* Posts by Paul Smith

268 posts • joined 11 Jul 2007

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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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Nippy, palaver and cockwomble: Greatest words in English?

Paul Smith

Bollard

My personal favourite is bollard. It just sounds so... right.

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Twitter reduces BBC hacks to tears with redundancy notice

Paul Smith

"The world needs a strong Twitter"

Really?

Does the world really need a strong Twitter?

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US Treasury: How did ISIS get your trucks? Toyota: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Paul Smith

Hmmm

They want to know where the trucks came from, but don't ask about the guns or the ammo in the backs of those trucks.

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Linux kernel dev who asked Linus Torvalds to stop verbal abuse quits over verbal abuse

Paul Smith
Mushroom

Re: Don't let the door hit you on the way out Sarah.

And there in lies the problem.

Instead of just saying that you think the USB3 sub-system should be better, you are making personal attacks on a person it is safe to assume you have never met.

If you really think the USB3 sub-system should be better then it currently is, then why don't you fuck off and make it better then it currently is?

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Paul Smith

Pretty simple really

Abusive is about the person and not what they did. It is never useful or productive.

She's a pussy - abusive because it is about her. He's a 'tard - abusive because it is about him. She's lovely - potentially abusive because it is about her even though it could be considered complimentary. It really is getting very close to 'she is a great fuck' which is clearly abusive.

That code is f*cking shit - robust but not abusive because it is not about the person. The kernel group considers abusive behaviour acceptable and that is why I and a great many people I know have no interest in participating. If you want to call my code shit. That is fine, but you had better be able to defend your position. If you want to call me shit, you can fuck off.

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Safe Harbour ruled INVALID: Facebook 'n' pals' data slurp at risk

Paul Smith

NSA hurting US business interests

This is really good news for privacy lovers everywhere, but not for the obvious reasons. Now that US business has concrete evidence that not respecting privacy affects their profit margin, they will force US politicians to clean up the NSA mess.

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FBI: We unmasked and collared child porn creep on Tor with spy tool

Paul Smith

Re: Weird init?

It is hard to know if you are being serious or facetious. Assuming for a moment that you are being serious, then you are completely entitled to your opinion and I agree that collaboration and information exchange are the future, but that is not mutually exclusive with respecting privacy. A simple example will explain my case: I want to buy a present for my wife, advertisers know my tastes and budgets as well as hers and so can suggest the perfect present. Cool, collaboration and exchange working well as I get what I want and they get a sale. But if the privacy of my transaction is not respected and she finds out about it before the day so ruining the surprise, then whoever betrayed that privacy will earn some serious negative reputation.

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Paul Smith
Big Brother

Bias?

Dark-web deadbeats

perverts

unmasking the scumbag

unspeakable images.

nefarious purposes

Rather emotive language, don't you think?

Given that we are talking about a country that had a shit fit over Janet Jacksons left nipple, and given that the article implies that the FBI probably has details on over 200,000 TOR users from this site alone, I have to ask if the author is actually a shill for a US three letter outfit that would like to discourage the use of TOR and other secure communications services by any body except themselves.

No more Arab Spring. No more Snowden. Of course it also means there could never be another Watergate.

Yes kiddy fiddling is a very bad thing, but no, it is not worth giving up your right to a private life, or giving free reign to governments to dictate what they think is good for you.

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BOFH: I'm not doing this for the benefit of your health, you know

Paul Smith

Meh...

H&S provides so many opportunities for creative mayhem that just chucking him out the windows seems a bit, I don't know, lame?

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US to stage F-35-versus-Warthog bake-off in 2018

Paul Smith

Re: One day..

And one day pigs will fly, but stern words have never yet managed to change a bullies behaviour.

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Biz that OK'd Edward Snowden for security clearance is fined $30m for obvious reasons

Paul Smith

Ironic?

"Shortcuts taken by any company that we have entrusted to conduct background investigations of future and current federal employees are unacceptable,"

Isn't outsourcing back-ground checks just another shortcut?

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Patching a fragmented, Stagefrightened Android isn't easy

Paul Smith

Bright side

If Google loses to Oracles copyright claim's, does that mean they could sue Oracle for publishing insecure API's?

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Cloud computing’s refuseniks: How long can they hold out?

Paul Smith

We can hold out until the fad has passed.

Cloud computing is a very effective solution to a very specific set of problems.

It is not a solution to a whole bunch of other problems where it is currently being sold. Take Office 365 as a good example of all the things wrong with current cloud marketing efforts. Office is used to write and maintain company internal and external documents. They do not require significant computing or storage resources, but would cause significant difficulties if inappropriatly accessed. What is the benefit of putting them in some one else's hands that is so great that I am willing to accept that they could deny me access to my own documents? Or expose them to all and sundry and I could do nothing about it, not even sue them? Where is the 'win' in this situation?

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Google's new parent Alphabet owns abc.xyz – and, yup, there's already an abc.wtf

Paul Smith

Re: In related news

Apple© have successfully patented the ™ symbol are claiming that Google are in breach and are demanding that the World Trade Federation (WTF) hand over all Google's letters to them. Meanwhile Oracle have made a counter counter claim that the © symbol belongs to them and that Apple must cease and desist.

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Sengled lightbulb speakers: The best worst stereo on Earth

Paul Smith

Re: Almost a dictionary definition of the word

My new favourite word of the week!

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Windows 10: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE to Microsoft's long apology for Windows 8

Paul Smith

Wow!

Probably the most exciting thing about this launch of a major OS from one of the worlds largest OS producers is just how unexciting it is. MS might still be huge, but they are looking increasingly like a spent force. The question now is if they will go quietly, a la DEC, or kicking and screaming and dragging the rest of the industry down with them, a la SCO?

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How much info did hackers steal on US spies? Try all of it

Paul Smith

"...how the Obama administration responds to the crisis."

How did this become Obama's fault? Did that fool n* leave his laptop on the bus again? No, he doesn't take the bus any more, and he doesn't have a laptop.

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EU: Explain your tax affairs. Google, Amazon, Facebook: Mmm... nah

Paul Smith

Get a life

Some minor 'elected' representative from a constituency you have never heard of wants you to drop what you are doing, fly to a country you have no interest in and answer in detail an bunch of unfocused questions that could cover any, and every aspect of your business, and in return you will get... nothing.

If said official has reason to believe a law is being broken - and remember that they are the ones who made the laws in the first place - then they have plenty of ways of having it investigated and corrected. If no law is being broken, and the officials have no power to reward attendance or punish absence, then why on earth would major CEO's want to help them aggrandise themselves.

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Quantum computers have failed. So now for the science

Paul Smith

Re: analog analogies

QM theory was developed to describe phenomena that could not be explained by classical means, so the thing I take from this is that having a physical model displaying features previously only visible in the QM world removes (some of) the need for a quantum specific theories and moves us closer to a theory that joins both worlds. If, in the process, we happen to get rid of some of the 'dafter' aspects of modern physics (cough, strings, cough), then all the better.

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FBI alert: Get these motherf'king hackers off this motherf'king plane

Paul Smith

Re: working on planes

Preparing a powerpoint sales pitch with big bold key points designed for simple minded managers to read and comprehend might not be the brightest thing to do in a public place, but cutting code? Seriously? When I used to code in C it was considered cool to able able to cram as much code into as little space as possible, but even I was never able to get enough for an even a slightly non-trivial program onto the confines of a laptop screen. I think you are perhaps taking commonsense past the point of paranoia and into the realm of stupidity.

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BOFH: Explain? All we need is this kay-sh with DDR3 Cortexiphan ...

Paul Smith

Re: Tier 3 Waffle

Careful what you wish for... I had a boss who, if presented with "It's tier-3 Cortexiphan we're looking at so obviously it's topology redundant with multiple backchannels and has the full dual Dunham processor architecture behind it. With a 2 Teraflop Bishop Gating protocol, obviously." would have asked why do we need dual Dunham, single Dunham will do.

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Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde: Less fun than it should be

Paul Smith

fashionable?

"It’s fashionable to deride paddle gearboxes, but being able to change up as you exit a roundabout means even Milton Keynes can be fun."

It was, when Jeremy Clarkson was a young man.

1) Why would you want to change UP as you exit a roundabout?

2) WTF where you doing testing a car in Milton Keynes?

and

3) Of course its all about the noise, its a bloody Alpha, what else would it be about?

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Motorola's 5-incher finds the G-spot: Moto G 4G budget Android smartie

Paul Smith

Re: Compared to Nexus 5

Really? I used to have one and it was OK. I now have the 3G Moto G II and it is better then the Nexus in every way that matters.

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Fancy six months of security nirvana for free? Read on...

Paul Smith

Re: What, like Mac users?

Of course, you would know, wouldn't you. There is no way your system could possibly be one of the 500 million computers which the FBI claim are compromised each year (source http://thehackernews.com/2014/07/fbi-botnets-infecting-18-computers-per.html).

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Cybercrim told to cough up £1m or spend years in chokey

Paul Smith

double jepardy ?

Is this an attempt to punish him twice for the same crime? He obviously has spent it all if he cant afford a brief good enough to get him off, so that means there is no realistic likeyhood of him being able to pay the "fine" for a crime he is already being punished for.

The obvious thing to do then is declare himself bankrupt meaning his debtors can no longer place a lien on him, so he doesn't get the extra four years.

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