Space fans eye launch of Lego Saturn V

Francis Vaughan

Re: The Real Thing

One of the three remaining actually. All three are on display at various NASA facilities. They are a mix of flight and test-article parts. Apollo 18 and 19 were cancelled. But the hardware was all ready. Skylab used the first two stages of a Saturn to fly, the Skylab itself being a refitted third stage. Add in the Dynamic test article (which whilst not considered flightworthy was built identically to the flying ones) and you get one at KSC, one at JSC, and one at the US Space and Rocket Centre.

http://history.msfc.nasa.gov/saturn_apollo/display.html

A visit to building 30 at the JSC in Houston is also an absolute must. You walk up the same stairs that Gene Kranz and his fellow mission controllers took each day. They have refitted one of the control rooms back with all the Apollo era gear. Little beats seeing that.

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Sennheiser announces €50,000 headphones (we checked, no typos)

Francis Vaughan

One of the most common studio headphones is the Sony MDR 7506. Whilst not the absolute best sounding, or the cheapest, they are pretty good, and a known good standard that is still made, robust, and has a service backup via Sony's pro distribution and service network.

But for artists to monitor sound as they perform there are many other phones commonly used. One of the key points about these is that they don't leak sound back into the recording.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: shit music

I really hope you mean Johann Strauss and the other members of his family. Richard Strauss has no relationship to them, and did not compose sickly sweet waltzes and dance music for polite Viennese society. Richard Strauss wrote seriously good powerful music. Sunrise from Also sprach Zarathustra is of course very well known from 2001. But Salomé, Electra, his Last Four Songs - just to pick a few high points. Richard Strauss was a giant.

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Crash this beauty? James Bond's concept DB10 Aston debuts in Spectre

Francis Vaughan

Re: I got 900,000 problems

"I can't believe that many people are going to be swayed into buying one just because it was in a movie... "

What people forget is that it wasn't all that long ago that Aston Martin were really hurting, were selling not all that many cars at all, and those that they did were heavily based upon Jag bits. The cars were not very good, and people with money went elsewhere. Ford poured silly money into turning the company around, but even then, Aston had very little visibility. It doesn't matter that 99.99% of the movie goers will never buy an Aston. The remainder represent a very tidy fraction of the very few that do buy Astons. Enough that for a very niche maker of very low production volume cars that it makes perfect sense to build on the Bond franchise like this. There is almost no equivalent to Bond.

If you want, the boat he sailed in Casino Royale is currently for sale. It will cost rather more than an Aston.

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Let's talk about that NSA Diffie-Hellman crack

Francis Vaughan

"Graham calculates that cracking 1024-bit DH it the computational equivalent of 2.5 hours' worth of global Bitcoin mining power."

The article also stated that the NSA system took a year to crack a prime, and cost $100m

Thus the equivalent value of the global bitcoin mining equipment is $350 billion.

Hmmm. Obviously there is a lag in technology between the NSA system and now, but there remains something of a gap here.

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Francis Vaughan

Re: No, it WAS obvious

No, what was obvious is that eventually enough compute power would break it. That was explicitly understood. Everyone knew that.

What the problem is, is that it isn't a trivial fix. You can be sure that a lot of the "fixes" will be more likely to introduce new vulnerabilities, ones that may even weaken the system to be easier to break than now. Unless you understand the protocol in detail, don't assume you know how to fix this issue.

Don't assume the flaw is laziness. It is more likely to be a clear decision to favour simplicity over complexity, complexity that in itself leads to hard to understand and difficult to control new weaknesses. Better the devil you know.

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Accidental homicide: how VoLTE kills old style call accounting

Francis Vaughan

Old style acounting, and old style plans

Who has a mobile phone plan where they actually end up paying for individual calls? Seems most telcos and resellers are selling plans that feature some idiotic number of calls "for free" in the plan and then simply use the call count as a way of pushing you up a tier in the plans if you actually make a lot of calls. Under almost all usual circumstances you never actually pay for metered calls.

Getting rid of premium numbers OTOH would be the proverbial good idea.

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The Emissionary Position: screwing the motorist the European way

Francis Vaughan

Re: "...the reason there are very few diesel aeroplanes, because..."

> Jet fuel ≅ diesel fuel

Very curiously this is actually not true.

There are diesel engines for light aircraft, and they don't run on ordinary diesel fuel, they are designed to run on Jet-A. They do get better economy, even when measured as energy per unit mass, rather than by volume. What they are not is common. Continental for one, are in the midst of bringing one to market.

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Top VW exec blames car pollution cheatware scandal on 'a couple of software engineers'

Francis Vaughan

Re: On the other hand....

Nice idea but zero chance of being the case.

ECU code is some of the most reviewed and tested code on the planet. It tends to make Space Shuttle code processes look weak. Somewhere there was code that took in steering wheel angle measurements and affected the engine exhaust recirculation control actuators. Yet the guys that write the code in the ECU don't write the specifications, that comes from the guys that design the engine, and work out the combustion mechanics and engine maps and algorithms. Those specifications are worked over with a fine toothed comb. This is a hard real time system, the entire system will be specified to hard real time deadlines, and the software artefact understood not just to the machine instruction, but down to the clock cycle. There are many engineers involved in this. Something as utterly weird and blatant as steering affecting the EGR will never get past the levels of design and review that are needed in an ECU. You might manage to get the needed bits into the design and coded, but it would require complicity of a range of engineers and their managers. And it would require continued vigilance to keep the lid on things.

One can imagine the idea coming from one of the software levels, and being percolated up the chin just high enough for someone middling senior to give development of the hack the green light. The hack may have languished unto pressure came from way up high that a fix was needed from the engine division or there were serious problems with sales to come. Then the hack may have obtained a life of its own and got into the product, possibly with some higher managers simply realising that it would be better not to ask how things were fixed.

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So, what's happening with LOHAN? Sweet FAA, that's what

Francis Vaughan

Re: Denmark?

Oz shouldn't be an issue:

http://ausrocketry.com.au/motors/reloadable/cesaroni-technology-hpr/cti-54mm/pro54-3g/3-grain-reload-kit-23.html

Go up to Woomera - the place is designed for purpose. Serious amateur rockets geeks fly stuff from there.

It would not be hard to hook you up with the right people.

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Oz regulator warns VW: cheatware scandal could cost you millions

Francis Vaughan

Meaningless

"it is our understanding that the software is inactive"

¿Que? That is sort of the problem. Or do they mean that the software always ensures that the emissions are low, and never switches to higher performance, dirty mode? One rather doubts it. There is no use case for the software to ever work this way. Either they need to cheat the tests to sell into a market, or the market has lax emission requirements and they don't need to cheat the tests, but still leave the engine in dirty mode.

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Reg reader shares AshMad blackmail email about which he gives 'zero f***s'

Francis Vaughan

Why bother with the AM members list?

If you were running this blackmail routine, why would you even bother with the AM email list? Far too much effort. Just spam everyone you possibly can. You will get enough hits on people that actually were on the list, even if they didn't use the email address you send the blackmail too. Enough idiots may fall for it (at least until it becomes one of the more prevalent spam emails) to make it lucrative enough. Actually following up on the threats is a waste of time. Hard to believe the usual villains are not onto this already.

I am a little surprised it isn't already a common general spam email. When it becomes so, a curious result may eventuate. The impact of the release of the real email list may become muted. (If anyone actually has cared so far.)

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Falcon 9 fireworks display grounds SpaceX

Francis Vaughan

Re: Debug Question ?

Telemetry is vital. But you need to meet that with a well defined analysis process. Fault Tree Analysis is a very good start.

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Could our fear of fracking be appeased with CO2 sequestration?

Francis Vaughan

Re: Talking about how the fractures never get near the aquifer

Pressure travels neither up nor down, it isn't a flow.

Shales, coal beds and tight sands (all fracked) are all deep. The only reason you are interested in them is that there is a seal above them that contains the gas. If there were no seal the gas would have long since gone. Shales, coal, and tight sands are weak. That is why you can fracture them. The seals tend to be strong and resilient - which is why they have remained intact for a few tens to hundreds of millions of years. If a hydraulic fracture was able to penetrate a seal, the seal is essentially by definition too weak to have retained the gas being exploited. So, the rather useful outcome is that the very geology that means there is an exploitable reserve to be fracked contains the fractures inside the rocks we actually want to frack.

As above - there is a lot of misinformation and deliberate lying. Fly by night operators dumping wastewater from the fracking operations is not the same as water finding its way to the surface via fractures. Compromised well bores are the only viable path to communicate. This problem has nothing to do with fracking. But the insane "they pump CHEMICALS down the well to break up the rocks" crowd simply don't want to understand.

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Linux boss Torvalds: Don't talk to me about containers and other buzzwords

Francis Vaughan

Re: The IoT Crowd

Given that the Gnu/Hurd predates Linux, one suspects that we will be waiting rather a long time. There is nothing magic in the Mach kernel's size. Putting things inside or outside of kernel mode execution doesn't really help the overall system size. It is the overall minimum system needed to operate that matters. After all, look at Mac OSX. Darwin is also a Mach kernel. Apple's chief scientist was for a long time Avie Trevannian - they guy who probably had the most to do with Mach's architecture and development (although it had some roots in Rick Rashid's Accent OS, and Rick was the guy who drive the Mach team. Ironically Rick vanished into MS years ago.)

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What a shower: METEORS will BLAZE a FIERY TRAIL across our skies

Francis Vaughan

Wrong title

Clearly the title of the book should be "The British Book of Astronomical Flops."

Generally a lovely view down here in the antipodes.

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