* Posts by Marcus Fil

144 posts • joined 4 Jul 2007


Jeep hacking lawsuit shifts into gear for trial after US Supremes refuse to hit the brakes

Marcus Fil

Re: So...

Data diodes? It is a balls up - automotive needs to speak to the mil an int communities and fast - much as I like FCA I hope this proves an expensive warning to all automotive companies that this sh*t matters and you have no excuse for not using the very best practices.

You can blame laziness as much as greed for Apple's New Year shock

Marcus Fil

Who is doing the active listening at Apple?

The rot set in when Apple started backing out of computers because of the easy financial fix of iPod and, latterly, iPhone. The steady emphasis on dumbing down and closing off the MacBook Pro line until it is some effete object d'art, not fit for professional use, is symptomatic of a company that does not understand its user base. If the current MBP had a 4K screen and appropriate ports it might be worth the ticket price - it doesn't - it costs about 3x what it is worth - and only idiots are buying. Heavy duty users are either ekeing out MBPs from better days or working on their migration to Windows or Linux. The crisicism is there from hardline users and many quarters of the less sycophantic press, but is Apple listening? Apparently not - so let us hope some of the share holders turn up with pitch forks and baseball bats and get the ship turned around while it is still afloat. JMVAO

iPhone XR, for when £1,000 is just too much for a smartmobe

Marcus Fil

Re: Fail & Fail Badly...

there is still time! Actually Apple's results, even with their inevitable spin, are showing the gloss has come off the iPhone. What has worked before is not working now. I will not denigrate the original iPhone, and by version 3 it was something awe inspiring. It certainly woke the competition up and it changed expectations of what a mobile phone is and what it does. But an OS cycle that renders useful apps obsolete with no refund or replacement, gimmicks above real features and a less than stellar reputation for sturdiness out in the real world - all with Apple tax attached. You can fool all of the people ...

Marcus Fil

Just more reasons..

..that my current iPhone 6s is likely my last iPhone. If there is a gold medal for losing the plot then Apple wins it for the direction of travel for the iPhones and MacBooks. I am sad, I am frustrated as both were so good at one time, but hey I'll get over it.

AI image recognition systems can be tricked by copying and pasting random objects

Marcus Fil

The elephant in the room!

Yes, the same kind of AI coming to an autonomous driving system near you. Present it with something unexpected and watch it fail. Best piece of advice I have ever received (from my second driving instructor): "Never hurry into a situation you don't understand". Problem with most AI - it resolves to a single decision layer - it lacks the meta to understand it does not understand. Worse yet, the AI engineers I have met lack the appreciation that the human brain is thinking at multiple levels - most concerned with on-going survival and well being. The good news - every time an AI system is shown to be broken then we, the humans, learn something about our own limitations.

'Oh sh..' – the moment an infosec bod realized he was tracking a cop car's movements by its leaky cellular gateway

Marcus Fil

Re: Default passwords? In this day and age?

I have been that shot messenger - followed a week later by an apology and a request for assistance in securing information and a request to know how I had discovered what I discovered. I did not them all the details on the last issue, but enough to show easy it all is.

Sadly, we need design and implementation standards- backed up with laws and harsh penalties applying to manufacturers, importers, suppliers and system integrators. We cannot trust joe public (or even local law enforcement) to understand the issues.

Banks and other organisations are starting to tell people to be more careful on the interfaces which cannot be secured by technology alone, but sadly ~50% of the population will always be below average intelligence.

A pint of beer for the 'white hats'. A pint of piss for the lazy implementers.

At last! Apple admits its MacBook Pro butterfly keyboards utterly suck, offers free replacements

Marcus Fil

Too little, too late

Methinks if Apple made parachutes then members of the board would be facing jail time. A half-hearted fix is not a real fix - here, have a band-aid for your severed limb. If your business depends on your IT then losing it to the Apple repair shop every few months is coming off your bottom line - until you ditch Apple.

The 2016 MBP was a fuster cluck that incorporated all the worst of the 2015 Macbook. Apple just popped in its earbuds and sang "la,la,la" as even some its most ardent fanbois started to question its sanity. I hope this crack-papering scheme dents the profits sufficiently that major shareholders effect some change - time for some reality to penetrate that reality distortion field.

Clock blocker: Woman sues bosses over fingerprint clock-in tech

Marcus Fil


Kronos was not her employer. Take the same situation and substitute FBI or GRU for Kronos. Would you be happy?

Police block roads to stop tech support chap 'robbing a bank'

Marcus Fil
IT Angle

I was once..

knocked to the floor by one of W Midland's finest when a posse of burly Police officers burst through the doors of my then local Natwest branch. After spending what seemed like an eternity staring at an assemblage of shocked and stunned customers and staff one officer finally asked, in a booming voice, "Right, who tripped the silent alarm?". These days I would probably been offered compensation and treatment for PTSD - back then it was just a tale to regale my mates in the pub. Mind you, at least back then the Police arrived with truncheons and not SMGs or I might not be recounting this now,

A developer always pays their technical debts – oh, every penny... but never a groat more

Marcus Fil

Re: One way to avoid technical debt: experience

Let them Help the customer understand the importance of, and cost of, prototypes so the users can already play with the product long before any details are set in stone. FTFY

Sadly customers, especially start-ups, consider every penny spend on code as one more step on the path to glory. Diversions and dead ends don't exist because they think they cannot afford them.

Tumblr troll-ban follows February indictments

Marcus Fil

Personal freedom but..

I fully support an individual's right to freedom of expression even if they work for GRU or FSB. However, if said individual is pretending to be a southern US redneck and spreading disinformation and malcontent then they deserve to be called on it. Facebook, Tumblr et al do not exist to become branches of anyone's intelligence services.

China to offer recoverable satellites-as-a-service

Marcus Fil

Re: Oak heatshields

Horse Chesnuts aka 'Conkers' were collected by school children as a supplementary source of starch for the manufacture of acetone, which was then used to make cordite. I believe this happened in both world wars, but may have been more for propaganda then practical use.


We've built a 4G drone tracking system, beams Vodafone

Marcus Fil

Lawsuits in 3..2..1...

No, no, no, landed on my property, is now my property .. do you want to buy it?

[The last drone to 'land' on my property was actually dismantled by magpies before the owner fessed up and asked for it back; I gave him the back the bits the birds had not had it way with - those remaining parts did not look at all like they could constitute a viable flying machine]

Assange fails to make skipped bail arrest warrant vanish

Marcus Fil

How tall is he and what does he weigh?

You can see where I, or rather he, is going with this? He only needs some regular visitors of similar stature and a talented MUA on a particularly dreary Thursday and he is gone. Next to get out of the country, but I am told that is not at all difficult.

Not that I am actually advocating two fingers up to the MPS and 5, but as a tax payer I do think resources would be better spent elsewhere. Plus for an Australian he is mighty pasty which cannot be good for him. Where he should actually reveal himself once out of Blighty I leave to him. I would think CIA will have less qualms about actions on the streets of Quito than those of good old London town.

Icon because, well, are you sure that is me?

Forget cyber crims, it's time to start worrying about GPS jammers – UK.gov report

Marcus Fil

Re: FFS - Measure the risk first

"Critical military systems already have GPS aerials which can steer multiple nulls in their antenna pattern to counteract jammers and, depending on the platform, give a bearing for the jammer."

I know. Some crucial elements left out of my first post for effin obvious reasons. Even ~fifteen years ago an attack on (then mostly) GPS was seen as an easy win for more clued up (foreign state sponsored?) terrorist (more correctly saboteour) types. It always seen as more hype from the professionally paranoid until someone does it and then the Daily Fail want to know why "we" weren't more prepared. In that ~15 years many more industries have come to rely on GNSS without properly accounting (literally) for reversionary measures. As is apparent from some of the comments some people are still refusing to get it - that is their choice - I just hope none of them are in charge of something critical.

Marcus Fil

Re: FFS - Measure the risk first

Read the paper. One of the principle uses of GPS is NOT navigation, but reference timing for things such as GSM base stations, Digitial TV broadcast etc. Yes, you can fit a local atomic clock card, but why pay a few extra pounds? Now a simple amplifier block added to a pocket GNSS jammer plus mains supply or nest of batteries and instead of say 30 m radius you could take out a county. Hide a few hundred of those around the country with a nice random 'twinkle' jamming sequence and the excrement encounters the rotatary ventilator in a most entertaining fashion. Potential problem known about for yonks, but now, finally, being articulated publicly.

Here we go again... UK Prime Minister urges nerds to come up with magic crypto backdoors

Marcus Fil

Codes not ciphers [..or OFFS not again!]

The kitten has a hairball stuck and needs to see the vet.

Aut-doh!-pilot: Driver jams 65mph Tesla Model S under fire truck, walks away from crash

Marcus Fil

Re: 6 Warnings to keep your hands on the wheel

The seventh warning ends "...within 3 seconds or driver rectal spike will be activated". Hi Elon, TFTFY.

Boffins closer to solving what causes weird radio bursts from space

Marcus Fil

or ..

there is an occassional glitch in the aim of their Death Star? [A long time ago in a galaxy far far away]

That was fast... unlike old iPhones: Apple sued for slowing down mobes

Marcus Fil


so the iPhone 6s my company bought me to replace my personal iPhone 4s, that kept dying in the cold, will throttle back, but not die. This sounds like a good idea. However, could the company have saved money by knowing that buying me a battery replacement would have fixed the original problem? I think the answer is yes - so should Apple be refunding (part of) the difference? Let the courts decide.

Brit film board proposed as overlord of online pr0nz age checks

Marcus Fil

Re: This is being set up to fail...

but, but ..this is the internet ..designed from the outset to route round obstructions.If people in N Korea are still getting access to stuff they should not (and they are) then good luck HMG - now when can I have the tax you waste on this debacle back?

Fine, OK, no backdoors, says Deputy AG. Just keep PLAINTEXT copies of everyone's messages

Marcus Fil


uh, except that companies have rules about ageing out old data (emails etc.) to prevent future embarrassment in court excessive on-going storage costs.

Perhaps the answer is for companies to offer goverments an encrypted 'cc' of all traffic, but retain the relevant keys until they see the court order. That way the governments get the bill for working out how to store and retrieve an eye-watering daily deluge of corporate 'HR' messages, dull telecons, bad jokes, links to cat videos, etc.,etc, etc. and then match their 'intelligence' with the right source at the right time to ask, nicely and legally and very specifically, for the right key. Here, Mr Fed, have your monkey back ..and I wonder how long you'll keep it once you know how much it costs to feed and water.

Brit prosecutors fling almost a million quid at anti-drone'n'phone ideas

Marcus Fil

Re: Solution - subterranean prisons.

I am with you on this. No signal. No drones. You could pipe in natural daylight using fibre optic bundles - with suitable wide area collectors and mixed feeds making the ability to flash messages in and out rather tricky. Of course, how long before some criminal syndicate funds the development of a remotely operated tunnelling machine?

Shock! Hackers for medieval caliphate are terrible coders

Marcus Fil

Re: (Unimportant) Things that Daesh have ruined

Don't forget the poor dog on "Downtown Abbey".

Marcus Fil

Sources and Methods

If your enemy is dumb enough, e.g., to leave useful meta data on their uploads don't FFS tell him you have noticed. Or that you recognised the location that propaganda video was made by the unique rock formation in the back ground. STFU and get on with using such information to your advantage. Johnny clever is Johnny schtum - unless you a making a play to get your enemy to change to even more revealing procedures.

Boffin wins (Ig) Nobel prize asking if cats can be liquid

Marcus Fil

Further Study Required

If the 'BabyPod' is to be properly endorsed the effects playing of clearer sounds to the soon-to-be must be further investigated. I am therefore looking for a Research Council UK grant and some volunteer nubile, fertile, female twins.

I propose that I get both women pregnant and then have one foetus subject to thrash metal, gangsta rap and the recorded rants of the current POTUS whilst the other is given a playlist of soft classics and the musings of Alan Bennett. The resultant off-spring are then to be subject to further, on-going study into their intelligence and social disposition until adulthood. In fact, given the need for statistical validity, and an unbiased control, best make that multiple nubile triplets.

Kiwi prankster 'oinks' down cops' radio and sings Old MacDonald

Marcus Fil
Black Helicopters

my thought exacty..

..choose the ones with the clothes rack on the front ->

Boffin rediscovers 1960s attempt to write fiction with computers

Marcus Fil

Re: What happened to the Lion?

Anyone who can take an outstanding novel like "The Lovely Bones", miss the point entirely and make a film that contains some of the plot points and some of the characters could, and should, be replaced by a computer.

Vodafone won't pay employee expenses for cups of coffee

Marcus Fil


Vodaphone does not value your skills and expertise - go work for one of its competitors. Introduction of policies such as this one are generally a sign the company is "cutting costs to expand margin" i.e. screwing over suppliers and employees to try to look good to its shareholders; probably it has tried everything else to remain competitive and is still struggling. There is the hint. [Just my humble opinion.]

Microsoft president exits US govt's digital advisory board as tech leaders quit over Trump

Marcus Fil

Re: That virtue signaling!

When snowflakes get together they form glaciers; glaciers carve their way through mountains. Don't mess with snowflakes!

China's censorship cyber-missiles shoot down pics flying through WhatsApp, chat apps

Marcus Fil

Re: No filtering needed if/when:

I think I worked there. I just can't quite seem to remember.

'Real' people want govts to spy on them, argues UK Home Secretary

Marcus Fil

So if I am not real..

then presumably 'they' won't mind if I stop paying tax.

Q. What's today's top language? A. Python... no, wait, Java... no, C

Marcus Fil

Fermi's last theorem

I have discovered their truly marvelous location, which this margin is too narrow to describe.

Slower US F-35A purchases piles $27bn onto total fighter jet bill

Marcus Fil

Re: Satellites would do just as good a job against surface ships

Popular fallacies no.1 "Satellites don't work with clouds".

Not all surveillance satellites (non air breathing collection assets) are electro-optical in nature. With the right software used by clever people even those that are can still acquire useful intelligence in cloudy conditions. No further clues.

Boffins' five eyes surprise: Bees correct colour for ambient light

Marcus Fil


What you say is correct, but generally if a bee is harvesting pollen it is up close and personal with the flower -so differences in lighting twix bee and flower are unlikely. The whole idea of a separate ambient light sensor on cameras, and camera light meters, has been done - even to the extent of colour sensing. As you point out it only works if you assume the subject and the camera sensor are seeing more or less the same sources - so studio work only?

'Simple' AWB (which assumes the brightest tri-channel reading is white and adjusts accordingly) works well for most images. Colour constancy (based on Land's, and others', work is achieveable with more sophisticated algorithms and probably takes care of 99.9% of situations. Since everyone perceives colour slightly differently, irrespective of any colour 'blindness', the subtleties are probably only important to people working in product photography and textiles.

Look who's joined the anti-encryption posse: Germany, come on down

Marcus Fil

Re: "is precisely to avoid using the techniques of coercion, torture, secret detention "

I do so, so wish politicians were forced to read "The Lost Honour of Keterina Blum" before being allowed anywhere near the terrorist issue. Outlaw everything and we all become outlaws - and once we are all outlaws we might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. Government by tabloid is not the way to go.

Marcus Fil

Re: BS

So council funding was cut so they that had close the libraries. I never realised it was an anti-terror measure.

Cabinet Office minister Gummer loses seat as Tory gamble backfires

Marcus Fil

Re: @ Doctor Syntax

"I think you're right on yet another election, but absent a revolution amongst the political parties to focus on robust, clear manifestos backed by policies that will deliver what electors (credibly) want, this could go on for some time."

This. Exactly this.

A 1922 Committee organiser was asked on television what caused the rout; he totally failed to see, or at least admit, that it was not just a few manifesto issues (mainly social care), but the whole, arrogant, gab bag of insane irrelevance (e.g. backdooring encryption, fox hunting, Grammar schools) coupled with the poor track record addressing the real issues (Trump, NHS, domestic terror, post BREXIT).

Now May is cosying up the UK's own religious fundamentalists to cling to the illusion of power. Maybe if the Tories had had to pay for the whole sorry debacle out of their own pockets, instead of ours, they would have applied more than 5 minutes of thought to the exercise.

Labour's manifesto may have been heavy on rainbows and unicorns, but it also resonated with the electorate for trying to address some real world issues (like why are Southern Rail executives still receiving an oxygen ration?). Maybe a few more rounds of fight are required for a victor to emerge with a real plan.

Gordon Ramsay's father-in-law gets six months for hacking sweary super-chef's computer

Marcus Fil

North American, Scottish, or dialect past participle of PLEAD. I believe El Reg now favors (sic) US usage.

Ex-MI5 boss: People ask, why didn't you follow all these people ... on your radar?

Marcus Fil

Re: Says it all

In the period immediately after World War II the British Special Forces and SOE were wound down - the thought of semi-autonomous units who played cricket by different rules did not sit well with "upper management". It was quickly realised that actually some of their skills may yet come in useful in a colder war and the Special Forces were re-establlshed. Likewise people in MI5 probably knew the enemy may change clothes and motives, but there will always be an enemy and they had the necessary skills to counter. What Stella articulated, perhaps badly, is that the incumbent government, constantly juggling an insufficient budget, will quite often make short-sighted savings to the long term detriment of our nation.

Going to Mars may give you cancer, warns doc

Marcus Fil


..astronauts are a sub-species bioengineered to withstand radiation, acceleraton and solitude, with reduced calorific intake and appropriate lifespan. The few, smarter, commanding and science officers occupy the better protected quarters leaving the more numerous drone operatives to take their chances.

Australia considers joining laptops-on-planes ban

Marcus Fil

Airliners are for vacations

..for everything else there is Skype*.

Airline shares? Sell,Sell,SELL

*Other video conferencing facilites are available - choose whose encryption you trust.

FBI boss James Comey was probing Trump's team for Russia links. You're fired, says Donald

Marcus Fil

Re: Watch the leaks multiply

Trump does not strike me as someone who plays chess; he also strikes me as someone who distrusts those that do and hence does not favour them in his entourage. We await "shāh māt". Bulk popcorn on order.

How would you pronounce 'Cyxtera'?

Marcus Fil


on the assumption it is an Irish name and therefore its pronunciation bears no discernable relationship with the letters contained therein and how they could possibly be pronounced in English (see Aoife, Cian, Niamh, Oisin, Siobhan, Seamus, Sean, Sinead etc.)

D'oh! Amber Rudd meant 'understand hashing', not 'hashtags'

Marcus Fil

Re: Pity the poor civil servant

"Maybe if more people were willing to engage directly rather than moaning about it to others who already agree with them, then just maybe we'd get politicians to say something slightly more sensible."

Not worked with many politicians have you? They are not all bad, but the good ones are few and far between. I suggest a test, let us all write to our local MPs on a subject we understand and see how many of the replies make sense and do not just reflect the pat party line. Don't get your hopes up.

Home Office accused of blocking UK public's scrutiny of Snoopers' Charter

Marcus Fil

Re: Stand aside Plebes. I am on Imperial business...

Too much of the nation's infrastructure is vulnerable and in practice undefendable. You don't worry about the odd riot on a sink estate though God knows that puts the willys up the powers that aren't. You worry when the National Grid goes sideways at 2 am mid February and GPS and GSM are subject to hundreds of 10W jammers. Hell hath no fury like a middle class spurned - cause they knows how stuff works - or not.

You can demand that encryption is weak and record every damn phone call you like, but people who are smart enough to know they are likely surveilled are smart enough to route round it. How long did it take to find Osama? He may have been smarter than the average bear bullet, but how would he compare next to some of the nations' (sic) best gamekeepers turned poachers?

People who sneer at Snowden and label him a traitor are missing the point. The real traitors are those walling themselves in against being called on their own self-interest and public failures - and removing everyone's right to freedom and privacy in the process.

The stupid (you know who you are lady) taking bad advice from the power seekers and turning it into populist sound bites would do well better to STFU; instead listen to the much scourned real experts whilst they are still, actually, on the same side. God help all of us when there comes a time when they are not - it cannot end well so best not start it.

Uber: Please don't give our London drivers English tests. You can work out the reason why

Marcus Fil

Re: The Knowledge

GPS is 'bad'. Could be terrorist action or space weather - difficult to tell at this time. Since a lot of the mobile network is using GPS to sync its clocks the network is progressively falling over and coverage is patchy with remaining cells becoming overloaded. You need to get to non-descript government office that you have never even heard off to help sort this mess - now, Black Cab or Uber? - your call.

For a cab driver reversionary skills must include the ability to speak the local language and read a paper A-Z. Trust technology to fail - have a backup plan.

Brit cops can keep millions of mugshots of innocent folks on file

Marcus Fil

Re: How hard can it be!!!

On remand awaiting trial etc., innocent until proven guilty and convictions = 0. It just maybe harder than it looks because of how the data are structured, how disjoint and 'mandrolic' so much of the process still is, and the massive lack of IT skills in a body of people who signed up to catch wrong-doers and wear a natty black costume (call them 'costumes', because it so annoys people who wear uniforms, kit, livery, vestments etc.)

Of course we could demand that the system is improved so that the innocent do not get collectively lumped with the guilty, but that would cost money. Just wait for the 'Daily Fail' headlines about how money is being diverted from frontline policing to appease the demands of civil rights activists and anarchists.

Meanwhile, money is magically available for the latest 'Wunderkind' Home Office project to use AI to identify the farts of potential offernders or some such. If you don't like the status quo then write to your MP, local police and crime commisioner (*giggles*), BBC Watchdog or El Reg comments pages. Remember, for the moment at least (until your conviction for conspiracy to tell the truth), that you have a vote - FFS exercise it with some consideration; checking your prospective MP has at least half a brain and some semblance of moral compass might be a start.

Australia wants to jail infosec researchers for pointing out dodgy data

Marcus Fil


Those of us living in the UK, USA and Canada can be thankfull that our politicians are not nearly as ignorant, blinkered and self-serving as our antipodean cousins.

Juno how to adjust a broken Jupiter probe's orbit?

Marcus Fil

Bit of a drag

Juptier next at perihelion in Jan 2023 - bit of a wait for some higher flying atmosphere. Can the current spacecraft change aspect/shape a bit and increase what little drag* it is currently experiencing? Every little helps as Tesco says.

*Okay, so say it is 10 times higher than we normally worry about drag - I am still willing to bet there is more than none. Anyone got a licensed copy of STK?


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