* Posts by Robert Helpmann??

1312 posts • joined 31 May 2011

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US police to throw big balls in criminals' faces

Robert Helpmann??
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Cost Comparison

I wonder how much a flash grenade costs in comparison.

Cost of Explorer Tactical: $2,495

Cost of flash bang grenade: up to $2.6 million

Seems like a pretty good deal all around. Even so, this is hardly a new concept with other models costing substantially less. Having stated that, I would prefer to use the i-Ball which makes up for its name by allowing users to fire it from a grenade launcher.

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Audit finds new flaw at US Office of Personnel Management

Robert Helpmann??
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Stop the Madness

...one response may be for the US government to issue fewer clearances.

Not likely given that clearances are linked to positions and the information employees and contractors are allowed to handle. A more realistic response might be to extend the time between the periodic background checks required to maintain a clearance or to change the way follow-up investigations are run. Of course that might lessen the effectiveness of the process, so not necessarily a great idea either. Perhaps it would be better for the government to get a realistic grasp on the concept of total cost of ownership instead of massaging the data to win elections. Now why don't we have a flying pig icon?

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Hide the HUD, say boffins, they're bad for driver safety

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Move Along. Nothing to See Here.

I looked through the linked article - really just an abstract. If I understand it correctly, it indicates that an unpredictable event will interfere with the performance of an ongoing task. The analogy drawn to using a HUD while driving would seem to be that if something odd or different happens on the road while you are driving, you will most likely be distracted from paying attention to your instrument panel. So far, this seems to be good basic science followed by an odd inference: that a HUD (the primary task) might distract from something out of the ordinary on the road (the secondary task) and not the other way around. Perhaps I am interpreting the article incorrectly, but it is fairly well documented that we really have a fairly narrow amount of bandwidth to use when we focus our attention. If there is something odd going on when we are driving, we are likely to be distracted by it, both for good (e.g. another vehicle swerving near us) and for bad (e.g. a police stop on the opposite side of a divided highway).

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Ransomware slinging exploit kit targets Flash remote code execution

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Re: $100,000 per month? Really?

The researchers say the Magnitude author, thought to be a single Russian, could make up to $3 million a year.

Hmm... Reads like an online personals posting or the intro line for a new reality TV show. Should we look forward to the premiere of Most Eligible Hacker this Fall?

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Australian government demands signoff on telco network designs

Robert Helpmann??
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Re: "Notify security agencies of any changes…"

It's a government agency, not some local store. The reporting requirement will be spelled out as to format and frequency and will not be discretionary. Also, there might be no requirement on the government's part to actually look at the data. My experience with US government entities (none with Australian, though) is that they thrive on collecting data, so killing them with kindness will have the opposite of the intended result.

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LG's six-sided battery to take smart watches into new timezones

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Can Be Costly

LG has both square and round smart watches; this is probably about making life easier for the designers of future versions of their round watches. If it costs more to make these batteries, they will probably recoup the loss from their customers, from time savings in design, or both. If they are really lucky, the new battery will be adopted by other companies which will bring them some licensing money and drive down manufacturing costs, too.

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We need to know about the Internet of Things, say US Senators

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Whether or Not

...what agencies have IoT plans or strategies...

The plan is to never allow any of it on government property if anyone in the security community has a say in it. The US government has had its data stolen many times, but there ought to be a sporting challenge to doing so.

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Google's new free music service is classic Google: Take someone's idea and slap ads on it

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Pint

Just for that...

Have one on me for the phrase, "does anyone other than Axe-doused teenagers really listen to Tiesto's musical onanism?" Cheers!

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Amazon enrages authors as it switches to 'pay-per-page' model

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Re: [redacted] Amazon

I can see your point that it might eliminate click-bait books, but it will almost certainly be set up to also lower the amount paid to all authors Amazon feels it can get away with. The hint would be that Amazon is changing the payment model for self-published authors only. Those working through a publishing house are better able to fight negotiate this change. To paraphrase:

Authors: [angry] That was never a condition of our agreement!

Amazon: Perhaps you think you are being treated unfairly?

Authors: [pause] No.

Amazon: Good. It would be unfortunate if we had to give you even less.

Authors: [under their collective breath] This deal is getting worse all the time.

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THEY WANTED OUR WOMEN: Neanderthals lusted after modern humans

Robert Helpmann??
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Re: Terminology

I personally would like to have BA and AA -- Before Alphabet and After Alphabet.

Which alphabet? Aren't pictographs good enough for you? What about emoji?

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SPICEWORKS FAIL: Are we ready for ‘social’ network administration?

Robert Helpmann??
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A Very Serious Discussion

The issue at hand, however, is so grievous that it should be triggering a very serious discussion amongst developers and systems administrators alike about the entire concept of social sign-on.

OK, here's how I think the discussion should go:

"Why don't we entrust the ability to access everything we control to a third party, such as FaceBook?"

"What?! Are you stupid or just plain nuts? No!"

"Look, I know that on the face of it, it might not sound like a good.."

"DIE!"

"No! Argh! no.. please stop..." gurgle

And we should never have to have this discussion again.

Note: I don't advocate violence of this nature, but this situation makes me think about it... out loud... Perhaps we could throw some canned vegetables at the situation?

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Slippery Silk Road spook will plead guilty to duping dealers

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Re: If convicted...

Those who do the watching and have power should be held to a higher standard of ethics than anyone else.

In this case, I would guess that he will be. Even if he is not convicted, he will have lost his job and most likely any chance at gaining another one requiring a clearance.

At least that's what I am telling myself.

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Graphene sheaths could boost processor signal speeds by 30 per cent

Robert Helpmann??
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Graphene, is there anything it can't do?

Dunno. Be more than a single atom thick? It's interesting to know all the things it can do, but moreso to know what it does well and in fact better than other materials. In the case of this article, it seems that we have a winner. Next comes scalability and cost on the checklist to determine if it is worthwhile to implement this.

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British banks consider emoji as password replacement

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Great Idea!

Obviously, the response to people not being able to remember their passwords because they have so many of them is to provide a completely different set of input values to choose from. Additionally, because a small subset of the population uses this set of characters on a regular basis, it will have broad enough appeal to make implementation worthwhile. It's bad enough that the Unicode Consortium thinks it's a good idea to add emoji to the character set... Now there's an idea: why not just add the entire Unicode character set to the available choices for passwords? That would provide 110,000n possible combinations to choose from using an n-digit password. Patent pending on input device.

8€

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Chancellor Merkel 'was patient zero' in German govt network hack

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Joke

A One and a Two and a...

First the US [allegedly] bugged her phone and now Russia has [allegedly] hacked her computer. If she has a tablet, I am sure the Chinese are interested in having a go. Wait! Perhaps it has already been done, but it was a wetware hack... The newspaper did not mention how Merkel herself may have been infected. Ew!

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Innocent Spaniards roasted by experimental napalm mead

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Re: Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum

I've always assumed that the point of brewing was to create an alcoholic beverage that was actually pleasant to imbibe.

Depends on the target customer, I guess. If you are aiming at high-schoolers who have only the goal of getting drunk, then not so much. However, if you are a craft brewer, I would hope so. My first thought on reading the description of this stuff was that it is a sure recipe for ulcers. Burn, Baby! Burn!

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How much info did hackers steal on US spies? Try all of it

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Re: Lots of people have to fill this out

Many people in positions considered "sensitive" for reasons other than military secrets are required to fill out this form.

Exactly. Also, the constant refrain from the press on this is that it is all about government employees, but it affects everyone who has filled out one of these forms, including contractors, retirees and those who merely applied for a position but never were hired.

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Use snooped data in court? Nah, says UK.gov - folk might be cleared

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Re: Thinking the powers that be have missed the point

I am asking this as an outsider to the UK's legal system. If the defense is aware that there was surveillance of the accused, would it be possible to subpoena that even if the prosecution does not submit it as evidence on their own? Also, doesn't the prosecution have an obligation to make exculpatory evidence available to the defense? There have been a number of cases here in the US that have recently gotten the accused released or retried because the prosecutors suppressed exculpatory evidence (e.g. the case of Thomas Barton).

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Oculus Rift noggin-bucket ... heyyy, errr ... have we all got them on already?

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Re: meh.... Oculus Rift Virtual Blinders™... WTF?! Where's the peripheral vision?

Where are the curved screens offering peripheral vision?!

If these are going to cost around $500 after being developed with fairly standard equipment, I would suspect that what you describe would have cost substantially more to produce. It might follow, though, if the current setup has respectable uptake. On the other hand, if they can develop this off current cell phones, I am intrigued to see what they will produce with holo projector phone tech.

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Decrypted WhatsApp chats laid groundwork for Belgian terror raids

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Re: Should we assume a warrant was in place for this?

Or should we assume this came about from the cross-borders data slurp?

The linked article is titled Belgium Arrests Two in Probe Over Returning Syria Fighter and includes the following:

"Police said earlier that they simultaneously raided 21 locations as part of two probes into jihadist Chechen groups, the country’s federal prosecutors’ office said in a statement. Prosecutors said the arrests were based on police information concerning a wounded man who had returned to Belgium after taking part in the jihad in Syria."

It at least appears the whole followed what most people would consider a reasonable and legal process.

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Duqu 2.0: 'Terminator' malware that pwned Kaspersky could have come from Israel

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Re: What would you expect?

So what were the owners of this particular nasty after? Were they simply gathering intel on Kaspesky's products or were they interested in setting up for a future attack? An alternative to this being a state-sponsored attack is industrial espionage. Other companies might want to either steal company secrets or undermine confidence in Kaspersky.

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In memoriam: Christopher Lee, Hammer's Count Dracula

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Death Comes for Death

I enjoyed Christopher Lee in so many roles, but giving voice to Death in productions of Terry Pratchett's works were among my favorites. The world is a richer place for having enjoyed the company of both.

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Time to face the Apple Music: Spotify looks worried, and rightly so

Robert Helpmann??
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Not Just Apple

Perhaps Spotify has finally noticed Jay Z's efforts. There are other streaming services with similar price points and catalog size. It should come as no great surprise that more might enter the field or, as in the case of Apple, adjust their approach to it. Perhaps Spotify should retaliate by putting together a skinned Android phone that is optimized for sound quality.

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Config file wipe blunder caused deadly Airbus A400M crash – claim

Robert Helpmann??
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Re: Lack of imagination when thinking up things that can go wrong.

"Soulless, emotionless, remorseless, unfeeling, unthinking drones" maybe.

Now Trevor, even orcs have feelings.

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Apple extends idiot-tax operation, makes devs pay to fix Safari snafus

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Re: Probably not

I was hoping you would have named my fav - Camino!

*Ahem!* "After a decade-long run, Camino is no longer being developed, and we encourage all users to upgrade to a more modern browser. Camino is increasingly lagging behind the fast pace of changes on the web, and more importantly it is not receiving security updates, making it increasingly unsafe to use."

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Shine a light on the rogue IT that hides in the company shadows

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On the Other Hand

I have worked in a few enterprise environments in which there were actually multiple IT departments. Some of these were more like groups within existing cost centers (a fairly decentralized arrangement) while others were full-fledged IT departments, each with their own budget, services, and internal customers. I am sure that in at least some of these instances the separate IT groups started up with a few local employees trying to find a solution to a need no-one else had.

Also: Nobody can complain if you do this: you are simply protecting the security and integrity of the network. This is simply wrong. I have seen way too many cases of people arguing against basic safety rules, both IT and non-IT, for me to buy this.

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MIT bods' digital economy babblings are tosh. C'mon guys, Economics 101

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Re: And yet...

If we're not working, then where are we going to get the money to "get" the things the robots are making?

Or to approach the issue in another way, if we reach the point where there is nothing that people have to do (all physical needs met for free), what will they find worthwhile to do? What will then have value?

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Industrial Wi-Fi kit has hard-coded credentials

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Re: Class Action Lawsuit

Can you hear the lawyers stampeding?

Don't be silly! They can't stampede because their natural form of locomotion is swimming, but you should be able to spot the fins heading toward the scent of blood.

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Tech giants gang up on Obama over encryption key demands

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Re: This is the same Obama or a twin?

I can see two possible explanations. The first is that policy makers don't get the simple technical bit about HTTPS involving encryption and of course would never simultaneously advocate for mutually exclusive outcomes. The second is that both Barack and his evil twin Barry live at the White House, but are careful to never allow anyone to see both at the same time. My money is on the "Twin" hypothesis.

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'Stolen' art found on nearby shelf. Police keep looking anyway

Robert Helpmann??
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Coat

Define "Library"

The library has no central inventory list of what it owns, and there is no catalogue of each item.

So more unstructured data than stacks?

- Mine's the one without various lost works in the pocket.

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Cisco: Nice things you got there. Shame if anything should happen to them

Robert Helpmann??
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Re: Instead of building "security" into the carrier networks...

... which is technology wise the same as putting censorship into it, we could also simply use slightly better routers

That is rather the point, except "better routers" in this case is assumed to be those that can enforce a given set of security policies on the devices that route through it. If traffic for these devices is going to be peer-to-peer, and the manufacturers can't be bothered to bake some basic security into their products, then a third party solution would be in order. This can be done with an appliance or server, or implemented - as Cisco is suggesting - by the routers. This would seem to have some built-in advantages in that there is no single point of failure and if the devices are going to connect to anything, they will be forced to apply a defined set of policies. Of course, Cisco devices get compromised from time to time and there are challenges in maintaining a decentralized set of control systems.

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Power your temperature sensor with this BONKERS router hack

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Energy Efficiency

what's the energy efficiency of this set-up?

It was noted in the article that power over WiFi is inherently inefficient. This study is a proof of concept, at best. Perhaps the next steps ought to be to find more efficient ways of implementing it and defining situations in which using it makes more sense than the alternatives (if these actually exist). I would think that it would be better to power devices from battery and charge the battery as power can be harvested from WiFi (or from other sources) rather than to power directly from WiFi.

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Amazon game dev brain slurp bid revealed in industry back-page ad

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Re: Double Helix?

What was Amazon thinking?

The first two things that come to mind are, "They have talent but could really use some direction," and, "Oh! There's a bargain price for that company."

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Did you almost prang a 737 jet with a drone over Dallas? The FAA would like a word

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Inspirational

Must inspire confidence, taking off from an airport named for a chap who died in an aircraft crash

As opposed to an airport named after someone who fired the air traffic controllers?

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Soon your car won't let you drink. But it won't care if you're on the phone

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Old, old news

This tech has been around since the 80s and is very reliable. There might be a few reasons it hasn't been installed in cars as a standard feature, though: to be useful, it should err on the side of caution, so those trying to operate vehicles with it installed should expect false positives. There might be some concerns over hygiene with the breathalyzer version for shared vehicles unless mouthpieces can be interchanged. The current approach is to have an enforced time-out period after a few failures which can leave drivers stranded if things aren't working quite right for whatever reason. Finally, with the current deplorable efforts by insurance companies to invade the last vestiges of our privacy how far behind will rate increases be for those who don't have their cars retrofitted with this tech if it becomes standard in new vehicles?

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Microsoft makes Skype beach body ready with web browser beta release

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Re: Not gonna work

How many hotels/cafes that don't have Skype preloaded are going to allow arbitrary plugins?

As already noted, it can be loaded in many cases without admin rights - not that any of the hotels I have been in care enough about security that it would be an issue regardless. If you can't bring your own device, you might consider bringing a thumb drive loaded with a portable browser, or the ability to boot to an OS loaded with your own setup.

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What's broken in this week's build of Windows 10? Installing it, for one

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Re: The Windows10 (aka Windows 8.2) facade and DirectX12 lies...

Windows 10 is going to be the worst Windows release ever. Way worse than the atrocious Windows8 and 8.1.

I've got two letters for you: ME.

'Nuf said.

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The weapons pact threatening IT security research

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Re: You could have seen this coming a long time ago.

...it was always a matter of time before certain software are deemed dangerous and must be "controlled" by governments.

A matter of time? More like "time and again!" Think back to when the US put export bans on encryption software. It not only failed in its stated result, it actually hurt sales for US companies as a side effect. Still, we have a habit of repeating our mistakes we'll get it right this time.

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Hackers steal files on 4 million US govt workers

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Free Credit Monitoring and Identity Theft Protection

They don't seem to know when the breach happened, just that it was before April so the monitoring may be a lot too late.

The monitoring service being offered is pretty useless in this case. The shelf life of this info is not like for stolen credit cards where after a month or so the cards have been replaced. This is the kind of info that doesn't change over the lifetime of the individuals being targeted. My understanding is that it hasn't showed up for sale, either, which would indicate that the individuals hacking the OPM are in it for the long term, not some quick fix.

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Trial halted as Kartoon defence attorney arrested after warrant discovery

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Paris Hilton

Re: Kartoon

With a name like that, I would expect him to have to stand trial in Judge Doom's court. I bet the all the assistant DAs in the district are fighting to take this one to trial.

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LightSail mission stalled by .CSV log file embiggenment SNAFU

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Go

Making Lemonade from Lemons

At the very least, the Planetary Society will have lots of launch data...

They will also have to add another item on their checklist for future attempts. Here's hoping the ride won't be too wild, though.

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Skype hauled into court after refusing to hand call records to cops

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Red Letter Day

I find myself cheering for Microsoft? My, how the world has changed!

Well, even a broken watch* is right two times a day.

* Analog, of course, not Apple.

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First production car powered by Android Auto rolls out – and it's a Hyundai

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My Car Is Not a Phone

"Android Auto aligns with Hyundai's core interior design principles of safety, intuitiveness and simplicity

This only works with Android 5.0 or better and is billed as a safety feature. It's more a marketing gimmick than anything else. A true safety feature would not be tied to a specific 3rd party vendor's product and would instead be interoperable with a reasonable range of them. Why not set it up as a Bluetooth or USB device that you could download an app for from either Google, Apple, or MS, or even RIM if they decided to invest the time and effort?

Setting it up where a driver's phone automatically goes into a vehicle-safe mode during operation of said vehicle is a wonderful idea, but tying its implementation to a particular phone system is like linking the ability to use seat belts to the owner's political affiliation, as tempting as that might be for some.

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Do svidaniya Roscosmos. By the way, any idea where that 92 BEEELLION rubles went?

Robert Helpmann??
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I can't see this ending well

I can't see it ending at all. The most important function of a position of power is maintaining that position.

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Geofencing: The ultra-low power frontier for the Internet of Things

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Re: Why does this stuff need to update ?

Also, would it be too much to ask for this IoT crap to be IPv6 compliant from day one? I want to be able to get on the Internet, for any purpose, without finding I've been NATed back to the stone age because all the IPv4 addresses are in use by lawnmowers!

I think it would be better to have IoT devices run a non-routable protocol. It would seem to make more sense to have them all report to a local control device or server than to have to open a port in your home firewall (as if consumers are going to grasp this concept) for every stereophonic light bulb and smart toilet in our personal chateaus. Yes, this may provide a single point of failure for at least a class of devices in our homes, perhaps assuming that devices involving security are controlled by separate systems than entertainment and similar, but also provides for a much smaller attack surface.

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Boffins silently track train commuters without tripping Android checks

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Re: Why not prompt for accelerometer?

Unless you killed the program once you're done with it, how do you know it isn't still grabbing your accelerometer data when you go to work tomorrow?

Even if you kill it, you don't, under the assumption that you are concerned with reducing the risk of it being malware. If there are examples in the wild of malware that keeps your phone running when you try to turn it off, then one that lets you think you have killed a process when you actually have not shouldn't be a surprise.

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Unicode wonks are bringing home the BACON, as an emoji

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In a Pickle

Cucumber, they note, “could also be used to represent a pickle”; El Reg will refrain from expanding on that suggestion to any greater degree.

No, but you went there, didn't you? Yes, you did.

8€

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Maserati Ghibli S: Who cares what Joe Walsh thinks?

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Re: The Anti-Maserati

So, is there enough room in a Sienna for a young girl to hide from the family...?

Maybe. I think we misplaced one a while back and there have been noises coming from the rear of the van...

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Robert Helpmann??
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The Anti-Maserati

I don’t know what it says about my friends and their view of Italian society, but every one of them who looked into the 500-litre boot said “you could get a body in there”

I had to laugh at that as I had a similar experience, though decidedly not with a Maserati (alas). We got a Sienna (Toyota van). It has storage compartments everywhere - it has them where other cars don't even have places. Almost everyone who got in it made a comment to the effect that we would have plenty of places to hide guns.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Bog-standard boxty

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Boys and Girls

any boy* they are interested will be unsuitable.

A friend of mine pointed out that he had to worry about three boys (his own) while I had to worry about 3 million (I have three girls). Add to your to-do list finding a good place for the bodies and several reliable people who can attest to your whereabouts at any time without prompting.

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