* Posts by Jonathan Richards 1

605 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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Snapchat jihadist-fearing peers return with LAST GASP Snoopers' Charter demand

Jonathan Richards 1
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WTF?

Another Bill suggesting open-ended legislation by Order

Proposed Part 3A (1) enables the Secretary of State to make orders to "ensure that communications data is available to be obtained from telecommunications operators ..." It does not specify what those orders might entail, and does not limit them in any significant way at all. Part (2) says [ with elisions by me for clarity]

An order under this section may, in particular ... provide for ... the entering into by such [telecommunications] operators of arrangements with the Secretary of State or other persons under or by virtue of which the Secretary of State or other persons engage in activities on behalf of the operators on a commercial or other basis for the purpose of enabling the operators to comply with requirements imposed by virtue of this section. [emphasis added]

On plain reading, this seems to enable a Home Secretary forcibly to billet a PCDC (Parasitic Communications Data Collection) Team within a telecom operator, without paying said operator.

But that would prompt outrage, you say? Their Lordships seem to have thought of this. The very next sub-para says

[An order under this section may, in particular ... ] impose requirements or restrictions on telecommunications operators or other persons or provide for the imposition of such requirements or restrictions by notice of the Secretary of State. [emphasis added]

Again, plain reading suggests that this empowers a Home Secretary to draft an order to telecoms operators saying "Get on with it", and maybe "You are not permitted publically to disclose or discuss this order", or any other wizard wheeze that he or she may think is expedient.

There is a following passage, in which the SofS is required to consult with operators, OFCOM and the RIPA Technical Advisory Board, before issuing an order, but it doesn't say that he or she must pay any attention to the consultation outcome, and I for one worry that some future Home Secretary would drive on regardless.

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Your gran and her cronies are 'embracing online banking' – study

Jonathan Richards 1
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Aged grandmothers and younger villains

@ Dr Syntax: One of my grandmothers was born in 1881, and has been gone for fifty-four years, now, but that's not what I came here to say.

I think 108-year-old online banking customers ought to prompt just a little more diligence within the banks; the BBC carried a programme recently reporting on a banking scam wherein a vulnerable 94-year-old was tricked into transferring hundreds of thousands of pounds into some ne'er-do-well's pockets, as part of which the villains had set up online banking on her behalf. She has never owned a computer nor used online anything.

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I'll get my coat – there's a dusty one flying off Comet 67P

Jonathan Richards 1
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Not so close, really

I've mentioned before that 67P isn't going to get close to the sun, for values of close which mean much to humans. It won't get as close to the sun as you, dear Reader, are at this moment. Perihelion distance of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is 1.243 AU. However there seems to be this abiding idea that it is going to plunge Sunwards and skim the photosphere, or something. It ain't.

Ref: ESA.int

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Virtual Vulture 2 swoops into Spaceport America

Jonathan Richards 1
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Canards

Does the X-plane model animate the canards realistically: in the video they appear to be at maximum elevation; probably at a stalling angle-of-attack, I would guess. Does Vulture 2 really fly like that?

Also, who chickened out of giving us the actual moment of virtual landing... or should I say impact...?

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Boffin finds formula for four-year-five-nines disk arrays

Jonathan Richards 1
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Boffin

Re: Something new every day

Not so much just caught up to the idea, as actually quantifying it with real-world failure numbers, and working out an optimum with a bit of maths. Just a bit more precise than your "bunch of". See icon!

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Anonymous: Snap on that Guy Fawkes mask, we're marching against child sex abuse

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Way beyond paedos

> They can no longer control the spread of information

I am old enough to remember the national hysteria over "Satanic Abuse" during the 1980's which resulted in some families having their children forcibly removed, as I recall, with no more evidence than could be fabricated and whipped up by and within groups of mis-guided social work teams. It became clear that there was NO organised Satanic Abuse, and the whole thing was just Salem Witch Trials all over again, though luckily no-one got burned at any stakes.

Now, with the WWW, the pot in which such anti-$BAD_THING fervour can be whipped up is so much bigger, and the froth that can be generated is so much larger, so that the danger of DIS-information is greater. I am, of course, in favour of real information being collected, sieved, collated, and verified. The interwebz are very bad at this. One has to decide whom one is to believe, at all times, everywhere. The critical questions are "Who is telling me this?" and "Why are they telling me?"

When Anon on The Register tells me that stuff is happening "Way beyond paedos", with unsupported statements, I'm afraid I don't get very satisfactory answers to those questions.

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Humanity can defeat SkyNet with BOOKS, says IT think tank

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: more titles and Asimov

+1

I think it's because his First Law is in direct contradiction to much of what some organisations want robots for.

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P0wning for the fjords: Malware turns drones into DEAD PARROT

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Can't get it up.

> The fact gatherings and protests will then only be filmed from the authorities' point of view is entirely coincidental. [punctuation added; I can't help it...]

Really? How did anyone, authority or otherwise, ever get any footage of gatherings and protests in the past?

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Secret Service on alert after drone CRASHES into White House

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Pull!

I was thinking the same sort of thing. Maybe with a deployable net payload instead of a shot pattern. Such devices were well known as naval cannon ammunition in the days when the the objective was to shred the sails and rigging of enemy ships. I'm not suggesting installation of 32-pounders on the White House roof, but maybe an 8 or 10 gauge shotgun?

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ICANN CEO criticizes domain 'hoggers'

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Times like this...

Exactly. The value of a domain name is based solely on its availability, or scarcity. With a larger number of top level domains, the value is diluted, in exactly the way that the value of a currency is diluted when central banks create more money.

Has anyone ever asked Sir Tim whether he foresaw (or is now pleased to see) a market in names for sites on his WWW? Assignment: Team Register :-)

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: The truth often hurts

> it's no good getting mynewbusinessname.anythingelse because customers won't find you.

Err... have you looked at how most Web users actually navigate? If they aren't following a link from some social media post, it's odds-on that they will type what they think is your business name into Google[1]. I just tried this with a domain name I made up on the spur of the moment. GoogleTM, he say:

Showing results for startupfunders.com

Search instead for startupfunder.co.uk

Thus, I don't think that it's the case that you must have {whatever}.com in order to make your website findable.

[1] Other search engines are available: you and I know this, but the people I'm talking about don't. Many think Google is the Internet (Sandberg, S., 2015)

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Oi, Aussie sports fans! Take that selfie stick and stick it

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Just maybe they meant,

> a better shot or view of the action

Thus, there should also be a ban on the worst format ever for a camera, viz. a tablet computer. My sister has a wonderful photograph of Usain Bolt crossing an Olympic finishing line... at least she has a photograph of a tablet which is showing Usain Bolt crossing an Olympic finishing line, hoisted up into her line of vision by some tablet-toting-twassock at the crucial moment.

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FROSTY MISTRESS of the Outer System: Pluto yields to probe snapper

Jonathan Richards 1
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Boffin

Re: Billion

Whichever side of the debate one started on, this question is now settled. Nobody should now be writing 'billion' and meaning '1012. The convention that billion=109, trillion=1012, etc. is now practically universal, by which I mean all practitioners use it. It is wise merely to remember that this was not always the case, when reading older documents.

Ref: How many is a billion? [oxforddictionaries.com]

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'People ACTUALLY CONFUSE Facebook and the internet in some places'

Jonathan Richards 1
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Stop

Re: Half are below the median

Politico: We shall not rest until all the [schools|prisons|hospitals|police forces] are performing better than average!

The Populace: D'oh! Not again!

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ATTACK of the FLYING MOUNTAIN: 2004 BL86 goes by like a BULLET

Jonathan Richards 1
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Unhappy

Last chance to see...

As far as I can tell from http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2004%20BL86;orb=1 the asteroid won't be above the horizon for UK observers until close to dawn tomorrow (Monday 26th), so slim chance actually to see, even if one had a big enough telescope. Happy to be contradicted!!

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Alan Turing's LOST NOTEBOOK goes under the hammer

Jonathan Richards 1
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Stop

NEVER watch a movie expecting historical re-enactments. You won't get them. Ever.

You missed two of the greatest examples: "Braveheart", which managed to compress decades of actual history into mere weeks of story timeline, and "The Other Boleyn Girl" which I watched recently, and which concludes its credits with the boilerplate disclaimer along the lines of "This motion picture is a work of fiction and any resemblances to historical persons and events are purely coincidental". Amen to that.

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Wizard of Oz OFFICIALLY 'most significant movie' EVER, says PNAS

Jonathan Richards 1
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FAIL

TFA reported: Amaral's ultimate aim is to develop a method for determining "the most significant scientific papers". He explained: "More than 1 million scientific papers are published each year worldwide. It can be difficult to distinguish a good scientific paper from an average one, much like the movies. My next goal is to develop a good measure of scientific citations to get inside what is going on in the scientific literature."

So he's only about 51 (fifty-one, count 'em) years late with that idea, then. Eugene Garfield launched Science Citation Index in 1964, and by the time I was using it professionally in 1975 it was already massive, and massively useful. Sure, seminal papers like Southern blot, get referenced a lot, but it's perfectly possible to track the genuine interchange of useful ideas using it as a tool. (Well, it was then. I haven't used it for nearly thirty years, now).

Further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_Citation_Index

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NINETY new DOOM ASTEROIDS found in 2014

Jonathan Richards 1
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Say what?

The caption on that video says:

Green circles represent near-Earth objects (asteroids and comets that come within 1.3 astronomical units, or Earth-moon distances, of the sun).

An AU is not the distance from the Earth to the moon; does anybody understand what they're driving at, or is it just a mistake? I'm speculating that it should have said '... or 389 Earth-moon distances,' since that's approximately the ratio.

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David Cameron: I'm off to the US to get my bro Barack to ban crypto – report

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Try Vote for Policies

Yes, what he said. If everyone took the time to read the manifestos, we'd have a chance of electing MPs that do the most of what we want them to do. The trouble is that the path from my vote, through MP selection, party infighting and leadership selection, to Her Majesty inviting some individual to form a government, is opaque at best.

On a related topic, all the pictures at the top of El Reg articles are too big, but *this* one is shockingly unpleasant :(

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Sony hack was good news for INSURERS and INVESTORS

Jonathan Richards 1
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Mushroom

Re: Liability?

> If the theft and publication of that correspondence renders her unemployable, wouldn’t Pascal have grounds for a massive lawsuit against her former employer?

See, this is another example of the mindset that says "anything I can get away with is OK". As I would like to see it, the way to be a respected film executive is to have a proper degree of respect for your staff and for the 'talent' that you employ. The fact that she (allegedly) trash-talks folk in company correspondence tells you something about the respect due to her (if you believe the content of the leaks). The damage is done at the point of writing the trash, not at the point of it becoming public knowledge.

In more enlightened times, this was known as having a conscience, and hypocrites did not run to their lawyers alleging that being found out was somehow somebody else's fault.

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TERROR in SPACE: ISS 'Nauts end panic by switching computer off and on again

Jonathan Richards 1
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Go

Re: I wonder what it was?

'Мурфи' maybe. I think that a Russian reading that might give it a more Dublinesque pronunciation than the name usually gets in England.

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Warning: Using encrypted email in Spain? Do not pass go, go directly to jail

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: France vs Spain/UK/US

Depends on what you mean by "not too many". To have a realistic chance of remembering the blitz bombing of the UK, you'd have to have been born before 1938. Wikipedia has figures gathered in 2012 for 5-year age bins, so let's take everyone over 75 at that date:

Years

attained Population %

75–79 2,006,000 3.2

80–84 1,496,000 2.4

85–89 918,000 1.5

90+ 476,000 0.8

That's 4.9 million people and almost 8% of the population. Of those, a proportion will have passed on between 2012 and 2015 (application of mortality rates left as an exercise for the reader) and some other proportion will not have been resident in the UK in 1940-41, but it's still a lot of people, absolutely.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Big Brother

WARNING: Re: Cameron can go do one

Links to oglaf.com ought to be flagged NSFW. Just sayin' !

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'F*** you', exclaims Google Translate app, politely

Jonathan Richards 1
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OK, Google

"I seem to be having terrible trouble with MY lifestyle... ...

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Stop viewing Facebook at work says Facebook at work on Facebook at Work

Jonathan Richards 1
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Stop

Re: So how's that going to work?

>So how's that going to work?

(i) Insane sysadmins (Sony hack refers)

(ii) Formerly sane sysadmins over-ruled by PHBs who signed the contracts with Facebook

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TERROR in SPACE: ISS 'NAUTS FLEE 'gas leak' to Russian module

Jonathan Richards 1
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Black Helicopters

Re: Permissions

> You may need to allow usa.gov too. Working fine here from the UK

Posted about javascript, but relevant on just so many levels...

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Joke

Re: You can't get to there from here

Whereas it ought to be called Checkpoint Charlie.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Boffin

Oo! Oo! Eyewitness account!

No, not from the space station emergency, but apropos the suggestion to take a sniff. In a chemistry lab far, far, away, and in a time long, long ago when hazardous materials were still allowed to be in the same space as children, I saw a chemistry master (who was generally very careful [1]) make a stupid mistake. During a demonstration, he reached for a reagent bottle, expecting it to be some solvent or other, and took a sniff to confirm. Turns out, it was concentrated ammonia solution, and one little sniff quite literally knocked him backwards. Moral: you really don't want to get NH3 up your nose.

[1] This was the same man who taught us the correct way to do an olfactory sampling: hold the material some distance away from you, and using a cupped hand gently waft a little of the air over it towards your nose: don't draw breath deeply: you might not want that stuff down in your lungs.

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Apple v Ericsson: Yet ANOTHER patent war bubbles over

Jonathan Richards 1
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Does not compute...

The Fine Article says:

Apple was the first to file a case in the long-running dispute between the tech giants, claiming that the Swedish company's LTE wireless tech patents are "essential to industry cellular standards" and that it is demanding excessive royalties. The fruity firm said it has not infringed on the patents and does not owe royalties for them.

Eh? That's two mutually exclusive arguments. Pick one EOR the other. Apple cannot be arguing both that the standards are essential to the cellular comms kit it sells, AND that they don't infringe. I don't believe that Apple's lawyers can have been this confused, so there's been some garbling in the story, somewhere.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Strange how fruity patents are so valuable

> Still not grasped the difference between FRAND and normal patents then?

Grasping the difference may be difficult, because there isn't one. Patents are granted by the issuing government; it is up to the patent holder to determine the licensing regime, and careful standards bodies usually ensure that the holders of patented technology that makes it into formal standards have committed to license those patents on a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory basis. So it's the *licence* that differs, not the patent.

Of course, then there is scope for the lawyers to argue about the Fairness, degree of Reason and extent of Discrimination in the licensing.

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Preserve the concinnity of English, caterwauls American university

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Loosing there meaning

No, no, disiniterested means incorporating systemd.

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This $10 phone charger will wirelessly keylog your boss

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Workaround.

At which point you might as well install a virtual keyboard and use the mouse to enter the password from that. Good luck getting your user base to work like that, though. After all, most of them have got their passwords written down in their notebooks anyway.

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What do UK and Iran have in common? Both want to outlaw encrypted apps

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Risk vs benefit

> Would we rather give up all privacy and have no terrorist attacks

Bzzzt. False dichotomy. I think it's perfectly possible to surrender altogether too much privacy, or capacity for privacy, and *still* be faced with a threat. Conspiracies worked *before* the Internet, people.

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Comet Lovejoy's greenish glow visible with naked eye this weekend

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: > much better view of it with a telescope or good pair of binoculars.

> missed Hailey's due to cloud

s/Hailey/Halley

The evidence is that the name should be pronounced to rhyme with 'valley' rather than 'gaily':

Of all the comets in the sky,

There's none like Comet Halley.

We see it with the naked eye

And periodically.

The first to see it was not he,

But still we call it Halley.

The notion that it would return

Was his originally.

Source

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Ghosts of Christmas Past: The long-ago geek gifts that made us what we are

Jonathan Richards 1
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Plastics Lab

One of my most educational items (not at all a toy, really) was a plastics laboratory. In a perspex-fronted case came bottles of various solvents, samples of many different plastics of the time [1] in both film and rod forms, a small spirit burner, and some 2-part moulds. I particularly remember the boat mould: one would half fill it with unexpanded polystyrene beads (supplied), screw the mould halves together and place in a nice hot oven, then finally pop out a finished boat, about four inches long, I guess [2]. Lots of the experiments were about distinguishing the properties of the different materials, and I still remember which ones were soluble in acetone! I don't think I've seen anything like it in the following 50 years. [3]

[1] This would have been the later 1960's

[2] No, Virginia, centimetres had not then been introduced in our backwaters

[3] Although it's probably on YouTube. Most everything else is!

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Armouring up online: Duncan Campbell's chief techie talks crypto with El Reg

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: a nice try....

@Trevor_Pott

I think you might not have recalled my first line at the moment you replied. I said it's all about threats and proportionate measures. What phil had suggested was ditching all closed source operating systems, and I was just pointing out that the mere act of ditching was not enough. In that instance you're only transferring your blind trust from a commercial entity to an open source community. Indeed, I know which of those I'm more likely to invest my trust in: I exclusively use Linux for my computing OSes. I attended and chaired enough security working groups to be immune to charges of naïveté, and what one learns is that some systems and channels are more threatened than others, and the measures one deploys have to be proportionate to the probability and impact of the risk.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Go

SecureDrop

I realise this is part 1 of n, so I hope that later there will be some discussion of SecureDrop, the successor to Aaron Swartz's DeadDrop, which is intended to mediate secure anonymous communications between whistleblowers (leakers, depending on your POV) and journalistic enterprises.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Boffin

Re: a nice try....

> Ditch windows, Mac OSX and any other OS you cannot inspect the source

It's all about matching your measures to the threat. i.e. risk management. Just being able to inspect the source doesn't help, unless you do actually read all that source, glasshopper. And then personally compile what you just read. With a compiler you can trust. Which means writing a minimal bootstrap compiler yourself, probably in assembler, to compile an open-source compiler. This might conceivably protect you against OS-level attacks from The Big Boys, but I wouldn't guarantee it; you'll still be implementing protocols which may be flawed. It's massive overkill in almost any situation other than trying to protect the operations in your world-conquering volcanic lair.

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Feds finger Norks in Sony hack, Obama asks: HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE KOREA?

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Cut off their internet: problem solved.

Agreed. "Comedy featuring assassination" (and in graphic slo-mo, if that spoiler is anything to go by), is a contradiction in terms. Not that I think hideous bad taste should be followed by "righteous deeds" from the GOP (not the Republicans, this time), but it remains hideous bad taste.

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Vulture 2 design hero describes epic 'hobby' project

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Did I miss the flight testing?

> standing in a field and chucking it

To be fair, LOHAN's flight regime is not hand-chucking velocity at ground level, so field-chucking tests would not yield any really useful data. And you'd get that lovely paint-job all mucky.

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Hackney council leaked thousands of locals' data in FoI blunder

Jonathan Richards 1
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FAIL

The real WTF...

... is responding to a Freedom of Information request with a spreadsheet. Excel, OpenOffice, Lotus 123, Quattro Pro, whatever. It's just too much of a risk. Print a report, so that there can't be any hidden data lurking in your output. It's FoI 101.

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Spanish scraper scrapped: Google axes Google News

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: How silly

> How are people going to find their news stories?

Buy a newspaper?

Yeah, yeah, I know. Like that's going to happen. To be serious, though, if I actually want to follow up a news story on the Web, I'm likely to go to one of my favourite/trusted publisher sites first, rather than to Google News. Odd, maybe. You wouldn't be the first to say so... :-)

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Microsoft fires legal salvo at phone 'tech support' scammers

Jonathan Richards 1
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Mushroom

Re: Criminal activity

> Anyway what do you say to these callers?

Use dig and ping to determine the IP address you're going to give them.

E.g.:

jonathan@Odin:~$ dig nsa.gov

; <<>> DiG 9.9.5-3ubuntu0.1-Ubuntu <<>> nsa.gov

;nsa.gov. IN A

;; AUTHORITY SECTION:

nsa.gov. 900 IN SOA dsdn-gh1-uea05.nsa.gov. please_set_email.absolutely.nowhere. 2011061511 10800 3600 2419200 900

jonathan@Odin:~$ ping dsdn-gh1-uea05.nsa.gov

PING dsdn-gh1-uea05.nsa.gov (63.239.67.11) 56(84) bytes of data.

Attempting to install remote control software at that address should make life interesting.

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Johnson & Johnson snatches your .baby for $3m

Jonathan Richards 1
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chiz

> only domains "relevant to the baby care industry" will be allowed

So no tar.baby, then.

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Don't panic, US Navy has only deployed a ROBOT SHARK (but where are the lasers?)

Jonathan Richards 1
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Go

A bit splashy

One big advantage of fish-like propulsion is that it will make a noise in the water a lot like a fish (and not a lot of it); propellors are not found in nature, and make a very distinctive noise. I noticed from the video, though, that at the surface, GhostSwimmer is inclined to make splashes with its caudal fin; I've never seen a real shark do that when just cruising around, probably simply because splashing wastes energy. For a stealthy AUV, this needs to be ironed out.

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Dr. Dobb's Journal sails into the sunset - yet again

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Ah the nostalgia!

I read every issue up to 1986 (because I had access to a library, and I could!) and it was even then a unique item. There were other titles in the market: Byte, Creative Computing et al. but Dr Dobb's was always the most thought-provoking and, by me, eagerly awaited.

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Sony to media: stop publishing our stolen stuff or we'll get nasty

Jonathan Richards 1
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FAIL

Re: "arms length" defense?

Boies may or may not be a good lawyer, but he doesn't always accept winning propositions. For reasons I shall never be able to fathom, he took on SCO v. IBM... acting for SCO!

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Thin plot, great CGI effects

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Coming Fall 2016

Probably not. Not in that timeframe, and maybe not in any timeframe shorter than the copyright period for The Silmarillion. As I understand it, the Tolkien estate is not willing to sell the film rights for any of the other works; only The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were covered by the 1960s sale of rights, by Prof. Tolkien himself.

Further reading

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Denmark BANNED from viewing UK furniture website in copyright spat

Jonathan Richards 1
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Joke

Come on, El Reg!

A story like that, and not one picture of an iconic Danish design to illustrate?

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