* Posts by SImon Hobson

1304 posts • joined 9 Sep 2006

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Juniper warns: Borked upgrade opens root on firewalls

SImon Hobson
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Oh well, more billable time for some !

Given how long Juniper stuff takes to (re)boot, anyone affected is going to be able to add at least 1/4 hour to their out of hours timesheet :-)

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Hackers could turn your smart meter into a bomb and blow your family to smithereens – new claim

SImon Hobson
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Re: Explode is not interesting

Is there any particular reason screwing with (already networked) substations wouldn't achieve the same effect?

Better in fact, you can switch more load at once.

But, which are you most likely to compromise ?

On the one hand, a network with a small number of nodes, under active monitoring, where if you do manage to compromise the network, it is relatively easy for the operator to upgrade.

On the other hand, a network with around 50 million nodes (if the idiots get their way), where obtaining a sample meter is trivially easy without raising any suspicion, and which is connected via a public network.

I gather the risk of firebox explosion if ignition isn't even and immediate makes lighting large coal boilers kind of hair raising ...

Ha ha, that reminds me of an amusing tale. Many years ago when I was an apprentice in a local outfit, we still had a small coal fired power station just up the road. It was common for each years group of instrument tech apprentices to be taken there to get a look at instrumentation and control on real plant. Now, the fireboxes of said plants have big flaps which will flap open (and let the pressue out safely) should such an ignition problem happen, and the apprentices were walking across a gantry not far from them when they were doing a light up ... at which point I suspect most of you are ahead of me already.

I think it's not hard to imagine just how much black dust there is in and around a coal fired plant, especially when you are grinding it up and blowing it into a fluidised bed. Apparently that group of apprentices arrived back at the training centre wearing nothing but CEGB boiler suits having been sent to the showers to clean up.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Explode is not interesting

By "grid" you mean "tiny tiny section of the grid hanging off your local pole-mounted transformer"

No, I think he does mean the NATIONAL grid - and yes it's quite feasible to cause some serious disruption to it.

... the UK grid (and other developed countries' grids) are segmented to prevent cascading failures knocking down large chunks of the network simultaneously.

Actually, the UK grid is a single network - the North American grid is segmented by a few DC links, partly for stability reasons (it's a lot harder controlling a single grid of that size than one the size of the UK), and partly because for some long distance lines it's more efficient (less losses) to use DC.

We did have a national outage in the UK back in the 40s IIRC (or could have been later than that, can't find any references online). I recall my late father telling me about it, and how they found that there was a flaw in just about every power station design - an assumption that they would always have grid power during startup !

Each power station was designed on the assumption of there being grid power available for running all the machinery etc needed to run the power station. When the whole grid went dark, they found a catch 22 situation of not having the power to start up the power stations to generate power. I assume there was some carefully managed switching done to get some bits of the grid live and so allow the main stations to be started up. After that, they had a program of retrofitting gas turbine generators at most power stations to give them a black start capability - and they also came in useful for fast reacting peak lopping (ie coping with the peak when people go and switch the kettles on during the ad breaks on telly.) But I digress ...

As an AC has mentioned, we've had relatively recent experience with loss of significant generating capacity - have a read of this report.

The flip side is, what happens if someone can hack the control system and cause a massive disconnection of loads - perhaps at a peak time like the 6-7pm teatime slot on a cold winters evening, or thinking a bit more, it might be more effective if you can do it when they are already at a point of having to dial back the big plant at times of low demand. There's scope for some modelling there methinks ...

Answer, if you can drop a few GW off the grid, both voltage and frequency are going to go up VERY fast. That's probably going to cause some generating capacity to trip automatically* - that alone is going to cause some chaos. Then, when some of the big generators have tripped - turn all the loads back on. You've not got something similar to the 2008 incident above - but with some generating capacity tripped out and probably taking some time to get back into operational state. Rince and repeat a few times, I think you'll find it has "quite an impact" on the National Grid - and yes, I do think there is potential for significant blackouts (though probably not a complete national one.

* Hint - what do you think happens in a nuclear power station if it's running at full load, and it's generators trip out on over-voltage/frequency ? Well that's one hell of a kettle, and there's going to be an emergency shutdown on the nuclear side - there's no safety risk as there should still be power for all the safety and cooling systems to continue working as normal while it cools down. I strongly suspect that if the grid calls up 10 minutes later and asks for full output, they won't get an "OK, be on in the next few seconds" answer. They can probably get a significant output going quite quickly - but it takes time to ramp up the thermal output of the reactor so full power will take a while.

Similarly, in a coal plant, they'll shut down the coal feed immediately - putting the fires out. I don't know if they have any minimum time before they can attempt a relight - anyone have any inside knowledge on that ?

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3... 2...1... and 123-Reg hit by DDoSers. Again

SImon Hobson
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Re: I'm with 123reg

Does that mean that they just take the hit of giving you free service for the balance of your reg period in expectation of renewals and to make the market fluid

That's about it. The actual cost (in between renewals) of being the registrar for a domain are exceedingly low - a big chunk of what you pay goes towards the administration of the actual registration/renewal process and fees paid to the registry.

There's a bit of swings and roundabouts too - some transfers in will give you domains you didn't get paid for initially, while transfers out will leave you not being registrar for a domain you did get paid for.

And of course, most of the names already mentioned will be hoping that you are transferring the domain to them to make it easier to use their DNS/mail/web hosting/whatever services for which you'll have to pay them.

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Meet the Internet of big, lethal Things

SImon Hobson
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Re: In terms of farmers -- Drive a tractor??

As possibly one of the few people who post on El Reg who have driven a farm tractor

I suspect it's not quite as small a club as you might think.

But you are basically correct, except that (at least round here) the mechanics will come to you anyway - any that doesn't, won't get much business ! It's certainly the case that the makes of tractor used is heavily influenced by the reputation of the local dealers selling and supporting them. It's also true that if one manufacturer started doing like JD does and lock out independent mechanics, then they'd find their new machinery sales dropping once the effect on second hand values starts to bite.

Of course, if all manufacturers were to do it then that's a bit "rock and hard place" when choosing new machinery makes.

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Did EU ruling invalidate the UK's bonkers Snoopers' Charter?

SImon Hobson
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The ECJ punts it back down to the national courts and says, in effect, "do it again"

Not exactly, at least as I read it.

As I read it, the Appeals Court were faced with a mater of interpretation regarding UK law and how it fits with EU regulations - and so referred the question up the the ECJ for their interpretation. The ECJ have now given their answer and passed that back down to the Appeals Court who now have to make a statement about the question they were originally asked.

Presumably, the Appeals court will make a ruling that more or less mirrors that of the ECJ - and that will leave the UK government with a law that's been declared unlawful. They can appeal up again, or revise the law, or they can face a situation where the courts get tied up with pretty well every criminal prosecution case getting tied up in arguments about the prosecution using evidence obtained by willfully illegal means.

I would hope that judges faces with the latter would be quite equivocal about not accepting it and making life very difficult.

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Europe trials air-traffic-control-over-IP-and-satellite

SImon Hobson
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Re: IoT (Internet of Travel)

Apart from the fact that such a system is likely to get a better consideration of security than the average IoTat doobrey, at present commands are send, in cleartext, over a public medium (VHF radio, HF over large areas of water). So the current system is hardly what you might call secure - no encryption, spoofing equipment readily available (or easy to build), and security basically comes down to the need for some physical presence on the part of the perpetrator and the ability of the authorities to use DF (direction finding) to quickly locate the transmitter (it has happened).

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SImon Hobson
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Re: @Bob Wheeler

an aircraft in controlled airspace is always flying IFR regardless of the weather or time of day

Point of order - not a correct and complete statement. VFR in some classes of airspace is permitted, though it is true that the airspace that this initiative applies to for now will be IFR only.

Also, being pedantic, being IFR doesn't mean not using eyeballs through the windscreen.

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Why don't people secure their IoT gadgets? 'It's not my problem'

SImon Hobson
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Is this what we can look forward to ?

http://www.geekculture.com/joyoftech/joyarchives/2340.html

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View from a Reg reader: My take on the Basic Income

SImon Hobson
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You're no longer going to be slaving 70 hours at a restaurant for £350 a week while the multimillionaire proprietor takes all your tips and the state makes up the difference. You're going to be slaving for 70 hours a week for £350 a week on top of the £500 or whatever the state is furnishing you with

Except it won't work like that.

You might get something more like (say) £250/wk from the state. But you won't still be getting £350/wk from your 70 hour job - the flipside of a state basic income is that taxes will kick in sooner and faster on anything you do earn. It only really works if the net result is that most people are more or less about the same financially. If lots of people are significantly batter off then it's not affordable, if lots of people are significantly worse off then it's politically not going to happen.

Lets say, just for the sake of easy numbers, that the basic income was set at £10k/year. For someone currently earning (say) £15k/yr to suddenly be on £25k/yr just wouldn't work - so their tax would need to go up. Just eliminating the personal allowance wouldn't do it as that would mean paying 20% on £25k (so taking home £20k) vs paying 20% on £4k (and thus taking home £14.2k before).

So the basic rate of income tax would have to go "quite a bit" to make the books balance - and then you have the "not really poor and not really well off" middle ground at a real disadvantage.

Lets say (and yes, ignoring other taxes like NI for the sake of illustration) you tried a cost-neutral approach. Everyone gets about £2k/year basic income, but the personal allowance is cut to just £1k. Someone earning (say) £15k would currently take home £14.2k (£800 of income tax, 20% of £4k). Afterwards they take home £12,200 from the job and get another 2K from the government - £2k of tax has been added by removing the personal allowance and given back by way of basic income.

But £2k is clearly nowhere near enough to live on, so it doesn't remove the problem.

Make the basic income more than £2,200 a year and you can't offset the cost be reducing the personal allowance. So then you have to start increasing the basic rate, that hits lots of people hard, and a change that's going to hit lots of "hardworking middle englanders" disproportionately is going to be very unpopular.

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It's round and wobbles, but madam, it's a mouse pad, not a floppy disk

SImon Hobson
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I have at least one DVD like that - PAL on one side, NTSC on the other. Trouble is, while it's printed on each side in the narrow bit between the data area and the hole, does the printing refer to "that side of the disk" or "the other side of the disk that the player reads".

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SImon Hobson
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... better than letting msword pick a random number for spacing ...

It doesn't if you know how to drive it - and turn off as much of the irritating "knows better than you what you want" auto-formatting as is possible.

or

You use something that's not to "processing text" as the menu at McDonalds is to gourmet cuisine.

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Military reservist bemoans frost-bitten baby-maker on Antarctic trek

SImon Hobson
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I recall reading some time ago that one of the modern explorers would ask applicants for an expedition team if they were "fully intact" or had been snipped. Apparently, circumcised men are more prone to frostbite in such conditions.

Puts a new spin in the old joke that you should be a complete dick to ... ... allright, I'll get my coat.

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Information on smart meters? Yep. They're great. That works, right? – UK.gov

SImon Hobson
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Re: Energy supplier resonse

Which is bullshit, because I got told the same thing and they still sent me another email last month asking me to 'choose the best time' for my new meter to be fitted.

In which case, the correct response is a complaint that they are misusing your personal data and hence committing a breach of the data protection regulations. If you have explicitly told them not to use your data for that purpose, it becomes an offence if they carry on.

So there's another avenue to attack these things. Tell our suppliers we don't want one and not to ask again - then make a complaint when they ignore that request. Shouldn't take too many complaints for the ICO to spot a pattern and issue "guidance" to the industry.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Dear Mrs May

remote switch off is only on Prepay smart meters like utilita

AIUI it's part of the spec for all meters to be switchable between pre-pay and contract, and for all meters to have the remote cutoff.

I would say that the ONLY benefit is that switching between pre-pay and contract is easily done 9and remote) - so in theory it should be less expensive when (say) you rent a flat and find that it has a pre-pay meter, to get that switched to contract (assuming you have a half-decent credit record). As it stands now, unless you plan to be there for a while, I imagine the cost of having the meter replaced will more than wipe out any potential savings.

The flip side is, of course, that it's going to be equally easy for the supplier to say "Oops, you're 30 seconds late with your payment, we're switching you to pre-pay" CLICK

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Ofcom fleshes out plans to open up BT's ducts and poles

SImon Hobson
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Re: How many times?

This is because they have Universal Service Obligation to provide telephone services, which due to current Ofcom regulations can not be replaced by fibre.

Care to quote the bit that says it must be over copper ? I doubt it specifies that, more likely it specifies the obligation of a basic telephony service - which contrary to popular belief can be provided over fibre, including provision for emergency calls during a power cut (search for Deddington).

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Citizens Advice slams 'unfair' broadband compensation scheme

SImon Hobson
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Re: Simple solution...

Downvote for the person without a clue. What would happen is that prices will rise enormously to cover these payments.

Yes you are right that making it more painful would improve matters - but it would not eliminate issues. Given that the payments for the remaining issues would be large, the profits needed to pay for those payments would need to be appropriately increased - and that means higher bills for everyone.

Of course, higher bills for everyone would leads to complains that people were being fleeced ...

The thing to remember is that, relatively speaking, we mostly get very cheap internet. You can of course have an internet service where there is a guaranteed fix time, with significant penalties for it being down. Lots of businesses (including my employer and many of our customers) have such services. Service Level Agreements can be as good as "four hours to fix a fault". Depending on where you are and how much speed you want, such a service may take a few months to install, cost you a 5 figure sum in excess construction charges, and then cost you hundreds or thousands a month.

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Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

SImon Hobson
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Re: Silly people

Shame I can't get kitten in the UK ...

Sure about that ?

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UK.gov was warned of smart meter debacle by Cabinet Office in 2012

SImon Hobson
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Re: Points from a briefing

Smart appliances are potentially sensible ...

Err, only in a world where everyone lives in a nice detached property.

How much noise and vibration does a washing machine on spin (or just the wash) cycle make ? How about a tumble drier with it's thrum, thrum, thrum ... ?

Now imagine, it's 2am, you are trying to sleep as you have to get up at 7 for work ... and the b'stard next door/on top of you (flats) has his smart appliances doing the washing. No, these are not a flippin good idea - they'll be a colossal public nuisance.

And that's before we get to the fire risk from running a tumble drier while you sleep - and Fire Service recommendations to not do it !

So the plan seems to be :

Ration electricity use by price - so the poor will cut back when they can't afford to use it.

If that fails - use the remote turnoff for finer grained blackouts than we had in the 70s.

And promote antisocial behaviour that will cause massive overload of council Environmental Health departments as people complain about the nuisance.

And, cause deaths - from use of appliances which catch fire while people are sleeping, or from neighbours taking matters into their own hands when the local EH officer doesn't have enough time to intervene.

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systemd free Linux distro Devuan releases second beta

SImon Hobson
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FAIL

He's a guy who writes code. He's a perfectly nice guy with a family ...

I can only judge by what I see. From his track record with code (PulseAudio has a similar reputation for 'quality" as does SystemD), and his appearances on video. For the latter, it is clear that he does not accept any criticism of his work, and treats anyone not prepared to sit around and eulogise about how great systemd is with complete and utter contempt.

He wrote some stuff he thinks is an improvement on what we had before and put it out there.

Not exactly. He's been a master of the politics and, thanks to the market position of his employer, has been able to "force"* it's adoption in key projects in a manner that makes it incredibly hard to not use it. In addition, he's as a matter of policy thrown out any thought of any backwards compatibility with existing interfaces - again this makes it a lot of work to rip it out of those systems it's infected.

And no-one with any sense of why Unix like systems have been so successful, and have such a reputation for reliability thinks that stuffing as much as SystemD does into PID 1 is a good idea. It means that even basic bugs, of which there are many, can bring the whole system down.

And some of these changes are a complete and utter PITA for users. Take something as simple as interface names. At present, ethernet interfaces are called things like eth0, eth1, etc and can be easily renamed. For the infrequent occasions when I change a NIC in a server, it's easy to change ONE config file to rename it to the same function as the one it replaces. But some supposedly intelligent people believe that it's better to force a completely new naming scheme, and so if I do anything with my NICs, I would now have to find every instance of that name throughout dozens of config files and scripts (which may include external monitoring systems). Yeah, finding all those and changing them is just so much better than just changing one NIC-name mapping - well some retards clearly think it is.

* As in, his employer has made sure that key projects include it and depend heavily on it. So you either use it, or you put a lot of effort into taking it out.

And just don't get me started on how good the programmers must be when you see a bit of code where the comments complain about the work involved in making the "sync" call asynchronous.

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SImon Hobson
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... complaining about or defending a fucking init system of all things ...

If it was just an init system then there'd be no problem - it could thrive or die on it's merits. But it's NOT an init system - it's an everything but the kitchen sink system.

It's designed (despite the outright lies told by it's supporters) in such a way that you can't just use bits of it, or swap bits out, or disentagle stuff you don't want. It's done in such a way that stuff that needs to run on a systemd based system MUST do things the systemd way - and that's done in such a manner that you can't then use that stuff on a non-systemd system without recompiling it to remove the systemd crap.

Thus, with several large (desktop oriented) packages re-built to need systemd, it became harder and harder to not have any systemd in the system. And then once you've got any systemd in the system, not using it becomes harder.

Given that Linus has found the "quality" of rubbish they've submitted to the kernel so poor that he had to revoke submit rights for some of them should tell you a lot. The fact that they break stuff and declare it someone else's problem to fix should tell you something. In fact, breaking stuff that used to work just fine - and then declaring that it's broken because it's not "done the systemd way" - seems to be their MO.

And they seem to be proud of this, and seem to have declared that they won't be happy until they've reinvented everything "their way". personally, if I wanted to run something as opaque and "hard to use by design" as Windows, then I'd run Windows - but i don't, so I don't, and that's why I'll stay systemd free please.

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Ofcom to force a legal separation of Openreach

SImon Hobson
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Re: "and action is required now to deliver better outcomes for phone and broadband users"

There are plenty of functional/natural monopolies which work well for everyone concerned

Indeed.

if someone suggested that a third party come along and dig up all the street to install a separate and competing electricity supply, or water supply, or drainage, or gas supply, or ... there would be outcries of "why on earth do such a flippin stupid thing. It just doesn't make any sense.

And so it is with with telecoms cables - it just does not make sense to have multiple competing sets of cables - all that does is make everything more expensive.

But what it does need is for the operator of the functionally monopoly network to deal with all customers on a fair and open basis = something which few people, including OfCom judging by this announcement, believe happens at the moment. it's been obvious for as long as I've been involved (as techie for various of their customers) that BT and OpenReach do stuff ina way that maximises protection of BT's expensive services.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Be careful what you wish for!

It's been pointed out that Ofcom requires 999 to work in the event of a power cut to the premises. ... How do we manage this with FTTP?

Bt have already (IIRC) run trials where they've converted entire villages to fibre-only. The fibre is terminated into an NTE which includes optical interface, bridge to data service (presented as an ethernet port IIRC), and an analogue terminal adapter - plus backup battery. Being an integrated unit, it should be reasonably easy to remotely detect battery state - though I don't doubt that getting end users to swap the battery will have "some issues".

If you just work on needing the service to make emergency calls, then the whole NTE could be powered down except for providing line voltage to the POTS port. If the user goes off-hook and dials an emergency umber then it can power up the required stuff to make the call.

Thing is, these are all "solved problems" where solutions have been worked out years ago.

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Geo-boffins say 'quake lifted bits of New Zealand by 8 metres, moved at 3km/second

SImon Hobson
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Re: Sandwich filler?

A few seconds warning. So what's the actionable message?

I'll add the most appropriate one that dates from the cold war days. Put your head between your knees ...

.

.

.

... and kiss your as..backside goodbye

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Melbourne man arrested for broadcasting fake messages to pilots

SImon Hobson
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Re: … no hacking is required … ?

The time, cost, effort and risk involved in changing to a different radio platform means it's unlikely to ever happen

Hammer, nail, impact !

There's enough fuss just getting users over to 8.33kHz radios here - to the point where there's even some public money being put up towards the costs for small aircraft. And that' a change where some aircraft (starting with those using the airways) can change without impacting their ability to talk with the older system (25kHz channels) - and so it's been phased in over many years. Given that for some aircraft, a fancy radio can be a significant part of the value of the aircraft, a mass change to something else just isn't going to happen.

And there are procedures to deal with these situations - and they don't require the Outer Marker to be talking to the aircraft .... (sits back and waits to see if anyone gets it)

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CompSci Prof raises ballot hacking fears over strange pro-Trump voting patterns

SImon Hobson
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Mushroom

Re: The good reason for investigating this issue...

... Texas alone had 50 separate ballot initiatives ...

WTF !

How on earth can they come up with a crap arrangement like that, the icon sums up what should happen to the idiots who let it happen.

Even so, that is not something that can't be handled by paper - just "a bit more difficult". One option that comes to mind is a larger paper divided into sections, and fist job at the counting station is to separate them (along the perforations) and feed the bits to the separate points.

Actually, the counting could still be done by OMR - the tech for that is well established. OK, once you introduce OMR then there's a tech angle to be compromised - but it's on a relatively small scale (ie at the counting station only) and cross checking is "just" a case of taking the stack of paper that a machine has counted and hand counting them (or running them through a "check" counter under the sole control of the auditors).

As long as there are some spot checks done on randomly chosen machines - there's always a readily visible opportunity for fraud to be detected. If youa re going to fiddle the results systematically, then you need to affect a lot of machines - so a good chance of getting caught by a random check. And statistical checks would highlight if a small number of machines were tampered with in a big way.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: The good reason for investigating this issue...

The main issue is the sheer number of choices a voter has to make

Well here in the UK when I've had multiple polls on the same day, it's been as simple as the different polls being on different papers (colour coded).

So on the (say) white paper - the choice is "tick one box for your choice of MP ..."

On the (say) yellow paper it's "tick one box for your choice of county councillor ..."

And so on.

being colour coded, it's easy for the invigilators to help if you struggle working out that the white paper goes in the box with the white label, the yellow paper goes in the box with the yellow paper, and so on.

it only gets complicated (for the count at least) when it's a transferable vote system and you have to put 1, 2, 3 ... in the boxes. Even then it's doable.

The key thing is that while it is labour intensive, it is hard to fiddle with - barring seriously corrupt places where (for example) boxes can arrive empty with fresh official seals on them. More importantly, it's open for pretty well anyone to watch and so the process can be seen to be correct.

That latter bit is important - that the process can be seen to be fair. The voting machines may have worked perfectly - but they cannot be seen to have done so and so there is always that suspicion that they might have been tampered with. The machines almost certainly weren't tampered with - but that can't be seen easily.

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Here's the thing: We've pressed pause on my startup

SImon Hobson
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Re: And on, and on, and on, it goes

All you need in a remotely-controllable TRV head is, ...

There's your problem, that's NOT what they are building.

Each head is self-sufficient and self contained - it determines for itself what the room occupancy is, learns for itself what the occupancy patterns are, and it controls the setpoint on it's own. That is, you buy on, pop batteries in it, pop it on the valve - and that's about it.

it's aimed at people who don't tend to read TheRegister - the sort of people who don't understand the controls that so many houses have. By not setting their controls (such as they even exist) well, they are wasting money on heating. Hardly any "non-geek" house has per-room controls beyond the basic TRV.

Using the wireless is optional. But you can link the valve heads to a boiler interface so the boiler can run just when a radiator is needed to heat it's room and turn off otherwise - IMO this would be the default installation mode.

So they aren't aiming at geeks with (in general, and on average) a reasonable disposable income - but at (for example) social housing (and private sector) tenants with little disposable income. They can't go modifying the system, so being able to fit these without modification, AND take them with them when they move on (without needing to pay someone to install/remove stuff and fix any damage) is an important selling point. And a key point of their target market is that many people (my elderly mother included) really don't "get" timers and programmers, let alone have any ability to drive them.

And AIUI their target price is to be significantly below the current cost for this sort of product.

Oh yes, and you can as a geek hook up a receiver to your computer and log loads of stats and stuff. But for the target market, you don't need to do anything complicated, or sign away your privacy, or ....

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Hey techbros, make an airplane mode but for driving for your apps – US traffic watchdog

SImon Hobson
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How about they tackle the ****ing ******* ***** ****s who design cars that are more like a mobile game console than a car. We have a couple of Citröen C4 Cactus obscenities as pool cars - so many functions are controlled from a touchscreen that it's not possible to do some simple things (like just adjust the temperature of the heating) without taking your eyes off the road to work out where on the zero-tactile user interface you have to jab to do it. First you have to tap the right icon to get to the heating page (if you're not already on it), and then you can tap in different parts of the screen to adjust the fan speed and temperature - there's zero chance of doing this by feel (and a quick glance) like you can in my own cars.

Serious safety issue designed by completely clueless ****ing ****s.

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Visa cries foul over Euro regulator's stronger authentication demands

SImon Hobson
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Re: Ridiculous

Also, and I know someone who's been through this, the bank will assume it was you until you prove otherwise. In this case, the person had his card skimmed at a local petrol station, and it was then used for a local spending spree. As the spending was mostly local, the bank just turned round and made him prove the transactions that weren't his.

Some of them were easy, he could prove he was working elsewhere for some of them - had to provide copies of his shift rotas etc. But for others it simply came down to his word against the bank.

Also, it's been proved beyond any doubt (search for the Light Blue Touchpaper blog) that the ship-n-pin system has serious flaws and is not as secure as the banks would have you believe. But, if the bank records show that your pin was used (even though one known flaw allows "PIN authenticated" transactions without the PIN) then they'll simply assume it was you or someone who you gave your PIN to - and short of taking them to court and calling expert witnesses you will not get you money back for that.

So take these "guarantees" with a big pinch of salt.

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Reg man 0: Japanese electronic toilet 1

SImon Hobson
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Coat

Re: Reminds me of a joke ;->

It might be an old one, but it's still funny.

The version I know has an extra button, and the buttons are labelled "WW" (for warm wash), "BD" (for blow dry), "PP" (for powder puff), and finally ATR ...

The mind boggles as what the icon for the last one would like like if they tried to do pictorial icons ...

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It's time: Patch Network Time Protocol before it loses track of time

SImon Hobson
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Read the list again, SOME of the vulnerabilities are Windows only, and SOME of the vulnerabilities are configuration dependent. Between them, they account for most of the list - but there's one or two that stand out as more likely to be vulnerable on "normally configured" systems.

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UK.gov flings £400m at gold standard, ‘full-fibre' b*&%*%£$%. Yep. Broadband

SImon Hobson
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Re: 5, 6, 7, 8G...

The trick is to use fixed microwave links rather than "mobile" technology

Again, that only scales so far.

With narrow beams you can improve things somewhat, but there is still only a finite amount of spectrum available and it's a shared resource - not to mention the practical issue of housing all those small antennas when the subscribers are measured in (tens or hundreds of) thousands rather than dozens. Add to which, even with well focussed narrow beams there are still practical problems of frequency re-use since the near end crosstalk between the systems at the base make frequency reuse between subscribers on that same base "technically challenging".

The beauty of cable (whether it's copper or fibre) is that adding more cable increases the bandwidth available - because what you put down your bit of fibre has no effect on my bit of fibre, or our neighbours fibre, or ...

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The Naked Product Launch: 30 seconds to sell a robot

SImon Hobson
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Re: What is Radbot's true purpose?

A thumb down for that, Really ? Would the person responsible care to give me a clue why ?

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SImon Hobson
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Re: What is Radbot's true purpose?

Short version: It's an electronic TRV (Thermostatic Radiator Valve) head, designed to do what the likes of Hive do, but without the expense and data slurping, but with per-room control. The idea is that a "normal user" (ie the ones who haven't a clue what a time clock is supposed to do or how to program it) can fit these on the existing valves and instantly get the benefits. The only "complicated" bit of the install is connecting the (optional) relay interface to the boiler so the TRVs can signal when the boiler needs to run and shut it down when not needed.

Longer version: Head over to http://opentrv.org.uk/principles/ where the philosophy is explained.

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Going shopping for a BSOD? We've found 'em in store at M&S

SImon Hobson
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Facepalm

Re: The second photo is not a Linux error screen.

And this is supposed to be a tech (online) rag, and it's been mentioned before. Does rather make you wonder about the falling standards of technical "journalism" these days.

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Surveillance camera compromised in 98 seconds

SImon Hobson
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Re: @Gene

For setting up all of these separated VLANs are we talking ...

SOME consumer routers will do VLANs out of the box, many don't. TBH I don't have that much experience trying to do such stuff with consumer routers as we tend to specify "a bit better" stuff (eg Draytek Vigor routers) for customers where this is a requirement (and even where it isn't).

Assuming the router itself supports it, then you also have the problem that most routers only have a small number of network ports - so you'll need a switch to extend that (especially if you have a cluster of devices remote from the router). Then you are either talking of multiple switches and associated cabling, or you need to start configuring VLANs on the switch - which means you need at least an "intelligent" switch. Thankfully there are a fair number of "basic but configurable" switches around without breaking the bank.

But this is all stuff that your average user would not have the slightest clue about. It's easy for us It professionals to scoff at the "idiots" who can't set all this up - but really some of the comments so far display a distinct lack of appreciation of a) how this is still very much a "black art" to most people, and b) we should not be looking down on people in this situation.

Can any of us truthfully say that we could (for example) make all the clothing we have - including growing the cotton, or manufacturing the synthetic fibre from oil you've extracted from the ground, and then spinning it into thread, weaving it into cloth, ... you get the picture. Not to mention, rearing the cow, tanning the leather etc to make the shoes. Closer to home, none of us could make (from a pile of sand and some copper ore) the computers we use. Other people can grow the cotton, other people can make that into thread and then into cloth, other people can turn that cloth into a shirt. Other people can rear the cows, other people can turn the hide into leather, other people can turn that leather into shoes. Other people can turn some sand into a silicon chip, other people can put that chip into a system, and so on. All those things that almost all of us here cannot do ourselves.

So why do we so readily criticise others for being in the same position of not knowing everything there is to know in the world ?

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Virgin Galactic and Boom unveil Concorde 2.0 tester to restart supersonic travel

SImon Hobson
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Mushroom

Not the first to notice ...

What a name for an aircraft or aircraft manufacturer. I know others have mentioned it, but we have an icon to go with the public perception of what "BOOM" means !

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Post-outage King's College London orders staff to never make their own backups

SImon Hobson
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Re: Re:And they TEST the ****ing backups.

Backups never fail

Err, yes they do. I've had both disk and tape failures during backup. I think you are confusing "backup failure" (as in fails and reports the failure) with "backup apparently worked but is unretrievable" (as in, reports success, but data isn't readable).

Now, where had I got to in that book on advanced pedantry ...

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Outage-prone Plusnet goes mobile in a bid to become 'quad-play' biz

SImon Hobson
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Will it do IPv6 ?

Given that they are very quiet on the IPv6 front - other than announcing that they are shutting down the only gateways that supported it for a trial - one has to wonder whether this will be a 20th century network ? Someone should tell them that the 21st Century started nearly 16 years ago !

I've been with them for some time, since my local exchange got ADSL and they had the best deal (and a fixed IP option). This (lack of IPv6) could be the final straw for me.

Even their parent BT, and Sky, both offer IPv6 as standard now.

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How to avoid DDoSing yourself

SImon Hobson
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Jitter

jitter is best done by applying a random offset, ditto the backoff algorithm. A key part of the Ethernet specification is the random backoff algorithm for packet collisions (for the youngsters, look it up !) to avoid a situation where two stations detect a packet collision, both back off, and then both try again at the same time.

Other than that detail, yes the suggestion is correct - developers (of anything) need to consider the error conditions and how to cope with them.

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IoT worm can hack Philips Hue lightbulbs, spread across cities

SImon Hobson
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To be fair, the Hue (and others of a similar function) do have a place - they are certainly not the "solution to a non-existant problem" a lot of the Internet of Tat stuff is. As a mood setting appliance they are useful - as a utility light, not so much and I'd use a normal light bulb attached to a switch.

That they've turned out to be insecure by design is a bit of a black mark for Phillips.

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IPv4 is OVER. Really. So quit relying on it in new protocols, sheesh

SImon Hobson
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Re: IPv4 and IPv6

> I imagine that if they had instead just increased the address space without changing anything else (conceptually speaking), adoption would have been much faster and IPv4 would be just a footnote in history books by now.

Probably true, but then we'd also still be having to work around some of the issues that are "solved" in IPv6 - as in, they looked at what the problems were and didn't design in the same problem again !

Take one "simple" example - determining if another node is "locally connected". If your only experience is with small networks, ethernet, one subnet per network domain - then you'll be thinking that this isn't a problem (and I was in this camp too until the penny dropped). Simple solution, you look at your IP and the other node's IP, and if they are in the same subnet then you are "locally connected" (meaning that you can send a packet directly to the other node).

Trouble is, this isn't true in many networks. Take a wireless mesh for example, and I believe cellular systems can be similar - it needs a flat IP space so devices can move around freely, but propagating all that ARP broadcast traffic would be very wasteful, and so the nodes have to effectively "fake" the ARP process or bu**er about with routing tables to make what the end device sees as a flat network into something that's actually routed. One example of "IP in same subnet, isn't locally connected".

And then there are cases where you've added a second IP subnet to a network - a shared network, often done when you run out of addresses. Now you have a case of (unless you manually add routing rules to each device) "device in different subnet is actually locally connected".

In IPv6, the routing information provided to each node by the network has not just a list (note, list which may be one or more than one) of prefixes on the network, but also information on which of these are to be considered "locally connected". Thus the process is a bit more complicated than in IPv4, but it inherently supports all four combinations of "same prefix/different prefix" and "locally connected/not locally connected" while IPv4 only supports 2 of them without messing about.

This is one example where IPv6 appears more complicated (it did to me before I got my head around it), but which is there for a valid real-world reason.

Most of IPv6 isn't hard - it just looks daunting. Perhaps part of the problem is that there isn't a good online tutorial (at least I haven't found one) that can take someone with "basic IPv4 skills" and take them gently through a controlled learning process. Looking around, I've found lots of stuff, but a lot of it is either too basic and doesn't explain the "WHY ?" or too complex and anyone not already familiar with the subject matter is just going to drown.

The nearest I've got is to do the IPv6 certification at TunnelBroker.net. I think it still leaves a lot out that you need to know (at least if you are a serious network nerdtechie), but it at least has a progression of steps with tests at each step to show you've grasped things so far.

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SImon Hobson
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> BT don't on their network.

> Virgin Media don't on their network.

You are "somewhat out of date".

BT support it, and if you have one of the newest of their routers then it will turn on and appear on it's own. If you have an older router, AIUI they are doing a project to replace them over time.

Sky have done IPv6 as standard for many years.

ISTR that even Virgin Media have committed to supporting it by the middle of next year.

So that's not exactly "hardly anyone in the UK" as these three probably have the vast majority of users between them.

Annoyingly my own ISP (PlusNet), while being good in some areas, seem to have gone very very quiet on when they will be rolling it out beyond the trials they've been running. So for now I have to rely on a tunnel from TunnelBroker.net (aka HE).

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Add it to the tab: ICO fines another spammer as unpaid bills mount

SImon Hobson
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Re: The law is there for a reason, it’s to stop companies inundating people with unwanted messages

I was under the impression that directors of a Limited Company do not enjoy unlimited immunity - as in, they can be held personally liable for activities undertaken "on their watch". Surely engaging in known illegal activities, especially for repeat offenders, would lift the veil of immunity ?

Anyone up on company law around here ?

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SETI scan saves 'scope used for first Moon landing comms

SImon Hobson
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And if you haven't seen it before, I recommend the film "The Dish"

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Mythbuntu busted as last two devs working on media centre distro quit

SImon Hobson
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Re: When you can

I wish people would stop perpetuating the lie that MythTV and Kodi are the same - and in particular that Kodi is a replacement for MythTV. MythTV is so much more than what Kodi does - and the "lounge TV" part is just a tiny bit.

In fact, you can (AIUI) use Kodi to watch recordings made ona MythTV system - but using an inferior experience that loses several key (and very useful) features in the native MythTV frontend.

And for good measure, there are people running the native MythTV frontend on the Pi - though I gather there are still some wrinkles to iron out.

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MPs want Blighty to enforce domestic roaming to fix 'not spots'

SImon Hobson
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Re: Incentives

A site with low traffic (even roaming) will take years to payback the CAPEX / OPEX needed to build a new site.

But that's not the question. I don't think anyone (in this context) is suggesting that operators will fill in completely not-not-spots. But I strongly suspect that there would be quite a few sites where a base for one network wouldn't be viable, but some roaming income could tip it over to being profitable (or at least be worth doing).

As it is, I'm sure there will be sites now that lose money - just the operators have decided that not having coverage will cost them more in disgruntled customers than the amount the site loses.

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Smart Meter rollout delayed again. Cost us £11bn, eh?

SImon Hobson
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Re: Smart meters have only ONE purpose

You could probably save on your food bills by getting a fridge and/or freezer :-)

OK smarta**, and there's a broadband router as well. Fridge and freezer between them take a fairly low average amount of power.

Check the consumption of the dehumidifier (probably about 500W)

Not far off, it's a fairly small one - but I do know what it's using and having a smart meter won't make it use any less ! And it's doing a needed job anyway, there's still a few gallons of water to extract from the walls before they are dry enough to start decorating - heat alone won't do it, especially as there's no radiators until I put the new ones in which I'll be doing after we decorate.

and computer (maybe 200W)

About 50W actually - and yes I have measured it !

You say you use the computer for TV - don't you therefore also have a TV switched on?

Not when there's no one in to watch it. But the server is busy recording stuff I want when it's on so I can watch it when we want. MythTV - like SkyQ but without the rentals and vendor lockin !

But the main point is that all these are fairly easily known values. I don't need to know when the compressor in the freezer is running and it's taking about 200W, and when it's idle (taking about 3W) - just that it's average consumption is some figure which I forget now :-( Basically, if we're not in, then we don't really care as thing will take what they need - and if they are needed then switching them off isn't really an option. When we are in, then again, things we switch on take what they need to do what we want them to do, and we switch them off when we no longer need them doing something - eg we don't leave the oven on after use "because we CBA to turn it off" !

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James Dyson's new startup: A university for engineers that doesn't suck

SImon Hobson
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@ AC

It's not 1 day a week. It's one day a week in the classroom/lecture theatre and 4 days a week doing "real stuff". Think about it more being having lots of lab work - but instead of the lab work being 2 hours a day for 2 or 3 days a week (as it was <cough> decades ago for me), it'll be 7 1/2 hours of lab work for 4 days a week.

@ G R Goslin

Yes, it does sound a bit that way. But these days, I suspect few would recognise the old ONC/HNC qualifications, and those that do recognise them would probably look down at them. As long as it's done right, I think a degree is perfectly reasonable.

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