* Posts by ManFromOz

7 posts • joined 11 Jan 2011

Hey, remember that monkey selfie copyright drama a few years ago? Get this – It's just hit the US appeals courts


Re: Devil's Advocate


I have no time for PETA. But I profoundly disagree with your argument. It is the notion of black and white differentiation between humans and 'animals' that promulgates, rather than reduces, human inequality. If your notion of what does and doesn't deserve such rights is based on an arbitrary benchmark (human vs non-human), you create a construct that allows people to set that arbitrary line wherever they like. Throughout history, groups of people have been demonised and categorised as 'sub-human', and this distinction used as a way of eroding their rights.

A distinction based on objective measures (things like the ability to experience pain, emotional distress, joy, familial relationships) actually makes it much harder to withdraw those rights from any human being, but also leads to the inescapable conclusion that higher order animals also deserve the same or similar protections.

It can be a rather challenging notion, as if forces an examination of what is, for most of us, an uncomfortable truth we avoid.

If you really want to be challenged on this, read Peter Singer. You will find your world view challenged, which I hope you will find stimulating. (Unfortunately most people find such challenge is unwelcome and summarily dismiss it).



New Horizons: We've got a pretty pic of Pluto. Now let's get our SCIENCE on


moon discovery?

"it now seems that Pluto's moons were formed in much the same way as ours were"

We have moons?


According to Netflix, Australia's slowest ISP owns half of Foxtel


malice or incompetence

"Might Telstra have decided it won't do everything in its power to ensure that data flows well from Netflix's peers?"

Don't rush to ascribe malice to actions that can better be explained by incompetence..


Ford to save you from BIKE FITNESS HORROR


electric bikes are established technology

It always amuses me when there non-bike companies keep coming out with e-bicycle 'prototypes' and 'concepts', as if they are new and revolutionary. Generally these things are built by non-bicycle specialists, and are impractical and not well designed.

Meanwhile, established and respected e-bike companies are on their fourth or fifth-generation designs by now, have ironed out most of the issues, and concentrate on the stuff that matters (ride comfort and stability, smoothness of assistance, range and power optimisation, weight etc), rather than being distracted by radar sensors and vibrating handlebars or whatever.

For example:


I have a gazelle e-bike, and it is a joy to ride. The technology is impressive, although very transparent - you feel like superman riding these things, bowling along, up the hills - and it's only when you turn the assist off that you realise how much the bike is actually doing for you!

Given how much time El Reg devotes to electric cars, I'm surprised they don't do a piece on e-bikes. As an answer to the problem 'How to transport a single human being 10km to work each day' they are a much more logical answer than 'put him inside a two-tonne metal box that needs huge batteries and motors to make it go'...


Steelie Neelie: Enjoy your EXCLUSIVE UHF spectrum in 2020, mobile operators


not just data and TV stations...

There are hundreds of thousands of other users currently operating equipment in the 520-694MHz band - as that is where pretty much every wireless microphone operates.

Everything from large theatre shows and broadcast events run by professionals to the mic behind the bar at the pub used for quiz night.

Sharing spectrum with TV broadcasts which are on spot frequencies which don't change, with plenty of space around them, works just fine given that wireless mics are low-power devices often used indoors. However, you can't share spectrum with mobile data services which frequency hop all of the spectrum, and might be very close to the mic receiver.

Wireless mics are a mainstay of the entertainment industry, which a big industry, yet somehow in these discussions their needs get left out...


Panasonic pitches Ultra HD 4K x 2K monster tablet


I know lots of poeple who want one...

I would love a large-screen tablet. I play in a big band, and have to lug around two huge ring-binders of charts to rehearsals. Before each gig I have to pull out the charts we are playing and put them in order in another binder, and then put then all back afterwards. Plus if there are any changes to the set list on the fly it involves flicking around and potentially diving into my bag for additional music.

A few guys in the band have put their music onto ipads / android tablets, and from a practical perspective it's ideal - easy to carry, easy to manage, great for gigs etc. I know a lot of musicians who have done the same, both for gigs and also for practise purposes, especially musos who travel.

But the big drawback is the screen size. Regular tablet screens are just too small to be comfortable to read music from.

Something this big that would allow two pages to be seen at once at A4 size would be absolutely perfect.

Of course, a muso tablet would also need to be cheap, in order that poor struggling artistes could afford one...


Vodafone Aus web portal credentials escape, media panic

Thumb Down

This is not a non-story...

I think the Richard Chirgwin has rather missed the point.

Of course companies have web portals that allow access to customer information for the purposes of self-service. However, each customer has a unique log-in, and knowing that log-in only gives you access to that customer’s records.

Other information may be available via an extranet, but this is only a sub-set of information useful for other specific circumstances, such as stock levels and ordering systems. Such systems in any case may be tied to specific IP addresses, and shouldn’t contain sensitive customer information.

Companies should be much more restrictive about access to their back-end systems, however, where information about every customer can be seen. Usually such systems are only available in specific locations (eg at a call centre or branch), and require a log-in tied to an individual employee. Where remote access is possible, it is via a VPN link, again tied to an individual user and authenticated using something like an RSA token.

In this case, Vodafone was allowing access to its entire back-end system from any internet-connected computer using nothing more than a generic password. Richard Chirgwin mentions banks, as if this behaviour is usual – but would you be happy if someone could access all the information the bank has on file about you from anywhere in the world using a simple username/password combination – especially when such logins are generic and shared between many different users? I think not.

For sure, the media has hyped this up somewhat (saying ‘their whole customer base information is publicly accessible on the internet’ is a bit of a stretch), but there is still a genuine story here. Vodafone Australia’s infosec policies are clearly not up to scratch, potentially exposing customer information to miscreants who could use it to commit fraud, including identity theft. And that is no trivial matter.



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