* Posts by Cuddles

324 posts • joined 3 Nov 2011

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Windows 10 handcuffs Cortana web search to Bing and Edge browser

Cuddles
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I skimmed it first

"The Cortana search box in the Windows 10 task bar will, from today, always use Bing and Microsoft's Edge browser to find stuff on the web.

"The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable.""

Sadly, it turns out they weren't being quite that honest and there were some bits in between I missed on the first reading.

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Revealed: The revolving door between Google and the US govt – in pictures

Cuddles
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former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

People with expertise in an area continue to work in that area. Amazing.

There's absolutely nothing mind-boggling in any way here, since all the information completely lacks context. OK, 22 people who used to work for the White House now work for Google. How many government staff are there in total? How many now work for other companies? What time scale are we looking at anyway? Without some idea of both the scale and how this compares to other companies this is just a meaningless jumble of numbers.

Of course, some of those numbers are easily available. For example, Google has in the region of 50,000 employees. Over the last decade that means they must have had something like 70-100k in total, depending on churn. And we're supposed to worry that just 60 of them now work in government roles? The government being one of the largest employers in the country, with an obvious need for the same skills and knowledge that tech companies need. I wouldn't be in any way surprised or concerned if that number was an order of magnitude higher.

Or what about those 5 ex-Google employees who now work at the state department. That would be the state department with 69,000 employees? And only 5 used to work at Google? And we're supposed to be somehow shocked and worried about this? Oh, sorry, that's not actually 5 ex-Google staff anyway, but 5 people who might have had some association with Google at some point including maybe having worked for a law firm used by Google in some capacity.

And that "associated in some capacity" is even more relevant for the other direction. 171 staff haven't actually left the government to join Google. Since they're including lobbyists, that presumably includes the 81 out of 102 lobbyists hired by Google in 2014 who previously worked for the government. Assuming the trend holds for other years, that means that pretty much the whole category consists of lobbyists and not Google employees at all. And anyone surprised that people with knowledge of government workings are favoured as lobbyists is simply an idiot, since that's the whole bloody point.

This really is one of the most pathetic attempts at smearing I've ever had the misfortune to see. There are plenty of entirely sensible things Google can be criticised for, such as being one of the biggest spenders on lobbying in the US. But having less than 100 people out of tens of thousands of employees and even more "associates" who happen to get some kind of government job after leaving Google? And hiring lobbyists who actually know what they're doing? With no indication of how it compares to any other company? How can anyone possibly think this is any kind of meaningful "revelation"?

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Samsung's little black box will hot-wire your car to the internet. Eek!

Cuddles
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Joke

Re: New ne plus ultra standard?

"government-grade security

What does it need the backdoor for?"

To get in the back seat.

"Whatever you can imagine doing with a smartphone app, you can do with a smart car app,"

My car already makes erratic farting noises.

More seriously, almost all the things I can imagine doing with a smartphone app are things you should absolutely not be doing while driving, or with a car at all.

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Smartphone growth? Not in Q1, says IDC

Cuddles
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Re: Phones are good enough

Exactly. It seems some in the tech and investment sectors just don't understand the concept of a mature technology or market. For a while, there was a real different between last year's phone and this year's. Now, there's no meaningful difference at all. Just as most people don't replace their TV and car every year, there's no reason for them to replace their phone either. There's nothing at all surprising or worrying about any of this. The mobile market had huge growth because people who didn't have phones were buying them, and for a while people who had them were improving them. Now, everyone who wants one has one, and most people who have one don't need a new one. Everyone who isn't a complete idiot knew this would happen, and anyone who counted on market growth remaining at the same high levels for much longer is, in fact, a complete idiot.

I doubt there will be anything that really moves the market though. Things like batteries and wearables have potential to generate short-term spikes in sales when early adopters upgrade to be able to use the latest thing, but that won't really change anything. Most people will just wait until they were going to upgrade anyway - how many people rushed out to buy a 4K TV, for example? The next big thing isn't likely to move the mobile market at all, it will simply create a new market just as mobiles themselves did.

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China's Dalek-like robots fear only one terrifying nemesis: Stairs

Cuddles
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"Do you know how to go down staircases?"

To be fair, going down stairs is really not difficult at all. The trick is remaining upright at the bottom.

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What a difference a year makes: ICO tele-spam fines break £2m barrier

Cuddles
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"Unless my arithmetic fails me, less than 1p per call. Doesn't sound like much of a deterrent."

The value of the fine per call is irrelevant, what makes a fine effective is how big it is compared to how much money a company makes. Cold calling is not exactly a lucrative, high-margin business. Reports aren't entirely consistent about exactly how much Prodial made (hardly surprising since tax dodging was also an important part of their business model), but some of the numbers are given are around £70,000 per month for 4 months (so £280k total), or 40.2 million calls, with a 0.5% return rate and selling for between 50p-£1 each (so no more than £200k total).

As others have mentioned actually collecting the fine may be something of a problem, but the size doesn't seem to be an issue given that it's significantly more than the criminals likely made from the scheme in the first place.

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Hackers so far ahead of defenders it's not even a game

Cuddles
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PEBCAK

Unsurprisingly, the conclusion from all this is that worrying about technology, arms races, and so on is completely pointless because by far the biggest problem remains the fact that people are stupid. It's all very well saying that hackers are ahead of defenders, but as long as people are desperate to throw all their credentials and personal information at anyone and everyone who asks for them, there's not really a lot said defenders can do.

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Trouble at t'spinning rust mill: Disk drive production is about to head south

Cuddles
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Re: I'm puzzled

"How can they [stream] with such tight data allowances?"

Obviously most people's data allowances aren't all that tight. BT only have limited data allowances on their absolute cheapest packages - anything over £10/month is unlimited - while Virgin don't appear to offer anything other than unlimited. Phones tend to be tighter, but then streaming is likely to be done over wi-fi anyway. Apparently things are a lot worse in the US, but on this side of the pond data allowances just aren't generally a big problem.

"Furthermore, can they really trust the cloud to always be there?"

They can and do. Whether they should is an entirely different question, and one the vast majority of the general public will never even consider.

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Utah declares 'war on smut'

Cuddles
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Fight the New Drug

As if we needed any reminder just how out of touch with reality these people are, the oldest profession (porn is essentially just prostitution by proxy) is somehow being portrayed as something new and scary.

Or to put it in more factual terms, the earliest known piece of human figurine art is the Venus of Hohle Fels, described by its discover as "This [figure] is about sex, reproduction... [it is] an extremely powerful depiction of the essence of being female". This is not at all unusual for Paleolithic art. 50,000 years doesn't really seem to count as a new phenomenon worth getting in a panic about. We've been making pictures of boobs and dicks for pretty much as long as we've been making pictures, and that should say all that is needed about how successful attempts to ban them are likely to be.

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I bless the reins down on .africa ... Dot-word injunction hits ICANN

Cuddles
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"Unfortunately in this instance ICANN's decision DOES make sense."

The thing is, whether their conclusion might have been the correct one is a different question from whether they used the correct process to reach that conclusion. If DCA is not the best organisation to get the tld, ICANN shouldn't need to lie, cheat and break their own rules in order to decide that. The actual outcome of this specific bid is really only interesting to a tiny number of people, but such serious and blatant dishonesty at the heart of internet governance is a big concern for anyone who uses the internet.

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Hey, Atlantis Computing. What the heck is this in your EULA?

Cuddles
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Re: Isn't that basically already banned ?

"I thought that abusive contractual clauses were always struck down by a judge."

The trouble is that having something struck down by a judge requires actually taking it to a judge. Not many people, or businesses, want to waste their time and money being sued in order to do so. Given the cost of even such obvious open-and-shut cases, many wouldn't be able to do so even if they wanted to. Companies can get away with abusive EULAs like this because for the vast majority of people it's simply not worth the hassle of fighting.

Of course, that's probably what they're relying on in the first place. Even if they have no intention of ever suing anyone, as long as a few people are discouraged from giving negative reviews it was worth the ink to print it. Occasionally the Streisand effect might kick in and cause more harm overall, but how many potential customers will actually hear of this case, let alone the thousands of others that no doubt exist?

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Airbus boarded by 12 nation-state, crimeware 'breaches' every year

Cuddles
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Harmful UAVs

Isn't that the whole point?

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London to Dover 'smart' road could help make driverless cars mainstream – expert

Cuddles
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Re: better start

"Plus given the number of times this road has been converted into a parking lot for the port, you could question whether it really is a public road or a private car park masquerading as a road."

Which raises an interesting question - how smart does a road need to be before it can decide to go on strike?

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There's oil in that thar … Chinese space probe?

Cuddles
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Odd location choice

"That location makes the mission doubly important, as it is the spot China has chosen for its planned manned Lunar missions to land."

Shouldn't manned Moon missions land, you know, on the Moon?

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Mobe and Wi-Fi firms flog your location data to commercial firms, claim reports

Cuddles
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Re: Blood suckers

"They are all blood suckers......Facebook, Twitter, enter a random app name, etc.

Why the surprise about the mobile and wifi networks?"

Because "random app names" generally make their money from advertising, so it's hardly surprising that they would be interested in this sort of data. Mobile phone providers, on the other hand, are supposed to make their money from selling you a mobile phone service, and have absolutely no reason to be gathering and selling data not directly related to that. Surprise is probably not the right word, since you have to be rather naive not to expect this kind of shit these days, but it's understandable that people would be somewhat miffed to find out that a paid service provider is abusing their position to make a bit of cash on the side, while not being quite so miffed that a free service provided by an advertising company makes its money from advertising.

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Twitter spends $10m on rights to cover Thursday-night NFL games

Cuddles
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Re: Can I hope we've reached "Peak protocol"?

"I think the business model is: people like gossip, let's make gossiping easy and then start charging for it."

While I think you're probably right that this is what their business model, this is exactly the problem; Twitter is completely useless for gossiping. Twitter is fundamentally a one-to-many communication service. It works great for large organisations to make announcements to people who have signed up to see what they say, and similarly things like disaster warning services and the like, but it's an unstructured mess as soon as anyone tries to have an actual conversation with more than one person involved. For gossip and general chatter, people want to be able to have a group all talk together while probably restricting it to members of that group; but Twitter makes both aspects effectively impossible.

As for people moving over to messaging apps, they never left them in the first place. Usenet and mailing lists have been around pretty much since the internet existed, forums and the like for nearly as long, instant messengers like MSN and ICQ have been around since the '90s, and Facebook pretty much took over from there. Now things have moved towards phones, but nothing fundamental has changed, they're all just some kind of program to allow groups of people to talk together. Lots of people signed up to Twitter, but it never became the big thing everyone was using to talk because it never made it possible for them to do so. People haven't moved from Twitter to messaging apps, they've moved from one set of messaging apps to another set while largely ignoring Twitter because it didn't do what they wanted.

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Eat your greens, FCC tells ISPs with new broadband "nutrition label"

Cuddles
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"Hidden fees have no place to hide."

"Varies by location"

"Individual experience may vary"

"Click here for other pricing options including promotions..."

Don't worry, there are still plenty of hiding places.

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Bloaty banking app? There's a good chance it was written in Britain

Cuddles
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Re: A few notes ....

"Tried and tested for one. I'd rather go into space on a 50+ year old Soviet rocket, than the latest gee-whizz from anyone."

This is a common sentiment, but somewhat misguided. Said 50+ year old Soviet rockets actually have rather high failure rates - over 10% for both Proton and Soyuz types. More recent, non-Soviet rockets are almost all better; Ariane 5 around 5%, Delta-medium and Vega have never had any failures (Delta-heavy had one, putting the whole Delta IV family still only at 3%). Even Falcon 9 with a couple of high profile failures is still better than the Soviets at 9%. Tried and tested often simply means "tried and found to be just about good enough most of the time".

Software is no different. Old doesn't mean it must be bad, but it doesn't mean it's been well tested and established as more reliable than new either.

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R&D white coats at HP Inc will make corporate ID into wearable tech

Cuddles
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Re: Not really sure what's being said here

"My comment was based on the iPhone-level of fingerprint scanner"

Fair enough. I would hope something created specifically for a secure work environment would use something a bit better, but maybe I'm giving them too much credit.

"However, I personally didn't get the impression that they were advocating 'off duty' work ID badges. There was mention of replacing cards "with something we wear anyway" - suggesting something like a watch that generates RSA codes, or a bracelet with a RFID tag."

Well that's really what I'm confused about. "Something we wear anyway" quickly becomes "something we only wear at work" when it's mandatory to wear it at work and at best a bad idea to wear it anywhere else. It doesn't matter if it's a watch, an item of jewellery or clothing, or anything else, as long as it's something I only wear at work it's no different from a normal ID badge. Why would people be any happier with their work-bracelet than their work-badge, especially since bracelets, watches and the like tend to be fashion accessories and a work-mandated one shared by everyone is unlikely to appeal to all? It doesn't solve any problem, it's just a differently shaped badge.

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Cuddles
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Not really sure what's being said here

There seem to be two entirely different points being made, neither of which appear particularly useful. Firstly, the idea of your work badge being something you'd wear anyway. That simply doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. Wearing your work ID when not at work can be anything from just stupid right up to a firing offence; having it as a separate thing you only wear at work is part of the fundamental design. And even aside from that, there isn't a single thing I wear every day - I change clothes regularly and don't wear jewellery. Exactly what item could a "smart" badge replace, other than a regular ID?

Secondly, the idea of the badge containing some kind of authentication. This isn't such a bad idea in theory, but it's difficult to see how it could be implemented. An ID badge is dumb - generally just a simple, unpowered RFID chip, probably along with a picture and other relevant information for a visual check. This means it doesn't require power or wear out in any way, and it doesn't require the user to do anything other than get close enough to a powered reader. Fingerprint readers, other biometrics, passwords, and pretty much anything else all eliminate both of those advantages. Smart badges offer a minor security benefit at great cost in both money and constant inconvenience to everyone who has to use and maintain them. Simply hiring a couple of extra security staff to inspect badges would be both cheaper and probably more effective.

@Dave126

"But seriously, current generation fingerprint scanners can be fooled with a photograph"

Most of them can't because they don't actually look at fingerprints at all, but rather the pattern of blood vessels underneath. This not only makes it much harder to copy them, but also requires an actual living finger and so eliminating most Hollywood-style shenanigans. Still far from foolproof, but it's nowhere near as easy as simply owning a camera and printer.

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What was all that about a scary iMessage flaw? Your three-minute guide

Cuddles
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Never underestimate stupidity

"who probably aren't using iMessages for anything incriminating anyway."

They almost certainly are (assuming they use an iPhones). Politicians, CEOs, and so on are constantly using personal email and phone accounts for business, criminals happily boast about and post pictures of their exploits on Facebook, and so on. This might not be the most practical attack around, but having access to the iMessages sent by someone you want to spy on would almost certainly give you useful information.

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Yahoo! kills! more! passwords! with! push! notification! app!

Cuddles
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""Passwords can be... easy to... forget, or... vulnerable to hacking," Chhabra says.

...

"mobile phone.""

Because we all know that no-one has ever lost or hacked a mobile phone.

"Those who do not have their phones handy can answer security questions to gain access."

And once again, something touted as being secure is easily circumvented simply by knowing someone's mother's maiden name.

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iOS flaw exploited to decrypt iMessages, access iThing photos

Cuddles
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Nation-state?

"Green says the attack applies to the latest iOS but would be largely restricted to "nation-state"-grade skilled attackers."

This attack was discovered by some students at a university. Why would it take the resources of a nation-state to replicate and use it?

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Apps that 'listen in' to your mobile get slapped by US watchdog

Cuddles
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I don't get it

So they listen in on background adverts, something which I have no control over and haven't actually chosen through any input of my own, and decide to use that and only that information to target me for more advertising? What could possibly be the point of this? They're not choosing adverts based on anything I've done, they're choosing them based on what some other advertising people think people watching TV at this time might possibly be interested in. They could achieve exactly the same effect with far less cost and legal issues by simply looking at a clock.

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Ironic: CCTV systems slide open a backdoor into your biz network

Cuddles
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Closed...

"Closed circuit TV systems, designed to protect organisations' physical assets, commonly create holes for hackers to exploit and tunnel their way into enterprise systems."

No they don't. By definition, a closed circuit cannot create a connection to anything. Surveillance cameras are not necessarily closed circuit; in fact most of them are not these days. This is not simply meaningless pedantry, incorrect use of the term is a large part of the problem - a closed circuit system is inherently secure, so people are misled into assuming their webcam is secure because it's being called something it isn't.

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Third of US banks OK with passwords even social networks reject

Cuddles
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Re: Are special characters and upper case a good idea

"Or is it better just to add another character to your password?"

Or more importantly - is it better just to add an arbitrary number of characters to your password? The biggest problem with rules for passwords is restricting the length, often to as few as 8 characters (and PINs, which are just passwords by another name, are usually just 4). There are arguments about how strong XKCD's "correct horse battery stable" scheme is, but the arguments against it all rest on the length being short - if you know a password is made of 4 words, you can target an attack based on that knowledge. But what if a password might be 20 words long or more, and you have no idea what that length actually is? A brute force dictionary-based attack on such a password is much, much harder than a character-based attack on a password with 20 characters no matter how many special characters you allow, since there are far more than just 96 words in any language.

And as is always pointed out, people are really good at remembering words. That's the whole problem - people choose passwords they can actually remember. We routinely remember the lyrics to hundreds of songs, can quote from hundreds of films and books, memorise long poems, plays and speeches, and so on. Using just a few random words might not make a more secure password, but why limit it to that? Allow arbitrary length passwords, enforce a minimum length (20 characters or so), enforce only lower case letters (so there are no problems remembering capitalisation and punctuation), and everything would be far more secure and far easier to remember.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 grounded by 'sledgehammer' winds

Cuddles
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Re: Why super-cooled fuel?

"@cuddles: the question is not why LOX rather than compressed oxygen. It's why supercooled LOX compared to LOX at its natural temperature, the one at which it starts to boil off. They're also chilling the RP. Liquids are somewhat denser at lower temperatures, but keeping them supercooled is nontrivial."

As others have noted, there's really very little difference. The boiling point of oxygen is -183C, SpaceX is using it at -207C. The cryogenic systems required in either case will be essentially identical (although it's easier to keep a constant temperature at a phase transition, so more feedback and/or flexibility in allowed temperature would be needed). Note that the LOX is not supercooled - that means cooling a liquid to below its freezing temperature, which is -219C for oxygen. The article uses the term "super-chilled", and claims this is more difficult to deal with, but as far as I am aware this is not a meaningful technical term.

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Cuddles
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Re: Why super-cooled fuel?

"Anyone know what is the rationale for supercooled fuel? Obviously you get a higher density, so more energy packed in a given size of tank. But it adds complexity and trouble. Why not increase the diameter of the rocket instead?"

Using liquid oxygen means you don't need a pressure vessel - liquids aren't really compressible, so everything is kept at standard atmospheric pressure (and this part doesn't make it into space, so you don't need to worry about even dealing with a 1 atmos difference). In order to compress the same amount of oxygen into the same space just by pressurising it without cooling it, you'd need a massively heavy vessel that would basically mean you could never launch a rocket at all.

To give some numbers - LOX is compressed by a factor of 861 relative to stp. High pressure oxygen tanks have a compression factor of around 130, and need tanks that weigh many times more than the actual stored oxygen. So you end up with fuel tanks that not only weigh much more, but also have to be several times larger. Cryogenic systems may be awkward to work with, but the alternative is basically not being able to build rockets at all because they'd be too big and heavy.

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Google screening missed hundreds of malicious Android apps, researchers say

Cuddles
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Is that all?

As of about a year ago, Android had over 1.4 billion users. That makes victims less than 1/1000 of users. A higher proportion believe the Moon landings were faked and that the Queen is a giant lizard. Given the scale of fraud that happens pretty much everywhere, not just on phones, I'd say Google are doing a pretty good job of keeping things secure if that's all that's managing to slip through their screening.

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Intravenous hangover clinics don't work, could land you in hospital

Cuddles
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Harmless ingredients...

"One popular belief among boosters of hangover clinics is that they ingredients they use is harmless, so at worst they're a placebo."

What absolute bollocks. The worst case is not a placebo, at worst you cause an air bubble and nearly instant death, or you inject such a massive dose of something supposedly harmless that the blood effectively stops being blood, or you cause permanent nerve damage or serious bleeding from screwing up insertion of the needle, or you give people all kinds of funny diseases by not sterilising the equipment properly, or you have a contaminated batch and poison everyone, and so on and so on. Even if a substance is effectively harmless when ingested because it's impractical to eat enough to cause problems, all bets are off once you start sticking needles in people. All substances can be deadly if you inject a large enough amount, but that's hardly even relevant given the long list of obvious dangers IV has regardless of the specific substances involved. Those dangers are relatively low and considered acceptable when IV is used for a good reason in a proper medical setting. But when administered by idiots and frauds who don't even acknowledge those dangers exist? Anyone involved with these things should be in prison for malpractice.

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Hands on with Xiaomi's Mi 5: Great smartphone, but when do we get it?

Cuddles
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Re: Ceramic?

"Apart from preventing your phone burning up on re-entry, does a ceramic casing actually offer any benefits?"

It's hard (as in Moh's scale) so won't scratch easily, doesn't bend or warp, and is generally quite light. The downside is that it tends to be brittle so will crack more easily than a metal phone. Given the prevalence of glass these days, that's probably not too much of a downside and the screen is still likely to be the most fragile part. The other potential issue is heat - a metal case will be better at cooling the phone at the expense of heating the person holding it, so whether higher or lower conductivity is better will depend on the design and how you're trying to optimise it.

And speaking of heat, I can't help noticing that "thermal control in software" is not actually the same as cooling, and in fact the only way software can do anything about heating is to use the CPU less. Their answer to Samsung's complicated cooling is just to turn the power down. Whether anyone actually needs a phone that squeezes that extra bit of processing power out by running things as hard as possible is of course open for debate, but it would be a huge surprise if Samsung's phone doesn't end up being significantly more powerful than alternatives which choose software power management over active cooling.

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Google human-like robot brushes off beating by puny human – this is how Skynet starts

Cuddles
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On a more serious note...

Almost all the focus seems to be on the person poking it with a stick, but that doesn't actually seem to be the impressive part. That mostly just involves detecting that the box has moved and needs to be picked up again, and even standing up from a known prone position isn't the biggest challenge. As for doors, all it did was push them; it doesn't have hands so couldn't even try using a doorknob. Walking on an uneven, slippery surface and actually managing to recover from a slip without falling over is a far more impressive, and is the only thing I haven't seen a robot do before. Even humans frequently fail at that.

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Browser made by China's top search engine leaks almost everything

Cuddles
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Re: Not really surprising

"And we all know that the Chinese government cares not one whit about individual privacy, just like the US government but with less hypocrisy."

That's not entirely true. In both cases they want themselves to have access to everything, not to let everyone else have access to it. A Chinese browser that sends all the data it can to the government would not come as a surprise, but one that just sprays data all over for anyone to see sounds much more like incompetence than government interference. As with all the cheap Chinese knock-offs you can find on Amazon, it seems they just didn't care about standards and safety as long as they could make something that looks superficially like the thing they're copying.

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LISA Pathfinder drops its gravity-wave-finding golden boxes

Cuddles
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Re: Major omission in the article

"LISA Pathfinder is designed to detect gravitational waves in a different frequency range to the ones detected by LIGO."

Beat me to it. Asking what the point of LISA is now we have LIGO is like asking what the point of building radio telescopes is when we can already see visible light, or what the point of sonar is when we have ears. Just because they happen to look at the same kind of waves doesn't mean they're trying to do exactly the same thing.

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Boffins' 5D laser-based storage tech could keep terabytes forever

Cuddles
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In this context "dimension" means more like "degree of freedom". It's the same reason you can have things like a 6-axis joystick, even though there are only three independent axes in normal 3D Cartesian coordinates.

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Samsung now pushing Marshmallows into the Galaxy S6, Edge

Cuddles
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Samsung is not the problem

Android 6 was only released a few months ago, so this doesn't seem like a particularly bad delay on Samsung's part. On the other hand, my S6 is still stuck on 5.0.2, despite 5.1 having been around for nearly a year. It doesn't matter what Samsung and other manufacturers might be doing if the telcos refuse to actually make updates available to their customers.

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UK to stop children looking at online porn. How?

Cuddles
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Re: Wanna stop kids looking at porn?

"Then teach then proper sex ed and educate them about relationships"

Indeed. Which is why numerous groups, including the Education Select Committee and various teachers associations and health related types, have recommended that proper sex education be made compulsory in schools. The government have responded by saying that they have no intention of ever doing anything vaguely sensible even when recommended by cross-party committees specifically created for this sort of thing, and could everyone please stop thinking of the children.

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Google wins High Court fight with StreetMap over search results self-pluggery

Cuddles
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OS maps

"Really? It's ironic. Google maps are actually no more than road & street maps plus aerial/satellite photography. Streetmap's maps are the real deal OS maps, crammed with detail."

The trouble is, that's exactly why StreetMap fails. OS maps are available from many different sources - I have a couple of apps on my phone that use them, and Bing maps and various other fairly big players also do. Even back in 2007 StreetMap was far from unique in that regard (I was going to mention Multimap as the one most people I know used, and it turns out MS bought them that year). Google maps are great if you just want a road atlas, while if you want more StreetMap does nothing to distinguish itself from the competition.

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'Hopelessly insecure’ Motorola CCTV cameras belatedly patched

Cuddles
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Taking the CC out of TV

Can we please stop calling these things "CCTV". The CC stands for "closed circuit", ie. it's a closed system that only allows any control and viewing to be done internally. If you monitor and control it via the internet, it's just a webcam. Call it a security camera if you want to pretend there's a meaningful difference from regular consumer webcams, but calling it CCTV implies a level of inherent security that simply isn't, and cannot be, present.

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German Chancellor fires hydrogen plasma with the push of a button

Cuddles
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Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

"So GTFU and stop blaming a dead woman for the Labour partys fuckups in the late 90s and 2000s."

It's not an "us or them" situation. It's entirely possible to blame said dead woman for her fuckups while also blaming the following Labour government for their own, independent fuckups. And blaming subsequent Labour, Tory and coalition governments for all of theirs. Just because someone dislikes Thatcher doesn't mean they're some rabid fanboy who thinks Labour can do no wrong.

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They're alive! Galileo sats 9 and 10 sending valid signals

Cuddles
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Re: Some folks might criticize cost, but ...

The advantage of using satnav for nuclear missiles is that they all end up wedged under a low bridge in a small west country village, thus averting any risk of nuclear war.

"It can be jammed or spoofed, so perhaps now more use as a civilian tool?"

Sadly, that's actually why phones and the like are mostly not compatible with GPS and Galileo - the US military wanted to be able to jam Galileo without disrupting their own system, and they forced the EU to use a different frequency to make this possible. So now you need a different receiver for each system, which obviously adds to the cost and complexity. Dedicated satnav systems, emergency beacons, and similar may use multiple systems, but there's little justification for the extra cost for a phone.

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Rooting your Android phone? Google’s rumbled you again

Cuddles
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Re: This is not...

"And Google Pay deems the security risk due to malware on a rooted phone too high."

Which is rather ironic considering the amount of malware that can be downloaded through Google's own app store. If anything, people with good enough technical knowledge to have even heard of rooting phones, let alone actually be able to do it themselves, are rather less likely to be the ones downloading malware.

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Research: By 2017, a third of home Wi-Fi routers will power passers-by

Cuddles
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Re: Electricity costs....

Ignoring the beauty of your "Watts per day" units, the problem comes from this part:

"Not a large sum of money, but is is added to your electrical bill and by extension your overall cost of living."

No it isn't. You've calculated the total cost of having your router used 24/7, not the additional cost caused by other people using your wi-fi. The idle load accounts for a decent fraction of that, your own use also makes up a reasonable fraction, and there will be plenty of dead time during work hours and the small hours when no-one will be using it. Idle use would be maybe 10% (I suspect actually more), call it 2 hours for your own use and a conservative 12 hours when no-one else will be touching it (again I suspect it would be far more than that in reality). That would give you more like $0.60 monthly cost of other people, and that's still a massive over-estimate that assumes people are continuously camping outside your house to leech off your internet for 10 hours a day. Unless you live in a crowded block of flats with lots of horrible neighbours, there's basically no chance of that happening. In a realistic situation, you'll even those 4 decimal places aren't going to be enough to measure the cost of the occasional person making use of it while they happen to be walking past your house. The idea of a long range connection serving tons of people is particularly silly given that most people struggle to get a decent signal through their whole house.

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Cuddles
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Priority

The additional electricity costs are close enough to zero to not be worth worrying about (and if you're that worried about it, why would you be leaving your router switched on when not in use?). So the only way this can potentially affect you is if secondary users reduce your own bandwidth. I don't know how this is currently addressed, but it would be incredibly easy to simply ensure that the home user gets priority, and any secondary users can only use whatever spare bandwidth is left over.

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App for homeless says walking on water is the way to reach services

Cuddles
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Re: It is just me?

"An app for homeless people.

First, what's wrong with this picture?"

Absolutely nothing. It's rather sad how many people read "homeless" as "insane beggar ranting on a street corner while swigging from a bottle of vodka". Most homeless are not beggars. For most, being homeless is temporary situation that may only last a few weeks or months. Being unable to afford rent or a mortgage for some time (often for reasons out of their control) does not mean a person's possessions and money are all immediately confiscated, so there's absolutely no reason for them not to already own a phone or be able to afford the very low cost of buying one.

On top of that, even the poorest, long term homeless have no reason not to own a phone. You can get a cheap phone for £20 or less, and there's free wi-fi pretty much everywhere these days so it's not like they need to be tied into a £30 per month contract. With the importance of communication these days, any homeless person who actually has any plans on finding a job would be absolutely insane not to buy a phone at the earliest opportunity - by far one of the biggest steps in making yourself employable is having a phone number and email address so that potential employers can actually contact you.

And on top of all that, as someone else pointed out this doesn't actually appear to be an app for homeless people at all, but women subject to domestic abuse, ie. people who probably have a home to go to but who can't use it because some cunt will beat them up if they do. But sure, let's ignore all that in favour of making fun of the silly beggars for wanting access to the most important communication tool in the modern world.

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Apple yanks international travel plugs over shock worries

Cuddles
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Re: Just how hard is it

"to design and manufacture this type of device?"

They're actually pretty complicated. See this article for some details, and the iPad charger teardown on the same site for more details on exactly what can be wrong and how it can be dangerous - http://www.righto.com/2012/10/a-dozen-usb-chargers-in-lab-apple-is.html

You'd have thought the prongs would be one of the easier parts to get right, but 12 failures after selling god knows how many millions over the span of more than a decade isn't exactly a high failure rate. I would assume the issue is that they don't fail to a safe state rather than that 12 people out of millions have managed to break a small piece of plastic, and since it's a voluntary recall that almost certainly means that Apple have decided it's better PR to provide a new design that's even safer rather than that any regulatory body has actually said they're considered unsafe.

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US still lagging on broadband but FCC promises change is coming

Cuddles
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Politics

I don't really understand why this is a political issue. Surely Republicans want decent internet just as much as Democrats do? And while you can argue all you like about what is the best way to ensure everyone gets it, there are no politics involved in the simple fact of how many people currently do.

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Stop everything! PC sales did increase in the UK over Christmas

Cuddles
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The PC is dead

Long live the PC!

"What is the difference between a notebook, and a mobile workstation? Does a mobile workstation come with it's own sherpa?"

A workstation has actual processing power. For a desktop that generally mean multiple Xeon processors, Quadro (or FirePro) GPU at minimum with possibly Tesla depending on the type of work, and a ton of RAM - they still seem to sell them with as little as 64GB, but you'll be laughed at if you actually try buying something with that little. Obviously mobile workstations don't tend to have such high specs, but you're still looking at Xeon, Quadro and lots more RAM than a regular laptop (64GB being more like the maximum rather than minimum in this case).

A netbook, on the other and, is a lightweight, underpowered laptop that can't do much other than brows the internet and type stuff in Word. Generally their processing power is enough to decode 1080p video and not a lot more - low power CPU with integrated graphics and probably no more than 8GB RAM, if that.

Or to put it simply, the difference between a netbook and workstation is about a factor of 10 in price. You can get the former for a few hundred, while the latter is a couple of grand minimum for half decent specs.

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Boeing just about gives up on the 747

Cuddles
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Re: 0.3 of a plane?

".3 is not a third."

The remainder is those bolts you always have left over after assembly, even though you're absolutely sure you followed the instructions perfectly.

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

Cuddles
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Re: Nothing wrong with insecure passwords

"Actually there *is* something wrong. Sites with no sensitive data should not ask for a password."

The problem is that just because something isn't truly important sensitive data doesn't mean you want it visible to every random person wandering past. Essentially, we have two levels of security - preventing casual access, and protecting valuables. And this applies to pretty much everything, not just computers. For example, most houses are incredibly insecure; many regular locks can be picked in a couple of minutes even if you don't have some clever way of faking a key, and even if the lock is tricky there are few houses that a good kick or a half-brick in a sock won't get you inside. The point of locking our doors is not to stop the determined, highly competent burglars, but simply to prevent people being able to wander into your house on a whim. Similarly, people tend to close their curtains or have nets to prevent people looking in as they pass by, not to prevent investigation by spies or even to hide the kinky things they're getting up to in their living rooms.

So there's nothing wrong with having passwords for pointless sites with no important data. Your My Little Pony forum account might not be important, but it's still your account that you probably don't want others using whenever they feel like. It's just important to recognise the difference between the security necessary on such an account, and the security necessary on something like your bank account where malicious access would actually be a serious problem. The issue isn't that unimportant sites insist on passwords, but rather than all sites tend to insist on the same level of (usually rather poor) security regardless of what level of security is actually appropriate.

@ GrumpenKraut

"at which point everybody has sticky notes with the password of the week somewhere at the desk."

This gets brought up a lot, but it really isn't a big problem. Most attempts at malicious action are made remotely. If someone can see the note stuck to your monitor, they probably already have physical access. Put the note in a drawer and even people walking past can't see it, and if someone has the access and time to physically look through your things it's already game over regardless of what you might have written down. Having a record of your credentials in a place that the vast majority of attackers will never have access to really isn't a bad idea at all; it allows you to have much more secure passwords since you don't need to worry about remembering them. The tiny increase in risk from someone potentially looking at your note is likely to be more than offset by the increase in security it allows.

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