* Posts by Dave Bell

1925 posts • joined 14 Sep 2007

Having offended everyone else in the world, Linus Torvalds calls own lawyers a 'nasty festering disease'

Dave Bell

Re: So, to sum up...

I expect to be dealing with a lawyer soon.

Her family has been working with my family for generations. She knows her stuff. We meet to get specific jobs done. It's likely to be another will. It's something essentially routine.

This instance does sound more like an outsider trying to stir trouble. It needed lawyers to make the GPL. and I have seen enough cases of tech-industry lawyers straining to understand what they are dealing with. At some point there will be a test case.

Linus may be right about this lawyer, but if he thinks he doesn't need a lawyer at that discussion, he's dangerous too. Law and computer programming each have their own jargon, and I have certainly come across computer programmers with a strange idea of what the law says. You can see the same with other specialised areas. It is perhaps the biggest problem in politics, finding somebody who really knows what they're doing, who you can trust to give you advice.

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Breaker, breaker: LTE is coming to America's CB radio frequencies

Dave Bell

Re: errr cb band ?

That's the classic CB band. It also has the range to be useful for truckers. There was, for a few years, also a UK band somewhere just short of 1 GHz, but it flopped.

I suspect few writers for The Reg are old enough to remember, and they were possibly playing Elite at the time. CB does things that mobile phones do not, mostly because of the one-to-many aspect combined with the range. It isn't so good for the things you do with a telephone. Even in England, mobile phone coverage, whether voice or data, can be patchy.

I don't remember CB ever being the miracle it was being sold as, but maybe it was useful on heavily-used roads. It seemed to sell more on the gloss of being something American and "sexy", and I think they were showing The Dukes of Hazzard on TV.

You haven't lived until you have heard a Yorkshire farmer pretending to be one of the good ole' boys.

4-10, Good baby...

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Apple beats off banks' bid for access to iPhones' NFC chips

Dave Bell

Re: Confidentiality and NDA's

I remember some of the people worried about contactless payment with credit cards, and I think some of the fears are relatively simple to deal with. I suspect the fear of illicit card scanning is greatly exaggerated, but a screened card case is a simple fix. (They still look overpriced.)

Some of the technical details just don't get reported, but we do get warned about interference between cards. How much of that under-reporting is down to lazy journalists, and how much is down to confidential information?

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Dave Bell

If it's true that one of the banks involved won't sign up to confidentiality, why should I trust them with my money.

Yes, there is the security-by-obscurity argument, but it looks as though Apple are willing to talk, just a bit picky. And, after that SWIFT story this week, I think it's good that they are.

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UK IT consultant subject to insane sex ban order mounts legal challenge

Dave Bell

Re: "He was found not guilty, therefore he is innocent"

The concept is there, but it's not simple. Sometimes a pattern of lesser offences is significant, but it isn't easy to present them to a jury as evidence. It will be argued about in each case where it comes up. And sometimes it gets argued several times, in different courts. In this case, this is the first step of such a chain of arguments.

Anyway, I knew a few magistrates. Apart from anything else, the police were known to have a list of favourite magistrates. I could see why. Some could have been more sceptical.

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UK's mass-surveillance draft law grants spies incredible powers for no real reason – review

Dave Bell

Re: Hiding messages is easy....

Good encryption is hard.

At the moment, using encryption is in two classes. There's the automatic "secure sockets" stuff that might be analogous to putting a letter in a sealed envelope, and is used for stuff like your internet banking. It's like the sealed envelope because it takes effort to open and read without being obvious. And that's why people such as GCHQ target their bulk collection.

Then there are the more personal systems. If it's detected, it's very likely to be attacked. It will be seen as a strong factor in filtering systems. Something is being hidden. Some ciphers, even a Caesar cipher or ROT-13, are trivial to break but they deter a casual reader. The Telegraph Codes of a century ago kept privacy, the telegraphist couldn't just read the message, and they reduced the number of words needed. In the World Wars you could use them, but only a limited set were allowed. One spy ring used tobacco orders to send counts of battleships in port. They got caught.

And at the other end of that range are the codes and ciphers used by governments. You know where they're coming from. And some are mathematically unbreakable. But there are problems in using them. A one-time-pad needs keys to be distributed which as are as big as the message traffic, and sometimes silence is a message in itself.

Probably reading this website makes us all a little bit more interesting to GCHQ, all these stories about hacking and nuclear war and encryption.

Do you want to play a game?

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Penetration tech: BAE Systems' new ammo for Our Boys and Girls

Dave Bell

Re: Amazing the amount of research and design...

The British Army has long had a preference for soldiers hitting what they shoot at. Some of it has taken on an element of myth, but even something such as the "Mad Minute" was judged by counting hits on the target rather than shots fired, and the soldier could get extra pay.

And part of why there is all the fuss about getting the ballistics the same is that it lets the soldiers keep hitting the target. You can get more penetration by increasing the velocity, but that changes the path of the bullet. And that means new sights, and makes the stocks of old ammunition less useful.

Most of the effect of the new round has to come from the difference between steel and lead when it hits armour.

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Dave Bell

I have seen WW2 figures for how much brick is needed to reliably stop a bullet. People were told that they needed four bricks thickness, a bullet would go through the equivalent of a cavity wall. At least walls were often corbelled out at the base, partly because of the different building of foundations.

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Dave Bell

Possibly "bulleted blank", a wooden bullet to increase the gas pressure so something such as a Bren gun could operate, giving the right shape to reliably feed into the chamber, and depending on a muzzle attachment to shred the bullets.

One of the factors in all this is the cost of making the steel bullet. Casting lead is an old and fairly cheap technology. The steel bullets will need totally different machines. Even the gilding metal stage will need some changes.

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Oculus Rift will reach UK in September – and will cost more than two PS4s

Dave Bell

Re: Google Cardboard

Ever driven a 2CV? For many things it is sufficient.

You don't need to buy a Rolls-Royce to be comfortable.

I am not sure that the Oculus Rift is going to be all that significant, certainly not when it's tied to one specific type of computer by a fixed connector.

Ten years ago, Charles Stross was writing "Halting State", which involved commonplace virtual and augmented reality. You can see these gadgets as faltering first steps. but we do have augmented reality now, computer data overlaying the real world.

It's not the 2CV, or the Rolls-Royce, that matters. When do we get the Pokemon GO?

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Vodafone: Dear customers. We're sorry we killed your Demon

Dave Bell

Re: Just goes to show....

I went onto Gmail while I was still a Demon customer, and set up my own domain name, which has an echo of my Demon domain name. The domain name is still running, and it forwards to the gmail.com address. no problems. When broadband came to the district, the choice of sources was limited, BT wasn't quite so open to competing ISPs as it is now. I kept up my personal domain because it was cheap, and I was never quite sure the ISP would continue. I am on my third different broadband provider.

Demon was a slightly geeky provider. It surprises me that the customers still using the name have apparently never done something as simple as get their own domain name. And we don't know how many of the residue addresses are just there to catch ancient references. (You see it with Linux, advice on problems that was written a decade ago and invokes software sources that don't exist any more)

I can't really say that I am sad that Demon is vanishing, but I know people who worked there in the early days, and sang scurrilous songs about elves and veterinarians with them. In it's way, it is as significant as the last flight of an RAF Harrier, the end of an age, for reasons which may have nothing to do with the viability of the machines.

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London cops waste £2.1m on thought crime unit – and they want volunteer informers

Dave Bell

The story misses so much of the context.

There is a lot of abusive commenting on social media, much of it repeated and directed at particular people that may well be a breach of the particular site's Terms of Service. And the companies seem to do fuck all to enforce their own rules.

This isn't one guy saying something rude. These are sustained verbal assaults by relentless mobs.

There's a problem. I know people who have been victims, the blatant cases have a scale and level which goes way beyond what most of us would say. The fears of intrusion are based on these misconceptions.

I am not sure the informants are a good idea. It would be better if the police took steps that gave victims confidence that the law would be enforced, and encouraged these assaults to be reported.

Do some research: take a look at the case of somebody such as Milo Yiannopoulos, treating both sides with a degree of scepticism, as the Police should do in a similar case. Judge it on the evidence, not on your fears or wild claims of censorship by the state.

I am not sure I trust The Register on this, their story seems conveniently ignorant of such cases. And I am not sure I trust the Police. But having them move in may have a lot to do with the failures of the company and the community. Billions for capitalism. Not one cent for civilisation.

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The curious case of a wearables cynic and his enduring fat bastardry

Dave Bell

Re: Fat chance: women's or kids jeans

I have to shorten the legs on my jeans. Duck''s Disease waddles in the family.

I can use my late mother's sewing machine. There's a simple trick to it that keeps the look of the hem. There's a "magic seam" video on You Tube.

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Dave Bell

Re: Do you even lift?

There's several distinct elements to fitness, and some medical professionals are barely competent to judge. For instance, the Body Mass Index is OK as a starting point, at a "do I need to ask more questions" level, but there are people who don't bother to ask the questions. Some athletes have a high BMI, but the mass is muscle, not fat, which has a higher density, and there's a better correlation of poor health with excess fat rather than excess weight.

When I worked on a farm I was heavier than I am now, and the extra weight was muscle. I sometimes had to handle 50kg sacks of wheat seed (and you really need to know how to do that properly). When I fractured my spine, all that extra muscle helped me avoid the need for surgery.

Anyway, the one simple trick to losing weight is to eat less. Exercise helps change the ratio between fat and muscle, and we all need some fatty tissue, Most of us have too much.

Weght training can focus the exercise. As mentioned, running does more for the legs, and weight training can fill the gap. But weight training isn't as good for the heart and lungs, and that seems to be an important aspect. They call it aerobic exercise, and it matters because for a short burst of exercise the muscles use internal resources. At least, they did according to my school biology lessons.

In the end, it's about keeping a good balance, the right mix of food in balance with the exercise. And, while you don't need to be a weightlifter, there are things in the computer business that are heavy enough that you need to know how to use your muscles.

Incidentally, it helps to know how to cook. There are ways in which cooking can really mess with good nutrition. My mother did manage to get away from overcooking cabbage and brussels sprouts.

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Revealed: How a weather forecast in 1967 stopped nuclear war

Dave Bell

I remember seeing RAF-operated ballistic missiles on their launch pads, ready to fire. I didn't really know what they carried. then.

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UK local govt body blasts misleading broadband speed ads

Dave Bell

Is raw speed everything?

One of the things I used to see is the "contention ratio".

It's not mentioned any more. Internet use has maybe changed, from just web pages, which can more more-or-less intermittent, towards streaming video.

The advertised speed is about what the connection to the exchange can physically deliver. How the ISP can deliver data to the exchange matters too.

Maybe it matters how much data per person can get to the customer, I am not sure that the upgrade from basic ADSL would make all that much difference to me. What I see suggests that the next step to the internet is my real limit. Performance suffers when the kids are home from school, for everyone in the village, whether that have anyone else in the house or not.

I am apparently getting worse ping times to the USA than I was getting via a dial-up modem. There's only so much an ISP can do about the speed of light. Yet one site I connect to, purportedly providing me with an international service, warns me that my ping time is too long. Their physical servers are in Arizona, and I suspect that;s a little bit too far from their head office in San Francisco for their own staff to get the recommended ping time.

I don't think any single number is useful, it can be a bit complicated for adverts, which assume a somewhat less intelligent audience (They're legalised con games.), and too many things keep changing.

(I have mised feelings about your reference to farmers. The government expects farmers to have internet connections to do business, and then does sod all to make their systems usable with slow internet connections. How would you feel if you couldn't fill in your tex return because your internet is too slow? Do you want HMRC breathing down your nexk like a rabid werewolf?)

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BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

Dave Bell

Re: Hardwired connection

Not iPlayer, I think, but a lot of the streaming video boxes are WiFi only.

On the other hand, the ancient idea of the detector van depended on the signals emitted by an old-fashioned CRT TV, such as the frequency generated in a superheterodyne frequency, and the scanning signals needed by the CRT technology. All that has changed.

Wifi is at a frequency which doesn't need so big an antenna for the same directional resolution. Many of the image of detector vans go back to the days of 405-line black-and-white, which needed an aerial some fifty times bigger. A simple stick antenna, totally non-directional, could have been a metre long. It couldn't be something compact.

Now it can be.

I suppose there might still be some radiated signals from some of the display electronics, but can you tell what is being shown on the screen? How do you tell the difference between a live picture and a computer game or a movie on recorded media?

I don't have much confidence in the sources for this story. And, to be honest, I sometimes have doubts about the ability of specialised technical journalists. But I think you are at least asking some of the right questions.

One thought: does this mean that WiFi security can be broken in real time? Is it as safe as we think?

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Android's latest patches once again remind us: It's Nexus or bust if you want decent security

Dave Bell

So what do the phone networks have to do with code patches that Google don't have to deliver as mobile data? The last one I got came via the free Wi-Fi in the pub

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123-Reg goes TITSUP – again

Dave Bell

12:08 BST

I am confused by the various time-stamps scattered through this report.

The DDOS seems to have hit a couple of hours ago, but The Register reports what may be earlier problems. Either 123-Reg didn't notice, or something else has been happening.

Neither is good.

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Giant Musk-stick test-firing proves a rocket can rise twice

Dave Bell

Re: And again again

And they will be having a good look for anything obvious between each firing. They're testing their instruments too, and if something does fail, they might have an "if you see this, don't launch it" rule to use

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Windows 10 pain: Reg man has 75 per cent upgrade failure rate

Dave Bell

Re: Linux system upgrade may not be much better

Linux Mint derives from Ubuntu, and is based on the latest Ubuntu LTS version. Mint 17.x versions do have changes, they're in the same territory as a Service Release. The new Mint 18 should last as long as any version of Windows.

Windows gets awkward over hardware failure-and-replacement. And upgrade versions of Windows had led me into a chain of sequential installs from whatever the last full version had been. The hard drive had lasted a long time. Either find a whole series of Windows install disks, or install Linux.

I switched to Linux. It was Mint 17.2 and the upgrade to Mint 17.3 went well. I have Mint 18 waiting. There are programs I use which don't have Linux versions, but they run fine with the WINE package.

I can see how software that messes with partition tables might be a problem. I am not sure I would want to take the chance.

A few months back I has the hard drive I was using under Linux start showing failures. New drive, install same Linux version, temporary hook-up of old drive, copy stuff over, it all worked.

One thing to be careful of: there are some very old, effectively obsolete, answers out there to some common questions. And there are a lot of Linux distributions. I don't want another Windows monoculture, but a bit more support competence all around would be A Good Thing.

This post now comes to a .

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Cats, dogs starve as web-connected chow chute PetNet plays dead

Dave Bell

Emergency cover

Because of my dodgy health, I doubt I shall start keeping another animal, with or without the emergency cover something such as this could provide. And this particular approach, depended on the continuing Internet connection to a server, is just plain stupid design. Automatic feeder systems have been used in farming for over thirty years, part of stand-alone, computer-controlled systems that support human management.

A typical example was in dairy farming, where the cattle wore an identity tag collar, the system could record an individual cow's milk yield, and the feeding could be matched to that.

You'd have to be an idiot to rely on an unsupervised fully automatic system, and doubly an idiot for something like this with a off-site server. Robot milking systems exist, and allow more flexible timing that can better suit the cattle, but they can't do everything, and skilled human staff aren't going away any time soon.

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Dave Bell

Re: More dead cats :)

The big complications with cats come where they are pretty recent introductions, such as New Zealand. Here in England it's a bit late to do anything, and, anyway, our wildlife mix isn't that old. We had something called an Ice Age. The New Zealand glaciers were never quite so overwhelming.

So there are some unique species in New Zealand, while the UK is similar to the rest of Europe.

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Pokemon GO-ZILLA: Safety fears after monsters appear in Fukushima danger zone

Dave Bell

I can see how some places can slip through in the initial set-up. I have seen stuff on how the pin-point locations can be amended, but it will take time for the reports to be checked and acted on.

This is more complicated, because it's about how Pokemon appear. I have no idea of how that's controlled.

It is less that two weeks since the game went active in the UK. Half the local Pokestops are churches of one sort or another. There's some sign that one or two locations are affected by more than random GPS error.

Pokemon GO has some of the same strange location fixing that can be seen on web-based business directories, which seem to get their money from general advertising rather than delivering customers to businesses. If anyone is trying to link a new Pokestop to their business, I think they need to take care with a GPS fix. Just clicking on your phone could be misleading. As I recall, it's worth averaging the GPS reading for a location over a good long time, maybe a full 24 hours.

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Nintendo to investors: Pokémon Go won't make money come

Dave Bell

I do find myself wondering just how many shares were traded to produce the huge market price, and how many more are being sold now.

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Pokemon Go DDoS claim

Dave Bell

Here in the UK, school holidays are starting.

That may have been a deadline for them.

The weekend was already bad.

Servers are expensive, and they won't want to have a surplus when the is summer over. But will they have paid the capital bills by then?

It's not a bad excuse for a walk, but I wonder if they could have done a better job of providing the data. I get the impression that they don't cache the Pokemon. They're always being uploaded.

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Gaming apps, mugging and bad case of bruised Pokéballs

Dave Bell

Re: Journalism?

If you want to look like an ill-informed idiot, you'll get the comments you deserve

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Dave Bell

Re: What's wrong with cartoons?

I once quoted Miyamato Musashi on that movie, and some of the other things that Manga Entertainment did. It comes across as a story told with a blunt instrument.

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Dave Bell

Journalism?

I am a little disappointed by this.

First, Pokémon GO is now available in the UK, and it is free. Yes, you can make in-app purchases which effectively buy you success, but nobody is forcing you.

Second, the location database is based on that from Ingress, which means the locations have been tested. And since the only places you can fight are the Gym locations, I am a bit doubtful about the stories of muggings. It looks as though game locations are visible from about 500m away, and you get a picture and a name for the place.

Third, the permissions problem seems only to have occurred with the iOS version. I have seen no sign of it with the Android version.

Niantic may have been a bit careless about some things, repeating a few misjudgements they made with the Ingress game. Last year they used a Nazi death camp as a location, but quickly dropped it andapologised. They seem to have done it again, with a different museum. I reckon that should have been avoidable, but the locations where in a far away land of which we know nothing.

I am not sure of its merits as a game. It seems to have the same effect as Ingress, getting people out and walking, but it's aimed at the different market. The original Pokémon was popular in its time, and this well be triggering pleasant memories for some.

I need an excuse to get some exercise. It seems to work OK for that, but I can see how Ingress may suit me better, and a completely different game-story might suit you.

You're getting too many hard facts wrong, and using those errors to support what amounts to saying the game isn't to your taste.

So what?

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BOFH: I found a flying Dragonite on a Windows 2003 domain

Dave Bell

I think I'd lift a scenario from Charlie Stross. In "Halting State" there is an augmented-reality spy game which is actually run by real spooks, so when the game has you follow somebody, presented to you as "another player", it's for real.

Getting the boss into a game like that, and arrange for him to carry a package that isn't an innocent dummy. And maybe put the game server onto the computers of that other company.

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Falling PC tide strands Seagate's disk drive boats. Will WDC follow?

Dave Bell

I have some old server hardware that supports hardware RAID.

A decade ago, the individual drives were pretty small. Now it looks as though a mirrored drive pair is the way to go. And, while the individual drive components will be of higher quality, it's now one motor spinning one platter on one set of bearings, replacing a dozen or more drives that each need to be assembled and tested.

I am not so sure that spinning rust will go away, but I can see how the balance between the different parts of the manufacturing process can have changed. And I also wonder if, on the time-scale of those graphs, there has been a significant change of drive capacity. It's possible (though a bit unlikely) that the average capacity per drive has risen by more than the number of drives shipped has fallen.

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Dave Bell

Re: OT but you started it

"Strand" is more poetic English for beach, one of those antique words that hangs on in the fringes of an English vocabulary, but "stranded" and "beached" are distinct enough to be useful, and so remain. If you say a boat is "beached" it suggests something routine. The tide will rise and refloat it. A "beaching trolley" might be used for a seaplane or flying boat. "A "stranded" boat or ship is in trouble.

I doubt all those smallish vessels in Aberystwyth are stranded.

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UK.gov wants to fine websites £250,000 if teens watch porn vids

Dave Bell

I used a US on-line game that had an "Adult" option, and required age verification. It was violence rather than sex.

They dropped that a few years ago because, even within the USA, the verification didn't work. I used my driving licence and had to go through a UK-specific check service. Your driver ID number does at least specify you date of birth, in a rather obvious form that a cop can decipher.

Neither the USA or the UK has a clear national ID structure that can verify age,

This latest thing could be stupidity, or if could be a back-door to introduce an ID Card scheme, again.

In the USA, identity checks that take advantage of this lack of a ID system are being used to stop the "wrong" people from voting. We're not that bad, but things such as paperless billing from electricity companies are messing up the assumptions built into our society about proof of identity (and my father's name was on the electricity bill until he died, not mine: no passport, no driving licence, it was about all he had from the usual list).

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Prominent Brit law firm instructed to block Brexit Article 50 trigger

Dave Bell

Re: What a horrible waste of time and money

It's close enough, and the number of people who didn't vote is big enough, that I don't think the answer is obvious.

There were also some blatant lies in the campaign, from both sides.

There is a big difference between saying Parliament should vote, and saying how they should vote.

I am not sure we can trust any individual. I am not sure how we can expect Parliament to act differently to the Referendum Vote, but I have no reason to object to them taking a vote. And, when a big part of the fuss is the claim that the EU has usurped the authority of Parliament, saying they can't vote looks a bit odd.

Some of the things blamed on the EU have been the choices made by Parliament.And some politicians have been God's gift to snake-oil salesmen.

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Michael Gove says Britain needs to create its own DARPA

Dave Bell

Re: Amen to that

Michael Gove is God's gift to snake-oil salesmen

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Dave Bell

Famously, he's said he doesn't like experts, but this DARPA thing is all about listening to, and giving money, to experts.

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Lightning strikes: Britain's first F-35B supersonic fighter lands

Dave Bell

Re: The supersonic Lightning II, as it will be known in RAF service,

It's the same name as the US is using, and they had the P-38 Lightning during WW2, but while it makes some sense I agree that it is a bit lacklustre. The Officer's Mess at Binbrook had a picture on that wall, a camera-gun image from a Lightning of an SR-71 overflying London, taken from above.

I doubt we have the money for the huge project a modern fighter would be, but we made some good stuff.

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Dave Bell

Re: Harriers

There's all sorts of arguments that can be had about range comparisons, such as how much fuel you allow for combat. But one set of figures I saw suggested that the F-35B has a lower combat radius than a Misubishi Zero.

That 266 miles, when you include a substantial allowance for problems, is rather too plausible. 3 planes, and 3 hose units on a KC-10, maybe you can refuel all three planes at the same time, but it would be tricky flying, and hose units can fail.

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You know how that data breach happened? Three words: eBay, hard drives

Dave Bell

Re: Wrong, wrong, double-wrong

I've been setting up, for learning purposes, an ancient server I bought on eBay. Cheap old drives, that have had a good reformat/scrub done, and are still in compatible drive caddies, are a good deal. But, I'll be honest, I could have bought some current-model new drives.

With the way bad sectors are silently switched-out, some of the seller's claims are a bit ridiculous.

And the outfit that made this report: what are they selling? Sure, some people are pretty careless, but this is still the sealed-envelope problem. Governments have been tracelessly opening sealed envelopes since the 18th century at least. It wasn't all that cheap or easy. Neither is reading data from a disk drive that you have taken the trouble to over-write. So much of what we hear is about the ways in which governments can use the internet to do this on the cheap.

I don't know what data you have, but how paranoid do you have to be? The people who do this sort of expensive data recovery are like the people who could open a sealed envelope and reseal it: few and far between. What makes you think you are important enough to be worth the effort?

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Dave Bell

Re: Investing

I don't claim to be any sort of expert, but I have never heard of that. I've installed new hard drives, read instructions, set jumpers, and all that stuff, but I have no recollection of any of that.

I expect somebody to say "Everyone knows that!". Well, we don't.

Seriously, this is a citation needed moment.

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Telia engineer error to blame for massive net outage

Dave Bell

There were no obvious direct effects for me, but \i suspect a couple of services I use were hit by CDN issues over the weekend. CloudFlare is one of I don't know how many CDN networks.

It ought to be clearing by now, but I am not sure it is.

It would be nice to know just which CDN the service I am paying is using, but i can't really see this problem affecting just CloudFlare.

What would the BOFH do?

Ah, opening time, never mind.

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How's your driving, Elon? Musk tweets that Tesla Model S 'floats'

Dave Bell

Re: Patent Infringement?

The German Army had an amphibious Volkswagen during the war.

The Russians and Japanese had amphibious tanks.

What made the DUKW significant was American manufacturing capacity.

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Non-US encryption is 'theoretical,' claims CIA chief in backdoor debate

Dave Bell

Bring back the sealed envelope.

I have a copy of The Codebreakers by David Kahn, and. partly though the timing of original publication, it sets up the myth of super-competent US cryptography. They had talked about breaking the Japanese codes and ciphers. The Ultra secret had not yet been revealed. But it mostly deals with earlier generations of cryptography, stopping with the development of teleprinter-based systems that read a key from a punch-tape.

One thing is apparent. If the skilled hands could be applied (and paid for), by the 18th Century anything in the mail could be tracelessly read. But the process was so expensive that for most people a sealed envelope was all the security they needed.

And then the telegraph came along, and just ordinary commercial communications started using codes. The codes deterred casual reading by a telegrapher but also replaced long words and phrases by fairly short code groups. And they reduced language problems: London or Londres, it was the same code group.

Everything has changed in the last twenty or so years. The internet has destroyed the economic protection of the sealed envelope. As Edward Snowden has revealed, the intelligence agencies are indiscriminately reading everything, because they can, and smothering themselves with irrelevant data.

For most of us, good encryption is a tool: what we're really looking for is the security of the sealed envelope, something that costs enough to bypass that the intelligence agencies have to think about just what their targets might be.

It's very apparent that thinking is optional in the modern CIA.

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FFS, Twitter. It's not that hard

Dave Bell

I think one of the general problems of advertising on the internet is that the people who the advertisers pay are not the people to pay to transmit the adverts. So we get ad-stuffed web pages that are bigger than a copy of Doom.

Point is, adverts in newspapers used the resources of the newspaper, and the newspaper charged the advertisers for the paper and ink they used, and some of the surplus over those costs went to reducing the price the customer paid.

Now you're paying for your internet connection, and some places still have actual bandwidth limits or volume-related billing, and we struggle to see any benefit from the adverts. We're not even getting a colour supplement.

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Computerised stock management? Nah, let’s use walkie-talkies

Dave Bell

Re: 9 1/2 shoes

Shirt sleeves and trouser legs, I learned to use a sewing machine.

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Kraftwerk versus a cheesy copycat: How did the copycat win?

Dave Bell

Give me surfeit of it...

I am not sure that anyone here really knows that much about music, but the core problem lurks in one of two comments, and it's the same one lurking in written fiction.

There are only so many ways of assembling the components in a useful form. You can't copyright individual words. You can't copyright titles. Trademarks are possible, but the context matters. You can distinguish between John Steed and Nick Fury, with their own teams of Avengers. How many stories are called "Nightfall"? There are a few memorable phrases that get quoted, and get re-used, re-purposed, and revelled in. How many ways can you say "To be, or not to be"

This case has spent years winding through the courts, and it's all been about copying something on that scale.

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Dave Bell

Re: Why science fiction "novelists"?

Science fiction novelists vary a lot in their opinions of copyright, and there is a famous and apposite SF story entitled "Melancholy Elephants", but I think it likely that this is a snide comment on Cory Doctorow, suggesting that he doesn't really write novels, or something like that. This is what being a "journalist" can do to you.

But this article is by Andrew Orlowski, Who is described in Wikipedia as the "executive editor" at Vulture Central. I find myself wondering who edits the editors?

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Boring SpaceX lobs another sat into orbit without anything blowing up ... zzzzz

Dave Bell
Mushroom

We were getting bored with successful Apollo flights, 7 manned launches in a row, and then, on April 14th 1970, at 03:07:53 UTC, they had a problem.

Boring is good, but we shouldn't expect it.

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UK eyes frikkin' Laser Directed Energy Weapon

Dave Bell

Re: Nice videos and all

Phalanx might be a slightly too-small a calibre, but a warship needs a gun to put a shot across the bows of a ship that doesn't stop. It's something that still works, though the usual minimum is a 40mm Bofors, rather than 30mm. I wonder what a laser pulse hitting the sea would do.

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Dave Bell

Henchmen are getting replaced by droids. They can just plug into a USB port to recharge, and it lets them patch code, or watch a porn video. while they wait.

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