* Posts by Paul Smith

293 posts • joined 11 Jul 2007

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Gun-jumping French pols demand rapid end to English in EU

Paul Smith

Good job the English never behaved like that... Oh wait.

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Paul Smith
Paris Hilton

Do you honestly believe that? You have just filed for divorce and you are still expecting conjugal rights?

Paris icon because even she isn't that thick.

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Paul Smith

Not unreasonable

There are about 4.5 million people in the Republic of Ireland, which is 'officially' bi-lingual, ie the official languages are Irish and English (in that order). So that leaves less than 2.25 million native English speakers out of a population of over 500 million. As a good (Irish) European citizen, I am not sure that I want my tax money spent on translating every single document the already verbose EU produces into a language that is spoken by not much more then 1% of the EU population. Polish is (and will remain) an official EU language as the 40 million Poles are members in good standing.

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IT consultant gets 4 years' porridge for tax fraud

Paul Smith

Cost benefit analysis

He actually only got two years for tax dodging, the other two were for child benefit fraud.

Work for nine years @ 0% tax, do two years inside. income = 9/11 = 82% of gross potential

Work for nine years @20% corporate tax and 40% personal tax, income = 48% of gross potential

Hmmm?

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Catz: Google's Android hurt Oracle's Java business

Paul Smith

Positive spin

Just think. All of the lawyers getting rich off this spat are lawyers not trying to get rich off something that matters.

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The Windows 10 future: Imagine a boot stamping on an upgrade treadmill forever

Paul Smith

Does anybody remember?

Does anybody remember when small business's bought computers to help them with their business? What part of the sys admin and patch management that is required for Win10 is helping a small business to do business? In much the same way that DEC captured the medium enterprise market from IBM when IBM thought it was too small to count, I suspect that Microsoft has accidentally walked away from the SME market. I wonder who will fill it?

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IBM's quantum 'puter news proves Big Blue still doesn't get 'cloud'

Paul Smith

Re: Bah!

Maybe I am just older then you but all the cool things that I remember IBM announcing are now available to me.

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F-35s failed 'scramble test' because of buggy software

Paul Smith

Re: I think there is a wonderfull message behind this

"Good grief it's a wonder that any software has been developed at all."

Haven't you been paying attention? No working software has been developed at all.

Google 'Bjarne Stroustrup interview' for a really entertaining and informative read, and although it is claimed that the interview was a spoof, I would suggest the the progress of the F35 software suite proves otherwise.

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One black hole, three galaxies, four BEELION solar masses – found by accident

Paul Smith

High school equation

If I read my wiki right, Orbital velocity (Vo) is proportional to the the square root of Big G times Mass divided by radius.

Turn it around and Mass is velocity squared times radius divided by Big G.

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Is Dublin becoming as unaffordable as San Francisco?

Paul Smith

Unlike San Francisco, Dublin has the capacity for further expansion

Capacity for expansion? Really? You obviously don't know Dublin very well.

Let me remind you; Airport to the north, mountains to the south and sea to the east. The expansion to the west was supposed to have been 'planned' in five fingers separated by green spaces, you could argue that one survives. One of the five (Tallaght) has a rapid transit route into the city (~35mins). The second and third largest conurbations in Ireland are suburbs of Dublin, one of them has a hospital, the other doesn't.

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Neo4j bolts on binary protocol to up its graph database game

Paul Smith

Typos

Are your sub-editors on strike or are you using Office 365 for your spell check? For an 'article' that is just cut-and-paste from a press release, the writing is as bad as I have ever seen on el-reg.

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F-35's dodgy software in the spotlight again

Paul Smith

Hacking opertunities

Just think of the possibilities for fun you could have if you hacked into Alis. Those are not your target coordinates, these are. Detect an fault on a minor sensor, better be safe and shut down the engine just in case.

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'Panama papers' came from email server hack at Mossack Fonseca

Paul Smith

Re: This is a lie

The breach was 'through' an email server, not 'of' an email server, and if their company was anything like mine, in one, in all. As for worrying about 5M/min and the time taken to move terabytes, I call BS. Any top company is going to have better then 50M/sec and if you do much international video conferencing, as I expect they do, then 500M/sec is not unreasonable.

If I were the hacker, I would look at creating an AWS storage and backup account in the targets name and run regular backups to it. No reason for the companies IT department to be suspicious and 3TB would cost less then $2000.

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Paul Smith

Dodgy dealings doubled

"The documents landed first at German outlet Sueddeutsche Zeitung last year".

Last year! Why has it taken so long for any mention of it to be released? Could it be that the actual guilty parties have been given a chance to clean up their act? David Cameron's daddy was a bit naughty, but was David really that squeaky clean? How about Blair or Sarkozy, Chirac or Merkel. I don't care about Putin as I expect him to be bent, but I would love to know about the Clintons and Trumps of this world.

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Dropbox slips 500PB into its Magic Pocket, not spread over AWS

Paul Smith

In house

Why is there any surprise that they brought it in house? They require a physical storage for lots of infrequently accessed data. That requires infrastructure and costs no matter who physically controls it so they either pay some one else enough to make a profit doing it or pay for it themselves and keep the profit someone else would make.

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Airbus' Mars plane precursor survives pressure test

Paul Smith

Re: Bernoulli's Principle?

"if the lift came from downwash..." but it doesn't come from downwash, does it? Any object being pushed through the air with a positive aspect ratio will push the air it displaces down and forwards. The reaction is up (lift) and back (drag). The pressure differences at different parts of the wings surface are not the cause of the lift, they are a consequence of it.

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Norman Conquest, King Edward, cyber pathogen and illegal gambling all emerge in Apple v FBI

Paul Smith

No! No! A thousand times NO!

"it's fair to say that the majority of law-abiding citizens would want prosecutors to be able to access evidence that could help convict someone of a serious crime, regardless of how strongly they feel about their own personal privacy."

No it is not fair to say that. It would be fair to say that citizens object strongly to innocent citizens having their rights violated, whether by criminals or by the criminal justice system. It would also be fair to say that citizens expect investigators to follow a trail of evidence to its logical conclusions, remembering at all times that all citizens are innocent until proven otherwise. If, and only if sufficient evidence warrants it, should prosecutors consider bringing criminal charges. Does this mean that some criminals will get away with it? Yes. That is one of the prices to be paid for living in a fair and honest civilization. The alternative approach, which is to assume that everyone (you included) is a criminal, has been tried many times, and has failed every time.

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Raspberry Pi 3: Four days old and already flying

Paul Smith

Re: RS still has 2,128 in stock.

About a wheel barrows worth by my reckoning, possibly closer to a hat box in official El Reg measures. My Pi 2 box (still waiting for my three to arrive) was 3.5x7.5x12cm or 315cm volume. 1285 of them would have a volume of 404775 cubic cm or a cube of 74cm per side (about 2'6" x 2'6" x 2'6").

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There's a courier here says he's got 50TB of cloud data for you

Paul Smith

At last...

The cloud just got physical!

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Raspberry Pi celebrates fourth birthday with fruity version 3

Paul Smith

Re: Whichever way you slice it

Sorry, but I have to call BS on this one. Nowhere that requires you to 'hike' in requires fancy AV manipulation. Bring a modern smartphone instead and record your photos, video and audio (and get free GPS and communications thrown in) and do the AV processing when you get back to civilization. Saying the Pi can't do it because it only has 1GB is like saying Google is a useless search engine because it doesn't know where you left your keys.

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Bitcoin burrower biz Butterfly Labs billed $38m for 'bilking' buyers

Paul Smith

More basic questions...

It is claimed that this company took in $50m of orders for bit coin mining machines that it used itself rather then ship.

a) How many bit coins would $50m of hardware generate,

b) where are the bitcoins that were generated?

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Why Tim Cook is wrong: A privacy advocate's view

Paul Smith

Re: except

Online backups on US owned, US based or US controlled servers are just saving TSA the hassle of hacking your device.

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Paul Smith

Re: except

I had a quick glance at the US constitution and I couldn’t see anything about being protected from murder. Nor did I see anything to gives potential or unnamed victims supremacy over my rights. In fact, the fourth amendment was pretty explicit about what must be done before my rights can be violated and stopping a murder (which this case is not about) is not on the list.

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Free science journal library gains notoriety, lands injunctions

Paul Smith

Re: Paying and longevity

A very valid point but it also shows what is wrong with the current situation. What is the advantage of publishing in a prestigious journal if it is behind a paywall that prevents your target audience from reading your opus?

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Metel malware pops bank, triggers 15 percent swing in Russian Ruble

Paul Smith

What has hacking ATMs got to do with hacking back office systems?

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You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

Paul Smith

Re: Just why?

No, that was genuine production code. Of course the sample was simplified! The original was a header file defining the offsets on an IBM 3270 terminal emulator input form that was used as the interface between two major but utterly incompatible banking systems. You couldn't hard code the values the way you suggested for the obvious reason that the position of a field was dependent on the fields that came before! It only became a problem when subtraction was used get from the known position of a prompt to the end of the previous input to determine its length. I didn't design or write it, but I had to fix it and I had never been caught out by bracketing in #defines before. The fact that I can still remember that one so clearly after all these years is a little scary.

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Paul Smith

This 'bug' in some C code cost me some sleepless nights:

#define ONE 1

#define TWO ONE + 1

#define THREE TWO + 1

What would you expect THREE minus TWO to equal? If you thought ONE, you would be wrong. THREE minus TWO equals THREE!

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Sena's multi-action camera monster, or Cardo's PackTalk club rider juggernaut?

Paul Smith

I dont get it?

I don't understand how a review of motorbike intercoms could include the sentence..."I couldn't test the intercom, having reviewed a single unit". Are you applying for a job with MCN?

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Google forked out a whopping $16m on govt lobbying last year

Paul Smith

So only about 10% of what Kent County Council plans to spend on managed services, or less then it costs to elect two senators.

Had you said $16billion, about what they earned from android, I would have thought that was a lot of lobbying, but $16million? Hardly seems worth the effort.

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RSA asks for plaintext Twitter passwords on conference reg page

Paul Smith

Apptitude test

Just think of it as a reverse aptitude test where anybody who signs up will be automatically considered for all infosec job opportunities. Considered and rejected.

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Eighteen year old server trumped by functional 486 fleet!

Paul Smith

Silicon uptime?

Newgrange! 1,000 years older then Stonehenge, 500 years older then the Pyramids. Keeping the world from ending for over 5,000 years!

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Microsoft: We’ve taken down the botnets. Europol: Would Sir like a kill switch, too?

Paul Smith

Car metaphor

A light on the dash board to say you have a problem is (IMHO) better then a kill switch that someone else operates. If you have ever had a car cut out on you while in the overtaking lane of a busy motorway, you will know why it is not always a good idea to let someone else decide when to withdraw service. In my case, the ECU decided that an oxygen sensor might be faulty (it wasn't) so it killed the engine. Not fun.

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Bigger than Safe Harbor: Microsoft prez vows to take down US gov in data protection lawsuit

Paul Smith

Re: Sir

Not quite. MS as an American Company is being forced into a choice of breaking Irish and European law or breaking American law. Either way, it faces hefty penalties so while I laud their attempt, I also recognise that it is in their own self interests to get this sorted.

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Fan belts only exist, briefly, in the intervals between stars

Paul Smith

Good Job?

Was your write up on the valve issue and Bigelows part in it (which made up over half the article) cut and pasted from the book or just interesting(?) fun facts that you felt like sharing? It would be more appropriate as part of an article on computer history or old technology, but it has no place in a book review, don't you think?

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Invite-only bug bounty criticised for turning up the heat on Tor

Paul Smith

Attention

"Litchfield remains concerned that Tor just brought a whole lot of unnecessary attention to themselves"

You don't think that perhaps Litchfield was just attempting to bring attention to himself?

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Bookstore sells some data centre capacity, becomes Microsoft, Oracle's nemesis

Paul Smith

Re: glaring propaganda of promoting Microsoft article

I am curious to know in what ways you think one is inferior/superior to the other. After twenty years as a corporate Windows user I have spent the last year using an Ubuntu machine. I cant using voting buttons on emails anymore (unless I use the web front end) and it is more difficult to join Lync online meetings. In every other sense (including the number of calls to the help desk) I would have to say my experience has been as good or better.

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Paul Smith

Re: Oh really?

I Wish you had put the TL;DR at the start. That was three and a half minutes waiting for a punch line that I will never get back.

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'Unauthorized code' that decrypts VPNs found in Juniper's ScreenOS

Paul Smith

That doesn't worry me...

It would be a government contract so it is never going to work.

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BOFH: How long does it take to complete Friday's lager-related tasks?

Paul Smith

Tut tut...

The BoFH leaving a trail of evidence. That is going to come back and haunt him...

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GDS £450m investment probably an 'accounting fudge' – gov IT analyst

Paul Smith

QotW candidate

"a charity designed to help the government become more efficient"

Did they mean 'tax' efficient?

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Child abuse image hash list shared with major web firms

Paul Smith

Re: Hmm

Doing something is only better then doing nothing if it is actually helpful. The money, time and resources being spent on this unworkable idea are money, time and resources that are not being spent on actually helping children. At its very best, if everything works properly and all the technical and legal issues are overcome, then a small number of computer illiterates who share old kiddy porn will be stopped. Or at least slowed down.

Not one child will be protected from being exploited.

Not one image will be taken out of circulation.

Not one image will be prevented from getting into circulation.

One final technical point. If the technology actually worked as advertised, why isn't it being exploited by people who could make profit from it? Where are the hundreds of millions of legitimate and copyrighted images that are being illegally used that this technology should be able to track down? Why aren't the courts being backed up with claims for compensation for provable copyright infringements? The licence fees alone for this technology should be able to fund major child protection efforts.

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Paul Smith

So a hash matches, then what?

The threat of this approach might deter the computer illiterate but then Darwin was already looking after people who try sharing kiddie porn via facebook.

First off, how is this hash to be generated? Will google et al calculate a hash for every image before it can be uploaded and simply not accept (sight unseen) anything that produces a hash they don't like? The first time you cant upload your holiday snaps will be the last time you use their service, so that is not a runner. Any hash will have to be calculated after upload, which means the company is now in possession of the suspect image. In most jurisdictions, possession of kiddy porn (knowingly or otherwise) is a serious criminal offence and I am not sure if safe harbour rules apply if the company is aware of the content.

What happens when a matching hash is detected? Do they send the 'suspect' image to someone else to verify? In which case they will be knowingly participating in the transport and distribution of what they believe to be kiddy porn across state and national boundaries! Try explaining that to the company lawyers.

Perhaps they have a human verify the image before they alert the authorities? In which case they must have paid employees looking at kiddy porn on company computers, on company time, with the companies knowledge and worse, consent! I wonder how HR will fill that vacancy. "Wanted: child porn expert, equal opportunity employeer"

If you are serious about stopping child exploitation, then stop this techno bullshit and actively support genuine child protection organisations.

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Man hires 'court hacker' on Craigslist ... who turned out to be a cop

Paul Smith

OK, we know he was thick, but can someone explain to me how the so called justice system entertained a prosecution and conviction for crimes that were not committed? And just how thick (or otherwise motivated) was the defence to not ask that judge why the accused was being accused of something that didn't happen.

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Ice 'lightning' may have helped life survive Snowball Earth

Paul Smith

What has biodiversity got to do with it?

Why does the article keep referring to sustaining biodiversity when describing a hypothetical environment that could only be exploited by a very highly adapted mono-culture?

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Linus Torvalds fires off angry 'compiler-masturbation' rant

Paul Smith

Re: He's blunt. He's aggressive. He's offensive.

For example ?

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Yamaha unleashes motorcycling robot

Paul Smith

The Point

The point is to learn.

The dynamics and engineering of such a simple machine as a motorbike is stunningly complex, and most things are done the way they are because they work, not because we understand why they work. If they can get this 'bot to lap a circuit consistently, then they can objectively measure the consequence of change, and that will allow innovation to leap forward.

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Paul Smith

Feet?

The outriggers mean the robot doesn't have to put its feet down when it stops, and they make mistakes a lot less expensive. Look up the skid-bike at the superbike school to see how they work. At a guess, in the future they will become extendible.

This is a very clever attack on Honda, who also make bikes, and robots, but don't do anything as exciting as a robot riding a bike. Disclaimer - I ride a Yamaha :)

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'T-shaped' developers are the new normal

Paul Smith

B-O-L-L-O-C-K-S-!

Why is it so impossible to be honest about agile? Is it the religious overtones of having a manifesto that make it a belief structure rather then a development paradigm ?

"Agile allows us to create efficient metrics, openness and accountability." Really?

"Having red hair allows us to create efficient metrics, openness and accountability."

Well, it doesn't completely prevent us, but it certainly does not help us.

In a small outfit, where there is only one team and the task is basically mono-skilled then your agile teams can work as described but do not, IMHO, actually promote it. The real advantage of agile over waterfall is the frequent reality check of demoing to the end-user and the resulting feedback. This comes at the cost of not designing a solution before developing it.

Once the job requires more then one team, then the SM is the only channel of communication out of the team so your openness goes out the window. Metrics that only become meaningful when the team has done half a dozen sprints with no changes in skills, tasks and personnel are not, IMHO, exactly stable, useful or predictive. And 'accountability' that is based on an SM's ability to guilt less productive team members with no external checks or balances does not sound like the traditional ideal of productive teamwork.

Additionally, the active dis-incentive to up-skilling caused by metrics that punish activity that is not instantly productive and the lack of career progression caused by hiding talented people behind scrum masters does not encourage job-satisfaction or a willingness to go the extra mile. Agile has a place in software development, but it is not the be all and end all that it is often made out to be.

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So just what is the third Great Invention of all time?

Paul Smith

Abstract thought.

I always thought that the first great human invention was abstract thought. The ability to think of things not necessary for immediate survival leads to the ability to think of time, as in the past, present and most importantly, the future, and that allows the ability to plan ahead. Sharing a plan with others makes hunting much more productive leads to language. Planned hunts mean traps become possible, if not inevitable, and that leads to tool usage. The ability to plan, communicate and make tools makes agriculture possible. With more effective hunting, and even more so with agriculture, society can maintain sections of the population who are not directly productive. Lets call them wasters. The first wasters would be good at planning and/or leading. Others could add value by entertaining, as with storey tellers, artists and musicians, which in turn gave us a sense of what came before and learning by the experience of others. And less useful members of society such as politicians, crooks, the infirm and dreamers. Most of whom contributed absolutely nothing. However, one dreamer in ten thousand turns a fire into a forge or a kiln and suddenly society becomes richer and can afford even more dreamers. All the other great inventions derive from the human ability to have abstract thoughts.

P.S. I think the Dewey decimal environment trumps RDBMS but I could be biased.

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