* Posts by Alister

3335 posts • joined 19 May 2010

Congress presents plan to tighten reins on FBI hacking

Alister Silver badge

I'm afraid this bill is doomed to failure, it just doesn't have a snappy enough acronym... The SMH Act, whats-that-all-about?

The should have called it the STOMA-HACK Act...

Oh, wait, maybe not...

Reavers! Google patent would affix pedestrians to car hoods

Alister Silver badge

Under present UK law, you're not allowed to pick up roadkill you have hit and take it home.

They may have to revisit this, in light of Google's plans.

Africa poses for 7,000 snap mosaic

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Nice work.

Remind me, who did the coastline - I thought for a moment I could see fiords...

Peer tables motion to kill vaping rules

Alister Silver badge

Re: madness

Ignoring the facts that e-cigarettes are almost as bad as the real thing...

Perhaps you would like to find us an example of "the facts" that we can look at?

Would we want to regenerate brains of patients who are clinically dead?

Alister Silver badge

Re: how it feel to to be wrenched back from an even more definite terminal event.

To the best of my knowledge, the things that define who we are, and maintain our memories, are all a result of electrical charges in the brain.

I'm pretty sure there are no persistent physical changes in the brain which would still be present after death. Think of it as RAM - the information is only held whilst electrical power is maintained.

Therefore, whilst the autonomous functions of regulating breathing and heartbeat, and functioning of the gut, etc, would all still be there (they are built in - like a BIOS), I don't think a re-animated brain would contain any vestige of the person who it used to be.

Inside Project Loon – Google's megaplan to build a global internet

Alister Silver badge

Google are the New Seekers

and they should re-release the song:


I'd like to teach the world to ping

In perfect harmony

I'd like to let them browse the net

and use this company


I'd like to see the world for once

All searching through one site

And use their browsing history

to place ads in their sight.

White hats bake TeslaCrypt master key into universal decryptor

Alister Silver badge

Re: Brings back memories

Ahh, them were the days, when graphics had real weight to them, proper blocks of colour, none of yer new-fangled pixel rubbish.

Electric Babel Fish swims into crowdfunding

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"I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle"

How Nokia is (and isn't) back in the phone business today

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To my mind, Nokia were the absolute champions of the intuitive GUI on their non-smart phones.

Maybe they can bring those skill to bear on skinning Android.

US power grid still fragile in the face of EMP threat: GAO

Alister Silver badge

Re: This nearly happened in 2012

Had this (in 2012) been a direct hit America and most of Europe would now be living in Bronze Age levels of technology

Really? Does a solar flare remove all knowledge of electricity from people's brains then? And stop unaffected countries from helping?

I think you are overstating the case wildly, a Carrington-class event might lead to a few months of severe disruption, but we would soon start to recover.

GCHQ's Twitter move: Wants to be 'accessible', people to 'understand'

Alister Silver badge

You could ask them about Gareth Williams?

Coat, 'cos I forgot my bag...

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Re: Hello World

Fotherington-Tomas is a gurl!

FBI director claims that videoing police is causing crime uptick

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Re: Nothing to hide : Nothing to fear

"A policeman is a civilian, you inbred streak of piss!"

By Jingo!

Russia faces Ukraine and Georgia in Eurovision deathmatch

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adding a new level of excitement for hundreds of millions of viewers in Europe and beyond.

I can hardly contain my excitement indifference...

Curiosity find Mars' icecaps suck up its atmosphere

Alister Silver badge

Re: New Orderly World Orders AI …. for Live Operational Virtual Environments ‽

Oh Gods, who let him in...

Alister Silver badge

34 million observations from two Martian years prove Mars is cold, dry and nasty


Amazing! that was money well spent then.


Joking apart, it's pretty cool to see climate data from another planet.

A cracked window on the International Space Station? That's not good

Alister Silver badge

By the sound of it, we don't need to go asteroid mining to get loads of useful minerals, we just need to clear out LEO and GEO of all the bits and recycle them.

What they need, right, is to launch a really, really big ball of Blu-tak, which can collect all the small debris.

Laser-zapping scientists will save the Earth from meteorite destruction

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Re: Alister


I think the question is, why were they near misses? If totally avoiding the problem is Sci-Fi, what can we do that is realistic to keep them down to near misses.

Sadly, the nearest anyone can get to a reason why they were near misses is that they broke up before hitting the ground.

Partially a function of their mass, size and shape, but also of their composition, initial entry speed and angle. The Chelyabinsk meteor had an estimated size of about 20 metres diameter, that of Tunguska was of the order of 60 to 190 metres long and 10 metres across. In both cases they entered the atmosphere at very high speed and a low angle of attack.

I can see no way that humans can engineer these circumstances with any reliability within a sensible timescale.

Besides. If we can track them, we can know where they will hit. What is the most reliable way to avoid danger then? Fire lasers and hope for the best, or evacuate the town/city in the path?

I think you don't really have a grasp of the enormity of the effects should an event similar to Tunguska occur in a populated area. In the original event the trees, to a large extent, contained the blast, and minimized the dust cloud that was formed.

Even then, there were widespread climate and weather disruptions for months afterwards. If a similar event happened over a city, the planet would probably go dark for weeks due to the dust and rubble thrown into the atmosphere, and that's still talking about an airburst event.

Should a Tunguska sized meteor actually touchdown, then whichever country it hit would be mostly wiped out - note I said country, not town, or city.

The Tunguska blast was estimated to be about 15 megatons or equivalent to roughly 1,000 Hiroshimas.

There is no way that we could effectively evacuate the whole target area of an impact event like that.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Odds


I suggest you go and Google Tunguska, or if that's not close enough in time to worry you, how about Chelyabinsk.

Both of those were near misses, that could have so easily been much, much worse. Maybe not extinction level, but seriously disruptive.

Perhaps you might then consider the justification here to be a little less thin?.

Apple, AT&T, Verizon named in $7bn VoIP patent claim

Alister Silver badge

They forgot to ask for a pony. Always ask for a pony!

And World Peace!

Alister Silver badge

A quick skim through the two patents suggests that my Asterisk box is in violation of both of them.

Seeing as the first release of the Asterisk PBX was 1999, I claim prior art...

Dwarf planet intumesces before astronomers' gaze

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Re: 1920x990

A 4K space sausage - stirs the imagination :)

...and the appetite!

Label your cables: A cautionary tale from the server room

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Re: article header image

I was expecting the answer to be more complex, I suppose. :)

I may have been overthinking this...

Alister Silver badge

article header image

I've asked this before, but never got a response, what's the significance of the drawing of the Flying Fortress in the article image?

Archaeologists find oldest ever ground-edge stone axe

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Re: Hold on a gosh darned minute...

@ I am David Jones.

My humour detector is fine, thank you, just wanted to get the Cleopatra thing in there...

And how do you work out that 2667BC is 4672 years ago? Where's the missing 11 years?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Hold on a gosh darned minute...

Human beings have only been on the planet for about 4,000 years haven't they?

I'd be intrigued to know where you get your dates from...

Construction of the Step Pyramid at Djoser in Egypt has been carbon dated to around 2667BC which is 4683 years ago, and humans were around a long time before that.

Interesting fact: The date of Cleopatra's birth is nearer in time to the invention of the iPhone, than it is to the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Interesting, but...


I still have my Great-grandfather's axe.

My Grandfather replaced the handle,

My Father replaced the head.

But it's still my Great-grandfather's axe...

Alister Silver badge

Re: Truly fascinating, but

I think a slight amount of journalistic exaggeration has crept into the narrative.

If you read the linked PDF it actually says the following:

The only morphological feature that is unique to the axes

is the highly polished ground surface. These smoothed

surfaces are created by extensive abrasion with another

rock and cannot be incidentally produced by other

knapping actions such as platform preparation.

Grinding basalt to a polished bevel has been experi-

mentally shown to take 1.5–5 h depending on the

character of the base stone and abrasive agent being

used (Dickson1980).

Even in optimal conditions hundreds of forceful strokes are

required to create the smoothed bevel. Our experiments

and comparative measurements confirm this proposition

(my emphasis)

Huge embarrassment over fisting site data breach

Alister Silver badge

Re: Let me be the first to say it

Okay, he was the first.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Let me be the first to say it

You weren't the fist first, sorry

Congress calls for change to NSA spying law

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Terrorism as a significant international American concern arose considerably later


Internationally, terrorism was very much a concern from the late 60s onwards, particularly in Europe, it just took the US a while to catch up.

Russia poised to unleash 'Son of Satan' ICBM

Alister Silver badge
Paris Hilton

"capable of wiping out parts of the earth the size of Texas or France", Zvezda cheerfully explains.

Interesting, both Texas and France have a city named Paris, I believe.

Icon: well what else?

Lauri Love: 'Britain's FBI' loses court attempt to evade decryption laws

Alister Silver badge


No, unfortunately I don't. It's worth noting though, the following:

The NCA first served a RIPA Notice on Mr Love in February 2014 but took no further action to continue it after he did not comply.

Which suggests they were on shaky ground already.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Have I got this straight?

Yes, absolutely correct.

Alister Silver badge

As mentioned, they didn't use RIPA, which already has a 2-year jail term for failing to hand over encryption keys, because they couldn't meet the requirements laid down in that law.

So what they were effectively trying to do was to enable the law enforcement body to scrutinize Love's private data without evidence of wrongdoing, or any valid justification whatsoever.

The sneaky bastards.

Alister Silver badge

Surely this case is going to be both complex and harrowing.

Yeah, Tough Love...

Transfer techies at SWIFT tell Bangladesh Bank: Don't shift blame for $81m cyberheist

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As well as network infrastructure weaknesses, the hackers behind the heist used custom malware specifically created to target SWIFT. The code even adjusted the SWIFT system’s printed reports to hide fraudulent transfers from the Bangladesh central bank account at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

If the above is true then surely SWIFT can't possible deny all responsibility for the losses incurred.

Investigatory Powers Bill: As supported by world's most controlling men

Alister Silver badge

Eric King, director of the Don't Spy on Us coalition, said: "We have been talking to all of the parties, our members include many cross-party organisations, and we're very enthused by the work that Kier Starmer [Labour MP] and Joanna Cherry [SNP MP] are doing. We hope there's going to be more opposition to what is a bill that we're still very concerned about."

Unfortunately, our duly elected representatives have already had the opportunity to vote against this legislation, but chose instead to abstain, so effectively endorsing it by tacit consent.

French duck-crushing device sells for €40k

Alister Silver badge

So, the outcome is effectively cooked roadkill.

I wonder how they present that elegantly on a plate?

Anyway, can't stop, I'm off to buy a pre-cooked chicken, I wonder what it'll look like with a Land Rover tyre print, tasteful, non?

NCA decryption refused

Alister Silver badge

Well short of beating it out of him, I'm not sure how they could "force" him to give up the keys anyway.

It's noticeable they didn't use RIPA either, which already has a 2-year jail term for failing to hand over encryption keys.

What they were effectively trying to do was to enable the law enforcement body to scrutinize his private data without evidence of wrongdoing.

Spaniard live streams 195km/h burn-up

Alister Silver badge

Up Periscope!

Right up!

We should encourage more idiot drivers to provide the necessary camera footage to convict themselves.

Sic transit Mercury Monday

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*Suffice it to say, it's overcast here with light drizzle,

Thankfully, here in the middle of the UK, it's a cloudless sunny day, for a change.

Watch it again: SpaceX's boomerang rocket lands on robo-sea-barge

Alister Silver badge

Re: Alien Space Bat at 54:19


Thanks, but in the video you can clearly see a nozzle of some kind with ice crystals forming round it as it vents, so it's not venting through the engine bell.

If there isn't a similar vent the other side, I would expect that to cause a sideways movement of the craft.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Alien Space Bat at 54:19

So if they vent off the LOX, will there be a vent port on each side of the vehicle?

Otherwise, won't the venting cause a thrust vector which will affect the craft?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Alien Space Bat at 54:19

Yes I saw that, and couldn't decide whether it was a small thruster firing, and then ice building up round the nozzle, or whether something was being vented deliberately, or it was in fact an unintentional leak.

I'd be curious to know.

Giant 3D printed human

Alister Silver badge


...and possibly more technically challenging, you can get miniature models of yourself printed here

'Bitcoin creator' Craig Yeah Wright in meltdown

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Re: Just a thought.

So he's an Australian who's had to flee the country, and makes fantastic statements to grab some media attention.

Curious, it reminds me of someone else.

Alister Silver badge


Looser than what?

Did you mean Loser?

You can always rely on the Ancient Ones to cock things up

Alister Silver badge

Re: Music

I've been watching the 1970s comedy series Porridge and there's no theme tune.

Yes there is, it goes:

"Norman Stanley Fletcher, you have pleaded guilty to the charges brought by this court and it is now my duty to pass sentence. You are an habitual criminal who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard and presumably accepts imprisonment in the same casual manner. We therefore feel constrained to commit you to the maximum term allowed for these offences — you will go to prison for five years."(SLAM)

Alister Silver badge

Re: There will be blood...

You really need to try violence. Threats sometimes work, but for those really stubborn ones, actual violence is needed.

I'm sure I've posted this tale before, but it bears repeating:

A colleague of mine was working on a desktop machine which steadfastly refused to boot cleanly.

All the component parts, (motherboard, CPU, Fan, RAM, PSU, Video card, network card, etc) had been tested in other machines and were known to work, but put them all together in one case and it wouldn't work.

Finally, in exasperation, my colleague picked the whole thing up and threw it out of an (open) second-floor window.

When he had trudged downstairs and retrieved it from the flowerbed it was occupying, he emptied out the soil and plugged it in, and it worked first time.


On the workbench in the comms room here we have the skeletal remains of a Dell PE860 with a large screwdriver embedded in its mainboard. It is left there as a salutary lesson to all the servers in the racks...

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