* Posts by Smooth Newt

616 posts • joined 6 Jul 2009

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New UK laws address driverless cars insurance and liability

Smooth Newt
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Meh

Re: Blue Windscreen of Death

Expect the Government to bail out the insurance companies with wheelbarrow loads of money in twenty years time when they are all facing bankruptcy following some external problem like a solar flare or a 32 bit epoch rollover and a few million cars running the same software all crash at the same time.

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People built AI bots to improve Wikipedia. Then they started squabbling in petty edit wars, sigh

Smooth Newt
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Re: The Wikipedia Contradiction

If someone is an expert in their field, they are too busy to fanatically edit Wikipedia every day.

If someone is an expert in their field, they are also too busy to engage in edit wars with cretins. You could have a PhD and thirty years experience researching the subject, but you'll be up against Bobby Joe who knows fuck all except that he is right and you are wrong, and he's got nothing else to do all day.

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Researchers offer simple scheme to stop the next Stuxnet

Smooth Newt
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Stop

dangerously vulnerable to attack

While details differ for platforms from alternative vendors, it might be required to enable remote change of control software on the PLC through a physical switch (i.e., program mode on ControlLogix devices). We observe that due to convenience, in practical systems PLCs are often kept in that setting to allow easy remote access. In addition, any attacker with physical access is able to change the switch setting easily.

So, rather than fancy security protocols, you could just flick the write enable switch off.

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Neuromorphic progress: And we for one welcome our new single artificial synapse overlords

Smooth Newt
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Re: 500 states

Do neurons in our brain also function like that ? I always thought that a "reinforced connection" just meant that the neuron was more regularly solicited for information, now it would seem that the neuron actually gets beefier the more its information is "important". Or something

Yes. Neurons are analogue, with signals between neurons being streams of pulses travelling along the axons, the signal strength being the pulse rate. However, there are no negative values, since there is no such thing as a negative pulse rate.

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Florida Man jailed for 4 years after raking in a million bucks from spam

Smooth Newt
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Happy

Re: Small potatoes

I don't know about you, but $1M isn't that much any more, IMO. Maybe you could live a very modest lifestyle on it for a few years. Very modest.

An October 2016 Justice Department press release1 says he was running the business from 2011, and that he forfeits $1.3M money as well as property including a 2009 Cadillac Escalade and a 2006 Ferrari F430 Spider, which a quick web search suggests may be worth as much as $40k and $170k respectively.

$1.5M for five years = $300k per year, and that is just what can be seized. Presumably money spent on living expenses - which might have been substantially more lavish than sandwiches and an occasional trip to the cinema - has gone. Whilst hardly Pablo Escabar, $300k+ per year would pay for a very comfortable lifestyle.

1https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/florida-man-pleads-guilty-hacking-spamming-scheme-used-stolen-email-accounts

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New Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters can't transmit vital data

Smooth Newt
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Re: Treason

Defence procurement has been an ongoing disaster for decades. Lots of smart and honest people have tried to fix it during that time and none have succeeded because it is institutionally incapable of being fixed.

Fortunately the British haven't needed to fight any serious wars unaided against a competent and well-equipped enemy for very long time. We should just accept that the purpose of defence procurement, and indeed the rest of the MoD, is to enrich defence contractors and prop up small parliamentary majorities, and that the Americans are expected to do any serious fighting for us. Now when is that nice Mr Trump coming to have tea with Her Majesty?

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Bruce Schneier: The US government is coming for YOUR code, techies

Smooth Newt
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Happy

Re: Well, maybe we should not put software in everything

Why would a sat nav being able to "read speed and steering angle" allow hacker generated car crashes? If the sat nav could in turn control the vehicle's speed or direction then, yes, but otherwise these should just be additional input data streams into the sat nav's system.

If the car just passively broadcast this information without any communication from the sat nav to the car, then fine, but that isn't the usual design philosophy.

A typical architecture is a bidirectional data link where the car receives commands and responds to them. If there is a route to access safety critical systems in the car from anything connected to the Internet (which a sat nav might very well be), you could not be confident that the car could never respond to carefully crafted malign commands. These might do things like interfere with the steering or vehicle speed.

It might not be what the automobile systems designers intended, but building secure systems is extraordinarily hard, and this sort of attack has already been demonstrated, for example https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/07/21/jeep_patch/

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Smooth Newt
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Re: Well, maybe we should not put software in everything

I don't think it's realistic to expect car systems to be completely air-gapped, because a lot of features in current cars rely on getting information from the ECU -- e.g., services like On*Star need to detect airbag deployment and be able to pull trouble codes; satnav systems sometimes use speed and steering wheel angle data to improve accuracy.

It is a question of trade-offs. e.g. If you want a sat-nav able to read speed and steering angle from the engine, then you should be prepared to accept the trade-off of dying horribly in a hacker-generated car crash.

My trade-off would be to have a slightly less accurate sat-nav.

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Inside Confide, the chat app 'secretly used by Trump aides': OpenPGP, OpenSSL, and more

Smooth Newt
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Traffic analysis?

aides, fearful of being accused of leaking to the press, turned to Confide in an attempt to cover their tracks and stay off the radar.

Does Confide have any countermeasures to traffic analysis? If the all-seeing NSA eye spots that aide X has been talking to journo Y, then it would be hard for aide X to prove that the leak didn't come from him even if the traffic can't be read.

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GoDaddy CEO says US is 'tech illiterate' (so, yeah, don't shut off that cheap H-1B supply)

Smooth Newt
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Re: Cheap labor

Irving's blog says "half a million high-skill IT and computer science jobs sitting unfilled in the US today. These are jobs that are so technical that there aren’t enough trained and lettered workers in the US to fill them."

Despinning this, there are half a million high-skill IT and computer science jobs sitting unfilled because US Corporations won't pay enough to fill them, are overly choosy about who they employ, and aren't interested in training their staff.

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Prepare your popcorn: Wikipedia deems the Daily Mail unreliable

Smooth Newt
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Damn

I'll just have to cite the Sunday Sport instead.

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Want to come to the US? Be prepared to hand over your passwords if you're on Trump's hit list

Smooth Newt
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Re: Presumably

So if bored Immigration guy realises he has enough details to change passwords and go shopping, the government entity in question is also liable?

If you can prove it was him, but how are you going to do that? Especially if he has instead sold your details, via a cut-out, to someone else on the other side of the World.

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Conviction by computer is go, confirms UK Ministry of Justice

Smooth Newt
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Pint

Consultation

Translation: we've ignored the consultation & will go ahead with whatever we feel like doing.

They usually do that - public bodies have to do public consultations, but aren't obliged to take notice of the results.

The official response says it all really - We ... think it is possible to prosecute low-level cases .. without compromising the principles of our justice system. Possible isn't the same as likely. Isn't even close.

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Smooth Newt
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Train fare evasion

Given that it's effectively a form of fraud it's not surprising that it's a criminal offence.

Fraud: wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.

Q. Do you have a ticket?

A. No.

It is hard to see where the deception needed for fraud is, unless the person claims that they have a ticket when they do not have one.

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Last Concorde completes last journey, at maybe Mach 0.02

Smooth Newt
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"Can do" species

Once upon a time men flew to the moon.

Once upon a time civilians cold fly supersonically.

Somehow it seems we've stopped being a "can do" species and become "can't do" instead. Whatever happened to our sense of ambition?

Neither of those things were much benefit to the average human being.

Over the last fifteen years there have been massive improvements in access to safe water, insecticide-treated bednets, immunization, plus cheaper and better antibiotic, antimalarial and antiretroviral therapies. These might not look sexy, or make a loud noise, or even cost very much, but they have materially improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

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Vapists rejoice! E-cigs lower cancer risk (if you stop smoking, duh)

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

Smoking versus vaping

"significantly lower levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines" due to stopping using tobacco based fire sticks and going to a chemical cocktail with unknown long term health concerns.

Cigarettes are known to kill about 50% of regular smokers. The hypothetical unknown long term health effects would have to kill more than half of users to be worse than cigarettes.

Given that the "chemical cocktail" is an engineered cocktail of simple chemicals with few decomposition products, chosen with a view to safety, rather than the random assemblage of very complex chemicals present in plant leaves, is that likely?

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RAF pilot sent jet into 4,000ft plummet by playing with camera, court martial hears

Smooth Newt
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Left handed?

As most people are right handed, it seems strange that the pilot's control column should be on his (or her) left hand side. I guess it is so he can get to the centre panel between the pilots with his right hand? But if he does most of the flying, especially any tricky bits, rather than his co-pilot, perhaps he should be positioned in the right hand seat so he can control the plane's attitude with his - in most cases - dominant hand.

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Microsoft's DRM can expose Windows-on-Tor users' IP address

Smooth Newt
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Re: Tin Foil Hat alert?

Don't let thoughts of conspiracy blind you to the possibility of cock-up (or vice versa!). I suspect the latter.

One man's cock-up is another agency's opportunity.

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Mozilla axes IoT project, cuts staff, backs off from commercial stuff

Smooth Newt
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"Firefox has seen its overall share of the browser market slide since 2010"

Perhaps if they did One Thing Well, instead of Everything Badly.

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GCHQ cyber-chief slams security outfits peddling 'medieval witchcraft'

Smooth Newt
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Go

Diversion ahead

"Advanced persistent threats" is a term which covers sophisticated state sponsored hacking and pervasive technical surveillance. Misdirection is a form of deception in which the audience's attention is focused on one thing to distract its attention from another. Should I be surprised that an employee of GCHQ wants to downplay GCHQ's core business and divert attention elsewhere.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth is delayed, Ministry of Defence confesses

Smooth Newt
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Re: Whilst MPs bluster and the MOD drags it's heels

Also, have you built a ship before? Quite complicated I gather.

Tens of thousands of big, complex ships have been constructed over past the century or more, so you might expect professional shipbuilders to have gotten the hang of it by now. The Americans managed to build 160 aircraft carriers just during the Second World War, and that was over 70 years ago.

This lot can't even manage just two, and whilst they complain how difficult and complicated it all is, unlike their forebears, they have all the benefits of modern technology and are being paid truly colossal sums of money.

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Tesla sues ex-manager 'for stealing 100GBs of Autopilot secrets'

Smooth Newt
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Re: Bright but not clever

The guy with the porn star name and his sidekick didn't think it through, they saw the all potential riches and none of the pitfalls.

Neither of them has the required trait to succeed as entrepreneur/business leader, they should have stuck to being employees.

What is the "required trait"? Perseverance at a guess.

I don't know whether these people did anything wrong or not - that is for the courts - but "thinking things through" definitely isn't a requirement for a successful entrepreneur or business leader. Just ask Robert Maxwell or the people who ran ENRON - and they were just the unlucky ones who only nearly got away with it. And they didn't even have names you can sneer at.

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Smooth Newt
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WTF?

Three engineers on the Autopilot team handed in their notice...

Does that mean Tesla employees are so underpaid, and so badly treated, that they will leave at the drop of a hat? And when someone does leave, Tesla looks to sue their new employer? Remind me never to apply for a job with them.

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National Audit Office: UK's military is buying more than it can afford

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

Peace loving Russia

The UK would do well to take a leaf out of Russia's book. Neither country has any plans to attack anyone else or to grab anyone else's resources.

Now that Russia has annexed the Crimea? Tell that to the people in the Ukraine, and indeed the Baltic States.

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Former Mozilla dev joins chorus roasting antivirus, says 'It's poison!'

Smooth Newt
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Meh

Re: :unsure:

All the PCs I've cleaned viruses, trojans, rootkits from DID have AV installed.

I know people that have never used AV and never had infections.

My granny smoked several packets of cigarettes a day before dying of a heart attack at 95, so smoking doesn't cause cancer. Anecdotal evidence is no substitute for statistical evidence.

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'Celebgate' nudes thief gets just nine months of porridge

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

The cloud is a really great place...

... to store your most embarrassing photos. What could possibly go wrong?

Personally, I leave all my doors and windows open when I go out too.

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Northumbria Uni fined £400K after boffin's bad math gives students a near-killer caffeine high

Smooth Newt
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Meh

Re: really...

I get that systems fail from time to time but this case strikes me as a matter of gross negligence rather than a flawed testing methodology implied by the defence.

Without knowing the details, would it have been negligence if they were following a printed protocol exactly and it didn't tell them to double check the maths, and check the scales calibration and a host of other things?

I should have thought the missing thing was a sanity check like "under no circumstances is a dose of more than 0.5g - much less than a teaspoon - to be given".

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Oh, the things Vim could teach Silicon Valley's code slingers

Smooth Newt
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Coat

Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

I much prefered EDT and TPU, personally.

You are probably thinking of EVE. TPU wasn't an editor, rather it was a text programming language intended for writing editors, but it came with EVE, the Extensible VAX Editor. This was written in TPU and intended to be an extensible emulation of EDT although it never quite succeeded in getting the basic emulation right.

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UK courts experiencing surge in cyber-crime case load

Smooth Newt
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Locking the wrong stable door

This should act a a wakeup call to all businesses to either update their on-line security or actually get on-line security in the first place.

"Fraud against businesses was up sevenfold last year, with inside jobs committed by employees and management the most common method". How does online security software help?

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Machine-learning boffins 'summon demons' in AI to find exploitable bugs

Smooth Newt
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Untrustworthy safety critical AI application

The biggest problem with any kind of ML or AI. Unverifiability.

Which would seem to be a bit of a showstopper in many of the safety critical applications that it is being touted for, like self-drive cars and some medical uses.

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Head of GCHQ Robert Hannigan steps down for 'personal reasons'

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

"terrorism, crime and many other national security threats."

Crime is a national security threat now, is it?

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Word hole patched in 2012 is 'unchallenged' king of Office exploits

Smooth Newt
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wow - do people still actually pay for and use ms word?

Haven't they heard of libre office?

Yes, but it's usually someone else's money being spent. Change implies risk to the IT department, plus if the next version Microsoft Office breaks something, then they can blame Microsoft. But if they change everyone to OfficeLibre and that breaks something then it is their fault. As the IT department people won't get any financial savings made, they take the eminently rational view that "what's in it for me apart from a shitload of grief?"

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Government to sling extra £4.7bn at R&D in bid to Brexit-proof Britain

Smooth Newt
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Developing skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)

There is no shortage of STEM graduates - according to last year's Wakeham Review, “something like 40 per cent” of STEM graduates are in non-graduate jobs.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: Buzzword bingo and the boomer mindset

It is apparently vitally important to throw public money at R&D areas which already have colossal amounts of money being flung at them by the private sector. They would do better spending their time thinking up a strategy for preserving UK-owned exploitable intellectual property, rather than encouraging e.g. ARM to be sold to the Japanese.

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'Exploding e-cig cost me 7 teeth, burned my face – and broke my sink!'

Smooth Newt
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Re: Stored Energy

Put enough energy into a small place, a battery, and put it next to something fragile while pulling a good current from said battery, it is only a matter of time before some units experience catastrophic failure. They don't allow them on aircraft for good reason and storing it in your pocket near your.....

I don't think they are banned from aircraft because of the risk of a battery fire, otherwise laptops wouldn't be allowed to be used either. They are banned for the same reason as in pubs etc, which is to pander to stupid people.

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BT installs phone 'spam filter', says it'll strain out mass cold-callers

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

Free nuisance calls

Is there anyone who actually wants to receive telemarketing calls? Why do you have to contact the Telephone Preference Service to out-out of, instead of opt-in to, nuisance calls? The default should be that you don't get them, not that you do.

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What do you call a firm that leaves customer financials unencrypted on a hard drive? RSA

Smooth Newt
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Meh

Re: ICO Fail

ICO Fine = £150,000 £120,000

"If the Commissioner receives full payment of the monetary penalty by 7 February 2017 the Commissioner will reduce the monetary penalty by 20% to £120,000 (One hundred and twenty thousand pounds). However, you should be aware that the early payment discount is not available if you decide to exercise your right of appeal."

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You have the right to be informed: Write to UK.gov, save El Reg

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

So you want a state regulated press. Just like the good old USSR then.

This isn't state regulation, any more than the BBC or the universities are "state regulated". Anyone can set up a regulator and is entitled to have it recognised as such provided that it meets the criteria set out in Schedule 3 of https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/254116/Final_Royal_Charter_25_October_2013_clean__Final_.pdf

This contains such apparently onerous and unacceptable conditions as Serving editors should not be members of any Committee advising the Board on complaints and should not play any role in determining the outcome of an individual complaint. Any such Committee should have a composition broadly reflecting that of the main Board, with a majority of people who are independent of the press.

i.e. Newspaper editors aren't allowed to mark their own homework or those of their friends. So they throw their toys out of the pram and claim this is an attack on press freedom. There is absolutely nothing to stop the UK news media industry from financing another regulator which meets these criteria, instead of whinging about Max Mosley.

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Smooth Newt
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This slow motion train crash that has been years in coming.

There has to be regulation of the press outside of law courts, because otherwise a publication can say anything they like about anybody who doesn't hundreds of thousands of pounds to risk in a court case. So whilst We Have The Right To Be Informed (always provided it doesn't antagonize advertisers), we also have the right not to have scurrilous stories written about us.

The Press Complaints Commission, and the Press Council before it, were useless, toothless watchdogs which worked more like customer services departments than regulators, and didn't even investigate most complaints. As making up stories was pretty much the business model of several very profitable publications, scandal piled on scandal. Successive governments dragged their feet for decades because the last thing they want is to antagonize the media that they rely upon to tell the public how to vote.

Finally, and inevitably, there was such a big scandal, over phone hacking, and which affected enough rich and powerful people, that the government had to actually do something meaningful.

The media proposed the usual toothless watchdog that had served the gutter press so well, and everyone else so badly, for 60 years. So not surprisingly, the only one which got approved was the one that all those pissed off rich and famous people set up. Whilst the system is indeed a train crash, the UK media industry were driving one of those trains by allowing self-regulation to so signally fail in the first place, and then when it did not propose an acceptable alternative to Impress.

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Prison librarian swaps books for bars after dark-web gun buy caper

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

Andy Tickner from the UK Organised Crime Partnership said...

The Organised Crime Partnership sounds like some sort of Anglicized version of the Mafia. Did they stay up all night thinking up that name?

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

Smooth Newt
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Re: Answer

Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?

Most successful prosecutions rely upon people incriminating themselves. The way it is supposed to work is that the policeman mixes the snake oil with the sample, loudly declares "you're busted", and the poor fool confesses.

Quite often people are so unbalanced by the whole process of being intimidated, humiliated, strip searched, imprisoned and threatened with lengthy jail sentences that they confess to things they haven't even done. The only people who are completely immune to this are hardened criminals who have been through the process enough times not to be fazed by it anymore.

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D-Link sucks so much at Internet of Suckage security – US watchdog

Smooth Newt
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Go

Re: @Ralph B Sympathy for the Devil

Uhm, do you realize that this is a Chinese company ... actually Taiwanese.

Not sure how much pull a US based 3 letter agency has with a foreign government...

Taiwan's existence is utterly dependent upon the US Government, since China regards it as Chinese territory, so the Taiwanese Government is probably even more craven than the Brits when it comes to US requests. If the Americans lost interest in Taiwan even for a couple of days, "Taiwan, Province of China" would become a stark, and rather bloody, reality instead of just the official United Nations name for the country.

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Hackers could turn your smart meter into a bomb and blow your family to smithereens – new claim

Smooth Newt
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Re: UK encryption

I can tell you for a fact that his comments on weak encryption don't apply in the UK.

Strong encryption is easy, it's just an algorithm you can look up. But it is the implementation which usually has the bugs, side channel attacks and other holes that let you down. Or other issues like key management - it doesn't really matter how good the encryption is if the keys are stored on some vulnerable Internet-connected computer.

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Joe Public likes drones and regulations, finds UK.gov 'public dialogue'

Smooth Newt
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Black Helicopters

Pricing them out of existence

Similarly, public concerns over the quality of materials (particularly in terms of "home-made machines" and cheap foreign imports) were also high.

This seems a very bizarre thing for Joe Public to be concerned about without some official prompting, but the report mentions it nine times. Perhaps the Government would really like to introduce the same regulations for plastic drones that they do for manned aircraft. Your "cheap" plastic drone will cost £29k and the battery can only be charged by someone who holds a European Aviation Safety Agency licence.

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Smooth Newt
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WTF?

Asking random people for random thoughts after telling them what you want to hear

The report has has statements such as As the dialogue progressed and participants learnt more about drones, they tended overall to become more positive - well doing this sort of thing, you have to be bloody careful that you are not priming your participants with the views that you want to here.

It also says that More information about recruitment and participant profiles can be found in Appendix 2. Since the report doesn't have any appendices we don't even know what the actual profiles of those 118 people deemed to represent the views of 64.1 million people were.

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Programmer finds way to liberate ransomware'd Google Smart TVs

Smooth Newt
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Re: LG are on my shitlist, now

They have been on my shitlist since 2013, when El Reg reported that "LG smart TVs silently log owners' viewing habits to the South Korean company's servers and use them to serve targeted ads, one researcher has claimed."

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/20/lg_smart_tv_data_collection/

Despite LG subsequently releasing patches etc, they hired people who thought this was a good idea right up until the moment that they got caught. Not that I would ever buy a smart TV anyway, for reasons that are becoming increasingly apparent.

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Virgin America mid-flight panic after moron sets phone Wi-Fi hotspot to 'Samsung Galaxy Note 7'

Smooth Newt
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Re: Some talk common sence, some talk shite

This is why they also banned flammable liquids, and also why they banned smoking (nothing to do with health reasons), all about a fire in a metal tube at 30,000 ft.

No, the smoking ban was entirely driven by the desire by anti-smoking campaigners to have a tobacco free environment on flights. http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/13/suppl_1/i30.full.pdf+html covers the history of the ban in considerable detail.

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