* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2646 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

'FIRST ever' Linux, Mac OS X-only password sniffing Trojan spotted

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Nothing new here

Linux distributions already have regular security updates. I have heard Windows users complain that AV software smells of pooh so often that I am glad there is very little for Linux (There is some for filtering Microsoft malware out of email). In the Microsoft world, malware is installed and executed so it can hide and do damage before AV software can hunt for it. The rest of us don't run malware in the first place unless it is to test security.

I have tried installing some but the install scripts got tripped up by little things like mounting /tmp and /var/tmp noexec. Trivial changes to the configuration like that make most Linux boxes more trouble than they are worth. There are plenty of more complex options available for high value targets to ensure that viruses have to be targeted to a specific organisation or machine.

X86 is getting rare these days as much has been moved to AMD64, but my home also has MIPS and two incompatible flavours of ARM. Multiply that by the number of distributions and the users' choices about what software to use and you can see why Linux malware is just not as profitable as stuff for Microsoft even though some of the machines are very high value targets and Unix malware has been around longer:

This is the Unix e-mail virus. It works on the honour system. Please send copies of this e-mail to your friends then delete a few files.

Apple: I love to hate, and hate to love thee

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Apple service for Android

If Apple have annoyed you that badly, buy Androids and put the difference in cost into your insurance account. When you break an Android buy a new one with money from your insurance account.

Want a Windows 8 Start Button? Open source to the rescue!

Flocke Kroes Silver badge



I am sure there are others just as good.

New nuclear fuel source would power human race until 5000AD

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


And Three Mile Island and the fire at Windscale. How many more nuclear disasters will it take for you to work out that the media likes to exaggerate bad news?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Don't steal our natural radiation

We need it for erm err ... mutant fish ... keeping the sea warm ... naturally irradiated sea food ... preventing earth quacks ... banning anything that competes with windmills. Just hold on a few days while I think of something.

Disney sitcom says open source is insecure

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


Never ascribe malice where incompetence or lack of time will suffice. There is more than enough ignorance in the world to explain why a script writer does not understand a thing about programming. The author of the article does not even know the difference between a freetard and a penguinista, and he writes for a tech journal, not childrens' television.

Acer: Windows 8 'uncertainty' deflates Wang's big growth aim

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Acer negotiating a good price for Windows 8

Take a look out for some nice prototype Linux boxes from Acer that disappear when Microsoft cave in on price.

Experts argue over whether shallow DNS gene pool hurts web infrastructure

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

djbdns works fine - and it is free


The license is open source, but inconvenient for most distributions. Compiling, installing and configuring worked without complications for me.

Judge begs Apple, Samsung to get a room, or trial will end in tears

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Juries make a real effort

Anyone with half a brain can avoid jury service. (Likewise anyone with a super brain will not get past jury selection). When jury decisions are suprising, the first places to look are the evidence and the reporting. Some reporters like to emphasise the evidence that is contrary to the jury's decision to create some controversy. Some just paraphrase the press release from the losing side. Remember that we see evidence that the jury does not.

The biggest slice of evidence we got to see is about 950 examples of prior art Samsung does not get to show the jury. Apple complained that Samsung did not specify for each example whether the example demonstrated obviousness or prior art. Samsung did not get a response in by the deadline. I think that example of Apple lawyering speaks volumes about how weak they think their case is, but the jury is not allowed to know about it.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Jury selection

The court summons a large bunch of potential jurors. Some are sent home because spending time on the jury would cause undue hardship or because they have a business relationship with one of the parties. They lawyers from each side get to throw out a few potential jurors. Every single time, they throw out the people with experience with technology or law.

The European Patent Office is lobbying hard for a specialist patent court. If they ever get their way, no patent will be too obvious and the concept of non-patentable subject matter will be entirely forgotten. If you ever hear a rumour that the possibility of a specialist patent court will be created, publicise the rumour at once and hope that letters to MEPs will stamp this atrocious idea back into the mud again.

'$199' Surface tablets: So crazy it might work, or just crazy?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Secure boot would not last long at $199

No DRM has survived determined attention from hackers. At $199, surface would receive lots of attention, and Microsoft losing money on each sale would add more. The only way you will see $199 is if you sign up for some lock-in ware at $20/month for 2 years increasing by $5 per month each year after that.

Hard-up Kodak stalls crown jewels sell-off to milk bidders

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Mouse income

Has anyone seen any research into mouse wealth, and if mouse income or savings vary according to residence type? Is there any evidence that church mice are any less well off than mice living in a shop or school?

Study shows half of all websites use jQuery

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Just disable javascript

Plenty of websites work better without it. If one relies on javascript, go to a competitor.

PS: I usually get the opposite problem - when I run a browser full screen I get a narrow web page with big blank borders.

Apple patents shopping lists

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

There are excellent reasons

Patent examiners are overworked, and it takes far less effort to grant a patent than to do all the paperwork required to delay it. Rejecting a patent just means it will come back with a few words changed. Remember the purpose of the patent system is to divert money from R&D to lawyers. A good patent should be really obvious so there will be plenty of infringers. A better patent has plenty of prior art so plenty of businesses are already profiting and ripe for some nuicance litigation.

Rampant fake Facebook ad clicks riddle hits dead end

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Disputed figure: 1 or 2 % disable javascript

A quick web search only found one attempt to measure the percentage of people who disable javascript. There were several pages that disputed the figures.

I can understand why some people cannot believe even one percent disable javascript: If a site does not work well without javascript, I will go to one of the competitors. I assume fellow Luddites do likewise so owners of those sites are convinced everyone enables javascript. I saw a long discussion thread about how pointless it was to cater for lack of javascript. Not a single commentard argued. I tried to speak up, but javascript was required. I enabled javascript, but it did not like my browser. I tried ice weasel, and still could not post a comment.

I can understand why some people are shocked that only two percent disable javascript. When I have tried sites that require javascript, I have run away screaming. Dell's site is particularly abysmal. The only way I could read it was to block out the animations with my hand.

Euro NCAP to mandate auto-braking in new-car test

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


On a narrow road I sometimes decide to speed up to pass an approaching car where the road gets wider.

If Ultrabooks lasted longer, would YOU open your wallet?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


I too looked at the title, and hoped for the impossible - standard laptop components like we have for desktops. Parts of my desktop are ancient because I can keep using them when I upgrade other bits. You could do with some standard laptop case sizes so you can transfer your good components. I would like to upgrade my CPU/chipset to something quieter, but lack of standards mean I would have to replace the LCD, keyboard, touch pad and case at the same time.

If Intel want a faster upgrade cycle, they will have to sort out some standards - over the dead bodies of the current laptop and LCD manufacturers.

British Gas parent to grab £500m North Sea gas tax break

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Which homes, which energy?

"expected to meet the energy demands of 1.5 million homes"

The Register often contacts people and organisations that are in the news for their comments. Can you make it standard practice to find out what the energy demand of a home is because I am sure everyone uses homes with or without gas central heating and hot water depending on what they are selling. I am keen to these claims in well defined units:

Power: 1 sheep jub weight = 123.6MW

Energy: 1 Norris linguine = 14 Joules

FDA clears edible medical sensor for human consumption

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

1 to 2 Volts of _Voltage_

The units of power are Watts: Power = Voltage × Current

Power is also Velocity × Force, which means there is already a Register unit of power:

1 sheep·jub = 123.5MW

The real challenge is to find the unit of power used by the wind turbine industry. 1 Windmill (when the wind is just right) is equivalent to so many million homes (with gas heating, hot water and cooking + free public transport). If anyone can find this home, we will be able to calculate the number of sheep jubs per windmill.

Register units lack a direct unit of time, but one can be inferred from distance and velocity:

1 second = 41970000 linguine per sheep

Register units do not include a unit of charge or anything that involves charge, so there are no Register units of voltage or current.

Big biz 'struggling' to dump Windows XP

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Have your tried some wine with that?

Quick searches for "IE6 wine" and "IE7 wine" show that some people had it working (to some extent) years ago (and others had difficulty). If Window7 is going to cause you hassle, see if Linux+Wine+IEwhatever is a more convenient solution.

Beeb stuffs $21tn into Olympic-sized swimming pools

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Register units catching on

Yesterday a BBC commentator said that the Olympic swimming pool was the size of an Olympic swimming pool. How did he know? Where can I get a tape measure marked out in Olympic swimming pool lengths, widths and depths?

Texan scientists create tiny, tiny laser

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Tiny, tiny sharks


Adults are about 20cm long. Newborns are about 6cm. These sharks naturally glow in the dark.

Sysadmins! There's no shame in using a mouse to delete files

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

No need to learn new command line tools for every OS

If all else has failed, and you have to use Windows, install Cygwin so all your favourate Linux command line tools will be available.

The amount you have to learn is not that big either. The name of the command is plenty as almost all of them will explain themselves if you type:

command --help

If you cannot remember the name of the command to handle some topic:

man -k some_topic

The commands you need to get started are:

man man

man bash

info info

Those are the manual pages for reading the manual and using the shell, and the info page for using the info documentation library. If there are some details of a command you cannot remember, read the manual. If you are dealing with a new topic, try info. After a couple of months, you will find things in the manual far more quickly than by clicking on all the menu entries and reading all the options in the dialog boxes.

There are some tasks that are best handled with a GUI, but if you have to do something once, then there is a bad chance you will have to do it again. If you got the job done using the command line, then it takes almost no work to get atd or cron to do it for you in future.

Microsoft unfurls patent lasso, snares Linux servers

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

More proof that the patent system should be scrapped immediately

Patents were supposed to increase the rate of technological progress by rewarding publication of how novel non-obvious inventions work with a monopoly.

Microsoft claims Linux infringes their patents, but as they have disclosed nothing, the "inventions" must be so old and obvious that people can implement them without looking at any of the secret patents.

USB charges up to 100 watts

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Why not?

Merging a USB hub into a laptop power brick would suit me fine. I currently have power, USB and ethernet cables tied together so they don't tangle. External 2.5" disks eat two USB ports and 3.5" need their own brick. It would be tempting to put a USB/Ethernet converter on a laptop power/hub and reduce the number of cables down to 1.

I am surprised they did not go for 48V like PoE, or take the frequency to 1000Hz so the voltage can go higher without killing people.

Lazy password reuse opens Brits to crooks' penetration

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Rapid expiration + no previous passwords = ...

... passwords are written on post-it notes stuck to the monitor.

Remove rapid expiration, previous passwords become irrelevant and people stand a chance of remembering a difficult password.

Intel CEO Otellini promises $699 ultrabooks by fall

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

There is a way Intel could sell their expensive CPU's

The day my laptop arrived, i replaced the hard disk with a proper 72000rpm fluid dynamic bearing disk. Some kind person sat on my LCD, so i replaced the LCD. I have worn out the keyboard a couple of times, so I replaced that. When SSD's reached a reasonable price, I upgraded to that. The power cable wore out, and I replaced it. The track pad and the (rarely used) battery are still fine, but I can get replacements for those. The archaic CPU needs a big noisy fan, and I can replace... the entire laptop.

The only reason I would replace my entire laptop is if there is a standard for motherboards so I can upgrade the CPU/chipset just as easily as the disk, LCD, battery and so on. That is how Intel can sell more CPU's. The only interest I have in $699 ultrabooks in autumn is the possibility of $299 ultrabooks in winter.

Giant super-laser passes 500 TRILLION watts

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Practice reading and arithmetic

The article gives to beam energy: 1.85e6 Joules. Use the magic formula Power = Energy / Time to get the amount of time this laser can fire continuously (<4nano seconds). While you are at it, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TNT_equivalent and find that 1.85e6 Joules is less then .5kg of TNT, or less than £0.10 of electricity. While you are at it, take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Ignition_Facility and you will find "In the same month [January 2012], the NIF fired a record high of 57 shots, more than in any month up to that point." 0.5 kg of TNT twice per day is not going to put a big dent in the moon. There is some good news: $150 buys the electricity for about 10 shots (~1% efficiency).

Stanford boosts century-old battery tech

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


The basic formula for a capacitor is: Charge = Capacitance x Voltage. A linear relationship, not logarithmic. Batteries have a more complicated relationship that changes when a resource becomes limited and when the temperature changes because of the charge or discharge current.

Powering your iPad costs $1.36 per year

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Plenty of loony units of measuments measurements

A Watt is a unit of power (1 Joule per second). The SI unit of energy is the Joule. Take your pick from:

kilo Watt hours (Energy supplied by an electricity company): 1kWh = 3.6MJ

British thermal unit (Energy supplied by a gas company): 1BTU = 1.055kJ

Foot pound force (A unit of energy - honest): 1ft·lbf = 1.356J

Calorie (Energy spent while exercising): 1cal = 4.2J

Calorie (Energy content of food): 1Cal = 4.2kJ

Electron Volts (Energy per particle in a particle accelerator): 1eV = 1.602E-19J

Litre (1/1000 of a cubic metre) of petrol: 34.2MJ

Kiloton (Energy in 1 ton of TNT): 1kt = 4.184GJ

The units of power are just as bad. The most common is:

1Windturbine = electrical energy used by 10billion homes with gas hot water, cooking and heating, petrol driven transport, food from high energy content fertilisers, candles for lighting and the average number of gadgets for a family living in a remote corner of a rain forest.

No one watches TV, Nielsen, and you know it

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Simple strategy

Buy some advertising, then look for an increase in sales. If the sales do not increase, you are spending money on the wrong adverts.

For TV adverts to stand a chance, the brief flicker of advert that appears before I press step forward again must be really interesting. The advert has to explain what is being sold, where and for how much without any sound. Finally the really difficult bit - sell a product that I want to buy.

TERROR in SEATTLE: Gang of violent LEPRECHAUNS on the loose

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

MIssed one

When their numbers dropped from 50 to 8, the other dwarves began to suspect Hungry.

Nigerian scams are hyper-efficient idiot finders

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

But who gets the money?

I have no problem with fools being parted from their money - only with the damage that money does in places like Nigeria. Skilled Nigerian 419 scammers can afford to buy their way into politics. I think part of the answer is bigger and more selective taxes on stupidity. Anyone want to buy some lottery tickets?

Surface: Because Microsoft does so well making hardware?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Who is going to sell it?

PC's are low margin products. To stay in business, retailers have to sell high margin software with the PC (Last time I looked at buying a Linux machine from HP, they shoved options for Windows specific Antivirus and Microsoft Office in my face). If these touch tablets can only get software from an online app store, why would retailers stock them?

ARM unleashes 8-core Mali 450 GPU, heads down both forks in road

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Pedantry alert

Voice recognition attempts to guess who is talking.

Speech recognition attempts to guess what someone is saying.

Try to use the right term, or you might end up with a phone that can wreck a nice beach.

Lightsquared cremation postponed

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


Why is a chapter 11 company repaying creditors at all? The whole idea of chapter 11 is you can blow all the company's remaining remaining assets on other companies you have shares in. $6m/month on legal fees arguing with the FCC should be light work for a competent bankruptcy law firm.

Linus Torvalds drops F-bomb on NVIDIA

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

So what will teach them?

I have tried asking politely. I have tried not buying nVidia for 20 years. Please tell us, wise guru, what is the magical incantation that will get nVidia to properly document their products?

EU lurches behind copyright free-for-all landgrab

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

An image used for free is not a lost sale

If I am looking for a free image and like one where there is a clue that someone wants me to pay, I will look for a different one. The only time someone could loose a sale is when my requirements are specific enough that I am starting my search with the assumption that I am going to end up spending money. Buying an image requires an effort. Making sure that I am buying form the owner requires more effort.

I do pay for art, for example: http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php

By all means charge money for your own work, but please do not count all images used for free as lost sales. It should be possible to create a hash of an image, post the hash online, and provide free software so I can hash and search for images I suspect require payment to use. If this sort of thing does not exist, have it made. If it does exist, publicise it. "Whine, whine, government, wah wah" does not get you any sympathy. Just about everyone else could say the same thing.

AMD palms PCs with LiveBox miniature desktop

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Yes really

£30 bulk price. Retail price would be a little higher. Retailers would not sell on the Windows license at cost either.

The real danger to this product comes from the channel. You are required to pay at least £200 for a no-margin computer with no useful software. They only tolerate that price because they expect to make some money on the software. Microsoft will not need to bury this product - the channel will do that for them.

Here comes the small cheap computer again. Blink and you will miss it.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


Windows would double the price. If they want to sell this, they have to find manufacturers and distributors that do not depend on Microsoft.

We'll pull the plug on info-leak smart meters, warns UK.gov

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Why bother with security

Just pass the cost of fines onto the customers.

Big Data is now TOO BIG - and we're drowning in toxic information

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Re: Shopping trip

All of these block access, which causes the venders' sites to lock up or all the links to point at the current page. Is there anything that spoofs replies from tracking web sites?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Shopping trip

I know what I want. I know reliable internet venders that sell it. When I visit a vender's site, my browser spends ages waiting for replies from various analytics companies. I get really bored, and look for the product elsewhere, but other sites a just as bad.

I used to middle click on a bunch of products to open pages in new tabs, start a new search, then, while that page is loading, make purchase decisions about the other tabs. If I try that now, the first middle click causes my browser to lock up and refuse to scroll until the tab loads. The CPU is almost idle, the network connection is not saturated. I am waiting for dozens of remote servers to guess what I want to buy. Please can someone find the webfarters responsible and educate them with a clue stick until they understand quantum mechanics from the point of view of a cat in a box.

GAGA: Spinning blades, welding, wi-fi, what could possibly go wrong?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Tried and tested autonomous grass trimmer


Ultrabooks: objects of desire but just too darn expensive

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

PC's last for ages

My laptop is 7 years old. XP got wiped before it could boot. Vista and Windows 7 have been and almost gone. Windows 8 is nearly here, and I will not bother to look at the required specs or available drivers. Microsoft could bring out hundreds of new operating systems, but I doubt if any of them will be a reason to replace my laptop. Eventually some part of it will break and I will not be able to find a replacement. For that day, I am thinking of something like a raspberry pi and a monitor glued to the inside of a suit case. A Pi is already pushing my (partly older) desktop towards retirement.

I do not see Intel promising to compete with ARM on price yet. Ultrabooks will stay expensive for another year, perhaps two before Intel admit that an £800 computer is a niche market.

Milky Way DOOMED to high-speed smash with Andromeda galaxy

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Galaxies in clusters

Milky way, Andromeda and about 50 small satellite galaxies make up the local group. These are all so close together that their gravitational fields affect each other. The local group is part of a cluster of groups of galaxies. There are many clusters of groups. Galaxies inside a group orbit the centre of mass of the group. The distance between clusters increases with the expansion of the universe.

Take a look at the diagram at the end of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_Group

Third-gen Ultrabooks must offer USB 3.0, anti-theft tech

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Wrong BIOS password - really scarey

Some kind person just enters "password" 5 times and my expensive new ultra-book is broken. I think I will just stick with computers that are so cheap that they are not worth nicking.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

"Chip level" is not an answer

Does "not make any difference" mean anti-theft activates when a thief or I swap the OS or hard disk, or does it mean anti-theft does not activate when a thief or I change the OS or hard disk? Is there some kind of naughty or nice detector that decides who has changed the OS or hard disk?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Anti-theft tech?

If a thief wipes the hard disk and installs a pirate copy of Windows, is the anti-theft tech wiped too?

If I wipe the hard disk and install Linux, does the anti-theft tech activate?

Review: Raspberry Pi

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Cut & Paste

The first time i used XP, I found that the middle mouse button did not work (as expected). Luckily the machine's owner was near by to explain that paste was Ctrl-something-I-have-forgotten. The usual default Linux settings are:

Left click: Do what I usually mean.

Left click and drag: Select for pasting.

Middle click: Paste.

Right click: Show a menu with less commonly used choices.

Alt-left click & drag: Move window - handy if the window is bigger than the screen.

Shift right triple click while singing the Monty Python spam song with your left knee behind you ear: Not normally assigned but I am sure someone will thing of a suitable use.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019