* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

671 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010

Page:

Winning Underhand C Contest code silently tricks nuke inspectors

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Look at the real code

I had to sort out various problems by looking at the output of the C preprocessor, to see the real code after the macros were deciphered.

However, the raw output contained an excessive amount of spaces and blank lines, and had to be edited and pretty-printed.

As others above have noted, code inspection must include some degree of machine verification. Like, does it actually compile, without warnings?

0
0

BT blames 'faulty router' for mega outage. Did they try turning it off and on again?

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Redundancy?

Virgin Internet struggle to hit two-nines reliability, let alone five-nines.

4
0

GCHQ’s Xmas puzzle proves uncrackable

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: QR code?

I did get as far as the QR code. Then on my PC I used a QR reader program I found via Google, which does seem to read other QR codes. But it would not recognise the GCHQ one.

I was given an Android tablet as a Xmas prezzie, but have not worked out how to read QR codes with it, using just the standard apps it came with. I can photograph them, but not decipher them.

0
0

Most of the world still dependent on cash

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: There's a good and a bad side to this

"They" aboolished sterling bank notes of more then £5 during World War 2, to stifle the black market.

1
0
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

@Onymous

You delude yourseld. It is us, the plebs, who would suffer negative interest rates while the money rolls in for the banksters.

More seriously, the paper, at least as summarised in El Reg, does not mention the issue of trust. Also, it seems to be written in long words for little people.

4
0

You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Pointers

I can't remember any specific examples, but I did notice that very few programmers ever got lists and pointers right.

1
1

'No safe level' booze guidelines? Nonsense, thunder stats profs

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: What's the point of living?

@Scrubber

Also:

Driving your own car is dangerous

Being driven by Google is dangerous

7
0

Blighty's Parliament prescribed tablets to cope with future votes

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: What happened to austerity?

@John Brown

"Anyone not there for there debate is likely not competent to vote."

I strongly disgree. Most issues in politics are decided along party lines; most MPs are elected with the support of their party; in return they are expected to follow the party whip. Exceptions can be made where an MP has especially strong feelings or knowledge of a particular matter.

Few MPs are really interested in the whole range of issues that parliament deals with. So they generally support their party on "other issues", and expect their colleagues to repay that support when the issue is important to them. Those party mechanisms generally reflect the mood of the voters.

MPs are expected to answer constituents' letters (assisted by office staff) and where necessary to find the information for those answers, by asking ministers or researching other sources. There is more to being an MP than being gasbag lobby fodder. They are also expected to have a life outside parliament so they are better qualified to vote on matters before them.

So they bring outside knowledge to their vote, not just the proceedings of the debate. It would be entirely wrong to limit the vote to those in the debating chamber.

In return, the voters pass their own judgement every four or five years.

0
0
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

@2460

The EU parliament is much better organised. The voting divisions are held at a preset time. So MEPs can turn up a quarter hour before, find out the party line from their whips, and then proceed to do their democratic duty.

Saves listening to all those absurd foreigners.

5
0

It's 2016 and idiots still use '123456' as their password

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Short is best

In my young day, the favourite password was 'fred'. Why? Look at the keyboard, see where the characters are.

2
0

Eighteen year old server trumped by functional 486 fleet!

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

I, too, have an FX-451 which I use almost daily. E.g. to check out the 49.7 days mentioned above.

2
0

Aircraft now so automated pilots have forgotten how to fly

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Pilots?

"The Dog and Pilot" would be a fine pub name.

9
0

Learn you Func Prog on five minute quick!

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

@Roo

Come to think of it, a floating point number is a pretty abstract object compared with mere binary digits.

They used to be defined in software, you know.

5
0

Future Snowden hunt starts with audit of NSA spooks' privileges

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Shurley some mishtake

There can be advantages in copying a non-ISO file to a CD or DVD. E.g. denying that it contains anything if you are caught.

Beos and Nextstep used non-ISO cds for at least part of their product.

6
0

Nvidia GPUs give smut viewed incognito a second coming

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Used to happen with disks

I remember demonstrating to a government research place in the 1980s that on their VAX computer one could grab a few megabytes of disk space and dump out the contents. A lucky dip, really. I could see it was interesting stuff; but the government people were appalled.

It still is a problem with disks, of course. All the arguments above about whose fault it is apply equally. But little has been done. Yes, there is SATA secure erase if you really want to clean up a disk. But countless second hand machines are full of titbits, in every sense of the word.

Equally, it seems nothing will be done about graphics memory.

2
0

The Register's entirely serious New Year's resolutions for 2016

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Praise the Commentards

Dear El Reg,

You must be doing something right, to attract the serious and informative comments on so many of your reports. Perhaaps you should regard it as a challenge to make your reports outshine the high standard of the comments (this one excluded0.

6
2

Forget anonymity, we can remember you wholesale with machine intel, hackers warned

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

use a pretty printer

Indenting is only useful if it shows what the computer thinks, rather than what the programmer thinks.

Example: a bug in a Coral66 program, where the preceding 'comment' lacked a terminating semicolon. So the program statement got absorbed into the comment and was therefore absent from the binary.

3
0

Newspaper kills 'what was fake' column as pointless in internet age

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: "fake news has taken on a much more unpleasant tone...

@Dave126

When Rome was a republic it was governed by two consuls. Sometimes one would handle Monday, Wednesday, Friday... Sunday could be left to the priests.

Newspapers whould be run in this way, the Guardiagraph one day refuting what the Teledian published the day before. Sunday could become a big day for El Reg.

6
0
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Maybe...

@Herby

I have come to rely on El Reg and The Onion (America's finest news source). The O is unrivalled for its truthful depiction of human weaknesses, even if the circumstances have been changed to protect the facts.

Mind you, the Vice-President of the United States, whoever he may be, gets a terrible press.

2
0

Windows for Warships? Not on our new aircraft carriers, says MoD

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Tor

The XP screen is a well-known disguise for the Tor browser system.

But what was the guy using Tor for?

1
0

Brazil gets a WTF WhatsApp moment

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: What if?

Perhaps WhatsApp should have just handed over the encrypted data, saying that is all they had. At least then they would be showing some degree of compliance with the law.

Next step perhaps is arrest warrants for all senior WhatsApp personnel. That will show them!

9
1

Vote now to name HPE's London boozer

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Tie Breaker

If the final decision from the A-list is too difficult, how about "The Temporary Sign". Yes, I did once see a place so named.

0
0

Ceres' salty history hints at bright spot origin

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Different from Earth

When sea water evaporates on Earth, the first mineral to drop out is gypsum, CaSO4.2H2O

0
0

MPs slam gov heads over 'childishness' on failed farmer IT project

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

All departments at risk

As readers here know, every government department makes a hash of computer projects. Even the more technical departments do, once the Treasury has put its spoke in.

I remember a technical procurement (ca 30 years ago) where the techies wanted to buy a VAX, but the Treasury insisted on something else that was cheaper. A few months after it was installed, I heard that it had failed to meet the real, secret, requirements on day one, even though it had scraped through an evaluation on 'sanitised' data.

No doubt they will say that lessons have been learned. But no, no lessons will be learned until the head of the civil service is dismissed without a pension. Nothing less than that will make the civil service realise that it is wrong, wrong, wrong in its attitude to technical management.

6
0

GCHQ Christmas Card asks YOU the questions

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: NSPCC

The Romans had the right idea. Paterfamilias would not tolerate indiscipline in the ranks.

1
0
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Very cryptic

@Tom7

I picked up this story yesterday from a national newspaper, and downloaded the appropriate GCHQ page. I try again this morning to reload a clean copy, and the site stalls, as you report.

It is indeed a QR code, but it was getting late and I made a mistake somewhere in the late stages. Like sudoku puzzles, when you find you have messed it up, you have to go back a long way.

0
0

HPE's private London drinking club: Name that boozer

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

The Jolly Coda.

(A noteworthy end to a day's programming.)

4
0

Most businesses collecting data they never use, survey finds

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

also defence data

@Monsieur DePlume

I worked on at least two defence projects where we were the first to actually examine data that had accumulated for years, but there had never been money allocated to studying it. We were looking at ancient magnetic tapes in ancient formats, religiously collected because orders are orders. Sometimes the tapes had been transcribed to CDs.

The military people we dealt with were all strongly oriented to the here and now, and not interested in going over old data.

1
0

Putin's Russia outlaws ECHR judgments after mass surveillance case

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Whose Russia?

"Putin's Russia" says the story headline. Is there any other Russia?

Russia used to be different, but now there is just the one Russia under Putin. Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer.

0
0

Lenov-lol, a load of Tosh, and what the Dell? More bad holes found in PC makers' bloatware

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

@AC

Not so easy when Lenovo have done something to the disk hardware so that the MSFT install DVD for Windows 7 does not recognise the disk.

7
1

Microsoft Office 365, Azure portals offline for many users in Europe

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Office 365.25

@Crazy...

He Caesar maiden through the glass

And contemplates her shapely anatomy.

2
0

Australian test finds robot essay assessors on par with human teachers

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Language Assessment

I am surprised at the proposition that computers can mark essays. The checking in MS Word for e.g. singular subject needs singular verb gets confused in any sentence with two or more clauses.

Are these essay marking software products really that much better than Word?

1
0

Why are only moneymen doing cyber resilience testing?

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Why would they - they are PRIVATE companies.....

But they are not supposed to be negligent, whatever they are.

0
0

Meet ARM1, grandfather of today's mobe, tablet CPUs – watch it crunch code live in a browser

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Variable record format

Yes, VMS files came in the proverbial 57 varieties. This was all well documented, but few people ever consulted the manuals, Many programmers got confused and made mistakes.

It was as confusing as the old George 3 file varieties: graphic mode (for all-capitals text), normal mode (quite rare, upper and lower case), and allchars (normal plus control characters).

2
1

Paris, jihadis, tech giants ... What is David Cameron's speechwriter banging on about now?

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: So-

Cameron's speeches have traditionally been dreadful: one-sentence paragraphs full of assertions rather than rational argument. They look good on an autocue but not in print.

But recently they have improved, maybe because Clare Foges has departed from No 10.

1
0
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: If this was politically inspired, then it's backfired spectacularly

Give credit to the Torygraph commentards: they had demolished Foges long before El Reg picked up the case.

And yes, Rik Myslevsky, they really are right wing, as opposed to Reg commentards who seem to be mainly left.

[My tech comments generally get upvoted, but my political ones go down.]

4
0

Who's right on crypto: An American prosecutor or a Lebanese coder?

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

The article talks about data "at rest" as opposed to dats "in transit". Data in transit is protected by session keys, generated by Diffie-Hellman or otherwise and largely secure.

Data "at rest" will be protected by fingerprint or pass phrase. In the UK, if you don't give up thst key on official request you will go to jail. People have indeed been jailed for that.

Since the objective is to send people to jail, why make all this fuss about crypto backdoors?

4
0
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Misses the point

@Doctor Syntax

Yes, you have the right to remain silent. But for some years now the prosecution can then make nasty comments in court that you have not co-operated.

Whether a jury will go along with that probably depends on lots of other things.

2
0

Blocking out the Sun won't fix climate change – but it could buy us time

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Optimism! Reg commenters wise up ...

@Rik

"a somewhat right-leaning bunch" ??

Not at all! More like saying that Lenin was right wing compared with Trotsky. Certainly not the kind of people you would meet in the British Conservative Party, which is somewhere between the US Democrats and the US Republicans.

1
0
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Refreeze the poles?

@TheVogon

The sea has risen by 200 feet or more since the peak of the last ice age about 20,000 years ago. Our remote ancestors could walk from France to Britain and Ireland with no more than a few river crossings, though perhaps they moved along coastline by boat. All that evidence is now deep under the sea, of course.

There have been four ice ages in the last two million years. The first three came and went long before we were burning coal and oil on an industrial scale.

How do the climate warmers explain that? They don't, of course, and they deserve to be utterly discredited.

13
6
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Cool the Core

@TheVogon

I stand by my hypothesis.

An active volcano can spew out a thousand tons of lava per second. Over a year this amounts to thirty thousand million tons of material. Imagine that there are many volcanoes, and that the lava contains an appreciable fraction of CO2. Then the increase in oceanic CO2 is accounted for.

2
6
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Cool the Core

@Jay8

Don't be embarrased. That is about as seriously as I took it. I'm not sure everyone else realised that, though.

3
0
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Cool the Core

@Thought...

For quantitative reasons. There has indeed been an increase in the CO2 in the atmosphere since the nineteenth century. Burning coal and oil might account for that, except that for every ton of atmospheric CO2 there are a thousand tons dissolved in the ocean.

So most of the CO2 from coal and oil would have dissolved in the ocean. Where, then, did the measured increase come from? Volcanoes, is my answer.

When that Iceland volcano erupted a few years ago, disrupting air traffic, it was probably pumping out as much CO2 as the whole of Britain's fuel consumption.

5
6
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Cool the Core

Most of the CO2 put into the atmosphere is natural, from volcanoes which are mostly under the ocean, so the green campaigners do not see them.

To solve this problem we need to conduct away all the heat from the Earth's core - easily done as the core is metallic. That just leaves the Earth's mantle, but the mantle heat will then be flowing back to the cold core rather than to volcanoes at the surface.

Simples.

Although there is still a problem with that other greenhouse gas, water vapour, produced when the sun shines on the oceans. Perhaps we should drain the oceans, into the new cool core.

4
9

Dell: How to kill that web security hole we put in your laptops, PCs

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: SOP when buying new laptop (with Windows, obviously)

@Pascal

What we need is for Microsoft to make a clean copy of Windows available at no extra charge to anyone who buys a Windows computer.

5
2

Belling that cat: Oz boffins pass entanglement test

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: So we're one step closer

@werdsmith

They tell all(*) their mates, using quantum-encrypted links.

* Or some of them. How many mates do they have, one wonders.

0
0

Conficker is back – and it's infecting police body cams

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Your equipment is supplied by the lowest bidder.

@Stuart Longland

You are correct thet UK consumer law requires sold goods to be fit for purpose. But that does not necessarily cover purchass between businesses.

So you end up with contract clauses like: "The equipment shall be fit for purpose, including but not limited to being free from viruses...". It is impossible to explicitly mention everything.

6
0

Voting machine memory stick drama in Georgia sparks scandal, probe

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Lost ballot box

I was standing for election to my Borough Council in England. The count began on the morning after polling day.

By about midday we had a result, although the number of votes did seem rather low. Then a very embarrassed official turned up. "Sorry, chaps, we've just found this extra ballot box."

All the officials were red-faced, that they had goofed. We candidates, however, were feeling, "Oh sh*t, we were just about to go home for lunch."

The count resumed after lunch. It did not change the result, but it did make the voting numbers look more respectable.

4
0

Yay, more 'STEM' grads! You're using your maths degree to do ... what?

Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: If you can't calculate the angles on a 50-cent coin...

You raise a good question: what is it that makes us uniquely human? And is that important?

1. We are talking bipeds.

2. Many of us can do arithmetic. Note that arithmetic is not the same as recognising that a bunch of items has five of them. It is knowing that 4+1 = 3+2.

Is that important? Item 2 certainly is; it is evidence of an ability to go beyond immediate facts.

@Dropbear: If you play darts, someone has to keep score. Good arthmetic test, that, even if afer a while you will 'know' the result from experience.

0
0
Primus Secundus Tertius
Bronze badge

Re: Bah!

'Education' is indeed bad if it makes classics graduates think they can pontificate on statistical questions using their 'generalist, rounded, people-handling abilities'.

Boris Johnson is a rare exception among classicists: I have read articles by him that actually do understand statistics. That is a rarity in any policial party.

1
0

Page:

Forums