* Posts by Brangdon

433 posts • joined 15 Sep 2008


Do Martians dream of electric Nimbys? Selling 5G needs steak, not just sizzle


Re: Nah, I'll wait for 6G!

Not reading the specs on a toaster is why so many toasters toast too small an area to cover a large slice of bread. My current toaster is about 30% faster than my previous one, which is nice, and worth reading the specs - before purchase - to find out. Other toasters I could have bought were slower.

If you're worried that quantum computers will crack your crypto, don't be – at least, not for a decade or so. Here's why


Re: What about black projects?

The work done at Bletchley Park remained secret for many decades, despite thousands of people knowing about it. Maybe the existence of alternate quantum computers will leak in 40 years too.


Re: If you need it kept secret

You have to make sure that, for example, your ROT13 encoder doesn't insert a header that identifies the output as being ROT13, because that can lead to known plaintext attacks.

Swiss electronic voting system like... wait for it, wait for it... Swiss cheese: Hole found amid public source code audit


Re: in the UK at least

Voting in the UK is simple because we only vote on one thing at a time. Each ballot gets its own piece of paper, and they are counted in two steps: first sort the paper into piles according to who they vote for, then count the number of pieces in each pile. Both steps are easy to do in parallel, so if you use counting staff proportional to the voting population it happens in constant time. It's also relatively easy to spot-check that no votes got into the wrong pile, or that each pile has the reported count. Basically, it scales well.

In America they vote on vastly more things. Not just president, but elected officials at various levels. Instead of each vacancy getting its own piece of paper, they combine them all onto one sheet. This makes it impossible to count manually using the UK method. That's why they use automated systems of various designs. (Not saying their system couldn't be adapted, eg by using perforated paper and splitting up the sheet into one strip per vote. Historically they've not done that.)

I've no idea whether the Swiss are like the UK or like the US.

Take Note: Schneider's teeny-tiny Galaxy VS li-ion UPS set to explode onto data centre scene


Re: Inflamable means flammable?

Spraying water is the recommended way of dealing with Li-Ion battery fires, to cool it down.

Musk is in contempt of court, screams SEC after Tesla boss brags about car production rates


Re: just trying to grab the spotlight

I think that was the part that hurt, because it's untrue. Whether or not the pod could have helped is unclear, and I don't think the cave explorer was qualified to say. (I say "explorer" because he wasn't one of the rescue team. He had explored the cave when it was dry and knew the phone numbers of the people who actually risked their lives in the rescue.) Either way, Musk had made it at the request of the rescue team, using their specifications, put a lot of effort into it and obviously believed it could save the life of the smallest boy (*). So to have the cave explorer say he was just doing it for PR, ie in bad faith, would have hurt.

Doesn't justify the paedo comment, of course. That seemed to be based entirely on the chap being a British man who moved to Thailand.

(*) - the rescue team had trouble sourcing a full-face mask small enough for the smallest boy, so the plan was to enclose him entirely in a pod that had its own air supply.

Password managers may leave your online crown jewels 'exposed in RAM' to malware – but hey, they're still better than the alternative


Re: Keystroke logger

A good password manager will use a secure desktop to enter the master password, which is supposed to defeat keystroke loggers.

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin


Or a wall. You can get wall mounted sundials. Eg http://www.merlinsundials.co.uk/vertical.html

Use an 8-char Windows NTLM password? Don't. Every single one can be cracked in under 2.5hrs


Re: correcthorsebatterystaple

The XKCD example already takes dictionary attacks into account. It gives 44 bits of entropy from 4 words, hence is based on a dictionary of 2024 words. As it happens, 44 bits isn't a lot nowadays. Bigger dictionaries will give stronger passwords, as will using more words.

I find multi-word English phrases much easier to enter into limited devices than random assortments of symbols. The latter I have to look up and enter one character at time, where-as a word like "horse" I can look up once than enter the whole word from memory. Even "ihpcrbtmplm" would make me stop to think for each letter. Not having to switch to weird symbol keyboards helps too. These phrases are also easier to tell other people, eg if they need to know your WiFi password.

Redditors start flinging Pooh after mega-forum takes cash from Chinese behemoth Tencent


Another issue is that their algorithm favours short-form content in busy sub-reddits. This is because long-form content gets pushed down the list before people have time to vote on it, so good stuff disappears before it has acquired enough votes to stay at the top. Short-form content gets its votes quicker so is able to keep its place at the top longer. Hence the site tends to drown in images.

From Red Planet to deep into the red: Suicidal extrovert magnet Mars One finally implodes


Re: I was wrong

Something similar has been done, by C4's Space Cadets, albeit to Low Earth Orbit rather than Mars. Since they were only going to near space (as opposed to outer space), they weren't weightless; the gravity loss was only 30% which was easily compensated by gravity generators built into the ship. Cadets were carefully chosen to maximise the chances of them believing that.


NASA's Opportunity rover celebrates 15 years on Mars – by staying as dead as a doornail


Trumps second terms ends in 2026. Getting to Mars by 2026 would be feasible if they used SpaceX and/or Zubrin's Mars Direct, and had unlimited money, and really pulled their finger out on developing Mars habitats etc. Not feasible using NASA and SLS. If they cancelled SLS it might not need much extra money. The real problem here is politics.

The SpaceX plan has 2024 as the date for human arrival. They probably won't make that, but that's partly because they don't have the money or other resources (eg, priority access to range). Allowing them another two years makes it much more likely. If we were in a Seveneves type situation, threatened with human extinction, we could do it in 8 years for sure.

Starship bloopers: In touching tribute to Tesla shares, Musk proto-craft tumbles – as Bezos' Blue Origin rocket lifts off


Re: the slew of pink slips issued to Space X employees recently

SpaceX is large company. They need to clear out the deadwood from time to time. Note they are hiring new people at the same time.

Also, some of those let go would have been working in carbon fibre, which is less needed now they are switching to stainless steel. There are a host of other factors too. The whole point of reuse is that you need less labour.

SpaceX haven't had many DoD contracts. They get government money from NASA, and nowadays most of their business is commercial.


Re: floating back to terra firma using three parachutes

Parachutes don't scale. SpaceX tried landing a Falcon 9 with parachutes in the early days. It didn't work. They had no choice but to switch to retropropulsion for Earth landings if they are to reuse the booster.

Parachutes work for the capsule because the capsule is smaller. That is, it works on Earth, with a dense atmosphere - on Mars, with a thinner atmosphere, parachutes work for small probes but larger ones need retropropulsion too. Same issue: parachutes don't scale, and the point at which they become impractical depends on atmospheric density.

China's really cotton'd on to this whole Moon exploration thing: First seed sprouts in lunar lander biosphere


Re: I would like to see the aims of the experiment.

I mostly agree. A crucial area is how development in lunar gravity compares with development in Earth's gravity and micro-gravity. I'd expect it to be much closer to the former than the later. There are a lot of things that go wrong for humans in microgravity and I hope they don't also go wrong in 1/6th g. I don't know if this experiment can shed much light on this.

Spektr-R goes quiet, Dragon splashes down and SpaceX lays off


Re: Stainless Steel?

Apparently carbon fibre is stronger at room temperature, but steel is stronger at cryogenic temperatures and a lot stronger at high temperature, so steal wins overall for this application. It is a very specific type of steel - apparently SpaceX have their own foundry now, and developed a new alloy for the engines.

The steel is a good conductor, so they'll be able to use active cooling instead of a heat shield, which saves some weight overall and is also better for reuse.

It's the weekend. We're out of puns for now. Just have a gander at China's Moon lander and robo-sidekick snaps, videos


Re: due to the energetics on the one hand

Fuel is cheap. Space has been expensive mainly due to rockets only getting used once. That era is ending. Then it comes down to ambition. SpaceX have a detailed plan to land 100 tonnes safely on Mars at reasonable cost. Transit times are under 4 months so the radiation risk is tolerable.

Chinese rover pootles about... on the far side of the friggin' MOON


We do build a lot of satellites, and there are moves to launch them ourselves, eg from a site in a desolate part of Scotland.


SpaceX's Crew Dragon shows up at pad 39A, nearly 8 years after the last Shuttle left


Re: Naming conventions

SpaceX aren't much better. They've renamed the BFR to Starship, even though it won't be flying to any stars.

It's a brand name thing. Their satellite internet will be called Starlink. The Falcon Heavy Tesla pilot was called Starman.

It's 2019, the year Blade Runner takes place: I can has flying cars?


Re: the over crowded and polluted cities

Bladerunner doesn't have over-crowded cities. They are mostly empty, because the general populace have migrated to the colonies. That's why that toymaker has an entire building to himself.

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace


It's not been up continuously for that long. It appears, hangs around until someone notices it and the airport closes, then it goes away. When the airport reopens, it comes back. It can be recharged in between times.

Virgin Galactic test flight reaches space for the first time, lugging NASA cargo in place of tourists


Re: reliability ?

They'll never get reliability so long as they use human pilots. Both their main rivals, SpaceX and Blue Origin, understand this and use automated flight. Virgin Galactic have already killed people from this mistake.

Ecuador says 'yes' to Assange 'freedom' deal, but Julian says 'nyet'



My guess is that he's waiting to see how Brexit plays out. A hard Brexit will mean the end of European Arrest Warrants as far as the UK is concerned. If that happens, he can leave the embassy. He'll be arrested for bail-jumping and probably serve a few days in jail, then be let free. He won't have to face the rape charges. Where-as if the UK is still part of the EU when he leaves, then during his stay in jail the warrant will be revived and he'll be off to Sweden.

Since Brexit day is only a few months away, it makes sense to wait. If Brexit is cancelled, he'll have to think again. If May's deal goes through, I've not idea what the implications are, but I suspect he's still stuffed.

In Space, Still: 20 years since Russia hurled first bit of floating astronaut hostel into orbit


Re: last remains of know-how to send a human in space will have been lost

I take it you are not following NASA's plan to launch humans into space next year? Or SpaceX plan to put humans on Mars within 10 years?

ISS is ancient and falling apart. I'm all in favour of scrapping it and replacing it with something newer and in a more convenient orbit. By which I don't mean Lunar orbit like the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, but LEO. And cancel SLS and use the money to buy launches off SpaceX.

Americans' broadband access is so screwed up that the answer may lie in tiny space satellites


Re: nasty latency

SpaceX are claiming a latency of 25ms. That's not too nasty.

Should a robo-car run over a kid or a grandad? Healthy or ill person? Let's get millions of folks to decide for AI...


Re: Either your brain massively overclocks in an emergency...

> Either your brain massively overclocks in an emergency, to get more done in a short time, or something weird happens to your perception of time.

From your own account, the amount of time it took you to recognise the sign suggests the second one. If your brain was faster, you'd have recognised it sooner. In fact, your brain's emergency mode did not lead to you reacting quicker. As others have said, you just remembered more detail afterwards.

Science: Broke brats glued to the web while silk-stocking scions have better things to do


Re: !My Generation

Good post. I'd add that the "rallying around" has now largely been diverted to social media, posting likes on Facebook or Twitter etc, rather than activity in the real world. As such it can be overlooked by people who scorn social media.

Whether all those likes are an effective measure for actual change is another matter. Sometimes they act as pacifiers without achieving anything. Sometimes they can lead to people organising online for events in the real world. And whether the old-fashioned protest marches achieved anything is debatable too.

'Incommunicado' Assange anoints new WikiLeaks editor in chief


passed the statute of limitations' deadline

"Those charges have since passed the statute of limitations' deadline in Sweden and are no longer being pursued"

The most serious accusation, of rape, hasn't passed the statute of limitations and is still outstanding. It isn't being actively pursued because the Swedes felt it was impossible to make progress while he was in the embassy, but if that situation changes it can be revived (and probably will be).

2-bit punks' weak 40-bit crypto didn't help Tesla keyless fobs one bit


Re: Pektron

40-bit cryptography was also the standard for PDFs. I think it dates back to when anything stronger was banned for export as a munition by the US government. That was ages ago - PDF is long updated - but it's where it probably comes from.

Bug bounty alert: Musk lets pro hackers torpedo Tesla firmware risk free


Re: Another lawsuit filed against Tesla for autopilot crash

Speeding up is expected behaviour if the car in front changes lanes to reveal open highways. The cruise control had been slowed down by the car in front, and when that car is gone it will accelerate to its set speed.

Sometimes that behaviour interacts with a heuristic about ignoring stationary obstacles. Apparently when the car is moving fast, a lot of cruise control algorithms assume anything stationary is probably clutter, because if it was an obstacle it wouldn't be on the highway.

Space station springs a leak while astronauts are asleep (but don't panic)


It was a drill hole. It was probably made on land by mistake and then covered up.

'Surprise!' West Oz gummint is hopeless at information security


If Jonno's account is re-enabled with his old password, it doesn't much matter how weak it was. Jonno knows it regardless.


Re: Par for the course

Nowadays rotation is considered a bad idea, partly because it is so painful for users. Switching it off probably helped security.

Lo and behold, Earth's special chemical cocktail for life seems to be pretty common


Re: Looking for life around white dwarf stars

I read them as saying that if the building blocks are common around white dwarves, they are probably common around other stars, and it's these other stars that might have life. They are not looking for or predicting life around white dwarves.

Ecuador's Prez talking to UK about Assange's six-year London Embassy stay – reports


Re: definition of "rape" in this case is a broken condom

He's accused of having sex with a woman while she was unconscious, knowing she wouldn't have consented had she been awake. That is rape according to British law. A fact that Assange lovers gloss over.

Fake prudes: Catholic uni AI bot taught to daub bikinis on naked chicks


Re: Can they reverse the process?

Yes, they can. It's mentioned in the article.

‘Elders of the Internet’ apologise for social media, recommend Trump filters to fix it


Re: seven figure settlement

Why on earth would he get a seven figure settlement? He'd have to show damages to that amount, and since no-one believed Musk the damages would be close to zero.

If it came to a lawsuit, then his claim that Musk developed the submarine purely for PR reasons would be more damaging. Many people believe it, partly because he said it while claiming to be an expert on the rescue. (I'm not defending what Musk wrote, because it did cross a line, but the diver was being a dick.)

I see Musk has now apologised. Good.



Trump wants to work with Russia on infosec. Security experts: lol no


Re: Whatever Putin has over Trump must be simple

One thing Trump wants is a Trump Tower in Moscow. He's been trying to get this built for many years. It is why he held Miss Universe in Moscow.

If the pee-tape, or something like it, exists, it's probably something Trump would be happy about because he knows Moscow won't let him build the tower unless they have something on him.

(Even though Trump himself wouldn't build the tower, he'd be paid a lot of money to put his name on it.)

Top banker batters Bitcoin for sucky scalability, security


Re: No.... really??

Some digital currencies have inflation. The real purpose is for the inflation to be at a rate free from interference by humans. The reason being, whoever controls how new money is created has enormous power, and history shows that power corrupts eventually.

Otherwise I agree. Central banks don't want to give up that power. They say they need it. They may be right.

USA! USA! We're No.1! And we want to keep it that way – in spaaaace


Re: Monitor and destroy

Hydrogen is usually avoided for a first stage because it has less thrust than other fuels, and because in engineering terms it is a bastard to work with. And not everyone uses it for their second stage, either. SpaceX, for example, Falcon 9 uses purified kerosene for both stages, and their planned BFR will use methane.



It wasn't a slight against the USA. You're both saying the article was wrong: that sending robots instead of humans won't eliminate mistakes. (And if you send a human you have more chance of fixing a problem on-site.)

Australia wants tech companies to let cops 'n' snoops see messages without backdoors


Re: Benefit of the doubt?

To me it sounded like he was trying to distinguish between a back door in the sense of a weakened crypto algorithm, and key escrow. A weakened algorithm can be broken by anyone with sufficient maths ability and computational power, so is a worse option. Key escrow can only be broken by whoever has the keys. Key escrow can seem like a viable option if you trust the keyholder to keep them safe.

That said, the quote, "There's been ideas around for decades that you should create some kind of key that law enforcement can get access to … that's not what we're proposing" could be a rejection of key escrow. But without details of what he is proposing it's impossible to be sure.

SpaceX to pick up the space pace with yet another Falcon 9 launch


Re: little appetite to bother with recovery

In addition to the GTO thing, SpaceX may figure they can get more value by testing experimental landing profiles than by recovering the booster. The booster can't be reused, is too big for museums to handle, and SpaceX have probably learnt all they can from recovering and inspecting its siblings. If they try a new landing profile, they might learn more about how the booster behaves. The data could be valuable but not valuable enough to be worth risking damage to the drone ship for, so they land it without the drone ship.

I don't know if this is what's happening for this launch, but it's a consideration. It's not just not bothering.

'Autopilot' Tesla crashed into our parked patrol car, say SoCal cops


The data isn't publicly available. We know that Tesla cars as a whole got safer around the time that autopilot was introduced, but it was introduced at about the same time that automated emergency braking was added, and it may be the latter which is wholly responsible for the improvement and not autopilot. That Tesla have the data and don't release it is regarded as suspicious by some people.

Beardy Branson: Wacky hyperloop tube maglev cheaper than railways


Re: Bezos is doing both

Bezos current rocket, New Shepherd, is also sub-orbital hops only. He plans an orbital one called New Glenn, but it is years away from its maiden flight. He's not put any commercial cargo in orbit - at most he's done some brief micro-gravity experiments.

Maybe you have him confused with Musk? SpaceX often sends cargo to LEO, GTO and the ISS. He's not put any humans in space yet, but hopes to by end of year-ish.

First SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket lobs comms sat into orbit


BFR to fly next

You are confusing the BFR with the BFS. It's the BFS which Musk hopes will fly next year. The BFS is the second stage, and by "fly" he means make small, sub-orbital test hops. It's not as ambitious as you make it out to be.

He's also talked of making 30-50 block 5 first stages, each capable of 10+ launches. Even if SpaceX manage 50 launches a year, that will still take 10 years to get through. So he's not actually counting on BFR flying that soon.

Mobileye's autonomous cars are heading to California. But they're not going to kill anyone. At least not on purpose


Re: Strawmen

Does the bouncing ball actually change your car's movement? Or does it merely cause you to be more attentive? For me when I see a hazard I may only move my foot over the brake without actually slowing down, while I watch for developments. After the bouncing ball I'd be more ready to stop, and paying more attention to where the ball came from in case a child followed, but I wouldn't actually stop or even necessarily slow down. An autonomous car is presumably always paying attention, always alert, and always ready to stop, so doesn't need to predict as much.

Brit govt told to do its homework ahead of talks over post-Brexit spy laws and data flows


Re: What is impossible?

Leaving the EU is possible. Doing it smoothly in the timeframe available with the resources available isn't. It's a complex task.

So when can you get in the first self-driving car? GM says 2019. Mobileye says 2021. Waymo says 2018 – yes, this year


Re: You won't get into the first...

Don't just the best by the performance of the worst.

NASA boss insists US returning to the Moon after Peanuts to show for past four decades


Re: Moon base Alpha

It's easier to live on Mars for many reason. It has an atmosphere, which reduces radiation and micro-meteors, and helps slow down on arrival (so it costs less delta-v than the Moon), and which is a source of CO2 for making rocket fuel for departure. Its day/night cycle is close to 24 hours rather than 28 days, which is better for plant growth, and means you don't need so many batteries to store solar power, and which reduces the temperature extremes. Mars gravity is closer to Earth's. It has plenty of water readily available (which has yet to be proven on the Moon).

The only advantage of the Moon is that it's closer. Admittedly that's a big advantage. In every other way Mars is better.


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