* Posts by Suricou Raven

1537 posts • joined 20 Jun 2007

Dot-com intimidation forces Indiana to undo hated anti-gay law

Suricou Raven

Now, I must correct you on this: There is nothing in the bible that forbids masturbation anywhere. Not a word. That's quite an ommission - considering how common it is, if God objects you'd expect him to mention it somewhere.

You're quite right about the mixed fibers and divorce though.

Light the torches! NSA's BFF Senator Feinstein calls for e-book burning

Suricou Raven

Not exactly needed. The Anarchists Cookbook is a living document - as it circulates people add their own recipies, and remove those they consider unreliable. It's always been like that. A lot of the instructions in it are unreliable or ineffectual.

Suricou Raven

Re: Feelgood Legislation one step away from Fahrenheit 451

Reminds me of the old Comstock laws that prohibited distributing any information relating to contraception - by declaring that the subject was 'obscene' by nature, and thus not protected by the first amendment.

Suricou Raven

I have it. I've never actually used it - I skimmed briefly. I just knew that lots of people were calling for it to be banned, and that attracted my curiosity, so I downloaded it to see what the fuss was about.

So, you know those exciting movie-style 3D visual cyber attack ops centres?

Suricou Raven

Sounds expensive.

Google and Obama: You’re too close for comfort

Suricou Raven

"Google’s world – at least in the short-term – is one where the individual has no privacy, and cannot control or own the stuff they use."

Sounds a lot like Apple's world, and Microsoft's world.

Swedish prosecutors finally agree to London interview for Assange™

Suricou Raven

Re: I'm suprised

The political consequences would have been unacceptable - if a country doesn't respect the agreements regarding one embassy, then other countries may become reluctant to operate their own. Embassies are very useful things to have.

Suricou Raven

Re: @Velv

But remember that he is paranoid, and arguably justifiably so. In his mind, and possibly in reality, the potential outcome of playing along would be much worse: He goes peacefully to Sweden, strings get pulled behind the scenes, and he finds himself framed for a string of sex offenses long enough to have him imprisoned for life. Or the US files an extradition request, he gets handed over, disappeared into Quantanimo Bay, faces a few weeks of torture before finally getting thrown into an 8x10 grey-painted room where the closest he'll ever come to human contact again is a glimpse of the person sliding his dinner tray through the slot in the door.

It doesn't matter if you agree with him that this is a realistic outcome: He has reason to believe it to be realistic, and acted accordingly by fleeing the law for as long as possible and resorting to any form of desperate trickery to retain his freedom. He can't trust the British government, who are certainly close to the US and have an extradition agreement. He can't trust the Swedish government. He can't trust any government at all, but at least Equador must have seemed like the safest bet at the time.

Suricou Raven

Re: Even if the charges are ultimately dropped by the Swedes

They would, yes. And by this point, the MET have spent enough millions of pounds guarding the embassy to make sure he doesn't leave that they can't really let him go. The term for skipping bail though is likely to be a lot shorter than a term for rape*. I imagine his biggest fear about that isn't going to prison: It's that once he is enjoying a stay at her majesty's pleasure, the US will decide to up their game, charge him with something (anything will do) and try to have him extradited directly. They can't really let him go unpunished because he would serve as an inspiration to others who might wish to compromise their security and embarass the country.

*I know it's a bit more complicated than that, but rape is accurate enough for these purposes.

Suricou Raven

Re: Interview

It is sensible, but this naturally raises another question: Why so long? If the Swedish prosecution wanted an interview, they could have had one a year ago. Or several. Assange made it clear from the start that he has no issue being interviewed by them - in the UK. So why was this not acceptable? 'Quality of the interview' is not an answer.

Well.That.Sucks: New rude dot-word sparks outrage

Suricou Raven

Will Dyson be the first to apply for a subdomain?

Want that awesome new Apple TrackPad? Don't get a MacBook Pro

Suricou Raven

Glue is pretty common in phones, tablets and the very thinnest of laptops. It's part of the 'quest of thinness,' a mission in which Apple leads. The latest macbook air is so thin they had to reduce key displacement, and even the macbook pro lost the ethernet port because the bottom half needed to be thinner then the height of an RJ45 connector. When things get that thin, there just isn't enough material for a screw to grip securely: Glue is the only way to go. The Surface tablets do the same. It lets the manufacturers achieve extreme thinness, which is what many buyers desire - but it comes at the expense of repairability.

An extreme case is the macbook air battery: An enclosure on the battery would add too many fractional millimeters, so the cells are glued directly to the chassis. That means it's impossible to replace the chassis without also replacing the batteries, and vice versa: Any attempt to separate the two would at the very least destroy the batteries, and likely cause them to ignite. Sure enough, when Apple do a battery replacement on that model they replace the lower chassis too.

As electronics enthusiasts have been increasingly grumbling every year for the last two decades, modern electronics just aren't made to be repaired. The trend towards miniaturization has led to that. Commonplace components increasingly replaced with dedicated black-box chips impossible to replace, hand-solderable components turning into first surface-mount fiddleys, then BGA impossibilities, circuit boards growing in number of layers so circuits become impossible to even see, let alone follow. Functions that used to be done in understandable but bulky arrays of logic chips and analog components being replaced with inscrutable microcontrollers driven by secret firmware. It isn't just computers, it's everything more complex than a kitchen kettle.

Siri, you're fired: Microsoft Cortana's elbows into iOS, Android

Suricou Raven

Re: When do we see an Windows phone with Android?

That their pushing for Secure Boot could certainly be regarded as anti-linux. All their open-source-friendly efforts could be regarded as a new incarnation of 'Embrace, Extend, Extinguish' - only applied to services rather than products. Embrace successful open-source projects to gain influence, use this influence to nudge people towards their propritary offerings or online services, eventually kill off the open-source competitor or turn it into a simple vehicle to drive the services.

Give biometrics the FINGER: Horror tales from the ENCRYPT

Suricou Raven

Re: A bit over the top, but...

Couldn't this be greatly improved by minaturising the secure module, putting a short-range RFID interface on it and implanting it into the user's hand?

It'd have to be an open standard and have a functionality for allowing the module to disclose its public key on request, because it wouldn't be practical to shove six different modules into one hand - you'd want to use the one device to authenticate at the ATM, unlock your phone, unlock your car, clock in at work, open the front door and so on. One little implant and you've solved authentication for everything.

Chappie: The AI tale that’s about heart, not intelligence

Suricou Raven

Re: I thought chapie was northern slang for penis

I've seen the same show. IIRC (Which I probably don't) the saw cut into his femoral artery. He survived, thanks to a swiftly arriving ambulence, but his chappie got chopped.

The lesson is that you should never place your rotary saw on the ground until you're quite sure the blade has ceased spinning.

Pentagon 'network intruder', dozens more cuffed in British cops' cyber 'strike week'

Suricou Raven

Propaganda much?

This isn't just law enforcement: It's a spectacle.

We're not allowed to use public hangings to keep the people scared of the police any more. Things like this have to substitute.

At night, scary wildlife comes out to play in the chemical factory

Suricou Raven

Seems familiar.

He got pinned in a utility shed by a pack of dinosaurs working together. Is anyone else reminded of something?

Seven months of Basil Brush on YouTube: Er, boom boom?

Suricou Raven

Just what the internet needs!

More furries.

Euro broadcast industry still in a fug over that 4K-ing UHD telly

Suricou Raven

People don't want it.

There's no point. Under normal viewing conditions, most people can't tell 720p from 1080p, so 4k provides no benefit at all. It's like the 96KHz 24-bit recordings promoted to audiophiles: Current technology matches sensory acuity so any further fidelity is wasted. Humans are not bats, and nor are they eagles.

The only people who care about 4k are gadget-geeks who value the latest tech for its own sake and manufacturers desperate to kick off a new upgrade cycle now that the HD upgrade stream is drying up.

Your hard drives were riddled with NSA spyware for years

Suricou Raven

Re: but the '...w.dll'

Wouldn't stop the NSA for long. All they need is a signing key or signing of their own bootloader. I can think straight away of three ways to get these:

1. Hack Microsoft. Either technologically, or via blackmail/bribery.

2. Super-secret national security letter demanding MS sign the NSA hack, or else someone goes to jail.

3. Hint that people with Influence really want MS to be cooperative on this, and the government is considering converting a couple of departments to Windows 10 and Surface tablets.

Elon Musk's Tesla set to unveil home storage battery

Suricou Raven

Re: WTF?

I can see two potential niches for it. First, those plagued by frequent power cuts may find a home battery appealing, as it would let them ignore the shorter ones and gracefully prepare for the long ones. It might also be a money-saver, as you could charge it off-peak for use in the day - the youtube tinkerer PhotonicInductction does exactly that, and has run through the calculations to determine it can be economical. Even with the efficiency loss, the price difference is enough to justify operating the battery. The payback time would be poor, I expect - but a lot better than those rooftop wind turbines, and people are suckered into buying those.

'Camera-shy' Raspberry Pi 2 suffers strange 'XENON DEATH FLASH' glitch

Suricou Raven

Re: Does anybody remember eproms?

PROM: Writes once. Often just an EPROM without a window.

EPROM: The one with the window in, erases on exposure to UV light.

EEPROM: No window, erases electrically.

You don't see them so often these days because of the rise of flash really-cheap flash, but EPROM does still have a niche in hobby-electronics because it's a lot easier to interface to than a flash chip. It's a very small niche now though - almost any hobby-application which would once have been tackled by the classic arrangement of EPROM+processor* is now easier to tackle with an arduino or one of the many self-contained microcontrollers. The only place you're likely to find an EPROM these days is when taking apart obsolete hardware - a lot of 386-era mainboards used one for the BIOS.

You can read the data out of an EPROM with nothing more than a battery, some wires and a voltmeter - and a great deal of patience, at about one byte per minute by hand.

*RAM optional. Sometimes you only need registers.

WHERE'S WALLY? He's in this algorithm, says developer

Suricou Raven

Re: Misleading title

I could produce a program myself to find 'candidate wally' sites in an image by looking for the characteristic adjacent regions of red and white. However, the artist is on to this trick and always includes a number of 'decoy' appearances of the same pattern for those who scan visually for stripes. So human verification would still be needed to determine which candidate was the real Wally.

'Revenge porn' law to arrive in spring – MoJ

Suricou Raven

Anyone got the text?

It's not hard to imagine this going wrong, if sites can be held liable too. Facebook and the like can afford a policing system and the legal muscle to defend themselves - but it could put an end to legal user-submitted porn sites in the UK. Not that it'd really change anything, they'd just host overseas.

Why Windows 10 on Raspberry Pi 2? Upton: 'I drank the Kool-Aid'

Suricou Raven

Re: Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

It's hard to even get a netbook these days - manufacturers realised that their razor-thin-margin netbook products were eating into the sales of their far more profitable ultrabook products.

Suricou Raven

Re: Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

Not so much negligence as differing priorities. Microsoft is very reluctant to do anything that would break backwards compatibility, which often means compromising on security. They also strongly dislike anything that could confuse or inconvenience users at all.

'YOUTUBE is EVIL': Somebody had a tape running, Google...

Suricou Raven

Re: The new man

You have it backwards.

If I made a kick-ass video and post it on youtube, it's a chance of getting popular. People find it, views go up, which means it starts appearing on the recommended page and the related videos list, bringing in more people. Youtube isn't just a video host: It's a powerful recommendation engine. A person can spend hours just following the chain of videos youtube presents.

If I put the same video on vimeo or blip.TV, it's not going to get even a fraction of the view count. Which means no-one bothers putting video up there unless they already have a high-traffic website in place on which to embed the video.

Powering the Internet of Stuff – by sucking electricity from TREES

Suricou Raven

Re: Energy from a nail in a tree

The power output is highly variable depending upon weather though.

Bill Gates – I WISH I was like Zuck and spoke Chinese. Yep, I drink poo

Suricou Raven

I'm not worried about superintelligent AI.

I'm more concerned about an AI just smart enough to do some of the more menial human jobs, and the economic impact that will have. Increases in economic productivity have always been a good thing in history - eventually. But the steepest ones often have an ugly transition period, and history is no guide in this case as the form of transition is unprecedented. What happens when the robots are doing all the driving, most of the cleaning and a good chunk of the service industry work? Unemployment that could trigger a positive feedback loop and push the world into a recession that'd make the Great Depression look quite mild in comparison.

Which of UK's major ISPs will let you have exotic p0rn? NONE OF THEM

Suricou Raven

Re: How futile given encrypted network tunnel services exist

Of course you can hack your way around - but it isn't a good thing for free speech to be dependant upon the outcome of a hacker-battle between users and censors.

Prez Obama snubs UK PM's tough anti-encryption crusade at White House meet

Suricou Raven

Re: Fifteen mentions

Ten. The others are in the titles or bylines of other articles mentioned on the page.

Suricou Raven

The word 'cyber' appears ten times in this article.

Does anyone even know what it's supposed to mean? It seems to have turned into a prefix for 'vaguely computer-related.'

Global PC market's not dead, it's just resting – Gartner

Suricou Raven

I don't need any fancy analysis to tell me what's wrong with the PC market. It's obvious: PCs got 'good enough.'

Anyone here should remember the 90s and much of the 00s - you couldn't get a PC home from the store before it was obsolete, things moved so fast. If you wanted to keep up to date with the current software you'd be buying a new PC every year or two. Three at most, by which time it felt like it was powered by steam. There was plenty of fresh demand too as families got their first home PC.

Now? You can use a ten-year-old laptop quite happily. It might not do for the latest games, but aside from that it's up to everything a typical user might ask. Everyone who wants a PC has one. I'm surprised manufacturers aren't fighting harder over emerging markets, because that's the only growth area left.

Hawking and friends: Artificial Intelligence 'must do what we want it to do'

Suricou Raven

Most of his Robot stories were about how robots would either follow these laws to undesireable outcomes due to circumstances unforseen by the designers, or fry their processors when they were unable to (Failsafe design - if a robot is unable to follow the laws, it burns out).

One example: A robot bothers a human, who orders it to 'get lost.' The robot proceeds to do exactly that - the third law doesn't include an ability to tell if an order is meant literally or figuratively. Finding the robot proves quite problematic.

Anonymous vows to avenge Charlie Hebdo massacre by blitzing jihadist sites

Suricou Raven

Re: What might be fitting

I'd consider it a sort of litmus test for cultural compatibility. Insult their god and phophet before a group of muslims: Those who complain but take no further action are peaceful and suitable for coexistance, for though they may not share western values entirely there is at least enough agreement for a 'live and let live' approach. Those who demand government censorship or fly into a violent rage are the troublemakers, and it's better to force them to reveal themselves now than wait for some future time when they may have greater influence, for coexistance with them isn't possible without conflict.

Saudi Arabia to flog man 1,000 times for insulting religion on Facebook

Suricou Raven

Eventually we're going to see a serious backlash movement against Islam in the west - we're already seeing the beginnings in things like the recent protests in Germany. Right now it's limited to some far-right nutjobs, but every time an Islamic country does something repressive in the name of their religion, or some group of Islamic terrorists makes the news with another killing spree, the backlash grows a little larger and a little closer to mainstream.

Sphere 3D: Our pop-out 2TB disk product? Of COURSE it's rugged

Suricou Raven

I took one of those RDXs apart once. It's just a plain old hard drive in a protective box. They certainly charge a lot of that box.

Suricou Raven

Re: Very disappointed

Any spherical data storage device must be named 'mollysphere,' just so that a very small number of people may be smug when they get the reference.

A Cambridge boffin told me YOU'RE A BIG, FAT LIAR

Suricou Raven

As accurate as conventional polygraphs.

That's not exactly hard to do. Polygraph tests are so unreliable as to be near-useless. There's a reason they aren't admissible in court.

Ladies and trolls: Should we make cyberbullying a crime? – Ireland

Suricou Raven

Re: ... if you go into a garden and a dog bites you ...

"What we need is a law against making laws .... oh wait ..."

America tried that with their Bill of Rights. It's worked out pretty well, despite politicians finding countless loopholes and workarounds.

Saudi Arabia hires 'ethical hackers' to silence smut slingers

Suricou Raven

Ethics are cultural. They are ethical hackers by Saudi standards, and I expect their hacking is authorised by the appropriate court order.

UFOs in the '50s skies? CIA admits: 'IT WAS US'

Suricou Raven

Re: Who else?

It's more interesting that the aliens appearance always seems to reflect the pop-culture aliens of the time.

Online armour: Duncan Campbell's tech chief on anonymity 101

Suricou Raven

Re: Advice from amateurs

Depends who you want to be secure against.

The PI your ex hired to try to prove adultery? It's perfectly fine for that.

Your Boss trying to spy on your personal calls over the office wifi? It's as secure as the device you use it on.

Government surveilance, or a megacorp involved in industrial espionage? Well, it'll slow them down for half an hour.

Suricou Raven

Re: Echo Cancellation

Or you could just use headphones.

NASA preps lobotomy for Opportunity rover to cure amnesia

Suricou Raven

Re: Necessary XKCD Reference

You assume quantum reproduction is needed to transport life. Is there any evidence that this is required? Classical duplication may not preserve spin and such, but it should still do the job.

The 'clone issue' in star trek was only handwaved as a technological limitation - and on multiple occasions accidents with the transporters were able to create duplicates, so the capability was there. Just that no-one ever thought to try doing it deliberately, because the writers didn't like the idea.

If someone had, it would have been so highly abusable. The hard part is manipulating someone into saying 'You and what army?' the moment before you reveal the ten trillion yous storming the planet.

Suricou Raven

Re: Necessary XKCD Reference

You just program it with a desire to go.

Then start working on those vegetarian-friendly cows.

No, I won't SNORKEL in your server room at STUPID-O'CLOCK

Suricou Raven

Generators are very heavy. The building has to be designed around them, so its more practical to put the really heavy stuff as low as possible. The only heavy equipment that gets elevated is that which must be on top for functional reasons, like the air conditioning units.

Buses? PAH. Begone with your filthy peasant-wagons

Suricou Raven

Re: If you are going to describe a future, make it aspirational.

Solar cells on a car roof will make no significant contribution to the power. Physics is against you here. Wrong inclination, for a start. Plus you've got the extra weight to haul around. Far more efficient to put them beside the road.

The only use I can see for solar power on a car would be for camping. The car's huge battery would be great for running a caravan, with a solar panel to keep it topped up.

Suricou Raven

Re: Driverless. It's the future don't you know.

The technology isn't ready. It may be ready one day, but it's at least ten years away - and that's if it all goes smoothly. It's not just a matter of making a car drive-itsself safely. There are other aspects to deal with too. The issue of vandalism, and the mess left after a drunk passanger. Who'd order a self-driving taxi pod if they risked the previous passanger being a group of four on the way back from a pub crawl leaving the floor a sea of alcoholic vomit? You'd need to design dirt-detection capability as well so they know when cleaning is required. The legal issues will take another decade to work through - when a self-driving taxi gets in an accident, who is liable? You can't just pin it on the driver, and there will be accidents.

It's also going to be impossible for the taxis to handle anything out of the ordinary, like roads blocked by accidents, people standing in the road arguing, outdated maps, some idiot redrawing road markings to keep their driveway clear, etc. The obvious approach is to have a 'call center' of drivers who can be called upon to remotely direct a taxi via cell-net whenever they encounter something beyond their programming.

Suricou Raven

Re: Use Broadband, not the bus !

Even for low-level workers there are social issues. Management don't like it because of the problem ensuring the company is getting the time and attention they pay for - you need to set up a whole performance monitoring system, otherwise employees will 'steal' company resources by watching TV or chatting with family while on the clock. Workers don't like it because the informal socialisation that takes place at the workplace builds connections which are both good for productivity and good for job security: When the cuts come, the boss would rather fire Drone #291 than Dick from down the pub.

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