* Posts by Suricou Raven

1546 posts • joined 20 Jun 2007


Join the gov consultation on net porn ... and have your identity revealed

Suricou Raven

It wasn't confidential anyway.

Have you read the first page? They warn that all submissions may be made public at a future date, and even if you tick the 'keep confidential' box they will only take it as a polite request and not legally binding. I do wonder if this is standard procedure on consultations, or if I should invoke a little paranoia and attribute this to an attempt to further bias the study (As if the questions aren't loaded enough) - no-one is going to face a scandal for wanting to protect children, but for a person to ever admit publicly that they believe seeing a little porn isn't going to forever traumatise a child is the type of violation of the social order that could cost someone their job.

Sysadmins: Your best tale of woe wins a PRIZE

Suricou Raven

Re: One off the top of my head....

You can get it through a key-combination (right-alt 3, I think? I can't remember without actually being sat at the keyboard), but this is rather non-obvious. No user would guess that, I had to look it up. It also doesn't work when I'm running windows and RDPed into another windows server - whenever I want to join a channel on IRC, I have to copy-paste a hash from somewhere.

Ministers consult public on 'opt in for smut' plans

Suricou Raven

I had mine unblocked so I could access my own artwork. The gallery site I use also hosts adult artwork on the same server.

Suricou Raven

Re: Follow the money...

Worse than that. I actually work at a school, and I'm in a constant battle with the game sites - they make a lot of their money from students, so they are perpetually moving around to try to evade filters. You'll find identical sites under a hundred names, changing slightly - adding a number, adding a dash, moving from .com to .biz to obscure ones like .eu. Do you think it'd be any different with blocked porn? There'd be a tremendous market for still-living-at-home teenagers and men-who-don't-want-the-wife-to-know, and the same domain-hopping strategy that game sites use would work there too. The legitimate, trustworthy porn sites would all be blocked. The ones with decent security, paywall filters and nothing more than titilation on the front page. But the fly-by-nights, the ones with no limits to how low they will sink, will just move into their place. The ones full of spyware and exploits, that lure the stupid into giving credit card information to use in fraud.

Suricou Raven

Re: An equal and opposite reaction

I know who'll see: Your girlfriend when she comes round to visit and can't resist quickly testing. Your parents, when they do the same. Visiting friends. Actually, anyone who ever uses your internet connection. They need only try to visit sex.com to find out if you are a dirty perv worth gossiping about.

Suricou Raven

Re: Sooo.....

In, out... I don't know any more! Half the time when a politician opens their mouth and says 'opt-in' they mean opt-in to the filtering, and the other half they mean the filtering will be on by default and people will have to opt-in to the pornography. I'm sure this confusion is deliberate.

Suricou Raven

Re: yet another well intentioned but misguided law in the making

It's hard to say, but, based on recent government trends and dropped hints... I'd say that the first thing they'll class as harmful will be sites promoting anorexia or suicide. The stuff that isn't going to raise much objection. Then they'll gradually widen it to include 'hate speech,' which is vague enough that a lot of more extreme political and religious (Or anti-religious) sites will be blocked. Then they'll just extend it finally to 'promotion of criminal activity' and start blocking all manner of things relating to hacking (As defined by politicians, so this includes things like how to jailbreak your iPad), piracy, etc.

Google brings HD sneezing pandas to UK: But why?

Suricou Raven

Re: Yebbut, nobut...

The terms 'DLNA' and 'works pretty well' do not belong on the same thread.

FCC boss applauds moves to block UN internet control

Suricou Raven

Activists may have some advantage here.

There are plenty of grassroots activists around who really want the internet to be unregulated and unregulateable. In any other arena, they'd be a joke - the people who wave signs that everyone else ignores. But this isn't any other arena, because the internet differs in a crucial way: Software is real power. Avoiding the obvious star wars quote, the more governments try to control the internet the more annoyed users will start developing software to resist that control.

It's already lead to an arms race situation in regards to things like copyright enforcement: Users started hosting files, copyright holders started suing, so users invented napster, so copyright holders found new legal avenues, so users invented decentralised networks, so holders designed monitoring systems, so users invented darknets... and so it goes, as the two sides fight through technology. And so far, look who is winning.

Fast forward twenty years, and what is it going to look like? Distributed ad-hoc wireless content-addressible networks, ubiquitous encryption, a hundred different ways to make your collection of forbidden Mohammed-mocking cartoons look like background noise in a VoIP call, and technology so advanced you can fit every movie ever made in your pocket. The only way to maintain control then would be to ban data communications entirely, and that's going to destroy the economy so badly only the most desperate would try it - and even then, someone over the border is going to be scatting wireless repeaters over the country from balloons. There's already a Christian ministry that does that to airdrop bibles into North Korea from adapted weather-ballons.

Such technology will always be niche though. Most people just don't want to rock the boat, and have nothing more dangerous to discuss online than idle gossip and the latest sports results.

CIOs should fear the IP police ... have your get-out-of-jail files ready

Suricou Raven

Re: Need MLKs speech.

"I think that Beethoven's copyright has well and truly expired, so everything is most certainly in the public domain and has been for a long time."

Not true. The music he wrote, yes - that has expired. So you can use the sheet music all you want. But each performance is, for copyright purposes, a new work with a new term. So in order to find a recording of the music being played, you'd need to either find an acceptable license for a performance or find a recording made so long ago the copyright has expired - which, under current European-standard copyright terms, probably means it'll be on shellac record. If you're in the US it'd be on wax cylinder, if any has survived that long at all. Or you could perform it yourself, but as another commenter pointed out this would require an entire orchestra of highly trained musicians, something rather cost-prohibitive.

Suricou Raven

Re: Oh what sensationalist nonsense...

Create all content in-house? Well, that should only raise their expenditure by an order of magnitude or so.

Suricou Raven

Re: Copyright nightmare.

"Yeah if it was produced by the USA government then most likely not."

It wasn't produced by the US government though. King himself was the copyright holder, and upon his death the copyright was inherited. The current holder is rather possessive of it.

Suricou Raven

Re: Copyright nightmare.

Ah, here we go:

"“reprographic copy” and “reprographic copying” refer to copying by means of a reprographic process;

“reprographic process” means a process—

(a)for making facsimile copies, or

(b)involving the use of an appliance for making multiple copies,

and includes, in relation to a work held in electronic form, any copying by electronic means, but does not include the making of a film or sound recording;


Which means... we can copy it for educational purposes, yes, but only if we don't use the photocopier or computer.

In other worse, section 32 is utterly useless.

See? You're not an expert, so you missed that crucial detail. I'm not an expert, and I very nearly missed it myself, but that one tiny clause changes everything. So are companies expected to let unreliable non-experts make decisions that could expose the company to massive liability? Or to spent vast amounts of money getting a professional to check every decision?

Suricou Raven

Re: Copyright nightmare.

I did look at that - but section 32(1)(b) says it applies only if copying is 'not done by means of a reprographic process,' whatever that means. It leaves sufficient ambiguity that I really don't know, and if I don't know then to avoid liability I go with 'not allowed' by default. I also note that section 32(1) only covers the copying, not the showing of a video, but fortunatly there is a seperate exception under 34(2).

Allowed or not, the point is that even determining what we can do needs someone well-versed in copyright law. Just the face that we are debateing this shows the problem. Do you think that teachers, already struggling to keep up, need to spend their precious time becoming armchair lawyers? The point of the article remains valid: The field is just too complicated for non-specialists to handle.

Oh, and none of this helps science department at all. Or english department. Because all their DVDs and quite a few of their tapes use copy-protection technology, and even if we are allowed to make the copies under the CDPA, the possession of the tools required to break those protections is still a criminal offense under Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 section 24. Maximum two years in prison for even possessing a program capable of the decryption, and no exceptions for education in there.

All of which brings me back to the main point of the article. Can we use that video? Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn't matter if you need to hire a very expensive expert to get an answer. It isn't practical for every company to retain a copyright lawyer to check everything they do.

Suricou Raven

Copyright nightmare.

If you want to see some real noncompliance, try a school.

Students and teachers alike make extensive use of google image search. Search, copy, paste into powerpoint. Instant flare. Do they check copyright? Hell, no! They don't even bother to note where the image came from. Remember that teachers are ridiculously overworked - they don't have time to sort out compliance with the materials they make for their lessons.

Teachers copy, all the time, for simple convenience. This is a school - discs get lost, or scratched, or broken. On many occasions we've caught teachers (English dept being by far the worst) using films clearly taken from torrent. They have the DVDs, but it's just so much easier to use a file than to keep track of which department member was the last to borrow that Holes movie and where they might have left it.

The legal side is an absolute nightmare of complexity. Yes, we do have some blanket licences... but just working out if they apply would need an expert lawyer. Some of them apply only to some copyright holders, or to content produced in the UK. I have on one occasion had to confiscate a teacher's video of MLK's 'I have a dream' speech because, in so far as I could determine, we had no license to even view it, much less to publicly play it for a class. In Performing Arts, they have licenses that cover playing music, but not photocopying it in sheet form - and in at least one case, they can copy it exactly once. In theory that would mean everyone clustering around their single sheet, in practice it means they defy the law and just run it through the photocopier anyway.

Practically every day I have to delete another big collection of pirate music that has appeared in some student area. We don't punish them any more - we'd run out of detention space. I delete (I have a program I wrote for just this purpose, checks for music/games/porn nightly based on a hash-list of forbidden files), and they put it back on the next day.

Then there is the copying-because-they-must issue. Science is running into this one right now: They have a big library of old VHS tapes and DVDs they use in lessons. But we have no more VHS players, and the DVDs have the same issue of loss/damage as English. From a technical perspective, a simple solution: We have a shiny new network media library system going in soon that is supposed to hold it all. And yet all that catalog of media, aquired over the years, is copyrighted - and in the case of the DVDs, largely copy-protected too. So our shiny new media library is useless, and Science is probably going to have to spend a few thousand pounds over the course of the next ten years replacing all of its educational media.

And, for the final touch: We're moving to application virtualisation soon too. Is that compatible with all our licenses, including the obscure stuff like the datalogger interface software? We've got hundreds of EULAs that we should be going through to figure this out, but realisticaly... no matter how closely we look, the IT team are not lawyers.

EU boffins ponder robot copters that carry people but no pilots

Suricou Raven

Re: Or just use buses

There is a dislike of busses rooted deep in human nature: People like independence. A car isn't just a means of transport: It's freedom. Owning a car is a modern rite of passage, espicially in the US. People do not want to be slaves to the bus timetable, forced to endure helplessly for fifteen minutes as they wait for the bus to come. It's psychologically distressing.

Suricou Raven

Manual? No.

He said that early adoptors would not accept full automation. I submit that society and the government would not accept anything less. Can you imagine what happens when you have people with minimal training in flying vehicles? If you think drunk drivers are a problem now, imagine them coming through your ceiling with all the kinetic energy of a quarter-ton chunk of metal dropping from a hundred meters up. It'd be a terrorists dream weapon, able to fly over any traffic barrier. Not to mention all the typically idiotic people who would find great sport in dropping things on people out the windows. Sooner or later someone trying to get ahead in the school run is going to come crashing into a busy playground, and the societal outrage will be so great the government will have no choice but to ban non-automated aircraft for low-training drivers. Even if someone solves the problem of fuel efficiency, autopilot design, noise and all the other engineering concerns, the future wouldn't be flying cars: It'd be flying taxis. Get in, enter your destination on the control panel, and get some work done or watch TV while it flies you there and lands on a designated and approved landing pad.

Tomb Raider dev denies Croft rape scene

Suricou Raven

Re: For me the Lara era has ended anyway

There's a reason for the lack of innovation, and it's the same in both industries. Cost. Production is just much more expensive now. Even in the budget titles, people aren't going to be happy with obvious matt paintings for backgrounds in movies. Same in games - high-quality graphics, especially written music and professional voice acting is a must. When a project costs millions of dollars to make, no well-run company is going to risk that much money unless they are assured of a good return. Low-risk. That means sticking to tried-and-tested formulas: The generic genre piece, sequels, franchises and blatant copies of recent successes.

Habeas data: How to build an internet that forgets

Suricou Raven

With the one small problem that no-one has yet managed to produce a DRM system that wasn't broken eventually to some extent, and there are plenty of gossips around who'll be happy to save anything juicy in unprotected form for later use.

Suricou Raven

Re: What about copies?

But without identifiers, how will the advertisers know how best to make us buy things?

Sony to bring bog-friendly blowers to Blighty

Suricou Raven

Waterproof? Already done.

Take one tablet. Place in one of those zip-lock bags used for food. That is how I read in the bath.

Crazy Texans dunk servers in DEEP FRYERS

Suricou Raven

Re: How do you put the dvd in the drive?

How many servers have DVD drives? Such a device is usually used exactly once, to install the OS.

Suricou Raven

The solution is obvious:

Use an SSD. Doesn't have to be a huge one, bulk storage will be via SAN in most applications anyway. SSDs should be as oilproof as any electronics can be.

Suricou Raven

Long-term stability.

Beware the caps. Most of the components on a circuit board will be fine in liquid, but not electrolytic capacitors - it seeps in slowly, over the course of months. I wouldn't be happy putting a server under oil unless I knew the manufacturer had properly tested it for reliability long-term immersed, and it remained covered under warranty.

Scotland considers dishing out more iPads to schoolkids

Suricou Raven

Isn't it obvious?

There used to be an expression in IT, many years ago: 'Noone got fired for choosing IBM.' At the time IBM was The Big Company, and regarded as the minimal-risk option, and so if someone chose IBMs products and the project was a dismal failure they wouldn't be blamed for choosing the wrong supplier. With tablets, Apple is in the same position: They are The Big Company, the low-risk option just because they are dominant. The competing midrange androids may be able to do more-or-less exactly the same things for a lower cost, but if the project goes badly and they end up sitting in a cupboard gathering dust (like so many high-tech teaching aids do) then whoever makes the purchasing decision can't be accused of ruining the project by trying to save money.

Study reveals high price of porn addiction

Suricou Raven

Still missing the vital statistic.

Numbers are nice, but everyone already knew there were some people taking porn-viewing to excess. That's true of anything - if you looked a bit, you should be able to find a few hundred people who ruined their lives by excessive television, gaming or religion. This study only looked at the extreme cases. What we really need is some idea of how many people who view porn fall into that category, as opposed to just enjoying it a couple of times a week and otherwise getting on with their lives.

I know a great many people who like porn, and yet somehow none of them have been fired or ran into legal trouble because of it.

2,000 dot-word bids rocket ICANN onto $350m cash pile

Suricou Raven

Blatant moneygrabbing.

Can we see some ICANN-hate? They really deserve it for this. These new domains provide no practical benefit to anyone (Is it that important for people to be able to type 'facebook' rather than 'facebook.com'?) and run the risk of breaking things due to name conflicts between new domains and hostnames used for internal networking. The only reason for any of this is a blatant attempt by ICANN to pull in a ton more money while leaving others to foot the bill for cleaning up their mess.

Samsung unwraps 17in Ivy Bridge beast

Suricou Raven


And yet *still* not enough pixels! Why is Apple the only company to make laptops with a decently high-resolution display?

Sugar content now to be measured in Cadbury Creme Eggs

Suricou Raven

Re: The contents

At least they are low-salt then.

Suricou Raven

Re: I salute you

We're doing more tests at the weekend. I'll suggest it.

Suricou Raven

Re: The contents

Video? Of course.


We didn't keep the video of the egg, for nothing of interest happened.

Next test is scheduled for the weekend. Same power level, but more durable equipment that won't burn out after one shot. I'll suggest donut.

Suricou Raven

The contents

I may be able to shed some light on the contents. A friend and I are constructing a grapesploder: A high-voltage capacitor bank intended for the entertaining elimination of fruit. During an earlier test at two kilovolts, 300j we found it exploded a 100w light bulb with ease - and yet the UK creme egg did nothing. After much testing we determined that the filling is a near-perfect insulator, even at two kilovolts. It barely conducted a few miliamps. This very high resistance would indicate it has a minimal water content, quite possibly in order to improve shelf life. In short, whatever that goo is, it's not water-based.

Use the holy word of God to stay secure online, says bishop

Suricou Raven

The bible has no mention of passwords, but it does use a word for security: 'shibbólet.' The authentication value doesn't come from secrecy, but pronounceability: It's very hard for anyone not a native speaker of hebrew (at least as it was spoken then) to pronounce the word correctly. After the Israelites forceibly evicted another tribe from some contested land, it was used to tell returning refugees apart from innocent travelers. True israelites could say it right, while any survivor of the enemy who learned hebrew as a second language and tried to bluff his way to safety would mispronounce it and promptly be run through with a sword.

Twitter a poor predictor of movie success

Suricou Raven

We already knew this.

So... we learn that a movie can get the very worst of universially terrible reviews, and yet still be a box-office hit? But we've had three Transformers movies already - what more proof do you need? I have never heard a single statement in defence of those movies, yet they rake in the cash. I think by number three people were just watching out of curious desire to see how Bay manged to insult the audience this time.

Paedophiles ‘disguise’ child abuse pages as legit websites

Suricou Raven

Attempting demailination.

I read that dumbed-to-the-extreme, and I think... referer tracking. Perhaps www.some-decoy.com/stuff/ returns a plain site on the history of box collecting, unless your referer header mentions pervyforum.com, in which case you get the smut. That way pervyforum.com can be just a few k in size and thus more easily avoid suspicion, and some-decoy.com can handle the high-bandwidth stuff. It still seems quite impractical though, so I think either I'm failing at the smarting-up or else the CEOP is simply lying. Again.

So, what IS the worst film ever made?

Suricou Raven

Easy. Titanic: The Animated Musical.

Titanic: The Animated Movie. I'd give it the title on these points:

- Blatant ripoffs of Disney characters, plus one Bluth.

- Painful music.

- Really, really cheap animation.

- Appalling voice acting.

- Totally shameless reuse of shots, even to the point of reruning some shots more than ten times - and one four times consecutively.

- Being so incredibly lazy that they only drew half of the night sky, then mirrored it across the frame centerline.

- Giving Titanic a happy ending where no-one dies.

And, best of all,

- Insulting the memory of 1,570 people.

Tame the gas monster with sensors, suckers and a spiffy new fan

Suricou Raven

Disregard previous comment.

Oh, never mind - I see you are using exactly the same technology as my own logger. You just refered to it as 'iButton' while I call it 1-wire, so I didn't realise we were talking about the same thing. I thought the iButtons were standalone loggers with onboard memory that needed periodic copying off.

Suricou Raven

Sensor network?

Something like, say, http://home.birds-are-nice.me/cgi-bin/moltresd ?

Real-time sensor network, and the sheevaplug would do nicely for logging. Uses a trickle of power, and the sensors are all run on a three-wire bus. The graphing is realtime too, generates a new one on every view.

I'd be happy to supply code for you - I'm sure you could rig it all up yourself, but it'd save you a couple of hours.

Silly border picture optional. It's an in-joke.

The bathroom temp is so low on that graph... I'm going to go and check if someone didn't close the window properly.

Boffins: Roadrunner hypercomputer could drive a car

Suricou Raven


The word is taken - it's the term for a computer with infinite processing capacity.

It's debatable just how many laws of physics would have to be broken to allow the construction of this hypothetical device, but probably quite a few.

It would be a very cool toy though.

How Phorm plans to tap your internet connection

Suricou Raven

Virgin customers stuck.

What about us heavy P2P users? Virgin is the only ISP left that doesn't enforce an upload limit - and I know its not enforcing, because my connection has been going at full capacity for years without complaint. If I went to any ADSL, I would not only have to cut back P2P, but also change phone number. I use cable phone, and (unsuprisingly) it doesn't support ADSL.

Perhaps angry ad-vendors will have to start sending their ads via SSL in future, to prevent ISPs replacing them. I am reminded of the way Sky and Virgin, when showing each other's channels, edit out all of the ads for their competitor.

Finally, dont get too hopeful about customer rebellion. What will most people think of it? They wont know. their private data will be collected, and they wont even be aware of it. Their connections will act in strange ways, but as non-techies they wont know what the usual way is to notice. Slow websites will be blamed on the website.

MetaRAM double stuffs servers with memory

Suricou Raven


Unless I see some detailed techiestuff on just how this works, or see a big-brand server manufacturer (IBM would do) or memory maker (Kingston perhaps) start selling these new super-DIMMs, I shall suspect it to be snake oil.

Prosecutor sets date for Pirate Bay showdown

Suricou Raven

Not the target.

TBP wont win this one. Has noone noticed who is being charged? The individual operators, not the organisation. The intention here isn't just to shut down TPB, but to get those who run it either fined so heavily they cant afford to set up again or locked up in jail for many years.

This is likely to kill TPB for good. It wont do anything for the many replacements that will pop up.

Genetics boffins on the verge of artificial bacteria

Suricou Raven

There are bioethics experts?

Where are these bioethics experts? I keep seeing their views cited, but I don't see the experts themselves. The closest I see are hoards of self-declared bioethics experts on blogs, lacking regulation or certification and of widely varying level of biological knowledge from the professional gene-tinkerer to the complete crackpot. Even the more credible experts rarely agree with each other over the most basic of issues.

'al-Qaeda' puts on big shoes, red nose, takes custard pie

Suricou Raven


Ive been arguing this on on a couple of blogs, and im seeing a very clear split along the traditional left/right divide. Its interesting to note that the two big factions of politics are now even disagreeing over basic physics.

In general, the left-faction is trying to downplay this as an incompetant attack that would at best have killed a couple of people, and that only with a lot of luck. The right-faction then argues (usually less politely) that this almost killed hundreds of people, and that the left are a bunch of liberal cowards who are so scared of offending muslims they would rather see more terrorist attacks than admit there is a problem. The left returns fire with a claim that the right is hyping the attacks out of all proportion in order to score political points and win votes. Before long it degenerates into a factional shouting match.

So, just another week as usual on the political blogs. Where factional loyalty matters more than real issues.

Dell gets hot over refrigerant

Suricou Raven

It *can* work... but only if done right.

I would need to see more details to say if it can, but its quite possible to get a reduction in cooling power consumption this way. If it reduces the temperature difference between ambient air and the components (Which watercooling will do), it allows the datacenter to be kept a couple of degrees warmer, which reduces demand on the aircon. In addition, by directly coupling the coolent water to the aircon system via a heat exchanger, the intermediate coolent of amibent air can be done away with - again, this results in a reduction in the temperature difference, and thus even more savings.

That said, its really easy to screw this up. You cant just stick basic PC-cooling parts together with some hose and a pump and expect it to work right. It needs an expert to work out flow rates, resistances, how to ensure it works even if one pump fails (You certinly want redundency!), specialist self-sealing hot-plug plumbing fittings so you can take servers out without spraying water everywhere...

Need hard facts? Try Conservapedia

Suricou Raven


Ive dabbled in conservapedia editing, for a little entertainment - entering facts which would be awkward for conservative positions, and discrediting information on prominant conservatives, all backed up with reliable sources. I had a couple of run ins with the editors.

Conservative is one of the founders. He is a young-universe creationist with a liking for pseudoscience, and a hatred of relativity. He blocked me for two weeks because I claimed that light travels at a fixed speed of approximately 3e8 m s-1. Actually he banned me for not citeing my source on that, after rejecting my references to some papers by Maxwell and Einstein. Conservative believes that light does travel at that speed, but used to travel many orders of magnitude faster. How else could you observe things more than six thousand light years away in a 6000-year universe?

Another admin, whose name I dont recall, is a scientologist. His main interest is in systematicly purging anything negative said about scientology from the cite, usually by dismissing everything as 'unsourced', 'rumor' or 'anti-religion.' These reasons were used even when the material was sourced from credible sites - including a first-hand account by a BBC reporter.

Plain sarcastic-vandalism usually draws very little attention. The site is so full of rediculous nonsense already, its impossible to tell what is serious and what isn't. There was one particually entertaining bit about how the Nazi Party was pro-homosexual... and that wasn't intended as a joke, one of the editors really does believe that.


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