* Posts by Stuart Castle

610 posts • joined 19 Jun 2007

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Hawking, Musk, Woz (and Riley): ROBOTS will KILL US ALL

Stuart Castle

I think Lewis missed the point.

I don't think the likes of Hawking and Musk are concerned about the fact that today's weapons can pick a target then guide themselves to that target without human intervention. I daresay they are aware of that (hell, Musk has been working with Nasa, so could well have military connections he wouldn't be allowed to broadcast. These weapons don't (AFAIK) generally launch without SOME human intervention, even if it's just a human telling them to launch.

I think what they are concerned about is giving that launch authority to a machine, so it can decide to attack people based upon it's own, arbitrary conditions. I don't know their full capabilities, but can today's missile systems go from being stood down (or however they normally are during peace time) to launch without any human intervention at all?

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Travel back to the 19-Z80s this weekend

Stuart Castle

Re: check the display - the 256 TC really is a time-machine, isn't it ?-)

"There were *lots* of Y2K bugs. The bulk of the real Y2K effort was in making sure that they didn't live to see the 21st century."

Indeed, and it's a testament to the skill of the people involved in correcting them that we were not badly affected by those bugs.

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'Web brothel' CEO, staff cuffed on prostitution rap – clue: the website is called Rentboy.com

Stuart Castle

Re: a simple solution to illegal prostitution

I think it's more an indication of the frankly bizarre attitude a lot of people (American mainly, but some here as well) have to life. They are happy to see (or use) guns and things that end life, but show (or offer them) something that has to do with creating life, and they object..

Think about it. Hollywood turns out endless TV shows and films where they show people being killed in all sorts of ways, and they are happy to show the weapons that kill the people, but on the few occasions someone has dared show a female nipple, the country has gone into uproar. I remember when Janet Jackson showed a (mostly covered) nipple during the Superbowl. The country was in uproar and the republicans (rather ironically bearing in mind they broadly support guns and my above statement) asked questions in Congress about it.

Don't get me wrong. I like action movies and TV shows, and I like to watch s**t get blown up, but I generally don't understand the attitude that it's OK to almost worship acts that end life, but express shock and horror at an act that (let's face it) has a primary purpose of creating life.

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Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions

Stuart Castle

"I don't see what the big deal is? Yes, they could have been a little bit more transparent about why they wanted the permissions in the first place"

Personally, I'd be interested to find out why they need access to my friends' phone numbers and my photos.

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Boss hands dunce's cap to chap who turned off disk monitor

Stuart Castle

A friend told me this story a few years ago.

It was back in the days of Windows 3.1, so Windows actually didn't do very much to protect itself against abuse..

The aforementioned friend worked for a small budget software house, and they were working on a football game. They had a reputation of development cheap, low budget game. To give you an idea of the kind of money they spent on development, the soundtrack to each match (which the packaging made a big thing of it being digitised) consisted of the CEO and his PA cheering, then shouting "Palace" in one corner of his office. That sample was used whether Crystal Palace were one of the teams in the match or not.

Apparently, the CEO called my friend one morning to say his machine wouldn't start properly. When my friend got in (he couldn't drive, so had to get a bus which took a while), he booted the machine from a floppy. As far as he could work out, the boss had stored all his documents in the Windows folder on the C drive. He'd decided to have a clear out, and someone showed him the "del *.*" command, so he happily ran it on the Windows folder. Obviously he had no backups of any description.

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Hack a garage and the car inside with a child's toy and a few chips

Stuart Castle

Re: Well...

"The hack has a problem though. It's one thing to open garage door in the middle of nowhere - and the quicker the better."

If yours was the car that was stolen as a result of weak security, it would not matter to you whether it was the only one, or one of a thousand.

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Has Microsoft saved the Apple Watch with Outlook improvement?

Stuart Castle

Re: Hidden Agenda or no Agenda

It's worth pointing out that a lot of people (whether through choice or force) do use Exchange (and pretty much by default, Outlook) to keep track of their appointments..

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Vodafone adopts hydrogen fuel cells to dodge African outages

Stuart Castle

Re: but with an eye to CO2 emissions Vodafone is keen to reduce the use of diesel.

"This part sounds like geenwash bollocks. Fossil fuels are the dominant source of industrial hydrogen."

Not to mention the need for some sort of vehicle to distribute the fuel cells, which would obviously need fuel itself.

Surely if they were being totally green, they'd have gone for Solar power? It's not as if South Africa lacks sunlight.

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BBC veterans require skilled hands to massage their innards

Stuart Castle

I doubt it's just a case of bung a few chips on a PCB. For a start, I suspect many of the parts used by the BBC are no longer produced. As such, you would need to find fabrication plants both willing and able to product those parts, which would be expensive, especially for a short run, even assuming they could do it.

Then there is the assembly of the computer itself and testing. That is not going to be cheap.

And I haven't even mentioned securing the rights to reproduce all these parts, and the computer itself, from the various manufacturers (assuming they still exist), which will also not be cheap.

I suspect that if someone thought it feasible to do this, they already would have.

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Five data centres you can't live without

Stuart Castle
WTF?

Why is it odd? Amazon is split up into business units, and I daresay the unit running AWS isn't in competition with Netflix. Also, as noted above, Netflix will have Service level agreements with Amazon that will protect the service, and both the EU and the US are likely to slap Amazon should they use any insider access to damage the Netflix service in any way. In much the same way as the UK Government or EU would probably intervene if Virgin Media blocked access to Sky's online services.

Another thing to consider: Netflix will be paying a lot of money to use Amazon's service. This means that regardless of who offers the most popular On demand service out of Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, Amazon will profit..

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'Fix these Windows 10 Horrors': Readers turn their guns on Redmond

Stuart Castle

Re: Mandatory updates

"Without the ability to control updates, what happens when an update breaks an app and stops the business running? If I can't roll back an update, "

The business version of Windows 10 does allow a sysadmin to block updates. Not saying Microsoft have done this out of concern for the small business though, I suspect it was more that they didn't want to have to deal with the fallout when an enforced update takes out half the computers of a massive multinational company.

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The Breakfast (Table) of Champions: Micro Machines

Stuart Castle

I think it is the simple formula that makes MM so enjoyable, and I don't think any update (whether it has the Micro Machines licence or not) should tinker with it. Too many games have tried to add a back story and in the process messed up the simplicity that made the game so enjoyable.. Thinking particularly of Battleships here, although the story wasn't added for a game, more so they could get a movie out of it.

Don't get me wrong: I like a game with a good story, but I also like a game where you can just go in and do something, like race. I also like games where, if you are in the mood, you can totally ignore the story and just go in and blow shit up. GTA and Saints Row are particularly good for this. Micro Machines had no real story, it was was just about having fun.

I would like to see it with updated graphics though. I might check out that other top down racer mentioned in the article..

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IoT DANGERS: BYOD’s trashier cousin becoming a right tearaway

Stuart Castle

Re: Suggestion

" Why not operate two separate networks in a house with an IOT network and another for your computers etc were the more sensitive data is."

Some routers (e.g. the newer Linksys ones) already offer something that could be used for this. They offer a guest network on the WiFi, which is blocked from accessing resources on the main network.

This does have a couple of problems though. One being that not all devices have WiFi, and it can be quite an expensive add on.

The other problem is that some devices (such as Smart TVs and smart thermostats) need access to the main network. Lets be honest, a lot of people don't buy a Smart TV because they can look at facebook on it, or to watch Youtube. They will probably use the On Demand services (such as iPlayer, Netflix etc), but they are likely to be using it a lot to view the collection of dodgy copies of TV shows they have stored on their computer. The problem for Smart Thermostats (and other smart devices, such as smart plugs) is that they are often controlled by an app, which would obviously need a way to both find the devices, and connect to them. Neither of which is going to happen if one network is separated from the other, unless the device and the app both connect to an external webservice, in which case you lose the advantage given by separation..

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Sydney adopts 'world's first' e-ink parking signs

Stuart Castle

Re: Fantastic!

"The article says they are "equipped with mobile broadband", I'm a little surprised at this, I would have thought that zigbee/z-wave or similar would have been lower power or even better some kind of MW carrier because the data requirement is low and the update periods are probably very long.

"

The advantage, from a cost point of view, of mobile broadband (or even SMS which doesn't need broadband and would probably suffice) is that it's cheaper to install as the infrastructure is probably already there.

This, I believe, is why the "next bus" displays in London (which TFL call Countdown) use existing mobile networks rather than zigbee or z-wave. if they'd have gone for Zigbee, z-wave or MW, they'd have to maintain their own infrastructure and, in the case of MW, there may be licencing hurdles to get over. By using the mobile networks, they've bypassed all that as the operator has already installed the infrastructure and already has licences for the frequencies their network uses.

And, would the power savings be that great? Bearing in mind that a simple mobile phone (ie not smart) can run for several days on a small battery, the current used to connect a digital sign to a broadband network is likely to be a fraction of the current required to run the sign (or even light it at night).

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Want longer battery life? Avoid the New York Times and The Grauniad

Stuart Castle

Re: and the same tests done with

"would be great to see this as a little browser add-on, how power hungry is this website. scored 1-100"

It would be a good idea, but it may be difficult to get accurate readings unless the OS actually makes power consumption figures available to developers. I know OSX (recent versions) tracks this, but I don't know if the readings are made available to developers through an API. I don't know if Windows or Linux even track this, let alone make it available to developers. The browser would also need to enable access to this information but would also need to track what it is doing in each tab. For instance, looking purely at the power usage by each process (which is what the OS would see), you would not get accurate power usage information for a largely text based site if you had a browser window or tab open in the background showing a flash movie.

Don't get me wrong. This info may already be available via the browsers. If it isn't, it should be.

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Apple Watch is such a flop it's the world's top-selling wearable

Stuart Castle

Re: Who actually wears a watch anymore? And why?

I have a Pebble (the old black and white one).

I wear it because if you are seen with an expensive item (such as a phone) in some of the places I travel through, you are likely to be attacked.

The Pebble enables me to see the time, and notifications from my phone while I keep the phone securely elsewhere.

Not sure I'd feel the same way about an Apple Watch though..

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Windows 10 Edge: Standards kinda suck yet better than Chrome?

Stuart Castle

Re: They should keep IE, but simplify it for its most common use

Or they could offer a choice, you know, like the Browser Choice screen? Not everyone likes Chrome.

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The roots go deep: Kill Adobe Flash, kill it everywhere, bod says

Stuart Castle

There seem to be a group of writers at El Reg who appear to have something against Flash Player. I see the same names cropping up again and again in articles condemning it as a bug ridden pile of hurt. I'm not saying Flash Player isn't a bug ridden pile of hurt. It is, and I would gladly get rid of it if I didn't have to use it to log on to the admin console for one of our VM clusters. Java, which seems to be largely ignored by the same people, is also a bug ridden pile of hurt..

I know that El Reg has never even pretended to be a balanced news source, but this is getting ridiculous.

And you are right. Mozilla have not announced they are dumpling Flash, merely disabling it by default, which is a good thing. Those who want flash animations to play can have them, but everyone else does not have to. I think other vendors should be doing the same, whatever product the flash movie is embedded within.

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Samsung, Oppo collared in smartphone bloatware probe

Stuart Castle

Re: I took a stand against bloatware a while ago

Sorry to spoil your sarcasm, but while Apple do include bloatware with their devices (thinking particularly of the Stocks and Apple Watch apps here), they include a lot less than most other companies, and also do not allow the mobile phone networks to include their own.

I still shudder when I think of the pink, white and grey colour scheme used by the dialer T mobile forced me to use on my old HTC tytn 2, and how long it took the f**king thing to respond when I dared use it to dial.

Even the Nokia N95 that replaced it rarely got updates as they had to be OK'd by the network before we could install them (which stopped happening once O2 had another phone to push).

That's a few of the things I like about my iPhone. I know that it's going to be supported for at least 2 years after release (my Nokia received updates for 1), and possibly more. I also know I will get those updates on the day Apple release them (no waiting for a network release that may never come) and I know that the network will not be allowed to install any bloatware on top of the minimal amount of bloatware already installed by Apple.

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'The server broke and so did my back on the flight to fix it'

Stuart Castle

"The system came up and said it couldn't find a boot disk, but hey, there's a hard drive here would you like to format it?"

Hmmm, I may be misreading this here, but I have several years experience with Mac, both on OS and OSX, and both Client and Server side. I've never once had a Mac offer to format the boot disk.In fact OSX will prevent you formatting the boot disk, at least from the GUI.

That's not to say you can't do some monumentally stupid stuff with it (mucking up the network connection while connected remotely is a favourite of mine, and something I've also managed in Windows).

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Setting up a new Mac (Apple ID, iCloud, spyware, etc)

Stuart Castle

You don't need an apple id to download updates for the OS and certain apps (e.g. Safari, Preview, iTunes). You will need it to download updates for other apps and suites, such as the iWork suite.

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Auto-playing video ads? People love auto-playing video ads – Twitter

Stuart Castle

While I realise they probably won't see this, I'll just say this:

"Twitter, if you are so convinced people will love to see autoplayed videos and ads, are you going to ask on first launch whether your users want the videos and ads to autoplay?"

That, to me, would indicated they actually do think people want it. If they just offer an option to disable it, even if they blatantly advertise how to disable it, that is, to me, implying they don't think people will opt to watch the ads.

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Fire, fire! Just move your data centre onto my lawn ... Oh rats!

Stuart Castle

Re: Power of Three

"All BC is a cost/benefit analysis. "

It is, and that is some a lot of people forget. How likely is a disruption? How likely is it that your primary systems will be disrupted at the same time as your backup systems? How much will any disruption cost? How will any disruption impact the business? How much will maintaining (potentially multiple) backup systems cost?

It reminds me of an old Jasper Carrot joke about a shop using £60,000 of CCTV and security equipment to protect £25 worth of Smarties.

The solution is easier if you are a massive international corporation as they are likely to know exactly how much they will lose due to primary systems going down, and it is likely to be considerably more than maintaining backup systems that may not be used 95% of the time.

I was talking to someone who manages security at a major bank (won't say which one, but they are large world wide, just not one of the big four here). In the last few years, they moved out of their old UK headquarters in to a new one. They are still maintaining their old UK headquarters though (even though the building is not used), purely as a backup so the bank can carry on trading in the event something happens that takes out their new HQ.

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The watts in a box that kept West London's lights on

Stuart Castle

Do you have proof that they wouldn't provide any help if it had happened outside London? Bear in mind that if UKPN and the power companies do their jobs right, most people would not even be aware the problem was serious enough to warrant bringing in generators, assuming they are aware of a problem at all?

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Science teacher jammed his school kids' phones, gets week suspension

Stuart Castle

Re: Why not fix the root cause of the problem?

And when someone walks by needing to make an urgent call and is unaware the signal is being jammed? OK, you could put signs up in the building where the jammer is, but radio signals do have a habit of penetrating walls, so can quite easily leave a building. The jamming signal may stop at the building wall. It might also prevent mobile reception within a several hundred metre radius. It might even, as this jammer did, take out a cell tower, in which case, it will affect reception for (potentially) several miles. Would you be willing to cover half your town with signs?

Jamming is not a good answer. What is a good answer is to educate people to use their phones considerately.

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Stuart Castle

Re: In the 1970's

I had a teacher that could, without turning away from the board, detect almost any form of communication between pupils then throw a chalk at (and usually hit) the person who initiated the communication. In a way, it was almost cool as it was like a superpower, but we learned quickly to not attempt any communication as it was also painful.

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Stuart Castle

Re: Faraday cage...

Goot idea in theory.. In practice, there's the slight problem of planning permission and the cost of refitting the room(s). Not to mention permission from the school.

It would be something the school may be able to implement, but the teacher almost certainly wouldn't be able to.

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Elon Musk's $4.9 BEELLLION taxpayer windfall revealed

Stuart Castle

Re: Comparing with a 'competitive' project

I think the problem NASA has is that the US started it's space program as part of a huge, very expensive, cold war pissing contest with the USSR. The US government would throw any amount of money into the programme as long as it kept delivering goals before the Ruskies.

As such, when the USSR collapsed, so did the US government's interest in beating them, and a lot of the funding dried up.

In the meantime, the various companies involved in the space programme got used to being given massive amounts of money. Companies in this position tend to be a little more relaxed about cutting costs. A lot of companies also assume that because something is government funded, the government won't bother checking the figures, so charge what they want. Believe me, I have experienced this, having worked in our local hospital and taken an interest in actively checking the figures.

Don't get me wrong, I am not criticising the US Space programme. It helped pave the way for massive advancements in technology (including computers) that we are arguably enjoying the fruits of now, and I suspect that SpaceX are also able to use them to reduce costs.

On to Elon Musk, I think $4.9bn is actually relatively cheap when you consider the potential benefits to mankind of what he has already delivered. Tesla has made massive advances in Electric vehicles, and particularly battery tech, many of which they have effectively open sourced. They have also increased sales of electric cars, which should reduce the sales of fossil fuel based cars, and thus (assuming they are charged by electricity from a renewable source) reduce pollution significantly. He has also effectively rebooted the US space programme, or enabled NASA to do so.

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Creationist: The Flintstones was an accurate portrayal of Dino-human coexistence

Stuart Castle

How many sources?

"Ken Ham, an Australian young-Earth creationist, says he is on the verge of proving that dinosaurs and humans coexisted only a couple of thousand years ago."

This sounds like he has started the investigation by looking for evidence to prove his conclusion. This is not good science. For the science to be good, he would have to have started his investigation with (at least) the view he may be wrong, or (at most) a determination to look at the evidence to work out his conclusion based on that. Either way, he should have gone into it with an open mind.

Of course, a good scientist is also ready to have his or her conclusions (however they reached them) questioned and even proved wrong. This is something a lot of religious people are not ready for.

Be interesting to see what (if anything) happens when(if) the paper is published.

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Heartbleed, eat your heart out: VENOM vuln poisons countless VMs

Stuart Castle

Re: Remediate?

According to the OED, remediation is..

"the action of remedying something, in particular of reversing or stopping environmental damage."

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Ofcom: Oi, BT! Don't be greedy – feed dark fibre to your rivals

Stuart Castle

Re: How does this affect investment decisions?

"If any spare capacity that gets installed can be required to be sold at low cost to a competitor, it makes an awful lot of sense to no longer install spare capacity. The regulation acts as a disincentive."

Indeed. Even if the extra fibre only adds a few pounds to the install cost, why are any company going to spend that money just so the fibre can be essentially taken off them and sold for peanuts to a competitor?

I am not a massive fan of BT (quite the opposite, actually), but I don't really see how this is going to benefit anyone apart from other ISPs, and I think this action will actually negatively impact the consumer in the long run as it will dissuade ISPs from investing in their networks in the long term. After all, why bother to invest in brand spanking new hardware, and running new fibre everywhere when they can just bitch to Ofcom and get the fibre for next to nothing? Also, it will no longer be in BTs interest to invest heavily as they know they'll just get slapped for it by Ofcom before they can turn a profit on it.

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World of the strange: There will be NINE KINDS of Windows 10

Stuart Castle

Re: how many?

This is what I read once they call "Simplification". Windows 2000 was released and had four versions. Pro, Server, Advanced Server and Data Centre Server.

then the Server and Client lines were split.

XP had four client editions (Starter, Home, Pro and 64 bit) or 5 if you include Windows Fundamentals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Fundamentals_for_Legacy_PCs) which was designed for thin client work.

Server side, Windows Server 2003 was released a couple of years after XP, and had 6 editions. If you count Server 2003 as the server version of XP, that' already 10 or 11 editions.. Then add in Server 2003 R2 which came with 8 editions..

Vista also had four client editions, but Windows Server 2008 had 10 editions.. That's fourteen editions between the client and server versions of essentially the same OS. Server 2008 R2 had 12 editions..

In fairness, with Windows 8, they are reducing the number of editions, as the client for both 8 and 8.1 has 3 editions, and Server 2012 has five, where as Server 2012 R2 currently has four.

Who knows what they'll do with 10 and whatever the server version of 10 is called.

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Windows 10 bombshell: Microsoft to KILL OFF Patch Tuesday

Stuart Castle

Looking at this from a business point of view, I suspect "Patch Tuesday" was started so that Sys admins could actually set aside some time in their potentially busy schedules so that they could test patches both adequately and quickly.

You say that business can and should be implementing their own patch schedule. They should, but when Patch Tuesday started, Microsoft did not offer a coherent way for ANYONE to do this, and only started offering them two years later. Even now, they only offer a way to do this if you have a Windows Server available on the network. Something which is not cheap, and may not be feasible for small businesses, who may have a few PCs but don't have someone they can dedicate to running a server.

For these people, there may also be the problem of link usage. If they know that all their PCs are going to be using the link to the internet at a given time on a given day, they can schedule anything time sensitive (such as IP based telephone calls) so it does not happen at that time. They can, if they are savvy, also set up their PCs so that they power up at this time, thus enabling the company to save power (and therefore money). OK, so Windows Update will check when the PC is powered up anyway, but this might still cause problems with Link use..

I think Microsoft are going about this the right way. Consumer get the updates whenever they are released, but businesses have a set schedule that they can use. I suspect Microsoft have been a bit slow to introduce this because it is quite a massive change for Windows Update, and if it goes wrong, the effects will be felt world wide. I also suspect that they introduced the fast and slow tracks in Windows Update on windows 10 to test the backend changes required (the Consumer edition being the fast track, and the Business edition being the slow).

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Stuart Castle

Re: Microsoft taking a swipe at another company

Judge Microsoft by what they are doing now, not what they have done. If you judge them by their past, it makes you look bitter, and also slightly stupid when Microsoft consistently does well in security tests now.

Remember, back in the dark old days of XP SP1, Microsoft regularly got their Ass handed to them security wise by the hackers. So much so that they spent a lot of money on their "Trusted Computing" initiative and substantially changed Windows XP with the release of SP2. They also (apparently) deleted a lot of the Vista source code and rewrote it using the recommendations of the Trusted Computing initiative, which is why Vista was late, and delivered a fraction of what they had promised. One major (but actually relatively simple) switch made was to ensure that the Server version shipped with virtually everything disabled, thereby ensuring the sys admin is required to enable the services he or she requires from the machine. This even extended to limiting what the browser could display.

Sure, Windows, along with any reasonably sized to large sized software product has bugs. Some of which are serious, but the security on Windows has been hardened. This is why the hackers are increasingly going for other software such as Java and the various Adobe plugins. When Sun and Adobe get their act together security wise, hackers will move on elsewhere.

BTW, I am not a Microsoft fanboi. Not by a long chalk. I am not a fanboi of any particular platform. I believe in using the "tools for the job". If a platform fits my needs, I'll use it, be it Linux, OSX or Windows.

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Stuart Castle

Re: Remember when...

Read the article. Microsoft is splitting Windows Update into two editions. One, the consumer edition will have the continual roll outs they are talking about. The other, the business edition will run slightly behind the consumer edition (to give sys admins a chance to look for bugs and test each patch) and will still have a monthly patch cycle.

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Major London rail station reveals system passwords during TV documentary

Stuart Castle

The old acronym.. PEBCAK. Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard.

This shows the trouble with humans and security. You can have the best, most advanced systems in the world protecting your computer, but as soon as you involve humans, they can blow the system wide open.

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Intel has ambitions to turn modems into virtual servers and reinvent broadband

Stuart Castle

Re: This matters for the future of video delivery

"I'm sure Microsoft will try to insert themselves in there somewhere, and insist there's a reason we want to run full Windows on the gateway or something ridiculous like that. Had this happened 15 years ago they'd probably have succeeded, and we'd all have to have a WMC PC as our gateway."

Microsoft have already had several attempts at this (and probably spent the equivalent of the GDP of a small country in the process), but only seem to have had limited success..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_TV

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Oxford chaps solve problem in 1982 Sinclair Spectrum manual

Stuart Castle

Re: Wham!

I deal with students learning programming day in and day out, and while we have a lot of excellent students who are producing some interesting things, I can't help thinking, as they moan that their dual, quad or six core PCs with state of the art graphics cards, many gigabytes of RAM and many terabytes of storage (be it HDD, SSD or a combo) are not powerful enough that they would produce far more efficient code if they were required to code something on what we had access to in the 80s (Spectrum, C64, CPC etc). Hell, my Pebble smartwatch has an order of magnitude more computing power than any of the machines I started learning programming on.

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Stuart Castle

" the rubber keyboard Spectrums, as well as the ZX80 and ZX81, all came with decent ring-bound, (normally - I have a rare copy which is not ring bound), full manual, which not only explained BASIC programming in considerable detail, but also basic triganometry, and even a bit about the hardware of the machine,"

True, and something that doesn't happen any more.. How many modern PC manuals (assuming the PC even *comes* with any documentation beyond Windows help contain details of pinouts for the various interfaces.

OK, so if you buy a motherboard, they do sometimes come with manuals that contain pinouts (although increasingly rarely), but what about pre-built PCs? I have quite a few friends who grew up building unusual, and often interesting peripherals for their computers purely with the aide of some chips, a blank PCB and a soldering iron. One of our ex technicians here even built a complete patch panel designed to provide a rudimentary form of networking based entirely on RS232 Serial interfaces.

Don't get me wrong, the PC architecture is open enough that the info is freely available if you know where to look, but that doesn't really encourage experimentation. Having said that, how likely are most people to try something that if they do it wrong, may blow up their PC which may have cost anywhere from £700 to over £1,000? At least the Spectrum was a lot cheaper, and it's relatively easy to toast a motherboard simply by sending a voltage up the wrong line.

Still, there is always the Raspberry Pi.

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Radio 4 and Dr K on programming languages: Full of Java Kool-Aid

Stuart Castle

"The problem with such a claim is "at some point", which is a weasel phrase (even more so than "the bulk"). At some point? Well, sure, because everything's connected to everything else at some point."

When I say "at some point" I mean that C++ was used either in the implementation of a given product, or the implementation of one or more of the components or tools that contribute to the design and implementation of that product. I said the bulk because, as you said, exact figures are actually hard to come by,

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Stuart Castle

Re: “Goto statement considred harmful”

"It would be much better in this case to use a 'goto' to jump immediately to a critical error handler rather than having to propagate the error condition through a potentially complex control flow graph."

Indeed, if the software you wrote was controlling a nuclear power station and an error occurred, the extra time spent propagating the error through a potentially complex control flow graph would probably be better spend initiating and monitoring the shutdown of the reactor. The delay may only be a few milliseconds, but in that sort of situation, even milliseconds could mean the difference between a safe shutdown and a disaster.

My own opinion is that like (say) a knife, goto is not intrinsically good or bad. A knife can be used to kill someone (arguably bad). It can also be used to help feed someone (arguably good). The same with Goto. Used correctly, it can be good. Used badly, it can be very bad.

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Stuart Castle

I haven't heard the programme, but I find it odd that C (and particularly C++) seemed almost to be glossed over. I'd argue that the bulk of the world's computer systems and applications rely on C++ at some point, even those designed using other languages such as Java. After all, the compilers, interpreters and virtual machines in use for those other languages have to be written in something. In the case of Java, the VM is written using a combination of C++ and assembly.

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Got iOS 8.3 installed? Pssh, you are SO last week… version 8.4 is out

Stuart Castle

"Every iOS release to date has been a beta test ."

"Every OS release to date has been a beta test ."

There. Fixed that for you. While it may not be accurate to state every OS is a beta release, every OS does have bugs, a lot of which need to be fixed. Personally, in this day and age, I would rather have an OS that does have patches from time to time than one that never has any, because the one that is never patched will still have bugs and will be insecure. Not a problem if you aren't connected to any networks, but Mobiles tend to be.

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El Reg chefs whip up Post-Pub Noshographic

Stuart Castle

Re: The most astonishing thing about this series is ...

In some companies, getting plastered almost seems to be the rule. Makes it especially fun if you are called in to work again.

Still, that's probably a good explanation for TFL's Oystercard website.

Seriously, I work in IT, and while I do try and eat healthily I do like to let off some steam on Fridays and usually end up at some pub someone, and, on occasion, a club afterwards (although I am a little too old to do that regularly).

That does not mean do not know how to feed myself. Besides, what's the point of being healthy if you have to stop doing the things you enjoy to do it?

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Dell System Detect update vulnerability exposed

Stuart Castle

"I am getting rather fed up with these silly little start-up security firms blowing their own trumpets and trying to look impressive by finding security issues that, whilst they technically exist, are usually PEBKAC issues."

Instead of criticising F-Secure for finding security issues (which is their job), how about you criticise Dell for not ensuring that the affected software updates itself with little or no user intervention. After all, F-Secure noted that the problem they found was fixed in a later version of the program, it's just that the later version has not been installed much because it requires the user to update it.

Before you say a Sys Admin should be managing the updates, home users are not going to have a Sys Admin to update their computer for them. Sure, they may have a family member or friend who does it. The same with a small or medium size company. They may have someone in charge of the computers, but he or she is likely to be doing it on top of their other duties. Large companies should have sys admins for this kind of stuff.

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Are you sure there are servers in this cold, dark basement?

Stuart Castle

Re: Something else is happening here

"Every field has its share of people who are disturbed, distraught, or jut plain jerls, including IT. In this instance, if it wasn't the leaving sysadmins, it was someone else with the access and the knowledge of what was valuable."

This, combined with the access they have to potentially important systems is why it's important to do what they told us to do in my degree when firing contractors and sysadmins. Put simply, if you need to fire one, disable all his or her accounts, cancel his or her access cards (assuming your building uses them) and find a couple of burly security guards to escort them off the premises. All of which happened within 20 minutes of an ex-colleague at another company being fired, and the only reason it took 20 minutes was that his line manager needed to question him first.

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Popular crypto app uses single-byte XOR and nowt else, hacker says

Stuart Castle

Re: Get a grip!

Would you feel the same way about, say , a front door lock that appears secure because it appears to require a key then you discover that using a certain sequence of knocks, you can open it?

It's the same principle, appearing to be secure.

The fact is that this company are selling a product that appears to offer a secure storage system, and it seems it does not offer what they are selling. Personally, I don't feel the need for these security systems (and, TBH, find them to be more trouble than they are worth), however some people do. Regardless of whether you or I feel we need secure storage, if this product is not secure and they are selling it as such, the company are wrong, and probably liable under the Sale of Goods act.

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Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email

Stuart Castle

Re: Holy whitepace, Batman!

"It seems the more pixels we get on our devices, the harder the UI designers work to waste them."

On the other hand, a nice, usable interface might be a little more useful than a 240*135 character text screen that has a a 6 inch diagonal, assuming your device 1920*1080.

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Virgin Media takes its time on website crypto upgrade

Stuart Castle

Re: And they have a ludicrous mandatory weak password policy too

"Yes - El Reg, you should be pursuing them about this too - trivial to lift those restrictions."

When you are dealing with a service that has millions of customers accessing it, no change (however trivial it might seem) is trivial.

That doesn't let Virgin Media off the hook though. If parts of their web infrastructure have potential security problems, they should be working to resolve them as quickly as they can.

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Taylor Swift snaps up EVEN MORE pr0n domain names

Stuart Castle

Re: You have to wonder.

In fairness Taylor Swift's music is marketed at teenagers (whether you like her music or not, it is a fact that it's marketed at the young). As such, she (or her management) has to protect her image. This is probably why while you will see her in a (seemingly) carefully orchestrated relationship with another pop star, you probably won't see her falling out of a club at 4am off her tits on Coke.

Websites associating her name with various hardcore porn acts will damage the image and often the easiest (and cheapest) way to stop them is prevent them ever being registered.

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