* Posts by Duncan Macdonald

544 posts • joined 20 Mar 2009

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OnePlus 6T: Tasteful, powerful – and much cheaper than a flagship

Duncan Macdonald
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No headphone socket - no sale

The Pocophone F1 is much cheaper - basically the same innards and does have a headphone socket.

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Between you, me and that dodgy-looking USB: A little bit of paranoia never hurt anyone

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: USB bricker?

That is why I was saying zener diodes - a typical USB bricker sends a high voltage negative pulse down the data lines. Because of the small space in a typical USB key the actual energy is unlikely to exceed one joule per pulse. For a negative pulse a protective zener diode will be forward biased and will easily clamp the voltage to under one volt without being strained. (A discrete zener diode is a lot less fragile than a sub 1 micrometer transistor in an integrated circuit.)

(For a positive pulse a 5.5v zener will clamp the spike voltage to under 6v which is still low enough to protect the ICs.)

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Duncan Macdonald
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A paranoid mount option ?

What is needed is a paranoid mount option for USB devices - the OS would report to the user what the device says it is but would not execute any code on the device. If the device presents as having storage then a full virus scan would be executed on the storage and the results displayed. The files (if any) on the device would not be accessible until after the virus scan and the user acceptance of the scan result.

To allow for the possibility of a USB bricker device, all data and power lines should be protected by zener diodes (clamp data to +5.5v/-0.6v and power to +(maximum charging voltage +1 volt)/-0.6v)

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YouTube supremo says vid-streaming-slash-piracy giant can't afford EU's copyright overhaul

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: So what?

I watch a lot of YouTube videos - and as far as I am aware none of them are pirated. A badly thought out copyright rule may remove one of my best forms of entertainment (certainly better than the rubbish on TV). There are also a lot of instructional videos on YouTube - if they are removed because of the EU copyright rubbish then that will harm a number of people who use them.

A number of media firms use extracts or single songs on YouTube to advertise their products (Sony and UMG are among the companies doing this).

YouTube is also the shop window for a number of media companies who use videos on YouTube to show their capabilities to potential new clients.

There is also a lot of performances of out of copyright songs uploaded by the performing artist.

There is an old rule in law which should be applied - it is better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be jailed.

(Most of the current commercial films and music is so bad that there is no point in pirating it - even party political broadcasts are better!!!)

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Intel peddles latest Xeon CPUs – E-series and 48-core Cascade Lake AP – to soothe epyc mygrayne

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: 6 cores vs 32 ??

Only the E 2100 series is available at the moment - the CLAP series are not due before 2019.

I was therefore comparing what is available (as something other than a PowerPoint presentation!!).

(The correct comparison with the top of the E 2100 series is a Ryzen 2700X not EPYC.)

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Duncan Macdonald
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FAIL

6 cores vs 32 ??

The EPYC has up to 32 cores, up to 2TB max memory and 128 PCIe lanes vs up to 6 cores and 64GB (128 GB later) and 16 PCIe lanes for the E 2100 series.

(Even the Threadripper 2950X has 16 cores, up to 1TB memory and 60 available PCIe lanes.)

The only advantage of the E2100 series is a higher clock frequency - for most server workloads this will fail to meet the performance advantage of the extra cores of the Threadripper let alone the EPYC.

The E 2100 series is NOT a competitor to the EPYC - it is not even much of a competitor to the Threadripper 2950X.

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Bird, Lime, and Xiaomi face scooter sueball

Duncan Macdonald
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Blame the manufacturers ?

As both Segway and Xiaomi make the devices for personal non-commercial use and provide instructions that the commercial operators are not following (inside storage and inspection before use), I do not see what blame should be attached to the manufacturers. Their inclusion in the lawsuit seems just to be a way to hopefully get a bigger payout than is justified.

Blaming the manufacturers in this case is like blaming the maker of a sailing dingy because it sunk when the idiot user tried using it in a grade 5 hurricane.

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EU Android latest: Critics diss Google's money-spinning 'cure'

Duncan Macdonald
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See who the critics are

Mainly paid by Microsoft which does not like the facts that Bing is third rate compared to Google and that Android phones succeeded where Windows phones failed.

From M$ perspective the "correct" outcome is for users to be forced to use Bing.

(At the moment the search engine use is about 10 to 1 in favor of Google - the reason being Google does it better and has less crud on its home page.)

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The Chinese are here: Xiaomi to bring phones to the UK next month

Duncan Macdonald
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Pocophone F1

I hope the store will be selling the Pocophone F1 (esp the top version the 8GB/256GB Armoured Edition)

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Ad blocking. All fun and games – until it gets political: Union websites banned by uBlock Origin

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: Filter lists suck

As I prefer NOT to run code from untrusted sites on my computer. I will accept the tradeoff that some sites are unusable.

With many millions of sites on the internet, any information that I want to get can normally be found on sites that still work without Javascript.

NoScript and AdBlock Plus (or equivalents) are a necessity for sane use of the Internet these days.

(As IE and Edge do not have good equivalents I do not use these browsers (and I have used the program control feature of the NIS firewall to deny them access to the internet).)

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Duncan Macdonald
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Mushroom

Re: Filter lists suck

So your sites will never be used by me.

I use NoScript which blocks all Javascript from sites not on my whitelist.

If for some reason I have to use Javascript on a site that I do not trust then I fire up a VM with Linux running from a virtual CD (no hard drve). This way no matter how malicious the Javascript, it cannot damage my system. (Also all cookies and other tracking items are automatically deleted when the VM is shut down.)

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RIP Charles Wang: Computer Associates cofounder dies aged 74

Duncan Macdonald
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Pity they met

If Wang had never met Russell Artzt then the world might have been spared Crap Alot.

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So, about that Google tax on Android makers in the EU – report pegs it at up to $40 per phone

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: Locked out forever? - NO

The Google Play Store apk has been available for a long time - grab the latest version onto the phone and run it to install Play Store.

(Google wants as many people as possible to use the Play Store so they make it easy to install on Android phones that do not have it (some of the Chinese builds).)

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Duncan Macdonald
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Mushroom

iCOMP

Main backer Microsoft (which runs the third rate Bing search service among its other products).

Is it surprising that they complain about Google ?

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Well slap my ass and call me Judy, Microsoft's Surface Pro 6 is just as hard to fix as the old one

Duncan Macdonald
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Battery lifetime?

As it is non-repairable, as soon as the battery fails the device is landfill. (Maybe it will work connected to a power pack - however failing lithium ion batteries have been known to cause fires so it would not be trustworthy.)

This means that the Surface Pro has a life less than my £200 Android phone (a 2013 model THL W8S with a user replaceable battery).

The only good Microsoft hardware products have been peripherals (mouse, keyboard, joystick etc).

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Stroppy Google runs rings round Brussels with Android remedy

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: Holding action - wrong

To update the full Android system on a phone needs a build of Android customized for the hardware on the phone - for example the kernel is different on a phone with a Snapdragon chip compared to on with a MediaTek chip. To produce a full upgrade for a phone needs knowledge of what hardware is in the phone (and in many cases the private key of the manufacturer to allow the upgrade to be permitted). Google provides the sources for the kernel upgrades but cannot compel the manufacturers to implement them.

Google has moved as much of the Android system as possible into a separate blob that it can update because the manufacturers were not updating the bits they had control over.

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The march of Amazon Business has resellers quaking in their booties

Duncan Macdonald
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Amazon is like a very big supermarket

And just like the supermarkets wrecked the high street shops, Amazon is now wrecking the supermarkets.

In many cities there are only 2 ways for small shops to survive - one to sell a service rather than a product (eg hairdressers) or to provide goods in a more accessible manner than supermarkets (local shops with extended trading hours).

Amazon (and eBay) are taking the expansion prospects away from supermarkets. Supermarkets will continue to exist for products such as food but the high price items that they hoped would bring bigger profits (electronics etc) will instead be bought on Amazon or eBay.

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AI's next battlefield is literally the battlefield: In 20 years, bots will fight our wars – Army boffin

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: In 20 years, US bots will fight wars against whom?

Israel has a technological lead - the Arab states have far more manpower (Egypt alone has over 11 times the population of Israel). Several of the Muslim groups have the destruction of Israel as part of their stated policy. If it were not for the slightly veiled threat of Israel's nukes then the surrounding states could destroy Israel with a human wave attack (or with biological weapons).

The MAD in this case is between Israel's nukes and the huge numerical advantage of the Arab states.

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Duncan Macdonald
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Re: In 20 years, US bots will fight wars against whom?

What do you do against an opponent for whom MAD is an acceptable scenario?

You have 2 options

1) leave the opponent alone (and hope that Father Time or internal rivalries remove the opponent)

2) do a successful first strike (risky)

At the moment there is a worldwide MAD setup between the USA, Russia and China

There is a more limited MAD setup between Israel and the surrounding Arab states (if Israel looks like it is going under then it will nuke as much as possible of the Arab nations)

Basic MAD setups have occurred throughout history - where 2 opponents were sufficiently well matched that the result of a conflict would be that both were weakened (possibly to the point where a third party could conquer one or both).

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I find your lack of faith disturbing, IBM: Big Blue fires photon torpedo at Pentagon JEDI cloud contract

Duncan Macdonald
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Single Bidder

For once the US government is showing some sense - when things go wrong they do not want multiple contractors pointing fingers at each other rather than solving the problems. Also there is a (slightly) higher chance of compatibility between the various systems if they are all provided by the same vendor.

Having 2 or more main suppliers that hate each other is a quick route to failure.

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Surprising no one, Google to appeal against European Commission's €4.34bn Android fine

Duncan Macdonald
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New search engine ???

To provide a search function as good as Bing let alone Google requires a huge expense and a lot of time to populate the search engine. No new startup can hope to compete as a general search engine.

All that the court cases can do is to decide if Google or Bing is the dominant search engine. (My firm preference is for Google.)

Perhaps what Google should have done is to explicitly say that Android is not free but is paid for by the inclusion of the Google apps.

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Location, location, location... technologies under the microscope

Duncan Macdonald
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CCTV

For retail environments, a combination of tracking people by CCTV and identification by one of the other means (eg WiFi at the store entrances) could give good accuracy of what parts of the shop customers visit. Pairing this with WiFi by the checkouts could enable the linkage from WiFi to credit card numbers and from there to peoples name (with suitably placed cameras to catch the face of the credit cards).

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Oracle cloud supremo Thomas Kurian extends temp leave to the heat death of the universe

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: Cloud is crucial to Oracle? I doubt that is really the case.

When did ANY Oracle product get stellar (or even good) support?

Oracle's problem is that many of its customers realize how badly Oracle gouges them and have been looking for alternatives. Other databases (and their tools) have got good enough that for many users moving away from Oracle is now possible. Even where moving existing applications is not currently viable, it is perfectly viable to make new applications (especially Cloud ones) use other suppliers products.

Sensible users will not want to extend Oracle's grasp on their organization by using Oracle's Cloud - even M$ is a better bet.

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Intel boss admits chips in short supply, lobs cash into the quagmire

Duncan Macdonald
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Revenue increase ?

How much of the revenue increase is because of higher prices caused by the shortage?

(Shades of the old DRAM price gouging - drop the supply 10% - increase the price 50%)

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Congrats on keeping out the hackers. Now, you've taken care of rogue insiders, right? Hello?

Duncan Macdonald
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Amazing

There is someone who trusts Cisco software!!!

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Duncan Macdonald
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Infrequent activities ?

Some jobs are only done infrequently (once per quarter or once per year or on an ad-hoc request). For an automated system to detect abnormal access but not give false alerts on infrequent valid access will be very difficult if not impossible.

Also the case of worker 1 being unavailable for some reason and worker 2 having to take his/her place on a temporary basis will cause a big change in the access patterns for worker 2.

There is also the question of who does the automated system report to - if the bad actor is the one who receives the reports then the system becomes useless.

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Tick-tock, tick-tock. Oh, that's just the sound of compromised logins waiting to ruin your day

Duncan Macdonald
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FAIL

Regular Training !!!

In most organizations, trying to get the bosses to pay for one off training is almost impossible and regular training is beyond a pipe dream. Also have fun trying to give the bosses security training - most will not agree to attend and those that do will not listen (or be able to understand).

Remember also most organizations try to use the cheapest workforce that they can get - do not expect the average minimum wage worker to understand security even if given a lot of training.

Any real life security system needs to cope with low IQ users who have had minimal training.

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The grand-plus iPhone is the new normal – this is no place for paupers

Duncan Macdonald
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Thumb Down

Typical Apple

Selling overpriced tat to idiots.

Like a Rolex watch it says that the owner can afford to throw money away.

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GDPR v2 – Gradually Diminishing Psychotic Robots: Brussels kills Terminator apocalypse

Duncan Macdonald
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Mushroom

Autonomous weapons

Have been around for ages - booby traps and area denial weapons (mines etc).

What is the real difference between an explosive triggered by an AI and an explosive triggered by a tripwire or motion detector.

High tech autonomous weapons already exist in the form of point defense weapons - once these weapons have been set to the armed state, anything that meets their threat definitions will trigger a response. (These systems often NEED to be autonomous due to the very short engagement window - human response is far too slow.)

What needs to be blocked (if anything) is AI controlled weapons that can move without human command.

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Microsoft: You don't want to use Edge? Are you sure? Really sure?

Duncan Macdonald
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Mushroom

Block IE and Edge

I use the program control feature of the NIS firewall to block both of them (and Cortana) from Internet access. Until IE and Edge get a working equivalent of NoScript and AdBlockPlus, they are not safe for use on the Internet. Disabling them removes one of the biggest attack vectors on Windows 10.

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Article 13 pits Big Tech and bots against European creatives

Duncan Macdonald
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As usual Andrew hates Google

See title

I hope that the EU Parliment has the guts to reject this directive again.

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Nope, the NSA isn't sitting in front of a supercomputer hooked up to a terrorist’s hard drive

Duncan Macdonald
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Black Helicopters

Re: If both Apple and Google refuse to cooperate

A few unfortunate accidents or illnesses to the objecting directors or their families - the policy would soon change.

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Duncan Macdonald
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Black Helicopters

Clipper ? - Intel ME

The Intel Management Engine looks to be the modern replacement for the Clipper chip.

Full snooping on the whole memory - internal network capability - able to override the OS - hidden source code (probably only shared with the NSA).

Almost all online Intel based computers with the Intel ME can almost certainly be controlled by the NSA if they wish. Secure encryption and decryption MUST be done on an offline computer with no network connection.

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Huawei elbows aside Apple to claim number-two phone maker spot

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: "a 10% rise in food prices due to the weather"

The BBC has an article that says that food prices in the UK will increase by at least 5% due to this years weather - see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45317023 for more details

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Judge bars distribution of 3D gun files... er, five years after they were slapped onto the web

Duncan Macdonald
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Why bother

The latest estimates say that there are more firearms than people in the US (and FAR more than the number of sane adults). Stopping the manufacture of a few crap guns when the full CAD files for guns such as the AK47 are readily available does not make any sense except as a bit of poor theatre.

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Google shaves half a gig off Android Poundland Edition

Duncan Macdonald
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Linux

Old Linux ?

How many people remember the early days of Linux when it would run well on a 386 with 8MB ?

(OS, X windows, X term all fitting easily into 8MB)

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When's a backdoor not a backdoor? When the Oz government says it isn't

Duncan Macdonald
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Flame

PGP ?

Offline encryption and decryption using PGP makes all these proposed measures ineffective for serious criminals. However that is not the point of this or similar legislation - there are two main intents - (1) to grab useful commercial data to enrich the politicians - (2) to provide a method for removing political opponents. Criminals of all types are NOT the target of the laws (except by accident).

Politicians make the Kray brothers and Al Capone seem like honest trustworthy citizens.

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The last phablet? 6.4in Samsung Galaxy Note 9 leaves you $1k lighter, needs 'water cooling'

Duncan Macdonald
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High performance tablet

I would like to see a tablet with the Snapdragon 845 chip (with decent cooling!!!). At the moment the choice in tablets is between the stupidly overpriced iPad models and Android tablets that have about the same processing power as a mid-range 2016 phone.

How much would it cost to take one of the current Android tablet designs and upgrade it with a current high-end SoC.

With the bigger size of a tablet it should be possible to improve the cooling of the SoC so as to avoid the thermal throttling that occurs in many phones.

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This is your four-minute warning: Boffins train ImageNet-based AI classifier in just 240s

Duncan Macdonald
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Very low performance

To be useful an image classifier needs well over 90% accuracy. If it cannot manage 90%++ then the number of incorrect results will make the system unusable.

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Spectre/Meltdown fixes in HPC: Want the bad news or the bad news? It's slower, say boffins

Duncan Macdonald
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AMD CPUs

As AMD CPUs do not suffer from the Meltdown problem - it would be interesting to see comparable figures from an AMD based system.

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Friday FYI: 9 out of 10 of website login attempts? Yeah, that'll be hackers

Duncan Macdonald
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Blacklist credential stuffers

If more than 5 incorrect login attempts are seen from the same IP address inside 10 minutes then blacklist the address for the next 24 hours (all login attempts referred to a simple static web page that just displays "Your IP address has been blacklisted for 24 hours due to repeated incorrect login attempts"). This will reduce the amount of traffic from credential stuffers.

As for a password manager - old school - pen and paper or a text file held on a USB stick on your keyring.

For memorable passwords that are difficult to guess for sites such as paypal try the following - a car registration number (not that of your own current car) and an equipment type number eg LN61DUP+gtx1080 .

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LG G7 ThinkQ: Ropey AI, but a feast for sore eyes and ears

Duncan Macdonald
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Still far too expensive

Unless you are playing a lot of games there is no need to pay more than £200 for a good phone. Ask yourself what features this phone has over a typical £150 high midrange phone - then ask yourself do they justify the extra cost. (So far I have not found any real reason to update from my 2013 THL W8S which cost £200 !!)

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Privacy Shield under pressure as lawyers back MEPs' call for suspension

Duncan Macdonald
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Fat chance

The USA will not give up its spying on its "friends" - commercial intelligence data passed to favored people allows them to make huge amounts of money from insider trading and to hurt the competitors of US companies (eg Airbus).

Any firm that uses the cloud ought to ask itself - is there any data that they do not want passed to their US competitors - if so then DO NOT USE THE CLOUD.

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European Parliament balks at copyright law reform vote

Duncan Macdonald
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A pity that it was not rejected outright

There was a majority against the proposal so it is unfortunate that it did not get rejected at this point. The copyright thugs have still got a chance to bribe enough MEPs to get the proposal through.

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Who fancies a six-core, 128GB RAM, 8TB NVMe … laptop?

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: Still lightweight @Duncan

True - 132x24 was possible if you liked to squint - normally used in 80x24 for readability.

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Duncan Macdonald
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Still lightweight

Compared to the first mobile computer that I used - 2 boxes - one with a PDP 11/73 and another with a VT220 terminal!! Both were in heavy duty flight cases. The combined weight was over 50 pounds!!

(For the curious - 1 MIP, 512KB RAM, 80MB disk storage and an 80x24 text display !!)

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Euro bank regulator: Don't follow the crowd. Stay off the cloud

Duncan Macdonald
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They won't care

Customer security versus a 1% bonus rise for top management - the bonus wins every time.

The report would only have an effect if it was a mandatory ruling that all EU financial institutions must not use the cloud with big penalties for infringement.

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Time to dump dual-stack networks and get on the IPv6 train – with LW4o6

Duncan Macdonald
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Thumb Up

Big advantage

It will get up the nose of the ivory tower evangelists who believe in everything IPv6 with all its unnecessary bells and whistles. This seems to be a pragmatic way to make IPv6 behave as it should have been designed - an addressing extension only.

(The use of NAT will especially upset the IPv6 evangelists.)

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Potato, potato. Toma6to, I'm going to kill you... How a typo can turn an AI translator against us

Duncan Macdonald
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Re: Hmmm

Good one!

In nature it is rare to have perfect information - an animal that can correctly distinguish a predator from the background has a big survival advantage. Therefore handling incomplete or corrupted data (eg a cougar partially hidden behind a rock) became a necessity. This is why human brains can do general pattern recognition far better than current AI systems.

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Why the 'feudal' tech monopolies run rings around competition watchdogs

Duncan Macdonald
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What a surprise

Another article recommending action against Google - with Andrew Orlowski as the author.

I think that Andrew has written more articles against Google than the rest of the Register team put together.

Might he be a bit biased ?

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