* Posts by Conrad Longmore

431 posts • joined 3 Apr 2008

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IBM broke its cloud by letting three domain names expire

Conrad Longmore
Coat

In the old days..

In the old days they would have been even more screwed. When domains expired they used to drop straight away and could be reregistered almost instantly. That changed a bit more than a decade ago. If you think that getting your domain out of REDEMPTIONPERIOD is a pain, trying to get it back from some anonymous domainer who wants a fortune for it is even harder..

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Stealth web crypto-cash miner Coin Hive back to the drawing board as blockers move in

Conrad Longmore
Devil

For example..

I found an example yesterday, you can see how it works in this URLquery report:

https://urlquery.net/report/99294f72-2377-4f21-b4ce-183c0a88160f

Blocking coinhive.com and coin-hive.com and the associated IPs should mitigate it IMO.

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Sci-Fi titan Jerry Pournelle passes,
aged 84

Conrad Longmore

Re: Science Fiction saves the world!

Footfall is probably one of the best and most plausible alien invasion novels, Mote is the best first contact novel I've read. I wasn't so keen on Pournelle's solo works, but when working with Larry Niven there was a good combination of ideas - I guess Niven had the big ideas, Pournelle then made them credible.

And Chaos Manor was always a must-read in Byte. Sure, it was just some guy fiddling around with computers but you'd often learn something. And Pournelle was right about keyboards..

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

Conrad Longmore
FAIL

That damned sinkhole server

I seem to remember him Tweeting that various law enforcement agencies kept trying to shut down or seize the sinkhole server. It seems that a lot of agencies just didn't understand what was going on and were in their own little bubble.

Funnily enough, one of my bosses offered me a trip to Black Hat / Defcon. Didn't fancy the idea much then. Fancy it less now.

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Multics resurrected: Proto-Unix now runs on Raspberry Pi or x86

Conrad Longmore
Devil

There were five in the UK..

There were five Multics systems in UK Universities as I recall, Birmingham, Bath/Bristol (AUCC), Brunel, Cardiff and Loughborough. Typically these were hooked up to Lear-Siegler ADM3a or similar terminals, ours used British-built Insight VDT-1s (who were eventually bought our by Sanderson Electronics).

Of course, as with probably most 1980s computing students we tried to hack it, but unlike other boxes the security was very solid. Social engineering attacks worked the best. Yes, I got into a lot of trouble in those days..

As an aside, Paul Smee was one of the leading Multicians of the time IMO. Sadly he passed away back in 2006 - http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2006/5138.html

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Another ZX Spectrum modern reboot crowdfunder pops up

Conrad Longmore
Coat

Why not go further?

Why not go further? I understand the C64 has already had this treatment. What about the BBC Micro? Dragon 32? Oh.. yes, maybe that it going a bit too far.

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Farewell Unity, you challenged desktop Linux. Oh well, here's Ubuntu 17.04

Conrad Longmore
Meh

Good riddance, but..

I always hated Unity, but then I don't use Ubutnu on a daily basis and never "got it" I suppose. GNOME of course was always very simple and easy to get to grips with. And then GNOME 3 came along and it was right back to WTF? again..

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Naming computers endangers privacy, say 'Net standards boffins

Conrad Longmore
Devil

If you want to start an argument..

If you want to start an argument in IT, propose a new machine naming convention.

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Post-Brexit five-year UK work visas planned – report

Conrad Longmore

If only..

If only the EU would offer passports to citizens wanting to get out of this f--king failure of a country..

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Nokia's 3310 revival – what's NEXT? Vote now

Conrad Longmore

Cambridge Z88

Just bought myself a Z88 on eBay. Lovely big keyboard, it really could do with a bigger screen, Flash storage and USB though.. but not bad for 30 year old tech.

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PDP-10 enthusiasts resurrect ancient MIT operating system

Conrad Longmore
Coat

Ah.. Multics

Still have my "Multics Commands and Active Functions" manual somewhere..

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UK ISPs may be handed cock-blocking powers

Conrad Longmore
Trollface

What's the penalty for sharing your ID?

What's the penalty for sharing your porn.gov.uk ID? You could really undermine the system if everyone used the same ones :)

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Jingle bells, RM tells, some staff to go away... via Skype

Conrad Longmore
Coat

Viglen

I'm always a bit surprised when I find that Viglen is still in business too. And that Tom Lehrer isn't dead.

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No super-kinky web smut please, we're British

Conrad Longmore

Politicians' browser history

Those proposing this law should take their laptops in for independent forensic analysis so that we can see that sort of sites they they like to visit for "research purpose".

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User needed 40-minute lesson in turning it off and turning it on again

Conrad Longmore

The mouse that never worked in the afternoon..

One day (in the early 1990s) I was called out to install something-or-other in an academic department of the college I worked in that I hadn't previously been aware of.

Having set whatever it was up, the users casually mentioned that another one of their computers didn't work in the afternoon.. well, *most* afternoons. It was OK in the morning, but after lunch it apparently stopped and the person using it couldn't do any more work. This had been going on for months. It didn't seem to particularly bother them that they spent their afternoons sitting around doing nothing.

It transpired that the problem was that the mouse stopped working, and with no mouse they couldn't possibly interact with the state-of-the-art Windows 3.1 PC. They just accepted that it didn't work in the afternoon.

The problem was a daft one.. the early optomechnical mouse had optical sensors internally which were being flooded out by the sunlight shining on the plastic. Putting in a better mouse fixed the problem. But what got me was the laid-back attitude to not doing any work. Maybe not surprising in that environment.

(The same department also had a then-massive 21" CRT monitor on another system that they insisted on running in VGA resolution despite there being no reason to do so. They went ballistic when I tweaked it to 800x600 pixels).

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Conrad Longmore

In one lab installation we put a box file under the monitor to raise it up a bit, because the PC was a tower system under the desk. For a laugh, I printed out an icon of a floppy disk drive and glued it onto the box file. On more that one occasion we had baffled users who didn't understand why the disk didn't go in. Hmm.

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AI gives porn peddlers a helping hand

Conrad Longmore

CFCM

I think CFCM is going to be one of the government-approved types of pornography going forwards.

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What should the Red Arrows' new aircraft be?

Conrad Longmore

Textron AirLand Scorpion

Projected to cost less than $20m..

http://www.scorpionjet.com/

It seems that there has been some real interest from countries looking for inexpensive fighter aircraft. You can buy about five of them for the same price as an F-35.

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Is Google using YouTube to put one over on Samsung?

Conrad Longmore
Holmes

Lumen Database

Oddly, I can't find the DMCA complaint in the Lumen Database (lumendatabase.org) which has plenty of other recent DMCA complaints submitted to Google and YouTube..

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Lessons from the Mini: Before revamping or rebooting anything, please read this

Conrad Longmore

I had one of those too. But it wasn't really a German car (despite the Daimler ownership), it was a French car with all the fun and unreliability that goes with it. Electrical gremlins, leaks, ECU failures, steering rack faults, fractured aircon pipes. Not really reliable. But fun to drive when it wasn't being fixed.

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Conrad Longmore

Impressive..

That's a pretty impressive portfolio of designs - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Stephenson

On the Mini.. well, it a contentious one amongst car fans. Issigonis was trying to design something cheap, small on the outside and big on the inside all while using as much from the BMC parts pin as possible. The fact that it was cute to look at and fun to drive were rather pleasing secondary factors.

When *Rover* tried to redesign the Mini in the late 1990s, they came up with a number of things which were closer to the Issigonis idea of efficient packaging (some looked like the Daewoo Matiz), where BMW was more interested in the cuteness factor. In the end, BMW won and the Mini was a huge success.

There's an interesting and more detailed story about the development of the Mini and the prototypes that never made it here: http://www.aronline.co.uk/blogs/cars/mini-bmw/mini-2/the-cars-mini-development-history/

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Smell burning? Samsung’s 'Death Note 7' could still cause a contagion

Conrad Longmore

Remember the iPhone 4. Or maybe the Ford Pinto.

Remember the iPhone 4 and antennagate? People wondered how Apple could regain the trust of customers after messing that up, and yet they fixed the problem and moved on. There's no real reason why this should turn into significant long-term damage for Samsung

If no other models start to blow up. If their PR machine gets back on track. And their competitors don't capitalise on the problem.

People still buy cars from Ford too, despite the beancounters deciding that it was cheaper to let people die in the deathtrap they called the Ford Pinto rather than fix the underlying problems. Consumers can be surprisingly forgiving with companies that they trust.

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Private equity ownership produces an improved Arcserve, apparently

Conrad Longmore

The dead hand of CA

CA buys good products and then ignores their development while creaming off the profits. Eventually the product dies, then they just buy something else.

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Spoiler alert: What Oracle is going to announce today

Conrad Longmore

What Oracle is going to announce today..?

Something I do not give the tiniest shit about. Oracle is a great lumbering mess that only still has customers because it is too difficult for those customers to extricate themselves from their engagements.. and what choice is there? SAP? Just as bad.

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Skyscape rebrands to UKCloud following legal challenge by Sky

Conrad Longmore

Next on the list..

Sikorsky?

They already had a go at No Man's Sky..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-36575684

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What Brexit means for you as a motorist

Conrad Longmore

Passport, driving licence validity

Where your driving licence will be valid in the UK, there's a possibility that it will not be valid in Europe. Even more likely, the EU-style passport may not be valid for travel to EU countries at least, because travellers will no longer have the rights and privileges of being an EU citizen.. that will be something the EU will have to decide.

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Brexit: More cash for mobile operators or consumers? Pick one

Conrad Longmore

Scaremongering

Please don't confuse the BREXIT debate by bringing facts and logic into it.

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Lester Haines: RIP

Conrad Longmore

I has a sad

Thank you Lester for making the world a funnier and more interesting place. You will be missed.

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Computer says: Stop using MacWrite II, human!

Conrad Longmore
Facepalm

Gragh, students and their sodding games

I worked with students for quite a long time. One irritation was that they would insist on playing games on the lab computers which were meant for.. well, work. Back in those days all the games were DOS games, and they almost all used Mode 13h for graphics (320 x 200 pixels x 256 colours).

I knocked together a simple TSR that intercepted the interrupt that changed the display mode.. every time you tried to change to 13h it would display an error and reboot. The TSR was pretty well hidden, I don' t think any of the users ever figured it out.

The other essential DOS tool was an application that replaced the FORMAT command with one that checked to see if the user was trying to format C: (because yes, you could actually do that). If they were it would let off an alarm, which would tend to attract attention. Yes, students actually did this either maliciously or stupidly. If they were just trying to format a floppy disk, it would pass it on to the REAL format command which had simply been renamed.

What always flabbergasted me was when students were working on their dissertations, they wouldn't ever bother to have a backup copy of the floppy disk they had to store it on. Norton Utilities certainly rescued quite a few academic careers.

When we upgraded to a Novell network the problem was that the students would never log out, and students would end up with each others dissertations. Eventually, we wrote a screensaver in VB which would log them out automatically. Unfortunately, it would tend to do it while the students were looking up references in their books and it would shut down.. being not very observant, they didn't notice the GREAT BIG RED timer which gave them five minutes grace.

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Borked ESET antivirus update says entire web is too risky to browse

Conrad Longmore

Exactly. The internet is dangerous. Best to block it and get the stuff you need off those 3.5" cover disks on the front of magazines.

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Reg readers battle to claim 'my silicon's older than yours' crown

Conrad Longmore
Thumb Up

PABX

We recently powered off an AT&T PABX that had been in service since about 1994. OK, it had been switched off and on a few times because occasionally you DO have to power down the server room. I betcha there are some ancient PABXes out there..

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It's 2016 and idiots still use '123456' as their password

Conrad Longmore

Re: Nothing wrong with insecure passwords

Password re-use is the problem. Using throwaway passwords for trivial accounts is one way to prevent it. After all, there's no point using a password like ",=8r2/ax}DS-G2N&" if you use it everywhere, including easily hackable sites.

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Motorola cut in half! But still alive, and ready to live again

Conrad Longmore
Coat

"Rola" is apparently Portuguese for "penis". Perhaps not such a good name.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rola#Portuguese

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Video malvertising campaign lasted 12 hours? Try two months

Conrad Longmore

And this is why..

And this is why people block ads. Those big media companies with about a zillion javascripts loading all sorts of shit don't seem to understand that.

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Child abuse image hash list shared with major web firms

Conrad Longmore

Circumvention

I recently looked at an issue involving fake LinkedIn profiles. I was getting nowhere with a reverse image search of the profile images with the usual technologies until somebody suggested flipping the image.. and all of a sudden the reverse image search started working.

That was a relatively simple circumvention technique. I'm sure there are plenty of reversible techniques to apply to a picture that would screen it from this sort of detection. But it would probably catch quite a lot of this material from being circulated.

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Big mistake, Google. Big mistake: Chrome OS to be 'folded into Android'

Conrad Longmore
FAIL

Because

Because folding one OS into another always works so well, for example MeeGo. Tizen. Etc.

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FBI takes down Dridex botnet, seizes servers, arrests suspect

Conrad Longmore
Facepalm

If they've taken it down..

If they've taken it down.. then how come the Dridex spam is still running? Just got another malicious Dridex DOC this morning - http://blog.dynamoo.com/2015/10/malware-spam-scan-2015-10-14-52954-pm.html

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Almost all dot-science malicious, dot-cricket rigged, researchers find

Conrad Longmore

Re: Don't rely on this so called "report"

Don't a Google search for "site:.science" shows a LOT of sites, and you can tell straight away that a large quantity of them are complete crap.

There is of course a caveat with just counting the number of bad domains.. if you take a worthy domains such as theregister.science then it counts as just one good domain, but obviously the value of that domain is much greater. Thus you can have 99% crap and 1% of actual value. Yes, I'm still minded to block some of these.. but you need to be aware of collateral damage.

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Oracle pulls CSO's BONKERS anti-bug bounty and infosec rant

Conrad Longmore
Coat

Just finished reading the new Maddi Davidson murder mystery..

It turns out that the customer did it.

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Windows 10 is FORCING ITSELF onto domain happy Windows 7 PCs

Conrad Longmore
Facepalm

How to detect and stop it..

All our corporate computers are joined to a domain and are managed by WSUS. However, a small number of laptops (about 0.5%) managed to initiate the download despite having policies to block running the GWX component in place. It looks like the process might have triggered when the laptops were outside of our corporate environment. We spotted the unusual traffic before it became a problem.

If you log your internet traffic, then searching for "10240.16384.150709-1700" is useful to reveal who is downloading Windows 10 components on your network.

Microsoft have some new guidance on how you can block the OS upgrade here:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3050265

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That's not an Ofcom email about your radio licence – it's a TROJAN

Conrad Longmore

If you run the DOC (or DOCM or whatever) through olevba.py (http://www.decalage.info/fr/python/olevba) then it will extract the underlying macro. It will be heavily obfuscated, but the obfuscation itself is a clue that it is bad.

Alternatively, Payload Security's Hybrid Analysis (hybrid-analysis.com) does a very good job with these malicious documents, and will show what network traffic is going on.

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Google dumps ISP email support. Virgin Media takes ball, stomps home

Conrad Longmore

Passwords in plaintext

The pre-Google version was so bad that you could find the email password stored in plaintext in the browser cache, so if anyone had access to the files on your computer then they could easily determine the webmail password with no additional tools needed. Classy.

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Microsoft SLASHES 7,800 bods, BURNS $7.6bn off books in Nokia adjustment

Conrad Longmore

Re: End of an era

Like Windows NT 4.0? Actually, that did a pretty good job at it..

3
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Apple's mystery auto project siphoning staff from other divisions

Conrad Longmore
Go

OMG.. Hooli XYZ

'nuff said

1
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Farewell then, Mr Elop: It wasn't actually your fault

Conrad Longmore
Coat

The mistake was.. Symbian

I pretty much agree with the article 100% - Elop found Nokia in an impossible situation that was not of his making. He tried a high-risk high-reward strategy with Windows which didn't really work out. Android would have been a low-risk but low-reward approach, as the article says.. Android manufacturers are hardly raking in the cash. Sticking with MeeGo looked very much like a high-risk low-reward approach, so dumping it was probably the best decision. So the choice was really between Android and Windows. Choose one.

I think the crucial mistake was how Elop dealt with Symbian. When he become CEO, I believe that Symbian was still the best-selling smartphone platform in the work. While it lacked the capabilities of main rivals iOS and Android, it was still a very capable and lightweight OS with a ton of applications available for it.

Prior to Elop, the idea was that Symbian would move downmarket into Series 40 territory with Maemo/MeeGo taking the high end. Insteal, Elop announced that Symbian would be phased out which had the Osborne Effect on Symbian sales which collapsed, leaving a huge hole in Nokia's sales book. Then, crazily, they tried to add more features into Series 40 to make it more Symbian-like.. for example the Asha series of devices. That was a lot of effort to re-create something they already had.

Symbian certainly has its detractors, but the final Nokia Belle handsets were really rather good.

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BOOM! Stephen Elop shuffled out of Microsoft door

Conrad Longmore
Coat

Nokia were already screwed..

Nokia were already screwed when Elop joined. Symbian couldn't compete with modern OSes such as Android and iOS, Nokia's escape strategy of moving to Maemo on high-end devices had fatally stalled with the ill-advised merger with Moblin to create Maemo. You can blame Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo for the mess that Nokia found itself in, not Elop.

Elop found himself at the head of a company with no roadmap, but still quite a lot of sales. His infamous "burning platform" memo was pretty accurate, but he was fatally undermined as CEO by whoever leaked that communication.

Getting out of the mess was always going to involve some risk. In the end he took a high-risk approach of dumping everything and going for Windows, hoping that Nokia would avoid becoming a "me too" Android player. In the end, that strategy did not work.

It was always a high-risk, high-reward strategy to tie Nokia up with Microsoft. If they'd have gone down the Android path, I am sure that Nokia would still be an independent manufacturer today.. but not a very profitable one. The low-risk, low-reward strategy.

Of course, since Nokia became Microsoft, more mistakes have been made. The last high-end device launch was over a year ago and the current product range is moribund. It's a shame because Windows is rather good, and Cortana is easily better than Google's offering.

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The Hound of Hounslow: No $40m Wall Street wobbler

Conrad Longmore

Re: If only we could get back to markets being about real value...

Putting a transaction tax on each trade would kill HFT dead and re-establish some sanity into the market, IMO. Doesn't make a difference to real investors, but it screws up those who basically screwing up the markets.

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Last flying Avro Vulcan, XH558, prepares for her swan song

Conrad Longmore
Thumb Up

Ah.. the TSR2. There's a whole other story..

3
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Chrome version 42 will pour your Java coffee down the drain: Plugin blocked by default

Conrad Longmore
Thumb Down

It isn't the 1990s any more..

It isn't the 1990s any more. Java should be long dead, but sadly it isn't. Probably for 90%+ of users this move is probably a great one. But for the rest it is going to be a massive pain in the arse.

I've been saying for years that if you have Java installed on your system then the smartest thing you can do is remove it completely. In the real world hardly anybody needs it. But isn't it awfully prescriptive of the Chrome devs to decide that *nobody* can use it in Chrome? After all, Chrome was written to be a stable platform to run apps.

One thing that will suffer is anything running that antiquated piece of crap known as Oracle Forms. Heck, that even breaks when Oracle update their own Java product. A cynic might say that Google will view any damage to Oracle's products as acceptable damage..

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Can't patch this: Mozilla pulls Firefox encryption feature after just a week

Conrad Longmore

100% False Positive rate

As far as almost all users are concerned, certificate warnings are almost 100% false positives. Usually it's either a legitimate self-signed certificate, a server somewhere has changed its name, the certificate has expired or some other annoyance. And although they are not common, most users just ignore them, so that they will eventually ignore ALL certificate errors..

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