* Posts by Steve the Cynic

670 posts • joined 28 Jul 2009

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WannaLaugh? Funsters port WannaCrypt to Commodore, Cisco, Nintendo and Tesla

Steve the Cynic
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Joke

Re: They won't stop

Ken Thompson called. He wants his meme back.

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El Reg straps on the Huawei Watch 2

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Android Wear is shockingly bad

"You summed it up perfectly with swipe left and swipe right lets you change the watch face???? How could anyone ever think that was a good idea and actually get out to a live release?"

Bizarrely, WatchOS 3 does this. So Apple thought it was a good idea. I'm not remotely convinced it is, of course. It's one of the negatives of WatchOS 3, along with the change in how you access "glances", like the music player remote controls - changed from 'swipe up" to "press the lower side button, use the wheel if the right glance isn't displayed, tap the screen to use the selected glance". Not an improvement.

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Great Ormond Street children's hospital still offline after WannaCrypt omnishambles

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Left staff without e-mail/Internet access @Steve the Cynic

Yeah. I was in two minds about saying it, but everyone was getting *so* worked up about it. Ho hum.

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Steve the Cynic
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Re: Left staff without e-mail/Internet access

All of you calm down. I read the AC post as a *joke* about people inside the hospital now getting on with work instead of looking at FB/Twit/etc.

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US judges say you can Google Google, but you can't google Google

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Videotape (tm)

In https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generic_and_genericized_trademarks the Unreliable Source claims it was Ampex Corporation, "an early manufacturer of audio and video tape recorders".

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Flying robots are great... until they meet flying humans, anyway

Steve the Cynic
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"You can't restrict delivery drones to a certain air corridor, or altitude, when they may need to access ground level at almost any geographical location."

Well, you *can*, but the limit looks a little different. There are already restrictions on aircraft, especially on helicopters and similar, but these rules are often of the form "minimum AGL".(1)(2) Delivery drones would require a restriction of the form "maximum AGL". Really, does a delivery drone *need* to go more than a few hundred feet above the ground? You'd also need restrictions of the type 'here is an air corridor for landing or taking-off aircraft: no drones.' I mean, I get that sometimes we have problems with birds in and around runways(3), but let's not make it worse.

(1) AGL = Above Ground Level.

(2) Example: Single-engine helicopters have a higher minimum AGL over urban areas than twin-engine ones, because they need to be able to auto-rotate if one engine fails.

(3) Not always around airports and similar. It is, for example, known that Ruppel's vulture sometimes gets as high as 11,000 metres/37,000 feet because one was run over by an a aircraft at that altitude. (The aircraft lost an engine. The bird lost, well, um, everything.)

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DeX Station: Samsung's Windows-killer is ready for prime time

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Linux

OK, but how is the "numpty user" supposed to know that? Does it *say* META on it? Not on my keyboards. (And yeah, my weird Japanese gamer keyboard has a Windows key.)

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Steve the Cynic
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Re: Linux

"it has to work well and easily for numpty users"

That's why the keyboard shortcuts in the article all seem to show that common key that appears on every keyboard, 'META".

Well, I say "every keyboard", except that every single PC keyboard I've ever bought, including the weird Japanese gamer keyboard that I got direct from Japan(1), has totally lacked that key. I haven't seen it on Mac keyboards either.

(1) Of course, its layout was all messed up because even with a JP layout loaded, none of the unusual punctuation keys worked correctly, but I eventually figured out that inside, it is "106-key" (but in a compact, laptop-like format), and I hadn't configured it correctly.

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Oracle crushed in defeat as Java world votes 'No' to modular overhaul

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Rules of thumb

What exactly do you mean by "network stack in the kernel" that means that FreeBSD doesn't do this?

Context: my company's main product uses FreeBSD as an OS. I have intimate knowledge of the flow of network packets through it, and in normal circumstances, packets do not leave kernelspace. The netinet components are, in fact, normally compiled into the main monolithic kernel file (more or less like Linux usually does).

The Windows network stack is exclusively in loadable modules(1), but still runs in kernelspace once loaded.

(1) There's almost nothing in the core Windows kernel, aside from enough disk modules and module management to load the rest of the kernel from what are merely specialised DLLs on disk.

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Sweaty fitness bands fall behind as Apple Watch outpaces sales

Steve the Cynic
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> "The second generation of the Apple Watch is water resistant"

> So is the first gen, just not to the same degree.

Specifically:

* First generation (not Series 1, not Series 2): IP67 (splash resist, can be dunked a little bit)

* Second generation Series 1: Like first generation.

* Second generation Series 2: IP67 plus 50m water resist.

And the battery does last a *lot* longer on a Series 2 than on a First-gen. And I get to wear a computer with a dual-core processor on my wrist, which amuses me a bit.

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Go, GoDaddy! Domain-slinger decapitates email patent troll in court

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Seriously!?

Crazy Eddie: His prices are IN-SA-A-A-A-A-ANE!

(I didn't live in that area, but the local cable outfit had one of the NY-based channels on the basic cable setup.)

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Steve the Cynic
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Re: Troll loses on court.....

You missed one: "sons of unwed mothers"!

(See: /Illegal Aliens/ by Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio for the original context.)

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America 'will ban carry-on laptops on flights from UK, Europe to US'

Steve the Cynic
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I've heard of the idea of the "fourth world" - countries that, while notionally first-world, are working hard to degrade themselves to third-world levels. They aren't the same as genuinely third-world countries, but of course aren't first-world any more either.

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London app dev wants to 'reinvent the bus'

Steve the Cynic
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Re: if that's the answer, then someone asked the wrong question

"mindless audio messages at train stations"

Oh the memories:

* The guy at Worthing who told us the trains were all messed up because of (his words) "moo cows on the line".

* The guy at Paddington who told us that the outgoing train was delayed because the incoming train was delayed because it had been "hijacked by sheep" between Cardiff and the English border.

* At 5:30 am one morning, on the London-bound platform of a small station between Reading and Oxford, an automated announcement: "Oxford".

Note in passing: the first two weren't automated announcement.

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ATM security devs rush out patch after boffins deliver knockout blow

Steve the Cynic
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Re: It's difficult to take ATMs seriously on security...

"most paper money basically just an IOU"

An interesting question, and strongly dependent on what exactly you mean by "an IOU".

The "I promise to pay the bearer on demand" thing on a British banknote is a historical remnant of the time when the word "pound" meant "a pound of" and the thing it was a pound of was Sterling silver (pound Sterling, Sterling silver...). There's a museum in the middle of Oxford (well, there was when I lived there) that had old (17th Century?) pound coins in a display case. A f---ing pound of silver, that is. Made for a fairly hefty coin.

But today, if you go to the Bank of England to get your sum of five pounds, they'll take your fiver and give you a different one, because the currency is no longer tied to a real asset. No modern currency is tied to a real asset - they are *all* "fiat" currencies, even the mighty (?) US dollar, which ceased to be an asset-backed currency (gold) in 1971.

So yes, or no, it's still (or not) an IOU, but it's not at all clear what it is that I owe you if you have one and it's me that owes (or doesn't) you something.

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NASA's Cassini snaps pic inside Saturn's ring – peace among the stars

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Best ever unmanned space probe?

"This. Or perhaps Voyager 2."

Rosetta/Philae. Landing (almost) a probe on a f---ing comet, man!

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Unplug the Bitcoin miner and do us all a favour: Antminer has remote shutdown flaw

Steve the Cynic
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The miner pays real money to his electricity supplier to run the mining hardware. But aside from that, there is no overt cost (in the BitCoin world) of mining coins. The benefit is that you create bitcoins, but as indicated, you create them out of real money that paid for real electricity made from real uranium atoms.

There's also a sort of opportunity cost, in that if miner A creates a coin, then miner B cannot create that coin. It really is a zero-sum game, and if I've understood the operation correctly, there is a finite, fixed supply of possible bitcoins, of which some non-zero number have been permanently lost for a variety of reasons.

EDIT: footnote: *your* electricity might not be made from uranium atoms, but 85% of mine is.

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Jimbo announces Team Wikipedia: 'Global News Police'

Steve the Cynic
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Re: 'No single story ... generated more than 1m engagements'

I would suggest that regardless of whether people can be influenced to *change* their beliefs and biases by news, fake or real, they can be influenced to *reinforce* their beliefs and biases.

Indeed, I would go further, and say that people often seek out opportunities to reinforce their beliefs, and if that means following a click-bait fake news link, well, that's what they do.

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Drunk user blow-dried laptop after dog lifted its leg over the keyboard

Steve the Cynic
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Pint

Well played. I looked at that sentence and didn't fix it before posting. Silly me. Have an icon.

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Steve the Cynic
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Re: Ah, but progress...

"No too dissimilar for a mobile phone - pull the battery (err, if you can else turn off) immediately then shake out excess water and chuck it in a bowl of rice, completely covered and put in a very warm area/on top of radiator for 24-48 hours."

Dunno about that. Mine's rated IP67, so if it gets a mild dunking, it's just a case of rinsing it well, including as far as possible the various connector socket, and letting it dry (otherwise my pocket gets wet, and I don't want that).

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Steve the Cynic
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Many, many moons ago my late wife was a teletype (I *told* you it was many, many moons ago) maintenance technician in the US Air Force. She had some prize stories to tell, but the most relevant here was when one of the teletype operators left a bar of chocolate on the output vent holes at the back of one of the machines. Needless to say, the air coming out of there was hot enough not just to soften the chocolate, but to melt it and make it run all over the insides of the machine. The operators, of course, tried to blame her somehow, but her sergeant was there and saw it too, so that cunning plan didn't work.

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Man nicked trying to 'save' beer from burning building

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Is it allowed ....

Sure, but you need to remember the words "is not"...

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Steve the Cynic
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Hey, round where I live(1) they sell high alcohol beer, but it is small-brewery specialist stuff in little brown bottles, not cheap pickling fluid for alcoholics to punish their livers with.

(1) For those members of the audience who are new here, that's northern France, just outside Lille, and consequently in easy reach of Belgian abbey beer shipments. I'd also point out that I'm not a beer drinker, so I have no idea whether they are any good.

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While Facebook reinvents Sadville, we still dream of flying cars

Steve the Cynic
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Well, there *are* jetpacks. Of course they only run for about 30 seconds and they are fuelled by high-purity hydrogen peroxide, so not good in the case of a fuel spill, but ...

Oh, you meant *practical* jetpacks? Not going to happen...

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FYI – There's a legal storm brewing in Cali that threatens to destroy online free speech

Steve the Cynic
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Indeed. They can, of course, be used as precedent for the treatment of future default judgements, but there's so much of that already, and the established rules are so clear on how they work, that any one new case will have next to zero weight.

(Caveat lector: I'm speaking here as the winner of a default judgement, although later events made it a hollow victory at best.)

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New MH370 analysis again says we looked in the wrong places

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Still no changes

The main issue there is the four miles of tether required to stop the buoy drifting away from the aircraft before the world finds it.

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Not the droids you're looking for – worst handsets to resell

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Cause or Effect?

That's a good question, and the real answer is probably "a bit of both" - we buy fewer phones because we keep them longer because they are more expensive, and they raise the prices because we are buying fewer phones.

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That apple.com link you clicked on? Yeah, it's actually Russian

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Not just Mac

No, they are displayed in Cyrillic that *looks* like Western European. (And that's more or less the whole point of the "attack" - they look like apple, paypal, etc., but aren't.)

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US military makes first drop of Mother-of-All-Bombs on Daesh-bags

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Unique selling point

That's the /Wag the Dog/ scenario you're thinking of?

[Repeated line]

Stanley Motss: This is NOTHING.

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Troll it your way: Burger King ad tries to hijack Google Home gadgets

Steve the Cynic
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Re: I think the point is

"I stopped eating them after a barbecue flare of epic proportions"

That brings back memories of the cafeteria in the student union when I was a student...

They had a flat-sheet-of-metal grill on which they cooked burgers and similar, and they would routinely get sheets of flames about four feet high from the burgers. It made ordering lunch more entertaining that you'd normally expect.

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Far out: Dark matter bridges millions of light-years long spotted between galaxies

Steve the Cynic
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Re: The assumption that it's matter

"It's not a theory unless it fits into a framework of other observations,"

It *is* a theory - it explains (sort of, weakly, maybe) the observed phenomenon. It could use some more concrete manner of making predictions about other things we could observe, but it is a theory.

Without that capacity for prediction, it isn't a scientific theory because it cannot be falsified. General Relativity is specific enough that we can use it to predict how far light will bend and in which direction, and we can then do things to see if that actually happens.

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Hasta la Windows Vista, baby! It's now officially dead – good riddance

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Haters gonna hate

"discovered that Vista actually treated otherwise-identical documents differently based on the filename."

UAC on 7 and 10 does that for programs as well. Any EXE whose name includes certain sequences on a particular blacklist will trigger a UAC prompt even if all it does is call MessageBox and exit.

Among those sequences is "setup". You cannot run any program whose name contains that - e.g. virtualbox-version-setup.exe or mygame-setup-versionnumber.exe or even plain old setup.exe - without seeing the prompt.

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Finally a reason not to bother with IPv6: Uh, security concerns...?

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Given the speed...

Actually, if they rolled it out to you, you'd be able to do IPv6 without worrying about this particular thing.

The article is quite clear that the security weakness stems from a lack of deep inspection of the encapsulatED packets. Yes, firewalls inspect the encapsulatING packet (GRE, IP-IP, etc.), but many do not sufficiently inspect the contents.

If you have native IPv6 access provided by your ISP, you do real IPv6 and turn off your tunnelling, and you can inspect the traffic. (You get other problems, but you can at least filter the IPv6 traffic and de-filter the encapsulation protocols.)

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Apple wets its pants over Swatch ad tagline

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Daft thing is ...

"am I going to pull my phone out in the rain?"

Depends on the phone, I guess. Some have IP67 ingress protection, which will keep rain out just fine.

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Shadow Brokers crack open NSA hacking tool cache for world+dog

Steve the Cynic
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"Not being able to locate where they lost it from is insignificant ."

Sort of, maybe, not.

I think you can make a strong case that there is as strong a failure of internal controls in an inability to identify the source as there is in the loss itself, maybe even stronger. After all, if you can't tell how you lost it, you can't do anything directed at preventing the next loss.

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Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

Steve the Cynic
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My all-time favourite is closely related to this. Windows 9x / NT4, and probably all subsequent versions as well, would offer one particularly opaque message... (OK, one among many, but this one was more opaque than normal...)

Copying a big directory tree full of files with Explorer, and it gets a sharing violation, and complains that it is unable to open "DOOBLE" (example made up name...) without giving any hint as to which one of hundreds of files that match "DOOBLE.*" it might be trying to copy.

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It's 30 years ago: IBM's final battle with reality

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Interesting times

"Windows was only cooperative until 9x and NT."

Pedantry alert!

Win3.X in *enhanced* mode would coop among the running Windows apps, and preempt among DOS VMs and between the VMs and the collection of Windows apps.

Well, unless multiple preempted things tried to do anything that called down into DOS, which was mutexed.

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Startup remotely 'bricks' grumpy bloke's IoT car garage door – then hits reverse gear

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Remote Garage Door opener

"P.S. They have actually existed since 1950s, also if you are IN the car, needing to use a phone app is a retrograde step from models fitted on a car."

Back in the day, 1982 or 1983, my dad fitted an opener for our garage(1), remotely triggered by a short-range radio widget clipped on the driver's side sun visor. No third-party servers (FFS the ARPANET had only just switched to TCP/IP), no WiFi, nothing like that.

(1) The less said about the placement of this garage the better, mostly because sane people would use highly bleepable language. A previous owner of the house had demolished a ground-level garage beside the house in favour of digging a hole in the ground, knocking a hole in the side of the house, and converting that end of the basement into a garage. The result was that in heavy rain conditions, the drywell under the lowest part of the drive backed up and the drive flooded. My parents bought a submersible pump for it, but even with that, on one memorable occasion we baled it out because the pump wasn't able to keep up.

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Governments could introduce 'made by humans' tags - legal report

Steve the Cynic
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Re: ASDA

My prize one was a medium-capacity self-checkout, complete with a conveyor to a bagging area. The conveyor was triggered by weight, and would rewind if it thought you had put more items on the conveyor than you had scanned.

It would also rewind if someone's inadequately-supervised brat (seated in a trolley at the next checkout) reached over through the non-existent barrier and bashed the conveyor.

Other retail checkout innovations of short duration include the Grand Union supermarket in Endicott NY, which in 1983 or so introduced voice-synth announcement of the prices of items as the cashier scanned them. It lasted about three months. I'm not sure why they dropped it - was it because all the voices sounded the same so you couldn't tell which till had spoken, or because the disembodied and clearly artificial voices were spooking people?

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D'oh! Amber Rudd meant 'understand hashing', not 'hashtags'

Steve the Cynic
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Re: LOL

Sounds like you're proposing an extended version of the RFC 3514 EVIL bit...

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BOFH: The Boss, the floppy and the work 'experience'

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Being on a placement myself...

" the decade-or-so of actual learning that you should have been doing on your own prior to that"

So I should have started learning about programming in 1974? (OK, yeah, my mother learned about programming *before* nineteen SIXTY four, on a LEO III no less, but you get my point, right?)

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New plastic banknote plans now upsetting environmental campaigners

Steve the Cynic
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"triflouride"

Argh. Can't spell. That should be "trifluoride".

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Steve the Cynic
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Re: WWF

"Do you think the WWF (wrestlers) have something to hide?"

Mostly that they haven't been the WWF since 2002... (Now called World Wrestling Entertainment, perhaps a better statement of their intentions, if not the results.)

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Steve the Cynic
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"much, much worse things"

Chlorine triflouride?

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Uber wasn't to blame for robo-ride crash – or was it? Witness said car tried to 'beat the lights'

Steve the Cynic
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Thanks. I was starting to worry that nobody had posted this.

Starman: Okay?

Jenny Hayden: Okay? Are you crazy? You almost got us killed! You said you watched me, you said you knew the rules!

Starman: I do know the rules.

Jenny Hayden: Oh, for your information pal, that was a *yellow* light back there!

Starman: I watched you very carefully. Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast.

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Steve the Cynic
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"Curious what you think is "batshit insane" about US intersections"

Well, four-way stop is a reasonable thing, but I've seen a (very small) number of four-way yield intersections on American roads. And right turn on red is a classic, especially as it isn't universal. In New York (the state), it is permitted except where prohibited by a "No Turn On Red" sign; In New York (the city), it is prohibited except where permitted by a "Right Turn On Red" sign.

And there was the set of traffic lights I saw one time near the Capitol building in Albany, NY, with side-by-side lights.

And other gems, like intersections governed by flashing red in one direction ( = STOP sign ) and flashing yellow in the other ( = YIELD / Give Way sign ).

But they don't have anything like the Magic Roundabout in Swindon.

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Miss Misery on hacking Mr Robot and the Missing Sense of Fun

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Halt and catch fire

"Also, who in their right mind would learn C on a C64?"

Well, I learned C on a TRS-80 Color Computer, an 8-bit machine of similar vintage (but having, at least, the advantage of a 16-bit stack pointer in its CPU...).

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'Trash-80' escapes the dustbin of history with new TRS-80 emulator

Steve the Cynic
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Re: Dragon 32

OS-9 FTW, man. The C compiler for OS-9 was my first experience of C. I even patched the module loader to not check the CRC-24 when loading modules from files, because for one phase of the C compiler, it took so long that the stop-motor timer for the floppy drive expired.

And I have memories of having a problem with DP Johnson's SDisk, and phoning the man himself for tech support, and getting an updated copy of the module in the mail.

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Steve the Cynic
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Re: 20 IF N=1 GOTO 10

"Missing 'THEN'?"

Many BASIC dialects (including the ones in the TRS-80 machines of all stripes) allowed IF ... GOTO without the "THEN".

Weirdly, the "standard" BASIC in the TRS-80 Color Computer didn't allow "LET". At the same time, the technical oddities of the Sinclair ZX-80 and -81 program entry system meant that "LET" was mandatory. That was confusing.

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Steve the Cynic
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Re: Dragon 32

"6809 cpu IIRC"

You do, indeed, RC. In a sad, wistful sort of way, I sometimes miss my CoCo. Megabug FTW!(1)

(1) One of many contemporaneous PacMan "clones", way better than the Atari 2600 version. Featured a "synthesised" Japanese-sounding voice that screamed "Weeeeeee Gotcha!" when the aforementioned bugs caught the player, and a moving magnifier around you so it could have huge maps. And incidental music playing "La Cucaracha" (?sp) in between games.

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