* Posts by ProperDave

61 posts • joined 9 Feb 2010

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Why is a 22GB database containing 56 million US folks' personal details sitting on the open internet using a Chinese IP address? Seriously, why?

ProperDave

Back in the early 2000's when working for a major IT firm dealing with mainstream news and early social media, I created and the company patented a series of spiders to crawl the web looking for public profiles on websites. The thing was designed to self-learn using some rudimentary NLP. Data collected was processed so profiles across multiple sites could be linked to identify individuals based on common profile elements (username, profile pictures, declared location and interests etc, and some basic writing style analysis using NLP). User profile combinations were scored on how likely it was that two or more profiles were the same individual.

The best example was where the tool found one person on 44 different web sites, including CV sites and this guy's various interests. All the data mined was openly public and not restricted in any way besides your standard robots.txt file.

The project was never released onto the market. The Legal department decided it was 'too legally grey'. But it was demoed to several of the company's customers, including government departments and think tanks.

I wouldn't be surprised if services exist today that do the same thing.

Three planets and two stars adds up to one research team made very happy by Kepler's unique discovery

ProperDave

Re: It'd take almost the entirety of known human existence

> Depends on your reference frame.

Reality was my reference frame. Last time I checked we weren't capable of reaching 1g. I'd wildly speculate the Voyager probes' on-board clock still keeps accurate Earth time and hasn't slowed despite travelling as fast as we can possibly travel right now.

ProperDave
Coat

> Located about 3,340 light-years away in the Cygnus constellation

These figures always make my heart sink, given that vast distance.

Whats the top speed of our best spacecraft right now? Something like 36,000years/per light year?

It'd take almost the entirety of known human existence to reach our closest neighbour in Alpha Centauri, just 4 light years away. :(

Microsoft yanks the document-destroying Windows 10 October 2018 Update

ProperDave
Facepalm

Brilliant. So Microsoft have given all the phone fraudsters yet another excuse to cold call and try and scam the less-experienced user out of pocket.

Good job Microsoft. Good job.

Buried in the hype, one little detail: Amazon's Alexa-on-a-chip could steal smart home market

ProperDave
Pint

So does that mean if I get low on teabags I can tell my kettle to order me more tea so I can have a brew?

We need a cuppa icon.

Now that's a dodgy Giza: Eggheads claim Great Pyramid can focus electromagnetic waves

ProperDave

This all sounds a bit Terry Pratchett's Pyramids to me.

East Midlands network-sniffer wails: Openreach, fix my outage-ridden line

ProperDave

Re: I consider myself lucky....

Not in North Wheatley. I live in the major town just round the corner, and am forced to use OpenReach based services as cable's never reached the Bassetlaw district in North Nottinghamshire. The surrounding villages including North Wheatley have only had over 2MB speeds for the last couple of years.

I have even heard a couple of new housing estates in the area have started forming residents associations to club together for satellite links (they don't get anything over 2MB because you know; building a brand new housing estate doesn't guarantee anything better than legacy copper lines these days).

GitHub given Windows 9x's awesome and so very modern look

ProperDave
Devil

There was an XP green hills theme project added a few days after the announcement and I thought I was clever raising an issue suggesting they add Clippy.JS to it, only to find I wasn't the first to think I was that clever, or evil.

Donald Trump trumped as US Senate votes to reinstate ZTE ban

ProperDave

Re: Why would they?

The one major thing I've not seen any news network pick up regarding the agricultural output from the US is the food safety standards that the US flaunts. I've been led to believe over the years that the reason most countries slap such high tariffs on things like US dairy and meat is due to the stricter GMO rules other countries have that don't exist in the US. God help us in the UK if Brexit goes badly and we have to start importing more food from the US, as we'd have to weaken our food safety laws to let the stuff in.

Aussie bloke wins right to sue Google over 'underworld' images

ProperDave

Re: Autocomplete on a name

True, but perhaps I should stress my surname isn't a common one. :)

... or perhaps is on a global scale, given how many more of me there are in the world.

ProperDave

Autocomplete on a name

If I type my name into autocomplete, I get hundreds of different people that I share my name with. I don't even show anywhere near the top of any search results as there's apparently a US Senator with my name. I probably do have a namesake who's in jail somewhere, but that wouldn't negatively impact me as they aren't me, and anyone basing an assumption on an inferior Google Search shouldn't be allowed on the Internet.

Of course, he'll now be known as the man who sued Google to soothe his egomania. So I'd assume his next move will be suing for the right to be forgotten.

NHS England fingered over failure to forward patient correspondence

ProperDave

Re: True story.

Whilst expecting our first sprog last year, at our local hospital I saw the pre-printed address labels for all the wife's ultrasound scans. There so they could save time filling in the appointment cards. I bet if we had moved during the pregnancy we would have had exactly the same issue you had.

And this has just reminded me; we moved out of London for t'North a few years back. The wife's pre-payment prescription correspondence kept going to our old London address for almost two years after we moved, despite repeated complaints to the GP and NHS Business Services, with them claiming everything to be correct on their records.

Storm in a teapot: Anger brews over npm's jokey proxy error messages

ProperDave

Whilst developing a social media analysis tool years ago, I set the Server 500 errors to show a random selection of memes. This was all well and good until a customer demo was done without my knowledge. Apparently the CTO hit a 500 error and the audience was displayed with an angry penguin meme. Surprisingly, considering the audience were stuffy business types it all went down well. I was asked to make the error pages more professional after that point though.

Tim Berners-Lee says regulation of the web may be needed

ProperDave

The way to combat this surely is for more of us driving development of service federation - W3C recently approved ActivityPub as a protocol, and Mastodon (federated micro-blogging twitter-clone ~ approx half a million users across 60 public nodes) has adopted it already. Friendica or Diaspora for federated Facebook alternatives have hundreds of thousands of users across multiple nodes globally, and they should be implementing ActivityPub (or already implement the older OStatus) in future.

Over time and with any luck, these big corporate platforms for Social Media will be weakened by the federated services. You can get your email from any provider on the planet, so I don't see why in the future your email provider couldn't offer federated social media as part of the service package. Customers could be given the ability to register on a home node for their ISP, which would then allow them to post to, and follow others' activities on nodes across the world just by using their email or federated user id.

The whole benefit I see from federated social media is that it can also tackle all these issues relating to extreme and explicit content that Facebook and Twitter have reluctance to deal with - every node owner can be more vigilant on policing content as the nodes are usually themed to a particular topic. It's likening back to the pre-social media days when discussion forums were vastly more popular, and better policed by moderators specific to the site/forum.

WordPress is now 30 per cent of the web, daylight second

ProperDave
Coat

Am I the only one reading "W3Techs" as "Wet X"?

My PC is broken, said user typing in white on a white background

ProperDave

Re: Mr B*stard

As a mischievous student at college, some peers and I found if you pulled the paper out during a print of a particular model of thermal laser printer the colleges had, the letters would peel off the paper and stick to the print rollers. Subsequent print jobs would then come out with extra letters or words scattered liberally across them.

For the life of me I don't recall now which type of printer suffered this odd printing issue, but the hilarity to be had watching the confusion on people's faces as they proof read their prints to find unexplainable additional text on their documents was brilliant.

As a more mature dev now, aside from the occasional easter egg in code, I'm only prone to swapping keyboards and mice around on back-to-back facing PC's now.

Slack bots have the keys to your processes. What could go wrong? Well...

ProperDave

What fascinates me with Slack is the willingness of 'modern' teams to surrender so much proprietary information to them. I've just recently left working for a financial company that considered implementing Slack for the tech teams, but the security team decided against it as too much potential confidential data would be handed over to Slack's servers in team messages to analyse and do whatever they wanted with to potentially derive resalable data metrics.

Email's a big enough distraction in the workplace without the addition of group messenger services.

NASA: Bring on the asteroid, so we can chuck a fridge at it

ProperDave

Given this is NASA, can the DART/IoT Fridge do us live tweets of its progress?

Could we call it Bruce?

Amazon squares up to Walmart over boycott calls: Talk sh!t, get hit

ProperDave

Of course Amazon is spying on AWS customers

I had an interesting discussion with some of the Infosec bods who approved usage of AWS in the corporate I'm currently in. The AWS T's & C's states something along the lines of they withhold the right to monitor traffic in their AWS platform, but will maintain privacy of clients and not monitor client-specific traffic.

With some clever analysis though, it wouldn't take too much effort to reverse-engineer client-specific metrics from the cloud metrics collected, based on what parts of a VPS network are popular and the sort of transactions taking place.

One of the Infosec bods pointed out the current situation with M&S. They'ved moved onto AWS, and their migration to AWS seems to almost go hand-in-hand with a decline in M&S's online sales. Almost as if their online business suddenly has strong competition from certain on-line marketplaces who may or may not be able to establish from some clever data analysis what's proving popular for M&S and counter with their own offers.

This could all be down-vote worthy paranoia. But it's certainly food for thought.

UK surveillance law raises concerns security researchers could be 'deputised' by the state

ProperDave

Not really news?

I believe this sort of thing has been going on for years.

I don't want to go into too much detail in case I start getting visits from well-suited men, but my mother told me a tale from probably a decade back that a son of a former colleague of hers was a few years ahead of me in University doing a software and microelectronics degree of some sort. The lad apparently stumbled upon a way to create a repeatable power failure in hardware. He posted on a few forums on-line asking for peer review, and within a few days all his posts vanished from the forums he posted to, and he had a visit from well-dressed men. His research and equipment was confiscated, but my mother told me he was then funded for a masters and went on to 'work for the government'.

LastPass now supports 2FA auth, completely undermines 2FA auth

ProperDave

Re: Better alternatives...

I've always been highly suspicious of on-line storage services and password vaults, so I'm running my own private OwnCloud instance off a PI at home. I've locked it down as best I can and keep it up to date, and I have a KeePass vault on it. Brilliantly the most popular KeePass app for Android supports opening a vault from OwnCloud as a data source. I'm really quite pleased, and now have most accounts online locked down with 32-char+ passwords.

As you stare at the dead British Airways website, remember the hundreds of tech staff it laid off

ProperDave

Re: I realise it's simplistic but....

I'll throw in my own dog analogy too.

I sell dogs. I have 30 staff. I then learn of cheaper dog handling talent in India and decide to cost-save and dismiss all but 3 staff to hire 27 cheap Indian dog handlers, knowing full well that GOOD dog handlers in India don't stay there, but get enough skills to move to the developed NA/European/Australasian countries where they get better wages...

... so I have my 27 graduate or incompetent dog handlers who can't get better jobs, but they're much cheaper than my original 27 staff. After a year or so of operation, one of my three remaining staff is doing quality checks and spots that the Indian dog handlers are breading in genetic defects into my stock as they don't fully understand the dogs! A process, which on further investigation has occurred repeatedly over generations, resulting in higher dead and returned puppies.

What do I do? I decide that dogs just aren't for me, and shut down my dog breeding program, as I'm sure my other cat and bird breeding programs won't suffer this same issue with their Indian handlers.

Reg man 0: Japanese electronic toilet 1

ProperDave

Toilet paper must possibly be the best example of consumerism in action.

That's the toilet paper cartels for you.

ProperDave

Re: Come on...

Damn you beat me to stating the obvious too. That would have been my first thought in this situation. :o

Also - I would imagine it would be possible to google an English translation of Japanese techno-bogs.

@Author; Was this a 'Washlet' toilet? They even have an interactive guide in English...

http://www.toto.co.jp/en/gtjt/washlet/

Some! at! Yahoo! knew! about! mega-breach! as! early! as! 2014!

ProperDave

Re: You say state-sponsored, I hear rhubarb, rhubarb

Saying it was state-sponsored is probably making them feel better than saying it was a script-kiddy or two.

That or the IP resolved to a foreign country so it had to be cyberwarfare! oh noes!

Windows Insiders are so passé, Microsoft now has Skype Insiders

ProperDave

Re: Skype?

I used to stubbornly use the earlier client versions until they were blocked, mainly as with each iteration the application's become more and more bloated. I still remember how light an easy to use Skype 0.9 was, back before eBay or MS got their grubby mits on it.

Facebook chokes off car insurance slurp because – get this – it has privacy concerns

ProperDave

Facebook does this 'for our protection'...

I ran into a similar issue with the posting controls on Facebook. You can't post automatically to a user's pages any more, which means a client can't 1-click publish to Facebook from the press release platform I work on now. WE'RE the villains in the client's eyes of course. Facebook justifies the restriction because of all the dodgey games and apps that users play that spam 'help me build/collect' nosense to people's feeds.

In reality it penalises legitimate businesses like ours and we get the flak from clients because we lose features.

May blocked plans to bring in more Indian IT workers – Vince Cable

ProperDave

If you want to do a quick estimate on if we're over populated, a quick bit of maths will sort you out, and I did this recently.

Supposedly it takes 0.5 hectares of land to feed a single person for a whole year (cit. Google). The UK has 241,930 sq km of land, of which 71% is agricultural and a population of 64,430,428 (figures from CIA World Factbook).

If you bang these through a few equations you find that the UK can only physically feed 34,354,060, so about 46% of the current UK population would starve if International trade shut down.

If you apply the same formulas to the US or Canada, the US is capable of feeding about 800,million people, and Canada at about 120 million.

My maths don't take into account idle arrable land not currently being farmed, or the fishing industry.

These aren't perfect calculations. It's just a rough calculation done on a whim... I began applying the calculations to a number of countries and found some had healthy populations and others were dangerously overpopulated. I got bored after 30 mins of copy & pasting figures though, and I wasn't able to find good reliable sources of data.

ProperDave

The big multinational I work for is pushing all development out to India. I've gone from being in a team of 40 in the UK to being just a team of 4 in the past 2 years, and most of the Dev teams in the US have already been let go for Indian replacements. What's funny though is all the Indian devs are terrible liabilities. Their grasp of application security is near non existent.

Most of the good Indian devs we have are contractors for a company in Bangalore. They're actually decent, but I've seen the budget and we're paying them almost the same salaries as if they were here - the saving in wages is negligible because they're contractors.

Hello Barbie controversy re-ignited with insecurity claims

ProperDave
Facepalm

Re: The whole problem is the cloud mentality

Maybe I'm seeing the obvious answer and perhaps the point is already made elsewhere, but isn't the answer there to vote with your wallet and just not buy this toy?

Are kids really going to ask their parents for a doll they can talk to for $5 a month? I'd be sending my kids to therapy if they asked me that...

Has marketing grabbed the IT reins at your company?

ProperDave

Just recently a VP in the business branch of the corporate I work for sacked an IT team that supported a business unit under him in a cost-cutting effort, leaving the technology side of the business absolutely gobsmacked as we hadn't been consulted on the move. We've lost 20 developers and are still expected to support that branch of the business naturally, with staff that haven't any experience in that business unit.

The world will always need experienced IT Managers though - otherwise who's going to clean the fans after the poop gets flung?

You dirty RAT! Hong Kong protesters infected by iOS, Android spyware

ProperDave

I like it when the authors of Android Apps display the reasons behind permission requests. It's gotten somewhat easier through the different versions too as the permissions have been broken down into more granular categories.

That being said, there's currently 46 apps on my phone needing manual updates, and I've chosen to ignore them for the past 6 months as they all want new permissions which I don't think they deserve.

SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches

ProperDave
Coat

Re: Because the flaws were very different

I've had people downvote my occasional attempts at innocent humour on some topics.

It would make more sense if downvoters would stop to share their concerns with a post - though in situations where the OP is being unreasonable, then it probably doesn't need a comment, but then that could depend on someone's perception of 'unreasonable'.

Back on topic though, this seemed an excellent explanation - I've been frustrated with all the news articles on the exploits as the majority have been all 'end-is-nigh' panic fests, without actually providing any insight into the actual problem, I feel I now understand the issue a little better, though I still don't fully comprehend the attack vector - are we talking naughty perl/cgi scripting? Surely the only risks here are if a dodgey script is put in an executable position on the server? I clearly need to do more reading :o

BENDY iPhone 6, you say? Pah, warp claims are bent out of shape: Consumer Reports

ProperDave
Joke

Maybe Apple's having a sly dig at the hipster population of the world.

-- Your giant iSlab 6 will bend if you stuff it in your skinny jeans pockets.

Grow up and put on a sensible pair of trousers!

Microsoft buys Minecraft for $2.5bn. Notch: I'm getting the block outta here

ProperDave

I've played with it since the Alpha stages - there's the lego angle, but it's also that it's Java - kids learning Java at school can actually mod it with relative ease. My young teen brother has created some custom blocks in the game as he's been learning programming as a hobby.

Mojang also introduced functionality to allow players to build scripted scenarios into the game, so it sort of allows sandbox-like tools to create your own adventures, a bit like the level-builder tools in other games. There's loads of kids building their own 'games' using Minecraft as their engine.

But @Dave W is right - Microsoft's bought a successful game that's already reached the majority of its audience through word of mouth... there's room to grow, but not by much.

The only way to profit from this is to release a 2.0 which unfortunately, Mojang's already said players would have to buy again, even though Persson originally claimed back in 2009 that you would never have to buy the game again - all upgrades would be free. When the game started going viral they altered the T&C's to be 'every minor version would be free'.

Russia: SEXY LIZARDS which landed FROM SPACE are all DEAD

ProperDave
Meh

Re: "This is Olga. She is shot-putting champion. Have nice month in orbit."

Shaved just one leg and armpit? :o

We need a shocked icon.

New leaked 'Windows 8 screenshot': The Start Menu strikes back

ProperDave
Windows

One...Two...Done.

Whatever happened to the old UI design mantra that everything should be accessible within 3 clicks?

Microsoft seem to have forgotten this...

NEW Raspberry Pi B+, NOW with - count them - FOUR USB ports

ProperDave

Re: hmm

The switch to MicroSD means you would have to switch all your Pi's both new and old to use MicroSD's and then use adapters for the older models I guess.

It would be a pain, but then - do you regularly swap the cards around? I've a couple of the B's but almost never have need to swap the cards round.

But then, that all depends on your use-case :o

LG unfurls flexible SEE-THROUGH 18-inch display

ProperDave
Coat

Patent troll in the making

What puzzles me, and perhaps this is what the transparency technologists are already doing - is surely to get a transparent display, you just need a vanilla calculator-like monochrome LCD display behind your standard colour display?

The monochrome one, if it has enough DPI, effectively creates a transparency layer that the colour layer renders over?

I dunno if this would work, but that would be how I'd begin exploring the area. I highly doubt this is a novel idea, but if it is - I claim all patent rights! *runs for the hills*

Dead letter office: ancient smallpox sample turns up in old US lab

ProperDave
Joke

Call Mr Willis!

Where's the 12 Monkeys angle?

Windows 7, XP and even Vista GAIN market share again

ProperDave

Where's the Embedded angle?

Granted it's not the most appropriate comment on here but - all those self-service till points in shops and most ATMs are powered by a flavour of XP. The stores have only just finished mass roll-outs. They won't be upgrading any time soon. And I would hazard a guess all the smart-payphones BT has been rolling out with Internet capability are probably XP-based.

We're going to be stuck with XP for years to come - if not in the machines on our desks, in the machinery we interact with when out and about.

Traffic lights, fridges and how they've all got it in for us

ProperDave

I used to work for a telco billing company several years back. From that I learned that pretty much every street light, traffic light and telephone box (obviously) in the UK is hooked up to a telephone number. The company had a database of all the numbers for one of the clients.

I dunno if the system's ever been updated in the past 10 years, but traffic light re-sequencing and street light reprogramming could be done by dialing up the street furniture and issuing new commands through modem interface.

I've never fully understood the obsession with IoT. I get the suspicion it's just a massive conspiracy to increase electricity consumption when we already have scare stories about the UK's power grid is reaching breaking point. eg; ( http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/17/uk-faces-increased-risk-blackouts-energy ).

I've always thought the better approach to intelligent appliances would be to create a master computer in the house, that all devices connect to, to become smart. Does the Fridge really need a brain? Surely it should just be a rig of sensors reporting to a main unit somewhere in the house - and the reporting could be done over something other than TCP/IP to save network bandwidth.

DOCX disaster recovery: How I rescued my wife from XM-HELL

ProperDave
Coat

I must be the only person in the world that often composes documents in notepad, and only ever resorts to an Office suite when it's time to make it look pretty.

I did that all the time at University back in the early naught's. Especially for things like my thesis - where Word would get so laggy on the poorly speced Compaq University machines as the document got larger. I still do it to this day - with notepad being so quick and easy to type in, and only resort to Word for the final draft.

This article is brilliant though! Well done Trevor! I'm sure I'll be using the advice in future recoveries of family member's files. :(

Archive.org web trove hits FOUR HUNDRED BEEEELLION pages

ProperDave
Pint

Re: Love the Wayback Machine!

Check out http://www.fabricland.co.uk/ - it's like playing bad web design bingo!

"New Page 1", Framesets, pointless gifs, horrific colours, marquees, table layouts, center aligned text, broken links, personal drawings/quotes unrelated to the site... the list is almost endless!

... I hope that site never changes... it's a fantastic example of everything bad *and* it's an actual live site! :o

ProperDave
Pirate

Seems there's some discussion on it on the Archive.org forum;

( http://archive.org/post/406632/why-does-the-wayback-machine-pay-attention-to-robotstxt )

Doesn't appear to be any sensible consensus on what they should do to fix this... but this is totally off-topic for this article. :)

Pirate flag, as I've partially hijacked the topic! (we need a tangent icon).

ProperDave

I had a friend show me an odd 'bug' in the Wayback Machine once - he bought a domain and set up his own personal website on it, which as it turned out had already been owned several years previously to his purchase by a small foreign telecoms company.

The TelCo had a blanket denial robots.txt file which told all spiders to F- off, and because of this, the Wayback Machine would refuse to allow him to browse the historical snapshots of the domain during the time he owned it, despite indexing his site according to his web traffic logs.

I just shudder at what Wayback Machine holds on me - I can see my very first websites thanks to the history, back when I did terrible things like build websites in Lotus Word Pro (which was marginally less of a sin than building them in Word).

Google Glassholes, GET OFF our ROADS, thunder lawmakers in seven US states

ProperDave
Boffin

Logging?

Surely the devices keep an operational log? Bit of computer forensics could assist law enforcement in verifying if the device was on at the time of the offence...

... besides, with the other stories about the lurid use of Google Glass ( http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/28/first_adult_app_for_google_glass/ ), there's likely to be the occasional crime committed by a Google Glass wearer, where device logging might help as evidence?

Pint-glass-flashing FISHNAPPERS strike at Firefox daddy Mozilla

ProperDave

Re: Fishnapper was right

The issue I always had as a kid was the bloody things kept jumping out of their tank... surprisingly they survived the experience though, but it happened a good dozen times from about 3 of 6 different little blighters.

Ended up having to put a plastic top on the tank!

Naked Aussie gets wedged in washing machine

ProperDave
Facepalm

Re: Bah!

Am I the only one that read "agitator" as "alligator", and couldn't fathom the croc joke out, until I re-read and thought about washing machine mechanics? :o

Who! wants! cursed.com? Yahoo! flogs! domains! in! multimillion-dollar! sale!

ProperDave

Re: Poo

On the note of parsing... That horrific waste of space Experts Exchange wisely hyphenated their URL to avoid misdirecting innocent transgender users to their site. Though I still grin whenever I see their results poison my search results, reading it how I think it should read... ExpertSexChange.com :)

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