* Posts by John H Woods

2533 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

Queen's Speech: Ministers, release the spaceplanes!*

John H Woods
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GREAT NEWS

Good Morning Britain finished their toadying summary with this: "And, in a futuristic move, new laws will make Britain a world leader in driverless cars, unmanned drones and even space travel"

So, medium to long term investment in education, science, technology and manufacturing then? That would be GREAT NEWS. But I suspect they just mean creating a few more ill-thought out and unnecessary laws.

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Inside Electric Mountain: Britain's biggest rechargeable battery

John H Woods
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"For reasons unknown American instant coffee tastes like soap." --- Fibbles

They like that taste, that's why they eat Hershey bars.

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Daft draft anti-car-hack law could put innocent drivers away for life

John H Woods
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"They seldom understand any of it-- and they don't know (or care) that they don't understand it, which is what makes them even more dangerous." -- Updraft102 [my emph]

This is the key point. Nobody expects legislators to be experts in everything. The truly worrying this is that they have so many resources at their disposal to learn the things they need to know, and so much facility to consult, and so many of them still behave like this.

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Apple man found dead at Cupertino HQ, gun discovered nearby

John H Woods
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Re: It's Love

... but tastefulness just a distant memory

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IBM says no, non, nein to Brexit

John H Woods
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Re: Personal Choice

" it seems to me that the "remain" supporters really ought to be warned off by the political and corporate elite who want them to vote "remain"." --- AC

Even if one were to accept the idiocy of basing one's assessment of an argument on the characteristics of its proponents, you've still got to ask "Farage or Corbyn?" "Boris or Dave?" and "May or Gove?"

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Colander-wearing Irishman denied driver's licence in Pastafarian slapdown

John H Woods
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There's always ...

... a few silly comments

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'Impossible' EmDrive flying saucer thruster may herald new theory of inertia

John H Woods
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Re: I think _I_ can explain it (and it's not that hard)

"of course their effective mass in an 'mv' momentum equation. This is well known." --- bombastic bob

Almost as well known as that m=0 for a photon: photon momentum is not mv. So you are not really chucking any "stuff" out of the back in the conventional sense.

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FBI boss: We paid at least $1.2m to crack the San Bernardino iPhone

John H Woods
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This is all good, but ...

... " That's why we have to continue to talk about this [the encryption debate]."

No. This has resolved the whole thing --- you can't stop people using strong encryption; you can't legislate to ensure that vendors compromise cryptosystems on your behalf; but governments can use serious tech and clever people to break into *specific* devices of interest. This is exactly as it should be: just a shame that his statement hints at wanting to change this ...

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How innocent people 'of no security interest' are mere keystrokes away in UK's spy databases

John H Woods
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Re: I know I'm suppose to be outraged by this BUT...

"I genuinely do not have a problem with the spooks having data on me. I do have a problem with some jobsworth from the council having access" --- isJustabloke

Whilst I understand to some extent, you are basically saying you have more trust in people who are paid to be dishonest (if about nothing more than who they work for).

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GDS wants £100k director

John H Woods
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Probably not enough money to get the skills they need.

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Idiot millennials are saving credit card PINs on their mobile phones

John H Woods
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Re: Stats

"Don't you need a sample of 1500 to get a +-3% standard deviation of accuracy?"

Do you mean confidence interval? And it would depend on confidence level. For instance, with a population of 10,000,000, you would need a sample of (from memory) just over 1,000 to get a 95% confidence level of a 3 point confidence interval. But I think you need nearly twice that to get a 99% confidence level on the same interval.

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Drive for Lyft or Uber in SF? Your wallet is about to get lighter

John H Woods
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Re: What does the licence do?

Hi there, I've read up about this and changed my mind about Bristol Park Run, because the money is actually *for* something, i.e. grounds upkeep - I should have thought of that. But I'm still not sure what the $91/year for uber/lyft drivers is for ... just that the park run isn't a good analogy

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Canny Canadian PM schools snarky hack on quantum computing

John H Woods
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Re: hummmmm

"How would they legislate that one?" --- Sgt Oddball

In exactly the same way ... by ignoring the science/maths and legislating anyway.

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NZ hotel bans cyclists' Lycra-clad loins

John H Woods
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Re: Personally

"When I am sitting down to a tasty breakfast of a sausage and a couple of scotch eggs, I don't want to see anything that reminds me of male genitalia" --- BurnT'offering

So you eat it blindfold? Or in the dark?

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FOUR Avatar sequels

John H Woods
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Re: "so you go to the multiplex"

The only problem with that is that you miss the opportunity to be part of the 'conversation' when a movie is in the public consciousness. But that really is the only problem, and it's probably not a big one. I wonder if there was a simultaneous release to disc / network whether cinemas could even survive?

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Line by line, how the US anti-encryption bill will kill our privacy, security

John H Woods
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Re: Business opportunity

"On Mars, maybe?"

Don't fancy your latency ...

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Half of people plug in USB drives they find in the parking lot

John H Woods
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Probabilities

I'm a bit shocked by all this. I wonder if there's a risk/reward thing going on here --- some USB drives can be large, useful and valuable. Most USB drives, I presume, are dropped by accident. Depending on the statistics, that could still make it worth plugging one in, though I doubt I would.

But how safe are ones you buy? Or are given by exhibition vendors? If the payload just quietly installed itself and didn't do anything / wasn't discovered till some time later would you even remember the potential infection source? Unless you had an airgapped machine you'd probably suspect compromise via the network, surely? Maybe not if you still had a guilty conscience about finding one in the car park.

TBH, I'm inclined to look at the stats the other way round --- isn't it good news that 50% of people don't risk it? (like the 50% divorce stats --- isn't it really rather amazing that 50% of people stick with the partner they married for life?)

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Bibliotheca Alexandrina buys a Huawei superdupercomputer

John H Woods
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"this is country with a fairly large portion of the population holding the same beliefs as a certain group" -- Mark 85

You might want to go to your local library and read about affirming the consequent; it's even sillier than believing in sky fairies.

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'Panama papers' came from email server hack at Mossack Fonseca

John H Woods
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"I've done some back of the envelope calcs (I'm pre-coffee, so please check this yourself :) ) - if you sucked data out at 5MB/s, 2,6TB would take you pretty close to a year"

No need for envelope backs, just type 2.6TB / 5MB into Google and get an answer of 520,000. Less than a week (Google can do that for you as well). Also Images of documents compress nicely --- 2.6TB of uncompressed data could easily be <0.5 TB of compressed files - which would fit on a USB stick or memory card in under an hour (and which could be sucked out of a >10Mb/s connection in a few days).

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Which keys should I press to enable the CockUp feature?

John H Woods
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Re: Johnny Foreigner

I use the Dvorak keyboard layout. For some reason known only two MS, RDPing to a server from a workstation with that layout sometimes caused the server to change to that layout, making me extremely unpopular.

But on the plus side, it was pretty hard for people to use my workstation if I walked away without locking it ...

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US govt says it has cracked killer's iPhone, legs it from Apple fight

John H Woods
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"Eventually there will exist an ACTUALLY uncrackable device" --- JeffyPooh

I think there are some quantum principles which could feasibly be exploited to yield a device that you couldn't crack even with prolonged unfettered physical access, so I think you're right. Not sure it will ever be possible with non-quantum methods.

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John H Woods
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Re: Where are all the Noobies now?

Depends if you're counting me :-) you did have a go at me for presenting the maths implied by the key length -- my defence was that I was only responding to people who suggested AES256 could be brute-forced. Neither of us think this has been cracked (if it has) by brute forcing a 256bit key, do we?

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John H Woods
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Re: A Kick in the Nuts

"Like I said before, if you have deep pockets you could probably clone the phone" -- Danny14

And like many of us said before, it's not that simple. Cloning memory is easy, but cloning other chippery is hard. Sure if you have deep enough pockets it can be done, but I don't think you really understand just how deep they have to be. And 256 bit encryption CANNOT be brute forced. Broken, perhaps, but this break will NEVER be by brute force.

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John H Woods
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Re: And now this is the worst

"Every government on the planet now knows that iPhones can be hacked"

Everyone with a clue knew this already. What was being resisted was (a) a tool that could be routinely used (e.g. during police stop & search or temporary unauthorized access to a phone) and (b) a legal precedent. This is a 100% win for Apple.

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William Hague: Brussels attacks mean we must destroy crypto ASAP

John H Woods
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Dear William Hague

It's worrying that you are either ignorant and/or lying.

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Ransomware now using disk-level encryption

John H Woods
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Fantasy hard drive (or array) ...

... 3 position physical (key?) switch on drive (or array)

(1) looks to the BIOS/OS like a normal drive (or array) but keeps, inaccessibly and invisibly, all previous versions of files; perhaps also ignores destructive operations such as partitioning and formatting

(2) all versions above become visible but drive is read-only

(3) disk accessible as normal for partitioning, formatting or just maintenance (e.g. deleting of old versions of files).

I'm not sure that my drive usage is typical but it seems to me that ordinary file store disk usage would not be greatly increased by keeping all previous versions of files - by far the biggest chunk of my diskspace is taken up by files that are their initial version.

Even if this were not practical for operational disks or arrays, surely it's achievable for disk-based back-up solutions?

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John H Woods
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Re: Nothing good will come of all this

"but this scumware risks helping the US Government message on backdooring encryption" --- Pascal Monett

Maybe only until people realise that these people will never use the approved backdoored algorithms.

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Six charged for 'hacking' lottery terminals to spew only winning tickets

John H Woods
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Do the math ...

OK ...

I googled Mega Millions, it seems there are 5 numbers between 1 & 75, and 1 number between 1 & 15. The chances of getting all six is therefore one in 15 * 75! / ( (75-5)! * 5!) which is about 1 in 259 million (258,890,850)

The probability that you won't win is therefore (258,890,849 / 258,890,850 ) per play or about 0.99999999613. The probability that nobody will win in a draw with N plays is this number to the power of N. Where N is a million, that is 99.6%, but where N is a billion it is only 2%, so it doesn't seem that unlikely. Interestingly, that's nearly the exact opposite of your guess --- if 1 billion plays were made then the jackpot would get won 98% of the time!

If you want to work out what N is to so that the jackpot is won about 30% of the time, you need to work out what power you'd need to raise the non-win probability to to get 0.7 (i.e. a 70% chance no one wins a given draw). This is log (0.7) / log (258,890,849 / 258,890,850) which is about 92.3 million.

It doesn't seem at all unlikely to me that a 44 state lotto might get this many plays, it's probably only what, one play per average 2 head of population?

PS: didn't down vote you, because almost nobody can calculate probabilities like this intuitively, hence things like the birthday problem.

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Tracy Emin dons funeral shroud, marries stone

John H Woods
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Re: I love it when the amateur art critics come out to play

"Apparently what gives value to the painting/piece is the artist has attached a story to the painting giving it meaning" -- Triggerfish

basically says that modern art is a machine for generating art criticism ... possibly true ... but some *contemporary* art is extremely good.

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Watch six tiny robo-ants weighing 100g in total pull a 1,769-kg family car

John H Woods
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Re: "they form into long chains and synchronize their footsteps"

It's amazing what a tiny brain can do --- check out a miniature spider called Portia.

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Former US anti-terror chief tears into FBI over iPhone unlocking case

John H Woods
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Re: Kind of what I said a couple weeks ago.

1. No. They'd hack the hardware, possibly reading the security key from the processor with electron microscopy, side channel attacks etc. Brute forcing AES256 is limited "only by available compute power" but you couldn't fit the required compute power into the visible universe. There may be another way to break it but it isn't brute forcing.

2. Yes.

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Feds tell court: Apple 'deliberately raised technological barriers' to thwart iPhone warrant

John H Woods
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Re: Free Speech argument.

"As a corporate entity rather than a person" -- Candy

You might be surprised to learn that US law doesn't always make that distinction. But surely you'd have been more surprised that Apple's lawyers would make that argument if it were obviously invalid.

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John H Woods
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Re: The mat and potatoes

"Even though I get downvoted to hell and back, I maintain... if a court orders them to do it (after the argument has gone to the highest possible) ... they should damn well do it, or Cook should be thrown in jail." -- msknight

Err ... you do know that Apple are behaving in an entirely legal manner by appealing the judgment?

If your argument is that, once SCOTUS says they should do it, they should, you are wasting your time here -- Apple have already said they would comply with the law. Apple's whole point is that the law needs clarification and that should happen at a legislative level (SCOTUS / Congress) rather than be established by precedent in an individual case: as we all know, hard cases make bad law.

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John H Woods
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@bazza

"If the supremes do make such an order then presumably everyone would welcome the decision? Isn't that what the Supreme Court for, handing down decisions that everyone accepts?" --- bazza

The last SCOTUS decision that was relevant here, in 1977, was that the All Writs Act had limits and could not be used to place unreasonable burdens on third parties.

Apple's argument is effectively that the FBI is trying to create law, rather than use existing law; and that this is a job for law-makers not law-enforcers. Sure many of us would be horrified if SCOTUS made the order to which you refer. But at least we'd know that this was now the official USA position.

In the end your argument is self contradicting: it is almost that no one should ever risk anything going to the Supremes in case the decision goes against them. I'm sure you can see there's a problem with such a stance.

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What's next? FBI telling us to turn iPhones into pocket spy bugs? It'll happen, says Apple exec

John H Woods
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"Then there's that whole 'warrant' thing people keep missing" -- Jeff Lewis

If you were right, the court of the first instance missed it is as well: because if it were a simple "warrant thing" then that court would never have needed to rely on the All Writs Act, as failure to comply with a warrant would put Apple in contempt of court.

People who say "This should be as simple as a warrant" are expressing an opinion that could potentially be justified by argument (I haven't yet seen a compelling one, but it's possible). People who say "This is as simple as a warrant issue" are just plain old wrong, and any other authoritative assertions that they make can be safely ignored.

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Knackered Euro server turns Panasonic smart TVs into dumb TVs

John H Woods
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Joke

If you want a nice big dumb TV ....

... buy a projector ;-)

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John H Woods
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Re: Time for my new Expression

"One could, of course, have argued that the OP is observing the good ship Panasonic on it's voyage to the downhill from a fixed point near the hilltop and so when he looks down he sees it red-shifted as it races away from him" -- 's water music

Bugger, I knew someone would get me with an alternative frame of reference!

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John H Woods
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Re: Time for my new Expression

"It's still called the red shift effect, regardless of which way it's going though."

You'll be pleased to know I've given you -1 upvotes. And to be really pedantic, it's called the Doppler effect :-)

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John H Woods
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Re: Time for my new Expression

"Panasonic are going downhill so fast, when you look at the floor you can see the red shift" --- Ian Emery

<pedant_mode>blue</pedant_mode>

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FBI says NY judge went too far in ruling the FBI went too far in forcing Apple to unlock iPhone

John H Woods
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"Hoooly shit, seriously? That's like the Pope's Divine Cheat Code Chair, only this applies to actual fucking law! If the court puts it into writing, it happens? Seriously?" --- ShadowDragon8685

Whilst I largely agree with your amusing take on this, there are two mitigating circumstances preventing it becoming a tool for draconian imposition of arbitrary burdens:

(a) the caveats, in the Act itself, of "necessary or appropriate" and "agreeable to the usages and principles of law"

(b) a 1977 Supreme Court Ruling that "... the power of federal courts to impose duties upon third parties is not without limits; unreasonable burdens may not be imposed"

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John H Woods
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"How is this any different from a warrant for telephone records or financial records where the telephone company or accountant are not complicit - nor alleged to be complicit - in any alleged wrong doing or financial malfeasance ?" -- Deltics

If it were no different, the All Writs Act would not have had to have been invoked because Apple would be in contempt of court for not complying with a warrant.

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John H Woods
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The FBI argues that Orenstein looked at the question too broadly and focused on possible future abuse rather than the actual case he was considering. And then effectively accuses him of overreach by saying his ruling "goes far afield of the circumstances of this case and sets forth an unprecedented limitation on federal courts' authority.

That argument would seem to be self defeating: the first part says that it is only about this one individual device (case) and pretends no precedent would be set. The second part is a concern that a precedent has been set (albeit the opposite one to the one they wanted) by a judgment in the same particular case.

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GCHQ: Crypto's great, we're your mate, don't be like that and hate

John H Woods
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"If I understood correctly the extracts of Hannigan's speech he is asking for crypto software which falls over if you don't follow a strict procedure, or some such 'human" cause of failure. So you can have your secure crypto but ..."

They already have everything they need to go after targets. No crypto is secure against endpoint compromise and all the old school spycraft (shoulder surfing, infiltration, honeypots) still works; all the new school spycraft (hidden cams, tempest, decoding audio to narrow down password search spaces) still works; and all the bang-up-to-date spycraft (keyloggers, hardware compromise, certificate compromise, rng tampering) still works.

I totally support them going after targets. I shall totally resist the dragnet.

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John H Woods
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Re: chutzpah indeed

"legislation going through Parliament at this very moment which says "houses", plural, in fact every single household in the land, and beyond." --- 2+2=5

More to the point, they were already doing it even before legislation was proposed, let alone passed, that they should be able to do so.

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Essex cop abused police IT systems to snoop on his in-laws

John H Woods
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Re: Why

"Thirdly let the nerds who can say hand on heart that they haven't seen/found more that they should have been entitled to via DB/SA access cast the first stone." --- Gordon 10

Some time ago, walking the dogs at night, I looked up and saw my rather attractive air stewardess neighbour walk naked past her bedroom window. I'm pretty sure this does not give me an excuse to stand outside her house looking up in the hope of a repeat performance.

You might need to acquant yourself with the concept of mens rea.

"Lots of uninformed commentardery on this thread." --- Gordon 10

Well, some, at any rate.

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Norman Conquest, King Edward, cyber pathogen and illegal gambling all emerge in Apple v FBI

John H Woods
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Re: Off course Apple must help law enforcement

"Given the encrypted state of the phone they are trying to access, Apple should immediately assist the police in setting up a system that can be used to brute force the encryption. That is the best that can be done given the state of the phone. If the bad guy has chosen a good password this might take a long time." -- Steen Larsen

Let us enjoy the full majesty of your uninformed ad hoc reckon

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John H Woods
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"You may want to point to a legal precedent instead of making stuff up"

In case he can't be bothered with your somewhat rude reply, I looked it up for you: Bernstein v Dept. of Justice

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