* Posts by Jonathan Richards 1

995 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009


Yes! Pack your bags! Blossoming planetary system strikingly similar to ours found by boffins

Jonathan Richards 1

Late Heavy Bombardment...

LHB is what I recall is the term for the incoming hail of planetary formation debris, and maybe asteroids and comets, the latter of which may have provided the damp layer on our rock that we call the oceans [1]. That might not be a hopeful time at which to visit Earth 2.0, and even if that's over, there's not likely to have been a Great Oxygenation Event [pdf], either. There are many things that have to happen to make an apple pie from scratch.

[1] A vSauce segment seen on YouTube calculated that if you scaled the Earth down to the size of a basketball, you'd be able to dry it off with a not-rescaled kitchen towel. I don't have a link to hand, sorry.

It's not your imagination: Ticket scalper bots are flooding the internet according this 'ere study

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: They could do like the airlines

... so, just like the airlines, then, where they scan your passport at check-in, and you probably bought your ticket with a card. Plus you've downloaded the airline app for your phone, and logged into the airport WiFi, so in theory the airline has you comprehensively pwned.

Data hackers are like toilet ninjas. This is not a clean crime, you know

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: In Need of Positivity

215 views in 3 years, 4 months and a day. That one went anti-viral, for sure.

Fake broadband ISP support scammers accidentally cough up IP address to Deadpool in card phish gone wrong

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Who is to blaim for being taken by scammers?

Should we disable all javascripts on unknown sites? I'm tempted to say yes, we should.

I already do. And not just unknown ones: Noscript is blocking theregister.co.uk even as I type. Also I'm using Ghostscript and the RequestPolicy Continued extension which flagged up the bit.ly redirect in NightFox's post before the browser could follow it. </smug>

This makes me safe from any number of things, such as carrying out perfectly legitimate transactions on many totally trustworthy sites. :)

No plain sailing for Anon hacktivist picked up by Disney cruise ship: 10 years in the cooler for hospital DDoS caper

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Handwriting

You think that's *neat handwriting*? I thought it was pretty scrappy. I also thought that he wrote "vein attempt" until I saw that a was written much like an e every time. Also, it slopes backward. Do not trust people whose handwriting slopes backward, irrespective of neatness.

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Interesting idea

> zero carbon nuclear power

I'm with you a great deal of the way in advocating nuclear solutions to power generation. I thought I'd point out, though, that if one builds a nuclear power station out of concrete (what else?), it isn't zero carbon. A fine Encyclopaedia Anyone Can Edit currently estimates the quantity of CO2 produced for the manufacture of structural concrete (using ~14% cement) at 410 kg/m3. See also the Green Ration Book.

Brits' DNA data sent to military base after 'foreign' hack attacks – report

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Weaponised?

ISS Corsham to Porton Down is thirty miles as the crow flies. [1] That's too far for a Sekrit MOD Tunnel under Salisbury Plain, and besides you aren't allowed to tunnel just anywhere, because of the 6,000 year old archaeology. Oh, crap.

[1] It is well known that crows follow great circle routes.[citation needed]

£10k offer to leave firm ASAP is not blackmail, Capita told by judge

Jonathan Richards 1


How are transactions like this accounted for? If you're a finance director, do you have a slush fund that you can just tap for £10k to get rid of an employee you consider to be troublesome? Do you need board approval? So many questions.

Space policy boffin: Blighty can't just ctrl-C, ctrl-V plans for Galileo into its Brexit satellite

Jonathan Richards 1


We don't need no stinkin' ITU; we'll stop subscribing to the Common Electromagnetic Spectrum and take back control! We just need someone to rewrite Maxwell's equations; the best minds must be able to do that, when they've finished with the Secure Backdoor Encryption project.

Musk's popstar girlfriend Grimes croons about next-gen AI, plus more machine-learning news

Jonathan Richards 1

GAN images

Interesting... In just a few steps one can get a whole H.R. Giger vibe going on: jellyfish+cheetah+manhole cover+unicycle+espresso

Magecart fiends punch card-skimming code in Sotheby's Home website

Jonathan Richards 1

re Headline

Boo. I thought this was an article about hacking with punch cards. Still waiting...

The dingo... er, Google stole my patent! Biz boss tells how Choc Factory staff tried to rip off idea from interview

Jonathan Richards 1

One more time, please

One cannot (or more precisely cannot successfully) gain a patent for abstract ideas. You have to back up the "What if you could do ..." idea with a sufficiently described inventive step for implementing that idea in order to gain patent protection.

Ref: Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International - SCOTUSblog

How I miss Groklaw...

Giraffe hacks printers worldwide to promote God-awful YouTuber. Did we read that one right?

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Why open port 9100?

All will be explained in easily-digested moving pictures :)


Jonathan Richards 1

Feed the troll

> question the intelligence ...

Yes, I see the icon. In fact there is plenty of cerebral content on YouTube (see my subs list, passim) but you wouldn't find it by random sampling, I suspect.

FWIW, I signpost you all to Objectivity, Veritassium and Exurb1a, in no particular order.

France: Let's make the internet safer. America, Russia, China: Let's go with 'no' on that

Jonathan Richards 1

@ M. Trosser

There ought to be things that big governments can agree on to everyone's advantage. I can aspire to a time when launching a spearphishing attack, or targeted malware, will be just as unacceptable as launching a chemical weapons attack. Oh, hold on a minute...

Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Silly first name.

You can see how Alexander => Al-Iskhandar when morphed from Greek to Arabic (and then transliterated back!). A bit as if the Italian statesman were to be morphed by the Scots into McHeyavelly.

Remember that lost memory stick from Heathrow Airport? The terrorist's wet dream? So does the ICO

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: a national newspaper, which recorded the data

If there were documents marked RESTRICTED or CONFIDENTIAL, as reported, then by definition it's an offence under the Official Secrets Act to have a copy unless you're an authorised person. The newspaper would have known this, but their lawyers probably told them that they estimated that the Crown Prosecution Service would not consider a prosecution to be in the public interest. I very much hope that they also stored their copies on disposable hardware: the security authorities might otherwise demand cleansing of their server networks. Look what happened to the Guardian's hard disks.

Boffin: Dump hardware number generators for encryption and instead look within

Jonathan Richards 1

@Sticky DropBear

"Any time". Haha, I see what you did there.

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Just tested it

Hurrah! We're going to have to start writing in assembler once more, so that the compiler optimization doesn't subvert the purpose of the algorithm!

New Zealand border cops warn travelers that without handing over electronic passwords 'You shall not pass!'

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: An app opportunity

+1 helpful for the heads-up for TWRP

That scary old system with 'do not touch' on it? Your boss very much wants you to touch it. Now what do you do?

Jonathan Richards 1

Time for buzzword bingo, sadly

“In your greenfield you can introduce a microservice architecture so that the developers and new applications can use the latest technologies, build tools, frameworks, and methodologies to help the business innovate and adapt quickly.”

...said the expensive consultant, while the IT bods at the meeting detect a nauseating miasma, and the PHB at the head of the table nods wisely and wonders how small a service has to be, to become a microservice, and whether he has any already.

Seriously, most businesses with such aged mission-critical legacy hardware and software aren't development shops. By definition they've survived this long well behind the curve, so that appealing to the boss's appetite for 'shiny newest and packed with buzzwords' may be profitable (for the implementation consultants) but runs big risks for the business. Find a solution that halves the distance between you and the bleeding edge, and there's a better chance of reasonable prices, available trained support, and not making your business dependent on some nine-days wonder.

<img grumpygit.gif>

US cities react in fury to FCC's $2bn break for 5G telcos: We'll be picking up the tab, say officials

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Money, Money, Money

In the UK, such matters are regulated by the Electoral Commission (see What we do and don't regulate), who are empowered by the Political Parties, Elections, and Referendums Act 2000. It certainly doesn't ensure a perfect electoral landscape, but it looks better than Citizens United looks from this side of the Atlantic, IMO.

'Men only' job ad posts land Facebook in boiling hot water with ACLU

Jonathan Richards 1

The language is wrong

A targeted indication of a job vacancy is not an advertisement. It's an invitation sent to a defined group. The degree of definition is the very essence of what makes FB et al. multi-billion dollar businesses.

Short of saturating spaces with bill-boards and posters, there was always a degree of this going on, in that people seeking to fill vacancies would select particular newspapers to carry their advertisements. That wasn't as exclusive as the FB invitation model, though. Anyone could buy The Guardian, or the Times Literary Supplement and see the job advertisements. Without non-targeted, i.e. proper, advertising, excluded groups, (who are as finely and completely excluded as FB can possibly manage), never SEE these opportunities. That, by definition, gives employers the tools to exercise bias and prejudice.

It should be a function of job market regulation to ensure that vacancies are properly advertised, and FB invitations don't count, in my opinion.

Brit airport pulls flight info system offline after attack by 'online crims'

Jonathan Richards 1

Scary slopes on a runway

> It IS scary to watch a plane coming in and VANISH, due to the curvature of the runway over the brow of the hill.

Try St Marys Scilly (EGHE) in a light plane ('cos at 600m for the longest runway you aren't going to land a big jet). You have to reach take-off speed while hurtling downhill towards a rocky seashore. It's, umm, stimulating.

Russia: The hole in the ISS Soyuz lifeboat – was it the crew wot dunnit?

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Air is leaking out of the Soyuz capsule

ITYM "That joke were a bit obvious, chuck."

Only works with a North of England accent, possibly.

Devon County Council techies: WE KNOW IT WASN'T YOU!

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

> Why blame the Devil when you've got the Cornish living right next to you?

'Ere, we'll be 'avin none of that sort of talk, thank you! No works of the Devil in Cornwall:

We are told [...] that The devil never came into Cornwall.

Because, when he crossed the Tamar, and made Torpoint for a brief space his resting-place, he could not but observe that everything, vegetable or animal, was put by the Cornish people into a pie.

He saw and heard of fishy pie, star-gazy pie, conger pie, and indeed pies of all the fishes in the sea. Of parsley pie, and herby pie, of lamy pie, and piggy pie, and pies without number. Therefore, fearing they might take a fancy to a "devily pie," he took himself back again into Devonshire.

Popular romances of the west of England etc., Robert Hunt, 1908.

The Register's 2018 homepage redesign: What's going on now?

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Lipstick on a pig


Yours is the only comment so far, and I came to say exactly the same thing. I use the weekly page, and for exactly the reasons that you mention. That makes TWO atypical readers, at least...

The internet's very own Muslim ban continues: DNS overlord insists it can freeze dot-words

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Too late

> non-christian gtlds

Norway and the former Viking thralldoms should totally go for .asgard.

Jonathan Richards 1


+1 upvote for the felicitous use of "lace of transparency". ICANN specializes in very closely worked lace...

Nah, it won't install: The return of the ad-blocker-blocker

Jonathan Richards 1
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"One of the great retail marketing cons of the second half of the last century was to convince everyone that choosing a brand outweighed the value of choosing a product."

That's so true. I think it should be on a Vulture tee-shirt, really.

Bankrupt Aussie Hells Angel scoops £750k lottery jackpot

Jonathan Richards 1
Paris Hilton

> That reminds me of the day I saw a big road bike driving past, with a small kids sized motorbike strapped to it.

You thought you did. But what you actually saw was the mating dance of the Greater Touring Motorcycle (Enfieldus triumphans), in which the smaller male mounts ... Ooops, NSFW, sorry.

RIP Peter Firmin: Clangers creator dies aged 89

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Space Education

> all the makings of a fine serial killer until I got lost in a nest of ethernet cables

Well, ethernet ain't exactly parallel so you could just take scissors and pursue both careers.

Jonathan Richards 1

Pogle's Wood

Ah, yes. In which a family of society drop-outs rely on a plant for mind-altering experiences. Definitely a backstory there!

German researchers defeat printers' doc-tracking dots

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: LX


Hoo, boy, you wouldn't believe how individual the placements of those dots are! Nearly as good as the mis-aligned letters on a typewriter, a forensic clue beloved of spy thrillers of yesteryear.

Something that the paper itself didn't seem to address in the anonymization-by-adding dots technique, is whether the serial numbers in human-readable form have some sort of error detection/correction, along the lines of check-digits in an ISBN, for example. The serial numbers are many digits long; much too long unless the manufacturers are planning to build billions of printers.

Developer’s code worked, but not in the right century

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Because computer dates are numbers but real dates aren't

> cal 1752

[imagine a September where Wed 2 is followed by Thu 14]*

Really, that should be dependent on i10n; different countries switched from Julian to Gregorian calendars at different points in time (and hence with different adjustment days omitted). 1752 was the year Britain and its colonies got on board. Turkey held out until 1926.

*You have to imagine, because El Reg, he no let me paste monospaced typeface.

Jonathan Richards 1

No standard for epochs - @katrinab

Those are epochs: the arbitrarily chosen t=0 point for the counter. Formats are the expression of dates in one's chosen calendar.

PS. In fact, Unix counts seconds since the epoch, hence the approaching Unix Time "Apocalypse".

Wires, chips, and LEDs: US trade bigwigs detail Chinese kit that's going to cost a lot more

Jonathan Richards 1

Request for information

TFA talks at length about

> a list of products totaling $34bn

and I'm sure that thirty-four thousand million USD1 is a headline-grabbing amount of money, but it's not clear to me what the number refers to. I speculated that buying 1 unit of everything on the list FOB Shanghai might total to $34E9, but that doesn't seem possible. Does the USA import $34 billion dollars-worth of products on this list over some unspecified time period? If so is it the amount paid to China, or the value of the goods sold and used in the USA?

25% of $34E9 is $8.5E9. Has the US Treasury shared with the US electorate exactly (or even vaguely) what it will do with this extra income?

Perhaps some of it will need to be invested in anti-smuggling operations: some of the list items are clearly high value in units of $/kg, and 25% tariffs are worth avoiding.

1I suppose that they mean USD and not HKD!

Apple will throw forensics cops off the iPhone Lightning port every hour

Jonathan Richards 1

Mixed mnemonics!

Ha! As the years advance, I have adopted a mnemonic I'm never going to forget: it's for the password ErR,'avI'ad-me-d1nner_y3t?

Trump’s new ZTE tweet trumps old ZTE tweets that trumped his first ZTE tweet

Jonathan Richards 1

Tips and corrections:

Linkified at the bottom of every article with a mailto:

Easier than commenting!

Military brainboxes ponder 'UK needs you' list of AI boffins

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: RE: ah I see a problem!!

> Getting SC cleared

Given the amount of transferable knowledge and skills to be had in this arena, I'd think that Developed Vetting (DV) might be the appropriate level of clearance [1]. I have no idea if autonomous AI weapons research/intelligence is TOP SECRET or not, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was.

[1] United Kingdom Security Vetting [gov.uk]

Jonathan Richards 1

Automatic or intelligent?

At its heart, this is a philosophical question. We like to think we're intelligent and exercising free will, and all, but get down to the neurological and biochemical level, and, well, were my punctuation decisions in this sentence driven by Ca/Na ion differentials across some greasy membranes, or were they intelligent?

My proposal for an agreed definition of AI: "It seems to do things that look to us as if it's thinking, but we have no idea why."

By this definition, Phalanx is not intelligent, any more than a bucket of water balanced over a door. Not even if you hook it up to an IFF database is it really thinking. If you know why it works the way it does, it ain't intelligent.

A truly intelligent autonomous weapon system might read the manifesto of the opposing forces, and decide to change sides.

Fixing a printer ended with a dozen fire engines in the car park

Jonathan Richards 1

Seeing steam...

Long ago, as but a callow youth, I worked a summer at a dairy/creamery which had a milk pasteurising plant. For a couple of weeks there were complaints of milk spoiling in the bottles (see, I told you it was long ago...) but it was impossible to take the time to break down the entire rig (pasteuriser, holding tanks, bottling machine, and all the pipes and valves that join them together) in order to work out where the nightly cleaning-in-place process was failing. The solution was, after cleaning was done, to use live steam to bring all that shiny stainless steel up to 100C to kill the bugs. The steam source was a heavy-duty hose (designed to deliver hot water, actually, by mixing steam and cold water at the taps on the wall). Muggins took the heavy-duty hose, and pushed the business end into the empty milk holding tank. Returning to the wall, I left the water off, and turned the steam full on. This was a Bad Move - the high-pressure steam couldn't drive the water out of the hose fast enough, subjecting the hose coupling to full pressure and blowing it apart. In the split second it took me to turn and run, I could see REAL steam: a perfectly transparent stream of it in the clouds of "steam" that enveloped the tank room. We had to shut down the steam generating plant, and wait half an hour until there was a cool enough breathable atmosphere in the tank room to get back in with a nice strong jubilee clip. I was lucky not to have been scalded, of course.

Sorry, no IT angle here, move along...

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Had the fire brigade called to a five star hotel, in Malta....

> laying down a ring of mustard approximately 100cm diameter on the side of a burger wrapper

Cripes! I know BK is the Home of the Wopper, or whatever, but a wrapper a metre across!

Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

Jonathan Richards 1

"... failed to live up to Lord Amery's pitch"

TFA quotes that pitch as saying "[Concorde] has every chance of securing a substantial part of the world market for supersonic airliners. This is a chance that will not return."

The first sentence was clearly borne out. There was no other supersonic airliner in the market, Tu-144 notwithstanding. The second sentence is a hostage to the future, of course, but the chance hasn't returned yet, 56 years after Amery said it.

Thanks for an interesting article. Having seen Alpha Foxtrot outside in all winds and weathers for so many years, it's good to know that it is now in from the cold!

Incredible Euro space agency data leak... just as planned: 1.7bn stars in our galaxy mapped

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: You know you're old when...

Prompted by the remark re. quasars (discovered 1963), I pulled from my bookshelf a volume which I read a great deal when I was young, although it was published some twenty years before I was born. "The Wonder Encyclopaedia for Children" has an initial chapter on The Universe, which conveys the impression that the "spiral nebulae" that are observed with "the best telescopes" are clouds of gas from which a new star (singular) may be born. The caption to a photograph of Mars, with all the resolution of a charcoal pencil drawing, says 'Some astronomers think that Mars has inhabitants, and the lines which you can see are canals for irrigation'. Progress involves un-learning a lot of things!

Europe fires back at ICANN's delusional plan to overhaul Whois for GDPR by next, er, year

Jonathan Richards 1

Contact email

> an anonymized email address for every domain name owner so people's real email addresses are not published online.

Isn't that just postmaster@example.com (SMTP) or webmaster@example.com (HTTP, HTTPS) ?


Can't log into your TSB account? Well, it's your own fault for trying

Jonathan Richards 1

@Chris G

... who requested a linky.

Try this: Lesbian Vampire Killers

What, you don't want any combination of lesbian, vampire and killers in your search history??

Oh dear... Netizens think 'private' browsing really means totally private

Jonathan Richards 1

Re: Like with a cloth or something?

A Microsoft executable that takes arguments delimited by hyphens? Last time I looked, CMD used slashes, e.g. dir /s

To be fair, I haven't looked for quite some time...

Jonathan Richards 1

re Long version

Exactly so. The survey results might be explained by ICT (Impulsive Click-Through) by users entering private browsing mode(s), or perhaps by participants never using such modes, and just guessing the answers.

I just checked what Chrome tells one when opening an Incognito window:

You’ve gone incognito

Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity. However, downloads and bookmarks will be saved. Learn more

Chrome won’t save the following information:

-Your browsing history

-Cookies and site data

-Information entered in forms

Your activity might still be visible to:

-Websites that you visit

-Your employer or school

-Your Internet service provider

So in this case at least, there's no good reason for the misunderstanding.

You're a govt official. You accidentally slap personal info on the web. Quick, blame a kid!

Jonathan Richards 1

This happened in early March? And yet https://foipop.novascotia.ca still re-directs to a "System Unavailable" notice, even at Mon 23 Apr 10:38:23 UTC 2018.

I was about to exercise my leet skills with wget inside

$ for n in $(seq 100 199); ...; done

I hope that the prosecutors see sense, and charges are dropped/not laid.


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