* Posts by Tom 13

7611 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

'It's NOT a fishing expedition', say police over random spot checks on gun owners

Tom 13

Re: I'm sorry am I missing something here?

Sure, no problem. But before we proceed, please answer Yes/No to the following question:

Have you stopped beating your spouse?

Tom 13

Re: don't want people knowing how they found out about a plot

That's the key bit. Any time you reveal information about any given specific plot, there is some risk you expose sources and/or methods without realizing that you are doing so. The way a plot develops different people usually know about different pieces. The bad guys know who got nicked as well as who didn't. The mastermind also knows who knew what. That lets them start piecing together likely leaks.

But you're right, more people knowing could lead to better confidence in the bits that are kept secret. It's a tough balancing act.

Tom 13


This is about raising security awareness and engagement, and not about catching people out.

The more they repeat this, the more I hear Gene Wilder a la Willie Wonka saying "Strike that, reverse it."

We 'Merkins are a bit newer to the awareness of terrorist potentials than you Brits are. Given our level of awareness, I expect yours is even higher. Even if for the most part you do keep the ole stiff upper lip about it. A lack of hysteria should never be equated with a lack of awareness.


Tom 13

Re: Sun's latest FIERY BURP

So you're saying the whole thing is a balls-up?

This Changes Everything? OH Naomi Klein, NO

Tom 13

Dear Mr. Worstall,

We all know that it is pointless to try to discuss the GNP that would be generated by Angels dancing on the head of a pin. Angels get everything directly from God so it's pointless.

Such is also the case with AGW.

Pesky POS poison won't Backoff

Tom 13

Re: Microsoft as the OS on POS systems.

It's not the OS per se, but the lack of configuration, slowness to update, and I'd say most importantly of all, the even crappier problems of the POS systems. A friend of mine does the POS support for a smallish regional chain of fast food joints. I imagine they've updated to Windows 7 by now and they run the updates and AV software. I think he handles about 100 retail locations. From the descriptions of the system, in each store you have the primary Win PC which handles 3-5 POS systems. Each of the POS terminals requires a specific name. So at each store you have for example, terminal1, terminal2, etc. So once you've breached the configuration for 1 store, you have all the rest of them. Combine that with store managers who can't remember their passwords so you have to keep an account on their system to fix it, and it's a bitch to remember 100 different passwords for each of the stores and it's a recipe for disaster.

US court shuts down 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'

Tom 13

Re: older customers are not always the ones

It's a case as always of YMMV. My mother is incredibly street smart, but fall easily for computer scams, especially anything game related.

Tom 13

Re: works for a UK bank

Do they collect enough information to pursue the miscreants? I know the average person doesn't have the wherewithall to go after them, but a bank, especially one that has been scammed enough ought to.

Tom 13

Re: No Jail Time? A slap on the wrist?

I'd prefer honey and an ant hill.

Tom 13

Re: Three useful letters, IRS.

Back in the day, maybe. Yes they nail Capone for tax evasion. But if he had listed his income from his rackets as "insurance" and "entertainment" it would have all been good with the IRS. Some of the crooks have figured that out.

Tom 13

Re: A start - just

I had a similar thought. This one was out of New York. The bastages who kept bothering us a few months ago were operating out of Florida.

CBS goes OTT, releases EVERY EPISODE of Star Trek EVER MADE

Tom 13

@ b166er

Yes the transition will be chaotic, but eventually it will settle out as better for everyone. Right now you're seeing those big charges because that's how the current oligopoly works - they charge middling per person charges to aggregators who pay they millions. Right now they're trying to keep those numbers balanced because if they don't their shareholders will get pissed off. But it will open the door to other options. For example say The Guild opened a channel for $12/year or a dollar a month. While that would probably send everyone at CBS out on the sky scrapper ledge, that might be a lot more income for them than they get now. A lot fewer shows but perhaps worth $12 to enough people to make it work. At that point pricing moves lower and people can pay for what they want to see, probably without commercials.

Tom 13

Re: releases EVERY EPISODE of Star Trek EVER MADE

Really really every episode? Including the animated series? With full soundtrack?

Because I tried to watch that series on Netflix, and after about the 5th episode they lost the voice track on the audio.

Jeff Bezos rolls up another $437m, lights Amazon's cigar with it

Tom 13

Re: ARP2

Beyond that we start getting into questions about tax law, especially in the US. My understanding when I was helping NPOs go through the incorporation process some years ago was that at some point the books have to balance and you have to have a surplus/profit. I think they need to have some black ink real soon or the IRS hounds will be released.

Whisper. Explain this 'questionable' behavior – senior US senator

Tom 13

Re: Heyward

Well, that all depends on what the meaning of "is" is. So far the alleged lobbyist is still anonymous in as much as none of us know his/her name, what issues he/she lobbies on, and/or who he/she lobbies. And even with in the Whisper it is entirely possible he's only know as Lobbyist 1138 or some such.

The sad fact of the matter is that Ellison largely got it right: none us have any privacy anymore, only the illusion of it. What privacy we have is mostly in that we never rise far enough above the noise to become a signal worth watching.

Tom 13

Re: I bet the "tracked & never know it" guy heard the story.

Right theory, probably the wrong office. I'd bet said lobbyist is one of Jay's biggest contributors, hence his immediate letter about the issue.

Tom 13

Re: impossible for any safety critical system to be certified for use

You'll find that safety critical systems are only required to be certified to some standard which addresses known issues, precisely because of Neoc's point. When a new issue becomes known the standard is updated. In the US this is usually accompanied by a flurry of lawyers asserting that the companies making the products and the certifying agency should have known about the previously unknown issue and therefore each and every one of their million plus clients are do millions in damages. Granted it has been quite a few years since I've interacted in any way with any of these groups, but I don't imagine that has changed.

Guns don't scare people, hackers do: Americans fear identity theft more than shooting sprees

Tom 13

Re: The media strikes again!

No, he didn't. I reviewed that list too before replying to him. What was surveyed were mass shootings, not simple shootings. Also, like Tom's reply it includes too many university incidents, which to most Americans aren't "schools". "Schools" are places that you are required to send your minor children to.

Tom 13

Re: The media strikes again!

Both the 1966 and 1976 incidents don't count as school mass killings to Americans. The sites are Universities, places where individuals choose to go and for which they pay a princely sum. School shootings in the context Americans think of them (public education) mostly start with Columbine, so yes, they have increased greatly since 1990.

But on the issue of the actual level of risk, yes it is very low and people are overly fearful of it.

In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web

Tom 13

Re: a thought

What a thoroughly asinine and uneducated thing to say.

When Abraham Lincoln announced the first official holiday to he held November 26, 1863 he proclaimed it a day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." Thus has it been ever since. Even if Macy's does try to overshadow it with their commercialized Christmas day parade.

Forget the $2499 5K iMac – today we reveal Apple's most expensive computer to date

Tom 13

Re: any single computer ever really had the impact of the Model T

I agree Ford overstated the case for the Apple I, but it was still a landmark.

If I were to pick the Model T of computing it would have to be the IBM PC. The first one, where PC was the model. It's the one that moved PCs from hobbyist to business. It's also the one that for better or worse standardized our world for both computer architecture and OS even if the OS has changed a lot in the intervening time.

Tom 13

Re: Homebrew Computer Club

Yeah, I always figured Woz for the brains of the operation and Jobs for the Charisma.

Tom 13

Re: Better quality than competitors? Probably.

No. Here in the States Heath made a kit that had an actual monitor and case so it's quality was far better.

The problem for me back then was all this stuff was expensive and exotic. As a low income teenager, I couldn't afford it and my parents wouldn't spring for it. My first "computer" was an Oddesey console some guy at the mall talked my dad into buying instead of the TRS-80 or Atari I wanted. Games were decent, but it was no platform on which to learn computers and not nearly as popular as the Atari station was. When the Commodore 64 arrive I finally got my first computer. From there it was off to the races.

Tom 13

Re: thank you to MS for not licensing DOS

If you're headed there, the first thanks you have to offer are to IBM for underfunding their PC initiative. It was that choice that caused the Boca Raton office to build the whole thing entirely from commodity parts with no proprietary hardware. Which in turn allowed Compaq to clone the hardware.

Still Apple was one of the early innovators in home PCs and helped make them cool to own. Back then it was Apple who owned all the really cool video games like Castle Wolfenstein. We couldn't afford one and I envied my friend his IIe. He always let me play it and early on I was always stuck on "You have 1 bullets left."

Carders punch holes through Staples

Tom 13

@Glenn 6


Stores started swiping credit cards long before the data gathering began. They started it because transferring the numbers electronically was more accurate than running a card through a mini-mimeo machine and collecting a signature. The mini mimeo machine meant the numbers had to be transcribed later by workers at VISA. The reduction in losses was reflected in the reduced costs VISA passed along to the businesses for swiping cards instead of imprinting them. It's been about 15 years since I had to look at the numbers, but I don't expect that aspect of it has changed.

Tom 13

Re: wouldn't even be an issue if cards had a chip & pin

Shoddy thinking. If the thieves have access to install a skimmer, they have access to install a device to intercept both the chip data and PIN transmission.

I shop in US stores all the time. I for one am happy they no longer engage in the kabuki theater that use to be security for a credit card purchase. I remember the bad old days of a clerk pulling out a month old book to see if my credit card was on the list of stolen credit cards. And having my credit card declined because I made the fatal mistake of buying gas for my one car from the pump before heading inside to pay the clerk for the repair work they finished on my other car.

It's not that I am unaware of the problems. In fact, I've just gone through the process of canceling one of my credit cards and getting a new one because dodgy charges showed up on it. Neither VISA nor I can identify where or how the card was compromised. But they caught it, no goods were exchanged, and the bad guys didn't get money. I don't expect chip and PIN would have prevented it, but their monitoring caught it.

Tom 13

Re: Simple solution

The UK has now admitted Chip and Pin isn't infalible like they claimed it was. All it did was allow banks to dodge responsibility for fraud for a couple of years.

What security checks do you think a minimum wage monkey could actually be trusted to make? Check the signature? Right. I've been to college, I know how easily fake IDs are obtained for getting into bars and bars ARE legally liable for serving minors.

The only solution is to start holding the banks and the businesses with crap security responsible for the full extent of the economic damage they do to the users who are compromised by their failures. If that means the limited liabilities on corporations need to be modified, so be it. I'm all in for holding the officers of the corporation personally responsible for the breaches in cases like this.

US Senate's net neutrality warrior to Comcast: Remind us how much you hate web fast lanes

Tom 13

Re: They're a parasite biznizz.

Yes, but compared to the parasite shaking them down for more contributions to his campaign re-election funds, they're just a small parasite.

Are you a gun owner? Let us in OR ELSE, say Blighty's top cops

Tom 13

Re: wouldn't be best advised to tell the plod to piss off

If you can't tell him to leave, he isn't just asking politely is he?

So yes, it IS an increase in power. If the police need to show up unscheduled, they should need to take it in front of a judge for approval. Even that can be just a procedural instead of actual protection in some places. But leaving the police as judge and police is ill advised.

Tom 13

Re: Oh, we have a full on, media driven, breakdown in the rule of law

That is precisely the time at which gun rights are most dear.

Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz

Tom 13

Re: The meek will inherit the earth

The critical claim from CDC and WHO is that Ebola is only communicable after the infection manifests itself. If they're off about that, we're in a world of hurt. Just yesterday they admitted that while they're sure that's true, it hasn't been tested. I will grant that given what we know about infectious diseases, it warrants a 95% confidence rating. Is that high enough for a disease that is 50-70% fatal?

The real problem here is that if you get an outbreak in one of our major metropolises they will self-evacuate. Except in this case that will mean dispersal of the disease to more regions. So they HAVE to nip this in the bud. The only way to do that is to quarantine everyone who has had contact with each and every infected person. Even if that includes 100 people on plane that was only a 1 hour flight. So far the Keystone Cops on this side of the pond haven't been willing to say and more importantly, DO that.

Tom 13


If it was as easy to kill as you claim, it wouldn't be the threat that it is, even in Africa. It certainly wouldn't have infected healthcare professionals in first world countries who were following Ebola protocols. And it wouldn't be killing so many healthcare professionals in Africa who are treating the disease.

There are multiple problems with trying to combat Ebola. For me the biggest is the Keystone Cops routine the US and especially the CDC have been displaying. Things might be better on that front in Ole Blighty. Next up is that when you compare flu symptoms the only flag you have is previous contact with someone who was know to have Ebola.

So yes, it is something to be concerned about. Not panicked, but not blase either. At least until the Keystone cops start acting like people who have a clue about stopping the spread of a highly lethal communicable disease.

FIRST standards to clean up messy CERTs

Tom 13

Security in IT these days is very nearly a house of mirrors.

At a fundamental level, they're practicing security through obscurity because they're afraid that releasing the data tells the bad guys too much. Only after a threat is well understood and they think they have a fix suitable for an AV-type company do they publicly release the data. This seems to apply even when stopping the threat is best done by patching the software.

On one level I understand it and sympathize. On the other hand, it sure seems to make life more difficult on the rest of us.

I'm glad I don't work IN the house of mirrors, and only need to transit it from time to time. I much prefer the clarity of "the magic smoke got out, can you fix it for me?"

Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'

Tom 13

In my old age, I've developed a tolerance for Jobs.

He produced some decent hardware. My take on Torvalds is that he has light years to go before reaching the prick level Jobs achieved very early in his career. If Torvalds ever reaches the same level Jobs did, I may re-evaluate my good opinion of him. But not until then. And neither pretty boy nor any of his Torvalds hating acolytes posing as news writers will alter that opinion before then.

Tom 13

Re: Don't start off being obnoxious

Oddly enough I knew someone who used this line of thinking to masquerade his occasional outburst. By starting every conversation off with "What a maroon!" Or "What a l.user!" he established figured the real outburst would just be part of the pattern.


No, it didn't actually work. You could tell when he was really upset by the color of his face. But the language wasn't any worse than his friendly greeting.

Tom 13


That was written with all the confidence of someone who has never been involved from the ground up of a successful, large, volunteer project.

Emotions always come into play. The biggest piece of bullshit anyone ever dishes is that you solve all problems by focusing on only the technical. Human beings don't work that way. The question to the manager is always: Is it worth my effort to deal with their ego at the same time I deal with the technical issue.

It's never fun being on the receiving end of the vulgar and emotional attack. I know I've been there and the accusation was a hell of a lot worse than anything Torvalds ever wrote to any of his devs. The title of the email, sent to the entire group on the mail list was:

YOU FUCKING THIEVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It went on to accuse the board of directors of colluding to give improper compensation to the friend of the current President of the organization. At the time I was treasurer and the one who was actually driving the decision. The person making the accusation was one of the founders of the group. He was heavily emotionally invested in the success of the group because of the long hours he labored in promoting it. We resolved the issue by forwarding the issue to the lawyer who proceeded to explain the seriousness of the email to the sender. Because of the long distance and indirect communications it required the better part of a month to resolve. Eventually the sender recognized the valid reasons for the decision, withdrew the accusation, and apologized for his emotional outburst. There were complex reasons for the outburst. First up was an underlying animosity between the sender of the message and the person who was being contracted to do work for the NPO. Second up was that the sender considered himself to do the work and said he would have done it for free. Next up was that the sender felt shut out of the decision making process. The key to the resolution wasn't actually focusing on the technical issues. Those were down pretty cold: the person contracted had already written a similar program for a larger organization than we were and was actually being paid a pittance for the work. The pittance was more of a chain for the NPO to ensure it was done on time (always the biggest problem in an NPO). But what actually resolved the issue was showing him that we were taking his concerns seriously, even to the point of having the lawyer handle a fair part of the discussions and openly discussing the issues at meetings. Healing the emotions was as important to the resolution as addressing the technical issue.

While I wouldn't say the two individuals are good friends these days, they are civil to each other, and from time to time invite the other to social events.

Bottom line: programs are mostly written by geeks who for the most part are better at talking to machines than they are to each other. Recognize and accept that and you can deal with it better.

Tom 13

Re: which isn't the same thing.

to stupid and stubborn people, it is. Which is at the heart of the problem with Putterings.

HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'

Tom 13

Re: how much the cable companies here are despised.

And when he says "cable companies" we plebes include Verizon in that, just like we include Comcast when they say "telcos". The lawyers can pick their nits, but eventually we plebes always win the language war.

Tom 13

Re: I believe this is a misunderstanding

No, it's skipping the lawyerese and translating it into plain ordinary English ('Merican version, not Brit). When I use to work at a screwdriver type white box IT shop we had a saying: "You can pay us a service contract over time, or you can pay us service rates on demand. Either way it works out about the same for us."

Tom 13

Re: Broadcast and Comercial TV is dead

No, broadcast and commercial tv are why cable survives, at least in the US. We have the FIOS bundle because of the amount of long distance phone calls my roommate makes and because she wants to watch the new broadcast tv episodes more or less as they are released. We DVR everything, but normally watch it within the week. Mostly she likes the DVR for skipping commercials. Hulu et al may eventually change that model, but only when the studios stop depending on the major networks as their primary money source.

I don't follow the logic of this story at all. With the exception of a very, very few acclaimed series and sports, nobody except hotels subscribes to HBO in the US. Their selection is crap and has been for a long time. That's why they are the first ones to head to OTT. I tried HBO about 20 years back. They'd get 5 movies a month that they endlessly cycled. If you want to watch movies Netflix is simply a far better deal. Even Showtime and Skinemax have more fare than HBO. And the line about how expensive it is to buy HBO because of packaging is complete bollux. You can get a basic subscription and add HBO to it. No need for the other packages. Same with Showtime, Skinemax, The Movie Channel, Playboy, and all the other Premium channels. The reason they're called Premium is you pay a substantial price for a single channel. Back when I briefly had the subscription it was $30/HBO or $50/HBO and Skinemax combo. Even if the price has dropped to $10, that's more than the Netflix subscription.

Do I think the industry would do better in full streaming, watch on demand mode? Probably. Structure the season with Release date/times for episodes that resembles the current programming schedule and I think they could make it work. But they aren't ready to make that move yet.

WikiLeaks reveals new draft of Trans-Pacific Partnership

Tom 13

Re: Unrepresentative

The modern Democrat party has completed FDR's march toward communism. They don't care about rights as we once understood them, only group rights. And as some pigs are more equal than others, they have grown accustomed to eating at the troughs they once derided.

Now get with the program before they send you off to a re-education camp.

Scientists skeptical of Lockheed Martin's truck-sized fusion reactor breakthrough boast

Tom 13

Re: The kind that can pass a Turing test.

The problem is the Turing test is too difficult to pass. In fact if you applied the Turing test to 100 randomly selected people, I'm sure at least 25% would fail it.

Full disclosure: this thought did not originate with me, but I have no clue where I first read it. Probably somewhere here on El Reg.

Tom 13

Re: why are they looking for outside investment for this?

There's a great deal of detail missing from the article. If the new production line would cost $10bn to ramp up, even $2.9bn/yr in profits isn't enough to fund it. Even if it pretty much guarantees $6bn/yr after the line is up and running. So you look for investors.

The catch on that is that there is a great deal of detail missing from the article. So they could be selling a perpetual motion machine under another name.

Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet

Tom 13

The real world can be a real biatch.

If you want the most open internet possible, you have to support the country that slurps the most data regardless of how much you dislike their data slurping.

If you're in a non-US country, because of the data slurping, the US will try to keep the pipes as wide open as possible.

NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)

Tom 13

So we should gird ourselves for a grid attack. Or would you prefer for your comments to remain guarded at this time?

Heistmeisters crack cost of safecrackers with $150 widget

Tom 13

Re: My extensive knowledge of nuclear weapons

Mine tells me you don't actually have to worry about it at all. In the worst case scenario the timer stops at 1.

See also, Galaxy Quest.

Tom 13

Even at $1500 you have significant savings over a machine worth tens of thousands of dollars and sold only to military customers.

Remember that tale of a fired accountant who blamed Comcast? It's kinda true, says telco

Tom 13

Re: find out real quick how the wiretap laws work,

If you have any doubts about that for the US side of the pond, Google "Linda Tripp". Because that's the bit they used to threaten her when they didn't like what she was doing.

Tom 13

Re: had a fun time in Federal court last year

Sadly, the problem with the current US justice system is that only applies to that particular instance of your particular case. That whole precedent thing is only pulled out if it agrees with the ruling the judge wants to render.

I concur that OUGHT to be sufficient. In fact, I'm of the opinion that it shouldn't be illegal to record any call, only to misuse such a recording in an attempt to blackmail the other party.

Tom 13

Re: pegged my bullshit-o-meter, too.

Yep. Talk about a prime example of a non-apology apology accompanied by a non-denial denial.

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