* Posts by RobHib

472 posts • joined 17 May 2013

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Yet more NSA officials whisper of an internal revolt over US spying. And yet it still goes on

RobHib
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@ Roj Blake Bronze -- The defn. of "meta".

Before we continue, let's understand what we're talking about.

The correct definition of 'meta' is 'above and beyond' [Philos.] as in 'metaphysics'--unknowable to physics, above and beyond anything of which physics is ever capable of understanding.

The term 'metadata' with respect to internet data is often somewhat loosely used. Ideally, the message (data) has absolutely no 'knowledge' of the metadata (IP addresses etc.) which may not be the case in every instance.

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Lenov-OUCH! 500,000 laptop cables recalled in burning mains cock-up

RobHib
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@Michael H.F.W. -- Yeah.

A normal power cable is so overrated for laptop use that there no way it would blow up on a laptop load.

So what's wrong with its construction? (It's not discussed in the article.)

Power cables are so prosaic and simple that this should just not happen. It raises all sorts of QA issues that, frankly, once would have been unthinkable to contemplate.

What on earth's happening that this could happen?

From the description of the faults the I2R losses must such that the CSA of the cable must be truly minuscule (which doesn't make sense--or there's essentially no insulation).

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Ford dumps Windows for QNX in new in-car entertainment unit

RobHib
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No-brainer!

Simply, QNX means higher reliability.

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Finland ditches copyright levy on digital kit, pays artists directly

RobHib
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Amen to that!

"Meanwhile, speaking at a meeting of tech industry in Brussels on Thursday, Swedish liberal MEP Cecilia Wikstrom said the entire EU copyright system needs to be overhauled."

Amen to that!

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HE'S DONE IT! Malcolm Turnbull unites left and right with piracy policy

RobHib
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Bloody Turnbull's at it again! (For the sake of damage control would someone cuff him.)

This will probably turn out to be as stupid as Turnbull's other fiasco--that of banning incandescent tungsten light bulbs!

As usual, Turnbull's ideas may be noble but his implementation of them is always stuffed. Here in Oz, a mandatory edict from Turnbull replaced incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents without any proper QA specs etc. The consequences were and still are that a large percentage of them would barely last the nominal length of incandescents (1000 hours instead of the supposed 8000+) without failing*; they had stuff-all EMR radiation suppression thus killed much country AM radio reception; and they cost considerably more than incandescents--both in their manufacture and environmental disposal. There was and is a NET LOSS to everyone including the environment--oh, except for the Chinese manufacturers who laughed all the way to the bank!

I won't dwell here on Trunbull's supposed expertise on the NBN and all things ISP-ish as it's too painful to recall. (He once had shares in OzEmail and thinks himself an expert on all matters internet.)

...But what else can one expect from a lawyer who thinks himself knowledgeable about all things technical.

---

* I've had many of these newer compact fluorescents of Asian manufacture fail between 40 and 100 hours. The older Wotan and Philips ones would easily last well over 15,000 hours.

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UK flights CRIPPLED by system outage that shut ALL London airspace

RobHib
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One Wonders...

One wonders how this mob would ever have managed to put the WWII squadrons of thousands of fighters and bombers into the air let alone land them--and also to do so without any IT at their disposal.

errr.

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Denmark BANNED from viewing UK furniture website in copyright spat

RobHib
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Mushroom

Poor Danish Diddums

'Design' has always been a way of circumventing shorter patent laws, and 70 years after the designer's death is ridiculously long anyway.

Let's put this into perspective: Levi Strauss--the inventor (designer) of jeans as we know them today--lived from 1829 to 1902 (72), so if this ridiculously long copyright law was in force back in 1902 then the jeans revolution of the 1950s wouldn't have transpired! Just imagine, no manufacturer would have been able to clone 501-style jeans until at least 1972! [..And there'd be no rivets either!]

Now, today many people live well past 72. Let's say Strauss lived to 85 (1915) the jeans revolution couldn't have started until 1985. Frankly, such a notion is just absurd--the reasons are many: stifling innovation to begin with!

In a sensible world, the UK legislators should tell Danish and other like-minded European legislators to go and root themselves (and that's putting it too politely).

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Oz lawyers wig out over data retention

RobHib
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Unhappy

Oz - once a democracy.

It's hard to get used to the fact that I now live in country that was once a democracy (and I'm old enough to remember it).

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Hawking: RISE of the MACHINES could DESTROY HUMANITY

RobHib
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@Chris Miller

'...one area of expertise, gives you no credibility whatsoever in another, unrelated area'.

Perhaps, but as a member of the human race (as with everyone), he has the right to comment on the matter. Through his high profile, Hawking may have moved such discussions away from nerdsville and placed them in the public domain, which I think would be a good thing.

(The matter concerns me too if for no other reason than throughout history laws and regulations that pertain to and or regulate technological innovation are invariably introduced after the event. If Hawking is right, then it would be too late to do so (think analogies such as thermal runaway and critical mass--too late to regulate or change your mind after the neutrons have reached a critical flux density.)

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Give nerds their own PRIVATE TRAIN CARRIAGES, say boffins

RobHib
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Pint

A cleaver and very splendid idea.

I think this is a cleaver and very splendid idea. Gone are the days when techies, nerds and special technical interest groups would meet in local trades/industrial halls on Friday nights to discuss and argue their interests, and we're much the worse off for the loss.

Despite its marvels, the internet is still no real substitute for personal contact. And I can't think of a better way to do this than in a moving venue. It would ensure a much greater intermingling of people than what happens with the frequenters of fixed-location meeting places (that's if we still had them). Moreover, a mobile meeting place that comes to you and eventually returns you home allows for a multitude of new and innovative ways to meet new contacts--the possibilities are enormous (even mobile science demos/lectures to school kids by experts comes to mind).

Incidentally, trains need not be distracting places: years ago, to my great surprise, I got my highest score ever for a physics lab practical by writing up the notes on a train (mostly from memory). I was late in submitting the docs (a not uncommon occurrence) and the deadline for submitting them was 9AM so I had no option other than to write them up (and draw the graphs and diagrams) on the 3/4-hour train trip to uni. The subject was 'transient impulses through electrical networks'--you know, all that Fourier stuff and such.

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Five-eyes partners dilute UN resolution criticising metadata collection

RobHib
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@mOrt--Re: How ironic.....

Probably has already.

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UK.gov rushes out broken 'Orphan Works' system as EU Directive comes in

RobHib
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Stop

Orphaned works - a fair system needed.

The only reasonable scheme is for genuine copyright holders rights to respected. Stripping metadata and obfuscating owners of copyrighted material simply violates copyright law.

Trouble is that conservatively 70%+ of all works generated in the 20th C. are genuinely orphaned and that existing copyright holders (of newer works whose rights aren't in question) oppose the freeing up of these old orphaned works as they consider them competition. These rights holders want both their cake and to eat it, which, simply, is double-dipping. And unfortunately double-dipping has been rife since the inception of copyright law.

Genuine orphaned works should be freely available to all, and schemes that pass off 'orphaned rights' to highest bidders for fees to government etc. should be outlawed. They are unfair as they just favour the rich and powerful and deny ordinary users rights of access.

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Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road

RobHib
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It's unlikely Tor can ever be fully secure.

I've always assumed that using Tor would bring attention to oneself in the same way that sending encrypted emails flags attention.

This story only seems to confirm that fact. Why wouldn't it? Given the Government's original involvement in Tor together with Snowden's revelations etc., it's obvious to me that Tor would be carefully monitored by any and every available means.

Frankly, I just don't believe that one's privacy can ever be truly secure on the net whilst source and destination IP addresses exist in their current form—irrespective of what obfuscation system one uses in the middle.

Seems to me that these days only the stupid and the desperate would be sufficiently foolhardy to transmit incriminating data across the net, irrespective of the means by which it is done.

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France to draft blacklist banning alleged piracy websites – what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

RobHib
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Facepalm

Re: Vive la revolution! - Don't you really mean "La révolution est morte"?

@ Annihilator

A case of Democratic Entropy perhaps?

Tacitly or or otherwise isn't the real issue. The UK and other Western "Democracies" perceive 1789-90 as ancient and irrelevant history despite all the contrary rhetoric. Today, the sentiments Liberté, égalité, fraternité have little relevance for citizens and in practice are all but ignored by governments, et al.

200 or so years ago in the Enlightenment, these ideals supposedly applied to us hoi polloi one and all--at least in theory. Today, however, they've moved on to only apply to corporates and the powerful (as here) who now 'own' them as some form of divine entitlement.

Of course with France it's especially poignant. ...But then France was first in modern times, wasn't it? So it's not unexpected that we'd find Democratic Entropy beginning there first.

Democracy is still alive and well, it's just that it has shifted its allegiance to a 'better' class of people.

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Google's Eric Schmidt's shock confession: Steve Jobs is.... MY HERO

RobHib
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Unhappy

Oh dear!

For heaven's sake, that's both a huge revelation and a real worry.

Perhaps, without knowing it, that's the reason I stated using Ixquick and other specialist search engines a while ago.

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Data retention: ASIO says Web browsing habits would need a warrant

RobHib
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Critical infrastructure? So who's really to blame, eh?

Irvine also explained ASIO's view of the ability to snoop on third-party computers, saying that it's necessary to prevent attacks against critical infrastructure.

Critical infrastructure worked perfectly well and was pretty secure BC--before computers, so why are those who are responsible for such infrastructure allowed to introduce vulnerable computers into its control systems (thus making it vulnerable)?

Moreover, what right do these bastards have to introduce such crappy vulnerable control systems which then, somehow, seemingly, give ASIO an excuse to carry out surveillance (an excuse which otherwise it would not have had)?

Why aren't those who introduce technologies whose consequential outcomes would restrict our fundamental freedoms, actually brought to account BEFORE they're able to introduce them?

In a democracy it ought to be unacceptable (and unlawful) to introduce vulnerable technologies which restrict our freedoms, especially so when there has been no public debate beforehand. (Right, democracy's broken.)

I don't see David Irvine taking the high moral ground on this point either. Why you may well ask! As Denarius rightfully points out "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

Answer: David Irvine does not have to, as no one is!

QED.

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You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary

RobHib
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@Omniaural -- Re: Thin end of the slippery slope

"I say this as someone who has NEVER downloaded music or movies illegally.

Why, because you're a Goody Two-Shoes or the stuff you want is always available wherever and whenever you want it?

There's little doubt there's a major problem in sourcing much of the content (for whatever reason), thus many resort to piracy out of desperation. Until content providers stop this 'supply' nonsense there'll be little incentive for the 'pirates' to change.

BTW, I never download movies, I very rarely watch them, even on free-to-air TV.

As KjetilS correctly says "They could perhaps try to give customers what the want." and there's precious little that I wish to see.

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RobHib
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@A.C. -- Re: Does anyone know exactly what's being pirated?

"...It's mainly content I missed at the time, for whatever reason.

Right, such pirating would never bring in revenue for the copyright holder anyway, piracy often occurs just because it can be done. It's what I call the 'Photoshop issue': from observations many--probably most--users of pirate copies of Photoshop use it because they have had access to a pirate copy, not because they really need it (and thus would never buy it if not available as a pirate copy). For these users, Gimp or even something less exotic would have sufficed in most instances.

Most of us are guilty of this behaviour even if we're not conscious of it--myself included. For instance, if I record something off the TV for time-shifting reasons and then don't erase it immediately thereafter then this is technically piracy. In my case, stuff can hang around on the PVR or TV set HD until it's full then it's deleted but I'd never buy it--well anyway at least not 99.9% of it!

Unfortunately, the fudged statistics include such examples (thus stats are inflated and misleading). It just reinforces my view that copyright law is well overdue for reform (but don't hold your breath--as we've seen, international treaties aren't reformed quickly (and they usually favour those who originally demand them)).

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RobHib
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Does anyone know exactly what's being pirated?

It seems to me it's difficult to get an accurate handle on what's actually being copied/pirated. From years of experience, we know it's completely nonsensical to take the copyright holder's figures as being even vaguely accurate, so exaggerated they generally are.

With reasonable percentages known for each type/classification (movies, audio, programs etc.) then the problem could be tackled logically instead of all the noisy rhetoric and ballyhoo that now surrounds the copyright problem. From having accurate figures it might be possible to reform copyright law sensibly.

For instance, does the 70-year copyright expiry rule actually make any sense? Having a royalty income for each classification versus percentage for each year from year one to 70 might show that for some classifications the rules are nonsense. Such figures also might show that copyright laws for say movies should perhaps be different to say photographs or books (seems to me much piracy has to to with fads/popularity and, as such, most piracy occurs within a few years of a works' release).

Personally, I believe true copyright reform is long overdue, especially in the case of orphan works or where copyright is continually renewed by farcically small changes to works just to keep them in copyright longer. Copyright holders object to orphan works being available (even on a private-use/non-commercial basis because the market is bigger and thus new works experience more competition). This, I believe, makes little sense unless one is trying to over protect an already existing monopoly (which is what copyright actually is).

The other scam of extending copyright by tiny changes to works is just as morally bankrupt. We see such practices manifest in various ways such as publishers making minor changes to the pagination or adding a new preface to xyz edition etc. just to extend copyright. Such practices should be outlawed.

However, until we've an accurate statistical picture of piracy together with the extent of the many abuses perpetrated by copyright holders, ordinary consumers will be held to ransom by both sides (and we'll continue to end up suffering stupid short-term solutions a la this proposal).

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

RobHib
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Hard to believe.

If these figures are correct (which I find hard to believe) then the only explanation that makes sense is that those who are silly enough to text whilst driving haven't had the sense to stop when the rules came in--only those who know texting whilst driving is extremely dangerous and never did it at any time actually obeyed the rules.

Personally, I find that even using a hands-free two-way transceiver in the car is distracting (as one concentrates on what's being said). As two-way transceiver conversations are generally shorter than mobile phone calls, it only increases my incredulity.

BTW, I've nearly run over several people in the last year or so when they walked out into a busy four-lane road whilst texting on their smartphones completely oblivious of the traffic around them. Are you really expecting me to believe that people become much more aware of their surroundings whilst driving and simultaneously texting? Utter B.S. methinks!

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New Star Wars movie plot details leak, violate common sense and laws of physics

RobHib
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When did science fiction movies ever make scientific sense?

"...violate common sense and laws of physics"

Come on, when did science fiction movies ever make scientific sense? They're not supposed to, after all they're just entertainment.

The last movie I saw that was vaguely credible was '2001 A Space Odyssey' and that was a long time ago. Truly great movie that it was, it still stretched credulity far past anything the rational mind ought to accept.

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Writing about an Australian Snowden would land Vulture South in the clink

RobHib
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Unhappy

@btrower -- Re: Don't give up hope

Hope you're right, but depressingly I don't see it.

These stories make me feel sick. We might outnumber the bastards but they've hypnotised the citizenry from reacting to their excesses with one distraction after distraction another--from iPhones to high-definition TV, to sport, to reality TV--even weekends aren't free any more. There's no time to think.

Tragically, I don't see a skerrick of opposition in the Western World, there's just no will to fight the bastards. Citizens have rolled over, they know they've not a chance against corporate lobbying and big international power. Thus, they also know their vote only effectively represents about one third the value it ought to have. So there's no point in whingeing.

Roman emperors learned this propaganda trick several millennia ago. Everywhere Rome went amphitheatres appeared.

QED.

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Will the next US-EU trade pact prevent Brussels acting against US tech giants?

RobHib
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A real worry.

Just about every past free trade deal with the US has gone the US's way. Australia found this out with its free trade deal with the US. The US creamed the Oz negotiators over IP, pharmaceuticals etc. and the Australian public has been worse off.

Much experience has shown that it's not possible to negotiate on a level playing field with this bully.

This story is very disconcerting.

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German NSA probe chief mulls spy-busting typewriters

RobHib
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Angel

@JimmyPage -- Re: Going retro ... another idea

"...in the future I put Wordstar under CP/M back on my cv ?"

Hum, methinks not a good idea. (The spooks will probably recognise Wordstar's control diamond.)

;-)

Sorry neophytes, Wordstar in-joke!

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RobHib
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Devil

@A.C. -- Re: Not foolproof. -- Ahh, I just love these arguments!

Love these arguments. Here we are designing the next-generation, post-Internet mechanical typewriter. (Flock to El Reg patent boys, get your designs here!) ;-)

Of course you're right: 'fingerprinting' of typewriters followed by some smart Fourier work on the acoustic noise will (can) identify what's going on--that's proven. Presumably a similar trick could be used on the input current if it's electric (sans electronics of course). Each key would have a slightly different loading signature on the motor, hence a different current pattern which could then be given the FFT treatment.

But what will happen if the post-internet mechanical typewriter takes off, eh?

We now know all these spying tricks from Cold War days so designers will go out of their way to obfuscate (randomise) the key noise (or current loads) and such.

...BUT that's just not the point of this argument.

Fact is, ANY mechanical typewriter--even ones with old fashioned one-pass, non-obfuscating ribbons where you can read everything that's been typed--is still a VAST improvement on internet hacking, it would put the kibosh on the NSA's internet operations (as it would mean a return to "real" spying). "Real" spying involves moving atoms from A to B, and that probably means physically moving the spooks themselves from Langley to Berlin or Moscow--a far cry from sedentary screen-gazing in Langley (and London, Oz, Canada, etc.).

Any such internet-free paradigm shift combined with newly-designed "quiet" typewriters would give the spooks a really big headache, it means almost starting from scratch (and it's obvious that's just what the Russians and Germans are attempting to achieve).

As they say, we live in interesting times.

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RobHib
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@A.C. -- Re: Not so crazy

"All-in-all, one can see why George Smiley's job was so difficult in days of yore..."

That's why the German and Russian 'paper' solution is such a nifty one (albeit inconvenient).

George Smiley will have to get up off his arse, give up computer solitaire and work for a living.

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RobHib
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@A.C. -- Re: But in the past mechanical Typewriters divulged their secrets to the spys

Come on, really?

Any new mechanical typewriter would automatically overwrite/obfuscate the ribbon on a one-pass basis. Remember, this problem is not new, nor are obfuscating-ribbon typewriters (they go back decades, so do the procedures for securely disposing of ribbons).

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RobHib
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@ Anonymous Blowhard -- Re: I'm not surprised. (And there's....)

Right. As I've implied above "real" spying is difficult and expensive.

The last thing the NSA and GCHQ want is a return to "real" spying. That's why the 'return-to-paper' plan is so potentially effective. The words 'typewriters' and 'paper' must be blood-curdling in Langley, methinks.

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RobHib
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Re: I'm not surprised. (And there's some practical reasons too.)

"Photographing paper will simply mean being far more selective about what they target."

Correct, absolutely!

Moreover, it's much more difficult and expensive to physically photograph, pinch and or rifle through paper documents in a high-security vault in Berlin (or get insiders to steal them for you) than it is to sit in front of a terminal in Langley Virginia whilst an automatic spider does the rifling of easily-broken databases.

(Cost is almost everything--the current worldwide surveillance rort by the NSA/GCHQ et al is only possible because it's comparatively cheap, doing the equivalent by paper would not only be impossible, it'd also be unthinkable).

If I was ultimately responsible for securing Russian or German high-security documents in the present uncertain security climate then I certainly implement a return-to-paper policy (as horribly inconvenient as it may be).

I'd also ban anything but trivia being sent by email and telephone, encrypted or otherwise (metadata being useful and revealing).

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RobHib
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@RobHib -- Re: I'm not surprised. ...And I should have added.

Social Democratic Party committee rep Christian Flisek also took to Twitter in opposition of the call for retro word processing labelling the idea "ridiculous" and not a normal part of counter-surveillance.

I should have added that Flisek is obviously from the post-paper generation. One of the major failings of the post-paper generation is to so completely embrace electronic data without properly understanding how the security paradigm has changed from paper to electronic systems. Flisek wouldn't make such categorical statements if more knowledgeable.

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RobHib
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Coat

I'm not surprised. (And there's some practical reasons too.)

As we've seen, the Kremlin has mooted similar tactics of resorting back to typewriters and paper-based documents. Seems it's desperate tactics for desperate times.

From earliest days, I've always believed that it's fundamentally harder to steal lots of data from paper-based systems. Paper-based systems are fundamentally different from electronic ones; for starters, physical access to documents is a requirement to copy a document. In paper-based systems one has to physically move real atoms from A to B.

Paper-based systems don't stop data theft but the concept of stealing terabytes of data by photocopying/photographing properly secured paper documents is farcical, not so for ephemeral electronic data.

Practical electronic data systems aren't sufficiently secure as US military and NSA experience illustrates. Thus perhaps resorting to paper is the price that has to be paid until secure electronic document transport and storage systems are developed.

If nothing else, it'll focus the mind on what ought to be kept truly secure.

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Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot

RobHib
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FAIL

@ moiety - For Heaven's sake (some of us are actually human)!

Some of us are actually human--not automatons capable of instantly recalling every 25-digit Microsoft product code for every PC we own!

I'm reasonably security concious and even I take shortcuts. I have a small cadre of a half dozen or so helper passwords that I use on 'disposable' sites which I can actually remember. Mind you, these passwords aren't real words but rather are alphanumeric strings of no less than eight characters. If I forget a site's password then I only have to cycle through a half dozen or so well-remembered strings.

For important stuff I use much longer passwords which I have also committed to memory. And for truly critical stuff I use even longer passwords where the first dozen or so characters are recalled from my memory and the remainder of the string loaded from a source that's external from the PC (the full password doesn't exist anywhere--either written down or in my head).

What the Microsoft researchers are saying makes very considerable sense.

Isn't that bloody obvious!?

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YES: Scotland declares independence ... from the dot co dot uk empire

RobHib
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Re: Eh?

"England is one godforsaken corner of the earth. Ask the Romans ..."

...So is Scotland, the Romans proved it with a wall!

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CERN data explains how Higgs heavies other matter

RobHib
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Look forward to the 13 TeV setup results.

I'm looking forward to reading reports say late 2016 when the dust settles on the 13 TeV setup results. As is always with science, additional research and time to digest results is necessary and prudent.

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Israel develops wireless-malware-injection-by-smartmobe tool

RobHib
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Boffin

@ RobHib -- Boot Note -- Re: Agreed -- @ Paul Crawford [Two weeks on]

BOOT NOTE -- TWO WEEKS ON

---------------------------------------------

Just read an article in New Scientist, 21 June 2014, No. 2974, p20 about this matter titled: Opening a can of bugs -- NSA spy gadgets built using info leaked by Edward Snowden.

It says radio hackers have reversed engineered NSA gadgets on info supplied by Snowden (based on the NSA's Advanced Network Technology). Article is brief and non-technical and refers to software-defined radio (RF generated presumably developing Fourier/DSP transients etc. (equiv filters) to generate RF frequencies without coils and inductors. Can be mounted in USB etc.

There's essentially two types: sniffers that collect the 'coherent' noise from keyboards, video cables etc. and ones that inject signals.

The vagueness and non-technical nature of the article doesn't help. But on the info supplied, this tech doesn't seem to violate RF engineering: RF leakage from non-message-producing devices (in the RF sense as opposed to leakage from a computer (which is 'partially coherent')).

Essentially, the key issues remain the same, there's RF sniffers that detect switching 'noise' and send it off for further processing and systems that generate RF which can be implanted thus allow info to escape by RF. The 'breakthrough'--if you can call it that--is the SDR, software defined radio, which allows transmissions on a very large band of frequencies (not being limited by tuned oscillators etc.) [heaven help the harmonics/interference to other RF devices!]

The SDR in this schema is somewhat functionally equivalent to the hypothetical DC-to-Daylight transmitter that I proposed in my earlier post. Basically, SDR allows any old TX frequency to be dialled up in software (over a large but not definitively announced band of frequencies). It states that these frequencies can cover AM, FM, GSM and Bluetooth, which implies a range from about 0.5MHZ to 2GHz or more, which is very wide (as it covers all wireless technology old and new, domestic and industrial/commercial, and perhaps up to the 5GHz band or even higher. (Very handy, I'd like several to distribute FM/AM/TV broadcasts to small portable devices around my house, methinks.)

In summary, watch out for spider like things attached to or hanging off your keyboard and video cables with 2cm of wire (antenna) attached; araldite your PC closed and bootstrap it with anti-tamper seals; and don't let USB devices, stray monitors, keyboards etc. that don't have a proper security 'lineage' (guaranteed free from tampering) anywhere near your PC.

Nothing much has changed, but the ante has been considerably upped (and it'll be surprisingly sophisticated in its delivery and miniaturised packing and such), as the money thrown at it by the NSA et al will essentially be limitless.

The good news is that the article also points out that hackers are working all-out to reverse engineer this stuff and to provide suitable antidotes.

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RobHib
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Re: Agreed -- @ Paul Crawford

BTW, whilst eliminating mobile phones from workers today might me nigh on impossible, a secure environment could easily ensure the cell phones were only ones without an internet connection (and that was the condition of entry/employment etc. I'd not think this not unreasonable in a nuclear research establishment and such ).

Such phones do still exit. My own cell phone is an LG (model A-190) which has no internet connection (only phone and text). This is deliberate, I prefer to use a laptop or netbook.

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RobHib
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Agreed -- @ Paul Crawford

Agreed, if you have a detector sniffing the RF leakage from keyboards, screens etc. then you can sniff that. Years ago, PGP had a secure view (video) mode to overcome that problem.

Infecting a machine that doesn't have 'sensors' [receivers] to detect a RF data stream is another matter altogether. Even if theoretically possible, doing so from a low powered cell phone that already has a severely limited range of transmitter frequencies (~1GHz or so plus the usual wireless and Bluetooth stuff) is highly unlikely (and you'd have to know a reasonable amount about the internal electronics etc. to have a sporting chance). Even with a reasonably high powered transmitter with a theoretical DC-to-daylight frequency output range then you'd still have a problem.

Seems to me Suxnet could only get onto the centrifuge via exciting hardware ports: wireless, LAN, USB, floppy disk etc., lots of stray RF near computers usually crashes them.

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

RobHib
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@RobHib -- Re: @Mr_Toad - - "Men have become the tools of their tools" Henry David Thoreau

Since I posed my Thoreau comment several hours ago, I've actually reread Civil Disobedience--it takes about an hour. Well, it's lost nothing for me, it still has the relevance, boldness and frisson as I remembered it from my last reading about five years ago.

What I continue to find surprising is how relevant much of it is today--and it tells be that not much has changed in our democracy in the last 165 years or so, if anything the ethics are worse today because of slick PR.

BTW, I found it a pleasant experience following the text and audio together (I combined the first text link and audio, it's very easy to follow that way.)

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RobHib
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@ Arnaut the less -- Re: @Mr_Toad - - "Men have become the tools of their tools" Henry David Thoreau

"Walden phase Mummy still did his laundry"

Yeah, they say some very unsavoury things about Plato's habits too but we still read him several thousand years later. For example, The Republic is still the first and definitive book on formal argument (the first part that is); the debate between Socrates and Thrasymachus is riveting stuff, and it still never ceases to amaze me.

So let it be with Thoreau. Read the words in Civil Disobedience and let them speak for themselves. The text's 165 years old but it's uncanny how relevant some of it still is. And that's not just my opinion, the number of Thoreau readers/sites etc. on the net attest to this. Years ago, in part of my training, Civil Disobedience was compulsory.

Seems it still is, it's long past the flavour of the month and now long-established in the canon, so there's substance there that's past the test of time. (As I've said elsewhere, I've read it again in the last hour or so since I made the post, and for me it's still pretty damn relevant).

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RobHib
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@Mr_Toad - - Re: "Men have become the tools of their tools" Henry David Thoreau

Mr Toad,

Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with Mr Thoreau before making pronouncements about his politics.

I'd suggest you start with Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, it's a very short text. Years ago, I had to study this text for exams, and I must say--appealing to my nature as it did--I actually enjoyed studying it.

In this age of NSA, GCHQ spying and governments out of control, it seems to me that wheeling out a good dose of Thoreau once again might be just what the doctor ordered.

You'll note, unlike today's weasel-worded politicians and PR cretins, Thoreau doesn't muck about, he cuts to the core in his very first sentence:

Civil Disobedience (best)

or here:

Civil Disobedience

or you can even listen to the audio here:

Civil Disobedience (audio)

Now, if you're ever feeling you need to get away from things (escape NSA spying etc.), then you could try one of Thoreau's more sedate works, Walden perhaps (I'll let you Google it).

Thank you for raising my old friend Thoreau, it seems timely we resurrected him once again.

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RobHib
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Facepalm

Much tech has lost the plot.

I too could write a book on this subject but I'll be brief.

You know the tech world's gone mad when you find it's cheaper to buy replacement printers rather than ink cartages.

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Cryptome pulled OFFLINE due to malware infection: Founder cries foul

RobHib
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Re: @ moiety -- @ moiety

Yes, I'm sure you're correct about it not being censorship. Unlike Snowden, Cryptome is an annoying pimple rather than a gangrenous leg. If anything, it probably acts as a reliable, all-in-one-place updater for second/third-line public servants.

As the site is and has been accessible to US authorities for years, it's probably tolerated on the basis that weighing up the noise of closing it down/free-speechers etc. versus propagation of potential damage a la Snowden-level leaks, they've let things lie (it's what those in power are prepared to put up within a democracy). It seems to me that most of the stuff leaked was already available elsewhere.

Again, total supposition on my part, but I'd reckon it'd be a good assumption that John Young and Deborah Natsios have been spoken to in the past and they've a red line they will not cross. The stuff on the site is fascinating (I can read it for hours--it's more entertaining than whodunnits on TV) but, to me, it doesn't seem to be the stuff that'd bring out the Apaches and support crews.

Nevertheless, it's a warts-and-all, in-your-face, site that would annoy many and I'm sure it is monitored by the powers-that-be on a regular basis. Moreover, I'd reckon the site would regularly come under attack, even if not from government.

As a visitor to the site (albeit last time some months ago), I'd love to know what PHP code was suss--what does it do etc. After all, the site is designed not to be a script haven, plain as it is.

What NetSol and likes have been up to is anyone's guess (and a lot of what's happened is probably based on internal politics / perceptions etc.).

Again, any/all of those options you mention could come into play--even the duty IT staff may have played a 'political' hand given an opportunity, who knows. Perhaps Cryptome might be able to eventually leak that too.

;-)

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RobHib
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@ moiety

Sure, I agree (in normal circumstances anyway).

But have you ever visited Cryptome? It mightn't take much of an excuse in Cryptome's case, as I'm sure it's high on the reading list of many government officials and often they won't like what they read (hence my earlier facetious comment re NSA et al).

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RobHib
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Big Brother

Re: Bit worring. -- @ Destroy All Monsters

I hope they're here soon, I've run out of pills and the dog's chewing my internet modem again!!

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RobHib
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Black Helicopters

Bit worring.

It's a bit worrying knowing a site one's visited might be suss. But then I'm an infrequent visitor and the last time was several months ago.

Cryptome must take the cake for the plainest site on the Web but its articles are riveting. I find it endlessly fascinating. Once there, I can spend hours jumping from one government scandal to another. It's quite addictive really.

Nevertheless, when visiting Cryptome, I've always the nagging feeling that the NSA, GCHQ and DSD are logging my IP and every single article/PDF I flip through.

But perhaps I'm just paranoid.

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Vodafone Australia's 'doubles user traffic' on free weekend

RobHib
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Mushroom

Another Australian Telecom Scandal -- And Two Days On Yet There's Only Two Posts?

I picked this up story two days on in 'older stories' and there's still only two posts. Why?

Frankly, I think Australian users of telecommunications services have been and remain shell-shocked. Wireless charges in Australia are nothing other than extortionate--there's simply no other way of putting it.

Let me give you an example: two weeks ago--having temporarily misplaced my mobile phone--I borrowed a prepaid Telstra mobile from a colleague. The account balance when I started was about $14.50, I then added $20. However, unbeknownst to me, the phone's owner checked the account on-line before I added the $20, and realising the balance was low he added a further $40, so the balance was about $74.50.

The balance of that account is now exactly $4.15. So where did $70+ go?

I made two short calls to the phone's owner (even exaggerating, the total time can't have been more than 15 mins), and I made three calls to a client just to organise meeting times (several minutes at most for each call). As this phone doesn't log the call duration, only numbers, I can't provide exact times until I get them from my colleague when he next checks the account.

So you think I'm exaggerating. Well, believe it or not, here's a cross-check:

This prepaid account was opened in Feb 2011 so that makes the account about 3 years 4 months old. Now the phone does log the total outgoing talk/dialled* time since the phone SIM was first used which is :

02:56:05 hours - - Total outgoing call time since new

Essentially 3 hours in 40 months. Now the account is a 30-day prepaid so let's do the sums:

Total monies paid to Telstra: $30 x 40 months ==> $1,200

Total time in minutes (60 + 60 + 56) ==> 176 minutes

Average price per minute of this Telstra prepaid mobile: 1200/176 ==> $6.82 / min.

If I was Euler or Gauss and derived an optimising algorithm/ideal usage path [à la the Königsberg Bridge Problem or such] to optimise call times/versus/persons/versus duration of call etc. (such as ensuring this spare phone was handed around in such a way that the $30/month ran out exactly at the 30-day point and the recharge entered at that point), then I'd guess the cost of the call would be somewhat cheaper.

The fact is one can't run a prepaid monthly by clockwork unless one is C-3PO, so Telstra has yuh by the short and curlies.

Australia needs a Royal Commission into telephone pricing and how deregulation went so horribly wrong. But that will never happen. Why would it when it was the government that fucked up big time. Moreover, many of us saw it coming but were powerless to stop it.

(PhD thesis anyone? Providing a definitive historical account and financial analysis of Australian telecommunications deregulation would have to get someone a PhD and thanks from a very grateful public -- and if you want background info I'll even give you copies of still-disputed accounts with both Telstra and Vodafone which amount to many thousands of dollars.)

El Reg, If Vulture South wants 5-brownie points and a koala stamp, not to mention accolades for the Oz public, it could expose what's really going on behind the Great Australian Telecommunications Fraud. Perhaps we could start a fund to pay whistleblowers to get the real dope on what's going on inside these secretive phone carpetbaggers.

______

* There is no internet connection on this phone and total outgoing SMSs since new is only 22, so other charges are negligible for this accounting.

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ARRRRR. Half world's techies are software PIRATES – survey

RobHib
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Coat

Hard to believe

Hard to believe unless the stats are slanted at back-yard businesses in Asia. Most IT pros know it's too much trouble.

Besides, the BSA has always exaggerated. (As an IT department head, I recall using using their bullshit stats in the early 1990s into frightening management to giving me more money for my IT budget. The BSA's copyright claims are so way-out that even hardened financially-tight-arsed managements will pay up without question.)

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Congress passes crackdown on NSA surveillance

RobHib
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Re: I am delighted to see this... @ Preston Munchensonton

'And this highlights everything wrong with modern' [democracy].

Is there anything really wrong with modern democracy or rather is it just our [the common] perception of it?

In my other post cynicism reigns. But why? Well, the reality of modern democracy is nothing like I was taught at school, and years later I'm still struggling to get used to the fact! In practice, all that stuff from Plato to Rousseau and later is balderdash. Perhaps we should blame our teachers for indoctrinating us with fairy stories.

Seems to me that if we were told the truth then we'd be better equipped to manage the power-hungry. But Catch-22, why would they tell us the truth? Clearly, telling fairy stories to the citizenry ensures it remains docile.

I too have great respect for those who serve in the military; tragically, the fairy stories damage them the most (ask most veterans).

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RobHib
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Re: ... and E) -- @Charles Manning

'They don't care what the prez tells them.'

Right. The only way to make this even reasonably watertight is to enact laws to ensure the Nuremberg defence cannot be used no matter who is responsible—'following orders' would be no excuse irrespective of who (or whatever authority) gives the orders.

Laws with substantial penalties that directly put the onus on both organizations and individuals not to act in certain ways—whether they be public or private entities, public sector employees or individuals would be necessary. Thus, anyone breaking such laws would always be under the threat that a whistleblower (a la Edward Snowden) could easily land them behind bars.

Of course, Hell's likely to freeze over first. Even outside secret organisations such as the NSA, GCHQ etc. governments have been long averse to passing laws that make individuals directly responsible whether they are public sector employees or those employed by corporations ('tis why we've so many badly behaved corporations—employees are mostly immune from prosecution, e.g.: witness the global financial crisis and how so few are actually behind bars).

Another essential rider would have to be that the laws would apply no matter where the crime was committed thus negating any Guantanamo/rendition—type 'escapes'.

Don't hold your breath, nothing much will change except Government PR/BS.

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Kids hack Canadian ATM during LUNCH HOUR

RobHib
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Wounderful stuff

I'll employ 'em.

(For legit work of course.)

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