* Posts by Mike 16

749 posts • joined 17 Jun 2009


Oracle boss prevented from Brexit Britain trip due to US shutdown

Mike 16 Silver badge

Shutdown as negotation

@geoffrey W:

-- What were they thinking when they came up with that mechanism? --

Just as Bill gates did not invent CTRL_ALT_DEL, but did popularize it, there was guy who weaponized the shutdown as the one true way to govern.

Nice thing about recent history is that many of the players are still around, so you might ask him:


(I predict, though, that the answer will be somewhere between "The end justifies the means" and "F-you commie rat-bastard")

Not to single out Newt, really. A _lot_ of politicians are lawyers, and most seem to think that "If it is not illegal (yet), it is perfectly OK". Also, a surprising number (at least in the U.S. Congress) of politicians are former cheerleaders


and once you have a certain level of physical gymnastics handled, perhaps getting into mental and moral gymnastics is easier.

World's first robot hotel massacres half of its robot staff

Mike 16 Silver badge

Maybe they should have

put the bid out more widely than just going with Sirius Cybernetics, even if the owner's brother did own a bunch of SC stock.

Yes, you can remotely hack factory, building site cranes. Wait, what?

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Not good


How would the controller know that moving the load N instead of E would put it through the window of the bosses car?


How about N vs S? Your comment pushed me over the "should I bother to post?" edge, as the article had tickled an old memory about a not-exactly-security issue with a traveling crane. I probably read it on comp.risks, which means "before 2001" when I went cold-turkey.

Anyway, some repair of said crane had resulted in the phases being connected incorrectly. It powered up OK, stopped. Then the repair guy commanded a small movement one direction, but due to the reversed phases, the result was in a small movement the other direction, which the control loop "corrected", leading quickly to full power the opposite of the correct direction. The stop blocks at the (actual, not anticipated) end of the track were not able to halt the mass of the crane traveling at full speed, and it crashed through the wall and landed on a vehicle parked outside. There was speculation at the time whether that vehicle was owned by the electrician who had done the erroneous wiring. Poetic, but unconfirmed.

Smartphones gateway drug to the Antichrist, says leader of Russian Orthodox Church

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: The so-called "beast" of Revelation was an STD ...

IIRC The identity of the "John" who wrote Revelations is far from settled. The claim that he was actually the Apostle John has been disputed for some time.

Facebook apparently did not enforce their "Real Names" policy at the time.

Linus Torvalds opts for the scream test: Linux kernel syscall tweaked to shut data-leak hole – anyone upset, yell now

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Probably an access control issue


have to let the system know which processes are trusted and which are not.


I thought one of the key principles in the Evil Overlord's Guide to World Domination was to _never_ let any of your "trusted" henchmen know which of them is actually _trusted_ (for now).

Mainframe brains-slurper sues IBM for 'age discrim', calls Ginny and biz 'morally bankrupt'

Mike 16 Silver badge

In people as in things

(allegedly) old saying:

Two fools. One says "This is old, and therefore good". The other: "This is new, and therefore better"

Meanwhile, I, and the other "nudged out the door" greybeards of my acquaintance had a tendency to document what we know, and were doing, including early design notes, without needing a patented process in place. Those who have stayed with a company for more than a few years have a personal relationship with their (soon to be) former co-workers, and do not want to make their lives difficult. Sometime, we are given time to do this. Others? Well, I left work on my last day of one job after 8PM, finishing up some notes to my replacement.

You can blame laziness as much as greed for Apple's New Year shock

Mike 16 Silver badge

Selling security

Some folks on another list have mentioned that the Apple "Privacy" sign is on the side of a Marriott hotel. Odd choice given the Marriott data leak.

Meanwhile, I do believe the Apple ecosystem is (a bit) more secure than most, as long as:

1) They don't get subborned by some TLA

2) You avoid iCloud like the plague.

Problem is, with the rise of authoritarianism, (1) will not last long, and (2) requires constant vigilance to avoid the dark patterns that try to get you to click the "leak all my info, passwords, email, etc. to Apple" link that _looks_ like a "make your device more secure with our guard-unicorn! It even farts rainbows!" button.

It's 2019, the year Blade Runner takes place: I can has flying cars?

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Imagine a smart bomb that refuses to explode

Let there be light.

(As "Benson Arizona" plays softly,,,)

Gotta go. My turn to feed the alien (and service the elevator).

Microsoft's 2018, part 2: Azure data centres heat up and Windows 10? It burns! It burns!

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: It Burns!?

Thank you! The first, definitely. The second, most likely, Should have guessed they were from Hammer.

Thanks again, and Happy New Year!

Mike 16 Silver badge

It Burns!?

Very OT, but I would love to be told the name of the film or program that I stumbled on many years back when many UHF channels were pretty much "obscure old films, all the time". It was almost certainly toward the end of this one, and the scene I remember is some guy stumbling out of a spherical tank (probably shot at an oil refinery or other chemical plant) screaming "It Burns!", and the revelation that the "advanced fertilizer process" was actually making food (or fuel, or aphrodisiacs?) for some alien overlords.

On the chance that the headline is referencing that film, could someone enlighten me with the title and (rough) year)?

While diverging into B-movie filmography. any hints of one that features a tube station overrun by crocodile-sized intelligent mantis-like creatures? At least as far as I could ascertain through the (RF) snow. We no longer have that problem (snow, not crocodile-mantises), just variations on major parts of the frame entering Witness Protection, or the audio becoming completely unmoored from the video, in our brave new DTV world.

Your two-minute infosec roundup: Drone arrests, Alexa bot hack, Windows zero-day, and more

Mike 16 Silver badge

Russian vote-hacking, and 2FA

So, the Russians had nothing to do with dodgy "signature fails", false announcement of polling places moving, real moving or closing of polling places with little or no notice, "harvesting" of absentee ballots... Good to know American Ingenuity is still a thing, without help from furriners..

As for 2FA, having it actually work might be nice, but as it is, every time I use one of my alternate computers, or a VPN, or use the (horrendous) gmail web interface _on_ my main computer, I get a panic message from Google about a "new device", even if I had had it for years and used it the day before. It's almost like they will not rest until I give up dealing with their buggy IMAP interface on a non-google device, and just turn on the "snoop everything, all the time" stuff in the webmail and app.

But that "no password reuse" advice is "table stakes" for security. But also consider "Don't invite a vampire (IoT) into your home"

Google settles Right To Be Forgotten case on eve of appeal hearing

Mike 16 Silver badge

Likewise public record cannot be altered or deleted.

I suspect you meant "should not". Public records have been altered and deleted for probably as long as they have existed. It's just that destroying, say, some incriminating cuneiform tablets with a mallet is easier than destroying all extant copies (even those in the internet archive) of Hansard.

Apple iPhone X screen falls short of promises, lawsuit says

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: 32 rods per hogshead?

Wow, that's worse than my son's old 1970 Chevelle. I'm picturing a 30-liter V16 with a blower stolen from one of those open-pit-mine crawlers. Does your gas/petrol tank resemble an Olympic swimming pool! :-)

Fraudster convicted of online banking thefts using… whatever the hell this thing is

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Revenge of the 80's

--- I recall a 555-based tone generator a friend and I breadboarded together ---

Are you sure that wasn't a 556, for Dual Tone?

And that your muse didn't have a surname starting with 'W'?

OTOH, the harmonic content of simple 555-based tone generators made for their use as "tariff reduction devices" iffy.

UK Supreme Court considers whether spy court should be immune to legal probes

Mike 16 Silver badge

Any chance

that while they are remodeling the Star Chamber, they run across an old copy of Magna Carta in the walls?

Oz opposition folds, agrees to give Australians coal in their stockings this Christmas

Mike 16 Silver badge


So, if a backdoor does not affect _all_ applications on _all_ systems (e.g. has no effect on at least one flashlight app, or doesn't work on an iPhone 3), then it's all good?

GOPwned: Republicans fall victim to email hack

Mike 16 Silver badge

Hacks R us

When someone (probably senior, but they'll find an intern to blame) forgets to renew the contract with a "security consultant", you can expect said consultant to go looking for other customers. "Business is Business".

But I totally agree that it is far more likely the contractors were not merely out for monetary rewards for services rendered.

Electing someone who owes us money: Maybe a few hundred million dollars

Sowing chaos in the 'Free World': Priceless!

Tesla autopilot saves driver after he fell asleep at wheel on the freeway

Mike 16 Silver badge

Dog in the "Driver seat"

A friend (In Californian, mid 1960s) with a mid-1950s right-hand drive Land Rover delighted in the reaction of other drivers to his Irish Setter in the front passenger seat.

Why, you're no better than an 8-bit hustler: IBM punts paper on time-saving DNN-training trick

Mike 16 Silver badge

No loss in model accuracy?

That sounds a lot like the typical advertising "There is no better <x>", which they intend us to read as "This is clearly the best" while those who stayed awake in rhetoric might discern it as "This is not really any worse than the rest of the crap".

I like the analog stuff, though. At last an explanation for occasionally wildly odd AI results. "It works just like your brain", which is so simple/obvious that even Uncle Phil can understand, after a few too many pints.

What now, Larry? AWS boss insists Amazon will have dumped Oracle database by end of 2019

Mike 16 Silver badge

But X still uses Y!

Brings to mind the days when DEC PDP-10s were considered mainframes, and someone gleefully pointed out that a certain growing non-aerospace Seattle company used one for its business infrastructure, rather than "dogfooding".

The response was a (slightly later) statement from said company that it did not own or operate any such systems. Not mentioned: These functions were now carried out by independent contractors (coincidentally former employees) in leased office space (coincidentally) formerly occupied by the same people and equipment. But _technically_...

(IIRC. Anecdotal, this may not have happened, Don't believe everything you read. Where did I put that lawyer's card?)

Sorry, we haven't ACLU what happened in sealed 'Facebook decryption' case, but let's find out

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Gendered Connectors

-- "Mommy, why is this thing that I stick into that thing called male and that other one female?"

A friend had that epiphany (about M and F connection terminology) while doing a talk on amateur radio to grade 9 students at a RC seminary. Gave him pause, it did.

And yes, IBM used ambisexuous connectors (they called them hermaphroditic) on I/O cables for System 360. It makes a lot of sense when you are snaking 50 feet of cable under the floor and want to avoid the "Oops, got the wrong end of the cable" problem.

Mike 16 Silver badge


When a law enforcement agency says it has no way of intercepting messages on a particular encrypted service, it is a _strong_ clue that they do have access to such messages, probably through a backdoor. Or a side door, or dangling through the skylight with night-vision goggles, whatever.

"Oh, please don't throw me into that briar patch"

What a meth: Woman held for 3 months after cops mistake candy floss for hard drugs

Mike 16 Silver badge

Cite the 4th?

Bad advice that can have a serious adverse effect on your health. Yes, even if white, over 30, and driving a decent car or in your own home. As the bumper sticker says:

"Question Authority, and the Authorities will assuredly Question You", and not always gently.

'Massage parlour' location looks like Amazon stealth-testing secret new wireless network

Mike 16 Silver badge

Do they promise

A "Happy Ending"?

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg can't remember smear firm, but 'some of their work' crossed her desk

Mike 16 Silver badge

Our octopod overlords

So, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA-247 is a not-so-subtle message that (some?) US TLAs are parts in a vast conspiracy having something to do with a certain Abrahamic faith, but also so self-aware they would advertise this themselves?

Influential Valley gadfly and Intel 8051 architect John Wharton has died

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: 8051: one of the most widely used

The last commercial product I worked on had not one, but three 8051s in it. _Somebody_ has to tune the SerDes DSPs that makes PCIe reliable. Ditto the "supervisor" in some 10Gb Ethernet (and probably Infiniband) switches. And as has been pointed out, lots of USB gear has an 8051 inside. They don't call it "embedded Computing" for nothing.

Dollar for dollar, crafting cryptocurrency sucks up 'more energy' than mining gold, copper, etc

Mike 16 Silver badge

One difference between gold and crypto-coins

You generally have to pay the people with the spades, or at least a sufficiently nasty and well-armed set of slave-watchers. With crypto-coins, you can often get away with commandeering the resources of others. That's been the key to success for millennia.

Shift-work: Keyboards heaped in a field push North Yorks council's fly-tipping buttons

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Craven District Council

Would it kill ElReg to be more specific? I mean, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of craven councils in the world. I can think of three within 32kM of me, and I'm not even in the U.K.

Unexpected MySQL database meltdown fingered in GitHub's 24-hour website wobble

Mike 16 Silver badge

Five Nines

OT, but that reminded me of the "pep talk" we recently acqui-hired remnants of a once-promising startup were given on arrival at the (larger head-count than the town I grew up in) megacorp. The speaker was the (insert plausible title translating to "high muckety-muck") of global marketing, and he reassured us that the emphasis will still be on commitment to quality and reliability, promising we would deliver "nine fives". A fellow newly-borged coworker and I looked at each other, agreeing that this lot could probably achieve it.

GCHQ asks tech firms to pretty please make IoT devices secure

Mike 16 Silver badge

Mandatory Standards

One must presume that any mandatory standards promulgated by GCHQ (or other five-eyes "security" agencies) will contain NOBUS (Nobody But Us) provisions. Secure from everybody but GCHQ and friends, where some friends are such bastions of freedom and decency as [redacted per security spec]

Scanning an Exchange server for a virus that spreads via email? What could go wrong?

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Sweet memories...


While I agree that a lot of conscientious people worked a lot of hours in the run-up to Y2K, IIRC a patch for Windows believing 2000 would be a leap year came out in something like November 1999. This despite earlier complaints from fin-tech people that computations of future value or the like were odd. The thing is,, sometimes you don't just need to know what day today is, but what day 60 or 180 days from now will be.

Facebook's new always-listening home appliance kit Portal doesn't do Facebook

Mike 16 Silver badge


Is that Cruella's sister?

Intel's commitment to making its stuff secure is called into question

Mike 16 Silver badge


Here's the thing. While I agree that in an ideal world where computers are managed by knowledgeable technicians with both the skill and the attitude to "do stuff right", any firmware mods (let alone JTAG access) would be controlled by a hardware jumper, preferably one that is either:

A) Verified to be disconnected before the "special mode" it was needed for can be exited back to "normal mode" BIOS/UEFI)


B) In such a position in the case that the vulnerable system cannot be buttoned up and slid back into the rack.

That just "doesn't scale". When Spectre/Meltdown or similar are discovered and (at least partially) mitigated, the small business with under 10 servers can do the trudge from one to the next with a "crash cart", and probably has one person who, because they need to be a jack-of-all-trades, has all the needed skills. Now consider even a medium-size outfit (like one of my former employers) who has three or four rows of a dozen or more racks with at least a dozen servers per rack. How many crash-carts do they have? How many adequately skilled IT techs can you cram into each aisle, if you even have them?

One might argue that hardware designers should be more about reliability and security than the current mania for speed and cost, or that software developers should dial back the "Ship it and deal with any problems in the next release, or maybe never, Does never work for you?"

That argument is unlikely to get much consideration from folks who need to keep the lights on in the face of financial and schedule demands. In this universe anyway. "Damage to reputation" doesn't seem to actually happen much anymore. Pretty much all the "victim companies" of massive data breaches are still in business, and no corporate officers are in jail.

Everybody wants quality, damn few want to pay for it.

What could be more embarrassing for a Russian spy: Their info splashed online – or that they drive a Lada?

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: @mark i 2

-- They were better made than the Ural a friend rather foolishly bought which kept losing compression till he discovered the cylinder studs were made of mild steel and kept stretching. --

Should have bought a Marusho, if he definitely wanted a not-BMW. :-)

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Or

--- It's like a "get out of jail" card when driving in Russia but could be a "get arrested and deported" card elsewhere. ---

What spy, or spy-wannabe, has only one set of ID?

Curiosity's computer silent on science, baffling boffins

Mike 16 Silver badge

To be fair

It would be difficult to have the human operator touch "OK" on Curiosity's screen, so "Always accept all updates" was their only possible choice, although I might quibble with the "don't bother even notifying the user" bit.

Or maybe the decline in c ( http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/c-decay.html ) has messed with the comms gear, but only for "fake science" results like "Mars is definitely over 6000 years old"

No, the Mirai botnet masters aren't going to jail. Why? 'Cos they help Feds nab cyber-crims

Mike 16 Silver badge

Two minds

I agree that incarceration is probably a lose/lose for society, but I can't help wondering if there is more to it.

I can't shake the notion that they will be employed mainly in creating malware for the FBI rather than on chasing other outlaws.

The Abagnale reference is taken, yet you don't typically hire a ninja to trim your topiary, no matter how good he is with a sword. But if you are darn tired of that pesky neighbor, it might make sense.

Judge: Georgia's e-vote machines are awful – but go ahead and use them

Mike 16 Silver badge

Queues and competence.

The queues are typically produced deliberately, in districts that do not typically align with the party controlling the elections board. Those people on the elections board are quite competent at assuring that only the "right" people are elected.

Think Occam once in a while, not just Hanlon.

Mike 16 Silver badge

hostile foreign powers

Who needs hostile foreign powers when we have plenty of hostile domestic (and trans-national) powers to subvert our elections?

Guys, geez... finally 5Gs: AT&T grows super-fast mobile net city rollout

Mike 16 Silver badge

So how many seconds

of 1080p low-latency gaming does it take to hit the "don't call it a cap" on your "unlimited data" plan and get throttled to 200kbps?

Also, how long before some buffoon walks in front of a bus while using an augmented reality headset that displays it as a coach and four unicorns?

(and as other have mentioned, how long does it take to walk out of your coverage area?)

Volkswagen faces fresh Dieselgate lawsuit in Germany – report

Mike 16 Silver badge

Meanwhile BMW

is recalling some of their diesel autos:


I don't know about you, but spontaneous combustion seems a more immediate issue than emissions cheating.

Of course, BMW could always ask this comment to be removed as a "Right to be forgotten".

Dear America: Want secure elections? Stick to pen and paper for ballots, experts urge

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Since the US is aware that their last election was rigged

So, another "less rigged" election, run by the folks elected in the previous, rigged, election(s)?

How's that supposed to work?

Note the undercurrent in the various discussions. Dems generally favor methods that require a lot of "foot troops" to subvert, while GOP generally favor methods that require a few select points to be subverted, often at substantial monetary cost.

Roskosmos admits that Soyuz 'meteorite' hole had more earthly origins

Mike 16 Silver badge

Not only Russians

Back in the 1960s I read a book from the 50s or earlier about the U.S. Navy's submarine program, including a disturbing story from the early days. A naval inspector noticed a small pit on the pressure hull of a sub under construction. As a bureaucrat, he of course had a paperclip handy, and was astonished to find that the "pit" was a hole, all the way through. Rushing to the shipyard management to report it, he was confidently assured that since the hole was "above the waterline" and would be covered by paint, there was no problem.

Pressure differentials work either way, but construction by the lowest (or best connected) bidder is a constant.

Lyon for speed, San Francisco for money, Amsterdam for fun: the best cities to be a techie

Mike 16 Silver badge

Maybe RS should move

To a city so tech-friendly that they can find a web-designer who doesn't make a hash of the images, or doesn't rely on images rather than text. I can see how some people would consider their "Gender Equality" (or possibly "hook-up sex") icon appropriate for "Quality of life" (at least in Firefox 61.0.2, MacOS Sierra), but I have to believe there is more to quality of life. Little intangibles like not having to cope with inept web-designers.

You can buy Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins' mansion for a cool $13m

Mike 16 Silver badge

Have to move to California?

Why? Are there some low bridges or narrow tunnels on the route from Lost Gators to Whereverville?

Or did you mean selling the house _and_ the land?

ABBYY woes: Doc-reading software firm leaves thousands of scans blowing in wind

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: No data was lost to an unknown party during the exposure.

You need to parse that in the lawyerese sense. Maybe data was lost, but they know who nicked it, so it was not lost to an unknown party. As to whether that "knowledge" is more detailed that "User A. Nony. Mouse at an IP address 'somewhere in China'", We'll never know. And more importantly, as others have noted, neither will the customers whose data went walkies.

Salesforce boss Marc Benioff objects to US immigration policy so much, he makes millions from, er, US immigration

Mike 16 Silver badge

Help from a broad

Note that all of the president's wives (so far) have been "from abroad". There are some jobs U.S. citizens won't take.

Muslim American woman sues US border cops: Gimme back my seized iPhone's data!

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: There are zero rights at the border...

Note that "inland" is a bit of a misnomer. The "border" (and Constitution Exclusion Zone) surrounds any airport with at least one international flight. I don't know how frequent that flight has to be. Maybe they just have to launch a yearly weather balloon headed in the general direction of Canada or Mexico?

All your rights are belong to U.S.!

You want how much?! Israel opts not to renew its Office 365 vows

Mike 16 Silver badge

3 days in advance is plenty of time ...

@Alan Brown

3 days in advance is plenty of time to discover problems.

What I see is far too many people showing up hopelessly underprepared and then expecting the local IT folk to drop everything to make it work.

True Dat! Working backstage for a fairly well-known conference (Well, El Reg covers it :-), I lost track of how many times the speakers, who were asked to come "on deck" backstage 5-10 minutes before their talk, showed up with "just a few changes to my slides". Yeah, we developed a process for doing these "diving catches", but it was never smooth, or justified.

An then there's the folks who used snazzy custom fonts in the PPT decks, but did not bring the fonts along... (almost as good as the "file:" URLs for images you'd occasionally see on websites. "Hey, it worked on my machine!")

Mike 16 Silver badge

Re: Libreoffice is free and just fine.

@}{amis}{ Unfortunately, sending a CV as something other than a Word .doc may get it immediately round-filed. I discovered this when applying for a Hardware debug and kernel developer, and asked why that requirement. It boiled down to "our buzzword scanner only understands .doc", and that said buzzword scanner was a common bit of software for many HR departments.

YMMV, and maybe being rejected by a company with an insane HR dept. is not the worst outcome.

OTOH, I snuck my CV in the side door directly to the manager who had the open position, and was hired. OTOOH, HR was not the only part of the company suffering from the transition from "founders who know what they are doing" to "Adult supervision all around", and they went under after 3 years. I was acqui-hired by a well known firm that did not have that particular mental illness. They had plenty of their own, home grown insanity, but paid well.


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