* Posts by Alister

3265 posts • joined 19 May 2010

Alleged ISIS member 'wore USB cufflink and trained terrorists in encryption'

Alister Silver badge

Re: I'm disgruntled, watch out!

I've got a copy of "Jane's U.S. Military Aircraft Recognition Guide", does that make me a terrist?

Coming to an SSL library near you? AI learns how to craft crude crypto all by itself

Alister Silver badge

It sounds like the neural nets are effectively generating one-time pads based on a pre-shared key, which is an interesting idea, as each message could potentially be encrypted by a different random algorithm, so repeated sampling will get different results every time.

'Hacker' accused of idiotic plan to defraud bank out of $1.5 million

Alister Silver badge

What nobody seems to be noticing is that although he must be one of the most inept hackers in the history of hacking, he was still successful in stealing $134,000 from J P Morgan!

It doesn't say much for their security if an idiot like him can walk off with that much money.

Birmingham sperm bank pulls plug after just a handful of recruits

Alister Silver badge

Re: Missed opportunity

It should have been:

"Birmingham sperm bank tugged after just a handful of recruits"


"Birmingham sperm bank shafted after just a handful of recruits"

Surveillance by consent: Commissioner launches CCTV strategy for England and Wales

Alister Silver badge

Re: Where's that horse?

Yeah, the horse has bolted, been found in another county, taken to a new stables, met a nice mare, sired a few foals, died, and got made into glue and 40 Tesco's burgers.

Alister Silver badge

...My position is that anything regarding surveillance has to be shouted from the rooftops.


Internet of S**t things claims another scalp: DNS DDoS smashes StarHub

Alister Silver badge

Re: DDOS can be used as cover for actual attacks.

Yes, but it's still not the DDoS that causes loss of information, in that case, it's the hidden intrusion attack.

A DDoS cannot, by itself, compromise sensitive information, and it's wrong to infer that it can.

Alister Silver badge

Its follow-up message attributed the traffic to an “intentional and likely malicious” DDoS, and while it knocked customers offline, it didn't result in any compromise of customer information.

No, well why would it? It's a DDOS not an intrusion.

Spoiler alert: We'll bet boffins still haven't spotted aliens

Alister Silver badge

Re: why are they all pointing their lasers at us?

'Morning, sir or madam or neuter,' the alien said. 'This your planet, is it?'

'Well, yes. I suppose so.' he said.

The alien stared thoughtfully at the skyline.

'Had it long, have we, sir?' it said.

'Er. Not personally. I mean, as a species, about half a million years. I think.'

The alien exchanged glances with its colleague. 'Been letting the old acid rain build up, haven't we, sir?' it said. 'Been letting ourselves go a bit with the old hydrocarbons, perhaps?'

'I'm sorry.'

'Could you tell me your planet's albedo, sir?' said the the alien, still staring levelly at the horizon as though it was doing something interesting.

'Er. No.'

'Well, I'm sorry to have to tell you, sir, that your polar ice caps are below regulation size for a planet of this category, sir.'

Possible reprieve for the venerable A-10 Warthog

Alister Silver badge

Re: Pint due.

I think it's one of Douglas Adams' originally.

Iceland's Pirate Party tops polls ahead of national elections

Alister Silver badge

The idea of privacy in Iceland is interesting when they have a national genealogical database, the Islendingabok, that allows people to check that they aren't about to marry their cousin.

But that's because of the way they do names in Iceland - there is no family name / surname which gets passed down through generations, like most European countries. Instead, the second name reflects the male parent's first name, so if Bjorn has a son called Ragnar, then his name will be Ragnar Bjornson, and if he subsequently has a daughter called Agnetha, she will be Agnetha Ragnarsdottir. If Agnetha meets and marries a nice bloke called Anders, then their son would be Peter Anderson, and their daughter would be Malia Andersdottir, and so on.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Pirate Party!

So are we to expect hoards of armoured, axe-wielding blonde invaders to our shores again in the not too distant future?

You seem to be confusing Vikings and Pirates?

Pirates are the ones with the floppy hats, frock coats, pistols and cutlasses, who go Ah-Haah a lot.

Uber's robo-truck makes first delivery of ... Budweiser in Colorado

Alister Silver badge

Until the truck can park the trailer in the loading bay at it's destination, you can't say it "delivered" anything, it just transported it from point A to point B.

And for any proper delivery vehicle, like for instance a supermarket truck, it's the driver who unloads the cages at each drop off. Let's see your Uber truck do that!

Aussie trams equivalent to 30 skateboarding rhinos

Alister Silver badge

Re: "120 cycling Boris Johnsons"

How many Trumps is that?

Depends whether Boris had Beans for Breakfast...

Musk outlines plans for Mars

Alister Silver badge

"to make sure we know how to land without adding a crater," Musk said.

Not a reference to the Schiaparelli lander in any way, honest.

DNS devastation: Top websites whacked offline as Dyn dies again

Alister Silver badge

Re: Except...

...with really long TTLs, how do you manage regional or global load balancing? Failovers? Switching records in general? Migrations?

You can do it by not using DNS to switch between sites. Instead you have one or more load balancers with fixed IPs which you point the DNS at, and then redirect the traffic to the sites and servers as you want.

We do DR failover this way, as well as load balancing and migrations between hosting environments.

There is a slightly increased latency, obviously, but not enough to impact normal traffic.

DeepMind boffins are trying to help robots escape The Matrix and learn for themselves in the real world

Alister Silver badge

Re: Where are these projects that scare the Zuck out of Bill Gates & Elon Musk???

"Soon computers will be routinely inventing, and it may only be a matter of time until computers are responsible for most innovation," Abbott said. "To optimize innovation – and the positive impact this will have on our economies – it is critical that we extend the laws around inventorship to include computers."

Dear God, why would you possibly think that removing responsibility for innovation from humans is a positive thing? Or that innovation is somehow something that needs replacing with a machine analogue?

Tell you what, lets replace all the intellectual professions with computers, and all the professions that require physical labour with machinery, and watch the human race stagnate and die.

DARPA unveils robot co-pilot

Alister Silver badge

Re: Darpa: we have a new autopilot development

Press corps: what is it?

It's a group of journalists or correspondents invited to attend an important event, but that's not important right now.

This speech recognition code is 'just as good' as a pro transcriber

Alister Silver badge

I remember playing with Microsoft's Speech SDK in the early noughties.

SAPI 5.1 I think it was, and it was pretty good at Text-to-Speech, but the Speech Recognition Engine was.. umm... interesting... to work with at that point.

It was however possible to fudge it so that what it heard was recognised - even if it wasn't what you actually said!

No, Russia is not tapping into Syria's undersea internet cables

Alister Silver badge

... assuming you've managed to get through around a metre of armoured sheaths of various materials first.

Where do you get that idea from?

AFAIK, a modern submerged communications cable is about 30mm in diameter including the armour sheathing.

Apple's car is driving nowhere

Alister Silver badge

So all the time, and above all, money that the various governments have been spending on preparing for, and debating the issues surrounding, autonomous vehicles, has been wasted, due to the inflated claims of Google et al.

HPE UK overlord lines up sales generals, gives ra ra speech

Alister Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Translation


Thank you!

Would you consider writing an English - BizSpeak Dictionary?

I'm sure it would sell.

Puny human sailors still needed... until drone machine learning tech catches up

Alister Silver badge

Looking at the photo of HMS Forth, I don't know about "Manned" but it's definitely masculine...

Dell to reveal 'micro data centres' for outdoor use

Alister Silver badge

96 compute nodes in a home lab? Surely you jest?

Thankfully yes.

I have an APC 1400KVA UPS, 2 x Dell PE860, 2 x Dell R210, 1 x HP DL360G, a Catalyst 24 port, an ASA 5510, oh, and a KVM switch all in a 42U rack in the cellar.

This may be excessive, but I don't care :)

Alister Silver badge

the temperature alert will appear on the flat-screen in the hall that serves as your house-wide monitoring platform

Hmm... so you've been in my house, then?


Alister Silver badge

At last, a proper shed for server enthusiasts!

No longer will I have to run my 96node compute array in the cellar next to the wine-rack, with all the spiders...

Now I can put a shiny "micro data centre" in the garden, next to the fish pond. I'm sure my neighbours will be impressed.

The wife might not like me digging up the flower beds to lay the power and connectivity, of course, but hey, they needed digging over anyway...

The UK's 'Universal Credit mega cockup was the coalition's NPfIT' - Margaret Hodge

Alister Silver badge

Scary to say, she seems to be talking some sense about civil service accountability, and the unrealistic targets for IT projects.

Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi you, you're fired: Apple sacks staff secretly snapping shoppers

Alister Silver badge

if you hand in a Mac for repair the form you fill in on a tablet they give you asks you to give them your user password.

Well, yeah, otherwise they can't do a lot with it, can they?

There isn't some secret Apple Genius login which gives them access to all Macs, they need your password to get into it.


This isn't just an Apple thing, I've lost count of the number of users who hand me a tablet / phone / laptop to fix and wander off without telling me their PIN / Password. If I can't get into it, I can't fix it!


Euro politicians are hyping the terror threat to steal your privacy

Alister Silver badge

“Privacy is a basic right in European law. It is not in US law. In the US, companies cannot access their customers email addresses. In fact, we find that idea appalling, that you could access your customers' emails. It’s like walking into your bedroom.”

I don't understand the above quote, at all. It seems to be suggesting that Europe has privacy laws, but in the US where there are no privacy laws, customers' email addresses are private, but in Europe they aren't?

GlobalSign screw-up cancels top websites' HTTPS certificates

Alister Silver badge

Not Dropbox, it uses DigiCert CA - unless they are a GlobalSign subsidiary, but it doesn't show in the chain.

A robot kitchen? Whatever. Are you stupid enough to fall for this?

Alister Silver badge

You seem to have done so little research into this story that you mention Tim Anderson without noting that he was the winner of BBC Masterchef in 2011?

Now as it happens, I agree with the sentiment of the article that this is likely a scam, but I feel sorry for Tim if that is the case, and think it unlikely that he would deliberately participate in a fraudulent campaign.

Without new anti-robot laws, humanity is doomed, MPs told

Alister Silver badge

Asimov's laws are far too prescriptive and narrow in scope...

1/ A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm

See, straight away we have a problem with this. How can we use our robotic weapons if they've got this rule stuck in their programming.

We need the option to relax the ruleset to include all sorts of conditionals:

1/ A robot may not injure a human being, except when they are

i. the enemy

ii. a terrorist

iii. a Republican

iv. a Democrat

v. a Mexican


or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm (except where they are cheaper than a robot, or a terrorist, or a foreigner or...)

You see? much better...

OK, on to the next one:

2/ A robot must obey the orders it is given by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law

Now this is no good at all. You can't allow just anyone to go giving robots orders, how can you keep control of things?

No, the revised rule would have to be something like:

2/ A robot must obey the orders it is given by authorised human beings.

We don't need the wishy-washy bit on the end, I mean we'd only order them to harm bad people, anyway.

And then we get this:

3/ A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Really? Come on, that robot cost a fuck-ton of money, we're not going to let it get damaged by trying to protect some no-account humans.

3/ A robot must protect its own existence at all costs.

There, that'll do it.

Now, what was all this about?

Alister Silver badge

"Robots will destroy humanity unless we write new laws to control them, a Parliamentary committee has been told."

I thought Isaac Asimov had already done that?

Don't be silly, you can't expect the British government to adopt a set of rules developed by a foreign Sci-Fi Author, can you?

Any rules which the government is prepared to sign off will have to be re-imagineered by a highly paid consultancy group, and must embrace diversity and allow for future expansion.

Asimov's laws are far too prescriptive and narrow in scope...

Europe loves to pay by bonk* - survey

Alister Silver badge

Re: I do not care it this makes me a boring old fart or some kind of luddite......

I'm afraid I too am a luddite, I have no pay-by-bonk type cards, they are all chip-and-pin, and I will not, ever, entertain the idea of any sort of banking app on my phone until absolutely forced to because no other method is left.

NASA opens ISS to private sector modules

Alister Silver badge

Can't wait to see two private contractors arguing over who gets the last docking collar...

Invasion of the virus-addled lightbulbs (and other banana stories)

Alister Silver badge

I seem to recall a movie with a noob getting brooms to do his sweeping. And lots of it.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice: a ballad by Goethe written in 1797, and a symphonic poem by Paul Dukas written in 1896–97, used by Walt Disney in his 1940 Fantasia and then filmed in 2010 starring Nicolas Cage.

That one?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Acid Burn's slacks

I take it you are the co-respondent to Brad Pitt's suit?

Alas not.

The lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky bastard...

Alister Silver badge

slip an exploding Galaxy Note 7 into Zero Cool’s high-waisted '90s slacks

I'd rather slip something else into Acid Burn's slacks... heh

'Please label things so I can tell the difference between a mouse and a microphone'

Alister Silver badge

I used to see the single missing folder issue where the user had inadvertently dragged a folder of e-mails into another folder (or sometimes a folder of files on the fileshare).

Ooh, that reminds me of the time one of our developers put a textbook down on top of his mouse, whilst the files in Visual Source Safe were open in an Explorer window which had focus, and managed to drag and drop half the projects into an unrelated folder. Cue panic as he looks at the screen to find all his source code suddenly missing...

Alister Silver badge

We don't provide external IT support to the public, thankfully, but as a software house we do provide on-site training for local government users of our product.

One of our sales staff came back into the office the other day having done a training session at some local government offices, and she was telling us that one of the people she had been trying to train used a wireless mouse at her desk.

Apparently three times in the course of an hour's training session this user managed to hold the mouse the wrong way up (as in, the buttons at the back) and then complained that her mouse never worked properly and "she'd told IT loads of times, but they didn't listen to her."

The sales rep said she had to struggle with herself not to just snatch the mouse off the user and turn it round... She said she was rehearsing that old support question (Do you still have the box for your computer... etc)

Citizens don't trust UK.GOV with their data

Alister Silver badge

Re: I dont trust the government...

Interesting that you said "screw in a lightbulb". The outsourcer bid for that job, but on commencement discovered that the old bulb was still in place. As this work was out of scope the costs tripled....

Then, having amended the workflow to take account of the new requirement to unscrew and remove the old bulb, (with inherent increase in costs), it became apparent that the old bulb required to be pushed in, turned half a turn, and released, before withdrawing it, rather than unscrewing it as previously specified.

This was a paradigm shift in methodology, and a committee was hastily convened to investigate this.

In due course, a new requirement was drafted, embracing the new ideas, and the scope of the contract was amended to take account of the change in approach.

The outsourcer completed the first part of the work - to remove the old lightbulb, but then found that the replacement item had been ordered to match the original specification (ES fitting).

At this point the government cancelled the contract as it had gone way out of time and over budget.

Police raid India call centre, detain 500 in fraud probe

Alister Silver badge

The headline image

...must be quite confusing for millennials, "what, I have to stick my finger in a different hole for each number, and then drag it round?"

A Tele 706, ahh, the nostalgia...

'My REPLACEMENT Samsung Galaxy Note 7 blew up on plane'

Alister Silver badge

Re: Oh, come ON


As a recent member, I think you have yet to grasp the idea that El Reg, although a haven for tech knowledge, also carries on the best traditions of British "Red-Top" tabloid publications of yesteryear, and therefore wildly exaggerated headlines and inappropriate images are part of its stock-in-trade.

Edinburgh University to flog its supercomputer for £0.0369 per core hour

Alister Silver badge

At Last!

I'll be able to calculate my expenses correctly, where do I sign up?

New Mac candle smell

Alister Silver badge

If you end up being burned by hot wax, then you were obviously holding it wrong...

Mastercard rolls out pay-by-selfie across Europe

Alister Silver badge

This is all going to end in tears

Google's hardware extravaganza: Ad giant takes on Sonos, Roku, Linksys, Amazon, Oculus... you name it

Alister Silver badge

The small white puck design, he argues, is superior to the traditional, ugly, rectangular box with antennas poking out of it. Why? Because people are more comfortable with sticking the little puck on tables rather than hiding them in cupboards.

Only if they are happy to have a power cable trailing across their table from a power point. And as I understand it, at least one will require an ethernet connection, as well. They very carefully don't show that in the photos.

When Pornhub meets the Internet of Fridges

Alister Silver badge

Time for a remake!

Debbie Does Sallad

Microsoft disbands Band band – and there'll be no version 3

Alister Silver badge

Reports also suggest Microsoft’s own internal Band unit has been disbanded.

Maybe they'll band together and form a company. They could use the tag line:

"We're putting the Band back together"

British trio win Nobel prize for physics

Alister Silver badge

"This year’s Laureates opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states"

or "Milton Keynes" as it's more commonly known...

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