* Posts by Dr Dan Holdsworth

269 posts • joined 16 May 2008

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EU: No encryption backdoors but, eh, let's help each other crack that crypto, oui? Ja?

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Boffin

Re: The utter fools

A better way to work is to remember that when you're hunting criminals, you are not hunting super-intelligent encryption-geniuses, but rather the less-able twerps of this world. As such, you simply have to accept that some of their communications won't be accessible to you, and there isn't a magical McGuffin that will let you get around this.

This is the same thinking process that police had to go through when DNA evidence was first introduced; all DNA actually shows is that at some point, the person whose DNA is present was in contact with whatever the DNA was detected on. Thus the old criminal trick of picking up cigarette ends outside dodgy pubs, then scattering one or two in prominent places when committing a burglary only works if you have stupid policemen around.

Another example is of some burglars who targeted country houses and operated as a gang. Their modus operandi was to meet up at a motorway service station near the target, turn off all mobile phones then go out to rob the target. Only afterwards did they re-enable their phones. This meant they didn't leave an electronic trail to their crimes, but did mean that they left a huge great signal that they were about to commit a crime (for they never met up, turned off phones then sloped off down the pub lawfully to add distraction to the pattern).

As I say, we're dealing with criminals, not masterminds. Criminals always make mistakes, and police have the manpower to catch these mistakes.

So, forget the phoney prize of being able to break encryption. If it is seen as possible, people will use other methods to get around this problem; unbreakable one-time pads for instance. Or, use encryption known not to have been back-doored.

6
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Why Uber isn't the poster child for capitalism you wanted

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Black cabs vs minicabs vs Uber...

The only reason that Uber looks good as compared to black cabs is that it is being bankrolled by VCs, who would appear to think that it has a good chance of putting most of the local private hire operators out of business, and possibly hurting the black cab operators as well.

Having said that, a wake-up call for the black cab operators is long over-due, not only in London but also in much of the US. Over there, a licence to operate a taxi cab costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and the numbers are being kept low by the dead hand of union protectionism.

21
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Apple: Our stores are your 'town square' and a $1,000 iPhone is your 'future'

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: @ Voland's right hand

Why on earth they cannot follow Samsung's lead and make a smartphone that, whilst it doesn't have curvy screen edges and incredible look and feel DOES have corner protection, a large battery and a case that will withstand being dropped.

As it stands these days, you buy a phone, take it out of the packaging, admire this thing of beauty and wonderous design then spend twenty minutes making sure it is completely clean before stuffing it into the armoured case where it will have to spend the rest of its days merely to ensure that the expensive thing remains undamaged.

5
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Your boss asks you to run the 'cloud project': Ever-changing wish lists, packs of 'ideas'... and 1 deadline

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Not exclusive to cloud

If ever you end up in this situation, don't exact a terrible revenge on your colleagues and management before you go. Resign quietly and politely and maintain a dignified and civil demeanour throughout. This avoids antagonising one's former colleagues and leaves them with an impression of professionalism that may be completely unwarranted, but which means they will be at worst neutrally disposed towards you should you encounter them again.

Content yourself with the adage that Hell is other people, and that this particular bunch of other people will in your absence have been inflicting pain upon each other to a far greater degree than anything you could ever devise. Their incompetence is your revenge, your sanity is your reward. If you really can't help yourself, warn them about the Easter Egg (the one you did not leave, being far too smart ever to leave one) and let them tear the place up looking for one.

10
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South London: Rats! The rodents have killed the internet

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Flavoured cabling

The answer here is surely to give the fibre a new taste and scent.

Ferret urine would be a nice new smell for cable that rats would really dislike, and incorporating ultra-bitter chemicals into the cable insulation is surely not beyond the wit of cable manufacturers?

13
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What sort of silicon brain do you need for artificial intelligence?

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Intelligence isn't actually what is needed

We don't really need artificial intelligence, not when humans are still fairly common and cheap to hire.

What we actually need is things that are about as intelligent as a cockroach. That means an ability to find a way around obstacles, enough memory to get bored with going in the same circles all the time, and an ability to recognise simple dangers such as pitfalls and walls, etc.

Do this and do it cheaply, and higher-level functions such as navigation can be dropped on top from conventional programs. This sort of thing is already sort-of happening with robot vacuum cleaners, but needs to get better to be truly useful.

4
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UK Parliament hack: Really, a brute-force attack? Really?

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Not only missing 2FA

All of this comes down to a trade-off between how strong the system can be, versus how much whine you are prepared to tolerate from the users. Since the users in this case are MPs who are trusted with state secrets and are almost the highest authority in the land, I rather suspect that it is they and their great power which is the main cause of trouble.

From a sysadmin point of view, even just the simple TCP rate limit function provided by UFW is useful, in that it stops single IPs from banging away at a machine. Fail2Ban provides a much better level of protection, especially when the "findtime" is extended enough that somewhat more clever botnet attackers are detected and excluded. The problem with both is that a fat-fingered or dyslexic user will get passwords wrong, and will repeatedly get locked out until they demand that the security levels be decreased for them.

This is why 2FA is so important and so essential; use 2FA and only the dozy users who cannot follow instructions get left behind, and the cure for them is simple: get their secretary to handle all the technology for them a la Tony Blair.

0
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UK parliamentary email compromised after 'sustained and determined cyber attack'

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Re: If you add all that 2FA or certificate stuff...

Done properly 2FA isn't difficult either for sysadmins or for users. Banks have successfully managed to get their customers to remember strong passwords and use 2FA dongles, and have managed it without much in the way of screams of agony from mentally-challenged lusers.

2FA for email is similarly not rocket science, and it is also not beyond the bounds of possibility to produce small, laminated instruction cards (laminated to prevent the poor dears writing their password on the card) which detail how to log in using the 2FA dongle. Tricks like this work wonders when you have thick users, or so I am told.

2FA plus Fail2Ban with suitably long time outs on the IP logger, together with intelligently-designed supplementary rule-sets such as a blanket ban on all Chinese, Russian and North Korean IP ranges and a strong and secure VPN for access from foreign climes which relies partly on ssh keys for authentication. Do that, and yes, any random script kiddie can have a pop at a dictionary attack, but no, said random script kiddie isn't going to actually get anywhere.

6
1

Canadian sniper makes kill shot at distance of 3.5 KILOMETRES

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Boffin

Suppose our putative Taliban is out on a battlefield, where people are actually shooting already. In this case, several factors both cultural and practical come into play.

Firstly, if our target is busy then he might not even notice bullet impacts around him.

Secondly, even if he does see impacts, he may just ascribe these to random battlefield stray rounds that aren't actually meant for him.

Thirdly, as he cannot see or hear a sniper (too far to hear the muzzle blast, and the rounds will be subsonic by the time they get to him) he may just think he's out of range and disregard the shooting as inaccurate fire that won't get him.

Fourthly, the man might actually be rather stupid, be that from lack of education, nutritional deficiencies early in life or even rampant inbreeding. Certainly anyone smart enough to realise the dangers of front lines isn't going to wander about willy-nilly in front of the enemy.

Finally, there is an attitude prevalent in that part of the world that predestination exists to a greater or lesser extent and that when Allah thinks it is time for you to go, you die; up to then no worries.

All of these plus the fact that he cannot actually see enemy forces might contribute to his apparent unconcern under fire.

6
0

Swedish school pumps up volume to ease toilet trauma

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: For Your Izal Only (Sheena Easton)

A common Victorian design of lavatory for mills and factories consisted of a series of stalls with seats atop a porcelain gutter part-full of water, with a flush unit at one end. Periodically, this would be triggered and the accumulated turds flushed away.

However, a very common trick eventually forced a re-design of this system. The trick was simple: chuck a large ball of lit waxed paper down the hole closest to the flusher, then trigger it whilst some of the other stalls were occupied. This then burned the backsides of anyone not quick enough to stand up as the burning paper came past. Smarter pranksters generally departed rapidly before any scorched-arse victims could find them.

The re-designed system merely had partitions dipping down into the water surface in the gutter to extinguish burning items; mill workers in those dim and distant days didn't have access to metallic sodium and the like.

1
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Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: When I was a lad ....

Perhaps the MP3 files from this project might be useful:

http://triggur.org/robodump/

0
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Virtual reality headsets even less popular than wearable devices

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: I would LOVE a good VR headset...

Good and fairly cheap VR would actually be a winner for business work, programming and systems admin especially. Instead of several large actual screens, the user would have several large virtual screens positioned around a virtual environment of their choosing.

In my case, a virtual "office" under a large, shady tree in the middle of a walled or hedged garden would be ideal and relatively cheap in CPU terms to simulate (not much moving scenery, no long views), as well as being a great deal nicer than a dingy office space.

From the point of view of whoever is paying for this, the graphics hardware is more expensive but only a smallish back-up monitor is needed, plus the virtual screens can be set up to appear to be big, but a few feet away so middle-aged eyes aren't struggling to focus. Status indicators for business systems could be integrated into the VR scenario; a compost heap represents the system's rubbish bin, a flower bed the core business systems and so on.

Best of all, if the office space is a cramped cubicle, then the VR space actually represents a better and more pleasant environment than the physical environment does, allowing the employer to cheap-out on the physical environment.

4
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Retirement age must move as life expectancy grows, says WEF

Dr Dan Holdsworth

One solution is fairly obvious: do not elect politicians who promise to borrow yet more money to provide bribes now, since all they are doing is hastening the collapse of the Ponzi scheme.

5
2
Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Bugger *that*

I feel much the same way, and plan to switch to shorter working hours at some point, but to carry on working as long as I feel able. I rather think that in many cases, work becomes a person's life, and without work they simply have not got very much to give their life structure. So, carry on working for as long as you can, but simply reduce the hours and pressure as much as possible.

5
0

Faking incontinence and other ways to scare off tech support scammers

Dr Dan Holdsworth

A friend of mine had someone call up "This is about the accident you had...". It turned out that my friend had indeed had an accident, which had left him concussed and with very little short-term memory. There then followed a long and (for the scammer) most frustrating conversation as the scammer was mistaken for an online grocery, a vet dealing with the castration of a pet cat, a hospital, someone whom he'd forgotten the name of and so on, over and over and over again.

The scammer ended up beside himself with frustration, yet not quite able to put the phone down since he was never openly abused or mocked.

13
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UK hospital meltdown after ransomware worm uses NSA vuln to raid IT

Dr Dan Holdsworth

"Oh look, the sucker just paid! Stick him on the list of plonkers we can re-visit".

5
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Drugs, vodka, Volvo: The Scandinavian answer to Britain's future new border

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Sounds like a fairly nice system to me

Nice if you want to indulge in a spot of smuggling, that is.

All you need is an HGV and a set of false plates, preferably plates belonging to a vehicle that the authorities either trust already or will find difficult to check out.

Quick, easy and simple and as long as you don't reuse the same plate too often or get caught physically changing the plates over, you ought to get away with the scam for quite a long time.

10
0

While Facebook reinvents Sadville, we still dream of flying cars

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Flying cars? Pft.

This reminds me of experiences I had years ago, training to fly hang-gliders. The group I was with were doing short flights off a valley side in the Dales. The wind was slowly getting stronger, had been all day. When my second turn came round, I did the usual "run like hell downhill" launch, but instead of the expected pull away from the ground, nothing happened.

What had occurred was that the wind speed had gotten strong enough that instead of laminar flow over the opposing valley lip, down to the bottom and back up again, we were now getting break-away rotors of wind peeling off the opposite valley lip. These turned the wind from a strong uphill flow to gusts and occasional dead air.

Visually, everything looked the same. Neither I nor any trainee had any clue that this might happen (although I reckon the trainers had it in their minds to watch out for). Now, imagine you have a random non-pilot in a computer-controlled aircraft, which at some point performs an emergency landing in a field somewhere.

The cause: a thunderstorm visible on radar, not so visible to human eyes. A danger of downwards microbursts, hail and strong winds, so the aircraft HAS to land somewhere to avoid the danger.

Imagine now that you're the poor helldesk techie on the other end of the phoneline as our unclued, over-paid businessman rants down the phone at the hapless operator about missed meetings, broken contracts and the like. Hell on earth as the moron customer is certainly not going to listen to sense, yet if the danger factor were ignored then his surviving relatives would certainly sue.

Similarly the customer whose flight gets stopped or diverted because of a NOTAM for Purple Airspace over where he wants to go. Insta-rant over delays, which is much better than a short, painful visit from the RAF for endangering the life of a royal.

This alone is going to prevent the widespread take-up of flying cars.

0
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Drunk user blow-dried laptop after dog lifted its leg over the keyboard

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Good on Jim

Handing over an unpleasant biohazard to a techie without the equipment or the pay to handle such is basically impolite, irresponsible and just plain stupid. I'm with the techie here; dump the bloody thing straight off and perhaps even feed it through a shredder if there's any chance of there being unencrypted data on the laptop.

21
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Squirrel sinks teeth into SAN cabling, drives Netadmin nuts

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Yes! Mice

If you look in your local equestrian-orientated shop and ask for something to stop horses gnawing things, then they will show you a produce called Cribox. This is capsicum plus something that tastes vile plus some sort of smelly stenching agent in a grease base.

It looks bad, it smells bad and it tastes on the far side of appalling, so I am told. It also stings like anything if you get it into an open wound.

I have used it to stop a frustrated squirrel from gnawing a garden shed; I never saw the animal actually taste it, but it stopped the gnawing alright.

8
0
Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Best traps

Clearly the OP doesn't know how to safely and legally trap wildlife.

Best practice for the UK at least means that all snap traps such as the old Fenn mk4 and mk6 (soon to be banned for squirrels in favour of more certain-to-kill traps) had to be set somewhere that non-target species such as dogs, cats, roving network engineers and the like couldn't accidentally set them off. This generally means setting them inside a tunnel made either of mesh, or of some other durable material.

Rats, mice, squirrels and the like generally cannot resist the temptation to have a look inside any tunnel, hole or similar thing they come across, in case there is something to eat in there. This propensity can be improved by baiting the trap with peanut butter, in such a way that the bait is beyond the trap along the route the animal has to follow. This generally ensures a kill.

Mouse traps are a different proposition. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for with mouse traps and the cheap pressed-metal garbage off Fleabay are so insensitive that they don't work. Electrocution traps are best, and some can even be remotely monitored by SNMP to determine when they have caught something. Another interesting design is the Nooski trap, which uses an elastic rubber ring to strangle the poor victim. Not nice, but most effective and doesn't splat guts all over the place.

The final trick to try is the cellulose-based rodent baits. These work by dehydrating the animal to the point of collapse, but only work on rodents so anything else mooching along and eating the bait won't get killed. This bait has the other advantage of not actually being a poison, so no certification is needed to handle it.

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Now UK bans carry-on lappies, phones, slabs on flights from six nations amid bomb fears

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Security Theatre

Strange how everyone is thinking "Bomb" here. It may well be that some smartalec has worked out how to build an xray-transparent firearm, but the limitation of this is that it is quite bulky. So, the only way to hide such a device is to build it into a laptop.

Hence the ban on things over a certain size that contain various sorts of electrickery and thus look on Xray to contain wires, batteries and so on. The specific danger here is from the terrorist having his plastic gun with him in the cabin; it doesn't matter if the thing is in the hold because he cannot get to it during the flight. It also doesn't matter if some twit is importing a highly impractical firearm into the country; it isn't as if the engineering expertise to build working firearms doesn't exist here.

0
3

If fast radio bursts really are revving up interstellar sailcraft, here's the maths

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Astrophysicists think

You don't honestly think that a civilisation that can build interplanetary megastructures is going to be sending actual live examples of its self between stars, do you?

Much more likely, they long ago started going down the cybernetic route and are now more or less indistinguishable from computers, or are even just software ghosts running on a computing substrate of some sort. This transport system you see isn't shifting biological entities, but instead compacted, backed-up software and information.

1
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Watt the f... Dim smart meters caught simply making up readings

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Stop

Re: Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery

I have a University-based institutional subscription to the IEEE journal, and I can confirm that the observed inaccuracies are ONLY seen with three-phase meters, and then only in circumstances where large photovoltaic arrays are feeding power back into the grid via Active In-feed Converters (AICs). It seems that these AICs are not subject to proper regulation regarding how much electromagnetic interference (EMI) they may generate, and thus having been built to the lowest possible standard many of these AICs generate quite a lot of EMI.

The dodgy photovoltaic converters weren't the only EMI emitters seen; the drive systems for fans in one farm's barns were also very noisy indeed. Reading between the lines, I would think that quite a lot of electrical equipment on farms especially is going to be very noisy in EMI terms, partly through age and partly because with the old mechanical three-phase meters, it didn't matter a jot.

Having discovered all of this and built a specially EMI-noisy measuring rig, the researchers then went on to test the single-phase meters that pretty much all domestic situations will have. They found no deviation from the specification, and no influence from interference, EMI noise or distorted voltages could be detected.

TL,DR: No problem detected for household meters.

9
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The Psion returns! Meet Gemini, the 21st century pocket computer

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Does this niche still exist?

Something like this, you mean?

http://www.cablestogo.com/product/29470/usb-2.0-usb-c-to-db9-serial-rs232-adapter-cable

0
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'Hey, Homeland Security. Don't you dare demand Twitter, Facebook passwords at the border'

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Pirate

From the department of stating the bleedin' obvious

Facebook is an American company.

America has the Patriot Act, which effectively says that plod over there can shout "Terrorists!" then march in and seize data from any American company they so choose, with hardly a murmur.

So, if a person's Facebook record is of such amazing interest, the simple option for our idiot cousins over the water would be to ask the incoming suspect their name, then go over to Facebook, back their database up to that of the NSA and then simply grep through for info on that particular Facebook user.

Simple indeed, and not done because this trawl has been dreamed up by lackwitted goons in the ports, not in the American executive or legal hierarchy.

5
3

Installing disks is basically LEGO, right? This admin failed LEGO

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Like Lego

Worse yet are power users, that is to say people with a little bit of knowledge but not nearly enough wit to realise how little they know.

Many years ago I took a support call whilst working for a particular dodgy ISP. Their main site name was $FOO, but their infrastructure was still named $BAR because nobody could be bothered to change the domain names.

So, when this power luser sees his machine connected to $FOO internet regularly making connections on port 53 to machines in the $BAR domain on his newly-installed firewall, he panics and uses this firewall to block these connections, thinking it to be a hack. Then, as he put it, this terrible hacker must have done something truly appalling to his machine since the Internet went ever so slow.

As slow, in fact, as a machine trying to connect each time to its primary DNS, getting blocked and timing out to hit the secondary DNS server...

13
0

Zuckerberg thinks he's cyber-Jesus – and publishes a 6,000-word world-saving manifesto

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Re: meh

This actually all sounds astonishingly like standard corporate bollocks-speak, such as every senior figure in any large organisation involving IT seems to want to trot out at every opportunity. Every single one of these people are serious, earnest and really do wish to make the world a better place, and every one of them ends up sounding like a hippie high on a particularly successful weed plantation.

It basically all comes down to corporate grandstanding. Facebook is basically about deceiving people into thinking that they have a higher social status than they actually have. Humans are hard wired to be status-seeking little monkeys, and a system that lets them believe that they have oodles of friends who hang upon their every word is always going to sell on the basis of self-delusion. Facebook isn't going to change the world, but merely brighten it up for a lot of people.

Self delusion is a powerful motivator. This is why the National Lottery has worked so well at separating idiots from their money; humans are really crap at actually perceiving reality. Zuck is no exception here; he's very, very humans indeed.

9
2

Totally not-crazy billionaire Elon Musk: All of us – yes, even you – must become cyborgs

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Let's Hope...

Let us hope that the Quiet War as described by several science fiction authors takes place soon. That event is when AIs take over from politicians in the running of politics, and is generally characterised by a mass refusal to revolt on the part of the proles who, when faced with corrupt and inefficient politicians being replaced by unbribe-able and efficient AIs, refuse to get at all annoyed.

2
0

Vapists rejoice! E-cigs lower cancer risk (if you stop smoking, duh)

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Boffin

This is all about carcinogen levels

If you compare smoking tobacco with snus tobacco (a sort of mini-teabag containing ground tobacco that you stick in your mouth and suck), a marked difference is seen. Snus users have no increased risk of cancer over that of the general population, whereas smokers have a marked increase in cancer levels.

This strongly suggests that nicotine in therapeutic doses isn't carcinogenic, but inhaling smoke from burning leaves very definitely is carcinogenic. This connection is also seen with the effects of breathing diesel smoke; it is the combustion products and particulates that do the damage, not the nicotine.

E-cigs are not combustion devices. What they do is take a mixture of propylene glycol (a permitted food thickener which is known to be non-carcinogenic and safe), water, some known-safe flavourings and a very low level of nicotine and pass it over a heating element, which causes it to vaporise then immediately re-condense into a fog of fine droplets. E-cigs never actually combust anything, and thus don't chemically transform the chemicals that are in them.

So, if e-cig juice is safe before vaporising, it is safe afterwards.

The quoted study merely shows that of the four groups compared, all were ingesting more or less the same amount of nicotine, but the levels of tobacco combustion products were more or less the same in all groups that smoked tobacco, but much lower in the e-cig only group.

The study is thus interesting on two levels. Firstly, e-cig use dramatically lowers levels of smoking-related carcinogens, leading to the conclusion that these are NOT present in e-cig vapour.

Secondly, carcinogen levels were largely similar in all groups who smoked tobacco, regardless of whether they were using nicotine patches as well, or e-cigs as well, or just smoking alone. That suggests that it is only the replacement of smoking with e-cigs that is a useful health measure, not the supplementation of smokes plus something else.

6
1

Coming to the big screen: Sci-fi epic Dune – no wait, wait, wait, this one might be good

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Can't be a single movie

You have to remember that the society that Dune is set in is not a naturally evolved one, but rather a post-apocalyptic wreckage. At a point earlier in time, they had produced powerful artificial intelligences, but had not managed to keep these either friendly or on a short enough leash. Nor, apparently, had humanity started to turn into cyborg post-humanity, since the entire scenario turned into the Butlerian Jihad where the AIs got wiped out.

This left the society with a weird wreckage of AI technology, much of which was useless in fundamental ways. They had gravity control but only on a limited basis. They had shields which work well against most projectiles, but which fail badly if hit by laser-like weapons; their laser weapons in turn are deadly if used on shielding. Presumably AIs were capable of managing the technical intricacies of stacking shields or something.

Their technology included some form of faster than light drive, which worked but dropped the ship out of space without the ship being able to see what was actually there at the end point ahead of time. Again, AI presumably had an answer (or several answers, like only doing long distance jumps between known-empty points of space) but humanity wound up using Spice-addicted individuals who are able to predict whether dropping into normal space at a certain point will be deadly or not; very limited but accurate prescience.

This society is living in the wreckage of a much greater one; there's not really any surprise that thus handicapped they carry on messing stuff up. Indeed the movie is a repeated series of "How will they get out of this one" scenarios.

12
0

'Maker' couple asphyxiated, probably by laser cutter fumes

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Re: This happened in Berkeley?

Yes, I own just such a house where I have been steadily rectifying the previous owner's attempts at DIY.

The house was at some time fitted with a back-boiler type central heating system, using a professional work crew. As per the regulations, they cut a vent through the solid stone outer wall to allow fresh air into the property, to feed the back boiler unit (which drew the air it needed for combustion from the interior of the house).

The moron owner plastered over this air vent, to stop the cold draft. The moron Homebuyers' Survey people completely failed to notice this little spot of potentially lethal DIY. Only after being warned by central heating service engineers of the danger I was in did I go looking for where the vent grille on the outside of the house led to, and discovered the plastered-over, wallpapered-over vent and re-opened it.

So yes, people really are stupid enough to ignore health & safety warnings for known killers.

5
0

Anti-smut law dubs PCs, phones 'pornographic vendor machines', demands internet filters

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Now THAT is worth hacking

The law aims to ban pornographic material, yes?

All you do is get a sufficiently large number of people to claim that the local government websites are actually pornographic (in an extremely deviant manner) and really ought to be blocked so that young minds are not corrupted by the filth therein.

Then block these sites as per the law.

4
0

How Rogue One's Imperial stormtroopers SAVED Star Wars and restored order

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Grunts

A bit hard on elves though, is Mary Gentle.

1
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Landmark EU ruling: Legality of UK's Investigatory Powers Act challenged

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: But I thought we "took back control"

The other problem with allowing all manner of agencies to access the data is that these agencies are certain not to have anywhere near the levels of data security that the police currently have. The police know all about not letting secret information leak out of their systems, and their copies of the ICRs will be on machines physically separate from the open internet (or so one would hope, anyway).

A poxy ambulance trust or a food standards agency won't have that level of data security because frankly it will never have needed such security before, and the internal networking will be set up as cheaply as possible. Given that the equipment is likely to be running unpatched and rather antique versions of Windows, and that the staff are not going to be trained to the same levels of paranoia that police are trained, it is pretty much certain that these agencies' PC will be riddled with all manner of malware.

One thing malware does is looks for "interesting" data, and what could be more interesting than a huge amount of internet connection record data?

This level of retention, with this level of sharing, is an accident waiting to happen. It is also a gold-mine for VPN operators.

13
1

MPs suggest introducing web blocking to tackle suicide rates in UK

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: And so it begins...

Welcome to the thin end of the wedge.

Your right to look at a website that discusses suicide is being curtailed for your own good, citizen.

Next up, your right to look at a website that described narcotic drugs will be curtailed, because drugs are illegal.

Somewhat later, you will be prevented from looking at a website with a recipe for treacle pudding on it, because the sugar might make you fat.

Somewhat later still, the British Government will start to wonder if they shouldn't be banning VPN software...

2
1

Could a robot vacuum cleaner monitor your data centre?

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Upgrade

Look, if you're monitoring a server room then what amounts to a mobile, internet-enabled tray is not what you need. A Dalek is what you need, with the sucker arm replaced with a more standard robot arm of some description, and a program to make the gun auto-track anything that walks past the unit even when it isn't being actively driven around.

4
0

Sysadmin told to spend 20+ hours changing user names, for no reason

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: funny thing about these requests

To be honest, this elementary BOFH behaviour. If a manager asks for something gibberingly stupid, then get everything documented then go about the task in a safe manner which will also cause the maximum pain, delay and annoyance to as many other users as possible, whilst being certain to use the name of the original fuckwit in the title of the plan.

The BOFH himself thereafter does not need to trouble to inflict further punishment on the fuckwit; said idiot's colleagues will conspire to mete out punishment as much and as frequently as they are able.

30
0

Stealing, scamming, bluffing: El Reg rides along with pen-testing 'red team hackers'

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Pirate

Re: It's a bit disappointing

Actually you need a little bit more to get anywhere much. For recon outside a building, a suit, hi-vis vest and clip-board work wonders for not alerting the CCTV people (bonus if the hi-vis has an HMRC logo on the back; people will avoid you like the plague then) since interfering with someone who is "obviously" not out to steal or damage and doesn't look like criminal scum isn't generally needed.

Inside a building, you need to pretend to be a contractor with a legitimate right to be there. That "explains" why you don't know your way around, and "explains" why you're asking funny questions. An audit is a very good thing to pretend to be doing, especially if the audit is of equipment that management think might be going walkies out of the building. That explains why nobody knows about the audit; it was arranged quietly so that the guilty parties wouldn't get tipped off.

You're aiming to hit that balance of "I have every right to be here" together with "I have authority and will be a truly horrible annoyance if you don't cooperate" together with "apologies for all of this, terribly sorry and I don't like it any more than you do but the money is quite good" etc etc... Affability and politeness together with "just here to do a job" gets you a hell of a long way.

14
0

I was a robot and this is what I learned

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Pirate

Re: Picture paints 1000 words

The robot design is, I feel, somewhat lacking. Luckily there are plenty of designs that could easily be copied and which would certainly make the average IT crowd give you a little more space; a Dalek of some description comes to mind.

As a design for a telepresence robot, a Dalek isn't actually all that bad. Nice stable wheeled platform, nifty excuse for using a synthesised voice instead of a voice link, plus slightly better body language than that telepresence system. With a Dalek, you can at least tell where it is looking and when it is speaking, plus few people would want to get in your way.

10
0

AI can now tell if you're a criminal or not

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Re: dataset

There is actually quite a lot of scope of sample bias here. The characteristics the article describes sound quite a lot like the facial type you see with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, i.e. children whose mothers boozed heavily during pregnancy.

People with FASD are basically damaged in a lot of ways. Facial features are altered, and brain function is compromised. These people are more likely than the general population to be criminals, and there's a fairly good chance that police consciously or subconsciously recognise this facial type as a likely sort to check for criminal activity, hence these people are going to feature disproportionately in the database.

1
0

Possible reprieve for the venerable A-10 Warthog

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Pint due.

Keeping a known-working design like this flying for a while longer actually seems like quite good sense. Especially as recently we seem to have been having a run of war and insurgencies involving not so sophisticated adversaries against whom a modern fighter jet is overkill. A Warthog on the other hand is very well armed, quite well armoured and extremely good at delivering a large amount of damage to a target at little risk to its self.

6
0

I want to remotely disable Londoners' cars, says Met's top cop

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Magical thinking

Paging Mr Stross, paging Mr Stross!

Some more loonies are being told to buy Equoids...

http://www.tor.com/2013/09/24/equoid/

1
0

Judge makes minor tweaks to sex ban IT man's order

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Bill of Rights, etc.

One part of the 1689 Bill of Rights states that promises of fines or forfeitures before conviction are void; another part that excessive bail should not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.

What the SROs are doing is imposing a punishment before or without a conviction. This is basically going against the constitution that we don't have (but arguably ought to have). The 1998 Human Rights Act states similar rights also.

So, how long before unconstitutional punishment before conviction is struck down?

15
1

You should install smart meters even if they're dumb, says flack

Dr Dan Holdsworth

It would help if the meters were actually designed for real-world applications

I live in an old terraced house. Lots of people do, and these houses were originally designed without most modern services. Water supply was someone with a bucket, and the toilet was in the back yard and given where I live, was probably made by Duckett's of Burnley.

Over the years modern services have been added, usually by the easiest route open to the new suppliers. Thus the gas meter is in the cellar, and the electricity meter is in an awkward cupboard on the other side of the house. Both are sited for the convenience of the installer, not for the convenience of anyone reading them, or for the convenience of the smart meter that would quite like to see a mobile signal, any mobile signal at all...

Many houses are like this. Many houses are thus wholly unsuitable for the current "made to the cheapest design possible" smart meters, because absolutely none of these things allow for a remote comms antenna to be wired into them. The mobile communications would work perfectly if a remote antenna could be placed high up on a house wall and wired into a socket on the meter, but unfortunately such trivial things did not occur to the muppets who design such things.

I therefore look forwards to many rounds of hairy-arsed engineers arriving at my place to discover like all previous engineers that no, there really isn't a mobile signal where the meter is and no, I don't want to pay for major building work for their convenience.

10
0

Inside our three-month effort to attend Apple's iPhone 7 launch party

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Not missing much

So, some time next century Apple will finally work out that adhering to one of the many international standards on connectors is actually quite a good idea...

1
0

Height of stupidity: Heathrow airliner buzzed by drone at 7,000ft

Dr Dan Holdsworth
WTF?

Re: Cue loads of people saying...

So why didn't you exploit the superlative accuracy of your 22 long rifle rounds and shoot the damn geese in the head, which is not at all armoured and the loss of which will render the goose unable to fly off?

Even neck-shooting will disable birds nicely; there's no call to try for heart-lung shots when you can do much, much better with a little patience.

0
0

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn wants high speed broadband for all. Wow, original idea there

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Re: Why ?

One thing that really is needed where fibre roll-outs are in progress is very widespread coverage of what a fibre cable looks like, and that it has not got any valuable metal in it. The advertising campaign will need to be in several Eastern European languages, since it is intended to inform potential metal thieves that they're wasting their time stealing the stuff.

2
0

UK IT consultant subject to insane sex ban order mounts legal challenge

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: "He was found not guilty, therefore he is innocent"

There is also the very real possibility that he will at some point realise that he can simply walk away from all of this, and build a new life under a new identity. Granted he can still be identified via fingerprints, but having had one brush with the Thought Police, I reckon he'll live out an entirely blameless life just to stay out of reach of Plod.

This is what happens when you go outside Common Law, which is what this effectively does.

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