* Posts by David Roberts

182 posts • joined 25 Jan 2007

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Vodafone: So what exactly is 'ludicrous' about the Frontier report?

David Roberts
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Poles!

Just put poles in the pavement then let anyone string wire/fibres between them!

Solves all the problems about digging up roads, trenches, ducting, crossing roads etc.

I'm amazed nobody has thought of this.

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ROBOT INVASION has already STARTED in HIPSTERLAND

David Roberts
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Re: Cheap flexible version

On a more serious note - the application which I described above is already in use globally in consumer land.

That is, doting parents all over the world fire up Skype (or other similar program) on their fondleslab and point it at their adorable kids and shout things like "Look - here's Granny and Granddad. Wave to Granny and Granddad, kids! Shout HI!"

Now it is *cough* years since I worked in a cubicle farm so I have no recent experience of that environment, but these days do people walk around with tablets and point them at staff saying "The boss would like a word with you."?

If so, mechanisation of this function might have a place in the office.

If not, then I submit that this use of technology, which is already possible without the mobile coat rack, will probably not catch on just because you can have a brainless bit of mechanisation wheel it around.

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David Roberts
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Re: Cheap flexible version

I may well patent the unique command and control interface.

It is based on the original concept of the spoken word, via an innovative delivery channel combining a "mobile phone" and a "bluetooth headset".

The advanced command set, such as "Go to Harry's desk, I want to talk to him." is generations ahead of less sophisticated AI programming.

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David Roberts
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Cheap flexible version

I just have an unpaid intern carry around a tablet running Skype.

More flexible, infinitely replaceable cheap hardware, same visual interface, easily repurposed when I don't need it.

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Australian online voting system may have FREAK bug

David Roberts
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WTF?

Man in the middle?

By definition the man has to be between you and the target system.

If you think of the online voting world as a massive star network centred on the Australian servers then to have any noticeable effect your man would have to be very near the middle of the star.

The assumption is that you have to connect via a compromised network server, probably an Internet cafe or coffee shop, I would guess.

That would be an intersting challenge - compromise enough network architecture globally (or even in rural Australia) to be able to specifically target Oz voters.

If this has been achieved then I would guess the problems are far more seriousn than subverting a small percentage of the vote.

However I now wonder how many PCs owned by Oz voters are also owned by malware.

This might be a more effective attack - does it still count as MITM if you own the browser?

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‘Digital by default’ agricultural payments halted: Farmers start smirking

David Roberts
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Agile?

Is this the same as showing a proof of concept weekend hack to marketing and finding it launched as a "product" two weeks later?

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Osbo: Choose a f*cking IoT fridge. Choose spirit-crushing driverless cars

David Roberts
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100 Mb/sec?

Hope this isn't mandatory - I get 150 Mb/sec at the moment.

[Or I would if the bloody power didn't keep going off and on like a dodgy CFL]

Mine's the one with "smug bastard" written on the back.

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Watching porn makes men BETTER in bed, say trick-cyclists

David Roberts
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WTF?

Chicken/egg?

It says (I think) that men who report watching more porn also report feeling more horny.

So - does watching more porn make you more horny?

Or - does being more horny make you watch more porn?

Only one of these seems to fit with the claimed study result.

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BT fined £800k over lax emergency text relay delay blunder

David Roberts
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Paris Hilton

Re: Public floggings

Can we have a list of potential floggers as well as flogees?

Paris because....

...well.......

......I have been a VERY naughty boy!

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Brute force box lets researchers, Cops, pop iDevice locks

David Roberts
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PIN over USB?

Claiming no knowledge of the ability to do this on Android or Windoes phones, but....

...the central part of this hack is the automation of authentication over USB.

Stop this and you go back to wearing your fingers out.

If the phone won't talk to the computer if the screen is locked then it must be a bit more secure.

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Give biometrics the FINGER: Horror tales from the ENCRYPT

David Roberts
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Usual shit security, then?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

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Chappie: The AI tale that’s about heart, not intelligence

David Roberts
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Re: Short Circuit 2 - balling your eyes out

If thst is truly what you meant then maximum respect for your precocious sexual development.

Then again, perhaps you were bawling you eyes out?

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How many Androids does it take to change a light bulb?

David Roberts
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CFLs are a waste of time

If you can ignore all the current UK building regulations about using low energy bulbs then you may well find most applications don't suit CFLs.

Main living area - flexible dimmable lights.

Halogen.

Bathrooms - instant full power lights - halogen (well, I ran out of halogens so the office has an incandescent from old stock). CFLs which give the same light as 60 - 100 watt lights take too long to warm up.

This leaves bedside lights and the main lights in the bedroom, plus hall and landing lights.

So currently we have more non-CFLs than CFLs. Not because we want to use more power but because they just don't work the way the old style incandescents did.

The house was rewired a couple of years ago when LEDs were just becoming main stream so we have dimmable LEDs over the kitchen work surfaces and they work very well. However we have had to upgrade some dimmer switches because those that claim to work with low power setups sometimes don't long term. 120 watts upwards seem fine, but below that be prepared to pay extra for a high specification dimmer. A single 60 watt halogen can cause dimmers to fail.

One additional thought - although I don't use Powerline adapters for Ethermet, why all this wireless stuff for light bulbs? Can't you just replace the switches with smart switches which are controllable over Ethernet over the power circuits? This might make the control interface much easier to implement as device and OS independent and give you a much wider choice of bulbs. Or is the point to load the expense into the things you replace most often?

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Didn't the Left once want the WORKERS to get all the dosh?

David Roberts
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IT Angle

Alternative explanation?

Nobody else seems to have looked at the original proposition, that is that paying highly skilled black players lower wages is evidence of racism. This is obviously one possible explanation, but there is this correlation/causation thing.

To bring in an IT angle, back in the day I had a small team of contractors to do some development work. One was an awesomely skilled Kiwi at a remarkably low rate. Turns out the agency was fishing for Kiwis coming to Europe to work and signing them up at rates which looked really good compared to NZ rates but which were less than their skills could command on thr open market.

So the same analysis applied to the IT industry at the time could be used to demonstrate racial prejudice against Kiwis.

Of course once the Kiwis saw what everyone else was getting then their rates went up, and lo there was no more racial prejudice.

Was this disparity in wages and skill levels by any chance at roughly the same time that African football (which strangely seems to have a lot of black players) began to mature and feed players into the European game?

So another explanation could be purely capitalist.

Locate a source of cheap goods, sell into an expensive market at a discount, profit.

As the cheap source is exploited more the price goes up.

Not saying that racism wasn't the cause, just that I don't see an automatic correlation between lower wages and racism.

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Shodan boss finds 250,000 routers have common keys

David Roberts
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Just checking...

So the threat is that if:

(1) remote management is enabled

(2) the router has the default admin user/password

then bad people could ssh into your router and change stuff (like your DNS server)?

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Your hard drives were RIDDLED with NSA SPYWARE for YEARS

David Roberts
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Fifty shades of hacking?

Or do our cousins not understand Fanny....Double Fantasy......Tripple Fantasy!!!!

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'Camera-shy' Raspberry Pi 2 suffers strange 'XENON DEATH FLASH' glitch

David Roberts
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Nail varnish?

See above. ^

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Smartphones don’t dumb you down, they DUMB you UP

David Roberts
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Nokia Maps?

All the talk about maps on devices motivated me to download Nokia Maps to my WiFi only tablet.

Offline maps being an especially good thing if you don't have a mobile data connection.

In the sign up Ts and Cs it says that on registration and each time you update the software a text message will be sent to Nokia. Not sure how my tablet will do this without a built in phone.

So is Nokia Maps only for phones (including very big ones over 10")?

Just to keep on message mine's a very big one ;-)

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Microsoft eyes slice of Raspberry Pi with free Windows 10 sprinkled on top

David Roberts
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Ports to other ARM platforms?

As I type this on my Sony Xperia Z tablet.....

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Boffin finds formula for four-year-five-nines disk arrays

David Roberts
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Some wierd assumptions

Firstly the apparent assumption that arrays don't carry spares.

I worked with RAID5 arrays in the '90s and there was always at least one hot spare.

Secondly (as already pointed out) using the cost of replacing a single disc vs. leaving the array untouched for 4 years. No apparent consideration of someone popping in once a month to replace failed drives as a bulk process.

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Sleepy Ofcom glances at Internet of Things, rolls over, takes nap

David Roberts
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Upvoted for the NAT comment.

If/when I start getting smart devices I expect to have them tucked away on an internal network.

I see no reason for each device to have a globally unique IP address.

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SURPRISE! Microsoft pops open Windows 10 Preview build early

David Roberts
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Re: Read privacy statement

Looks pretty mild compared with all the apps on an Android phone.

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Want an Internet of Stuff? Not so 4K-ing fast ... yet – Akamai

David Roberts
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WTF?

Why the 4k?

All this seems solely to relate to the streaming of 4k content.

No figures on the availability of 4k content.

No figures on the uptake of 4k capable TVs and other devices.

No mention of other options such as downloading before viewing.

Is all this 4k stuff just another desperate attempt to promote a new TV format after the spectacular failure of 3D?

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Ski MOUNT DOOM or take top coffee to the beach? Your choice

David Roberts
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Re: Just don't ask about the cheese

The comment was a bit tongue in cheek :-)

We even found a place south of Auckland which made local Dutch style cheeses which were very good.

With respect to pay (l know a couple of IT people who moved out a year or so ago) if you move from outside London then pay and life style can both improve considerably. Perhaps they were lucky. Perhaps their IT skils weren't quite as bad as another poster suggests?

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David Roberts
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Just don't ask about the cheese

Tasty or sharp.

That's it, move along, nothing more to see here.

That said, love the place.

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Crap broadband holds back HALF of rural small biz types

David Roberts
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FAIL

Still using dial up?

That won't be poor benighted SMEs hunkered down in their rural idylls.

That will be the SMEs (and quite a few large enterprises) in all towns throughout the UK who won't cough the dosh to upgrade their point of sale terminals from dial up to broadband.

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DANGER: Is that 'hot babe' on Skype a sextortionist?

David Roberts
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Picture or it didn't happen?

Mine's the one with the smutty postcards ---->

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What will happen to the oil price? Look to the PC for clues

David Roberts
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IT Angle

Re: PERSONAL computer!

O.K. - perhaps I should have another go.

The oil industry started out small and distributed with a low entry cost.

Much like the PC industry alluded to in the article.

All you needed was a wildcat rig and a "nodding donkey" and (with luck) you were an oil man.

All Texans were millionaires and fuel costs were so cheap that cars were made with huge engines and bodies because why not?

Since then the industry has followed the model of most major industries.

Over time the big players have swallowed up the small players maximising efficiency and productivity with ever larger plant and distribution networks.

Over time the "low hanging fruit" has been picked and each new major oil field required more complex and expensive equipment to begin extraction, and more complex and vulnerable distribution networks. Increasing the efficiency of recovery from older fields has also required more expensive technology.

Oh, apart from the Saudis who did the wildcat and nodding donkey thing back in the day and now just sit on the oil fields turning the tap on and off, and the price up and down, to match the production costs of the non-Saudi producers. No major new investment required as far as I am aware.

So as far as I can see all the investment in extraction technology required to recover more from old fields and remote recent fields has turned up a method of extracting crude using affordable plant from resources which are easily accessible - so much like the early days mentioned above.

So the clock has been reset back a few decades and oil can once again be extracted without having to pay governments with potentially dodgy backgrounds (hang on..) and always having to consider being held to ransom over our energy needs. We now start climbing the same slippery slope as the easily frackable resources are exploited and the cost and sophistication of the technology starts climbing again - just like in the old oil days. A reprieve, nothing more. Once again "peak oil" is just a spike on a jagged but steadily climbing graph which has a big dip at the moment..

Hopefully this will give us more time to develop alternative resources. More likely it will destroy all the current business cases for alternative energy such as wind and solar which seem to depend on an ever increasing oil price to justify the expenditure. The West will just coast along with a warm and toasty feeling that all is well again and all that green stuff can be safely ignored because we are more or less energy self sufficient. Watch out for changes in the requirements for new gas fired generation plant.

So I don't see any parallel with the mainframe/PC industry which started out high technology and horrendously expensive per unit of computing and then gradually cost reduced and became ubiquitous.

I see some parallel with the immense increase in the technology to produce computers coupled with the massive reduction in the location and number of producers. I wouldn't like to see fracking following this model because if a flood in Thailand crippled the global industry we would all be very unhappy.

Equally I don't see any major change in the technology basis of crude oil extraction - just a re-emergence of small distributed extraction plant where small onshore distributed resources in temperate first world locations are once more available and economically viable.

So the overwhelming impression is that this article has no real relevance to IT but has mainframe/PC shoved into it to shoehorn it into an IT rag - which I think is probably the aim of the original report the article is based on

Fracking is always interesting but ------->

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David Roberts
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Re: PERSONAL computer!

O.K. Elucidate.

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David Roberts
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PERSONAL computer!

The big feature about the personal computer is that it is personal. That is, you have your own device in your home.

Unless everyone can have at least one fracking rig on their property then I don't think the analogy works.

At most you have a switch from a few large global production sites to a local production industry with small plant and low start up costs. A bit like coal where there are small deposits all over the UK. Oh, hang on.....

...perhaps like dairy farming where you have a local dairy farm so you small production unit is close to the consumer. Oh, hang on....

So the model is that lots of small production units can change the way that oil is produced? Of course, it has to be refined so you either need lots of small local refineries or you need to transport your local small scale output to a big central refinery.

No, still not working for me as a conceptual model of a radical change in the production dynamics.

It may bring a few more large players in, though, and put pressure on OPEC.

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BAN email footers – they WASTE my INK, wails Ctrl+P MP

David Roberts
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WTF?

Illegal?

Did I miss something, or is the proposal to make it illegal to add these footers?

If so, how do the authorities propose to enforce this?

Seems like a mandate to read all emails to check for illegal content.

If this was the USA it would also be a mandate to persue anyone in the world who emailed a US recipient - even though you cannot tell this reliably from the email address.

Saving paper is just fluff and misdirection.

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Makers of Snowden movie Citizenfour sued by ex-oil exec

David Roberts
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Traitor to the USA (not America)?

....but hero to the free world?

Hang on, I'll get back to you whem I can confirm exactly where the free world is.

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Sony Pictures hack is Hollywood's 'Snowden moment' say infosec bods

David Roberts
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Get the picture?

I liked the bit about "looking for bad actors on the network"

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Armouring up online: Duncan Campbell's chief techie talks crypto with El Reg

David Roberts
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Asymetric key?

I may be well out of date now but I thought asymetric key cryptography was slow and relatively vulnerable if used with large amounts of data.

Isn't it mainly used for the secure exchange of one time symetrical keys which are used for bulk encryption?

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TALE OF FAIL: Microsoft offers blow-by-blow Azure outage account

David Roberts
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Thumb Up

Re: eh?

Oh, I don't know. I quite liked the picture of a knock down drag out bare knuckle fight between developers and system testers that this conjured up.

Even more so between the project team and the customer.

"Here you are - it fully meets the signed off requirements and test specifications."

"Oh, no, we've changed our minds. And the colours are so last year."

{sound of jackets being removed, sleeves being rolled up, and lengths of metal pipe being slipped out of waist bands}

Sigh.....a man can dream.....

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Singapore startup does an Uber on tech support

David Roberts
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2-3 hours?

It will take at least that long to run a full virus scan on most older kit.

I assume that the geek will have an investment in infrastructure such as a home office with fast broadband and all the latest Windows Updates held locally. Also insurance cover.

Working at the customer's home is a recipe for trouble as a lot of the work will be starting a job then waiting for 2-3 hours to finish and any downloads will be constrained by the customer's link speed.

As already stated upstream it is hard to justify paying a decent price to cover several hours of skilled labour when the capital cost of the hardware is around £300. Back in the day when a decent PC could cost £2,000 paying

£200 to fix it looked reasonable. Try charging that today.

This also explains why small businesses tend to use low skilled support because the cost looks unreasonable when you have bought a couple of XP machines 10 years ago and can't move because your business specific software package won't run on W7 or W8. The perception is that if the suport costs more than a new machine then it isn't good value. At the price point they are comfortable with they can't afford marketable skills.

Seen that with a local business I know.

So who are these geeks who can offer a quality service at a low price?

Retired and bored ex-IT professionals who are time rich but cash poor?

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Deprivation Britain: 1930s all over again? Codswallop!

David Roberts
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Re: 1930s

So if she was born in 1936 the radio would have been available in 1956 when she was 20.

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

David Roberts
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Time for a poll?

I recognise that a change in anything can be uncomfortable for long time users.

However there seems to be a common thread to most of the complaints.

At the moment I read El Reg using a 10 inch tablet in portrait mode so most of the site is ignored. I just resize the screen so only the text is visible and both old and new sites work much the same.

So my two main complaints are large pointless picures (as others have said, Daily Mail??) and the lack of cleat distinction between read and unread articles. I like to be able to skim through the main page and easily see where I got to last time I looked. This is now much harder.

I haven't used a high res monitor on the new site yet so I haven't seen the reported vast waste of space but surely the main aim of the front page is to allow the reader to see as much information as possible as easily as possible?

So, how about a poll to get up/down votes on the top 5 or 10 complaints to gauge the level of feeling.

One thing which would make the site truly flexible and also assist in validating a new design would be a "preferences" option linked to a commentard profile where things such as fixed vs. variable width format and colour settings could be individually selected. Then people could switch between views until they found the best fit for them and you could aggregate the settings to see which were most used. In fact, kind of like a poll.

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Your data: Stolen through PIXELS

David Roberts
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Missing something?

I assume the whole point is to capture data without saving it to a file on the client, and thus leaving an audit trail. Also no software to install. Also no problems getting the data off the client if USB ports have been quite reasonably disabled.

So running software on a PC to capture the video stream and then copy/email it wouldn't meet the undetectable requirement.

This seems to be a fast and easy method of capturing data displayed on a screen without having to record it via a camera or plain old paper and ink.

However it is a niche attack - the client is locked down to prevent USB drives being attached and is audited and email is also scanned. However physical security is lax enough that you can connect another computer to the video hardware to record your sessions and then remove the hardware afterwards (or leave it there under the desk and regularly swap out the SD cards with the captured data).

I am assuming that the device uses a spare HDMI port on the graphics card instead of being inserted between PC and monitor on the main graphics output but I may have missed that part.

If it is feasible to have a device recording the HDMI output then this puts the mockers on any Digital Rights enforcement preventing copying of programs from e.g. Virgin Media Tivo boxes in full HD. So is it a media copying device which could also be used for spying?

All in all an interesting spy device to plug into a tower PC under a desk. Who would notice it?

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Parliament face-sit-in to spark mass debate on UK's stiff smut stance

David Roberts
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Coat

I've been invited to a sit down slap up meal.

Is this now illegal?

Long brown dirty one, of course.

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.Bank hires Symantec to check credentials

David Roberts
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WTF?

Policed by ISPs?

Now if ISP mail servers would only accept mail signed by the bank from an authorised mail server we might at least have some confidence that the originator was correct.

Oh, hang on, that doesn't require a special ".bank" domain, just a certificate.

So what exactly does this offer beyond a nice little earner for the owner of the TLD?

Oh, yes, a whole new flood of SPAM with spoofed originator addresses.

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Mom and daughter SUE Comcast for 'smuggling' public Wi-Fi hotspot into their home

David Roberts
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Joke

Class action, you say? Paralegal?

Just checking, but which ever way this goes somebody is going to fill a pocket or two with cash for all the legal work.

So, is fronting a class action suit a nice little earner whichever way it goes?

Or am I just being cynical about US lawsuits.

They don't seem to be really trying anyway as they don't claim that the roaming wifi actively encourages terrism, and helps anonymise pro-choice activists.

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Dirtbags dressed up malware as legit app using Sony crypto-certs

David Roberts
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This used to be a tick box option in IE IIRC. Is it automatic now?

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US Ass. Commerce Sec hits back at claims global DNS is DOOMED

David Roberts
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Re: Trust the USG?

So you are saying that ICANN is basically like FIFA except it currently has government oversight?

Which they want removed.

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Stupid humans and their EXPENSIVE DATA BREACHES

David Roberts
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Encryption?

O.K. This is a bit of puff for an encryption firm.

However nearly all the reported problems are due to the information being sent to the wrong person.

Inside the business with encryption if you send information to the wrong person then you also encrypt for the wrong person.

Sending to the general public you decrypt first.

So how does encryption help?

Surely encryption can help with a data breach but not human error in sending to the wrong person.

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Not sure what RFID is? Can't hack? You can STILL be a card fraudster with this Android app

David Roberts
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Re: meanwhile...Noone does physical imprint

So the carbon that I have I have from the Calmac ferry to Islay is a figment of my imagination?

Granted that anything remembered from the return trip after visiting all is the distilleries may be open to interpretation.

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ICANN and co U-turn on permanent seats for 'net 'UN Security Council'

David Roberts
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Should I apply?

Still some spare seats, and I'm not doing anything important right now.

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Randall Munroe: The root nerd talks to The Register

David Roberts
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A whole new generation??

Since when did it become "generational" to enjoy XKCD?

I think XKCD is great but I thought the interview was a bit lame.

I got the impression that given Randall didn't seem to want to talk about personal stuff and everyone reading here probably already knows about XKCD then there wasn't a lot to report back.

Apart from "Hey - I met Randall Munroe!! How cool is that?"

However really no need to go down the "Whole new generation" route as if only people the same age or younger can relate to XKCD.

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TalkTalk email goes titsup FOR DAYS. Cheapo telco warns: Changing password WON'T fix it

David Roberts
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Password prompt?

It isn't clear from the report, but one symptom of a handshake timing out when an email client (not web browser) is fetching mail is a request for the password.

I see this now and then from the various mail servers I use, but mostly from BT.

If this is the problem, and you can only change the password by logging into the web site, then it should (but probably doesn't) ocur that if the password works for the web site then it doesn't need changing.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Masala omelette

David Roberts
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Grill

To finish the cooking off properly, slip the frying pan under a hot grill.

Cooks more quickly and ends up much fluffier.

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