* Posts by Black Betty

331 posts • joined 3 Mar 2010


Not quite the Bake Off they were expecting: Canadian seniors served weed-infused brownies

Black Betty

Sneaky edibles are not cool man.

Back in my heyday, before I poked golf ball sized holes in my lungs, I could (and occasionally did) rip through up to a 1/4 oz (7g) in a day, whilst remaining upright and mostly functional.

However, on the few occasions edibles were passed around, overindulgence invariably led to communion with Ralph. Southern Comfort mixed with scrumpy would be a pale comparison.

How many Reg columnists does it take to turn off a lightbulb?

Black Betty

Cheap upgrade path.

Remember doing that with MS Works and Office (x10) when migrating an office full of MAC Classics and Pluses to PCs.

Forget that rare-earth element crunch – we can now just extract them from industrial waste

Black Betty

Re: Sounds a tad pointless?

Depends on what you want the acid to do. Good old sulphuric (or any other mineral) acid is pretty indiscriminate when it comes to attacking elements with essentially identical valency. (ie the entire lanthanide series) What this article seems to be saying is that the organic acids produced by these bacteria can reliably discriminate between different members of the series and do it with fewer toxic byproducts than existing refining methods.

If you're worried that quantum computers will crack your crypto, don't be – at least, not for a decade or so. Here's why

Black Betty

Re: 6,681 qubits?

Problem is not that exceeding a certain number of bits might result in the system state collapsing in the real world. The real problem is that achieving a solution requires that the system collapses into one specific CORRECT state.

Boeing... Boeing... Gone: Canada, America finally ground 737 Max jets as they await anti-death-crash software patches

Black Betty

Inherent instability is the future of aircraft design.

Any further significant improvements in aircraft efficiency are almost certainly going to have to come at the expense of stability or they would have been implemented already.

Black Betty

Re: "US, Canada finally ground 737 Max jets..."

Standard software testing procedure (at least when I was in college) was to feed out of bounds data into a program and examine the results. We were also expected to consider how such data might arise in real world usage and code suitable error handling procedures. It's pretty damned clear that the systems in question were never properly subjected to GIGO testing.

No mission critical system should ever be released for production without it first being subjected to comprehensive tests intended to break it.

Airlines in Asia, Africa ground Boeing 737 Max 8s after second death crash in four-ish months

Black Betty

Why no sanity check systems?

Blocked or partially obstructed pitot tubes can be tested for by applying a partial vacuum and/or slight overpressure to the pitot lines.

GPS can provide ground speed, altitude and climb/descent rates for comparison with other instruments.

Extended range RADAR altimeters should be able to override a faulty barometric altimeter.

Even something as simple as a few bits of ribbon visible through the cockpit windows could provide a visual cue that something is seriously off kilter.

Black Betty

Ethiopian Airlines actually have a better than average safety rating.

Buffer overflow flaw in British Airways in-flight entertainment systems will affect other airlines, but why try it in the air?

Black Betty

Re: Hotel security

You might be surprised. Check out a Deviant Olam vid or 3.

UK tech has a month left to bare gender pay gaps, but less than a fifth of firms have ponied up

Black Betty

Re: It's not a gender pay gap

Which would explain things if the comparison was between total remunerations. However, what is being compared is hourly rates.

It all hinges on this: Huawei goes after Samsung with its own foldable hybrid Mate X

Black Betty

Re: Haptic keyboard

I'd settle for cursor keys and proper editing controls.

Amazon Prime Air flight crashes in Texas after 6,000ft nosedive

Black Betty

Re: We all thought the same!

As foul tasting as many responders found this attempt at a witticism, the sickening truth is, that world is full of those who respond in exactly this way when circumstances inconvenience their lives such as the diner who threw a hissy fit about their delayed meal because another patron had a heart attack.

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin

Black Betty

Re: I went to see a clockwork sundial

Too busy gyring about the wabe.

Fun fact: GPS uses 10 bits to store the week. That means it runs out... oh heck – April 6, 2019

Black Betty

Re: Yay landfill!

"Could", "may", and no actual list of possibly affected devices. Not even a single example. Methinks there's a Shakespeare play in this story somewhere.

How I got horizontal with a gimp and untangled his cables

Black Betty

Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

Bunch of old keys scrounged from a desk drawer wrapped in packing tape and a ball of twine.

US lawmakers furious (again) as mobile networks caught (again) selling your emergency location data to bounty hunters (again)

Black Betty

Nobody cares because CRIMINALS.

It seems to me that Congress-critters and their ilk don't see any problems with this sort of privacy violation because the only people it truly affects is miscreants and other never-do-wells. Joe Blakes like you and I have nothing to fear, because generally nobody has any reason to want to search us out in the first place.

That the occasional savvy stalker might abuse such a system seems to be the cracked egg price of facilitating "legitimate access" on the part of those who need it to do their jobs.

Mumsnet data leak: Moaning parents could see other users' privates after cloud migration

Black Betty

Re: not quite a financial institution or communications provider.

Credentials apparently weren't exposed, just the data protected by those credentials. So no actual passwords for reused elsewhere. Worst case is the exposed data that might be used to narrow the search space for possible credentials for testing against other login portals. ie. combining names/initials with birth-date/years.

Something I would really like to see is real world numbers on just how many average people are pwned through data breaches like this vs. top 100 password attacks on global user spaces. I strongly suspect that people who use even very simplistic password generation algorithms based on personal data/interests fare better than those who chose "clever" passwords like "drowssap".

Simple truth is that unless someone has a good reason to target you personally, any non-trivial password is probably good enough. A six letter word with personal significance + any two digits is likely to be enormously stronger than a 1337speak variation of "Millenium Falcon" despite the search space being potentially a few million times smaller.

Over the past few years we've seen a plethora of articles reporting on data breaches of so many millions of credentials, with the latest being some 700 million unique username/password credential pairs. So what does this really mean to the average person? The simple answer is, probably not a great deal, because unless you're Elon Musk or otherwise special in some specific way, you individually are not worth the effort of a targeted attack.

The website Have I Been Pwned is a semi useful tool for determining if somewhere there exists a site that you've provided credentials to has ever been breached, but I think it would be far more useful to be able to simply enter a password and be told if ten or ten thousand others have had the same idea, regardless of site.

Almost £5k for a deskslab: Microsoft's Surface Studio 2 hits UK

Black Betty

Re: Greasy screen.

I find it annoying enough to keep the seven inch screen of the tablet I use primarily as an e-book reader clean. Just a few swipes is enough to put distracting rainbow streaks in the place my thumb "turns" the page. And a game or two of "Jewels" turns my screen into a reasonable facsimile of a petrol station forecourt after rain.

I hate to think how a 28" screen would look after a CAD/CAM session.

What a smashing time, cheer astroboffins: Epic exoplanet space prang evidence eyeballed

Black Betty

Re: Simulated crash

Because supercomputers can only carry out exact calculations on a limited number of particles. The same reason simulations of galactic collisions are modeled using only a few million stars instead of the hundreds of billions that real galaxies are actually made of.

Universe sandbox makes a lot of pre-programed assumptions that look good, but only bear a passing resemblance to reality.

Cops told: No, you can't have a warrant to force a big bunch of people to unlock their phones by fingerprint, face scans

Black Betty

Re: So does this also invalidate all facial recognition installed everywhere?

My take on this sort of technology is that it should be OK to use it to compare individual faces against a shortlist of suspect faces (ie known soccer hooligans) for targeted action (ie. prevent entry to a stadium), but not to compile a list of every attendee to be cross referenced with purchasers of road flares and vuvuzelas.

Feeling a bit gassy? Toshiba floats 16TB helium whopper

Black Betty

Re: Why not increase the platter size and/or the height of the enclosure?

Actually you can more than double the number of platters, because stacking two drives into a single enclosure eliminates the top of one case and bottom of the other.

I'm not sure that it's ever actually been implemented in a real world product, but dual (multiple?) sets of heads has certainly been talked about. One option here would be a single set of write heads combined with two or three sets of lighter weight read heads.

Black Betty

Re: Why not increase the platter size and/or the height of the enclosure?

I'm aware of the latency issues, but big drives are generally used for long term archival storage, which as a rule does not require rapid access times. For that purpose petabyte class solid state arrays exist.

My personal experience with Bigfoot drives is that they failed due to timing issues when the system bus speed was increased beyond 33 MHz.

Black Betty

Why not increase the platter size and/or the height of the enclosure?

What is so bloody special about the 3.5 inch 1/4 height form factor that manufacturers can't revert to 5.25 platters and/or taller enclosures?

Full frontal vulnerability: Photos can still trick, unlock Android mobes via facial recognition

Black Betty

Cheap phone and don't effing bother.

I just bought the cheapest phone I could find, hooked it up to a prepaid account and left it on swipe to unlock. I simply don't store anything on it that matters worth a tinker's damn. If I want security I'll use a proper computer locked with a decent password.

An upset tummy and a sphincter-loosening blackout: Lunar spaceflight is all glamour

Black Betty

Re: Lunch from both ends?

Positioning was achieved with sticky tape and finger sheaths were provided to assist with "undocking".

Pragmatically speaking, assisting each other would make a lot more sense than backing up a couple of feet, since it would significantly reduce the chances of unintended "excursions". Any macho image preservation could have been done in post-production banter. Could not have been any worse than caring for an incontinent elder.

50 years ago: NASA blasts off the first humans to experience a lunar close encounter

Black Betty

Re: Remeber those heady days of the Apollo missions well

Five year old me wanted to know what was in the hole* to one side of the moon's far side.

My grandfather (who built a TV** from scratch to watch the landing) carefully explained to me, with the aid of a bedside lamp and balls why part of the moon was in shadow.

At the end of the explanation, I collected my shovel and went outside to dig a shadow.

* There is indeed a dark side to the moon. It's what you get when there is neither sunlight, or Earthshine to illuminate the moon's far side.

** Bare chassis valve set that never killed a single child in the several years it served our family.

CubeSat buddies, like those sent to track Mars InSight landing, can be used in future missions

Black Betty

Comsats for space missions.

Here's a thought. Devote at least one mission to nothing but establishing a permanent high bandwidth communications link between Mars and Earth. It's something that will be an absolute necessity if we ever do get around to sending manned mission, and in the meantime science orbiters and landers can work 24:37 without the need to take time out to laboriously transmit data back to earth at rates that would embarrass your average US telco.

With a near real-time link (latency 3 - 22 minutes) the possibility to react to and observe transient events would be greatly enhanced. Rover travel distances could be increased to kilometers per day. Without a need for a large antena and complex pointing system more space could be devoted to extra or more complex science packages.

In situ satellites would also make terminal guidance of approaching missions easier.

Japanese cyber security minister 'doesn't know what a USB stick is'

Black Betty

< subject > for Dummies.

It's not entirely reasonable to expect any politician to be knowledgeable in the subject for their portfolio prior to appointment, but it should be an absolute requirement that they read up on the basics of the subject once appointed. Enough that they can both understand and instruct their subordinates.

Microsoft menaced with GDPR mega-fines in Europe for 'large scale and covert' gathering of people's info via Office

Black Betty

How the effity-eff-eff does any Govt. or company permit cloudy Office?

Strikes me that this is a security hole large enough to drive a super tanker through sideways.

When a client has no effective control over what data is sent to an off site server, they also have no control over who might ultimately view that data. What is to stop some rogue state (ie. my own bloody minded data slurping Australia) requiring document duplication?

Yes, you may use Office 365 offline, but from my reading, it appears that certain "features" kick in automatically/uncontrollably whenever an internet connection is present.

Where to implant my employee microchip? I have the ideal location

Black Betty

Secure alcove for bank ATMs

A bank here in Australia put some of it's ATMs (those in high street crime areas?) behind glass doors to prevent muggings of customers making late night withdrawals. In theory the customer was to swipe their bank issued keycard through a reader to open said doors before being able to access the hole in the wall machines. In practice, ANY card with a magstripe would cause the doors to open. Train ticket, hotel keycard, photocopier card, any card at all, didn't matter.

Result, nicely corralled victims with zero options for escape.

Up to three million kids' GPS watches can be tracked by parents... and any miscreant: Flaws spill pick-and-choose catalog for perverts

Black Betty

Let fines for poor security management equal absolute revenue.

Make it impossible for product vendors to boost/pad their bottom line by cutting corners on security, by fining them 100 percent of the revenues (not profits) from any offending products. Sell a millions crap devices for $10 each, pay a $10 million dollar fine on top of any reimbursement paid to customers for recalled/returned items.

Demonstrate a good faith effort to implement security, fine is not applicable, but crap like hard coded credentials, plain text comms, and other trivial security holes, should be matched be a black hole in the vendors wallet.

Can your rival fix it as fast? turns out to be ten-million-dollar question for plucky support guy

Black Betty

Re: Ancient memories

Inline data.

JSR do something.

data here

more code here.

something: POP the stack.

index through data,

process data.

PUSH to stack.


Made for very readable source code, but don't even think about trying to disassemble the binary.

Windows XP? Pfff! Parts of the Royal Navy are running Win ME

Black Betty

Who remembers the universal keys for early windows products.

Three digits (which I no longer recall) and a string of "1"s

DBA drifts into legend after inventive server convo leaves colleagues fearing for their lives

Black Betty

Re: Why? Just why?

My brother's boss tried that on him at the ordnance factory where he was apprenticed. Several legit customers came and went before the stores clerk thought to ask the kid with his heels up reading a book what he wanted. Bro carefully marked his place, looked at his watch, said "I guess I've waited long enough" and returned to his station.

Clunk, bang, rattle: Is that a ghost inside your machine?

Black Betty

Re: Many values for true

Assembler library code is a likely culprit.

That or porting code from a language with strong data typing such as PASCAL in which booleans have exactly 2 values (TRUE and FALSE) to one that defines TRUE as any non-zero value.

Optimizing compilers (particularly early ones) can do strange and unanticipated things to code. Best practice is simply to never explicitly test for a TRUE condition.

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

Black Betty

And now for A Walk in the Black Forest.

No text

Manchester man fined £1,440 after neighbours couldn't open windows for stench of dog toffee

Black Betty

Re: Had to think then

Round my parts they're called "barker's eggs".

The best way to screw the competition? Do what they can't, in a fraction of the time

Black Betty

Re: when you charge more per hour

Hit with hammer :- $5

Know where to hit :- $95

Sorry friends, I'm afraid I just can't quite afford the Bitcoin to stop that vid from leaking everywhere

Black Betty

Re: Racist?

Poor syntax and grammar are deliberate. They're used to weed out those who might stop and think "hey just a sec" halfway into the scam, thus wasting the scammer's time. They want seriously clueless people who'll pay up without question.

Morrisons supermarket: We're taking payroll leak liability fight to UK Supreme Court

Black Betty

Re: I expect to be flamed

RTFA: Skelton was specifically tasked with providing that payroll data to KPMG. Whilst doing so he took a copy for himself.

Cops called after pair enter Canadian home and give it a good clean

Black Betty

Re: anti-crime

Scrumping (the proper technical term for nicking fruit from a tree) is still theft.

F***=off, Google tells its staff: Any mention of nookie now banned from internal files, URLs

Black Betty


Telstra's online support chat censors even the mildest examples of Aussie vernacular.

Yale Security Fail: 'Unexpected load' caused systems to crash, whacked our Smart Living Home app

Black Betty

Re: The "Smart Home" crashed?

Danny Dunn saw this coming the year of my birth,

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

Black Betty

Re: 'None of the actors can be taken at face value

Query regarding embedding chips in the motherboard substrate. Is this even a part of the normal manufacturing process? If it isn't, we can probably discount that part of the story as hyperbole.

New Zealand border cops warn travelers that without handing over electronic passwords 'You shall not pass!'

Black Betty

Re: The only news here is the 'NZ' part... Maybe...

You're entirely free to exercise your right against self incrimination, but that won't stop you being in breach of the mandatory device unlock law.

Pro tip: Don't carry evidence of crime through policed checkpoints.

Australia, US and Japan want Huawei local submarine cable project

Black Betty

Primary problem is Western investment comes with onerous conditions.

Generally along the lines of, privatize and sell off the public sector to finance or underwrite loans.

China's loans come with no strings attached.

Australia blocks Huawei, ZTE from 5G rollout

Black Betty

Anyone spot the hypocrisy?

Banning these two companies on the suspicion that they might be providing backdoor access to a foreign power at the same time that they are demanding all tech companies provide exactly that access to the AU govt. itself.

The age of hard drives is over as Samsung cranks out consumer QLC SSDs

Black Betty

Maybe, maybe not.

First of all, pretty near all new systems are going to ship with a 250-500GB SSD, first in laptops and then soon after desktop systems too, because people just won't put up with sub-par performance once they've got a taste for the speed of an SSD.

Spinning rust will survive for a little while for media storage, and possibly ultra-high bandwidth applications.

But ultimately, I foresee some sort of ultra-high density write-once media being developed for long term archival storage.

Sysadmin hailed as hero for deleting data from the wrong disk drive

Black Betty

Re: Disk Doctor

NDD saved my backside after I made the mistake of typing RECOVER *.*

Off with e's head: E-cig explosion causes first vaping death

Black Betty

Re: This isn't really the batteries fault

Don't see many flashlights with safety vents. Tactical ones even come well knurled for maximum fragmentation effect.


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