* Posts by Number6

2114 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

US politicos wake up to danger of black-box algorithms shaping all corners of American life

Number6
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Big Brother

The US credit scoring system is not fit for purpose anyway. I don't care what algorithms they're using, I consider them to be wrong because they fail to account for all relevant factors. Worse, the credit system has wormed its way into almost everything - want a phone contract? Unless you're paying up-front they'll go check your credit score. Want a job? Yes, some employers want to know too.

They seem to give greater weight to short-term things such as your current credit card balance, yet ignore the fact that this is a cyclical thing and that it's paid off in full every month, so you get a better rating just after you've paid off the card than just before, even though your overall spending/paying behaviour is the same (obviously if you don't pay it off then that's a different matter).

Minority Report, anyone?

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China plots new Great Leap Forward: to IPv6

Number6
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El Reg is still IPv4 only. As is the BBC. Perhaps it's all a plot by the Chinese to prevent their people from accessing such subversive media.

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Number6
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Prior Art

The IPv6 network, first developed in the 1990s in China

Was that before or after Al Gore invented the internet?

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Cops jam a warrant into Apple to make it cough up Texas mass killer's iPhone, iCloud files

Number6
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That's what I was thinking too. Apple can point out that it's not a good use of taxpayers' money wasting it on lawyers when the government clearly has a way of achieving what they want without needing Apple to help.

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Donald, YOU'RE FIRED: Rogue Twitter worker quits, deletes President Trump's account

Number6
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Re: Fake news

Why is it fake news when a lot of people seem to have seen it happen (not me - see below)?

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Number6
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Damn! I missed it. For the good of the US (and the world) someone ought to set up a cron job to deactivate it overnight, although if he's off in Asia then perhaps 'overnight' needs to be a bit flexible.

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Official: Perl the most hated programming language, say devs

Number6
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I did an exercise once, I took an existing C# app that read from a USB dongle and updated a screen and ported it to C++ with the assistance of Qt. The original motivation was to be able to get the same functionality on Linux and the original, not exactly greased lightning on a Windows machine, was like cold treacle when run under Mono on Linux. Then I ported the C++ thing back to Windows (as in tweaked the HW-specific bits and recompiled it) and it was easily way more responsive than the original. C# is OK for slow-and-dirty hacks but a real pain otherwise. Yes, Perl is probably preferable.

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Number6
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That's not a proper perl script, it's almost readable.

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You're designing an internet fridge. Should you go for fat HTML or a Qt-pie for your UI?

Number6
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Besides, internet fridge developers seem to have forgotten that not everything you buy from Tesco goes in the fridge, or even in the kitchen.

Oh, they have. You can have another box for the bathroom, one for each bedroom, one for the cleaning supplies cupboard. All interlinked so they can compile a master shopping list for everything.

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'There has never been a right to absolute privacy' – US Deputy AG slams 'warrant-proof' crypto

Number6
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@Jamie Jones

It depends on how you're doing it. Older manual methods wouldn't have used xor, more likely it was a book of numbers, to determine which letter to substitute for the one in question.

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Number6
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Re: "unlike public key encryption, which has easier key distribution but is less secure "

@Adam 1

Once upon a time DES was good enough, now it can be cracked quite quickly, almost real-time. If computing power continues to increase at the same rate, today's stuff will one day suffer the same fate. We're already recommended to use larger key sizes because 1024 bits can be brute forced. the information being protected may not be relevant by the time it's easy to crack - a bit like the old Playfair cipher used a hundred years ago - it could be cracked in a few hours, but if the message was "attack in 15 minutes" then it would be somewhat out of date by the time it was cracked.

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Number6
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Uncrackable encryption has existed for ages, it's known as the one-time pad. Unless you have access to the key then you stand no chance of reading the original plain text. Its big weakness is key generation and distribution, which has to be done via secure channels in advance, unlike public key encryption, which has easier key distribution but is less secure (depending on the amount of compute power available). Of course, one advantage of the one-time-pad is that in theory it is possible to easily create a spoof key to produce a harmless plain text.

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US Homeland Security Dept to collect immigrants' social media handles and more

Number6
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I'm glad you qualified that with a 'yet'.

I'm wondering how they'll extract the information from those who are naturalised citizens, unless the starting plan is just to give themselves permission to hold the information without any specific plan to actively acquire it. I can't quite see USCIS doing a mailshot to people with a form asking them to fill it in. Or rather, that's what I'd like to see them try because that's the quickest route to court. More likely is that they'll pick off individuals at airports as they enter the country, which is the time when you're most vulnerable and surrounded by enforcement goons with limited access to a lawyer.

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HP users moaning over 10-minute login lag during 'Win 10 update'

Number6
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Normal?

I thought that was normal behaviour for Windows 10. For reasons beyond my control I have to run a Win10 machine and if I have to reboot it then it takes 20 minutes before it's usable again. On the plus side, I do have a Linux VM installed and do as much as I can in that.

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BOFH: We're only here because they said there would be biscuits

Number6
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Re: More spying?

I'm a bit more careful with mine. A small square of cardboard behind a piece of black tape so I don't get glue all over the lens. Standard fitment for laptops in my possession. Even the desktop webcam spends most of its time hanging from its cord, pointing at the base of the monitor stand where it can record the steady accumulation of dust particles.

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Sacre bleu! Apple's high price, marginal gain iPhone strategy leaves it stuck in the mud

Number6
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Re: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is $929

My cheaper option is currently to keep using the phone I bought three years ago. It does what I want, and while the battery holds out I don't see the need to upgrade to something that expensive.

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Number6
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I'd like something with the feature set of a Galaxy 4 only with a modern CPU and memory capacity. A lot of the newer ones are too big - the 4 fits in my pocket nicely and the screen is a reasonable compromise between portability and readability. None of this face or fingerprint crap for unlocking either. Dual-SIM would be nice, unless one of the carriers is prepared to offer me two numbers on a single SIM.

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F-35 firmware patches to be rolled out 'like iPhone updates'

Number6
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Update Process

The only way updates should be applied to this sort of stuff is by user intervention. Someone needs to have physical access to the aircraft and flip a switch, insert a key or other positive action that allows the upgrade to occur, in conjunction with detecting that the aircraft is on the ground and otherwise powered down. IT should only accept a signed image, and also inhibit all functions related to movement until the upgrade interlock is removed.

The same is true for cars, too (especially the 'on the ground' bit).

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Number6
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Re: Error 0x00000245

ENOTTY - Not a typewriter.

Except it wouldn't be an error i this case but an accurate statement of fact.

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Equifax mega-leak: Security wonks smack firm over breach notification plan

Number6
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Re: They're part of the problem

The US credit scoring system is not fit for purpose anyway. What you get is a snapshot, so the day before I pay off a credit card bill my score can be noticeably lower than the day after. It fails to note that this is a repeating pattern and actually represents a sensible and responsible use of credit.

As for paying interest, if you're doing that on a credit card then you're using it wrong.

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UK not as keen on mobile wallets as mainland Europe and US

Number6
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Re: So?

As the credit card is linked directly to the bank account and automatically debits 100% of the balance at the end of the month, credit cards have little value over debit cards, currently.

To me, the big difference between a credit and debit card is who is liable in the event of fraud or failure to perform. There are more consumer protections when using a credit card than a debit card, and I suspect that both have way more in the way of legal protection than using your phone. I don't have any mobile banking apps on my phone and prefer to keep it that way. But then, like may Reg Commentards, I like to think I'm a bit more aware of the security risks involved and have a lack of faith in bank and phone security.

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How the CIA, Comcast can snoop on your sleep patterns, sex toy usage

Number6
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Re: Lose the Unsecured IOT Device

There is no excuse for leaving an unsecured device connected to the net these days. I wonder how many bot-nets it participates in already.

If that was aimed at me, it's secure in that it only talks to their server. Internal to my network it's on a VLAN of its own and I've sat there and watched what it does using tcpdump on the router so I don't think it's participating in anything. That's how I know it uses http clear text to communicate.

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Number6
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Re: Apart from smartphones

I normally put my phone into flight mode overnight, I guess that's a usage pattern they can spot. In theory it stops it transmitting, but given that it's a software switch, no doubt someone can override that. Sometimes I forget to restore it to normal and about noon the following day I decide that things have been a bit quiet and realise why.

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Number6
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I'm glad my home is dumb. Apart from smartphones, I have one IoT device on the system and that mostly operates on a fixed timetable, I only talk to it to change the schedule. It's also hideously insecure, using http with no encryption in sight, and the server out in the cloud is slower than a snail on valium. A real POS of design. One day I'll hack the protocol and set up my own equivalent so it need not talk outside the firewall.

My router runs OpenWRT, so hopefully less likely to have dodgy firmware.

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Hate it when your apartment block is locked to Comcast etc? Small ISPs fight back

Number6
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Isn't it cheaper to do the last mile wireless...

Yes, if you're the only one using it. Otherwise it's shared bandwidth with everyone else, whereas wired bandwidth is, to a first approximation, all yours (assuming your ISP has properly sized the pipes).

If you've got 100Mbit/s then you lose some of that because radio is half-duplex compared to the full-duplex of a wired system that can (in theory) stream 100MBit to you while taking the return traffic. Radio has to stop sending so you can send the acknowledgements. Then there's the overhead needed for each radio burst so the RX is in sync with the TX before the real data starts. Then there's all the neighbours also wanting some of that airtime.

Point to point wireless is possible, but costs a lot more and may exceed the cost of installing a wired channel.

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Number6
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They should have it on the same basis that BT provides services to smaller ISPs, where there's a wholesale arm that maintains the equipment and allows BT Retail and other ISPs access on comparable terms. Most cable companies are a de facto monopoly, or a duopoly with the local telco so competition is somewhat limited unless steps are taken to encourage that.

So a deal to allow Comcast to put in and run the cabling is fine, but other ISPs should be allowed to tout for the endpoint business without having to pay punitive access charges.

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Did ROPEMAKER just unravel email security? Nah, it's likely a feature

Number6
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Re: Old school

Cost of wasted space is less than the cost of dealing with it.

I always used to swear mightily at the dodgy attachments when it was still dial-up, noticeable pause as the crap was squeezed down the phone line only to be deleted. It's interesting how things have scaled, back then when it was still small hard disks, an offensively large attachment might have been 100k in size and hold up a V.34 modem link for some time. Now it's all scaled a few orders of magnitude bigger.

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Number6
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Re: "E-Mail is a TEXT medium"

Then what happens when you're told you just lost a big deal because of your paranoia AND that your job is now at risk AND you risk getting blacklisted meaning you may not find a replacement job, either?

If you read my original comment I noted it was personal email, so the only person who could fire me from that is me. At work I use whatever system they have set up, although if I have enough configuration control on the email client I'll set it to favour plain text both ways. It's someone else's job to keep the system secure, my only obligation is to not do something stupid like click on the dodgy link or attachment should it make it as far as my inbox.

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Number6
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Re: "E-Mail is a TEXT medium"

I still view email as plain text by default and I still sent plain text by default. I've noticed that some HTML clients handle plain text really badly, often losing the line breaks and bunching it all up though, but that's not my problem.

As for the occasional one that turns up and all I see is a line telling me I don't support HTML so should upgrade my email client, they're straight in the bin.

I'm of the school that considers HTML email to be a security hazard, to the point that if you send me email with an HTML section and you aren't on my approved list, it will bounce (the joys of personal email rather than business). If you can't present your information clearly as plain text then too bad. Just that simple filter takes out an awful lot of spam without having to try too hard.

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Guess who's hiking their prices again? Come on, it's as easy as 123 Reg

Number6
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Even GoDaddy hit a piece of moral high ground the other day when they finally dumped that Alt-Right outfit.

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US prosecutors demand data to unmask every visitor to anti-Trump protest website

Number6
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I am currently debating whether to click on that link or not. On the one hand it might make their sifting job a bit harder if suddenly there were tens of millions of IP addresses in the log, On the other hand I wouldn't put it beyond them to take the trouble to ID everyone and put them on a travel watch list.

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GoDaddy gives white supremacist site its marching orders after Charlottesville slur

Number6
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Re: Google has also given them the boot!

Several factors at play here. If the site is still at the same IP address then it will take a while for removal of DNS records to filter down, especially if the default TTL was set high, and it'll still appear to be there. If the hosting provider (as opposed to the domain registrar) pulls the plug then it doesn't matter who's providing the top-level DNS pointer, it's not going to find anything. At that point a long DNS TTL works against them because the system will keep giving the old, and now invalid, answer until it times out so their new site, wherever it is, won't get much traffic until it does.

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Cancel the farewell party. Get back to work. That asteroid isn't going to hit Earth in October

Number6
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Re: Aim is improving.

True, I was using the centre as a reference but I guess if you miss by 1000km then that's spacing from the surface, not the centre.

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Number6
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Re: Aim is improving.

No, next one will be 6800km the other side. Close, but no cratercigar

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Revealed: The naughty tricks used by web ads to bypass blockers

Number6
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Re: Right here on the The Register

That's actually bad business for the advertisers. If they're getting charged per page impression, the last thing they want is their ad being fetched and displayed on a tab that isn't currently being displayed. The javascript really ought to determine that the tab is not the top one and do nothing until it gets an event, not keep pulling in images that will never be seen. Of course, the ad-server benefits from the current model because they're getting paid for delivering the images regardless of whether they're being seen.

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Number6
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It's almost a step in the right direction. If you want to serve me ads then I expect them to arrive from the server hosting the main page being viewed as a static image. Nothing animated, no pop-ups, no dodgy javascript, just a good old img src tag. Do all the fancy stuff to select which image at the server end because I don't trust your third-party ad code. If you manage that then you'll probably defeat the ad blockers. Or provide me with a legally watertight agreement to clean up any malware mess at your expense, backed with a large sum of money in escrow to guarantee against unexpected bankruptcy as a means to get out of paying up.

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So you're thinking about becoming an illegal hacker – what's your business plan?

Number6
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Coat

Re: I've got a hackery trick I'm now prepared to share with you all...

Something like this?

OK, mine's the one with the toothbrush in the pocket.

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Windows Subsystem for Linux is coming to Windows Server

Number6
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Re: Embrace, Expand, Extinguish

Then again, their position isn't as strong as it once was. Linux completely owns the OS market. The year of the Linux desktop is probably never coming, true, but the year of the Linux everything else just keeps repeating itself and getting bigger every time. Everything else is a MUCH bigger market.

What keeps MS in position is all the established software vendors who only produce Windows versions of their products. If they produced Linux versions too then a lot of people would shift. Not all, if you've got a thousand PCs to manage, MS have put a lot of effort into making central administration easy to do, and Linux would have to make significant advances in that direction. It probably has most of the hooks required but I'm not aware of anything that ties it all together.

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Number6
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P.S. Update-help takes 5-10 minutes to install.

It was way less than that for me. However, you do have to do it from a shell with admin privilege otherwise it goes through the motions and then prints a bunch of error messages about failure to update.

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Core-blimey! Intel's Core i9 18-core monster – the numbers

Number6
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Re: Gamers?

Apparently VR is a thing that some people do. I don't understand. Why do you need VR to play Scorched Earth?

This is probably one of those questions that you're best not trying to answer unless you've got plenty of money. If you try it and realise why you need it, you'll resent the expense if it's out of your reach.

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Linux kernel hardeners Grsecurity sue open source's Bruce Perens

Number6
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Re: boring

I just recompile the kernel with #DEFINE VIAGRA for the same effect.

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Canadian ISPs do not Canuck around: Bloke accused of piracy grilled in his home for hours

Number6
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Re: What is wrong with this guy?

I am also allowed to use it on cougars and even sharks...

Lawyers and sharks are related species, aren't they?

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Number6
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He said he was told he'd be hit with contempt of court allegations if he refused to answer questions, and he wasn't allowed to consult with his lawyer for much of the time.

I appreciate it's much more difficult at the sharp end but the response to remember here is "if the court will not permit me to consult with my lawyer before answering questions then I have nothing but contempt for the court".

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Microsoft Surface laptop: Is this your MacBook Air replacement?

Number6
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Re: ... but will it

True, I guess it was the RT stuff that was really locked down. The taint persists in my mind though, I automatically assume that MS will lock out other stuff which means I'm not going to buy any of their branded computers.

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Number6
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Re: ... but will it

Why would you but a microsoft branded laptop to run linux?

To be fair to MS, I've never had an issue with the hardware. While I can't claim to have bought a lot, the mice have been durable and the stuff I've seen in shops looks good. It's just that I don't like their software that much. If they hadn't made such an effort to lock down the BIOS to prevent people installing Linux then I might even have considered buying a Surface at one point. Even now, I'm using a Linux VM on a Windows 10 machine, a set-up which reduces the contributions to the swear box to an acceptable level. Still waiting for some software vendors to produce Linux versions of their products...

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Linus Torvalds pens vintage 'f*cking' rant at kernel dev's 'utter BS'

Number6
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Someone ought to do a run of teeshirts: "I got savaged by Linus" for devs to wear. You only get one if you've been on the receiving end (whether justified or not) of one of these outbursts.

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Brace yourselves, Virgin Media prices are going up AGAIN, people

Number6
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Still cheaper than Comca$t, as a reference point, so while it might be overpriced it's not exorbitantly overpriced yet. Not that VM should take this as a challenge.

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Petition calls for Adobe Flash to survive as open source zombie

Number6
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Some of the BBC website content is still in Flash. I notice this because I've mostly removed Flash plugins from my systems and so get an error message telling me I need Flash to view the content. I close the browser window at that point.

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Windows Subsystem for Linux to debut in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Number6
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Trollface

Re: Standardisation is always welcome

Also, from an ergonomic point of view putting the separator on a shifted key is irritating in an otherwise case-agnostic filesystem. I believe in some keyboards it actually is on an AltGr key, which is even worse.

On a proper PC keyboard, the backslash is on an unshifted key.

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Google goes home to Cali to overturn Canada's worldwide search result ban

Number6
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If they're off grid then taking over the domain names is one option. Someone must have those registered so there's a possible point of contact. If Datalink are still selling then there's a money trail that could be pursued and redirected. One could probably pursue back through the shipping channel with a court order too, to require the carrier to disclose where they collected a package. All possible, provided you've got a legal system that will help you and not obstruct things, which could be problematic depending on the actual location involved.

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