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* Posts by Tony Haines

38 posts • joined 12 Jun 2007

Spooks vs boffins: MIT bods say they've created PRISM-proof encryption

Tony Haines

Re: So a hashed set of words?...

No. I skipped too much of the detail to properly understand, but it's not a general hash table. That would be an obvious flaw.

Looking at it again - the user computes a search token using their private key and the search-word. The server then computes search tokens for every document key they have access to using "deltas", which are "cryptographic values that enable a server to adjust a token from one key to another key". (I didn't worry about exactly how that works.) The deltas can be reused for other searches - they are generated by the user on gaining access to the document (i.e. getting the key to decrypt it) in the first place, and given back to the server at that point.

There are still risks to this scheme, which they mention in the paper.

For example if you search maliciously supplied data (e.g. a dictionary), then the adversary can match the word to the user's token, hand hence determine the search word. So they mitigate that - you need to explicitly accept access to a document.

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Tony Haines

I wondered that, and looked at the paper just long enough to find out that on encoding a document the system also encodes a list of the words it contains.

To search a document one supplies encoded words - the server can then say whether there's a match, but not what the words are.

Presumably though if the spies were already interested in a particular document, they could observe searches which gave hits in it.

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Hear that, Sigourney? Common names 'may not constitute personal data'

Tony Haines

Re: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!!

I ended up entirely confused by that as well.

However - the Office for National Statistics releases lists of baby names every year. They only redact names with a count of two or fewer babies in a year for being personally identifiable information. That seems reasonable to me. One could apply that test to any population from which information was demanded.

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Judge: Google owes patent troll a 1.36% cut of AdWords' BEELLIONS

Tony Haines
Boffin

Drug companies

I don't think that's fair.

New or improved drugs /have/ been developed in recent years, in spite of greatly increased regulatory costs and increasing difficulty. (The difficulty is increasing because the bar is raised. And the lowest hanging fruit has already taken.)

Many of the 'me too' drugs you mention are because of the large amount of research - a seminal discovery is published and multiple pharmaceutical companies use that as a starting point, investing the next 10 years and 1.3 billion dollars developing what turn out to be similar compounds.

Publically funded research is important, certainly. But there's a reason the rights get sold off. It would be entirely possible to develop drugs all the way to market in a nationally owned organisation - you would just need to fund it appropriately.

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Amazon's 'schizophrenic' open source selfishness scares off potential talent, say insiders

Tony Haines
Devil

abandon all hope

from the article: //"You had no portfolio you could share with the world," said another insider on life after working at Amazon. "The argument this was necessary to attract talent and to retain talent completely fell on deaf ears."//

I think the insider quoted is undermining their own argument.

Amazon may find it harder to attract talent, sure. But once employed, your resume goes stale; it gets progressively harder to leave. From Amazon's perspective, retention should improve.

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FreeBSD abandoning hardware randomness

Tony Haines

Re: "Not everybody believes that RDRAND falls into the same category"

//Messing with the XOR instruction so that it behaves differently when used with RDRAND as an input is a different issue that was brought up mainly by the tinfoil hat brigade; it would be hard to implement, trivial to detect, trivial to defeat and would be an awful lot of investment for something bound to target only one implementation of one system. Plus, it would be pure commercial suicide.//

However, messing with the XOR instruction isn't the obvious attack.

If the attacker can access the stored pool, merging input with it by XOR makes it trivial to create whatever output the attacker desires. This includes sequences which look random, but arn't - in any subtle way the attacker needs.

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Microsoft touts SCROOGLE merch: Hopes YOU'LL PAY to dump on rival

Tony Haines
Paris Hilton

no possible chance of that backfiring

restrictive incompatible annoying limp insecure mushy

antitrust vulnerable MICROSOFT clippy broken dubious

bloated infringing flaccid lock-in predatory incompetent

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Gaming co ESEA hit by $1 MILLION fine for HIDDEN Bitcoin mining enslaver

Tony Haines

I'd be interested in knowing exactly how this was illegal.

I mean, I've read the settlement and it goes on about them spying on customers (which this apparently wasn't) and it being a botnet (which it is - if you accept wikipedia's definition[1], but then is presumably just there to sound threatening). As clearly stated in the article, it looks like the announcement is full of misinformation.

Perhaps the issue was simply doing something they didn't mention in the licencing agreement. Many programs get run without any licencing even being seen. Online games, even advertising on web-pages. I'm sure I've seen web-pages which try to do useful stuff for the host in the background. It seems a pretty grey area.

It seems to me that ESEA have been quite unfairly treated. Although maybe they shouldn't have agreed to the settlement. Could they have agreed the wording of the announcement as part of the settlement?

[1] "A botnet is a collection of Internet-connected programs communicating with other similar programs in order to perform tasks." Presumably all the @home style systems qualify.

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Oh My GOD! Have the TORIES ERASED THE INTERNET?*

Tony Haines

Re: But..

If you go to the wayback machine and read the FAQ you will find out that they do drop things from the archive based on the current robots.txt. It's not a secret.

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Vulture 2 paintjob: Four-year-old nipper triumphs

Tony Haines

In that case I think you should paint the ears green.

And it it means they have to be green for the flag side too then so be it.

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Bacteria-chomping phages could kill off HOSPITAL SUPERBUGS

Tony Haines

Re: What took them so long?

What took them so long is that actually it _is_ quite complex.

Phages are also not as easy to use as antibiotics - they're quite specific, which means you need to know what you're dealing with before you can treat. Also, they can only be used externally (counting the gut as external - which it is, topologically speaking).

All of this together means that there's relatively little money to be made from them for most applications.

So the upshot is that they're great when you're dealing with known outbreaks, or a chronic, recalcitrant infection. The former is what the Russians were dealing with. The latter seems to be the niche targetted by this work. I suspect that this has only recently become common enough to be a worthwhile approach.

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Loathed wiggly-word CAPTCHAs morph into 'fun' click-'n'-drag games

Tony Haines

I'm thinking of creating a website for psychics.

To enter you'll be shown a blank image, and have to guess the word the server is thinking of.

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Boffin snatches control of colleague's BODY with remote control BRAIN HAT

Tony Haines

Rat control the cook!

Looks to me like the one on the right in the picture is being controlled by a rat.

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Not all data encryption is created equal

Tony Haines
Happy

Re: backdoors

"...I put a backdoor in your backdoor"

This should have a name. I suggest 'catflap'

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Relax, Hollywood, ARM's got your back: New chip 'thwarts' video pirates

Tony Haines
Boffin

Re: @Lee D

//The trouble is you'd have a perfect digital copy of a compressed frame (because it came from a compressed source) with artifacts and all. If you then tried to put this back into a compressed container, you would compound the artifacts and the resulting file would be measurably inferior to the original (double compression).//

While this is true for naive recompression, in theory it must be possible to regenerate the original compressed data from the uncompressed output.

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UN to call for 'pre-emptive' ban on soulless robot bomber assassins

Tony Haines

There is potentially a difference.

Perhaps the distinction they're making is that cruise missiles attack stationary targets. Bunkers, buildings, bridges or other infrastructure. Or mobile stuff which is known to be parked at a particular position. The target is designated by humans ahead of time.

However, a truely autonomous weapon would decide on its own targets during the mission. So it could hit mobile targets like tanks, personnel carriers, infantry, ships &c.

I'm not an expert, but that seems like a decent distinction.

Whether banning weapons of war is a good idea or not I'm unsure. Why not ban everything, so soldiers have to fight unarmed, hand to hand?

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Impoverished net user slams 'disgusting' quid-a-day hack

Tony Haines
Paris Hilton

the bin

It does seem a funny name for the front page.

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Brit horologist hammers out ‘first’ ATOMIC-POWERED watch

Tony Haines
Mushroom

Re: Nukular material

Reminds me of Mr Burns' Grandfather:

"Come on, come on! Crack those atoms! You, turn out your pockets. (worker does so) Atoms! (counts them) One, two three, four… six of them! Take him away!"

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Are biofuels Europe's sh*ttiest idea ever?

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Entire internet credits snapper for taking great pic while actually dead

Tony Haines
WTF?

Re: And this is why...

" For example: you may let the BBC use your picture but refuse it to the Daily Mail. The next day you change your mind about The Daily Mail. You cannot do this with a restrictive CC license. The whole point is to make a sacrifice "for the good of the commons", aka, The Greater Good."

Um, what Creative Commons licence is it that precludes you (as the copyright holder) giving out other licences?

Looking at the Creative Commons website, at page creativecommons.org/licenses/ :

"CC BY-NC-ND

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially."

And in the licence deed for that :

"Waiver — Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder."

Or did you mean some other 'CC'?

Or did you mean that you can't change your mind after licensing something with a *less* restrictive CC licence? (And also mean "you may let the BBC use your picture *and also* the Daily Mail.")

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Young model ruthlessly fingers upskirt iPad petshop pervert

Tony Haines
Alert

"The model lamented the lack of big stick under local law for snapping people's privates."

Am I alone in thinking that's a little bit harsh?

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British games company says it owns the idea of space marines

Tony Haines

Precidence not necessary

The thing is, this is regarding a trade-mark, not a patent. The rules are different.

Trademarks apparently don't require precidence - how else would someone be able to trademark "Keep calm and carry on"?

However, I am not a lawyer; I don't know whether what Games Workshop have allow them to block books with those words in the title.

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Squillions of bytes in one cup of DNA

Tony Haines
Boffin

Re: Has nobody thoughtof the children?

"Frivolity aside, couldn't they have used some other protein sequence to achieve the same effect?"

Theoretically perhaps, but practically using proteins has some issues.

1) Protein sequencing isn't anywhere near the same league as DNA sequencing. We can just about determine the sequence of a few residues from one end of a protein. If it's pure.

2) Proteins often don't store well. DNA in dry form stores really well.

3) In-vitro protein synthesis is not easy. The usual way to get a protein sample is to produce a gene encoding it then put it in an organism which will make it for you. Then extract and purify it.

So apart from writing, reading and the wait in between it's a potentially effective approach.

To answer what I think was your real concern, creating what is to a cell essentially random DNA really isn't a big risk. Apart from that, the paper isn't about storing information in living cells, all the above comments notwithstanding.

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AMD, Samsung must be ARMed to the teeth to oust Intel servers

Tony Haines
WTF?

Re: WTF?

I don't understand why he didn't use time along the x axis and coloured lines for the different catagories.

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CAPTCHA-busting service relies on CAPTCHA to block bots

Tony Haines
Happy

Clever

If they get enough traffic through the 'contact us' captcha, they won't need to hire anyone to provide the service.

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Job-hunting honeybees rely on 'meth' to find work

Tony Haines
Headmaster

worker bees not identical sisters

"The whole hive of honeybees are genetically identical sisters..."

I believe this is not actually true.

Worker bees (and the queen) are diploids, meaning that they have two sets of chromosomes. But - the way the workers are generated involves a haploid (single set of chromosomes) egg being fertilised by a haploid sperm.

Chromosomes are allocated at random to eggs, and generally there's at least one cross-over involved between each pair.

Therefore the worker-bees are presumably not genetically identical.

(The same assortment process also occurs in spermatozoa in many species, but not honey bees; drone (male) bees are haploid so all sperm must carry the same set.)

HTH.

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Boffins zapped '2,000 bugs' from Curiosity's 2 MILLION lines of code

Tony Haines
Happy

Re: I for one would welcome....

I'm thinking that the easiest way of reducing the bug-introduction rate would be to put more statements on each line.

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Chocolate weighed in Schwarzeneggers: Official

Tony Haines
Alert

Somehow you miss titles when they're gone.

Olympic gold medals are made of steel now?

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Lad passes gruelling 'getting on bus' test

Tony Haines
Happy

Oh oo oooh!

I so want this certificate!

It'd look great on my CV.

I'm sure I could ace the test first time - I've been practicing my observing through bus windows skills.

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Red Hat Enterprise clone poised to 'die'

Tony Haines
Black Helicopters

Hmmm.

It's more likely that he's been disappeared by the FBI, at the bequest of the mayor of Tuttle City.

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Phlashing attack thrashes embedded systems

Tony Haines
Heart

phff.

Phoible. (foi-bell) n. A weakness for spelling words in a whimsical manner.

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Amateur code breaker honoured for defeating Colossus

Tony Haines
Boffin

Re: Moore's law?

Nexox Enigma,

didn't you hear that China's first CPU had six million crystal tubes?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/09/30/six_million_crystal_tubes/

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Lords debate airline liquids ban

Tony Haines
Pirate

Title

I went to Taiwan earlier in the year, and experienced the ridiculousness of the regulations.

At the time (and as far as I know, these rules haven't changed) you were allowed to take liquids (and gels etc) in bottles with individual capacity no more than 100ml in a transparent zip-lock bag, with a max capacity of 1 litre. Part-full containers in excess of 100ml are not permitted, which ignores the fact all passengers now have a transparent zip-lock bag with a capacity of 1 l.

Strictly speaking the rules don't say anything about solids, so technically you should be able to freeze anything you want to take on. But I wouldn't trust them to follow the letter of the law in that case.

What isn't really considered in all the above about the liquids rules is the many other stupidities of the system. For example, at Birmingham airport we were told you are not allowed knives or imitation weapons, carefully searched and went past a big glass display-case of the penknives and toy guns they've taken off people. Well, OK. I think it has been pointed out before that the snaking back and forth line of people waiting to get through this heightened security makes a new target.

Then we got to the secure area, where you can buy a meal which is served with a metal knife and fork. You then have a good hour or two to sharpen them before you get on the plane (without any further security checks).

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Boffins develop quantum-computer building block

Tony Haines

Quantum computing?

It'll all end in tears, mark my words...

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v448/n7152/pdf/448510a.pdf

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NEC boffins develop 3D paint, spray it on laptops

Tony Haines

comment title required indeed.

I'm with Marvin. Just paint your rusty old laptop with hammerite.

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Chilean scientists crack lost lake mystery

Tony Haines

Hey...

The mountains in those two pictures in the article are different. I think they went to the wrong place the second time. Mystery solved.

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Tony Haines

Use a proper unit.

Football, soccer, whatever - as people have pointed out, the pitch isn't precisely defined, so it isn't a good unit of measurement.

Therefore, I've converted it into something more useful.

The lake was 1.95 to 2.34 micro-areas-the-size-of-Wales.

Hope this helps.

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Boffins put encrypted bio-copyright watermarks in beer DNA

Tony Haines

so.

RE:probably not legal in many countries

They're modifying the yeast. Genetically modified, but it is still yeast. Since they're not even putting a working gene in, it won't change the yeasts properties (unless they insert their watermark sequence into something important).

Whether they'll allow genetically modified whatever is another matter.

RE: Unique DNA

The sequence of DNA in an organism may be unique or not. Since yeast is asexual (mostly), the descendants of a cell are identical, barring the odd mutation. If I took some of your yeast culture it would have the same sequence (if anyone went to the considerable expense of sequencing both strains). But so would your grandmothers culture, and anyone else's she'd given it to.

So someone might claim to have the same strain independently. If you can modify the DNA sequence of your special strain in a proveable way, then you can clearly prove that they got it from you.

Whether this matters legally may or may not make a difference.

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