* Posts by Mike Richards

4039 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

USB stick found in West London contained Heathrow security data

Mike Richards
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They were just following Amber Rudd's lead

After all, who needs encryption?

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Chinese whispers: China shows off magnetic propulsion engine for ultra-silent subs, ships

Mike Richards
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Magnetic fields

Quick question - does this produce enough of a field that it can be detected from the surface or air?

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Iceland's Pirate Party loses four MPs in new elections

Mike Richards
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It wasn't the Panama Papers that sank the Icelandic government (though it should). It was something much more sordid.

Former Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson's father signed a letter recommending that a convicted paedophile, Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson who had been convicted of raping his stepdaughter almost daily for twelve years should have his civil status restored. This is an unusual provision in Icelandic law that allows convicted criminals to have their records wiped so that they can return to a very small society. The cases are reviewed by the Ministry of the Interior, and incredibly previous 'restorations of honour' have included convicted murderers and paedophiles.

The application received huge amounts of attention in the media but the Ministry of Justice refused to disclose the names of the backers, despite being legally obliged to do so. PM Bjarni was informed that his father was involved in the case by the Minister of Justice, Sigríður Andersen, several months earlier, but continued to refuse to disclose the names until he was forced to do so by a Parliamentary committee.

At that point his coalition partners, Bright Future, pulled out of the government claiming that it was clear the Independence Party was not sharing information with the entire government.

Unfortunately this tight link of friends and family is a recurrent feature in Iceland - the same mix was central to bringing down the banks ten years ago.

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Yes, British F-35 engines must be sent to Turkey for overhaul

Mike Richards
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Re: Lets see

'UK has the sole avionics contract... I don't see 12 nations griping about this.'

They don't need to worry about us denying access to the facility because all of our fighter jets will be up on bricks whilst their engines are on a lowloader somewhere near the Bosphorus.

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Mike Richards
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Jumbo is a very good elephant

And looks especially fetching in white.

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Elon Musk says Harry Potter and Bob the Builder will get SpaceX flying to Mars

Mike Richards
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Surely anyone who has used BT Infinity can tell us what low-bandwidth, high-ping time two-way communications is like?

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Dear America, best not share that password with your pals. Lots of love, the US Supremes

Mike Richards
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Re: What happens if...

Under the UK's Computer Misuse Act it would come down whether your access was authorised.

If you had power of attorney for an incapacitated relative then you would be considered authorised to use that computer and no offence would be committed (at least of unauthorised access - if you then defrauded that person then you could still be done for fraud).

If you accidentally woke up a computer to which you did not have authorisation, then no offence would have been committed since you had no intent.

If the original case in the article had happened in the UK, it would seem to be a straightforward breach of Sections (1) and (2) of the Computer Misuse Act.

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Commodore 64 makes a half-sized comeback

Mike Richards
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Re: Choice of games

Dropzone!

Boulderdash!

The Infocom adventures....

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Mike Richards
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It won't be the same

Without an enormous plastic Commodore power brick smelling sweetly of any number of banned organic solvents.

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Google touts Babel Fish-esque in-ear real-time translators. And the usual computer stuff

Mike Richards
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Re: No audio jack

Sony manage it with their Experia phones, so waterproofing shouldn't be an excuse to remove a perfectly useful piece of kit.

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Dropbox thinks outside the … we can't go there, not when a box becomes a 'collection of surfaces'

Mike Richards
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Dear god

'Your dreamy energy'

W1A's Perfect Curve is just too hard-headed for this level of branding bollocks.

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Li-quid hot mag-ma: There's a Martian meteorite in your backyard. How'd it get there?

Mike Richards
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This makes sense

It doesn't look like Mars has had plate tectonics since a very early phase in its evolution, so since then, the lithosphere has remained effectively stationary over the Mantle. Plumes would continue to feed partial melting under the same point in the surface allowing volcanoes to grow and grow. Here on Earth, the movement of the plates means that plumes leave traces on the surface (such as the Hawaiian islands and Emperor seamounts in the Pacific) so volcanoes can't grow too large before they drift away from the plume head and become extinct.

We also know from plumes here on Good Old Earth that they are amazingly long lived. The Reunion Plume is at least 66 million years old (when it created the immense Deccan Traps and did the hard work of killing the dinosaurs), that under Kerguelen is in excess of 120My. Even if it was only supplying a fraction of a cubic kilometre of magma every year, that would allow for some massive volcanoes to grow on Mars.

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Mike Richards
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Re: "an asteroid hit the volcano, leaving a crater and sending the materials rocketing to Earth"

It definitely had an atmosphere early in its evolution since there is plenty of evidence of liquid water in the form of dried-up rivers, lakes and oceans. That would need a hefty increase in atmospheric pressure from the current value. The current estimate is that the Martian atmosphere had bled away by about 3 billion years ago, at which point water could only really exist either as ice or water vapour.

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Thomas the Tank Engine lobotomised by fat (remote) controller

Mike Richards
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Re: Deceptive headline

Has anyone done a Thomas the Tank Engine / Rise of the Robots crossover yet?

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Home Sec Amber Rudd: Yeah, I don't understand encryption. So what?

Mike Richards
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Re: Fashionanle Ignorance

Long time ago.

Countless politicians and columnists have proudly said on Question Time 'I don't know anything about science - BUT [pick one] genetically modified foods are dangerous / nuclear power is unsafe / the climate isn't changing / vaccines cause autism / ...'

Pretty sure Melanie Phillips will have said all of those, possibly in the same answer (to a question about house prices).

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Mike Richards
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It's important to remember

That whichever idiot is Home Secretary at the time, the Home Office will continue to be a monster seeking ever more intrusive powers for itself.

It likes someone fronting the show who won't ask questions and who has no relevant experience (Amber Rudd, Jackie Smith) because then it can fill whatever passes for their minds with soothing words about how just a few more powers will secure the state. And they happily go along with it

If that person is also a genuinely nasty piece of work with an authoritarian streak as wide as the M4 (Jack Straw, David Blunkett etc) - so much the better, tabloid editors and readers alike enjoy jerking off to hard men sneering at liberals and human rights.

If the puppet falls, don't worry, another ambitious mediocrity hot-wired to the Murdoch press will be along to fill their shoes.

Quick question - last decent Home Secretary? Ken Clarke possibly or perhaps we have to go all the way back to Roy Jenkins.

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The UK isn't ditching Boeing defence kit any time soon

Mike Richards
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Re: Northern Ireland jobs or US hardware.

Has anyone spotted Liam Fox or Jacob Rees Mogg to find out their 'thoughts' on this latest demonstration of the oh-so-special relationship?

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Mike Richards
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Re: Canada-headquartered Bombardier

Yep, that was his visit to a 787 plant in South Carolina where he burbled on and on about 'Jerbs!' This June Boeing laid off 200 workers from the plant.

Boeing had previously slurped up more than $1 billion in 'incentives' from South Carolina. Of which more than $300 million was in the form of direct tax breaks.

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Mike Richards
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Re: nowhere else to go and buy defence aircraft rather than Boeing

Not a widely-known fact, but the UK is the world's second largest aerospace nation after the US. Sadly, we can't really build a whole plane on our own any more.

As for Boeing buggering the British aviation sector, it's been going on for decades. It would be nice to finally know the truth about all those one-sided technology 'exchanges' of the 1960s when Boeing engineers were allowed by the British government to see everything about the DH121 trijet and the HS134 narrow-body long-range twinge which both look uncannily like the much later Boeing 727 and 757 airliners.

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Mac High Sierra hijinks continue: Nasty apps can pull your passwords

Mike Richards
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TalkTalk are also available and it would cut out the middle man when it comes to cold calling potential victims.

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iPhone 8: Apple has CPU cycles to burn

Mike Richards
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I assume it could be used to call in a bomb threat on the M5 - so yes.

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NASA, wait, wait lemme put my drink down... NASA, you need to be searching for vanadium

Mike Richards
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Re: Show me the trees...

But if Mars died when life was at a primitive stage we might want to look in unobvious places. Examining Hadean and early Archaean rocks here on Earth shows some evidence that isn't the usual fossils like stromatolites. There are some unusual carbon isotope excursions in graphite in the Isua Complex of Greenland (3.8Ga) which *may* be the product of carbon isotope fractionation that occurs in living organisms. And then, a bit later we have the colossal Banded Iron Formations that appear all over the globe as a by-product of primitive life oxidising iron for energy which resulted in changes in the neodymium and europium isotope ratios in oceanic sediments and eventually the release of oxygen in the atmosphere.

So if we want to look for life, we're going to be doing odd things like checking isotope ratios and examining trace metal deposits.

And smashing rocks, lots of smashing rocks.

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The award for worst ISP goes to... it starts with Talk and ends with Talk

Mike Richards
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Speaking of TalkTalk

(since it is past the watershed)

Does anyone know the outcome of the hacking case at the Old Bailey? I saw two people had been convicted in April, but never saw anything about how long they were sent down for.

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Mike Richards
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There's a certain inevitability about this

It's like Meryl Streep winning 'Best Actress'.

The only difference is that Meryl has never tried to communicate with an Indian accent.

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BoJo, don't misuse stats then blurt disclaimers when you get rumbled

Mike Richards
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The only downside was that he didn't topple over and crush Gove once and for all.

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What do you call an all-in-one PC that isn't? 'Upgradeable', says HP

Mike Richards
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Re: Upgradeable

I like the sound of this utopia - perhaps if I could be so bold to offer my own modest proposal that perhaps internal components could be standardised so that different suppliers could compete to make the most cost-effective and powerful parts for this 'personal computer'.

But I fear such a thing must remain a fantasy.

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Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is hot, but not much more than the S8+

Mike Richards
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Re: Has that intern started yet?

'Samsung reckons it's possible to dial phone numbers you and-write in notes,'

Ummm? Not a clue what that was meant to say.

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Fancy that! Craft which float over everything on a cushion of air

Mike Richards
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It won't be convenient to point at - but Crossrail is pretty astonishing engineering as was the Thames Barrier.

Fingers crossed perhaps we can add Skylon to that list one day.

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Mike Richards
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Re: I think they are very tricky to steer.

They'll then claim to have just discovered a Ming Dynasty wall painting showing one which proves China invented the hovercraft.

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Mike Richards
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Re: You spoil us

What a shame a Saunders Roe Princess didn't survive along with the building - a 150 tonne, 67m wingspan, ten engined flying boat.

A stupidly big seagoing Brabazon of a plane - but what a fantastic beast:

https://youtu.be/AV1eUeo27tc

Saunders Roe were clearly sniffing something, because they then proposed the Duchess - a swept-wing jet flying boat for the the London - Australia route:

https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1950/1950%20-%200863.html

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Equifax UK admits: 400,000 Brits caught up in mega-breach

Mike Richards
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Re: Drip, drip, drip...

Don't forget the maximum fine the ICO can impose is £500k - and its never been imposed - even TalkTalk didn't pay that much. GDPR can't come along quickly enough with its fines up to €20 million or 4% of an organisation’s annual global turnover *whichever is greater*.

Equifax also needs to be forced to spunk up serious compensation for anyone who has had any of their personal data leaked. We don't ask to be put on their systems, we don't have any right to say 'no', so lets make them take security seriously - or kill them through fines and legal settlements.

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Five ways Apple can fix the iPhone, but won't

Mike Richards
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A task-centric interface

Rather than a grid of abstract icons linking to apps, allow people to put their own shortcuts on the interface 'call Mum', 'do Tesco shopping'...

The Windows Phone interface with its ability to pin things like phone numbers and URLs to tiles on the home screen came close to this idea of working.

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London Tube tracking trial may make commuting less miserable

Mike Richards
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Re: This...

A pedestrian subway link to ES station from Euston itself would be nice in the wet weather.

And whilst we're about it, rather than the cavernous concourse at Euston, why not split the holding space for arrivals and departures on to two floors with ramps leading down to the platforms, so that arriving passengers aren't fighting their way through the massive crowds waiting for the 16:47 London Midland calling at all stops to pergatory and the queues for Burger King?

Oh crap, I've gone off on one of my 'why don't stations learn some of the good points from airports?' rants.

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The new, new Psion is getting near production. Here's what it looks like

Mike Richards
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Re: Want!

But despite the 'bag of holding' qualities of any handbag - they still need more than one of them.

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HSBC biz banking crypto: The case of the vanishing green padlock and... what domain are we on again?

Mike Richards
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Their online banking service is utterly dreadful.

Try paying an HSBC credit card bill from an HSBC current account without looking resorting to a) swearing, and b) finally giving in and using the online chat to talk to a human being.

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F-35 firmware patches to be rolled out 'like iPhone updates'

Mike Richards
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Worse - it'll give you a macOS style countdown until it reboots as you gun the plane for the nearest friendly airport.

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Equifax mega-leak: Security wonks smack firm over breach notification plan

Mike Richards
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Right now on the Equifax site

'Identity theft and data breach white paper

'Almost three quarters (73%) of GB adults online think that companies should tell them that they have experienced a data breach and 63% would expect to be notified of a breach within hours.'

https://www.equifax.co.uk/data-breach/react.html

Hope the executives who sold $2 million of shares last week don't have anything to hide - such as prior knowledge of the breach.

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Google's Hollywood 'interventions' made on-screen coders cooler

Mike Richards
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'I bypassed the storage controller, tapped directly in to the VNX array head, decrypted the nearline SAS disks, injected the flash drivers into the network's FabricPath before disabling the IDF, routed incoming traffic through a bunch of offshore proxies, accessed the ESXi server cluster in the prime data center, and disabled the inter-VSAN routing on the layer-3.'

Take me! Take me now!!!

So the end effect of Google's efforts is that rather than leaden dialogue that appears to have been written by a computer, we now have leaden dialogue that appears to have been written by a computer - which is technically plausible.

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Boffin rediscovers 1960s attempt to write fiction with computers

Mike Richards
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Re: Stuff like this

Or they could invest in a set of Rory's Story Cubes. If you have kids or just like writing fiction, these are a great little toy for coming up with story ideas.

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She's arrived! HMS Queen Lizzie enters Portsmouth Naval Base

Mike Richards
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Re: Oh no!

Did they actually install that many or did Capita install 14 and bill for 14,000?

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Blighty’s beloved Big Ben bell ends, may break Brexit bargain

Mike Richards
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"Downing Street this afternoon confirmed the 24-month deadline for reaching a Brexit deal will expire 'when Big Ben bongs midnight' on the night of March 29-30, 2019."

The Express then went on to say that Diana was killed just before she could announce a miracle cure for Alzheimers in time for that year's SIBERIAN BLAST BRINGS HAVOC TO ENGLAND!

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Lauri Love and Gary McKinnon's lawyer, UK supporters rally around Marcus Hutchins

Mike Richards
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Re: Hell yeah

Before you all stock up on big boots and balaclavas, it is worth pointing out he's in Milwaukee...

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Alien 'lava lamp' with dying magnetic field orbited Earth a billion years ago – science

Mike Richards
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Re: I thought radioactive decay was a big part of keeping the core molten...

On the modern Earth, the heat of the Core is thought to be largely primordial heat left over from its formation. There is also a continuous contribution of latent heat released as the Inner Core grows through crystallisation from the Outer Core. Radioactive heat is likely to be a relatively minor component in heating the Core.

Radioactive heating is much more important in the Mantle where it is largely driven by the decay of low concentrations of 40K, 232Th, 235U and 238U. Even though concentrations of isotopes are low, the volume of the Mantle is so vast that most of the Earth's heat is generated here. Perhaps counterintuitively, the continental Crust contains the largest concentration of radioactive isotopes due to their elemental incompatibility with the ultramafic minerals of the Mantle. Their relatively high concentrations means the geothermal gradient rises most quickly at shallow depths.

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Cancel the farewell party. Get back to work. That asteroid isn't going to hit Earth in October

Mike Richards
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Re: Aim is improving.

Anyone else old enough to remember 'The Golden Shot' and 'Bernie, the bolt!' ?

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Marcus Hutchins free for now as infosec world rallies around suspected banking malware dev

Mike Richards
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Poor bastard

He's going to Milwaukee.

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WannaCry-slayer Marcus Hutchins 'built Kronos banking trojan' – FBI

Mike Richards
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In the UK you could fall foul of the Computer Misuse Act Section 3A 'Making, supplying or obtaining articles' with prison sentences of up to 2 years or a fine.

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Programmer's < fumble jeopardizes thousands of medical reports

Mike Richards
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Re: We had this problem

From the Donegal 'v ᠎ ​ ৮̗̜͓̀̎d͓͚͐'s - yes?

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WannaCry kill-switch hero Marcus Hutchins collared by FBI on way home from DEF CON

Mike Richards
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Re: Accused of spreading the Kronos trojan.

They probably waited until he was in US jurisdiction rather than embarrassing themselves again by demanding extradition with bugger/all evidence.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Borrisss!

Dunno - I wouldn't hold my breath, he's only recently renounced his US citizenship.

But one story that didn't get much traction is that the NAACP has put out a travel advisory for Missouri warning black travellers about widespread racism, discrimination and intimidation by the police. That's an American civil rights organisation warning Americans about travelling in one part of America.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Conferences?

Good point.

And from my recent experiences, conferences still in the US are seeing a lot fewer foreign attendees; a lot of people aren't attending because of the problems getting the necessary visas for the States (especially students from countries where the skin colour isn't in the approved range), and because of the general 'fuck you' attitude radiating from officialdom right now.

I've got a paper ready and I'd normally submit it to a US conference and then tack on a few days to see what has always been a fantastic place, but I think it'll end up going to a European conference purely because I might come back intact.

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