* Posts by Cuddles

496 posts • joined 3 Nov 2011

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Euro space agency's Galileo satellites stricken by mystery clock failures

Cuddles
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Re: M.A.S.E.R/L.A.S.E.R pedantry

"I thought microwaves were photons; doesn't that make the M.A.S.E.R/L.A.S.E.R argument a little redundant?"

Yes, as far as physics is concerned, "light" refers to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, so masers are just subsets of lasers. Plus, it's worth bearing in mind that we also have IR, UV and x-ray lasers, and they're always just called lasers. Maser get their own name partly because they came first before being generalised to lasers, but probably mainly because they're the only sub-variant that doesn't sound really stupid.

As for the article itself, there's surprisingly little information given here. The BBC article is much more informative - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38664225

In summary - there are three different failure modes identified. The three failures in the rubidium clocks all appear to be due to a short circuit and may be related to a test performed before they are launched. The hydrogen clocks have two failure modes, the most common one apparently being an issue with the clocks not starting back up if they're turned off for too long (it's implied that although there are four clocks on each satellite, they're not all running continuously and that this can be worked around by simply changing how long they're turned off for). Only 2/14 of the main operational satellites have been affected (all 3 rubidium failures and 1 hydrogen failure), while the other 5 hydrogen failures have been split between 3/4 of the early test satellites. Finally, the Indian sat-nav system uses the same clocks, but has not had any similar failures.

And to correct the article, which somehow cited the BBC article while missing out most of the information and getting half the rest wrong, the BBC did not note that one satellite has suffered two clock failures, it says that four of them have suffered two clock failures. This can be easily seen by a little simple arithmetic on the numbers above. Perhaps next time just linking to the competent article and leaving at that would be a better idea?

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Ransomware brutes smacked 1 in 3 NHS trusts last year

Cuddles
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Re: HR Issue

"IT is a tool of the job, if the staff aren't up to using it warn them, train them, then sack them if necessary. Same as a surgeon and a scalpel."

Exactly. It's no longer the 1980s; computers are a fundamental part of most people's (in the West at least, and increasingly so worldwide) lives. It's no longer acceptable to just joke about how hard it is to program a VCR, being unable to use computers means being unable to communicate effectively in the modern world, unable to carry out even the most basic of office jobs, and so on. And, as articles like this show, it's not simply a matter of mildly inconveniencing yourself, the inability to use a computer can, and frequently does, lead to severe consequences. If you screw up with your personal computers, it can lead to all kinds of financial loss and identity theft. If you screw up your employer's computers it can be quite literally a matter of life and death. A doctor who screws up and kills people is fired and possibly jailed. A driver who keeps running people over will be fired and possibly jailed. An office worker who screws up their computer and shuts down a hospital for half a day... giggles about how they don't understand computers and need their teenage son to set their phone for them.

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Happy birthday: Jimbo Wales' sweet 16 Wikipedia fails

Cuddles
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Citation needed

Ultimately, none of the mentioned problems are actually particularly important. Any encyclopedia is essentially just a compilation of sources; they might give a handy summary, but if you need information for something that's actually important it's entirely your own fault if you don't bother checking the references. I don't know exactly how things stand these days (I suspect it's not changed much), but back in the early days of Wikipedia there were studies done showing that it was at least as accurate, if not more so, than the Encyclopedia Britannica. For all the issues with trolls and fraud, crowd-sourcing your fact-checking can do wonders compared to putting it all in the hands of a few overworked employees.

Basically, there's no such thing as "wiki-literacy", it's simply called "scholarship", and it applies regardless of what you use as your initial source of information. Wikipedia, the Britannica and the Kazakh National Encyclopedia are all fine as long as you follow them up and don't just blindly believe everything they tell you. Wikipedia doesn't have more problems or different problems, it's just a bit more popular.

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Clone wars: Wrestler sues Microsoft over Gears of War character

Cuddles
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Voice?

"third-party audio analysis that concludes Hamilton's voice is the same as the in-game voice of the character"

Surely this is grounds for the whole thing to be thrown straight out, since it's an unarguable fact that the character does not, in fact, have Hamilton's voice?

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Google sends Titan broadband drones to the unicorns' graveyard

Cuddles
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Kiss of death?

Or lease of life? Titan may be being shut down now, but it was a stupid idea from the start. How much quicker would it have died if Google hadn't bought it and given it life support?

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Now for a really cool micro-drum solo: Boffins chill gizmo below quantum limit

Cuddles
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Lots of nonsense being posted here

First, temperature is essentially a measure of kinetic energy (it's actually a bit more complicated than that, but it's close enough to think of it as the average kinetic energy of particles). If you cool something to absolute zero, that means you have reduced its kinetic energy to zero, not its total energy. E = mc2 is not actually correct. The full equations is E = p2c2 + m2c4, where p is momentum. If you reduce kinetic energy to zero, that is the same as reducing p to zero, which obviously still leaves you with the E = mc2 part - it's called rest mass precisely because it is the energy of a particle at rest, ie. zero kinetic energy, ie. at absolute zero. Claiming that mass disappears is you cool a particle down is pretty much the exact opposite of what the equation says.

As for things "chemically falling apart" when they get cold, that makes even less sense. Chemistry is about reactions involving the electrons bound to atoms and molecules. It has nothing whatsoever to do with nuclear or subatomic physics. Quarks and gluons do not undergo chemical reactions. If you cool certain things (bosons, oddly enough) down enough they can form a Bose-Einstein condensate, but that is not a chemical reaction and it certainly doesn't mean they've fallen apart - again, condensation is pretty much exact opposite of that.

Thirdly, things falling apart specifically because they're too cold to emit gluons, is again utter nonsense. Forces are transmitted by the exchange of virtual particles. It's complicated to explains without going in to the maths, but essentially the energy for them is always borrowed and has nothing whatsoever to do with the energy of the particles involved; an electron at absolute zero is still a charged particle with an electric field, it doesn't suddenly become neutral or cease to exist just because you've cooled it down. This is ultimately down to the uncertainty principle - this doesn't just cover position/momentum, but also other pairs of properties one of the most important of which is energy/time. Essentially, a virtual particle can appear out of nowhere and as long as it doesn't last for too long the universe won't notice the imbalance in energy. This is also the mechanism behind things like the Casimir effect and Hawking radiation from black holes.

Finally, we understand spin very well, spin energy is not some bizarre mystery, and photons are not regarded as "pure discrete units of energy" they are simply particles like any other with their own set of well understood properties, and quantum theory does not say mass should not exist (the whole point of any theory is to explain observations, so it would be a bit of a shit theory if that were the case).

As for the article itself, it looks like a neat experiment. However, there's nothing "below the quantum limit" about it. Using a new technique, they can cool things below the limits of a different technique. And no, it won't be the key to reaching absolute zero because that's not possible. As the article itself quotes - " If the light could be perfectly “squeezed” then it would be possible to cool the vibrational motions “arbitrarily close” to absolute zero". Not "we could use this to get to absolute zero" but "if we could make everything perfect we could get really close to absolute zero". I'm sure I've said it before, but it's really sad that the media constantly needs to make up shit about things breaking predictions (hint: if this wasn't predicted by quantum mechanics, what exactly do you think they used to design the experiment?) or leading to things that no-one involved has ever claimed. It's a cool experiment, why not just report what actually happened as stated by the people who actually understand it and gave out quotes explaining it and everything?

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Peace-sign selfie fools menaced by fingerprint-harvesting tech

Cuddles
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Fingerprint readers don't read fingerprints

OK, some of them still do, but the more modern, and much more secure, way to do it is to read the blood vessel patterns inside the finger. Taking a photo isn't going to be much of a problem there.

There are real problems with biometrics as authentication, primarily the fact that they can't be changed and so are useless once compromised (and as with all passwords, compromising them only requires copying the electronic data they generate, not the biometrics themselves). It would be best to focus on the actual issues, rather than some work-in-progress idea that can never even work on the up-to-date ways of doing things. It's like worrying about people taking pictures of your keys, while forgetting that burglars have access to tools like screwdrivers and bricks.

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Autocomplete a novel phishing hole for Chrome, Safari crims

Cuddles
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Eh

If someone explicitly tells their browser to fill in all the visible fields on a phishing site, they would have done exactly the same if any hidden fields were visible anyway. By the time you've suckered someone in to visiting a fake site and giving it all their details, they're not suddenly going to baulk just because it asks for their date of birth as well.

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Why don't people secure their IoT gadgets? 'It's not my problem'

Cuddles
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Could be worse

The problem with complaining that people treat Internet of Tat crap as regular products that don't need updates instead of the same way they treat computers, is that the way they treat computers is even worse. Not installing updates might leave you with security holes, but deliberately installing a bunch of taskbars and ransomware guarantees them. The average consumer simply doesn't have the training or understanding to keep their IT kit secure, so it's hardly reasonable to blame them for not doing so. It's no different from something like cars; in theory it's the owner's responsibility to keep it safe, but in practice that actually means they have to take it to someone competent from time to time. The difference with IoT stuff is that it's connected to that (supposedly) competent person 24/7 anyway, so there should be no need for the nominal owner to ever need to do anything themselves.

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Amazon's first live drone delivery flew last week in Cambridge, UK

Cuddles
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Range is the killer

"Delivery will be possible “within several miles” of Amazon's shed;"

Which is why this will never be useful in a commercial sense. The entire reason for Amazon's success, and that of online shopping in general, is they're able to have a small number of huge warehouses with a wide range of goods that can deliver to anywhere in the country, instead of relying on small, specialised local retailers that are only useful to those nearby. If they're reduced to small, local facilities with limited variety and amount of stock, there's no longer anything to set them apart from a regular shop. OK, there is one thing; it's possible to buy things heavier than 2kg in most shops.

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Violin Memory shares collapse as it files for chapter 11

Cuddles
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Insert joke

...about the worlds tiniest violin.

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'Public Wi-Fi' gang fail in cunning plan to hide £10m cigarette tax fraud

Cuddles
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Ray Sport Ventures

"teddy bears, razorblades and computer parts"

This sounds like a pretty interesting sport. Any idea where we can find out more about it?

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Dell trips over US sanctions by selling PCs to Iranian embassies

Cuddles
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Something seems off

€5000 for multiple PCs and a server, plus some other bits? Clearly there's some kind of cover-up going on here, that's normally the Dell price for a couple of mice and half a keyboard.

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Samsung SmartCam: Yes, those eyes really are following you around the room

Cuddles
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Target audience

"paranoid lunatics or control freaks with too much disposable income"

It's aimed at politicians?

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ESA to try tank-to-tank fuel switch on sat that wasn't designed to do it

Cuddles
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Eek!

Eke.

That aside, I hope I'm not the only one imagining a guy stepping out on a spacewalk with dirty overalls over his spacesuit and a length of rubber hose in hand.

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Earth days are getting longer – by 1.8 milliseconds per century

Cuddles
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Re: margin of error

"We've had about 14 centuries since 720BC, meaning the days now are about 25ms longer than they were back in the 8th century. Thus, assuming an constant rate of change, each day since 720BC has been about 13ms longer than it otherwise would have been..."

No, we've had 27 centuries since 720BC. 27*1.8 = 48.6ms difference in the length of a day between then and now, giving the mean difference of 48.6/2 = 24.3ms.

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Cuddles
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Re: margin of error

"How do you know that eclipse measurements from 2000 years ago were accurate to the second?"

They weren't. No-one has tried to look at historical data down to the second, they looked at the accumulated difference, which is much larger. Each day since 720BC has been on average 24ms longer than it would have been without any slowing, so we're now nearly 7 hours offset from where we would have been. It's exactly the same as having a clock that runs very slightly slow; you won't be able to see any difference if you put it next to an accurate clock and look at the second hands, but put the same two clocks next to each other a few months later and the slow one will show a completely different time. And yes, astronomers 2000 years ago were easily able to calculate eclipses with better accuracy than several hours, which is how they can tell how much the Earth has slowed down since then.

Note that this is also the case for leap seconds; they might sound big next to deviations of milliseconds, but again they correct the cumulative drift. There's a nice graph on Wiki that shows this - https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Deviation_of_day_length_from_SI_day.svg ; just a millisecond or two difference in the length of a day results in 27 seconds difference in what a clock says the time actually is after a few decades of that small difference constantly adding up.

As for the result only being an average, that's true, but not especially relevant. The Earth is really, really big. Anything capable of making a significant step change in its rotation would be utterly catastrophic, and certainly no such thing has happened in the last couple of millennia. While the change has not been exactly a constant 1.8ms every century, it has certainly been a steady, somewhat meandering drift and not a sudden change at some point during the period studied. As that graph shows, there's a 1ms or so seasonal variation, a somewhat larger short term drift, and then the longer term drift which was the subject of this paper; even the largest earthquake on record couldn't cause a sudden 48ms step change.

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HBO slaps takedown demand on 13-year-old girl's painting because it used 'Winter is coming'

Cuddles
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Re: overhaul?

"This has nothing to do with DMCA, it is plain old good trademark law and the idiotic "use it or lose" clause in it. That clause is long overdue for clarification and relaxation.

Aso, how could one have trademark or copyright on "Winter is Coming" beggars belief."

It's not even a problem with trademark law or the "use it or lose it" clause, and there's really nothing wrong with trademarking a phrase such as "winter is coming" (copyrighting it would be an entirely different matter). Trademarks apply only to specific commercial uses. Things like Cadbury's trademark on the colour purple are often brought up as examples of ridiculous trademarks, but in reality that trademark is only for the specific shade of purple when used on a chocolate bar. If you make a chocolate bar that looks too much like a Cadbury's one, you'll be in trouble. If you make any other product that colour - a car, hat, book, whatever - there's nothing Cadbury's can do about it, nor would there be any reason for them to want to (although there can be some grey areas if, for example, some other food is involved that isn't explicitly a chocolate bar but could be seen as in competition with them).

As the article notes:

"HBO's trademark covers clothing, mugs, drinking glasses, hats, bags, mouse pads and similar tat."

That means that not only is random non-commercial artwork not covered at all, but neither are many commercial products. Someone could advertise a car using the phrase, and there would be absolutely nothing HBO could do about it.

Basically, the problem here is no the DMCA, it's not trademark law, it's not any specific clause within trademark law, and it's nothing to do with the generally problematic state of intellectual property law. The problem is entirely that HBO are being arseholes.

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Body cams too fragile for Canadian Mounties – so they won't be used

Cuddles
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Re: Well....

"They've obviously not been trialing the right model of cam. There are plenty of ruggedised, hard wearing, decent battery life cameras out there."

Where, exactly? There are plenty of cameras around that might just barely manage an 8 hour day with fully charged, brand new batteries, and there are plenty that can stand up to a bit of knocking about on the odd weekend. But needing to work all day, every day for years under all conditions including extremes of weather, physical altercations, being shot at and attacked by bears, is an entirely different proposition.

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Stealing, scamming, bluffing: El Reg rides along with pen-testing 'red team hackers'

Cuddles
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Re: It's a bit disappointing

"Very interesting read, but it is slightly disappointing to learn that actually getting into "secure" areas involves things as simple as not having a responsible answer his phone."

Really? I'm surprised any actually found anything to learn in the article at all. Don't get me wrong, it was a good read, but as the article itself notes there's nothing new here at all; humans are the weak link and these are the same techniques con artists have been using for millennia. The fact that theft targets now include things like login details and not just valuable items hasn't changed anything about how to actually access them. Today a security guard let someone into a server room without checking properly with their superior about the surprise computer audit, 6,000 years ago an ancient Egyptian guard let someone into the vault without properly checking with their superior about the surprise gold audit.

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90 per cent of the UK's NHS is STILL relying on Windows XP

Cuddles
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Now I feel old

I was going to make a comment about how impressed I was that they've upgraded that much of their systems to XP, since when I worked in a hospital not much less than 15 years ago there were still plenty of 386s running Win 3.1 around. But looking at the dates, that's actually basically the same - 15 years and 3 Windows versions out of date. So rather than joking about how I thought it would be worse, apparently it's exactly as bad as I expected.

That said, I wouldn't be at all surprised if part of the records system in that hospital still runs on a BBC-B. Although at least that has the advantage of not being at much risk of hacking.

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Huawei Nova: A pleasant surprise in a 5-inch phone

Cuddles
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Is this a joke?

Huawei Nova - 141.2 x 69.1 x 7.1mm

Galaxy S7 - 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm

iPhone 7 - 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

It's basically the same size as Galaxy S7 (and most 5" phones are similar) and nowhere near an iPhone 7, so why the endlessly repeated nonsense about it being the same size as an iPhone? It may well be an impressive technical achievement to manage to cut 0.5mm off your phone's width, but no-one who uses it is even going to notice that, let alone care, and they certainly won't think it's the same size as a much smaller phone if they ever see the two next to each other.

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US Supreme Court slashes Samsung's patent payout to Apple

Cuddles
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Creativity?

"a victory for... all those who promote creativity, innovation"

Seriously? They're both just rectangles. Regardless of the nonsensical state of the patent industry and who the letter of the law says is at fault here, there was precisely zero creativity on display from any party here.

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Apple Watch sales go over a cliff: Down 2.8 meellion per quarter in a year

Cuddles
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Re: Smart Watch needs a reboot.

"That isn't what he saying. He wants a watch to function as a house key, a car key fob, or a bank card - if the security can be nailed down (a question of implementation, not concept)."

That was exactly my point - phones already do all of those things. Have you seriously not heard of things like Apple and Google payments, "smart" locks and the numerous cars that can be managed by phone apps? This is not asking for some killer app that only watches could do, it's just a list of things that already exist.

"That is a second or two, repeated many times a day."

Oh no! That might add up to maybe 10 or even 20 whole seconds! What a horrible inconvenience that absolutely requires spending hundreds of pounds to solve. Or, as the title of the article points out, no it doesn't. To start with, it's not repeated many times a day at all. Exactly how many times do you unlock your doors and drive your car to the shops every day? Exactly how difficult is it to put a bag down for a couple of seconds to use a door (which you'll need your hands to open anyway)? Nobody gives a fuck about smartwatches because they don't actually add any significant convenience. The fact that the best anyone can say about them is that you can occasionally save a couple of seconds here and there while carrying out functions that could easily be done without a smartwatch is the exact reason hardly anyone has bothered buying them.

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Cuddles
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Re: Smart Watch needs a reboot.

"If my watch which I do always have on my person; carried some form of ID, (verified by my biometric pulse perhaps.) My front door would recognise, My car would recognise me, My bank cards could be rolled into my watch for small transactions etc. Pressing the crown on the watch would alert my Home assistant without having to say Hello Google or whatever.etc,"

Aside from the security issues involved, the trouble is that all you're really saying is that a smartwatch would be useful if it was a smartphone. And that's exactly why they haven't been successful; all they're doing is duplicating the functionality of a device most people already have, but in a format which is inherently limited in screen size, battery life and processing power so that it can never actually work as a complete replacement.

That's the thing about watches needing a killer app - it has to be something that only a watch can do, or at the very least something that a watch makes significantly more convenient to do. Taking a phone out of a pocket is not difficult and takes only a second or two, so simply doing the same as a phone but on your wrist is not enough. Nothing you've listed comes close to being a killer app for a watch, it's just a list of things that phones can mostly already do. Of course, that's hardly your fault; the entire problem is that no-one has managed to come up with anything for watches to do, which is why they're not doing very well.

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Hackers waste Xbox One, PS4, MacBook, Pixel, with USB zapper

Cuddles
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Re: No shit, sherlock

"So many people here seem to be missing the point. It's not about the result of shoving high voltages where they shouldn't be. It's abou the ease and speed with which this can be carried out, and how many devices are potentially at risk.

Imagine, you can walk into Currys, whack this into a port, and leave likely unnoticed having just destroyed equipment of high value."

And how exactly is this any different from doing exactly the same with a headphone jack, HDMI plug, or other common interface? The only difference with USB sticks is that idiots are more likely to plug them in themselves if they find one lying around; if all you want to do is damage equipment in a shop, a power source connected to the plug of your choice will do exactly the same job, and would have done so just as well 30 years before USB was even imagined.

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Cuddles
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Re: No shit, sherlock

"Any interface can, if you connect to it inappropriately, potentially cause damage."

Indeed, I'm struggling to see how this counts as news. Plugging a 220V power source into something not designed to have a 220V power source plugged into it will screw things up. Try doing the same to a 3.5mm audio socket or your printer's data port and see how well things go. Other than the usual "Don't plug random electronic devices you found lying around on the floor into your computers" advice, there's really nothing of interest to see here.

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UK.gov was warned of smart meter debacle by Cabinet Office in 2012

Cuddles
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Re: Pull the plug then

"The only benefit is that meter readings happen remotely"

My readings already happen remotely - they send me an email asking for a reading, I read the metre and send them the answer. If power companies still needed to employ an army of people to constantly wander the country reading metres, maybe connected metres could be seen as a benefit. But currently it takes me maybe 5 minutes per year, and the company precisely zero time or effort, to read the metre, so there's really no benefit to changing things at all.

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Chernobyl cover-up: Giant shield rolled over nuclear reactor remains

Cuddles
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"Did everybody on that path die? Not even close."

Never forget that 100% of people exposed to radiation die! More seriously though:

"Radiation is scary not because it's instant death (yes, it can be, if you're quite literally in front of the reactor) but because of the cumulative effect. So long as you don't let it build too high in your body, too often, it's fine."

That's not really accurate. Radiation doesn't build up in your body in the way that things like heavy metals tend to. In fact, there's decent evidence that constant low exposure to radiation is actually beneficial, since it stimulates the protective and repair systems that fix damage to cells and DNA. The real problem with radiation is that the effects are simply too variable. A low dose might be beneficial, but what exactly counts as low? Is continuous exposure at some level more or less damaging than a single higher exposure? How exactly do short and long-term effects vary with different doses and exposure patterns? And of course, this is all before you start looking at different types and energies of the radiation involved - equivalent doses of alpha, beta and gamma radiation won't all have the same effect.

Of course people have tried to study all this, but given all the variables involved you'd need to deliberately expose tens of millions of people to all kinds of radiation and then follow them around for the next 70 years or so. Even if there weren't any ethical problems with doing that, the logistics make any comprehensive study impossible. We occasionally get lucky (maybe not the best word) and find a useful group to study, such as the well known watch painters, and there's the occasional unethical study, such as the military exposing people to nuclear tests, but this only covers a tiny portion of the question in a completely uncontrolled way. And no matter how well me manage to study the actual effects, that still does nothing for people who aren't radiation workers and so have no idea what dose they might have received anyway.

Radiation is scary to people mainly because it's unknown. You usually can't tell if you've been exposed, even if you somehow know that you usually don't know how much you've been exposed to, and even if you somehow know that it's almost impossible to know what the effects might be. It's not a particularly rational fear given how low the risk of any significant exposure actually is, but fear of the unknown is not exactly uncommon.

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Netflix and spill: Web vid giant kills password masking in tests

Cuddles
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Re: As bad as Amazon video on my TV

"Trying to do a secure password implementation on a system which has no keyboard and a display which (by design) is visible across the room is a nightmare. I can't think of a secure way of doing it."

Perhaps some kind of device with a numerical keypad could be used to control the TV remotely? I wonder what it might be called...

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Super Cali goes ballistic, considers taxing Netflix

Cuddles
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VAT

"One, the US does NOT have a VAT. They use income-based taxes because they're harder to dodge than consumption taxes which can be easily hidden under the table."

Except that's not actually true. The US does have VAT, they just call it "sales tax" instead, and it's done at a state or lower level (in this case, individual cities) rather than at a federal level. There are absolutely no principles or nonsense about making tax dodging more difficult, it's just the usual cries about state rights resulting in an incoherent mess that makes things more difficult for both the taxers and the taxees.

As for the complaints that it would be too difficult to bill something like this, I don't see how there's any issue at all. When you sign up for a service, you're generally required to give your address so that service can actually be provided. No amount of jumping around proxies, VPNs and the like can avoid the fact that Netflix know where you live and are able to bill you every month. The only difference VAT would make to the consumer would be that your bill would be slightly higher.

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How-to terror manuals still being sold by Apple, Amazon, Waterstones

Cuddles
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Whining arseholes ignored by most, everyone remains safe and happy

"WH Smith was quick to remove DIY terror manuals from the digital shelves of its online stores after El Reg highlighted their sale"

I believe this should correctly read:

"WH Smith was quick to remove old textbooks after being harassed by whining busybodies who have for some reason decided it's their solemn duty to police perfectly legal goods being sold in shops rather than doing their actual jobs."

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Samsung fires $70m at quantum televisions

Cuddles
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Quantum TV

If you know where your TV is, you can't know how long you've been watching it.

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New state of matter discovered by superconductivity gurus

Cuddles
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Pint

Re: using liquid helium or liquid nitrogen, which is expensive.

"Liquid nitrogen is not terribly expensive. It used to cost about the same as beer."

Expensive relative to what though? A single beer might not be particularly expensive in absolute terms, but buying several of them every day for many years is much more expensive than not buying them. When you consider that savings from resistive losses in most applications are likely to be pennies per day at the absolute most, that's an awful lot of beer-equivalents that have been wasted on something other than beer.

To put things in perspective, I work at a particle accelerator that uses several MW of electricity to power hundreds of magnets that run anywhere between a couple of hundred to a few thousand amps, as well as a variety of other high power components. We get through tons (literally) of liquid nitrogen for things like cooling detectors and samples, but we use precisely zero superconductors to run the actual accelerator; even in such a highly specialised setting that already has the supply infrastructure set up, it's simply not worth the cost to use superconductors to reduce your energy bills.

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Cuddles
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Re: Advanced science or gibberish?

"But secondly "cooled before the material reached its critical temperature"? I need an explanation"

As far as I can this is simply the author of the article attempting to say that the pseudogap phase is observed at a slightly higher temperature than the critical temperature (ie. the temperature at which it becomes superconducting). It seems to be incredibly awkward phrasing bordering on gibberish from the author of the article, and not from the actual paper. Probably caused by the fact the author clearly has no clue whatsoever what the research is actually about. Nothing new has been discovered at all. The pseudogap region is well known and has been studied extensively before, with this paper providing a raft of references to previous papers looking at it in a variety of different ways. As is all too common with the media these days, what is heralded as an amazing new discovery is actually just the normal progression of science investigating a known phenomenon in more detail.

@Uffish

"Sir, one of your journalists has left the phrase "the new phase enters a completely different structure that breaks time-reversal" in an article with no other comment or explanation.

Will you please see to it that some explanation in the most prosaic and banal terms is introduced as soon as possible since I am very much afraid that otherwise my brain will explode."

Time-reversal symmetry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-symmetry) is basically the statement that everything is basically the same if you reverse time; the laws of physics don't change and everything carries on as before, just backwards. However, there are a variety of ways this can be broken. Magnetic fields and angular momentum, for example, are axial vectors that add an additional change of sign when things are reversed or reflected (see the diagrams on this page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudovector). This means that they can break T-symmetry because if you look at the dynamics of a microscopic system with magnetic fields in it, things won't actually be the same if you reverse time (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microscopic_reversibility). When it comes to this paper in particular, they're looking at the effect of the material (specifically the electrons inside it) on reflected laser light, and how that depends on the orientation of the sample (a single crystal). What they show is that at higher temperatures, T-symmetry is not broken, but it becomes broken at a temperature higher than the critical temperature showing that there is a different phase present between the normal and superconducting phases (or more specifically, showing what the properties of that phase are, since the phase itself was already known).

I make no promises for how exploded heads may be after reading this, let alone if you actually try reading the links or doing any of the maths.

8
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HTC and OnePlus spruce up flagships for Santa's sack

Cuddles
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Re: OnePlus pricing

"The 3T does look nice, but 400 squids?"

Indeed. I wish people would stop pretending phones at this sort of price are mid-range bargains, that's the same price as my Galaxy S6 was just a month or so after release. When you're no cheaper than the flagship Samsung and Apple phones, you lose any right to pretend to be a bargain.

As for the rest of the article, it seems somewhat incoherent. A mid-year refresh is happening at the end of the year, except in HTC's case we don't even know if it will happen this year and it isn't a refresh anyway just a re-release of an existing phone. Also their website clearly says it has a 5.5" screen, not 5.7" as claimed by the article. Throw in the usual typos, grammar mistakes and clear lack of editing and I really don't understand how someone can actually get paid to write this crap.

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Google declares victory for its Wifi router before it's even shipped

Cuddles
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Speed is relative

"Wifi reached speeds of 228 Mbps, compared to 205 for Luma and 186 Mbps for Eero"

Meanwhile, the UK government has the target of getting everyone to have 24 Mbps at some point in the future. Those of us with pretty decent, for this country, broadband can generally expect speeds somewhere between 60-130 Mbps. For the average person, who is not running a LAN with lots of local devices and storage and is simply looking at Facebook and Netflix over the internet, there is exactly zero benefit in the increased speed. It reminds of when all the browsers liked to boast about how few milliseconds they could take to render a page, apparently forgetting that time differences far smaller than any possibility of human perception were not actually the main selling points of their products.

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Virgin Galactic and Boom unveil Concorde 2.0 tester to restart supersonic travel

Cuddles
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"60 years after the dawn of the jet age, we're still flying at 1960s speeds

Is that not because of the price of fuel after the oil price shocks in the 70's?"

It's more simply down to diminishing returns than anything else. The advent of air travel brought international travel times down from weeks to hours. Supersonic air travel reduces that from hours to a couple less hours. For the vast majority of trips it's simply not worth the extra cost. It's the same reason car travel is still limited to 70ish mph and trains haven't all been replaced by high speed maglev. It's not the technology that's holding it back, it's the generally small gains compared to the ever greater cost of actually getting those gains.

4
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Analysts apply Occam's razor to Tesco Bank breach

Cuddles
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Re: Not sure how the trojan theory would work out...

"Ordinary card cloning (from manipulated ATMs or POS terminals) is unlikely as well - that wouldn't explain the large number of cases on this one bank."

This was my thought as well. Given that the attack appears to have targeted only Tesco, any customer-based attack such as cloning cards or phone and/or PC malware seems pretty unlikely, since these would almost always catch customers of multiple banks. It almost has to have been either an inside job or some vulnerability specific to Tesco's systems (I guess the former is technically a subset of the latter).

5
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Adult FriendFinder users get their privates exposed... again – reports

Cuddles
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Re: I'm getting reluctant to sign up for ANYTHING

"Time was, people had to live with what they published. Now it seems everyone wants the right to have their own past words forgotten, even though they blazoned them forth to the world at the time."

Firstly, as already noted, there's a big difference between having your publicly published words remembered and having your private details leaked through no fault on your part. Secondly, and more to the point, time was people were happy to live with what they published because there was no chance the vast majority of people would ever see it, let alone remember it. The problem isn't that people's behaviour has changed or that their sense of responsibility or entitlement has changed, the problem is that people have stayed exactly the same but technology has completely changed the consequences of their actions. Back in the day, you could say something as a drunk teenager, the only people who would ever know would be the people in your village, and no-one would remember or care by the next week anyway. Now, you can do exactly the same, and 10 years later it suddenly goes viral on Twitface and ruins your life.

It may be fair to say that this is the world we now live in and people just need to learn how to behave in it. But it's entirely understandable that people have not, in fact, learned how to do so just yet considering that most of the technology in question has only been around for a decade or two at most. It's not particularly unreasonable that some people might want to makes changes to the technology involved to allow social animals to continue behaving the way they have for millions of years, rather than immediately accepting that things have changed and that a world with the internet won't allow the same behaviour as a world populated by small communities of apes.

1
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Origin of the beasties: Mirai botnet missing link revealed as DVR player

Cuddles
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Does it matter?

The issue here is that millions of devices are being connected to the internet, often completely unnecessarily, with default (or even hardcoded) usernames and passwords and effectively no security. Exactly which devices are targeted in a given attack doesn't appear to be relevant at all, the attack and the results are exactly the same.

1
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Samsung sets fire to $9m by throwing it at Tizen devs

Cuddles
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What phones?

"Samsung will throw US$9m at developers willing to have a go at making apps for smartphones running Tizen."

But... there aren't any phones running Tizen. At least, not any available for the vast majority of people to buy (there are a couple of extremely low-end models in India). It doesn't matter how much money you try to bribe developers with, no-one's going to bother if you don't actually provide a platform for them to develop for.

1
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A cardboard desk? I won’t stand for it (actually I will)

Cuddles
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Why cardboard?

I assumed there was going to be some trick that made it easy to switch between sitting and standing*, due to the lighter materials or something. But this isn't a desk that changes height, it's just a taller than normal desk that happens to be made of cardboard. But you can get a desk made out of materials that aren't utter shit for less than that, so what exactly is the point?

* Incidentally, there's absolutely no point in getting a desk that only allows you to stand, studies have shown that's just as bad as spending all your time sitting. It seems to be changing your stance and posture from time to time that actually gives benefits, so unless you get a fancy desk that goes up and down you might as well get a normal one that allows you to slouch properly.

10
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Recruitment giant PageGroup hacked, Capgemini dev server blamed for info leak

Cuddles
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Who else?

"A spokesperson for PageGroup told us the unnamed hacker has since promised they have destroyed the data and the company is "confident that they have done so." To us it sounds like someone discovered a vulnerable server, found out they could exploit it to extract people's information, and then reported it to PageGroup."

Sure, this sounds like nice person discovered a vulnerability and told them about it. The question is not whether that specific person plans on doing anything naughty with the data, but how many other people might have also had the same access. The important thing to take from this is not "White hat reports vulnerability", but rather "Vulnerability may have existed for years and has only just been reported".

1
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Panicked WH Smith kills website to stop sales of how-to terrorism manuals

Cuddles
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The Register are Nazis?

Slightly provocative, but sadly it seems the logical conclusion. As far as I can tell, Smiths were not actually doing anything illegal or even wrong; the books in question are technical textbooks legally available for sale, and shops are not required to do any kind of background checks on customers. But for some reason El Reg suggest that not only should knowledge be banned if someone feels it's possible to abuse it, and not only that regular businesses should be required to spy on their customers and look up all their details in national databases before approving sales, but also that it's the duty of citizens to go poking their noses into their neighbours business in the hopes of catching them in the act of doing anything that seems even slightly dodgy.

Brexit and Trump may not seem great, but we haven't descended into a fascist dystopia just yet. Maybe you should spend a bit more time on actual journalism, and a bit less advocating for background checks to buy books and citizens spying on each other to catch anyone who doesn't do such checks to your liking.

9
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GoPro drone moan brings more bad Karma

Cuddles
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Mature market

As with PCs, phones and the like, the problem with action cameras is that there isn't really an upgrade cycle any more. If you're a professional, the latest and greatest camera may well have features that make it worth upgrading. But if you're just a hobbyist, there's very little point in buying every shiny new camera that comes out. I have a GoPro; the original HD one from back before they needed numbers and colours and a spreadsheet to figure out which one you had. It does 1080p, or 720p at higher framerate, timelapse photos, it has good picture quality, enough battery to last several hours, and takes SD cards big enough to last a week or more when on holiday. And it's still better than many of the cheap cameras being released now. GoPro aren't having issues because there's anything wrong with their products or because of all the competition, it's simply that for the vast majority of people, once they have a camera they don't need another one.

3
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Fatigue fears over bug bounty programs

Cuddles
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No, really?

It's almost as though QA and security are things that should be paid jobs within a company rather than simply outsourced to hobbyists. Sure, you can get some benefit from asking nicely for people to tell you about issues they've found and showing appreciation when they do so, but it should be obvious that that can only ever be in addition to trying to do it properly yourself as well.

0
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What went wrong at Tesco Bank?

Cuddles
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Re: Santander must also not be hashing passwords

"I use Santander online and mobile app. Both request 8 digit customer ID (which you can persist for convenience) and full PIN, not selected characters from it. "

No they don't. I don't know about the mobile app, but to log in to Santander from a real computer requires the customer ID, 3 characters from your password (which actually allows strong passwords without stupid restrictive rules), and 3 digits from your 5 digit numeric PIN.

As for the main topic, this is actually an interesting problem that doesn't really have an easy solution. Only asking for a few random characters from a password is done for a very good reason - keyloggers can't steal your password if you never actually type the whole thing. But, as this incident apparently shows, this makes accounts more vulnerable to other types of attack. So the question is not so much whether it's a bad idea to do it like this, but whether it's worse than the alternatives.

6
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IoT worm can hack Philips Hue lightbulbs, spread across cities

Cuddles
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Eh

"The chain reaction will die in city areas where less than 15,000 of the globes are used"

So, not really an issue then. I doubt there's actually a single city that has that many IoT lightbulbs, let alone that many of a specific brand. Hacks that rely on there being a significant number of vulnerable devices in close proximity are best aimed at devices that actually sell in significant numbers.

That's not to say work like this isn't worth doing; the more people point out how stupid it is to have hilariously insecure internet connections controlling basic needs like lighting and heating, the better. It's just that this particular attack is less "everyone's lights are about to go crazy" and more "fortunately most people aren't stupid enough to buy this shit yet".

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Add it to the tab: ICO fines another spammer as unpaid bills mount

Cuddles
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Cut off the head

There seem to be two separate issues here - the companies that do the spamming, and the companies that hire them. Reading the ICO's statements, it appears that the problem with non-payment of fines is mainly confined to the spammers themselves - they have no brand or real business to speak of, so they can just pop up, spam, and shut down before getting caught. Those hiring them, on the other hand, can't do that because the whole point is to bring in customers and you can't do that if you liquidate your company.

So the solution seems fairly obvious - simply fine the people hiring the spammers. Cut off their source of income and the spammers will disappear (or at least have to come up with a new scam). Fortunately, it seems this may be what the ICO is now trying to do - the company in question here wasn't the spammer but rather the hirer, and all the talk of spammers liquidating and not paying fines isn't actually relevant to them. Hopefully this isn't a one-off and they'll carry on fining the people they can actually catch. Fine enough of them and the spammers will die out because it simply won't be profitable for anyone to hire them.

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