* Posts by Mike 16

488 posts • joined 17 Jun 2009

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BS Detection 101 becomes actual University subject

Mike 16
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Once upon a time

When I was at university, but, you know, after they switched the language of instruction from Latin to English, there was a department called "Philosophy". Although I was a computer science major, the classes in rhetoric and epistemology were among the most beneficial. Those and the "intro to logic" (not circuits, but syllogisms, and a splash of statistics) taught in the philosophy department by a professor who also taught my calculus class.

Of course, by then I had been marinating in television, radio, and newspaper advertising long enough to be familiar with the concepts, if not the terms.

Book recommendation: besides "How to lie with statistics", I strongly suggest the books by Tufte on data visualization. Once you can recognize "chartjunk", you have a real leg up on BS detection.

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US account holders more likely to switch banks following fraud

Mike 16
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Pointless

I am old enough to have switched to a better bank from one that just didn't give a damn not once, but three times. In each case, the conscientious bank was within five years taken over by one of the "hey, it's our money now" banks. Seems like it's a lot more profitable to not care, and those excess earnings have to get used for something. OK, a lot go to bonuses, but a lot go toward buying and wrecking good companies. Just like in telecom and IT.

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Did Oracle just sign tape's death warrant? Depends what 'no comment' means

Mike 16
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To be fair

The cassette recorder on my KIM-1 seems to be pining for the fjords, but I still have access to a lovely septet of IBM 729s.

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FAKE BREWS: America rocked by 'craft beer' scandal allegations

Mike 16
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Beermageddon

---- If you're old enough, think back to the days of the 1960s and 1970s, when UK brewers were busy consolidating, and the quality of beer (and cider) was nosediving. Without much competition, and limited choice in pubs, the brewers churned out awfulness by the barrel. ----

I distinctly recall when I realized (1990 or so) that "the market" was at least trying to deal with the dreadful state of both beer and bread (what is it about grain and yeast?), with the growing popularity of local breweries and bakeries. It was like seeing Adam Smith's invisible hand at work.

I recall this because I reasoned that the plummeting quality of software would surely be corrected in a similar way. Ah, well, all dreams have to die someday.

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Mike 16
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Re: Dilution of the language

Harumph!

--- worth the extra from all the processor cycles it uses... ---

_My_ craft programming uses fewer cycles, by using them more efficiently. Not only lowers my silicon footprint, but I save all those cycles and once a month decant them into artisanal jerrycans to be distributed to deserving charities.

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Ex-FBI man spills on why hackers are winning the security game

Mike 16
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Re: Typically wrong.

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This is what makes the term "Software Engineer" such a joke. Does anyone using that title, actually have a PE?

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I think I met one, once, in 50 years of DP/MIS/IT (same s**t, different labels). OTOH, his PE was in Mechanical engineering. He just "followed the money" into SW.

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You can get specs on a building.

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Tell that to the folks in the Millennium Tower in SF. Many balls were dropped in the making of that fiasco.

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Mike 16
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Re: Sorry, off topic but I can't resist

Wait! Did I miss the news when they sued Mellanox?

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Macs don't get viruses? Hahaha, ha... seriously though, that Word doc could be malware

Mike 16
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Email Viruses

Anybody else here old enough to remember the first Word Macro virus (ILoveYou?) that was spread within (IIRC) weeks after all the major ISPs "debunking" the notion that email could possibly deliver a virus? That was in response to an email going around warning of such email viruses, which_may_ have been a hoax, or _may_ have started with serious research, or _may_ have been a response to a UseNet post from a year or so previous (on April 1, IIRC) detailing how one could construct a "model-line virus to attack people who used emacs as their news and mail reader (and time-manager, pickle slicer, poetry generator... You know, the sort that just don't get out much)

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Mike 16
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It's the 21st century

I would have thought that people who enable macros on Word documents without knowing where they came from would be extinct.

I mean, how do you eat, when all your money has been sent to some script-kiddie? Where do you live, when title to your house now belongs to a company with single-family homes all over the world, but "offices" that only exist as a mail-drop in the Caymans?

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Happy birthday: Jimbo Wales' sweet 16 Wikipedia fails

Mike 16
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Re: Hoax??

Some years ago (before there _was_ a Wikipdia) A famous security expert (no, not Bruce) suggested that it could be salutary to create what he called Encyclopedia Disinformatica. He proposed a sort of crowd-sourced link-farm (before those terms came about, but after Google, when Page Rank was passing AltaVista) of bullshit web pages on various subjects likely to be consulted by students instead of doing actual research. The idea was to be so outrageous, to anyone who actually knew much of anything about a subject, that it would be accepted as parody, but swallowed whole by students on a (self created) deadline. Of course, the teacher would know better than to accept a claim that Henry VIII was gay, but had a harem to placate the church.

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Mike 16
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An ElReg-worthy sample

You want controversy? As of 03DEC2016

Length, in markup bytes, of the 'Talk' pages for

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systemd => 4112

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Israel => 10866

Meanwhile, anybody else at least mildly amused that the included video is from RT?

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Comcast lied and now it must STFU: Its cable broadband is not 'the fastest' in the US

Mike 16
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How can they tell?

I can't even get a straight answer about what my speeds are _meant_ to be. But then how would I check when the terms of service disallow my taking measurements? And, at least once (although it was a while ago) it looked like they proxied a speed-test site. Yeah, Comcast, I know you can get blazing speeds from my cable modem to your head-end, when you detect that I'm trying to measure speed. Now explain how a file transfer to/from either of my off-prem. servers is so slow (way below advertised) compared to the same transfer between them (or to/from either from/to several others).

When I first got cable internet, it was advertised as T1 equivalent, and it pretty much was. After two ownership changes, it's now advertised as 20 (or maybe 50) Mbps, but I have never seen it top 14 or so. Briefly, on a good day, with a tailwind.

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ITU-T wants video sizes to halve again by 2020

Mike 16
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Frog Boiling

I suspect that the main driver of advanced compression techniques will be slowly acclimating viewers to an ever-worse viewing experience. Bonus points: follow the cable trend in eliminating most (if not all) of the error correction. That will work even better on a mobile device, amiright?

So the tradeoff is: when I try to watch an entire movie on my phone, do I want to hit my monthly data cap before it ends, or have the battery explode?

BTW: The "story-telling" thread reminds me of an article I read years ago, about how speech-compression researchers were bummed that bandwidth was getting cheaper, faster than their compression was getting better, so they re-tooled their gear and wrote new grant proposals around "speech recognition" and "more natural sounding speech synthesis".

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Russia (A) bans web porn as a 'bad influence' (B) decriminalizes domestic violence – or (C) all of the above?

Mike 16
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Re: Etymology

So, would "Prince of Peace" be an appropriate (rough) translation of Vladimir? Meshes nicely with his alliance to the Church. Or is there another meaning of "mir" that is closer?

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Feds snooping on your email without a warrant? US lawmakers are on a war path to stop that

Mike 16
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Re: You mean...

@youngone:

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My favourite is the way US legislators can add riders to bills, to either derail them, or add some completely unrelated clause.

---

Not just legislators. There have been well-publicized cases of staffers 'improving" legislation under rteh guise of "fixing a few typos", and the legislators voting without reading the revised bills. I mean, who has time to read the entire 1000-page ext of the "Puppies and Happiness preservation (plus pork for anybody involved Bill) when the vote is in ten minutes?

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Teach undergrads ethics to ensure future AI is safe – compsci boffins

Mike 16
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Business ethics

Sometimes you have to disguise it a bit. A friend and I (both "corporate grunts") managed to deflect a pretty clearly unethical proposal by convincing Mahogany Row that the risk of coming to the attention of the regulatory authorities was too high for the most likely level of profit enhancement. Of course, about five years later one of our competitors did the deed and got away with it. Also of course, they were operating in a more relaxed legal regime.

You pays your money and you takes your chances. But appealing to an executive's better nature is a non-starter, I agree.

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Chrome 56 quietly added Bluetooth snitch API

Mike 16
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Re: It gets worse every year it seems...

And IF the switch actually does anything.

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Microsoft's device masterplan shows it's still fighting Apple

Mike 16
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Compete with Apple on Quality?

Apple seems hell-bent on helping them out with that.

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Mike 16
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Re: Why !

You mean like Alvin Straight?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0166896/

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What links macOS, iOS, Safari, tvOS, watchOS? They all need patching

Mike 16
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Related?

I think you can read between the lines to guess that the Webkit/Safari bugs were introduced 10.10 or earlier, while the MacOS kernel bug was introduced in Sierra. else they would have issued a patch for the allegedly still supported OS versions before it.

Update Treadmills are _so_ much fun. Especially when they keep taping hand-grenades to the belt.

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UK.gov still drowning in legacy tech because no one's boarding Blighty's £700m data centre Ark

Mike 16
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Legacy?

Always reminded me of H.P. Lovecraft. His stories have a quite a lot in common with my experience of I.T.

(Hmmm, Ark at Corsham. Would that be Arkham for short?)

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Welcome to the Wipe House: President Trump shreds climate change, privacy, LGBT policies on WhiteHouse.gov

Mike 16
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whois obamawhitehouse.org

NOT FOUND

I suspect that _when_ this domain is registered, it will belong to Breitbart.

Also that this "quick exit" was not POTUS44's idea, or he (well, his minions) would have registered the domain before publicizing it.

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Trump's 'cyber tsar' Giuliani among creds leaked in mass hacks

Mike 16
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Myspace?

I'd expect a little loyalty to the team. That is, LiveJournal.

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On last day as president, Obama's CIO shrouds future .gov websites in secret code

Mike 16
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So we're good then?

Or only until some CA issues a cert to vlad@kremlin.ru?

(You _know_ it's gonna happen)

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Kill it with fire: US-CERT urges admins to firewall off Windows SMB

Mike 16
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Re: Samba can disable SMB1 as well

I once had to deal with a manufacturing automation system that would only work with Win2K at the "head of the line" and DOS on the individual machines. No, not that long ago.

But it is a rare company with a factory worth automating that also has tech-savvy people making purchasing decisions, so it's moot.

Of course it can get _way_ more "traditional":

http://www.pcworld.com/article/249951/computers/if-it-aint-broke-dont-fix-it-ancient-computers-in-use-today.html

Scroll down to Sparkler Filters.

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Just give up: 123456 is still the world's most popular password

Mike 16
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Horses for staples

First off, someone above mentioned using a password manager and "sharing the file between devices". That might be good advice for another year or so, but many (most?) phone makers and telcom carriers make it damn hard to "share a file" between devices without going through either their network (yeah, even if the devices are only a meter or so apart) or their app (which can send it to Burkina Faso for all you know). The continued iOSification of MacOS, and the ever more suck-ulent telemetry on Windows mean that soon they will be effectively the same as the Mobile OSes.

For me? I use passphrases (for sites without length limits) or truncated hashes of passphrases, for any site I care about. The ones I use frequently I memorize. The others are on a piece of paper in a safe.

Junk sites (sorry, El Reg) get junk passwords. It's not like anybody who went to school with me and knows me now (or works in law enforcement) would be stalled long by the "password reset" questions. Other than the ones I lied about, which also go on that paper.

Bottom line: passwords can suck, but they are about the only commonly available method of authentication that is not subject to subversion by "people with more power than you", which is pretty much everybody.

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Aaarrgh, zombie! Dead Apple iOS monopoly lawsuit is reanimated

Mike 16
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Re: Who is paying these corrupted judges, uh?

Just an observation about:

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Apple is not telling devs "if you want to get your app approved for the App Store, you can't write an Android version of it".

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Nintendo did pretty much that, and got away with it. Just sayin.

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Donald Trump will take cybersecurity advice from, um, Rudy Giuliani

Mike 16
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Re: I doubt his company actually does anything

A certain developer lately much in the news did not just use his "juice" with the building department to move his own projects forward and hold competitors back. He also leveraged his cordial relationship with the leadership of several construction unions. One has to wonder if the IT security folks from some of these "family businesses" would be a better choice. They are, after all, adept in keeping the FBI out of their systems.

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Wi-Fi for audiophiles: Alliance preps TimeSync certification program

Mike 16
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Broken already (Re: Amazed that this stuff is so difficult)

One sprocket hole, heck even one frame, would add/subtract at most 50 milliseconds of latency. Yeah, the guys who claim to be able to assess the amount of oxygen left in your cables might object, but real people in the real world would not notice.

What I, and the comment you are replying to, are talking about is where the audio gets out of sync with the video by multiple seconds, making the experience indeed akin to watching a badly dubbed film.

The issue is not likely to be addressed by anything a WiFi standard can help, as the content is broken well before the connection from your receiver to your TV/speakers. I first noticed it during the run-up to the digital TV transition, when my totally analog TV, receiving off the air via an antenna, started exhibiting this behavior. A little digging found that the networks had started doing all-digital feeds to the local stations, so even though there was no way for latency warts to appear between the analog transmitter and my TV, it was too late at that part of the chain.

Synchronized sound was "born" in the 1920, and "died" in about the 1990 (at least in the U.S.A). So, three score and ten applies to technology as well as people (see also the years between the mid 1950s and late 1990s, when a radio didn't need to "warm up" _or_ "boot up" :-)

Maybe in another 30 years or so, home wireless boxes will be so full of deep packet inspection and neural networks (for "crime fighting") there will be a bit of extra capacity to fix this sort of thing. I'll be too dead to care.

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Anti-smut law dubs PCs, phones 'pornographic vendor machines', demands internet filters

Mike 16
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Automated detection

Have "they" managed to fix the filters that blocked images of a pig farm, because of course pink == nude?

Asking because there are pig farms in ND. Would the farmer have to add $20 for each security camera?

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Let's go ARM wrestling with an SEO link spammer

Mike 16
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Targetted ads

Can't say for Google Search (as I use other engines), but I noticed a few years ago that a gmail thread on functional programming was decorated with ads for kilts and bagpipe lessons. I have to assume that some "too clever by half" algorithm at the big G had done

FP -> Haskell -> Glasgow -> Scotland -> Scottish cliches

At least they didn't try to pitch me on Haggis

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Fake History Alert: Sorry BBC, but Apple really did invent the iPhone

Mike 16
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IIRC, it was Cisco

that "invented" the iPhone, or at least named one of their products that, and Trademarked the name, so Jobs et al. had to buy the name from them.

Of course, I could be misremembering, but I can't be arsed to check facts, as that is now an occupation up there with flint knapping and spinning on a drop spindle.

BTW: on the "but it needed a screen" front, I was struck by a mental image of a lovely orange plasma-panel smartphone. Maybe with a chorded keyboard built into the side... Of course battery life would be dire, but modern smartphones have added that feature on their own.

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Man jailed for 3 days after Texas cops confuse cat litter for meth

Mike 16
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Thanks, AC (Re: I'm assuming)

Now every El Reg reader of this thread is on a terrorist watch list.

With an "enhancement" for people who ever posted as AC.

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Put walls around home Things, win $25k from US government

Mike 16
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Sign up here

To get on "the list" of people who will have to be "neutralized" when Phase 27 of Surveillance R Us kicks in (we are currently on about phase 19).

What person who has actually looked at the trends of closed hardware and mandatory updates to software (Secure today, maybe. Compromised tomorrow, definitely) would want to raise their visibility? "Question Authority, and surely Authorities will Question you"

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'Twas Brillo but then Android Things, which watched as Google Weaved its Nest

Mike 16
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Mandatory OTA "Updates"

What could possibly go wrong?

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Meg Whitman: HPE software's new owner? Kill a product? NEVER!

Mike 16
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Re: Just a note...

Now you've gone and made me want to hunt up my 8inch floppy of Micro Focus COBOL, and maybe blow the spiders out of the PDP-11 it used to run on.

BTW: I remember the 60s, and I was there. I was just too busy with college and working three jobs to partake of the more famous bits. OK, did make time for Hair!, and a few Grateful Dead concerts.

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That is pretty, er, Nimble. Storage firm claims 'six nines' availability

Mike 16
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Better than my former employer

After the startup (that you have never heard of) where I worked was acquired by a mega-corp (that you have definitely heard of), all of us plankton were herded into a room to be told of our bright future at BigCorp, and the wonderful products we would now be working on. At one point, the spokesdroid gushed about how they (now we) were totally committed to "Nine Fives" reliability. We figured that might be just about doable.

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Top CompSci boffins name the architectures we'll need in 2030

Mike 16
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As reliable as software?

Over my career, I have _so_ often had to deal with faulty hardware that came down to faulty Verilog (or VHDL, or SystemC) that I shudder to think how this turns out. Even when the "compile" (from text to physical silicon) is slow and expensive, and one would expect a modicum of care to be taken, somehow the "Heck, it's just software" attitude seems to percolate into the physical device. Couple that with simulation/verification that emphasize "If we give it the right inputs, it produces the expected output" to the near exclusion of "What could go wrong if we send it slightly odd inputs" is just the frosting on the cake.

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DDoS script kiddies are also... actual kiddies, Europol arrests reveal

Mike 16
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Re: S'kiddies and their lack of basic knowledge/skills

Yeah, kids today. They just grab Daddy's shotgun out of the cabinet when they want to raise havoc. Why, in _my_ day we knew how to make a proper Zip-Gun, and how to talk that annoying prat down the street into doing the first test firing.

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US think-tank wants IoT device design regulated, because security

Mike 16
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"Enterprise" shoddiness.

Just another instance of a phenomenon I have noted for a while. "Simple" correlates with "mind-boggling interface", "Timeless" with "Soon to be in the remainders bin", and the fact that "The People's Democratic Workers Paradise" is very unlikely to be a great place to live, or even visit if not at the invitation of "The Benevolent Leader"

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Latest loon for Trump's cabinet: Young-blood-loving, kidney-market advocate Jim O'Neill

Mike 16
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Mithril Investments

Do the lawyers of the Tolkien estate know about this?

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US commission whistles to FIDO: Help end ID-based hacks by 2021

Mike 16
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One Size Fits All

First off:

--- I don't have to prove my identity when I buy a packet of crisps or a book in a local shop. ---

"Yet". That is clearly the goal, so your medical insurance premiums can rise if you are not following the latest (obsolete, industry-written) diet guidelines, and the various TLAs can keep an eye on everybody who might read dangerous material like "De Re Metallica" (not about music, btw).

The thing that bugs me is that in addition to things that are sufficiently trivial that a password is sufficient, they want to replace them for things for which a password (as one factor) is necessary. Thumbprint to take my DVR out of "sleep"? uh, OK, maybe. Thumbprint lifted off the mug I last used at a pub, to transfer all my worldly possessions to Somalia? No thank you very much.

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New British flying robot killer death machines renamed 'Protector'

Mike 16
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It's a perfectly Cromwellent name

That is all.

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Software can be more secure, says NIST, and we think we know how

Mike 16
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Re: Start by actually writing your own code!

--- In software development, the full phrase is "If you want something done right use the same library that everyone else uses for doing that and don't dick around re-implementing it yourself". ---

That way lies Heartbleed, and so many others. The combination of too many layers and dynamic libraries has meant that some developer you have never heard of has a bad day working on some library you didn't know you were using, and systems all over the world start rolling over for no good reason as soon as the "mandatory automatic update" happens. The first woodpecker to come around not only destroys your house, but the entire neighborhood.

(Yes, it is not a universally good idea to "roll ones own", but Sturgeon's Law applies in spades to libraries and frameworks. Code to an actual _Standard_, for which there is more than one implementation, and of course "Trust, but Verify", if possible)

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Bloke sold cash register code to restaurants that deliberately hid sales from taxmen

Mike 16
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Reminds me of Petrol Pumps

(Well, gas pumps, since this was in the U.S. ) Several places were caught with "special" firmware which would "measure" more than was pumped, until they approached 5 gallons, then under-measure to compensate so the amount pumped matched the size of the Weights and Measures official 5 Gallon test container. Then off to the races again.

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If your smart home gear hasn't updated recently, throw it in the trash

Mike 16
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Three thoughts

1) Manufactures would _love_ legally mandated "updates", as most updates are one step forward (at most) for security and two steps back (at least) for privacy/ability to avoid being involuntarily monetized. Bonus points for when the update so cripples the device that you have to buy a new one.

2) The Snoopers of the world (Comey and May, for a start) are similarly all for it, with that "killswitch" idea as a bonus.

3) UL and CE are a start, other than the oceans of crap out there with counterfeit labels.

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American supremacy, space, liability, funding, openness – AI gurus lay it all out to US senators

Mike 16
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Re: AI? Pah...

Where, in a Functioning Market world, would there be a demand for AS? The natural form is plentiful and cheap. Particularly in the form of politicians.

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Whiffy kitchen after last night's chips? Clear the air with SPACE PLASMA

Mike 16
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Maybe the point

Is actually to move along the folks who would otherwise hang out all day to use the shop WiFi.

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Bletchley Park Trust vows to shore up insecure website

Mike 16
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Re: ??

Do these come from Kurt?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_Station_Kurt

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How-to terror manuals still being sold by Apple, Amazon, Waterstones

Mike 16
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How far back?

Jules Verne's "Mysterious Island" contains instruction for making Nitroglycerin. It's probably mixed into the Project Gutenberg DVDs.

I once hesitated too long over whether to buy a WWII era pamphlet with instructions on building an improvised pistol. The price was more than I could justify on impulse, and when I returned it had been sold. Clearly the SOE were into promoting terrorism (From Vichy's point of view) back before I was born.

For the entertainment side, Encyclopaedia Britannica had a nice section on Pyrotechnics back when I were a lad.

@AC: Thanks for the mental image of homeopathic explosives.

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