* Posts by MacroRodent

1397 posts • joined 18 May 2007

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Fancy Bear hacker crew Putin dirty RATs in Word documents emailed to govt orgs – report

MacroRodent
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Here we go again

The stupidity of allowing macros in docs to do arbitrary things (handling other data than the document itself) was apparent already more than 20 years ago, but still MS Word continues to support it. Attacks like this just would not work, if the macros were sandboxed properly.

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Behold, the world's most popular programming language – and it is...wait, er, YAML?!?

MacroRodent
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Re: The ghost of John Backus would like a quiet word

Besides, Backus, as one of the true pioneers of programming languages and compilers, can be excused for not getting every design decision right!

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MacroRodent
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Apples and oranges comparison

Or maybe even an apples and lampreys comparison. You could just as well argue ASCII text files are the largest programming language of them all. A static data syntax is not a programming language at all.

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Microsoft confirms: We fixed Azure by turning it off and on again. PS: Office 362 is still borked

MacroRodent
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Office 300 + rand () % 100

Seems I am not the only one with trouble remembering which number starting with 3 is in the cloudy office name.

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Washington Post offers invalid cookie consent under EU rules – ICO

MacroRodent
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Meh

Re: Other solution

it is rare that they have anything unique.

Disagree here: The Washington Post, along with The New York Times, is one of the places, where most other news outlets copy their U.S-related news from. So you get it first by reading WP. As for cookies, that fight was lost long ago, and efforts to fight them have just caused each site to have the annoying cookie acceptance pop-up that most people click anyway without thinking. A total waste of time. GDPR did not change anything in practice.

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Between you, me and that dodgy-looking USB: A little bit of paranoia never hurt anyone

MacroRodent
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Facepalm

re surveys

> 2. Followed by an e-mail sent from an external company to me about an anonymous employee survey, participation is very strongly encouraged, and please click here.

Wonder if you work in the same $BIGCORP as me. Happens here all the time...

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That amazing Microsoft software quality, part 97: Windows Phone update kills Outlook, Calendar

MacroRodent
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Re: Meh, all part of a grand plan

Indeed, it is as if Microsoft wants users to switch to Android. I agree WP8 was a huge advance over its successor! I switched last summer as a experiment (to the Samsung my son used to use - nowadays he get the latest tech, and me the second-hand :-)), but the WP10 Lumia phone has been sitting in my drawer as a backup. I guess better not switch it on, until MS fixes their latest fix.

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We don' need no stinkin' bounties: VirtualBox guest-to-host escape zero-day lands at GitHub

MacroRodent
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Lucky

...that the paravirtual card is unaffected (by this bug at least). Savvy uses of Linux in VirtualBox prefer it anyway for performance reasons, as it is an interface designed for virtual machines, not a simulation of some real hardware.

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Woke Linus Torvalds rolls his first 4.20, mulls Linux 5.0 effort for 2019

MacroRodent
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Architectures?

I kept reading to see what new processor architectures would be added, but these appear to be only variants of old ones. A new ARM-based chipset? AMD Zen variant? Do not count as a new architectures in my book. The difference would be just in some device drivers, and some initialization code. Neither introduces a totally new instruction set.

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We (may) now know the real reason for that IBM takeover. A distraction for Red Hat to axe KDE

MacroRodent
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TZ

Try just changing the timezone on a PC.

It is not XFCE's concern. Many modern Linux distributions have their own GUI tools for things like the setting up timezone, users, printers etc that are usable from various desktop environments.

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MacroRodent
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Personally I "deprecated" both Gnome and KDE years ago. Bloat without any real gain. XFCE is what I have long used, and I notice most of my co-workers do likewise. Mate is also popular. However, I am a bit concerned whether XFCE or other light-weight desktops will be supported in the brave new Wayland world, as it appears to push some of the grunt work X11 used to do into the desktop environment.

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Tiny Twitter thumbnail tweaked to transport different file types

MacroRodent
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For how long will it work?

Nice idea, but now that it is known, Twitter will probably soon tighten its metadata cleanup. Either by removing the ICC profile section, or by checking the section really is a plausible colour profile.

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Pirate radio = drug dealing and municipal broadband is anti-competitive censorship

MacroRodent
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Explanation

About the weird pirate radio rant, easy to see why. Airwaves are valuable commodities, cant have someone using them for free.

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The D in Systemd stands for 'Dammmmit!' A nasty DHCPv6 packet can pwn a vulnerable Linux box

MacroRodent
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Re: Meh

> but IPv6 seems to be far more bug prone than v4, and problems are rife in all implementations.

That is simply because it is currently less used. Bugs of this nature plagued IPv4 previously, before extensive usage sanded its edges. I remember reporting a somewhat similar IPv4 dhcpd problem to Red Hat about 15 years ago. Not as serious, it was a case of the server failing to recognize a packet that was correct according to the specs. In that time-frame, you could blow up just about any IPv4 service with malformed packets.

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Tech world mulls threat as new round of US China trade tariffs looms

MacroRodent
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Re: So is there scope here...

..for us Europeans to make a mint buying up stuff from China and selling it on to the US at "only" a 10% mark-up?

Yes, until The Donald slaps more tariffs also on EU imports.

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Excuse me, but have you heard the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Chr-AI-st?

MacroRodent
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No impressed

The sample makes it look like it mainly made different word choices, something even age-old joke programs could do (like the classic "jive filter"). Changing style meaningfully requires more. For example, one author could use shorter sentences, another one longer, present things in different order, use more or less similes, and so on.

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Zip it! 3 more reasons to be glad you didn't jump on Windows 10 1809

MacroRodent
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It is not a nitpick if Windows silently fails to extract files from a zip archive. The use case described in the article is not esoteric in any way.

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I ship you knot: 2,400-year-old Greek trading vessel found intact at bottom of Black Sea

MacroRodent
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Leave it there

> as the Hellenic wreck will apparently not be removed from the seabed.

I certainly hope not, as it is the best place to keep it preserved. (They should also keep the exact location secret).

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SQLite creator crucified after code of conduct warns devs to love God, and not kill, commit adultery, steal, curse...

MacroRodent
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No laughter?

The God bits don't bother me, but why should there be for example

54. Speak no useless words or words that move to laughter.

Also the

17. Bury the dead.

is not so relevant in today's society, where bodies are handled by specialists. I guess this was not the case in St Benedict's day, so he exhorted monks to take care of stray bodies in the gutter.

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Can't get pranked by your team if nobody in the world can log on

MacroRodent
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Downgrade?

So it was NT 3.51 to Windows 95? That was a downgrade in terms of security and stability. I used NT 3.51 for a while. Possibly the least crashing Windows I ever had. Unlike later versions, it still followed Cutler's original architecture that tried to minimize kernel mode code. Of course it had the bit clumsy Windows 3.x ui.

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A DeepMind library to help build reinforcement learning bots, and how Google's Pixel 3 cameras handle zoom

MacroRodent
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Re: Zoom and enhance

Last night wached on YouTube techmoan channel (recommended!) how the guy made an old police interview recorder work. This is a specialized c-cassette recorder that makes two copies of an recorded interview and adds audible time marks on the second track (of what would normally be the stereo pair). Also makes it harder to tamper with the tape. Apparently such recorders are one reason you still can buy new c-cassettes. Reassuring.

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The Obama-era cyber détente with China was nice, wasn't it? Yeah well it's obviously over now

MacroRodent
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Re: China

》name one national governement that isn't evil

Easy: just about any of the smaller western European countries. Part of the problem is scale. In small countries it is easier for citizens to hold the leadership accountable. I fear democracy just does not work above a certain size.

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Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on

MacroRodent
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Re: Does nobody ever read Larry Niven?

Besides, the locals would consider this a hostile act, and respond with a psychic attack (see Niven's "Handicapped").

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Punkt: A minimalist Android for the paranoid

MacroRodent
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Why android?

It apparently has the feature set of a circa-2000 Nokia (except for the 3G and 4G network support). So why is it running the resource-hungry android?

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Google now minus Google Plus: Social mini-network faces axe in data leak bug drama

MacroRodent
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Re: Linux kernel devs

I think the idea here is that there are lots and lots of separately owned servers (everyone could run one, Pleroma claims to be lightweight enough to run on a Raspberry Pi), and the servers agree to exchange messages, or not. So there is no central service to abuse, and each server can have its own policies (about blocking obnoxious users and servers, for example). Reminds me of how USENET used to work. It just might fly, at least among technically knowledgeable users. Like the kernel devs...

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MacroRodent
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Linux kernel devs

One group of users (with more than 2 members) appears to be Linux kernel developers, some of whom are quite active on Google+. Now that it is going down, they are discussing alternatives, and one strong possibility appears to be Pleroma (a federated social network - no, I had not heard of it either before today).

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Decoding the Chinese Super Micro super spy-chip super-scandal: What do we know – and who is telling the truth?

MacroRodent
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Article: "Why not switch the SPI flash chip with a backdoored one – one that looks identical to a legit one?"

Who knows, maybe this has also been done on some other motherboards...

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MacroRodent
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Re: Signal conditioning chips

Also, these would not necessarily have been placed where a filter would have been, but somewhere with a +5v line nearby, for example. Who says the motherboard design was not slightly altered to accomodate them? Only an expert familiar with the non-tampered layout would notice it.

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Brit startup plans fusion-powered missions to the stars

MacroRodent
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Re: There wouldn't be any fallout

At least I always presumed that the "exploding nukes to generate thrust" part only occurred in space, and that conventional rockets would loft it into space first

The original idea was indeed to go with the nukes all the way. The spaceship would have been huge, on the scale of a battleship, not aeroplane.

what the hell are you going to build the back out of for the nuke to push against that won't be destroyed in the process?

The Orion project scientist had this and a lot of other details worked out. Remember they had access to data and experience about nuclear bombs. The blast is powerful but not infinitely so, and with the data available to them, making a pusher plate that can survive multiple explosions is just a matter of engineering. The bombs would also have been precisely designed for the purpose.

There is a fascinating documentary on Youtube about the project.

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MacroRodent
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Mushroom

Re: Quite a bit of nuclear fallout

a big Orion (say, something big enough to put an entire self-sustainable colony on Mars in a single voyage, supplies and all, maybe a 25,000-tonne ship) could be launched for the statistical "price" of one or two extra cancer cases worldwide.

But before you launch your colony ship, you certainly have to make numerous test launches, some of which will fail (quite spectacularly!)

For probaly the only situation where Orion might be feasible to push through (for desperate reasons), see "Footfall" by Niven and Pournelle.

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MacroRodent
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Mushroom

NTR

If one wanted a realistic improvement in thrusters, why not work on nuclear thermal rockets. These were all but flight-ready already in the 1960's (NERVA).

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WLinux brings a custom Windows Subsystem for Linux experience to the Microsoft Store

MacroRodent
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Linux

Re: Indeed you are expected to pay

which is controversial for any Linux distro.

Back before fast internet, it was common for distributions to sell distribution CD:s. Some distros (like Mandrake) even provided nice shrinkwrapped carton packages like other software vendors. I bought some CD sets like that, still have most of them, in the hope they become collectibles...

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Forget dumping games designers for AI – turns out it takes two to tango

MacroRodent
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Creativity

Not surprised. The games people play and remember always include something new and whimsical. An AI trained on existing games cannot come up with that, only more variations of the same.

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Microsoft 'kills' passwords, throws up threat manager, APIs Graph Security

MacroRodent
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Exactly. It is not multi-factor authentication unless you ALSO HAVE a secret password.

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How an over-zealous yank took down the trading floor of a US bank

MacroRodent
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Console

At my first IT job as the operator trainee tending a Honeywell mainframe in early 1980's, we were told to be quick about adding paper to the console printer (which collected status messages, rather like syslog or journald), as the system would supposedly crash if the printer was offline for more than a minute or so. Luckily I never found out if this is true.

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First Boeing 777 (aged 24) makes its last flight – to a museum

MacroRodent
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Re: Feeling old yet?

I'd occasionally still see DC-3s

Living in a northern sub-urb of Helsinki, a DC-3 still regularly appears in the summer skies. Of course it is now a museum plane, operated by a volunteer association (http://www.dc-ry.fi/).

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Holy macaroni! After months of number-crunching, behold the strongest material in the universe: Nuclear pasta

MacroRodent
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Alien

It's alive!

> "One famous example are biological membranes in living cells. We've actually studied how the nuclear pasta lasagna exhibits the same structure and structural defects as the endoplasmic reticulum.

Maybe the premise of Robert L. Forward's "Dragon's Egg" is not so fanciful after all. It involves life on a neutron star, based on nucleonic processes, which are way faster than chemical ones. So entire civilizations rise and fall during the few days humans observe the star from orbit.

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App-y, app-y, joy, joy: Pain-free software installer Flatpak (kinda) works on Windows Subsystem for Linux

MacroRodent
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Linux

Larsson explained that a lack of support for seccomp or network namespaces limits things somewhat. ... [and so and on for more missing bits]

If you want all Linux features, the only way still is to run the real thing. But of course this was a cool hack, just to see if it can be done. Don't show this to pointy-haired bosses, who might then imagine the developers have no more need of real Linux to get work done, and ban it.

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Microsoft: You don't want to use Edge? Are you sure? Really sure?

MacroRodent
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Time for the EU

comission to slap them again, and Google too, if it offers similar FUD to people installing alternate browsers.

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2-bit punks' weak 40-bit crypto didn't help Tesla keyless fobs one bit

MacroRodent
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Unhappy

Re: Problem-solution dichotomy

That's more useful than one might think as keyfobs tend to fail when the battery gets tired

The quality of the buttons in the keyfobs also seems to be low. I have had two failed ones, turning them into plain old physical keys. Not bothered to replace. At this point, a new keyfob apparenly would cost about the same as the resale value of the old car...

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Law firm seeking leak victims to launch £500m suit at British Airways

MacroRodent
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Re: Fees?

But without laws and lawyers, that would be an arbitrary State with no control over its power. A dictatorship, in fact.

Certainly true, and I am not advocating getting rid of laws and lawyers. However, setting industry regulations and sanctioning their violations is properly a function of the state (of course with inputs from citizens and the industry).

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MacroRodent
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Re: Fees?

but without lawyers who would have got the manufacturers to do anything?

The state, perhaps? Of course, that only applies to countries where the state is not a fully-owned subsidiary of industry.

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Dust off that old Pentium, Linux fans: It's Elive

MacroRodent
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Re: That's nice ...but why bother?

As you said, it is a hobby. There are just a handful of major Linux distributions that can be considered for real work, or even for home use for "ordinary" users (meaning those wishing to mainly use applications as opposed to those enjoying developing the platform itself). All the rest are really hobby distributions, or very specialized ones filling some small niche.

Making a Linux distribution that fits into a "small" machine is perhaps akin to building a ship in a bottle. I sometimes myself wonder if a modern kernel could ever run in the oldest machine in my house, a Pentium MMX with 128 MB RAM. Now it has an old Mandrake Linux in one partition (with KDE GUI) and Windows 95 on the other.

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Boffins bash Google Translate for sexism

MacroRodent
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Correct translation

This is something I often encounter as a native speaker of Finnish, another language with gender-neutral pronouns. The solution depends on the context, so it requires some understanding of what is being said, which is why current machine translators perform badly. The problem often has no ideal solution, because choosing "he" or "she" may require information that the source text simply does not contain. Usually one defaults to "he", as "he/she" is too clumsy.

Going the other way also sometimes requires rephrasing the text. "He said, she said" does not translate directly into Finnish.The closest one can get is the use the nouns for "man" and "woman", but it is not quite the same.

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AI biz borks US election spending data by using underpaid Amazon Mechanical Turks

MacroRodent
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Lives up to its name

The original Mechanical Turk was also a fake AI, with a hidden human chess player inside it.

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Do you really think crims would do that? Just go on the 'net and exploit a Windows zero-day?

MacroRodent
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Re: So classic way to find an exploit.

I think this method was already in Andrew Tanenbaum's operating systems text book (the one that introduced Minix) in the security chapter: Something like "Read the documentation looking for passages that say Don't do X. Try as many variations of X as possible".

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Ever wanted to strangle Microsoft? Now Outlook, Skype 'throttle' users amid storm cloud drama

MacroRodent
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FAIL

Centralisation

Eggs: meet the One Basket.

Originally the email system was very decentralised, with most organisations hosting their own servers. The trend towards everyne using "clouded" mail services by Microsoft and Google means we will be seeing a lot more of this in the future.

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Boffins are building an open-source secure enclave on RISC-V

MacroRodent
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Boffin

Re: What we would actually need...

A minimal RISC should be easy to verify

Done already in the 1980's for the VIPER architecture, a simple 32-bit CPU. Read about it back then. It was supposedly intended for avionics and such where failure is not an option. (Some info can still be found by googling "verified risc cpu viper").

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Mozilla changes Firefox policy from ‘do not track’ to ‘will not track’

MacroRodent
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Re: It's about time

> a UI with a MENU

It can be re-enabled from the configuration. And this is indeed the very first thing I do to any new Firefox installation I use.

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A decade on, Apple and Google's 30% app store cut looks pretty cheesy

MacroRodent
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Re: But we're taking about games here

Google could also argue it gives the basic development tools for free to anyone interested. (Not sure about Apple, do you have to buy the sdk?)

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