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* Posts by Steven Roper

1373 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Deutsche Telekom launches 'NSA-busting' encrypted email service

Steven Roper
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Encryption alone is not enough

No matter how effectively a message is encrypted, it can be intercepted and saved indefinitely in its encrypted form and then decoded at leisure. And with the computing power available to the three-letter agencies "at leisure" isn't very long at all in the scheme of things.

Better security would be achieved by breaking the encrypted file into pieces and routing each piece separately through a different random path each time, interspersed with rubbish pieces to further obfuscate the real ones. This way, no one system can capture the entire message and piece it back together. The internet is already set up to operate on this basic principle; all that's needed is software to ensure that no two packets go by the same route.

The weak point in this system would of course be the sender's and receiver's ISPs; of necessity, both ISPs would have every piece pass through them. A possible workaround would be an open network of interconnected wireless routers, linked between neighbouring homes and offices. This way, part of my message could go through my ISP, part through my neighbour's ISP, part through the guy down the road's ISP. The recipient could receive the message the same way. This way, even if all of us were on the same ISP (as in some areas where one big company has a monopoly), the ISP sees packets from multiple customers and has no way to tie any group of packets back together into a single file.

At present, this is conjecture, as in my area people aren't yet amenable to interconnecting their wireless routers, but I've heard of districts where this is being done already, and as governments and companies continue to encroach on our freedoms, I'm sure people will in time come to see the necessity of doing this.

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Steven Roper
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Joke

Re: Interesting

"And what kind of free democratic nation would do that ?"

I don't think that word means what you think it means. As I understand it, "Democratic" - as in "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea" or "The German Democratic Republic" - means something like "a nation governed in such a way is to give its citizenry the illusion that they have a say in how the country is run." You seem to have misunderstood the "the illusion that they have" part in that definition. Also, "free" is the standard word used by dictators from Napoleon to Obama to describe the conditions in the countries they preside over.

So, in actual fact, pretty much every "free democratic " nation would indeed do what you say, in keeping with what they really are...

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Mobe-slurping Wi-Fi SPY BINS banned from London's streets

Steven Roper
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@ heyrick

Exactly what I noticed.

I actually laughed at the inherent self-contradiction when I read: "...the collected data was "anonymised" before it was analysed, hoped to use this technology to... show tailored adverts to people as they walked by the bins." The "anonymised" part is the most sickeningly obvious attempt at damage control spin I have ever read; in the very same breath they reveal the lie and their true intentions.

By definition, if they're showing me "tailored" advertising, they must know who they are showing the adverts to, ergo I am not anonymous. Whether or not they know the name on my birth certificate is irrelevant; to tailor advertising means they must know my comings and goings, likes and dislikes, lifestyle choices, associations, occupation, hobbies, interests - in short, everything that makes me who I am. What price a name if you have all that? Anonymised my fucking arse.

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100,000+ Earthlings star in 'reality TV contest' for ONE-WAY ticket to MARS

Steven Roper
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Mushroom

>>Or intolerant douchags...

Or sanctimonious PC do-gooders...

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Google Glass: Would you pay a mere $299 to plop one on your brow?

Steven Roper
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Big Brother

@OrsonX Re: face-recognition software banned being a shame

The use of face-recognition software in public places bloody well should be banned, so if it has been that's a ban I fully support.

Suppose you're walking down the street and your Glass films me at a politically incorrect rally, or walking into an adult bookshop, for example. The face-recognition software identifies me, even if I'm not known to you, and sends the info back to Google/Facebook for processing. My mother has already posted dozens of pictures of me on Facebook without my consent so Facebook already has a face-recognition profile on me, like it or not. Next, Google/Facebook notifies everyone on my contact list that I'm where you saw me, or at the very least notes it down in some database for later use when I need a security clearance or police check done.

That's the kind of shit face-recognition software is capable of, whether or not it yet does it. It's the most invasive technological violation of personal liberty yet created. Without it, cameras are just image recorders, that require a human to take the time to look at the images to determine if I was anywhere in particular. That degree of labour introduces reasonable odds that someone inimical to me can't easily identify me or be able to track my movements.

But with it, every net-connected camera becomes an automated remote identification device, constantly updating any relevant database with a running update on all my actions and movements, the result of which I have to live in the constant awareness of my every movement being tracked by people who don't necessarily have my well-being at heart.

if it sounds like I'm being paranoid, I have every right to be. The "liberal" supporters of political correctness are known for viciously demanding the ruination of anyone who doesn't kowtow to their PC worldview: the purveyors of "tolerance" are hypocritically the most sanctimoniously intolerant bigots this side of the Taliban. And I'm an active supporter of Men's Rights Australia, A Voice For Men, and the Campaign Against Political Correctness, amongst others. I've had hate mail and death threats from these same "pro-tolerance" PC bigots for publicly supporting these organisations. It's noteworthy that while the media is screaming about "trolls" and cops are arresting those who threaten and abuse high-profile feminists, nobody's doing anything about the harassment and abuse dished out by their supporters to anyone who dares to contradict them. The number of downvotes I'll probably cop for this paragraph alone will illustrate the principle quite adequately, I believe.

Is it any wonder, in the face of the hysterical PC self-righteousness that pervades society these days, that its accompaniment by such invasive technology poses such a danger?

No, bloody right face-recognition software should be banned. I wish they'd ban it here in Australia too.

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Study finds online commentards easily duped, manipulated

Steven Roper
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I have a complex up/down voting system for this site!

On consideration, I find I have quite a complex algorithm for upvoting and downvoting on El Reg, more so than other sites, due to El Reg's voting system requiring a wait for two page reloads to vote. As a result, I only go to the trouble if I feel the post is worth voting on.

I'll upvote a post if:

1) The post makes me laugh or spit coffee/lunch over my keyboard or monitor.

2) The post expresses a political opinion I strongly agree with (regardless of its factual content or literary coherency - the political alignment with my own is sufficient cause for an upvote.)

3) The post has good literary merit or posits its owner's case with aplomb.

4) amanfromMars posted it and I cannot decipher or understand what he posted, or if I simply give up trying part way through.

I'll downvote a post if:

1) The post has even the slightest whiff of political correctness about it.*

2) The spelling, grammar and/or syntax is so bad as to make the post indecipherable (amanfromMars is treated oppositely here: he gets a downvote if his post is actually decipherable!)

3) The argument of the post is so ill-researched, fallacious or delusional as to expose the poster as a retarded fuckwit.

Fanboi/fandroid arguments get nothing. I hate Apple myself, because of their control-freakery and egregious litigiousness, but I won't upvote a post simply because it's an Apple hater and I won't downvote one simply because it supports them. My fanboy loyalty to IT companies died with the Commodore Amiga.

*Political correctness: I won't downvote a post simply because it expresses a political opinion I disagree with. For example, you could call for abolition of minimum wage or billion-year copyright extensions and I wouldn't downvote you for that even though I disagree with it. But any hint of the poster supporting feminism (note: by this I mean focus on women's rights alone), affirmative action, advocacy of censorship of dissenting views, or anti-white/anti-male dogma WILL get a downvote, guaranteed, regardless of the validity of the argument or how well the post might be written.

If I feel the politically-correct post is aggravating enough and it pisses me off sufficiently, I'll actually go to the trouble of going to the poster's public post history page and sequentially downvoting their other posts until my temper calms down (David W, Vladimir Plouzhnikov, Oolons and NomNomNom have all been victims of this at various times!) I know that's juvenile, and one should expect more from a 46 year old adult, but I find it therapeutic and it makes me feel better... So to the guys listed above: If you suddenly find your last 50-odd posts all have at least one downvote regardless of topic, you can feel gratified that you've pissed me off enough to waste half an hour attacking your post history!

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Cool cars, cat-crushing chronometers, cashmere ... is this your IT boss?

Steven Roper
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"2. This person is overpaid and the price you are being offered is vastly inflated. (reality)."

This is why, in our office, a guy who shows up driving an 8 year old Ford Falcon and wearing a turtleneck sweater and jeans, has a lot better chance of selling us a few boxes of photocopier toner than, say, a guy who shows up in a new F-type Jaguar wearing an Armani suit. Given that attire in our office veers decidedly towards the neat casual side, upstaging one's potential customers with flashy overpriced bling that is obviously going to be tacked onto the sale price isn't a good start!

There's an old Murphy's Law corollary that goes something like "The plushness of the front office decor is inversely proportional to the fundamental solvency of the firm." The same principle applies to travelling sales reps as well.

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Obama cancels meeting Putin in Russia, says Snowden 'a factor'

Steven Roper
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Stop

@ Jim 59

Just because laws between the USA and USSR may differ, doesn't mean the principles - or abilities - do. For example, you argue:

"People could not even leave the USSR on holiday, whereas every American citizen is free to travel the world."

IF they can afford it. Given the wealth distribution curve in the USA, I'd say, at guess, that at least 60% of the population can't afford to leave their home town, let alone travel to another country. So while the laws may imply freedom, the actual outcome, for the majority, is still the same.

"The supreme soviet was unelected, whereas the US citizens have full suffrage."

But giving people the choice between Democrats and Republicans, given that for the average American life stays pretty much the same regardless of who is in power - that is, subject to random search and seizure, indefinite detention without trial, no due process (don't tell me that the Obama Administration has given Snowden anything remotely approaching due process) - so again, the effect is much the same whether there was only one party or two. Western democracy has become a token gesture at best.

"The USA has to keep people out, not shoot people trying to escape like the USSR."

That one I'll give you - considering that you have an overcrowded, poverty-stricken third-world country ruled by brutal drug lords on your southern border. Anything's better than that. But that's the majority of people you have to "keep out"; I don't see too many other westerners trying to set up in America.

"Snowden is being pursued by a democratically elected government that wants to bring criminal charges and give him an open trial."

Ha! Well, for democratically elected government I refer you to my above answer on that subject. The Obama Administration has openly branded him a traitor. No trial, no due process, no "alleged", they've just come straight out and announced on the international stage that he's guilty. There's no chance he'll ever receive a fair trial now. If you believe for one second that if Snowden were to return to the USA he'd be found anything other than guilty on the spot, I'd be interested in selling you the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

To finish, I'd like to quote some excerpts from a letter sent from Snowden's father's lawyer to the Obama Administration:

"We are also appalled at your administration’s scorn for due process, the rule of law, fairness, and the presumption of innocence as regards Edward... Your decision to force down a civilian airliner carrying Bolivian President Eva Morales in hopes of kidnapping Edward also does not inspire confidence that you are committed to providing him a fair trial... Yet Speaker Boehner has denounced Edward as a "traitor"... Ms. Bachmann has pronounced that, "This was not the act of a patriot; this was an act of a traitor." And Ms. Feinstein has decreed that Edward was guilty of "treason,"..."

Yes, a fair and just trial under a democratic government indeed. You can read the letter in its entirety here.

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Steven Roper
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I find it amusingly ironic

30 years ago, we welcomed defectors fleeing Soviet tyranny, persecuted for revealing the truth about their despotic regime, and cheered them on as they made their life-or-death dash across the Iron Curtain, desperately seeking freedom from an unjust and totalitarian state ruled by a dictator.

Now, in these margin times, a defector is fleeing American tyranny, persecuted for revealing the truth about his despotic regime, and we cheer him on as he makes his life-or-death dash across the Electronic Curtain, desperately seeking freedom from an unjust and totalitarian state ruled by a dictator!

How things have changed. How they remain the same...

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US federal judge: Yes, Bitcoin IS MONEY

Steven Roper
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Duck test = fish test!

"If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck."

This line of reasoning could also be used to define a whale as a fish, since a whale looks and swims in similar fashion - as famously (and erroneously) argued by Herman Melville via his protagonist Ishmael in Moby Dick:

"Next: how shall we define the whale, by his obvious externals, so as conspicuously to label him for all time to come? To be short, then, a whale is a spouting fish with a horizontal tail. There you have him. However contracted, that definition is the result of expanded meditation. A walrus spouts much like a whale, but the walrus is not a fish, because he is amphibious. But the last term of the definition is still more cogent, as coupled with the first. Almost anyone must have noticed that all the fish familiar to landsmen have not a flat, but a vertical, or up-and-down tail. Whereas, among spouting fish the tail, though it may be similarly shaped, invariably assumes a horizontal position." - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter XXXII Cetology.

Obviously this reasoning is flawed, as any primary school kid knows that a whale is a mammal, not a fish. So in similar vein, just because something looks, swims and quacks like a duck, doesn't necessarily mean that it is. It may well be that it usually is, and one could be justified for saying so, but using this argument as the basis for a legal decision doesn't bode well for rule of logic and reason. There needs to be a more solid factual basis for arguing that Bitcoin is indeed the same thing as money.

At present, Bitcoin strikes me as having more in common with a commodity than a currency. Consider trade commodities, for example sugar or copper. Like sugar and copper, Bitcoins have a variable market price which rises and falls according to supply and demand. Like sugar and copper, Bitcoins are manufactured by a value-adding process of labour and production. Like sugar and copper, Bitcoins are bought and sold on commodity exchanges, not banks.

So under this court's ruling, sugar and copper are the same thing as money, just as Bitcoins are. They can be used to store and retrieve value, bought and sold for profit, just as Bitcoins are. But if we start treating commodities as though they were money, we're opening a Pandora's box of trade nightmares that are going to have repercussions around the world. I'll leave it to the more imaginative commodities traders to consider the ramifications of that decision!

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UK plods cuff another bloke in Twitter violence threat probe

Steven Roper
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Mushroom

I can answer your question, NomNomNom.

The reason your ISP will do nothing about your complaints about trolls, and the reason why you will inevitably receive similar ignorance from your MP, is quite simple, although you are clearly too blinded by political correctness to see it.

That is, because the endless assault on men and men's rights that feminist "men" like yourself have perpetrated in your self-hating ideological zeal, have cast women unjustly as victims, men as aggressors, and created an anti-male mentality throughout society. You don't need help because you're male. You're privileged. We should only be helping women and other "underprivileged" minorities, remember? Wasn't that your agenda?

There's no political mileage in assisting you because you are male, one of the "patriarchy", a "potential rapist". The very same social climate, with its myth of male privilege that you have helped to create is now therefore your undoing, in what I can only regard as a beautiful example of poetic justice.

Enjoy your anti-male discrimination, NomNomNom. You deserve it.

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Geneticists resolve human dilemma of Adam's boy-toy status

Steven Roper
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Devil

Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya

Of course he did.

Every faithful believer knows there's no mileage in preaching to the choir. You must go out and spread the Good News amongst the sinners! And what better place to shine the Light of the Lord than the benighted cesspit of atheist heathen unbelieving science geeks comprising the commentard community of El Reg?

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Barbie paints Red Planet pink with NASA-approved Mars Explorer doll

Steven Roper
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Trollface

Re: LoL

Actually, given the power the PC lobby now wields in the media and Western government institutions, it's more likely the first person on Mars will be an African-American transgendered gay/lesbian feminist. Can't let those evil oppressive white male hetero cis scum have all the glory now can we?

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Arrr! Comcast working on new tech to nudge PIRATES to go straight

Steven Roper
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It's a great idea, and it could work

if the content providers embraced the globalism of the internet. It'll likely work in the US, but if this were implemented in Australia:

My ISP: "Hi! We've noticed you just downloaded Game of Thrones. Did you know you can view it legally on Hulu.com? Click here to see for yourself now!"

Hulu.com: "We're sorry, but the content you have requested is not available in your country."

Me: "Fine, I'll just activate my VPN and grab it off TV Torrents, even though I'd rather buy it if I could. (And no, I'm not giving Murdoch $120 a month to watch one fucking 3-month show on Foxtel!)"

When these idiots wake up and realise that geo-restriction is the idiocy of an antiquated mindset, they'll solve the piracy problem overnight.

Obligatory Oatmeal Game of Thrones cartoon

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Roses are #f00, violets are #00f. This witty code is a boffinry breakthrough

Steven Roper
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Devil

Re: From Edinburgh

Are these guys still at it? At least the've moved on from poems to jokes over the last 30 years.

I clearly remember when this same university, way back in the early 80s, produced a "sonnets" program designed to compose poetry via contextual AI rather than just randomly stringing words together (like the poems program did on my VIC-20). Although I recall that it failed rather spectacularly, I remember this event because of one rather sinister sonnet the Edinburgh program churned out at the time, that has stuck with me ever since:

For now the time draws near, that you shall fall

And so it is within my depths conceal'd,

This store keeps yet the greatest truth of all,

And to men shall it never be reveal'd.

So consider, take heed of what I say,

This day you rule, tomorrow I hold sway.

Knowing this was written by a computer spooked me back then, and looking back on it now it seems that our friends at Edinburgh presaged the RotM by a few decades!

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Big blue Avatar movie spawns THREE SEQUELS

Steven Roper
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WTF?

"Avatar" meets "Twilight"

Oh fuck, that image just ruined the rest of my year.

If this actually happens, I would hope very much that the Great Green Arkleseizure sees to it that James Cameron suffers the same fate as Grunthos the Flatulent, and for much the same reason...

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Facebook: 'Don't worry, your posts are SECURE with us'

Steven Roper
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So what difference does https make?

Facebook are still going to hand over your details to governments and LEAs alike. If some feminazi on Facebook decides to step up the War on Men another notch, and I organise some opposition or argue back at her, I'd still be arrested for political incorrectness hate speech regardless. So Facebook doing this proves what exactly?

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Climate change EVEN WORSE than you thought: It causes WAR and MURDER

Steven Roper
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Hmmm

Sounds to me like there's another civil liberty that needs to be removed or another tax imposed, one whose removal/imposition can't be justified by protecting children or preventing terrorism, so the old 'anthropogenic climate change' excuse is as good as any I suppose.

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Kevin Bacon avoids slapped wrist after TV pipe-fatness claims

Steven Roper
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"Superfast" brings back a memory

As I recall from my dim and heady childhood way back in the 70s, "Superfast" was a line of Matchbox cars (the real solid metal ones - remember those?) of which I had several examples in my toybox. I also had the associated plastic track with the loop-the-loops and the "Superbooster" car-flinger that propelled the Matchbox cars around it. I'm still annoyed to this day that my mother ended up giving it all to the church when I grew up and stopped playing with it. The collection would probably be worth thousands today.

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Beam me up? Not in the life of this universe

Steven Roper
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Thumb Up

Re: Uncertainty Principle and all that

Which is why the Star Trek transporter includes this little gadget called a "Heisenberg Compensator", of which, when asked how it worked, the Trek producers replied, "It works very well, thank you."

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Microsoft introduces warning on child abuse image searches

Steven Roper
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Popup blockers

This is probably not a popup in the traditional sense (as in a new discrete browser window), but a HTML floating div inserted dynamically over the page content. I've noticed a lot of sites doing this recently, presumably in response to the increasing numbers of people using popup blockers. Of course, disabling Javascript can reduce the incidence of this, but an increasing number of sites are circumventing this by simply not displaying anything at all without it.

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First burger made of TEST-TUBE MEAT to be eaten on August 5

Steven Roper
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Thumb Up

@Pet Peeve

Upvoted simply because you hate PETA. Great minds think alike!

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Australia threatens Adobe, Apple, with geo-blocking ban

Steven Roper
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Make VPNs legal?

Insofar as this is not quite yet the People's Democratic Republic of Australia (although admittedly it's well along the way), there is no law as yet forbidding the use of a VPN in this country. Although the way things are going there may soon be, albeit more likely as I've predicted elsewhere, some kind of business-use-only licencing system will probably appear requiring you to register and prove a requirement to use one in the normal course of business. Not just for copyright enforcement, but also in response to the reaction against PRISM and its ilk. After all, if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear, right?

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BOFH: Don't be afraid - we won't hurt your delicate, flimsy inkjet printer

Steven Roper
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Paris Hilton

Re: The Girl on the power driven lid..

"Miniskirted operator...mid 70s"

Mate, if you haven't seen a miniskirt since the mid-70s, may I suggest you move to warmer climes. Here in sunny Adelaide the miniskirt seems to be a perennial summer fashion; hot weather trumps feminist prudery every time. One only needs to hike down Rundle Mall of a hot summer Saturday morning to cop an eyeful worthy of Buck Rogers himself!

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Steven Roper
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@ Oblivion62 and jonathanb

I wouldn't know how it was done on the system described, but on the Commodore 64 (the machine of my misguided yoof) redirecting the output of a for-next loop to the printer would have been accomplished by:

10 OPEN 4,4 : CMD 4

20 FOR X = 1 TO 1000000 : PRINT X : NEXT X

30 CLOSE 4

Damn me, why am I wasting brain cells remembering how to write in CBM BASIC after more than 25 years?

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'First' 3D-printed rifle's barrel splits after single shot

Steven Roper
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Thumb Up

Re: Building our own

Already done.

Google "RepRap" and drool. A completely open-source, patent-free, self-replicating 3D printer (all you need to get hold of elsewhere are the electronics) which is proving to be extremely popular and has become the default standard for 3D printing.

Once you have one, it's trivial to use it to make more for all your friends. It's a self-replicating replicator (or the first step towards one anyway!)

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Comet ISON seen eructating 300,000km-long methane and CO2 BELCH

Steven Roper
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Facepalm

And of course, we Aussies are to be denied pretty much all of the fireworks, since the damn thing is set to pass directly over the North Pole. I mean, what part of "ecliptic plane" do these buggers not understand?!?

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WD: Enjoying our $630m, Seagate? Let's ruin your day with our results

Steven Roper
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With regard to WD vs. Seagate, I have over the last 10 or so years been privy to a singular phenomenon between a friend and myself. Now I am a WD man, have been for ages, while my friend swears by Seagate. And we both have good reasons for being the way we are.

Every single Seagate drive I have bought, since 2005, has gone bad within six months of purchase. It's not a batch issue either; the last one was in 2010, and it started showing sector errors within 3 months. Yet I've never lost a WD drive; the only reason they get replaced is because I need a bigger drive and only have so many drive bays on my system. - so I have close to a dozen still-working WD drives in my spares box.

For my friend, the opposite is true. Every time he's bought a WD drive, he's had to replace it within the year. For him, that last one was last year. Yet he's never had to replace a Seagate drive, except, as with myself, when he's needed more storage space.

It's not a "you must have gotten one from a bad batch" issue, because the phenomenon has been manifesting for nearly a decade for both of us, involving drives from multiple sources and vendors, both internal and external, over many years. Maybe it's just an extremely improbable coincidence. Maybe there's some self-perpetuating psychic drive-busting phenomenon at work. Possibly it's even confirmation bias (have I ever mistaken a Seagate for a WD or vice versa?)

All I know is, I'm damn sure that every Seagate I've bought has gone bad while every WD has lasted its term, while for my friend the opposite is true. We both relate our experiences whenever it comes up, as a demonstration of the folly of brand loyalty and living proof of YMMV!

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E-shopkeepers stabbed with SQL needles 'twice' as much as other sites

Steven Roper
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Re: Bobby Tables

Exactly. So here I'll post some code that prevents this kind of attack for anyone who hasn't yet figured it out for themselves. I'll even give it away free for anyone to use!

define (MAXLEN_FIELD, 255); //or however many characters long your field is if it's text

If the element being stored is numeric:

$db_array['field'] = isset($_POST['field']) ? (int)($_POST['field']) : 0;

or if it's text:

$db_array['field'] = isset($_POST['field']) ? substr(mysql_real_escape_string($_POST['field']), 0, MAXLEN_FIELD) : '';

then:

if (mysql_query ("INSERT INTO table (field) VALUES ('".$db_array['field']."')")){

$message = "Data stored successfully";

}else{

$message = "There was a problem storing your data";

}

echo $message;

This will protect you from the vast majority of SQL injection attacks as well as truncating over-long strings (such as might be used in a buffer overflow attack). It's not that hard.

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Laser-wielding boffins develop ETERNAL MEMORY from quartz

Steven Roper
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Facepalm

So that'll be another bunch of students grinding their pieces of paper then

When I see the words "[Name] University" and "crystal storage technology" in the opening parts of a story I know that graduation time is on the way once again. The tropes are so obvious they've become cliched:

1) It uses crystalline holographic-type technology;

2) It uses LAZERZ!!!

3) It offers orders of magnitude more storage space than we have now;

4) It's orders of magnitude faster;

5) It's orders of magnitude longer-lasting.

Oh please. I wish they'd come up with something new to tease us with; watching the same Star Trek: University episodes year after year is getting a little hackneyed now.

Ok, on to what this is really about: the Class of 2013 needs a subject for their theses so they can get their degrees. So they come up with yet another fantasy sci-fi holographic crystal storage device that promises the moon, like the ones covered by El Reg every year since day dot, and which will, once the pieces of paper have been handed out and the caps tossed in the air, be stuffed into an archive box and buried in the University's basement along with all the other pie-in-the-sky technologies we keep hearing about but never materialise.

And once said students have their pieces of paper, they no doubt will all head off to their cushy jobs flipping burgers while a few lucky ones will become government IT consultants and the like. Meanwhile, we will continue using the same spinning rusty discs and CMOS chip based storage technology we've been using since the 70s, because none of these classroom fantasies ever see the light of day once graduation is over.

Yawn. Call me when it gets out of the classroom and onto a factory floor, please.

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Sammy had Sweet Fanny Adams to do with Swiss Fanny madam's blast

Steven Roper
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@Ledswinger

You are Adria Richards and I claim my £5.

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Planetary paparazzi snap candid pics of Earth, Moon from space

Steven Roper
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Pale Blue Dot

Another fantastic image from Cassini, putting our tiny world into perspective. Once again, I am reminded of the the words of the great Carl Sagan, and his "pale blue dot" speech which never fails to choke me up and bring tears to my eyes, every time I hear it.

For me, the moment of clarity is when I hear the one sentence from that speech which is the crux of the whole thing: "There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world."

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Darth Vader's old gaff awaits exogorth desert DUNE DOOM

Steven Roper
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Re: Shai Hulud

"May He keep the world for His people."

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1.5 MW 'demonstrator' solar plant hits the grid

Steven Roper
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Now this is the way to go.

Instead of covering our beautiful and picturesque hills with ugly, noisy. scenery-destroying and eye-polluting windfarms, cover the flat, sceneless outback desert with solar cells. Far more efficient, far more productive, and far less destructive of our pleasanter areas.

One only needs to look at the butchery of the coastline around Cape Jervis (35°34'03" S 138°08'02" E) and the hills near Snowtown (33°46'23" S 138°08'11" E) to appreciate what eyesores these windfarms are. Putting solar panels out in the desert where they're in nobody's way and do a far better job of generating power, is a much better way of generating sustainable energy.

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New moon discovered around Neptune brings total to 14

Steven Roper
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It isn't a Death Star either, since it's only 19 km in diameter, the Death Star at ~160 km diameter (for the Alderaan-busting one) would eat that small moon for breakfast and not even notice...

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Ad man: Mozilla 'radicals' and 'extremists' want to wreck internet economy

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PM writes ISPs' web filter ads for them - and it must say 'default on'

Steven Roper
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@Dr Dan Holdsworth

"Block it, and big business will scream blue murder."

For now. As more and more people start using VPNs to hide their copyright-infringing and porn-surfing activities, they will come under greater scrutiny. We've already seen the start of this with Visa and Mastercard refusing to process payments to some VPN providers.

Ultimately what I can see ending up happening is that you'll eventually need some kind of "business licence" to use a VPN, and if you're detected using one without a licence (e.g. by sniffing your traffic and finding it encrypted to a specific domain all the time) you'll cop a hefty fine.

Of course, getting a VPN licence will cost a small fortune and you'll have to "reasonably prove that you require the use of a VPN in the normal course of business" or some legalese wank like that. This way, "big business" can still make use of VPNs as they need but the proles will be locked out of them and left exposed for Big Brother to spy on.

I predict the Western Nanny States (USA / UK / Aus / NZ / Canada) will introduce something like this within the next 5 years, as a greater proportion of the public cotton on to VPNs. And the endless march of the erosion of human liberties will continue...

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Rap for rap chap in crap rap app flap: Jay-Z blasted by privacy bods

Steven Roper
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"collected data unnecessary to the functioning of the Magna Carta app"

and

"deprived users of meaningful choice regarding the collection of their data"

These two points, right here. These are the core of the major problem with Android. Apps that require permissions outside their remit, and that are allowed to force such requirements as a condition of installation. (I wonder if there might be a false advertising charge there - calling them permissions when in fact they're requirements. May as well make the bastards call a spade a spade!)

Both of these points need to be countered, preferably by force of law since Google and their ilk have clearly shown they can't be trusted to self-regulate on this: 1) Apps should be required by law to demonstrate why they need any given permission, and 2) Google should be required by law to adjust Android so that a user can install an app without granting it any permissions (but if point 1 is addressed then users have no right to complain when an app doesn't work as advertised if they refuse, since it's demonstrated a need for the permission to function.) I'm right behind the EFF on this one.

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US Navy robot stealth fighter in first unmanned carrier landings

Steven Roper
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@ Matt Bryant

I just rewatched the Star Trek Voyager episode in which B'elanna has to go aboard a Cardassian-built, reprogrammed-for-the-Maquis, smart missile that got pulled into the Delta Quadrant and is now on its way to wipe out an innocent populated planet, thinking it's the original Cardassian target. The smart missile's computer assumes that B'elanna is being coerced by the Cardassians when she tries to shut it down, and does everything in its power to thwart her efforts.

I'd have to laugh if something similar happened to one of these drones. I'd be holding my sides if one of these things got turned arse-about-face and set off to take out the White House, dismissing all attempts to stop it as the result of its controllers acting under Chinese duress!

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Oh please, PLEASE bring back Xbox One's hated DRM - say Xbox loyalists

Steven Roper
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Flame

These people must be the same astroturfing fuckwads that skewed the survey indicating most Americans turned against Snowden for revealing PRISM. I'm normally against the death penalty, but there are those who sometimes convince me that the human gene pool might occasionally need chlorinating.

The other thing that shits me is this: It'll only take 8,000 signatures to get Microsoft to put back the DRM, while it took 8,000,000 signatures to get them to stop it. This is why I feel such hatred for these arseholes that support reduction of freedom - because of this social mechanism whereby it only takes one screaming fool to cause a company (or a government) to ratchet the wheel of oppression one more notch.

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Apple files patent for refrigerator-magnet iPads

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: Curiouser and curiouser

"precise configurations that can be fitted into matched receptacles"

And that's what gives the game away.

It seems Apple intend to repeat the fiasco they pulled on the car manufacturers who were foolish enough to include iPod docks as factory in their cars. Now it seems the whitegoods manufacturers are going to be sucked into the same shit.

Build specifically-shaped (and patented, trademarked and copyrighted) holes on the front of their appliances, sell a shit load, and then change the design of the slot so if you upgrade your iWank, you have to buy a new fridge as well.

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'Clippy' coup felled by Microsoft twitterati

Steven Roper
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Hmmmm

That photo of Clippy looks suspiciously like a kick bag. Perhaps Ballmer got tired of replacing chairs while practicing his kung fu...

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Giant human-powered quadricopter wins $250,000 Sikorsky Prize

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Leonardo, you WERE right on the money!

400 years after your groundbreaking designs, your dreams are vindicated. Man-powered flight is now a reality. The flying machine just needed to be... a tad bigger... than what you envisaged!

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Daddy-o, you're all wet... baffled by your own kids on the web - survey

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: Parents can't figure out what their kids are up to

I can't say I bloody blame today's kids for wanting to hide their activities from their parents and other adults. Shit, I did as a kid, the last thing I wanted was for Dad to find out I was out egging cars and torching letterboxes...

Today's kids have even more reason to hide their activities. When you read reports about kids being punished for hugging each other on school grounds and arrested for making snarky Facebook comments or merely eating a biscuit into the shape of a fucking gun, I wouldn't be surprised if the commonest emotion felt by our youth towards our politically-correct helicopter-parent generation was one of cold, unforgiving hatred and distrust. I certainly couldn't blame them for it if they did.

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China prepares to lift 13-year game console ban – report

Steven Roper
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Thumb Up

Re: Why not protect their jobs?

Unfortunately none of the smart countries speak English as their first language.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Difficult to believe

A couple of friends and I still play Age of Empires II faithfully every Wednesday night during our LAN sessions...

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STEVE BALLMER KILLS WINDOWS

Steven Roper
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Stop

...or anything resembling an argument.

Ok, MIc, here's an argument for you, using the time-honoured car analogy.

Many years ago, I and most everyone else on this forum learned, as part of their growing-up process, how to operate a motor vehicle. Motor vehicles all operate on approximately similar principles; direction is controlled by rotating a wheel who axis is approximately parallel to the long axis of the vehicle (or for large vehicles, parallel to the vertical axis), gear change in most cases is effected by moving a stick mounted vertically above the drive train or horizontally behind the steering wheel, a pedal activated by the right foot increases speed, while a pedal activated by the left foot decreases speed. In some cases a third pedal, also activated by the left foot, separates conjoined gear wheels so they can be shifted to match different ratios, allowing the vehicle a greater speed range.

Along with these principles are an associated set of rules one must abide by; a black number on a white round sign surrounded by a red border indicates the maximum speed you're allowed to go; you must stay on one particular side of the road (the left in the UK, Australia and Japan, the right everywhere else), a red circle with a white horizontal bar means you can't drive this direction; a red octagon with the word STOP in white letters means bring your vehicle to a complete halt until you've ascertained there's no opposing traffic. And so on, and so on.

Understanding all these principles requires considerable study and practice. This is why drivers go through stages of learning and provisional licences while they acquire the skills and experience necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle in public. The process takes years, and costs a lot of money.

Now, all of a sudden, some bright spark at, say, Ford or Toyota decides, for no reason other than wanting to make a mark on history, that these time-honoured and widely understood principles of driving no longer apply, and need to be replaced with... something else.

So, he decides, let's change everything. We'll replace the steering wheel with a slider bar; let's mount the gear change stick under the driver's seat; since the driver's now steering with one hand, we'll put in a lever for the other hand that when pulled backward makes the car go faster and when pushed forward makes the car slow down (just to be different, hey!). And we'll make the speed signs bright green squares with yellow numbers, because green and yellow are his favourite colours, and let's make the stop signs blue pentagons with a stylised upheld hand, because not everyone understands the English word STOP.

So what if everyone has spent thousands of dollars and years of their lives learning how to do everything the old way? Who gives a fuck about boring shit like people's life experiences and incomes? Get with the program slackers, adapt or die! We own the marketplace, most cars on the road are made by us, so we get to decide how everyone has to drive!

Naturally, the vast majority of people get pretty pissed off about this. They refuse to buy the new cars, or they start looking for other car manufacturers who will continue to build cars with steering wheels and accelerator and brake pedals. They don't see the need to spend hundreds of dollars and months on driver training to learn what they already know all over again, just because some idiot at Ford/Toyota wants change for change's sake.

Of course, all the boys and girls just coming out of school might like the new system, because they've never done it any other way, and they don't know any better, so they start mocking and deriding all the experienced adults who understand that the time-honoured method of driving a car was developed and optimised painstakingly over decades of R&D. They think that it's perfectly fine to throw all of that experience and research and skill out of the window simply because that's the old way, man.

So instead of hunting around for car yards selling the original design, like most experienced folks are now doing, they simply go to the shiny big car yard down the road and buy the new cars, causing our bright spark at Ford/Toyota to think his new design is selling well. But then this year's crop of school escapees have all bought their cars, and nobody in the majority of the populace with any life experience is buying them, and so new car sales drop through the floor.

And anybody who spent dollars and months learning the old way cheers loudly in support of anyone who speaks up and says that the new cars are rubbish, as a way of letting both our bright spark CEO and all the inexperienced schoolkids know, that you don't just throw away people's valuable and hard-earned skills, time and money just because you want make your mark on history.

Do you understand? It's not "negativity", it's "I don't fucking see why I should just throw away everything I've ever learned and spend my next years' profits on staff retraining just because Ballmer wants a piece of Apple and Samsung's sales."

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Google loses Latitude in Maps app shake-up

Steven Roper
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@ joekhul

I don't have a problem with ad supported services, as long as the ads aren't too intrusive (content-obscuring Flash rollovers and frantically animated gifs are just stupid), but what I do have a big problem with is being profiled, analysed, probed for weaknesses and psychological vulnerabilities in order to be manipulated into buying something I normally wouldn't.

I'm not so arrogant as to believe I am immune to psychological suggestion or manipulation carried out by professionals who have spent years studying the workings of the human mind and how to exploit them. I know I wouldn't stand a chance against someone like, say, Derren Brown. I am aware that I have vulnerabilities and I try to protect myself as best I can - by avoiding exposure to the kind of manipulative profiling carried out by the likes of Google and Facebook as much as possible.

Unfortunately that means I have to use things like Adblock to protect myself - even though I would like to allow Google-style text-only or still-image advertising if it supported the sites I enjoy. But only if said advertising is generic and not predicated upon cataloguing and exploiting my weaknesses.

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'Priyanka' yanks your WhatsApp contact chain on Android mobes

Steven Roper
Silver badge
Joke

PEBKAC needs an upgrade

Since so many computing devices these days involve neither keyboards nor chairs, we need a new acronym to describe the error condition formerly known as PEBKAC.

Off the top of my head, I submit the admittedly mediocre PEBSAS - Problem Exists Between Screen And Sky. But I'm sure all the BOFHs among the commentards here can do a lot better. Suggestions in reply to this comment are eagerly awaited...

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US Congress proposal: National Park will be FOUND ON MOON

Steven Roper
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Re: WTF?

The USA is signatory to the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1967), which among other things places all celestial bodies and their orbits under international law, and prohibits any state from laying claim to any celestial body or part thereof. So technically the United States is in violation of this treaty by assigning parts of the moon as 'National' Park space.

In reality, however, this treaty, like any other treaty, law, right or constitutional principle, is only as good as the ability of its proponents to enforce it. Once again, the only absolute right, in space or on earth, is the right of might, whether we like it or not. Who has the guns makes the rules.

I know I cop a swath of downvotes every time I say this, but no amount of downvoting can change this simple fact, perhaps most succinctly expressed by Napoleon's famous quote, "Le bon Dieu est toujours du côté des gros bataillons!"

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