* Posts by Paul Hovnanian

1109 posts • joined 16 Mar 2008

Twitter may sue US government over right to disclose snooping orders

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: To get around the muzzling orders...

"My own inclination would be Iceland, with both reasonable laws and power availability."

Dragged our submarine's anchor across your fiber optic cables. Sorry about that. Perhaps if we had more involvement in the traffic they carry, we'd be more careful next time.

UK spooks STILL won't release Bletchley Park secrets 70 years on

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Re: Post war operations

We knew nothing*. But after the war, we talked the Brits (and other Commonwealth members) into smashing all the technology to bits. Or the Soviets might get it. Meanwhile we went on to commercialize that very same technology.

*Interesting anecdote: A British telephone company engineer pioneered the use of vacuum tube logic in one of the versions of Colossus. When an American counterpart came over to look at the new machine (the US had built an older, relay based version), the Brits showed it to him. He asked if it would be possible to see it in operation and was told that it was (vacuum tubes being silent compared to the noisy relay logic of the older system).

fWHoaR! Researcher crack eternal mystery of what women want in a man

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Makes sense. fWHR might be subconsciously related to overall "body width". Back in the old days, weight was related to wealth and power. If you were rich/powerful enough to eat well while the peasants were starving ......

This has carried forward into almost modern times. Portrayals of rich and powerful men were often more portly. From kings to the stereotypical fat sheriff/mayor in American redneck towns.

The other point that is interesting was the fWHR as an indication of desirability for short-term relationships. It reinforces some other studies that undermine monogamy among homo sapiens. Women choose the best genetic material with which to conceive their children. But they choose a husband based on one least likely to run off with the younger secretary due to his lower social position.

And just for the sake of honesty: Fathead checking in here.

London's King of Clamps shuts down numberplate camera site

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Re: Scary Stuff

Some of the ANPR systems used in my city use active illumination and are quite accurate both day and night.

The scene is illuminated with an infrared flash which works in conjunction with the license plate retroreflective background to produce a very high contrast image. I'm not certain, but some systems may take a second picture without the flash and subtract this background data from the IR illuminated one, leaving only the reflected regions in the data (a fast and expensive camera is needed).

The resulting success rate is high enough to encourage compliance with tolling and parking regulations with a minimum of human oversight. You might get away with the occasional infraction, but with a reliability of over 50%, you will get caught more often than not.

US feds want cars conversing by 2017

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Whats ...

.... the broadcast code for "Move aside. An El Reg reader is coming through."

Brit security startup turns to France for help

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Not the country then? Good. They didn't fall for the big wooden rabbit. GCHQ still has a chance.

Apple seeks patent for mood-sensing technology

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Apple user detected

Mood: Overly smug.

El Reg BuzzFelch: 10 Electrical Connectors You CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT!

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Wire Nuts

Twist-on connectors if you must respect trademarks.

Perhaps more of a USAian thing, as I see screw-type terminal blocks in EU wiring (when I look).

Google's Nest gobble: Soon ALL your HOME are BELONG to US

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It's inevitable ....

The Nest 9000

Time travellers outsmart the NSA

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We're here!

Looking for a prescient post?

Windows 9 is a bigger dog than Windows 8/8.1 was.

Curiosity rover: While you humans were busy being hungover, this bot hit its 500th Martian day

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Re: auld lang syne


Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

I have a number of these. An FX-550 got me through an EE degree (on one battery). I have a collection of HPs, including the HP-41C, HP-28S (which I carry today along side a slide rule). I have a few TI-59s in the collection as well. Then there's my HP-16C, excellent for doing binary/hex math and bit manipulation. Plus a pile of 'lesser' calculators and slide rules.

I'm keeping my eyes open for an HP-9100A or B. Desktop rather than pocket sized, but worthy of my collection. Also a Curta would be nice.

Alicia Keys throws in towel on BlackBerry's creative director job

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"BlackBerry phones are losing Keys?"

Came to post same joke. Modded you up instead. Left satisfied.

Microsoft tries to trademark 'Mod' in the US

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Mod? Metro?

We have another name for it. But I'm not certain the USPTO will grant a trademark for something made up from the number keys shifted.

Britain's costliest mistake? Lord Stern defends his climate maths

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99 to 1?

Then leave it to the market. No sense in the 99 getting their panties in a bunch over what I drive or how I heat my house. Their collective actions will far outweigh mine, making all the arguments over my behaviour moot.

NSA alleges 'BIOS plot to destroy PCs'

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
Big Brother

"US person"

The NSA's link analysis identifies persons communicating with foreign entities and targets them for further investigation. In fact, in the world of security clearances, doing business with foreign entities can get you classified as a "non US Person" whether you are a US citizen or not.

So, how many of you have received the ubiquitous letter from that wealthy Nigerian ex-government minister wishing to transfer funds overseas? Communicating with foreign national? Check. Possible involvement in transfer of funds from/to overseas? Check.

You're on the list, buddy!

It wouldn't surprise me at all if a certain number of these 419 scams were NSA pretexts to justify further surveillance.

Microsoft's licence riddles give Linux and pals a free ride to virtual domination

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Monkey trap

Microsoft gets right arm stuck: Solution is to chew off left arm just so it won't happen again.

To fel with you! There's an NSA spook in my World of Warcraft

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Monitoring suspected terrorist communications networks within MMORPGs. At least that's what they tell the boss when they get caught playing WoW on company time.

Brit inventors' GRAVITY POWERED LIGHT ships out after just 1 year

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Re: interesting but...

Hand cranked generators typically require (almost) continuous low level work input. This scheme requires an occasional high level work input and no attention between times. Wind up devices fall between these two cases.

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Next step: Whip up a general purpose generator kit. Offer it with some interchangeable gears (think LEGO*). Let the locals or some NGO group find various input power sources and produce instructions install them. I recall seeing a low power generator running off a crank connected to a paddle in a creek that oscillated in an eddy current.

*We'll need the obligatory Playmobil mockup for proof of concept.

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

"Were I to design this I'd use something like a torque converter."

Better yet, a DC to DC voltage converter. You tweak the conversion ratio to keep the generator running at a peak efficiency point while providing constant output current (to an LED array) or constant voltage (to charge a battery). The firmware, once developed, is much cheaper per unit than knocking off copies of a mechanical device. The microcontrollers can be had for pennies apiece.

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For pumped storage, you need water. Even though you can pump it back up, there will be system losses. Water is scarce in many third world countries. Rocks are plentiful.

Asus Transformer Book T100: Xbox One? PS4? Nah, get a cute convertible for Christmas

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Re: $299 vs £350

What is that in Big Macs?

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: Looks like a modernised netbook

Sometimes its better to install your own favorite distro. I have an EeePC with an OEM Linux system. It works quite well, but I continually run into a few places where Asus saw fit to install some crippled version of a 'standard' utility.

Thanksgiving ROAST in SPAAACE: Comet ISON faces FIERY SUN DEATH

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Re: Intelligent design at Nasa?

"I think our ancestors left the trees a lot more then one million years ago..."

I return from time to time: http://www.hovnanian.com/images/treetrim.jpg

US senator asks: Will Bitcoin replace Swiss bank accounts?

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"Anonymous currency is a destabilizing problem for any country attempting to hold legitimate elections."

Well, as already stated, you can't buy votes directly. But what all this cash does buy is media access. Throw a few hundred million at an election and it doesn't end up in the candidates or the voters back pockets. It ends up in the pockets of the media machine. Attack this problem* to reduce the demand for cash to run a successful campaign and the whole anonymous funds problem becomes a smaller issue.

*Shorten the election season. Candidates don't have to travel across the country by horseback or train anymore. You go before the cameras or on line, state your piece and the people vote. Sure, TV time will still cost a bundle per minute. But you reduce the number of minutes available to campaign.

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

"What is this obsession the world has with pedos?"

A universal revulsion that can be directed against any activity or object deemed to be facilitating their activity. Its the "Think of the children" argument.

Practically any other quasi-criminal activity is subject to varying degrees of unacceptability in different cultures. Drugs, prostitution, dodging the tax man, etc. are not guaranteed to generate the same reaction as pedophilia. So its a useful claim to generate ill will against anything that can be tied to it.

Xbox One site belly-up in global Microsoft cloud catastrophe

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Are we going to start calling this ASOD (the Azure Screen of Death)?

If this doesn't terrify you... Google's computers OUTWIT their humans

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Re: Not sure this is so impressive, and this is dangerous...

"At one level, we as humans learn by being able to choose to do an action to interact with the environment, and learn from / experience the result (the classic being kids playing with blocks trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, etc…). Computers, even massive systems like Google's don't really have the chance to perform actions that effect the world around them."

Ever wonder if Google Maps was running you through a maze with cheese at some end point? And watching intently, collecting information in preparation for the eventual takeover.

I for one, welcome our new overlords.

Microsoft advertises Surface, Excel with maths mistake

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Re: The gift that keeps on giving

I bought an SD card formatted FAT32. I didn't see any restrictions in the instructions restricting its use to certain OSs. So I figure I have an implied license to read it as I wish.

Boffins build R2-WEE-2: The urine-powered robot with a human-like heart

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Energy from urine?

The New York subway system becomes self sustaining.

Snowden: Hey fellow NSA worker, mind if I copy your PASSWORD?

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Paris Hilton

Re: Golden Rule

"I have seen people in a higher position getting pissed of when asked to look the other way for a second."

Poor use of social engineering. You turn around, look past them and exclaim, "Look at the t*ts on that secretary!"

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: I don't find this hard to believe

Compartmentalization. Having worked on the periphery of Dept of Defense projects, I've seen quite a bit of this at private contractors. "I have a top secret clearance. So let me see your blueprints." Nope. You have clearance for your project. I have clearance for mine. There are very few people in the DoD chain of command that are authorized to see everything. Never mind the private contractors.

In fact, (and contrary to what I've heard in a few pubs down the road from the plant after work) you're not even supposed to run around telling the public what sort of clearance you've got. Impress the cocktail waitress with some other story.

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: And this is security?

"Wonder Woman's lasso of truth"

That has some foundation in reality. In her prime (and that cute outfit), I would have told Lynda Carter anything.

Oooh! My NAUGHTY SKIRT keeps riding up! Hello, INTERNET EXPLORER

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Re: Inori is close, but not quite...

Firefox replies with:


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Paris Hilton

Geek's Dream Girl/Browser

Cute, doesn't do much. And submits to practically any questionable request.


Paul Hovnanian Silver badge



And after all your precious standards work is done, law enforcement will just wave this under your nose. And you'll give them a tap off your backbone. I'm sure all members of the Five Eyes have similar legislation in place.

You've been arrested for computer crime: Here's what happens next

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Re: 3 of 19

Not certain how things work on your side of the pond. But:

"I received a letter from the Metropolitan Police sent straight to my home address (not via my solicitor which is what they should have done)"

I'd be willing to bet that, absent a court issued warrant, the police figure they'll just ask in a quasi-official mode. And if the suspect offers it up, they are ahead of the game.

Microsoft in a TIFF over Windows, Office bug that runs code hidden in pics

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Buffer overrun

Mr Rogers to Microsoft coders: "Can you say 'buffer overrun exploit' boys and girls? I knew you could."

Putting on trademark Cardigan sweater.

FIERY DEATH awaits all who stroke mobes mid-flight? Nope, says FAA

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What has changed?

Electronics (Kindle, laptop, iPad) OK above 10,000 feet. Air mode only.

Its been this way for years. So what's with the big hallelujah?

Cameron pledges public access to list of who REALLY owns firms

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: I just made this suggestion yesterday

"Because if all ownership has to be traced back to a physical person it will be VERY messy."

And if any of the intermediate entities in this chain of ownership are subject to different tax laws, who is to say what the final owners' tax liabilities are?

For example, the (in)famous Irish tax loophole used by a number of US corporations is a legal tax avoidance technique. I am the holder of equities in some of the parent corporations taking advantage of this. But my residency has no bearing on whether this loophole is legal or not. It certainly is no indication of whether I personally am in compliance with my countries (US) tax law. The USA has one of the most far reaching unitary tax regimes in the world. Even here, intertwined corporate holdings are a barrier to my tax liabilities. I don't know how tracing the holdings of residents and corporations in other tax jurisdictions would have any meaning.

Alien planet is just like EARTH - except for ONE tiny detail

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

"It couldn't have formed in place because you can't form a planet inside a star. It couldn't have formed further out and migrated inward, because it would have migrated all the way into the star. This planet is an enigma,"

It could be a case of orbital resonance. This orbit is stable due to the influences of the other planets.

Or it could be in the process of spiraling into its sun. We can't really be certain of how old that system is or how stable its orbits are from this distance.

Anonymity is the enemy of privacy, says RSA grand fromage

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
Big Brother

Attacks and intrusions will never be prevented by eliminating privacy/anonymity. Most network attacks are launched from distributed networks of infected systems. So the identity of the attack source is easily spoofed. And when the brains siting at the command and control systems are eventually found, odds are they will be resident in a country that refuses to take action against them.

This just sounds like the complaints of a Big Data vendor who has had a couple of major customers have second thoughts.

The real Big Brothers here are the commercial interests that will be harmed if corporations and even the NSA no longer buy their data warehouse solutions.

In a meeting with a woman? For pity's sake don't read this

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: Speaking as a techno-nerd male ...

"if you must be available."

There's another interesting take on social interaction. Those who "must be available" are often lower on the corporate pecking order. When the phone rings, it might be a superior. And you'd better take the call. Important people tend to be in charge of (and in control of) their own time. When the phone rings, it can go to voice mail. Or your staff can handle it.

Status impresses everyone, particularly women. And they seem to understand this social dynamic to a greater degree than many men do.

Why Bletchley Park could never happen today

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

"That is not actually true. A foreign power cannot go to a US company and demand that a backdoor is placed in their software or that their private keys are handed over."

Demand, no. Put an operative inside the company to do the job? Easy.

Keep in mind, the NSA had a mole: Snowden. A Booz Allan Hamilton contractor. Aside from his altruistic motives, what he did could be repeated as we speak by numerous others. Only the beneficiaries of their work would differ. And if their leaks don't reach The Guardian, we may never know of their existence.

Ahoy, scalliwags! FBI claims another haul of Silk Road booty - $26m of it

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

"Exactly how the bureau was able to trace the funds to Ulbricht and take control of them, however, the FBI official wouldn't say."

That's what I'd like to hear. Grabbing a copy of an encrypted wallet means nothing if you don't have the passphrase and/or you can't transfer the funds to another account (wallet).

Also, I'd be interested in hearing if anyone has developed a BitCoin wallet with a dead man switch. Don't log in and reset it (in police custody, for example) and it initiates a transaction to move the funds to some anonymous accounts.

I could have sworn the wallet was in this pocket. Oh well .....

Open-source hardware hacking effort 'smacked down' by USB overlords

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Protecting USB-IF Members' Interests?

It is my understanding that Texas Instruments will share their VID for their USB chipset and issue a PID to customers who don't want to go with their own VID/PID setup.

Similar to what Arachnid proposes to do except that TI is selling a product. And perhaps they want to protect this market from those who chose to go with a competitor or bit-bang their own USB implementation.


Microsoft: You've got it all WRONG. It's Apple's iPad playing catch-up with our Surface

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Reality distortion fields

At least Apple's reality distortion field consumes a lot less battery capacity than Microsoft's.

Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson battles bullfighting

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Re: Political backdrop

I guess you could say the Spanish government finds itself impaled on the horns of a dilemma.

Sorry, I'll get my coat. The one with Pam's phone number in the pocket.

The importance of complexity

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

As a non-CS degreed programmer (Electrical Engineer by training) I had the pleasure to work on and manitain an automatic code generation system some years ago. Requirements documents in (written in technical English), executed code out. The original system was written by a couple of flight controls (Mechanical) engineers. It worked just fine.

The CS people screamed that the problem was NP-hard, computationally intractable, etc. But we didn't know what any of that meant, so we got it working. It was actually an interpreter, reading the English input and executing commands in real time (no pre-processing required).

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