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* Posts by Ken Hagan

4232 posts • joined 14 Jun 2007

British Lords: Euro 'right to be forgotten' ruling 'unreasonable and unworkable'

Ken Hagan
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Or we could all just grow up

A simpler approach is for dumb search engines just to deliver results and for the human beings that use them to deploy their far greater intelligence to apply some sense of proportion and fairness to the results.

On the purely technical front, quite a lot of mitigation would be had if search engines didn't bother with results that are more than 10 years old, unless you explicitly ask for it in the search query. Those too stupid to learn how to construct a search query with the relevant syntax would be automatically protected from finding stuff that they didn't know how to handle.

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Senate introduces USA FREEDOM Act to curb NSA spying excesses

Ken Hagan
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Yes, the three-letter agencies will find workarounds and will use them unless there is adequate oversight, but it is still worth replacing legislation that says it's OK to treat your own citizens as the enemy until proven innocent.

El Reg's tone seems to suggest that foreigners shouldn't be too impressed by any of this, but to be honest I am more worried by the US spying on Americans than I am about them spying on me. The latter is, I'm sure, reciprocated. The former is a deeply worrying development in a country that has spent much of the last century saving the human race from some of its worst governments ever. So yeah, go America and re-read that constitution of yours and kick your institutions back into shape. We'll all be better off for it, even if you're spying on us.

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Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees

Ken Hagan
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Re: A Physicist and a Chemist

On the other hand, our two scientists actually said:

"However, there remain great uncertainties about how much warming a given increase in greenhouse gases will cause, how much damage any temperature increase will cause and the best balance between adaptation versus prevention of global warming."

and apart from the first, these are not questions for climate science. The other committee members, with more of an economic background, might be more able to judge.

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Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?

Ken Hagan
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Re: Cameron in the Shetlands

"Why isn't Cameron up there side-side with the Salmond promoting freedom for the oppressed haggis eaters?"

Because he is more effective when he is pretending to be in the "No" camp.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Realism

"Ah yes - Ireland - a little failed democracy inflicting tax after tax, and cut after cut on its citizens."

I haven't noticed anything wrong with Ireland's democracy recently. In the recent past it was a little theocratic for my tastes, but even that seems to be fading. Ireland's problem is that it got savaged by the bankers who were then bailed out by incompetent politicians. *Lots* of countries had that problem recently. (The UK, for one.)

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Realism

You're assuming that Spain in its current form still exists after the Basques and Catalans realise that you *can* win independence if you just dig your heels in, vote for it, and resist the temptation to shoot anyone.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Realism

BBC Scotland and RTE could just club together. An independent Scotland and an independent Ireland would presumably be friends, right? And they both have *one* language in common (and it ain't Estuary English). And they will both be small countries within the EU with a long shared history and culture.

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Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE

Ken Hagan
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Re: Speaking as a CRT user...

"So I should pay for crap I don't use?"

No. Someone else pays for the crap you don't use. Once you've designed and tested a universal telly, the cost of taking out features and re-testing exceeds the savings of doing so. It's the same reason Intel put instructions on their chips that most programs can't even see, let alone want.

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DAYS from end of life as we know it: Boffins tell of solar storm near-miss

Ken Hagan
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Re: power grid

I agree with Ledswinger. 0.88 to the power 5 is about 0.5, which gives a roughly 50:50 chance of a Carrington class event since the sixties and presumably a much higher chance of smaller events that would be a regular problem in the grid, even if they weren't fatal to it.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Ouch

"Too bad most of the oceanic links would get their amps fried and there aren't enough spares to fix even a small fraction of them."

I wouldn't expect EMP to penetrate more than a few feet into salt water, let alone miles, so the oceanic links should be fine.

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Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in

Ken Hagan
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Re: Some nice messages

They aren't proper devs if they don't have machines of their own on a private network.

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UK.gov's Open Source switch WON'T get rid of Microsoft, y'know

Ken Hagan
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Re: Macros

"However I don't see the people who have invested time and money into integrated workbooks and documents with dozens of macros & templates dropping them any time soon"

I was one of those people about 15 years ago (when the plumbing was OLE). It took the best part of a decade before MS produced a version of Office that behaved the way it was supposed to, and then for 2007 they just broke it all again and it hasn't worked since. Unless MS have produced a new glue that is *massively* more stable and bug-free than their first effort, I sincerely hope there aren't many people investing/wasting their time on such ventures.

KISS.

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MPs to sue UK.gov over 'ridiculous' EMERGENCY data snooping law

Ken Hagan
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Re: Wrong end of the SAM

That "dude" was Mr Putin.

If you really want to "go after" him, you're going to need more than the ability to snoop on UK telecoms.

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NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14

Ken Hagan
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Re: re: C++11/C++14 features

Thanks for the link. The list under CTP2 looks to be basically empty, but CTP1 seems unusually rich by the standards of recent years.

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Ken Hagan
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Where have you been for the last 20 years. MS haven't released a version of VS or Office that followed the style of the then-current OS since 95. It *is* irritating, I'll grant, but I thought everyone understood that these two products are where MS beta-test new UI ideas.

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Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them

Ken Hagan
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Re: Too broad

"Killing it all at the ISP (or even at the in home router) kills it for adults as well..."

whereas trying to kill it at any interior point in your home network means it doesn't cover all the devices that the kids have access to. Particularly if you are relying on some PC software, you are missing your telly, your tablets, your gaming consoles, your phones, and quite possibly other gizmos that an old fart like me isn't aware of yet.

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Banning handheld phone use by drivers had NO effect on accident rate - study

Ken Hagan
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Re: put the place name in tht title if its not in the UK

I respectfully disagree, good sir. We have plenty of splendid contributors from the colonies and I'd be sad if they felt any less at home here than we do.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Do tell...

"I ride to work with a helmet cam for this reason."

Car drivers can get dashboard cameras, too. I think this will become increasingly common. A relative was involved in an accident recently and pleasantly surprised to discover that one of the cars coming the other way was a driving instructor with a dash-cam and so there was HD video footage of the whole thing. Made the insurance paperwork *much* easier.

I can see a time coming when you get a reduction in your premium if you have cameras on your car. This is not because it lets your insurance company screw you when it was your fault, but rather because it makes it so much harder for the other guy's insurance company to argue when it was his fault.

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NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'

Ken Hagan
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Re: I would laugh at this if it weren't so sad

"The U.S. has between 15 and 40 million people here illegally. We have no idea who their allegiance is to."

If a foreign power was able to land an army of 15 million troops (or spies) on your territory, I think you'd reckon you'd lost whatever war you'd been fighting. It seems a safe assumption that most of these people would, given the choice, gratefully pledge their allegiance to the US, just like your ancestors did. They're probably doing the jobs that US citizens don't want to and keeping their noses clean in the process because they *really* don't want to get involved with the police.

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Voteware source code review 'could lead to hacking'

Ken Hagan
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It is an established fact that in the immediate post-war period, the US intervened to prevent Italy from going communist. They then spent the next few decades interfering in all sorts of countries to swing the local government their way. We now also got all the post-Snowden fallout about what the NSA have been up to.

I'd take it as read that any electronic voting software used in national elections in any country in the world has been the target of a serious effort by more than one foreign power to force a particular result. It is simply naive to imagine that these people would leave such things to chance, or to the enemy's hackers.

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UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill

Ken Hagan
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Re: @Forget It

"In that case you are a very lucky man."

Apparently he also lives in a fairly safe seat, where the MP has a majority of votes cast.

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Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee

Ken Hagan
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Re: Call the fire brigade...

Your story actually flags up the article's example as slightly bogus. If the "Thing" is important enough that I worry about it falling off the net even temporarily, then I'm going to insist on it phoning home to the router every so often. OTOH, if I'm more concerned about saving power, I don't mind if it falls off for a while and then sorts out its new address when it finally returns.

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LibreSSL crypto library leaps from OpenBSD to Linux, OS X, more

Ken Hagan
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Re: Trust + Compilers

And one of the big differences between now (as well summarised in h4rm0ny's reply) and then is the off-the-cuff remark that Thompson was able to give the first version of his most evil compiler (that didn't need the hack to appear in the source code) to all the relevant people under the guise of an update. I don't believe anyone could do that now, so the hack would always be in plain sight if you went looking for it.

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Ken Hagan
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Deprecation achieves very little unless you can persuade people to re-write old code. Otherwise, compiler vendors have to provide two "modes" of compilation: strict and legacy.

Much the same goes for loud compiler warnings. People just compile their "old" code with the warnings off. However, these *can* be used to ensure that nasty old practices are not accidentally re-introduced in a modern codebase.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: "C++ has its place , but this sort of low level almost to-the-metal code is not it."

From your heartfelt complaints, I infer that you were once exposed to some complete idiots who took the C++ language spec as a challenge, and you've developed a hyper-sensitivity to feature abuse as a result.

For code like this, I'd reckon that idiomatic C++ would differ from idiomatic C only in using constructors and destructors to automate memory management and structure initialisation/cleanup. There might be a large-integer class with overloaded arithmetic operators, but if you can't handle using infix operator notation for integer arithmetic then you probably can't handle the theory behind SSL.

I'd expect an almost line-for-line correspondence between the two code bases. I'd expect the two compilers to generate almost identical code. I'd expect an experienced C coder with only a passing knowledge of C++ to be able to read and maintain the C++ safely.

C++ was largely developed by experienced C coders who wanted to make it easier for themselves to write C code, and one of the basic design principles is "no room for a lower level language, except assembler", so all the bare-metal tricks beloved by C coders are valid C++. A Real Programmer, of course, can write FORTRAN 66 in either language.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Code is truly awful, but sadly not unusual

/* can't happen */ ??

Isn't that most portably spelled "abort()"?

If the compiler can prove your assertion, it will generate no code. If it cannot, then it will cost you a few bytes of code. Either way, each time you change the surrounding code, the compiler will re-check. On any given platform, there may be non-portable alternatives that turn mistakes into a compile-time error.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: conflicting objectives

"And you can't afford to leave any clues in memory which might be reallocated to a different process afterwards."

Perhaps I'm just playing Devil's Advocate here, but if you are running on an "OS" (and I use the term loosely) that doesn't zero pages before handing them to another process, then you're wasting your time worrying about security.

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Watch: DARPA shows off first successful test of STEERABLE bullet

Ken Hagan
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Re: Less lead less impact.

On the other hand, if you are confident that it will hit the target, and if you've already spent a small fortunate putting the smarts in, you'd probably make the round out of tungsten and give it a diamond tip.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: My hopes are dashed

"I wonder what it feels like to work on this stuff?"

You tell yourself that snipers are the most efficient and humane operators on the battlefield. You tell yourself that this will help our side win against their side. You tell yourself that the basic tech will be developed anyway and in twenty years it will be trivial to buy the necessary parts off the shelf, so you are simply making sure that our lot get it first.

You tell yourself that our arms dealers won't be given special credit facilities by our government to enable them to sell this to the other side, who can't otherwise afford it because they've hammered their own people (and economy) into the ground. Then you shoot yourself.

I wonder what it feels like to work in the foreign office.

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Computing student jailed after failing to hand over crypto keys

Ken Hagan
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Re: FTFY -- "investors"

Ah, yes, of course. Thanks for the heads-up.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Arrests

" the party of telling other people how to live their lives "

All parties exist pretty much solely to tell the supporters of other parties how to live their lives.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: A doofus, with weak lawyers, but the law is broken

"This is also what all those US startups developing "NSA proof" email don't seem to get: the technology becomes entirely irrelevant if you can be legally forced to cough up the data in cleartext."

I'm sure the startups understand this point. It's their prospective customers who don't.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Vic Hang on a minute ...

" the result - time-wasting, moronically abusive, skiddie tw@ went to prison"

The prosecution didn't have to prove *any* of those things. They simply asserted that the proof was behind a locked door and the defendant had not provided the key.

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Insecure AVG search tool shoved down users' throats, says US CERT

Ken Hagan
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"Browsers aught to have a 'Allow Tool Bars' option, which if not enabled, won't allow their use at all."

The difficulty there is writing such a browser in a way that lets the human make the decision but prevents a copycat program from automating exactly the same steps. Generally speaking, the programmers most willing to spend time and effort posting "raw input" messages are exactly the ones that sane users least want to be able to impersonate them.

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Ken Hagan
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"Known as "bloatware" or "foistware","

Hereabouts we call it "payload", especially when the payload is a browser toolbar. Has there ever been a useful browser toolbar?

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Fridge hacked. Car hacked. Next up, your LIGHT BULBS

Ken Hagan
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"If the internet still isn't secure what chance has the IoT got?"

Smaller networks are easier to secure than larger ones. Nets where one person owns and/or has physical possession of all the devices are the easiest to secure. Larger ones where most of the devices aren't even under the same legal jurisdiction as you are a Very Hard problem.

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Google de-listing of BBC article 'broke UK and Euro public interest laws' - So WHY do it?

Ken Hagan
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Re: not illegal

"Google must play the role of a neutral deliverer of information, because as soon as they start to make editorial decisions, they lose the Safe Harbour protections they currently enjoy, and they become legally responsible for the accuracy and balance of the results they present."

I wish that were true, but the ECJ's insistence in chasing search engines rather than the original publishers of an article suggests that the concept has no legal standing over here.

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Windows users: You get a patch! And you get a patch! And you get a patch! Everybody gets...

Ken Hagan
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Re: Month after month, year after year

"you have to ask if the architecture is flawed."

I don't know if you'd call it the architecture. The Windows kernel is perfectly capable of defending itself. The problem is that for many years Windows Setup made just one user account and expected folks to use an administrative account for daily use (including browsing and email). These day, of course, it is much smarter. It creates just one user account that is rigged to put up an "Are you sure?" box for each piece of incoming malware.

Then there are the users. Microsoft has happily sold computers for years to people stupid enough to click "Yes, I'm sure.". Linux, however, has restricted itself to people who aren't.

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Start packing your bags for a Windows Server 2003 migration

Ken Hagan
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Ask a silly question...

The migration away from XP was made almost impossible by the vast number of (cr)apps that only just ran on XP (or, in practice, IE6) and therefore had to be re-written or replaced before the OS could switch. Since we're talking about end-user apps, there is almost no limit to the numbers of these.

What's the position for your average server? Any box that is simply filling one of the standard roles (like DC, file server, web server, database, ...) just requires the cash to replace. The only problems would be servers running some sort of bespoke crapware.

So if you can forgive the (apparent, but un-meant) trolling -- how big a problem is this?

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We need to talk about SPEAKERS: Sorry, 'audiophiles', only IT will break the sound barrier

Ken Hagan
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"Dawkins is one of the pre-eminent experts in the field."

If we're discussing the ear's suitability for the job then "the field" is actually quite complex. It starts, obviously, as an exercise in acoustics (and I doubt Dawkins is pre-eminent in that field) but we also have some engineering constraints:

It must be something that an embryo can create.

It must be something that the adult body can interface to and provide energy to.

It probably helps if it is also something that the adult body can maintain.

and as noted later in the article, mathematical fidelity of response is less important than being able to notice certain kinds of sound and locate their sources. As a result, a perfect microphone would be a totally rubbish ear. Pretending otherwise merely gives the ID-iots an easy target to shoot at.

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Ken Hagan
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"it's actually more pleasing to the ear to have a slightly non flat response."

Really? You mean it is actually more pleasing to the ear if it doesn't hear the same sound that it would have done if the musicians were playing live? Hmm ... probably, but do keep quiet about it or else you'll upset someone.

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Google chair Eric Schmidt reportedly visits Cuba

Ken Hagan
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Re: What about North Korea?

Yes. Quite a number of countries are unranked, making the final league table fairly meaningless.

In other news, England are the best football team on the planet, apart from a few who aren't listed because they are currently mucking about in Brazil.

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BOFH: You can take our lives, but you'll never take OUR MACROS

Ken Hagan
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The economics of hammers and nails

Take a tool that you know and a problem that you don't. For sufficiently small/simple instances of the problem, it is easier to (ab)use the tool that you know rather than learn a new tool. Having done that, it is even easier to continue the abuse even as the problem grows in scale or complexity.

That's why we end up with Excel as a database. That's why people use languages like Javascript, Java, Python and the rest for serious development. (They were all developed as "toy" languages trading rigour for ease of use in very limited contexts.) That's why people adopted C++ when object-oriented programming became popular. That's why people use toy operating systems like the original Unix (and the original Minix, and I suppose CP/M and DOS) as the basis for OSes that are now running datacenters and server farms. That's why people virtualise an entire OS rather than use an OS that is capable of properly separating multiple tasks.

Almost everything we love and hate in IT happens because quick and dirty is easier, or cheaper, and in that sense *better*, than "doing it properly".

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Microsoft compliance police to NHS: We want your money

Ken Hagan
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Re: So MS are threatening the sacred cow of British life?

@Lamont Cranston: Why the joke icon? I thought the NHS *was* one of the organisations paying extra to keep XP going a bit longer.

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Google Glass gets 2GB of RAM. Think about this. Two gigs of RAM

Ken Hagan
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Re: My biggest reservation

"Holly"

Zen...

Orac...

Slave...

Twiki...

Robbie...? OK, scratch the last one. We're not actually that short of names.

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Ken Hagan
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"... and when upgrading your mainframe from 256MB to 512MB main store was a weekend job with a £7.7 million price tag."

That's got to be a typo. You meant KB, surely. If we're going back far enough to call it a "main store" then it surely wasn't more than 1 meg.

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Ken Hagan
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"Your 300MB hard drive computer with an OS taking up just 3MB; did it have a 5MP camera capable of 720P recording, 1.2GHz processor, Wifi, Bluetooth, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, and all the drivers, stacks and APIs to support the above and more?"

"5MP camera capable of 720P recording" -- Capable of all that, but apparently not capable of being switching off when you aren't using it. (That's unless you count the 21st century definition of "off", as in "still on but not talking to you".)

"Wifi, Bluetooth" -- ooh network drivers. Yes, we had those back then.

"gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor" -- external devices don't cost footprint per se and these ones only deliver handfuls of bytes of data in response to the moral equivalent of serial commands. We had those back then as well.

"1.2GHz processor" -- riiight, coz the extra Hertz consume RAM, don't they...er.

"and all the drivers, stacks and APIs to support the above" -- for the above, that would probably be just a few internal busses and an IP stack, and I think the answer was probably again "yes". You might quibble with the speed of the internal bus, but like I said earlier, sheer Hertz don't actually cost RAM.

"and more" -- well the "more" is pretty much what I was complaining about. The fifty background daemons started by default, each pre-allocating gobs of page-locked RAM so that in the unlikely event that they are used they can be sure of starting up Reeaally Fast, the whole system written in some many-layered bloat-fest of HTML-on-bytecodes-on-JITted-something-or-other, ...

Let's face it. This is 300MB because it was cheaper for Google to up the hardware spec than it would have been to trim down the stock Android that they run on it. I accept the economics, but still reckon it smacks of laziness and a lack of professional pride on the part of the developers.

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You're inventing the wrong sort of tech for bad people who want to buy it. Stop it at once

Ken Hagan
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Happy

Re: I'll take your quote and raise you...

"The transatlantic cable from England to Australia was a huge project at the time"

Sounds a little mis-guided to me.

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Ken Hagan
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"It [Kickstarter] seems to me a far better fit [than traditional VCs] for this kind of thing."

Do we know that traditional VCs aren't just using Kickstarter to find stuff these days?

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