* Posts by RobHib

490 posts • joined 17 May 2013

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'NSA, GCHQ-ransacked' SIM maker Gemalto takes a $500m stock hit

RobHib
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Any advance on 'Cyber Thugs'.

The more I read about the antics of these government-sponsored cyber thugs, the more they resemble common criminals--with the law unto themselves and unaccountable to no one.

But that's putting it mildly, and mild it is.

(I nearly said what I really think, but I'd have been accused of falling victim to Godwin's.)

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Australian ISPs agree to three-strikes-plus-court-order anti-piracy plan

RobHib
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What exactly does naughtiness amounts to?

'A second allegation of naughtiness within twelve months will result in the despatch of a “Warning Notice” ...'

'Naughtiness' by itself is a simple notion, so what's its actual extent? A single encounter with a file-sharing site that would make the Ort Cloud seem close, or one that would make Kim Dotcom feel overly satisfied.

Exactly how this is played out will be its key to success or failure.

As a person who feels that movies of the 1930's are overly modern, it's unlikely I'll ever encounter Hollywood's wrath, but it seems to me that many such industry agreements are dangerous and often fail. Also, using a surrogate cop for any reason is fraught with problems, especially one who is under duress to perform. Sometimes the antiquated procedures the law may be a better option, and this may be one of them.

Seems a worry for some, I'll bet there'll be blood on the floor before it's over.

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Did NSA, GCHQ steal the secret key in YOUR phone SIM? It's LIKELY

RobHib
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@thebackhand --Re: Legality. But!

'[Govts] ...have been monitoring international traffic since the 1940's...'

Very true, but in the old days pre digital AXE telephone exchanges, we had Strowger/SXS (step-by-step) and cross-point/crossbar exchanges which required considerably more effort and manpower by government to monitor. (You'll have probably seen old B/W cops and robbers movies where the crooks are trying to get away and some telephone exchange techie with the police looking on is hastily tracing their phone call along the sequential stepping of Strowger switches to get their phone number before they rang off—in those days the only 'call log' was the charging meter impulse.)

What's happened with the introduction of AXE and similar computerized exchanges is nothing short of an almighty huge paradigm shift—no exaggeration whatsoever. An AXE exchange enables authorized persons to sit at a remote location—even in another country—and monitor/trace calls at will, not to mention to do so with considerable ease; furthermore, blanket surveillance monitoring is essentially automatic—that's until the 'machinery' signals 'juicy bits have arrived'. This computerized technology empowers The State's ability for general surveillance more than it ever possibly dreamt of 50 years ago.

Moreover, it's not just the automatic logging/recording of AXE-type computerized switching equipment that's important, behind it are all the trappings of professional data management infrastructures. Extend this to the internet and the mega collection centers run by the likes of GCHQ, NSA, ASIO etc. and we've the huge extent of state surveillance as it is today.

Just by computerizing the exchanges alone, The State has found itself with a very considerable advantage over its citizens, it now knows more about us than ever before, and more knowledge inevitably means more power and control over our lives by government. Couple this with the new laws covering surveillance and security and that telcos are forced to install government surveillance access points—usually at the telco's expense, then there's no doubt that what we've witnessed over the past 50 years is a huge shift of power to The State.

Essentially, technology has enabled The State to do whatever it damn well wants in the security and privacy areas of citizens' lives, and it damn well has—without our permission. Moreover, it's done so through omission, obfuscation, FUD and misinformation. Failure of governments to explain clearly and succinctly to all citizens that the telephone is no longer private is aided and abetted by the fact the average punter has difficulties in understanding the huge significance / ramifications of changing from electromechanical switching to computer based systems (Strowger to AXE etc.) is also part of the problem. Effectively, it has meant that there's been a huge and manifold increase in the ease by which governments can monitor citizens, and they've gotten away with it at ease.

Governments have introduced this hugely enabling and powerful monitoring technology without any public debate. Here's some instances: when did you hear ANY government say to its citizens—through say big type in the front of phone books, TV ads, advertising campaigns etc.:

(a) that government has cheap and easy means to conduct surveillance on you and all citizens, it does so now and it has every intention of continuing to so do, and;

(b) the government will carry out surveillance on you and other citizens whenever it wants to so do, either by listening to or monitoring your conversations and activities or by any other means at its disposal such as the collection of your metadata, whether you protest about it or not, and;

(c) it will do so in utmost secrecy without your knowledge and without having to tell you—and if you find out by accident that you're under surveillance and tell others of the fact, then you'll be charged with subversion and or sedition even if you've never committed any criminal act nor intend to do so—just by telling others you're under surveillance (or you tell of others who are), then you've committed a criminal act, and;

(d) that the government will conduct blanket monitoring/surveillance across the state at will—even if you're not a suspect or have never been a suspect in any illegal or nefarious activities, you will, nevertheless, likely be under surveillance, your activities will be recorded at will by the government—and if it doesn't like what you are doing or even what you are thinking then its general monitoring will metamorphose into outright heavy-duty surveillance of your person as well as your friends, relatives and contacts—just on that information alone, and;

(e) that the private information that the government collects about you through its surveillance of you may and probably will be shared with governments of other countries—governments that you've never voted for, and;

(f) that governments have never issued in advance of commencing general blanket surveillance any publicity to warn you and all fellow citizens of the very real dangers posed by state surveillance, nor have they proffered sensible advice such as how not to draw attention to yourself and how NOT to incriminate yourself, your family, friends or contacts etc. by saying silly things over the telephone or internet or discussing, implying and or even mentioning anything that's controversial or that may be misconstrued as controversial, criminal or subversive—even in jest? After all, in the first instance, it ought to be the proper responsibility of government to keep its citizens out of trouble!

Not that long ago such spying activities by democratic governments on its own citizens would have been unthinkable, as that was the stuff of dictatorships, not democracies; but in recent times tragically it has ACTUALLY happened in our democracies without a whimper of public debate (that of itself ought to be remarkable, but these days secrecy, spin and propaganda is managed by governments with considerable finesse). That governments have acted this way is nothing less than authoritarian action by deliberate stealth against their citizens; there is no simpler way of putting it, facts are facts. As a citizen, I consider such authoritarian action by my government as a basic and fundamental threat to our democratic freedoms, and that's an understatement.

Even in wartime (WWII for instance), the general public was made well aware of the special wartime needs for secrecy and other special wartime laws etc. Here, with nationwide surveillance, we're not told anything, nor have we ever been properly informed. And that our leaders are now actually discussing such matters at all, albeit with their usual wont of absolutely minimal information, is only because the secrecy surrounding them has been blown by whistleblowers, Snowden and others.

In WWII, millions of our citizens died to protect our democracies from authoritarian rule, now we're entering it little by little, by stealth in fact. Such inaction and inability by society to deal with problems of magnitude, such as governments getting beyond their calling and lording it over their citizens, is what a high ranking military commander, who years ago was my boss for a while, aptly called 'the creeping paralysis problem'. It's a core and fundamental issue facing modern democracies, it underpins why those in charge can wield so much power without riots occurring.

Today, we live in fear of losing those tragically hard-won gains for freedom. How else can we read it when, in the eyes of our leaders and the powerful elites, we citizens command such little respect and trust that they will not even discuss such key democratic issues with us? Clearly, the writing's on the wall for democracy (at least as we knew it) when these elites flatly refuse to debate matters of such fundamental importance with us 'plebs'. Moreover, the animosity is made considerably worse by the twaddle and unmitigated lies rolled out 'that mum's the word in the name of security you know', even a five-year-old knows operational matters aren't the same as why you conduct them.

Looking at our democracies holistically, any reasonable person has to conclude that these bastards really do have a damn fucking hide to treat us citizens in such a dismissive and cursory way. Crunch time has to come sooner or later; the big question is whether we citizens can muster enough gumption or have the balls to win.

When governments retort to criticisms with clichés such as 'it's all for your own safety' and similar patronizing twaddle then the inevitable question must be asked: the world, at least as I once knew it some years back, wasn't such a dangerous place, so who was in charge, either just fiddling or causing the problem, such to let it get in such a damnable mess. Right, it's the same pack of miserable bastards who are now leading us down the path towards totalitarianism.

Again, damn them! There, I've said it—and the clock's yet to strike thirteen.

(Let's hope Room 101's walls are painted in tasteful colours.)

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RobHib
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@ Christoph -- But how different would the Greens be when in power?

'...is the Greens. They're a long way from perfect...'

Yeah, perhaps. ...But like all pollies, put them into power and things change (as I've mentioned here in another post).

What's really wrong isn't so much the politicians (although many are far from perfect and we deserve better), but it's the system of the so-called democracy that we have today. For various and complex reasons, this form of representation simply doesn't work effectively anymore (that's if it ever did). By 'effectively' I mean that it doesn't work best for what most of us understand to be the citizenry.

It doesn't take Einstein to figure out that essentially all politicians are more susceptible to influence from those who already have power (through lobbying or whatever) than poor, just-about-disenfranchised Joe Bloggs voter. Similarly, no matter what a politician's persuasion, he/she's very brave to buck The Establishment. Of course, the establishment is many and varied--the truly powerful are not only large corporations, organizations etc. but especially senior public servants who wield very considerable 'hidden' power (and like Sir Humphrey are so very powerful).

Couple the Sir Humphreys with secrecy, scare tactics and FUD and the average politician is easily outwitted, outnumbered and out-powered--not to mention misled through omission, obfuscation and outright deception by smart public servants; thus it's a very 'brave' one who'll put his/her neck directly on the line. Experience shows most don't.

Gone are the days of great statesmen, Pitt et al, and of principle and what's right and best for citizens, and the Millian principle of utility/greatest good for the greatest number. Unfortunately, times have changed.

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RobHib
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@Sir R. S. -- Re: Does anyone still think this is only about terrorism? Etc.

'The spying of my country's state aparatus on it's citizens en-masse is a tool of oppression.'

Too right. Since when and how did this pernicious, effectively unaccountable process enter democracy? I can't remember any detailed exposé explaining the 'benefits' to the citizenry in all those various texts from Locke, Rousseau, etc, etc.

Err, sorry, I forgot about the updated version: forget all that social contract nonsense and stuff, democracy's defn. is, of course, determined by those who hold the power (and it's no longer us--that's if it ever was).

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RobHib
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@All Names Taken -- Re: Don't be daft?

With regard to security, FOI legislation etc., have you ever noticed what politicians say and promise when in opposition? These comments usually are about making the 'system' more transparent etc. but when in power they run scared and continually fail to implement them. It's not country specific either--well, anyway, certainly not in the English-speaking world.

It seems to me there's a secret, well-rehearsed magic script that security gnomes read to politicians (or more likely instruct them to follow) when they first get into government that scares the shit out of them and which simply puts the kibosh on any genuine well-intentioned plans.

Whatever it is would make Sir Humphrey very proud, methinks.

(Oh to be a fly on the wall at one of those briefings.)

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RobHib
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Re: Misuse of computers act. No exceptions

How the hell can we? The gnomes--paid for by our taxes--are secret, 'invisible' and unaccountable in any practical sense, and they'd be immune from prosecution anyway!

As Albert Jay Nock said in his 1935 book Our Enemy, the State* the true enemy of the citizenry is the State. The only difference 80 years on is that we're finding out the truth somewhat quicker with the Net.

* A quick Google will find it.

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Vint Cerf: Everything we do will be ERASED! You can't even find last 2 times I said this

RobHib
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@Nigel Whitfield -- Re: As soon as I get home ...

'... thermal printer'

I hope you mean the kind of thermal printer where the printing dyes/pigments sublimate onto the surface, these are excellent for longevity. Commonplace thermal paper printers are a disaster. That thermal paper has stuff-all retention time before it fades. Moreover, it's sensitive to all sorts of chemicals and turns black in the presence of cleaners, alcohol etc. A mere whiff of certain household chemicals is all that's needed to do damage--just stored nearby bottles of cleaners will do.

A few years back, I needed to access to some my records for accounting purposes and I had great trouble in reading some documents that were only a couple of years old. They'd faded to the point of illegibility and I had to use the computer entries instead. However, the computer records aren't proof of a transaction whereas the original paper receipt/document is.

Thermal paper and to a lesser extent badly done dye-line printing are the only forms of data retention that I rate less reliable than current-day digital backups.

BTW, I've a stack of QICs of the older variety (recorded on Mountain tape drives). Fortunately, I've not needed the data from these in years, for if I did then I'd be hard pressed to retrieve it other than to resurrect some old DOS machine. Does anyone have a simpler, perhaps more eloquent solution to this problem. (I'm sure I'm not alone in having stacks of old QICs in storage.)

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RobHib
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@Vinyl-Junkie - Re: Vellum, eh?

Let's begin with something that ought to be dear to your heart. Vinyl recordings will most likely outlast their digital counterparts.

So far, each successive generation of recordings and (recording formats) has a shorter life than its predecessor. I've commercially-cut DVDs that are now unreadable which are less than a decade old, whilst my vinyl records are still very much intact some of which are over 50 years old. I've also a few 78s that are 90+ years old and are still in reasonable condition.

The issue here is not that vellum can be reused--so can paper with a pencil* and eraser--but whether the data will still be around after a reasonably long time if one wants it to be. Most written stuff from history isn't around today because people either didn't want it to be preserved or they didn't care to look after it.

The issue Cerf is making is that Vellum, if given a chance, will store information for thousands of years, that's much more than can be said for present digital information storage--the reasons for which are either technical limitations or society's lack of concern for the fate of recently-old information, or both.

Whilst in theory digital information can be stored indefinitely, practice is another matter altogether. I've considerable difficulty recovering my own digital documents from the early 1980s even though I've taken steps to look after them. Technology has made it difficult for me to store them either efficiently or transparently; whether they warrant storage is another matter altogether--but it's an issue which Cerf and many others including myself are very concerned about.

(* Wherever possible, I've always used a propelling pencil and eraser in preference to a ballpoint for this specific reason--even today, I don't feel properly dressed unless my 'Cross' propelling pencil and a notebook are in my top pocket. Much experience has shown me that (a) it's still quicker to jot in a notebook than in an iPhone, and (b) that 10-20 years on, that this data stored in human-readable format is more likely to be still about and accessible than its machine-readable cousins.)

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RobHib
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@Gordon 10 - Consider this.

Let's say some document of equivalent 'importance/influence' as the the King James Bible of 1611 had first entered the world not as printed material but on-line as ephemeral 0s and 1s in 2011--exactly 400 years later.

1. Would that document have the same influence over the forthcoming 400 years, everything else equated equal?

2. Would it matter if its influence was more or less influential than its printed-on-atoms version of some 400 years earlier (leaving aside one's religious/political position on its contents)?

3. What does it mean to society/posterity/history etc. that in the digital age that the 'modern ephemeral version' might never make it past five years of age let alone 400 years?

Permit me to suggest that these are quite profound questions that will take substantially more time for society to consider than it takes to cross the road whilst reading one's iPhone--the average amount of time users seem to devote to an issue today.

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RobHib
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Thank heavens there's still a few influential people around in IT like Cerf and Berners-Lee who have a real grip on the big picture and say what's needed to be said.

What Cerf says about digital vellum ought to be self evident but it's not to many. Why it's so few is matter of conjecture.

Unfortunately, whilst Cerf has the power to command attention, I doubt if he will be listened to, as such matters require more than a five-second consideration.

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SURPRISE: Oz gov gives itself room to NEVER finish the NBN

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@Dan1980 - Re: I'd suggest selling off our Government.

Murdoch is also, however, an opportunist and so, in Australia and (especially) the UK, he will back whichever party will help him widen his influence...

Correct. Remember, Murdoch backed the left wing Oz Whitlam Labor Gov't in 1972 which he later helped sack in 1975.

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RobHib
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Re: ...Proof LKY's comment that Oz is the "Poor White Trash of Asia'' is STILL correct!

Perhaps, it's not clear but by comment's aimed at F.B. of course.

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RobHib
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...Proof LKY's comment that Oz is the "Poor White Trash of Asia'' is STILL correct!

...And you've proved it! Thirty-plus years ago the former PM of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, said that Australia was destined to become the ''poor white trash of Asia''! [1].

He was damn-well right—and if ever there was definitive proof that the statement is STILL correct then it's encapsulated in your negative, backward-thinking, narrow-minded and miserly, penny-pinching NBN comments.

One wonders what actually drives that large collective 'shoot-oneself-in-the-foot' mindset that's forever driving Oz down the gurgler which you and others espouse, it almost defies rational logic. It's deeply depressing that such a conservative, self-centered and anti-utilitarian, don't-give-a-fuck-about-the-country-or-its-development attitude is so ingrained in the culture; it's no wonder I seek solace by working OS at every opportunity.

Whilst it won't make a damn iota of different to you, I'll remind others of another (well-timed) Singapore story from today's El Reg: here. What a difference!

These two very contrasting stories are a poignant reminder of the huge cultural differences between Singapore [and other Asian countries] and Australia, especially about attitudes towards nation-building and development, negative comments such as yours only stand to reinforce them. Myopic Australians are a tragedy for the country and a perennial joke for the rest of the world, especially those in Asia.

_________

[1] Lee Kuan Yew's comments

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The Just City: A brilliant, if puzzling, philosophical dialogue

RobHib
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Not really boring mambo-jumbo.

This philosophical dialogue stuff isn't really boring mambo-jumbo. I can't speak for the 'Just City' as I've not yet read it but the 'original' certainly isn't--not by a long shot. Do yourself a favour and just read Book 1 [≈12k words]. There are ten books in the The Republic but you only need Book 1 as that's where the main action is.

http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html

It's probably the best formal logic dialogue ever written and pits injustice against justice. And of course, justice wins on argument (by Socrates). Shame we don't have debates in parliament like this, as it's a damning indictment of woolly thinkers, sophists and proponents of injustice.

BTW, Jowett's translation, albeit 100+ years old, is wonderful. Even those who usually fall asleep in lectures stay awake for this one.

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Australia dumbs down: Chief Scientist says research performance lags the world

RobHib
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Tragic really... - Mañana, mañana!

It's a tragedy what's happened to Australian science since the 1960s when I was in high school. Back then, even non technical people and the scientifically illiterate understood that strong science was absolutely essential for both the nation's prosperity and its future.

What's happened in Australia since the '60s is that the perception of science in the mind of the public has fallen dramatically, science today no longer has the status and influence it once had.

I've waxed angrily on the reason for this previously which I won't repeat here. Suffice to say that a country where science understanding amongst politicians is anathema then clearly science will end up on the back foot.

Remember, there's almost no politicians with a background in science in Australia but we've hundreds of lawyers and accountants, so it's obvious science won't be Australia's forte. Now compare this with China where every member of the ruling politburo has either some background in science or engineering.

When it comes to science, Australia's a tragic joke wearing rose-tinted glasses. Nothing will change until it's too late.

Mañana, mañana!

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GCHQ: We can't track crims any more thanks to Snowden

RobHib
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@ jason 7--Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

"She had no clue about preventative policing. All she understood was clocking up figures to slap on monthly performance reports."

The Police has always been a club of insiders so it's always been difficult for the public to figure out how effective policing actually is. Ages ago, it occurred to me that along with regular police recruits we should have conscription to boost police force numbers. Police conscripts, say after six months training, would go on to perform basic policing tasks for another 12/18 months before being eligible to leave.

No only would this make more time available for regular police to solve major crime but a major and very significant side effect would be that eventually many thousands of ordinary citizens would know how the policing system works from the inside. Politically, this would be a very effective way to improve Police efficiency through increased public awareness and understanding of policing difficulties. But perhaps more importantly it would make the service more accountable and transparent (as both insiders and outsiders would always be watching with eager eyes).

Of course this would never happen: unlike the army whose objectives are more clear-cut, any now-knowledgeable ex-police conscripts who attempted to lobbied for changes would be instantly accused by permanent police insiders of attempting to undermine the Force, etc.

Shame it would never happen, as until the 'Them-and-Us' mentality barrier is broken down, policing cannot be truly efficient and effective--if for no other reason than the trust between the Police and the Public will never reach the level that it ought to be at.

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RobHib
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@ Anonymous Coward--Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

..."cut the drugs with something useful e.g. cyanide and sell that cheap for a while. It could clean up the drugs market and give the undertakers some useful business.

Damn bloody stupid idiotic response!

Trouble is we've already too many of the population and people in power who, like you, work on gut reaction and warped thinking rather than rational logic and sense. As with you Anonymous Coward, they hide in the shadows and contribute little or nothing to society except Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

This story quotes an unnamed official—surprise, surprise! It's not only Anonymous Cowards like you who hide and remain unaccountable but also the Secret State that's prepared to work underhandedly, unlawfully and without proper public accountability that's much of the cause of society's woes today. GCHQ, NSA, DSD etc. are just the current focus—tips of the iceberg that's the whole government edifice and infrastructure which is regularly underhanded and less than honest with the Citizenry.

It's small-minded people like you who really screw up our governance which often leads to stupid or unacceptable outcomes such as exacerbating/perpetuating the drug problem. Whilst the crims and con merchants are without doubt disreputable and antisocial, at least we can usually understand their logic and rationale.

In so very few words the great H.L. Mencken, famous journalist, critic and satirist, sums up with ease illogical and dangerous beliefs such as yours:

"For every difficult and complex problem, there's an obvious solution that's simple, easy—and wrong!"

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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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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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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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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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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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@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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@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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@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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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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