* Posts by John Smith 19

9703 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

REVEALED: Titsup flight plan mainframe borks UK air traffic control

John Smith 19
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Holmes

Re: There's legacy, and there's legacy

"All you get from passing the ACV tests is the knowledge that some version of the ACV tests were passed using some version of the compiler and some version of the runtime."

Ever wondered why embedded dev teams who do life threatening mission critical code are very reluctant to change their tool chain, including new releases?

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John Smith 19
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Re: Who Do We Believe?

"For all those months, the DNS Server had operated as if the Mainframe connection was a Temporary connection that would Go Away as soon as the "Session" was complete.

6 Months Later, the Same Problem occurred AGAIN.

The Same ID10T had reset the URL in the Exact Same manner and not managed to rub together the two brain cells that should have Fixed the problem the First Time."

"Bodge" coders (and their counterparts "bodge" sysadmins) can "fix" anything.

They're just not very good at the critical thinking needed to ensure it stays fixed, by doing the necessary spade work.

By their work, so will you know them.

Unfortunately.

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John Smith 19
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Re: There's legacy, and there's legacy

"RTL2 was another matter. It seemed to incorporate the worst features of C and Pascal, with none of their redeeming characteristics, and a buggy compiler to boot. I remember compiling RTL2 to PDP11 assembler, and then having to get the overlays right to fit it all into 48K. Building got easier when the output was M68K, the compiler was no less buggy though."

AFAIK RTL/2 predates C and is around the same age as Pascal.

One of Unix's lesser appreciated gifts to the world was putting YACC and lex into the hands of anyone who wanted them. Suddenly if you wanted a compiler (and where prepared to invest a relatively small amount of time) you could have it

Before that if you wanted a compiler it was fire up the assembler, and prepare for pain. I would suspect that RTL/2 (like early C) didn't really have a formal "standard" and at any given moment they either hacked the compiler to match the (desired) behavior or hacked the standard to formalize what the compiler could do (without massive surgery to its structure).

With "hilarious" consequences all round.

Keep in mind that the "classic" PDP 11s did not have memory management hardware (IIRC that came with the 11/780s and the VAX's ).

BTW the British Teletext systems ran on PDP 11's running RTL/2 code before being retired in a C rewrite.

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John Smith 19
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Re: There's legacy, and there's legacy

"These days gcc and gnat mean that in general 'only' the code generating bits need to be target specific, other kind and clever people have done most of the rest in a target-independent fashion, and you can have it (source included) for free."

Unfortunately the problem is not that you have a good compiler (Which is maybe 1/3 the problem. You need versions of the Ada standard packages and some version of the defined Ada development environment, ideally tools using the DIANA intermediate language.

But you're still not done.

You have to prove it. That's where you need a certified Ada validation suite from someone like NIST or BSI to prove what your compiler does (and does not) compile meets the Ada standard exactly

Do I have to say you won't find one of these on the shelves at PC World?

It's about giving the customer the certainty that the customers code will do exactly what the standard says it will do (although wheather they realize exactly what that is is another matter).

I know. It's anal, it's bureaucratic, it's slow but it's how they roll.

And honestly if you're sitting in one of those metal tubes in the sky would you really have it any other way?

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John Smith 19
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Big Brother

"Surely you mean an Extraordinary Rendition Flight."

Surely, citizen you know no such flight has ever entered UK airspace.

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John Smith 19
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Facepalm

Re: User submissions need pre-check

"It's just they're heading to somewhere different to where they said they would."

Isn't that an alarm, not a systems crash type event?

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John Smith 19
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Jovial mainframe compilers.

Looking a bit further I found IBM did supply a JOVIAL compiler under their "Type III" license.

IOW It was freeware.

No guarantee supplied. Use at owners risk.

Possibly not what you're looking for to crunch the code for you mission (and life) critical ATC app.

The commercial ones were hosted on it as cross compilers for things like the 1750A and Zilog 8002 (apparently the F16 was a design win for this puppy. Defense con-tractors. Crazy).

My recollection of JOVIAL was it was common on DEC boxes but as cross compilers to deep embedded kit.

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John Smith 19
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"This would be a good opportunity to examine whether a central ATC is optimal when transponders + computers in each aircraft could, like a swarm of birds, create a self-organising complex system."

The trouble with all such brilliant ideas such as yours is they fail to account for all the stuff that's in the sky that does not have the room/power/aerial to mount a part of you "swarm."

That's better tracked from a central site (or rather a series of "central" sites, usually called "airports") and reported as a proverbial "unidentified flying object."

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John Smith 19
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Re: There's nothing like state of the art hardware

"OS/370 and its descendants were running mission critical workdwide apps when you were in nappies boy. "

Could you say with an "Emperor Palpatine" voice?

For the more humor impaired in the audience I should say I absolutely agree. I wonder if this is the one they got off the FAA in the states, and does it still have valves in it, as their last one is reputedly said to have had.

Reading the story and the comments 2 things intrigue me.

1) It looks like it was a "bug" in the data that borked the primary, then it did the secondary, which tried to switch back to the primary. So what kind of data can't be sanity checked before its passed into the system (and of course will checking be added to the code now)?

2) I did not know a Jovial compiler for IBM mainframes even existed. Historically it's been for deep embedded systems like aircraft flight computers, ECM systems, radars etc.

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John Smith 19
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Re: There's legacy, and there's legacy

"But I've not kept abreast of recent developments, so does any one know what is now being used instead of JOVIAL? (I'm a little surprised the wikipedia article doesn't mention this, so presume the obvious candidate - ADA, isn't quite so obvious or universally used)."

JOVIAL was big for real time control apps. IIRC it did the software for the B52, B1 and F15 at least (off the top of my head). The USN (being the USN) had something else (CSL?, something with a C in it)

I guess the UK equivalent were things like CORAL66 and RTL2 (ICI's in house computer language. No that's not a typo).

In theory Ada was meant to be the cure for this babel of DoD languages (including most of the assembler). But writing a full Ada compiler is a not trivial exercise and the DoD has a lot of odd hardware knocking about. and getting conversion tools to convert old-bonkers-software-originally-running-on-valve-processors has turned out to be a tad expensive.

The big surprise (for me) was having a Jovial compiler for an S/390 (or rather an S/360 as it would have been then). AFAIK when it's IBM mainrframe and it's real time it was assembler (which is how NASA got theirs to deal with the Apollo programme).

Yes that's an anorak.

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John Smith 19
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There's nothing like state of the art hardware

And this is nothing like state of the art hardware.

That said they seem to have handled it well enough in the circumstances.

I hope they will find a root cause to this and figure out what's up with their networking.

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UK flights CRIPPLED by system outage that shut ALL London airspace

John Smith 19
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Re: *DOH*

"Have You Tried Turning It Off And On Again?"

That's sort of what they did.

the rest was the mopping up process.

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John Smith 19
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FAIL

" run by Serco, with IT outsourced to Capgemini, Amore Group Attenda, BT and Vodafone"

What could possibly go wrong with this gang of "experts," apart from everything?

BTW WTF is "Amore Group Attenda"?

What do they "Attenda" exactly?

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Ford dumps Windows for QNX in new in-car entertainment unit

John Smith 19
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Go

"The future is HUD."

These have been available since at least the late 80's

However their functions have been somewhat limited and IIRC ruinously expensive.

But times change.....

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Govt spaffs £170k to develop the INTERNET OF SHEEP

John Smith 19
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Joke

At last what people have been waiting for.

Grindr, Welsh Edition.

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Microsoft tries to defend Irish servers from US g-men invasion, again

John Smith 19
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"If the US declare all data held by a US company abroad to be fair game "

Already done.

It's called THE PATRIOT Act.

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John Smith 19
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".. not want to recognise other countries as equals or that there is a limit to American rule."

It's called "Extraterratoriality"

Yes US federal law really does believe it applies everywhere.

The usual standoff is that other countries think its a crime and the USG applies other sanctions to its suppliers to compel compliance.

In the case of ITAR for example, where if you use a UK part in a US satellite US law expects you to comply with ITAR for all sales of that product to all customers, even when you are a UK company.

It's hard to believe just how far US Federal Jurisdiction is up it's own a**e.

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John Smith 19
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Gimp

"They just happen to be owned by Microsoft Inc. in the USA."

THE PATRIOT Act applies.

Therefor All your data belong to USG.

"Personal information" to customers

"Business records" to business

Makes f**k all difference to USG.

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Microsoft: Hey, don’t forget Visual Basic! Open source and new features coming

John Smith 19
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"Case insensitivity is more a liability than an asset."

Wasn't that one of the fun things about Pascal?

No, I didn't think so either.

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Post Office: Here's £100m, Computacenter. Now get us up to date, for pity's sake

John Smith 19
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The post office has a shed load of hardware in the back end.

Like a number of large orgs they used (and probably still do) use a lot of mainframe to support their very large estate.

There's a lot of hardware stashed around the UK

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GSMA denies latest Snowden leak

John Smith 19
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Weren't the encryption docs kept secret and only available to "qualified" GSM implementors?

Because, y'know, if people could read them they could figure out how to crack it.

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Nothing illegal to see here: Tribunal says TEMPORA spying is OK

John Smith 19
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Gimp

" the mass surveillance program to tap undersea cables was proportionate."

Are you f**king kidding me?

[EDIT. Well I guess to a data fetishist they are.

But then all data collection, everywhere, every when is as well

I see they have let our favorite apologist for state surveillance off the naughty step

Oh joy. ]

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SPLASHDOWN! Orion lands safely in the Pacific Ocean

John Smith 19
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Re: More to this story

"There is a great deal more to this story. This capsule was built on a no-bid subcontract from the United Launch Alliance. It is strictly 1960's technology because that is all ULA (Boeing+Lockheed) can do. The AVERAGE cost overrun by ULA has been 42%. They have NEVER delivered a product within 10% of the contractual deadline. Contract courts have allowed the overruns and contract 100% of the time --- maybe because every contract court judge is a former defense industry executive. This was a half-billion dollars spend on a capsule that has such limited utility that it is essentially worthless."

Don't know enough about "Contractor court" to comment on this. It would explain a lot.....

"Compare the Orion to the Dragon capsule. (The V2 Dragon is the same as the current capsule except for the addition of seating and crew support electronics."

It's a bit more than that. That's called the Environmental Control and Life Support System. It's a bit more substantial than what 1.0 has been carrying (V 1.0 has carried mice).

The big item (apart from the beefed up ECLSS) is that crew Dragon docks rather than is "berthed" so it's got independent thrusters on it and a whole different chunk of ironmongery on the front.

"It has also brought back delicate experiments and broken equipment. This is something that Soyuz and Orion cannot do. "

Incorrect again. Both can do this. That's sort of the point. Till Commercial Crew flies the US has nothing to carry humans. Orion is (in theory) the backup to Commercial Crew, but as it's only human rated on (unflown) SLS it will be hugely expensive to use this way.

"The Dragon capsule was designed to use a propulsive landing system with parachute backup to land anywhere with the precision of a helicopter. "

Currently. Original version was IIRC air bags and parachutes. The land landing (like Soyuz) is a big cost saver.

"But it doesn't stop there. The Falcon upper stage is multiply restartable. No other upper stage has this capability. "

Again wrong. Centaur has been restarted 5 times. The Ariane 5 storable and cryogenic upper stages also have restart capability. IIRC the Russian Frigat US is also a LOX/Kero design with restart capability (and runs a staged combustion cycle, like most Russian engines).

"SpaceX has already launched six satellites at once into different orbits. Neither the Delta nor Atlas series has this capability."

They do, as does Ariane 5. Look up "Secondary payload adaptor." BTW Orbital launched Orbcomm satellites 6 at a time from its Pegasus XL

I'll leave it there. We get it. You're a fanboi.

Don't get me wrong SpaceX has made significant achievements. They are just not what you think they are.

Supersonic retro ignition. Discovering upper stage reuse is uneconomic. Expecting that only a "BFR" size vehicle will have enough payload to make upper stage recovery economic. Coming close to full water landing.

These are all significant achievements and involve real science and deep understanding.

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John Smith 19
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Re: "...Orion is a horribly expensive capsule..."

" 'Cause that'll be cheaper and safer. I bet that the risk of failure might be about 1-in-10,000. And there's no way that each launch would end up costing $1.2B. "

You forgot the rest.

"And set a fixed cap of 1 Beeeelion dollars a year* on the budget (with no rolling over any underspend) and no allowance for inflation."

Thank you Caspar Weinberger of the (Nixon era) OMB.

*Enough to design a single new vehicle and a single new engine, which killed all the original 2 stage proposals. The winning design (1 vehicle + mother-of-all-RATO packs + humongous drop tank was a British aerospace engineer).

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Cops accessing journo sources with RIPA? Use your powers properly, moan MPs

John Smith 19
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"We are concerned"

Better late than never.

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Parliament: All's well with RIPA snooping, no problem here

John Smith 19
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When you need something to lubricate the wheels of oppression...

Mines the one with the tub of petroleum jelly in the pocket.

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The internet is less free than last year. Thanks a bunch, Snowden

John Smith 19
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Headmaster

Should that not be "Blame the NSA"

Who after all are doing this.

And yes that pretty much cuts the rug out from the US playing the whole "Champion of Freedom (TM)" BS.

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Vendor lock-in is truly a TERRIBLE idea ... says, er, Microsoft

John Smith 19
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Leopards and spots.

This is the "new" Microsoft?

Sounds a lot like the old MS to me, but now your data could be could be dumped $deity knows where with $deity knows what privacy laws.

You say "cloud" I say "mainrframe"

You say "browser" I say "universal dumb terminal"

Let's look at the mainframe history.

Any one here know what it was like to port

IBM mainframe <--> Sperry <--> Burroughs (Stack architecture M/F with no MMU) <--> ICL (single Accumulator) <--> Amdahl (IBM compatible designed by Ex IBMer)

Most descriptions I've read come down to "It was Hell on Earth" or "It was quite easy as we'd planned to rehost the software from day one."

I'm sure portability is possible if you plan for it.

Just like it always has been.

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Misty-eyed Ray Ozzie celebrates 25th birthday of Lotus Notes by tweeting about it ...

John Smith 19
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"A decade or so ago, the high street bank I worked for was supporting around 30,000 Notes users on just a single clustered pair of AS/400's (in the UK, others elsewhere). With failover to another pair at a recovery site. I personally built the first server in the domain and was the first user registered."

Voted up for being willing to put your name on the post.

I get the feeling Lotus/IBM should have enforced a bit more consistency, but how to do that while being backwards compatibility is going to be tricky.

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EVIL US web giants shield TERRORISTS? Evil SPIES in net freedom CRUSH PLOT?

John Smith 19
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Gimp

The paradox

We can't find bad guys in the mountain of s**t we collect (mostly because we can)

So we want to collect even more.

Spoken like a true data fetishist.

You say "terrorist network"

I say "Couple of saddo nut cases who didn't want to be nobodies anymore."

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How to get ahead in IT: Swap the geek speak for the spreadsheet

John Smith 19
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The takeaway fact

The fresh meat needs to get a little seasoning.

Or to put it a little differently

Less Moss, more Jen.

Yes I don't like HR very much.

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Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?

John Smith 19
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They will have an open, fair and transparent procurement.

Then hand it to a (newly acquired) subsidiary of BAe.

Same as always

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Calls for probe of UK.gov's DOESN'T VERIFY ID service

John Smith 19
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WTF?

2 questions

WTF is it and WTF does it do.

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UK boffins: We'll have an EMBIGGENED QUANTUM COMPUTER working in 5 YEARS

John Smith 19
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"recognise patterns in data without a human"

So going for the holy grail of counter terrorism, studying every persons personal comms map and sptting the terrorists.

What an utter load of b**lcks.

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Hi-torque tank engines: EXTREME car hacking with The Register

John Smith 19
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IT Angle

Re: IT angle?

Simple 600Hp+ engines without an EMU in site.

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MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'

John Smith 19
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Unhappy

Re: MI5 disinformation.

"Why not name the company or at least publish the transcript ?"

Named as "Facebook."

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John Smith 19
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Big Brother

Re: Assuming nothing more material was said on Facebook etc.

"Imagine if they had said the only people who could have prevented the murder were BT and than BT should in future listen in to all of our telephone calls."

Patience, citizen, patience.

We can't implement a freedom crime free society overnight.

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Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins

John Smith 19
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As always observation >> climate model simulation.

Thumbs up for a more detailed database to chew on.

One question unanswered. Does it uplink the results or is it recovered and data dumped periodically?

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Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first

John Smith 19
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Note their comment about the *whole* stack

IE decisions made about what data is sent (number of retries, level of error correction, if any, applied at this stack level) can have serious IE non linear effects on throughput.

Keep in mind that sacrificing guaranteed access to the medium to radically increase apparent bandwidth (for those actually using the medium) was a key feature of the original Ethernet protocol.

I agree though that a battery powered light switch is (conceptually) stupid.

That said there are (industrial) radio switches powered by the act of pressing them. That starts to sound sort of reasonable.

But I'm not that big a fan of the idea to begin with.

Mine's the one with Vernor Vinges' "A Deepness in the Sky," which is the only novel I'm aware of that looks at this idea even slightly.

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GCHQ and Cable and Wireless teamed as Masters of the Internet™

John Smith 19
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"Vodaphone...""..has denied the GCHQ had direct access to its network"

As for it's subsidiaries.

Not so sure.

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Yet more NSA officials whisper of an internal revolt over US spying. And yet it still goes on

John Smith 19
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Re: In defense of data slurping

"f X is a mobile phone use, and all calls to and from X and all base stations connected to are logged, when X turns up dead those logs can be examined and may help reveal clues as to the murderer or the reason."

Do the words "presumption of innocence" mean anything to you at all?

This "logging" fig leaf was used by the NSA. "Oh, we don't listen to the calls, we just have our software scan them for key words"

And then we store all of them just in case.

You really trust your government, don't you.

Which means you're either being paid by them or very stupid.

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John Smith 19
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Gimp

Re: If only they could put it to good use...

"I suspect very little intelligence is ever gathered from mass data surveillance - "

Then you'd be wrong if you thought that was its goal.

It collects huge quantities of information on the real threat

a)People not the NSA b)People who are the NSA who might protest.

To a data fetishist the worst crime is of course being prevented from collecting more data.

It sounds like a mental illness.

It is.

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HALF A BILLION TERRORISTS: WhatsApp encrypts ALL its worldwide jabber

John Smith 19
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Meh

If people are worried about it's security can't they just down load the source & build their own?

It 's open source, right?

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SMS pwnage on MEELLIONS of flawed SIM cards, popular 4G modems

John Smith 19
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As usual the question is how many of those 4 line up anywhere?

And of course how many providers let a raw digital data stream onto their SIM cards?

I have no idea.

And choosing a train derailment. That's more like an intelligence or terrorist thing (kill 200 to hide a murder).

This is good work. I think it's clear some organisations would like to pretend this does not exist, which is reckless stupidity.

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London police chief: City bankers, prepare for a terrorist cyber attack. Again

John Smith 19
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Has no one considered the possibilty of a *terrific* new TV series?

Hilarious opportunities for culture clashes galore.

It's a "professionals" style bomber jacket.

RIP Lewis

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What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant

John Smith 19
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Angel

Re: Apple tricked a small company out of their IP, it's that simple.

Noes! Surely not.

They wouldn't do something like that

They are good.

Stephen Fry says so.

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CERN's 2014 Xmas gift from the Large Hadron Collider: Two new baryons

John Smith 19
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My onging question when a new one of these turns up is...

Any closer to Muon catalysed nuclear fusion?

In this case probably not.

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Slapnav: Looking for KINKY dark matter? Switch on the GPS!

John Smith 19
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Go

Note the GPS were *not* the most accurate design.

They were the most accurate design you could pack in a satellite small enough you could build 38 of and put in a 1000Km orbit, along with a chunk of TTL logic for the code generating.

However they are available and they have a nice big back catalogue of data to chomp through.

Clever idea. Let's see what happens.

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Our system handles £130bn and it's BUST. Want the job of fixing it? Apply to UK.gov

John Smith 19
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Hold up "Manager" at 500-650 pd ??

That sort of money's for obeying orders, not giving them.

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You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES

John Smith 19
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"live and die by their security." Except in America, where THE PATRIOT makes it BS

Enough with this "cloud" b**locks.

It's a network of servers permitting application and data migrationwithin the network.

Now try and migrate to another cloud.

I wonder if Maude even know how many data centres the UK Govt has?

I'd suggest a hell of a lot more than it needs give bureaucratic empire building over decades.

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