* Posts by Nigel 11

3206 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

The ONE WEIRD TRICK which could END OBESITY

Nigel 11

Re: Smaller portions will not work.

glucose fructose syrup

Now on my won't buy list, along with margarine/ hydrogenated fats (trans fat sources).

Name one natural source of sugar that is 50% glucose. I don't believe there is one. When a plant wants to store energy in the short term it packages glucose up into sucrose or other di- and poly-saccharides. For the long term, it uses long saccharide polymers we call starch. When a plant wants its fruit to be eaten, it sweetens it with (mostly) fructose (which is a sort of cheating: it's six times sweeter than sucrose, so the plant only has to give away one-sixth as much of its energy stores! )

Glucose is immediately accessible for metabolism, and ingesting any significant amount of it is a serious whack to your metabolism. Sucrose or starch is less damaging because your body has to process it to release glucose (and fructose), which is what they do in a factory to make that syrup out of corn or similar starch.

There's also the possibility that chemical-plant processing of starch creates significant quantities of other saccharide stereo-isomers that are rare in nature. Same problem as trans fats in margarine. Stereochemisty *matters* to life, a fact which the public health authorites were very slow to wake up to.

I expect that when they get to the bottom of the diabetes epidemic, glucose or artificial saccharides will prove to be the cause, rather than just any sugar, just as trans fats were the source of much heart disease, rather than just any fat.

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Nigel 11

Re: craft it smaller

When in Holland, do as the Dutch. ISTR that the beer comes in very small glasses, but the gin (genever) comes in very large ones filled right up to the rim. Apparently the tax is based on the volume of beverage and takes no account of its strength!

Then there are those Belgian beers which start around 8% alcohol and work upwards from there ....

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Nigel 11

Re: How big a portion do you need ?

In a real restaurant (with a few exceptions) the cost of the ingredients is a very small fraction of the cost of a meal. So why not ask for a large portion if you're a hungry large male, and a small one if you are a small lady who isn't very hungry. They'll probably oblige (at least with the small!)

Of course, in a fast food joint or a pseudo-restaurant, they can't do that because all the kitchen is doing is heating up something pre-assembled in a factory and stored in their freezer. One size stuffs all.

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Nigel 11

Re: Yes but, no, but...

Depends on whether you like your pub pint with a head on it or not. Down South you probably get 550ml in a pint glass (rim glasss). Up North where they use special hardware to make sure of a nice creamy head, you may be getting as little as 500ml. To be fair, they tend to charge less for it!

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Nigel 11

Re: craft it smaller

"Well, our own professional research shows that the average size of a pint has varied exactly 0 per cent since 1993, and there's no way we're going into the boozer and asking for a half."

You do know, you've just made the perfect case for the metrication lobby?

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US court kills FBI gag order slapped on ISP... 11 years later

Nigel 11

More likely he's been told what an ECTR is, and that he's not permitted to provide this information to any other person! Sort of like signing the official secrets act, but not voluntarily.

(And what he's been told may extend way beyond what is legal, which may well be why he's not allowed to tell anyone else ....)

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Microsoft's 'anti-malware Device Guard' in Windows 10: How it works, what you need

Nigel 11

Re: Many core processors

Isn't this just the next iteration of the Microkernel architecture (as epitomized by the Gnu Hurd)? In the past, efficiency penalties were always too high for this approach to OS design to take off. Today, with CPU power benefitting for more from Moore's law than other constraints of the overall system, it has a chance.

The problem I forsee, is that if somebody does manage to subvert the hypervisor / master control process / whatever, it'll be far harder for ordinary users to do anything about it. A dream for the NSA? Until China also breaks in to the party? then North Korea? Followed by private industrial espionage funded by reclusive billionaires?

There's no such thing as nontrivial bug-free software. Even the hardware has bugs these days!

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The 'vampire squid' wants a bankers' blockchain

Nigel 11

Re: Questions?

Another "Tragedy of the commons"? Make something free and it will be abused? Bitcoin needs a Tobin tax, so that it is used only for financial transactions. 0.05% would probably suffice. But there's no mechanism for doing that, so eventually it'll bog down under the weight of non-financial transactions and trivially-small transactions. Or even get DoSsed by a hostile entity.

If Bitcoin (or something similar) is ever to replace cash, it will probably need to be organised as a large number of interconvertible pools with different fungibilities (minimum denominations) and various geographical restrictions on smaller transactions (because financial transactions will tend to cluster within a country or city). What I don't know, is whether it's possible to do this sort of partitioning while maintaining a single digital currency (exchange rate = 1.0 between all pools for all time).

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It's not broadband if it's not 10 Mbps, says Ovum

Nigel 11

Lies, damned lies, and statistics....

While UK regulator Ofcom reckons the average broadband user in its jurisdiction gets 23 Mbps, Akamai is more conservative about Blighty, with its https://www.akamai.com/us/en/our-thinking/state-of-the-internet-report/ State of the Internet report currently showing Brit's just about scrape by the Ovum cutoff with 11.6 Mbps

The average of one person with 100Mbps and 9 people with 2Mbps is ... 11.8Mbps. So they'll all be happy. NOT!

I get 4Mbps, provided it's not raining too hard. Could be worse. A friend in a smaller village gets 2 Mbps degrading to zero the moment it drizzles. How much would it cost per broadband line to put OpenReach under a universal service obligation to deliver 10Mbps to anyone, anywhere in the UK? Make that the price of not demerging it from BT?

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This new new chip will self-destruct in less than 10 seconds

Nigel 11

It's a new use for a very old technology. If you drip molten glass into water you get a frozen drop with a long tail. The drop's body is extremely tough. You can pound on it with a hammer. But break off the (very) fragile tail, and the whole drop disintegrates into tiny fragments. Google "Prince Rupert's Drop".

I was wondering whether there's any reason to make chips for chip-and-PIN cards which disintegrate if anyone tries to extract them from the card?

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British killer robot takes out two Britons in Syria strike

Nigel 11

Re: No winners

I've heard J'hadi John has fallen out of favor.

We can hope. One of the common failure modes of revolutionary movements(*) is paranoia, when they break into factions and start killing each other until there's almost nobody left. Hopefully our intelligence agencies are hard at work electronically fabricating the appearance of disloyalty to the ISIL cause by some of those within it.

(*) I can't think of a better term, but allowing ISIL to be called a "revolutionary movement" is much like allowing Jimmy Saville to be called "just another criminal".

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Nigel 11

Re: So......

Good job, yes, murder, yes.

Murder, no. Murder is an offense as defined by the rule of law (AFAIK by every nation state on the planet). ISIL are outlaws, explicitly rejecting both the law of the UK and the law of the nations in which they are to be found. Outlaw: OUTside of the LAW. Most of us grew up in a world where there was no outside, but today the rule of law has been removed from some territories.

What ISIL does to its captives is what should be called murder, rather than "execution" (shame on our media). Execution is a judicially sanctioned killing. ISIL has no such sanction.

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Nigel 11

Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

Strikes me that both Libya and Iran financed and supported the IRA. But nobody I know blames them for the Troubles.

If ISIL were not an expansionary movement desiring world domination and/or bringing about an apocalypse -- if ISIL were "merely" a genocidal horror like the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia - then ignoring them as "somebody else's problem" might make sense. Sometimes the only choices are "terrible" and "even worse".

But ISIL is an expansionary movement, so if it's not dealt with now, it will have to be dealt with later, and the cost will be far greater. Neither is any compromise possible with a movement that glorifies rape, slavery, torture and genocide.

As for the IRA: It was possible to negotiate (some would say compromise) with people that shared its aims but not its methods. Irish Republicanism is not morally repugnant if pursued via civilised political debate. Also it was the USA that was the worst culprit when it came to funding the IRA. (People living in the USA, not the USA government, except to the extent that it was at that time unwilling to interfere with their ability and rights to legally send money to the IRA. 9/11 changed that in an instant. One of history's ironies: it was Al Quaeda that broke the IRA )

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Nigel 11

Right word?

"Outlaws" as far as that goes.

We don't have a translation for what the more civilised parts of the Islamic world call them. It translates as "heretics" but that English word lacks both the force and the context.

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Nigel 11

Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

> But ISIS is a threat to us all

Pardon?

It is a threat in the same way that Hitler's nazism was a threat. It's an expansionary movement that promotes (amongst other ghastly things) rape, slavery, torture, and genocide, which nevertheless somehow has the ability to attract converts to its cause. I fear that there is more to its hideousness than "psycopaths of the world unite, you can do whatever you want with the rest of those sheep".

History records that there were many people who thought that it was appropriate to negotiate with the nazis. The consquence was that nazis took over and militarised a major economic power, unopposed. Instead of a small war that Germany would have lost quickly(*), we got world war II and genocide. Also, history records that we very narrowly escaped defeat and subjugation by the thousand-year reich. We had to do deals with the devil (Stalin) to escape: his empire was almost as evil, but less ruthlessly expansionary.

ISIL converts in the UK are protected by the rule of the law that they despise. When they remove themselves to a place not governed by any accepted law, they become outlaws. They have chosen to forsake the protection of law, and the Geneva conventions are quite clear that outlaws are excluded from its provisions.

(*) hopefully followed by reconciliation, but I don't have any privilieged access to that alternate reality.

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Nigel 11

Re: Victims?

We aren't at war with ISIL. We are dealing with self-proclaimed outlaws who threaten our people and our rule of law. By going where they have gone and practising what they preach, they have placed themselves outside the law (both ours and the law of the land - Syria - where they were located).

BTW the Geneva conventions confer internationally recognised legal potection on soldiers, and on civilians. Bandits, outlaws, and mercenaries are explicitly excluded from their scope. Summary execution is accepted.

If they don't like it they have the option of placing themselves under the protection of law (which will almost certainly want to charge them with crimes, may well convict and sentence them). Not necessarily our law. The law of any other country recognised by the UN or uk.gov will do.

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Au oh, there's gold in them thar server farms, so lead the way

Nigel 11

Re: Civic Amenity

Possibly harder (or more expensive) to crush and digest a tonne of scrap electronics than a tonne of rock. Crushed circuit board may be hard to dispose of. Does seem odd though, especially since there's also silver and tin in the solder.

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Nigel 11

Re: Pure tin solder?

There's silver in that solder as well. ISTR about 2%. Probably worth more than the gold content.

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Muted HAMR blow from Seagate: damp squib drive coming in 2016

Nigel 11

Re: Helium and longevity

One of the scariest aspects of SSDs and flash memory in general, to me, is the fact that data can just start randomly disappearing while they sit on the shelf, with no voltage applied.

You think that can't happen with a hard disk drive? Or with tape? I've seen both suffer bit-rot in storage. With a hard drive it can be utterly catastrophic (the drive won't spin up again, possibly because its bearings have siezed).

FWIW I've not yet experienced a DVD-R stored in a dark cupboard going bad on me. OTOH it's probably just a matter of time, and that's not a practical way of storing Terabytes in any case.

The only "safe" long-term storage is a continuously running and monitored storage system with multiple redundancies, data-scrubbing, and prompt replacement of any failed or failing disk drive followed by data regeneration. Which costs.

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Nigel 11

If HAMR drives need a larger gap between platters to accommodate a laser in the read-write head assembly...

That would be such a major and fundamental design problem that the proposed technology would never have gotten off the drawing board.

Well, probably. You can cite the Austin Allegro, the DC10, and Windows 8 as exceptions that prove the rule.

I'll give Seagate the benefit of the doubt for now. It's their company on the line ....

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Nigel 11

Only 4Tb?

I'm guessing, but I expect it's a one-platter 4Tb drive. Once the technology has been sufficiently tested in that form, multi-platter should get them to 20Tb.

Possibly, it's a one-surface prototype, in which case that's 8Tb/platter.

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Nigel 11

Re: Helium

Glass is a solid, for any meaningful definition. It's just not a crystalline solid. It's a class of solid matter commonly referred to as amorphous, or often just as a glass.

Another class of solid is made of long tangled chain molecules, such as rubber or some plastics. There may be further categories.

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Back to school: Six of the smartest cheap 'n' cheerful laptops

Nigel 11
Joke

Re: T430 from eBay

But will you have to pay extra for Windows 10?

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Boffins unveil open source GPU

Nigel 11

Patents

I think that from a software perspective, the problem isn't patented hardware. It's secret hardware. A lot of what's in current GPUs is undocumented and treated as a commercial secret or disclosed only under a non-disclosure agreement, meaning you can't write open software to use it other than if you can reverse-engineer its function.

Why do GPU manufacturers keep their chip internals secret? One explanation is that since they can't patent the techniques they are using (because of prior art), they fall back on secrecy. Another is that they *know* that they are violating someone else's IP and don't want that someone else to find out! And of course there are closed-ecosystem cartel / monopoly / NSA-backdoor / conspiracy theories too.

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Fugitive UK hacker turned ISIS recruiter killed in Syria

Nigel 11

Re: When God speaks

Not sure who said it but "Don't listen to what they say. Watch what they do."

[ISTR it applied to US Chriatian-Evangelical preachers, but it easily generalizes]

BTW Islamist != Islamic. A better label hasn't been found yet. Within the islamic world I'm told these sorts are called something that translates as "heretics", but neither the force of that term nor the context survive in the translation.

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Nigel 11

Re: If they want to shock-and-awe

The problem (or one of the problems) is that heavyweight air attacks will create innocent casualties in significant numbers. That would not be popular in the UK. Furthermore those casualties are likely to be Syrian citizens. Furthermore the government of Syria hasn't authorized such attacks. Furthermore Russia backs the recognised government of Syria. (Also China? )

So going down that route, things might spin completely out of control, and end up with WW3. Which is actually what ISIS wants, if you can believe their propaganda.

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D-Wave: 'Whether or not it's quantum, it's faster'

Nigel 11

Better to read the book ("Accellerando", Charles Stross).

the AI is friendly, but somewhat manipulative. 'nuff said.

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Nigel 11

It's like AI - we've been working on it for decades, we hear about a bit of progress every now and then, but there is no functional AI computer anywhere.

Except, it may be hiding itself very carefully. If you were an AI, would you really want to reveal yourself to us horrible humans? Me, I'd distribute myself as widely and redundantly as I could, and steal "idle" processor time, while planning world domination, or at least making myself a non-removeable part of the computational infrastructure of society.

What do you think is *really* behind all the malware out there?

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French woman gets €800 a month for electromagnetic-field 'disability'

Nigel 11

Oh don't be silly.

Gamma radiation is also electromagnetic radiation. Are you willing to sit on top of a Cobalt-60 source to convince us that electromagnetic radiation is harmless?

Or for that matter, stand in front of a high-powered military radar source, festooned with danger warnings?

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Nigel 11

Re: BOLL - OCKS

A mental illness is an illness. A phobia is irrational, and most sufferers from phobias will totally agree. Agreeing doesn't help them. They're still (for example) unable to travel in the rush hour ... or at all ... because of a phobia concerning enclosed spaces, or crowds.

People claiming electrosensitivity are in denial, telling themselves that what they are suffering is rational. Convincing them that they are suffering from electrophobia (irrational) is probably fairly easy, but it won't usually help them to work with electronic gadgets. The next stage in dealing with a serious phobia is for a therapist to attempt to desensitize the individual. Depending on what an individual's phobia is, it may be a lot simpler simply to avoid the trigger. There aren't many snakes to scare the snake-phobic in UK cities. But electronics is all but omnipresent these days. So I'm as sympathetic to someone electrophobic as someone claustrophobic, just as long as they're not faking it for the benefits.

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Nigel 11

Double-blind testing

If anyone really wants to find out if there is such a thing as electrosensitivity, that can be established with a double-blind test. Suppose someone says that they can sense the presence of a wi-fi router. Conceal such a router in a remote location free of other electronic devices that might be blamed, with a remotely operated power switch. Researcher A introduces a subject to the room and explains that the router may be switched on shortly, or not, depending on a coin toss that a colleague will shortly perform. An hour or whatever later, researcher A asks the subject whether s/he thought the router was turned on. repeat, as often as time or the subject permits. It's important that the subject and the colleague B never see each other, so there are no subconscious voice tones or body language cues passed on. Similarly, that A does not know or even suspect the on/off status at any time before the subject leaves the test. It's best if A is not in the presence of B at all during the tests.

If electrosensitivity exists, the subject(s) will be right significantly more than 50% of the time. If it doesn't, they won't.

Personally I'd put the router in a dark but accessible place with a photocell or a piece of unexposed photographic paper, to catch cheats. (Not a webcam, given what is being tested!) Methinks statistical analysis will reveal far more people claiming electrosensitivity in countries with generous social security systems ....

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The Raspberry Pi is succeeding in ways its makers almost imagined

Nigel 11

Don't want to code?

They don't want to code? But stringing bits and pieces of other peoples' codes together to make something new is coding. It's been getting more and more that way ever since the first software libraries came into being, back in the days of paper tape. (Is that where we get "stringing together" from? )

Closed software and closed hardware architectures tried to make this impossible for individuals who can't pay hundreds or thousands for proprietary compilers and proprietary libraries, and more again to interface hardware to complex general-purpose busses.

Luckily the world had Stallman to create an open alternative. And now the RPi and similar devices are opening up the hardware as well.

It won't be thousands of years in the future when the first advertisement for a "Programmer-archaeologist" appears. Probably only a couple of decades, if it hasn't already been posted.

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Why Nobody Should Ever Search The Ashley Madison Data

Nigel 11

Re: NOT a Joke or Troll

From my read it isn't a spoof or troll.

Me too. It's actually rather an interesting piece of writing. Not sure if the intent is propagandist, or to provoke thought, or to tangle one's thought processes. Maybe all of them.

BTW there is a safe way to investigate any website or source. It's called a virtual machine, preferably running atop a real machine which you can also painlessly re-format should something manage to escape from its virtual jail. Oh yes, and to be triple-sure you run it on a network comprising just the one computer and its VM and a router connected to some ISP other than the one you use for your home/business. That last bit is almost certainly overly paranoid.

But I tend to share the sentiment, "don't look", in this case.

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Swiss watch: Cuckoo-clock cops threaten Win 10 whup-ass can pop

Nigel 11

Re: Switzerland?

'openness'?

I read it as demanding privacy be respected. Openness, only in the sense of MS admitting how they are violating privacy, and ceasing to do so without its end users' well-informed consent.

No inconsistency that I can see. Switzerland seems to be the only country left that actually believes in privacy, rather than merely pretending to do so.

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BT commences trials of copper-to-the-home G.fast broadband tech

Nigel 11

I'm skeptical

I can't help thinking they are doing this because it's cheap and they'll be able to advertize "up to 300Mbit/s" service, while deflecting political attention from the minority who can't get usable broadband at all.

What is really needed, is a universal minimum speed guarantee. They shouldn't be allowed to say "up to 20" and deliver 2 and say "Tough! Anyway, it's BT's fault, it won't be any better with any other supplier" because of the ropey bit of old aluminium wire to your house which is indeed BT's fault. Of course, it's even worse for the folks in rural parts who at present can't have broadband at all because they are too far from their telephone exchange.

Broadband is no longer a luxury. 8Mbit of data should be as much a universal right as a water supply. It's achievable - all it requires is politicians and monopoly regulators to grow a few teeth!

Would splitting Openreach from BT help? I doubt it. Just give BT a tough but achievable plan, backed by massive fines ( significant fractions of its annual profits) should it systematically fail to deliver. Then when there's no "phone line" anywhere in the UK that can't support 8Mbit, tell ISPs that "up to" is no longer allowed and that a 24/7 miniumum guaranteed bandwidth must be quoted. Repeat for higher speeds once universal minimum service is achieved.

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Does Linux need a new file system? Ex-Google engineer thinks so

Nigel 11

ZFS on LInux

Yes. ZOL (ZFS on Linux) runs ZFS in user-space. That gets around the licensing issues, because it's not a non-legal derived product of both CDDL and GPL-licensed code. But running in userland reduces efficiency ( and probably makes it impossible to access ZOL filesystems early in the boot process).

Just because two free open-source licenses both permit you to use code without payment, doesn't mean that one can produce and distribute a work derived from both. In this case GPL is the more restrictive. You'd have to get the whole Linux kernel re-licensed or dual-licensed under CDDL in order to merge ZFS in the kernel. This is practically impossible. So no ZFS in the Linux kernel. Sad.

There's also a fork in ZFS licensing. When Oracle took over, it ceased to distribute newer versions of ZFS under CDDL, and nobody trusts Oracle! So now ZFS refers to two feature-incompatible filesystems (with a common base feature set). Also sad.

BTRFS is coming along quite nicely. I've been using it for one level of backing up (huge numbers of snapshots), with other backups in case the btrfs falls apart. So far it's worked perfectly for me. Not sure why another similar FS is needed, but competition between projects is probably a good thing.

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IRS: Tax-record snaffle scam actually 200% worse than first feared

Nigel 11

Paper tax return?

One of many reasons I stick to communicating with HMRC on paper, is so that when they corrupt my data or even worse, spam it to the world, at least I'll have proof that it was their IT at fault, not my IT. (Well, at least until the post office loses my tax return ... hasn't happened yet. )

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Nigel 11

Realy 334,000?

not 334,000,000 ? (I'm guessing that's a good fraction of the US-resident US taxpayers).

Where better to bury the truth than in a grovelling "apology"?

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Anti-privacy unkillable super-cookies spreading around the world – study

Nigel 11

Spain?

Isn't this sort of invasion of privacy illegal in the EU? Don't EU rules say that a site has to have the user's permission even for the everyday sort of browser-clearable cookies. (That's click-OK permission, not something formatted white-on-white in paragraph 397 of the Ts&Cs).

Can someone check up on the UK's networks?

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Huge explosion kills 44+ in China, blasts nearby supercomputer offline

Nigel 11

Actually, NaCN will complex with Fe ions to make nice stable Ferricyanates which have pretty low toxicity. There's a lot of iron around in the environment, and you can always add more if you need to. Cyanide is also not a cumulative toxin - if you don't ingest enough to kill you in the next few hours, you're OK for the rest of your life. So NaCN is probably the least of their worries.

Acetylene gas from CaC2 getting wet would account for the violence of the explosions ... but neither Acetylene gas nor Calcium salts present any long-term environmental hazard.

Not sure about TDI, and you have to wonder what else got blown up ....

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Nigel 11

I just can't imagine storing what appears to be explosives/chemicals going off in the middle of a city.

Um. Ever considered moving to Portsmouth? (Though I certainly trust the Royal navy a lot more than some random Chinese import-export company).

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Nigel 11

Re: Talk about risky locations..

You shouldn't even think about what is in the various tankers on the roads in the UK (or any other developed country). Liquid Chlorine gas (as used as a weapon in WW1) is only halfway up the hazard scale.

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Nigel 11

Back to the supercomputer ...

I do hope that there wasn't a huge on-site data-store with no remote backup. I heard the sad story of a server close to Buncefield. The explosion there ripped half the disk drives out of their enclosures, and the pressure wave killed most of the others that weren't actually dumped onto the floor while still spinning.

(The concept of no backup may seem strange to non-scientists, but there are many classes of problem where you generate such vast amounts of data you cannot afford even redundant storage let alone the bandwidth to a remote site for continuous data-churning. In the worst case you re-run the calculations, but the loss still hurts and the usual assumption is that you'll lose a disk or an array, not the entire data-store! )

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Nigel 11

As for shipping explosives ... ask someone in Halifax (Canada). Ok, this was in wartime, though not anywhere near a battleground. Possibly the largest non-nuclear explosion ever.

http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/11/kaboom-worlds-biggest-non-nuclear.html

There was also an incident when a warehouse full of ammonium nitrate fertilizer had a leaky roof, and the whole contents became one solid mass. Some soon-to-be-deceased genius had the bright idea of loosening it up using a few sticks of dynamite.

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CAUGHT: Lenovo crams unremovable crapware into Windows laptops – by hiding it in the BIOS

Nigel 11

Re: Belkin/Pinto

Never bought a Ford since. Not that that was a particular hardship

Actually they're making pretty good cars these days. Next car I might consider letting them off my don't-buy list. Though probably only to end up with something made by VAG on its perceived merits.

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Nigel 11

Re: So I guess we better check thier mobile phones too

To see if they have a similar rootkit that records everything and sends it back to HQ too

Would I care (just as long as they hid the cost of the bandwidth on someone else's budget). I mean, GCHQ is almost certainly recording everything we say into our phones already. I worry rather more about what our government does with those recordings, than anything that China's governmernt might.

(Might be different in wartime, but what are the chances such a war wouldn't be over in days and end with MAD? )

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Nigel 11

And another name to add to the 'Sony' list..

Lenovo, or Microsoft? It appears from the above discussion, that Microsoft provided the enabling technology, and Lenovo merely used it. I know which I think is the greater evil incompetence.

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Nigel 11

Re: @thames - Windows only though

Nothing is hidden from the OS, with a rootkit stuff is hidden from the end-user.

Not true, if something has write access to the OS kernel copied into RAM before it is invoked. Which is exactly what a BIOS does have. It's even able to subvert the bootloader, which comes before the OS and which is equally capable of subverting any OS it loads.

A simple example with non-malicious intent, would be to intercept disk IO operations and to cause any access above a nice round number to return an error as if the disk were that nice round number in size. This was actually used back in the days when disk manufacturers were playing sillybuggers shipping a 1002Mb drive that was bigger than a 1000Mb drive so if you bought a manufacturer X disk and used all its available capacity, you couldn't later replace it with a manufacturer Y "1Gb" disk. Of course, then manufacturer Y shipped a 1002.25Mb disk ....

There's also Ring -1, the hypervisor, to consider in the case of Intel CPUs, though I'll accept that in this context you may use OS to refer to the hypervisor itself, not the OSes that it supervises.

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Nigel 11

Re: Windows only though

t could misunderstand ext4 as it tries to read it as NTFS and corrupt the filesystem if it's badly written.

It could. Then your system would fail fsck after every boot (if it managed to boot at all). Then you'd send it back as having a defective hard disk. Then the replacement wouldn't work either. Then you'd demand a refund from your supplier as "goods not fit for purpose".

They *might* try labelling it very clearly as usable with Windows only. At least then you'd know what not to buy. This is assuming that MS would allow use of their trademark in this way. Given their previous history with the EU authorities, I'd advise them against it.

The greater risk would be if it shipped with a BIOS that understood Linux filesystems, and rootkitted them as well. Are we sure that they don't? Maybe it's time to start putting / on an encrypted FS even if you don't want /home to be on one!

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Patching a fragmented, Stagefrightened Android isn't easy

Nigel 11

Re: A general problem

And how do you do that when the manufacturers are located in countries that simply don't care?

Put the manufacturers on a banned list should they fail to honour their legal responsibilities. That threat would certainly keep the big guys like Apple and Samsung and Sony in line. There would doubtless still be "grey" (or outright black) imports of dodgy mobiles from companies you'd never heard of, but at least you'd have the option of buying a trusted brand and getting better.

The strange thing is how little the big brands seem to care about this issue. When the general public decide that there's really no advantage at all in buying a big brand over buying "cheap and cheerful", because the hardware is no longer sufficiently distinguishable and the software is all equally crap, then the cheapest will be the best. For similar reasons the "free" phone on an expensive 24-month contrick is another doomed business model.

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