* Posts by Nick Kew

1987 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Crypto exchange in court: It owes $190m to netizens after founder 'dies without telling anyone vault passwords'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Crypto-busting test case

Taking the story at face value (no laughing at the back), does this make an interesting crypto-busting test case for the kind of folks who did the FBI Iphone?

In 30 days I expect they'll be throwing whatever they can find at it, from brute force to experts. Could be an interesting scenario if some TLA does know how to break it but isn't prepared to reveal that they know ...

As for entrusting your money to one man with no fallback ... erm, 'nuff said. Maybe if it's laundered money you just accept there will be attrition, but who else?

Cheap call? Hardly. GSM gateway judicial review to settle whether UK Home Sec can legally push comms watchdog around

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: "eye-wateringly high per-minute rates demanded by telcos back in the early 2000s"

@LDS - It's a long time since I had a phone with an Italian SIM (and telco), but I imagine any significant operator, like Vodafone, there as here will offer a choice of different deals. A contract costing several € per minute to phone abroad is for people who don't anticipate phoning such countries.

Upcoming report from UK's Huawei handler will blast firm for unresolved security issues

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Re: About those dark hints of 'classified information'

Making their own units under their own name is one thing: Lenovo has done that for years.

Could it be that Huawei's crime is to ship products that are not merely competitive with, but ahead of, their Western counterparts. Especially Cisco.

Good news! Only half of Internet of Crap apps fumble encryption

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What if?

We can be matter-of-fact about IoT being in a race-to-the-bottom at the expense of security/etc.

But what would the commentary look like if it were Huawei?

Bug-hunter faces jail for vulnerability reports, DuckDuckPwn (almost), family spied on via Nest gizmo, and more

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Re: ratted out when you report a vulnerability?

Um, calm down!

Bob puts forward a hypothetical, which I don't think we're supposed to read as serious advice, just a mildly amusing thought. And we know this anonymous Hungarian isn't the first to be threatened with severe punishment for Doing the Right Thing.

Your experiences are broadly comparable to mine, and I expect that applies to most of us. But the fact that neither of us has been murdered doesn't mean it never happens.

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You're giving far too much credit to a telecoms company. You clearly haven't had the misfortune to have to try and contact Virgin Media.

Using WhatsApp for your business comms? It's either that or reinstall Lotus Notes

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Re: RE: Alister

Gah. Must correct myself.

Larry's soundtrack was just a melodic beep, but bearing in mind that limitation, it was probably as great a soundtrack as any game has ever had. And entirely appropriate to the character of the game.

Much more memorable than the green-on-black (as I saw it) graphics.

Nick Kew Silver badge

A pair of wire cutters suffices. A former colleague was said to carry a pair in her handbag but this was supposed to be to deal with pub sound systems.

I think I'm in love!

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Re: RE: Alister

Back in the days before soundcards and external speakers were a thing

Ah yes. The PC establishing its credentials as a serious machine for business by not supporting sound beyond basic beeps, and by implication not being a games machine.

Ironic that it then became the main games machine, and that you needed an additional sound card. Though even before the soundcard, a game could have a memorable (if ugly) soundtrack: anyone else remember Leisure Suit Larry?

UK spy overseer: Snooper's Charter cockups are still getting innocents arrested

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Re: Is that all?

Arthur, methinks you misunderstand the whole jury system.

It's not about justice or rationality. It's about having enough dupes to have a strong statistical chance of being convinced by whoever is the best lawyer.

Techie finds himself telling caller there is no safe depth of water for operating computers

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Re: Design deficiencies

The basement is where the lowest in the pecking order are put.

Students, for instance.

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Re: Deep Six

Colleague at a conference fell into the harbour in Amsterdam one evening. His macbook was in his backpack, so of course got well-soaked in the brine.

Undeterred, he carefully cleaned and dried it, whereafter it worked just fine. Except that the backlight to the screen was dead. If he ever got that fixed I never heard about it, but he still had all his data, and a machine that worked fine if accessed over the 'net or plugged into an external monitor. Or even on its own under the right light and with keen eyesight.

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Re: Header pic

Perhaps it was strontium only in an etymological sense?

Boffins debunk study claiming certain languages (cough, C, PHP, JS...) lead to more buggy code than others

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Re: It's "What's the best language" all over again

Early in my career that would've made a lot more sense than it does today.

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Re: Powerful tool

while ( /\bbug\b/i ) bugcount++;

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Re: Enjoyed FORTRAN more than any language...

Bugs come from many directions.

Bugs in C++ might perhaps come from the complexity of the language itself. Not so much Stroustrup's original C++ as-was 30 years ago, but the designed-by-committee monstrosity it grew into.

Bugs in a complex formally-verifiable system I had the misfortune to work on sometime in the '80s came from the complexity of the test framework, and the pressure that put on programmers to get it through the tests rather than get it right.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: And they get paid money to do this?

Journos must bear a lot of the guilt for that.

This particular Reg article was unusually good: it did spell out clearly that there were lots of caveats, and even that the researchers were well aware of this.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: It's "What's the best language" all over again

Well, I've developed a lot of reusable automation for everyday tasks.

But a personal library of code snippets? Something I prefer to avoid, at least beyond a very limited point. Better to find some tried-and-tested library than to go around reinventing the wheel.

Then if necessary I can add to that and contribute back according to my own needs - and benefit from the open source model.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: It's "What's the best language" all over again

This may be a generational point. Those of us who started programming before the days of GNU/Linux and the ubiquitous PC didn't have the kind of choice we do today, we just had to use whatever was available. Can't imagine many made an active choice to start their programming careers with FORTRAN, let alone COBOL.

Wednesday: Facebook sparks another privacy brouhaha. Thursday: Facebook axes Iranian disinfo bods. Fancy that!

Nick Kew Silver badge

Beats the post office

So Facebook are getting rid of trolls.

While the post office does nothing about them. Just this morning they delivered junk called "Wetherspoon News", full of very nasty propaganda and explicitly designed to stir up violence, and taking lessons from 1930s Germany.

What's Farsi for 'as subtle as a nuke through a window'? Foreign diplomats in Iran hit by renewed Remexi nasty

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Re: renegade Mid-East nation?

The pro-western government was a despot imposed on them by the West after deposing their elected leader in 1953 (for oil - back then "we" were less reticent about saying so).

After the 1979 revolution, the West used (and backed) its regional henchman Saddam Hussein to attack them. Indeed, all of Saddam's worst atrocities date from when he was doing the West's bidding.

They had another pro-Western elected leader in the 1990s, but the West (especially the US) turned the cold shoulder. Is it any wonder they look on us with suspicion?

Facebook cuts off independent political ad reviewers, claims security concerns

Nick Kew Silver badge

"independent political ad reviewers"?

Sounds like a convenient label for some potentially very dodgy activities.

If I were facebook I'd be looking to limit them, too. The next Cambridge Analytica might be a whole lot more sinister and damaging.

Mozilla security policy cracks down on creepy web trackers, holds supercookies over fire

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Re: Tracking will still happen

To save a draft is a conscious action. That mean you're in some kind of consenting relationship with the site, which seems like a different scenario to what this is about.

I helped catch Silk Road boss Ross Ulbricht: Undercover agent tells all

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Re: Interesting postscript to this long running tale.

Heh. I was thinking book as I read the article. But yeah, film would work too.

Apple: You can't sue us for slowing down your iPhones because you, er, invited us into, uh, your home... we can explain

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Re: On the subject of slowing things down...

Um, I have a macbook pro, and installed Mojave in December. Speed is still perfectly good, but some other things broke. Cut&paste has become a nightmare, as it takes a bolshie attitude to what I try and select, and does dumb things like trying to open a dictionary on a selected[1] word. And LibreOffice broke badly: it keeps hanging and crashing. Round tuits permitting, I shall have to try uninstall/reinstall, or maybe switch to OpenOffice.

I think mine is more recent than 2012, but it may very well be the 2012 model, as it was an old model just being discontinued when I bought it in about 2016-ish.

[1] Selected by it, not me.

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Re: Its not just the battery

Erm, ISTR earlier iphones were widely reported as having defective GPS/maps. How does failure to fix old bugs translate to playing games?

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Re: Attitude

Three years?

The only 'phone that didn't last me a lot longer than three years was basically defective - to put it politely. The current Moto G - one of the first to support LTE - is coming up for five years, and I've not heard of anything on the market that would motivate me to change it.

Q. What do you call an IT admin for 20-plus young children? A. A teacher

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Re: It's not just about the school computers.

Biometric security in schools is a solution to the specific problem discussed in the article. You're broadening it to the general.

Biometric security at school won't really affect kids interactions with the outside world one way or t'other. Except that they'll grow up with a mindset that passwords are not the only way, and be better-equipped to question the unthinking and poorly-designed use of passwords when they encounter it.

Nick Kew Silver badge

I get that young kids won't be able to remember a randomised 12 digit password

Neither can old farts. Nor even those at the prime of life. With no doubt a few exceptions among any group.

I'd've thought school students would be a good case for biometric security. A closed population of a few hundred or at most a few thousand make distinction by fingerprint a straightforward task. That would leave an annual one-off bootstrap exercise, for which teachers could be trained or consultants hired.

Data hackers are like toilet ninjas. This is not a clean crime, you know

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Most inconsiderate

Also in the 80s, I found myself in a big open-plan office. Twentysomething altogether, including about five smokers. And those days smokers had the upper hand.

I took the initiative, and found other places to take my work. One of those was outside on a table+bench in the grounds of the offices. That turned out to be unforgiveable.

Later in the '80s and 90s I suffered smoke by stealth. One company had me in another open plan office: notionally non-smoking, but smokers had offices off it, with doors opening into it, and would also wander through trailing their filth. In another, it was individual offices, but large quantities of smoke would be borne in from neighbouring smokers through the air conditioning.

Nowadays we've beaten the tobacco smokers, but instead we have those foul wood-burning stoves. So instead of a room becoming foul, a whole street suffers. And it contains many times more carcinogens than tobacco smoke or diesel.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: But...

Are you confusing Dabbs with the BOFH?

Should the super-rich pay 70% tax rate above $10m? Here's Michael Dell's hot take for Davos

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Re: Also England

Blighty has had much higher marginal tax rates than that, once you include things like:

- "national insurance" - being more than half the total income tax paid for a person employed and on average income.

- loss of tax allowances for the above-average-paid: various bands at about £45k and £100k, for example.

- loss of means-tested benefits at the bottom end.

My effective tax rate as recently as 2003 was about 270%. I don't know how near to that you could get today.

Straight outta Blighty: Readers, if you were a tech billionaire, what would you do?

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On the turn

Keep one's ear to the ground?

I think I read within the last couple of days (possibly in Private Eye) that Rees-Mogg's hedge fund has been closing a lot of bets against the UK. Which should mean he's now finally going to allow a damage-limitation exercise to pass.

Note in passing: when Soros made gazillions betting against the UK, he at least wasn't doing it from inside Parliament, let alone pulling the Prime Minister's strings.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Money well spent

Nonsense. Though both were socialist, one was National, the other International.

OK Google, er, Siri, um, Alexa, can you invalidate these digital assistant patents, please?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Key point, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are all US companies. Had they been non-US, they might still have been able to strike some patents down, but only *after* being destroyed (or at least hollowed out) by those patents. C.f. NTP's attack on RIM.

Heads up: Debian's package manager is APT for root-level malware injection... Fix out now to thwart MITM hijacks

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Re: "Supporting HTTP is fine,"

I'm shocked at Reg commentards. Just one of you points out the obvious, and 7 hours on I seem to be the first to notice.

The article says

And the hacker would be able to control the hashes used by Apt to check the downloaded package,

which would indeed imply a complete absence of cryptographic protection.

I know apt in reality uses PGP signatures. My best guess is there's a bad bug in their usage, but the details went so completely over the journos head we got this incoherent nonsense.

Or maybe it really did use PGP keys as checksums with no WoT? Surely not. Must find coherent report on the subject. Aha - there's a comment below from someone who has looked and understood (or else bullshits well enough to convince me).

En garde! 'Cyber-war has begun' – and France will hack first, its defence sec declares

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Britain's " muted line about its offensive cyber capabilites"

Different approaches. I find that kind of honesty from a politician kind-of refreshing.

What does irk me is hypocrisy and humbug. As in those who perpetrate stuxnet and many false flags yet persistently point the finger at "baddies" elsewhere and whine.

The lighter side of HMRC: We want your money, but we also want to make you laugh

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: so what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

Like I was a millionaire every month I worked in Italy in the 1990s[1]? Interesting thought we could be there so quickly!

[1] This being before the era of the €, £1million was the ballpark of a month's rent on a low-end apartment.

Ooh, my machine is SO much faster than yours... Oh, wait, that might be a bit of a problem...

Nick Kew Silver badge

Time machine

On a slightly similar note, 386 was far from shiny-new in 1990. So between two observations, we have a story set in 1987 or 88, and a story set in 1991 or later. 1990 must be a case of splitting the difference.

Also not specified, was this anything resembling Internet protocols, or was it one of the entirely different networking protocols from the likes of Microsoft or Novell?

Looming EU copyright rules – tackling Google news article scraping, installing upload filters – under fire from all sides

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Fair Use

Genuine question regarding Google's use of short excerpts from newspaper stories.

Whatever happened to "Fair Use"? Quoting a short excerpt from a copyrighted work has always been fair game. And when I search news, what I see at Google seems to me entirely fair use: a sentence or two quoted help me judge which particular links on a results page I'll click through to read the full story.

The real issue seems to me the obstacles many of the newspapers then put in my way when I click through. I wonder if the real grievance isn't that so many people just decline to jump through their hoops and go elsewhere?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: But does YouTube really hate it?

Any regulation runs the risk of unintended consequences. You may have just identified one.

Or perhaps one reason the commission itself watered down its original draft was that someone convinced them of this very point?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Not true. Copyleftists right back to the Prophet RMS are very clear that getting paid and charging for ones work are OK.

There may be an element in the Peanut Gallery who demand everything free, but I'm surprised at you conflating those with Copyleftists.

US midterms barely over when Russians came knocking on our servers (again), Democrats claim

Nick Kew Silver badge

Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?

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Re: I can believe it!

Security is one possible concern. And simply discouraging printing, so people only do it when there's a real good reason.

Back in the days when printers (and 'puters) cost real money, it was also part of office management. Restrict access to trained staff. Admin/secretarial staff to pick up printouts and shove them in $user's intray.

Not entirely illogical. Open it to everyone, and someone is sure to mess it up. If not changing the toner, then trying inexpertly to clear a paper jam. Or something.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I can believe it!

Hmm. None of you worked in the kind of corporate environment where the printer is/was in a forbidden area? Or simply a completely unknown location that's never the same two jobs running? Out of paper was indeed a problem one couldn't deal with oneself.

Diplomat warns that tech industry has become a pawn as politicos fight dirty

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: National Champions

Are you putting your own money where your mouth (or keyboard) is?

If so, respect for your conviction. I find betting on weakness too scary.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Wrong way round?

@Mage - that's 20th century (and, to an extent, older) trends you're describing. The rise of megacorps.

What a cheep shot: Bird sorry after legal eagles fire DMCA takedown at scooter unlock blog

Nick Kew Silver badge


This story carries a headline pic of a keyboard with some litter on it. Adding nothing to the story - in normal Reg tradition.

But surely this is a case where we really should have a relevant pic! For those of us who have never heard of "bird scooters" - but have seen a few variants on the "Boris Bike" without always knowing whether they were municipal or private sector - it could give some clue what you're actually talking about!

(Googling finds pics, and they appear to make Boris Bikes look advanced and luxurious by comparison).

*taps on glass* Hellooo, IRS? Anyone in? Anyone guarding taxpayers' data from crooks? Hellooo?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: We're 14 days into 2019 so far...

'Scuse an ignorant Brit failing to understand US government, but ...

That shutdown 24 days ago was because Congress wouldn't give Trump his toy?

That must be a Republican Congress. The incoming Democrats merely inherited the tantrum.


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