* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Can't get pranked by your team if nobody in the world can log on

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: GDPR...

A proximity system has its own issues,

Indeed, that sounds likely. Not that I have personal experience.

In the context of a column like this and its anecdotes, one of those issues is that most of the stories come from an entirely different era. Computers have had screen lock for as long as they've had screens[1], and inactivity-based logout for as long as I can remember, but any more sophisticated measure of proximity is surely an altogether different story.

[1] OK, that wouldn't've looked like modern screen lock, but clearing the screen then refusing any input that isn't an accepted unlock serves the same purpose.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: CV update

For a post about avoiding grammar and spelling errors, that's quite a howler. Your apostrophes are both bogus (though you're missing a necessary one along with some punctuation in the second paragraph), and I'm a little bemused by the idea of music gardening. Did the interviewer's stoicism perhaps manifest in his or her overlooking your faults? Did another interviewer (whose existence I infer from your application of an adjective to the interviewer you explicitly mention) take a different view?

London flatmate (Julian Assange) sues landlord (government of Ecuador) in human rights spat

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Asylum

Evidence please!

Assange is evidence.

Before dismissing that, note a couple of things:

  • I didn't claim (nor would I) anything about all asylum seekers. Or even any weaker quantification beyond a comparison with the general population.
  • Evidence and proof are of course very different things.

So yes, a sample of 1 can be evidence - and is easier to quote here than any more detailed or authoritative report containing stronger evidence. Just apply Bayes' Theorem using the sample we're discussing.

Nick Kew Silver badge

I notice Unregistered has registered just this one comment in the whopping 24 hours they've been a member.

At a guess, it's a joke from someone familiar with Reg comments. Maybe a regular or a lurker. Or even someone deliberately feeding a line to that first reply :)

Nick Kew Silver badge


This looks somewhat analogous to Political Asylum in the UK and other Western countries.

Those who seek Political Asylum are disproportionately likely to be troublemakers, attention-seekers, or just plain crooks: after all, the silent majority don't incur the wrath even of pretty nasty governments, and persecution by more brutal organisations - like religious nuts - that aren't recognised governments doesn't qualify for asylum.

And some of them do sue countries that have given them asylum (and in Blighty get Legal Aid for it).

Compare some of the foreign criminals who argue Human Rights to avoid deportation, and one might argue Assange looks like a harmless also-ran by comparison.

Maybe Ecuador will eventually do to him what Blighty eventually did to Abu Hamza after all those years of legal battle? Then we can see if anyone cares about him enough to do more than go through the motions of arresting him for skipping bail.

Nick Kew Silver badge

psychologically break him

Hmmm. I should've thought indefinite confinement would tend to do that. The embassy may not technically be prison, but his situation must rank with being confined to a cruise ship or spaceship for immediate hell, and without the prospect of release to keep a chap sane.

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Trigger Happy

I once had an employer who insisted on keyboard click and disciplined me for turning the vile thing off. Something about standardisation of the office environment, and if I disable the click it must be a symptom of abusing or subverting the whole place.

And that was back in the era of VT100(ish) terminals, and big solid keyboards with *loud* synthetic beep for a click. YOUR WIFE IS A BIG HIPPO!!!

Nick Kew Silver badge

Um, the Nokia ringtone pre-dates Dolby by a couple of centuries. Even the more famous Dolby who gave his name Dolby labs and to big chunks of audio history.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The title is too long.

Just be grateful we've left behind us the era when they'd have set light to their money and poisoned the air you were breathing.

We need the same treatment for electronic and recorded noises of all kinds in public places as we have for smokers. And then a bit more: deal with wide-area nuisances like amplified buskers and pubs with noise but no soundproofing.

Arm cozies up to Intel for second time in a week – this time to borrow tools from Yocto Project for Mbed Linux

Nick Kew Silver badge

Now who's the soppy picture supposed to represent?

On a serious note, we know that Intel has had to adjust to the growth of ARM's world, but does any of this working with Intel look like a change of direction for ARM under softbank management? Or is it just regular industry movements that would look fairly inevitable under any management? Or is the change perhaps in a PR department enthusiastic about Reg stories?

Emergency Services Network delays to cost public purse £1.1bn, Home Office reveals

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Incompetence

Hmm, isn't that just a question of funding? That is to say, non-government incompetents run out of money before they achieve the scale of government?

Virgin Media? More like Virgin Meltdown: Brit broadband ISP falls over amid power drama

Nick Kew Silver badge

No signal at all since February

... and many months before that it was a sick joke, with frequent timeouts on web and mail, and 'phone unusable.

The difference between Virgin and BT is that when BT went titsup they delivered a next-day fix. For Virgin, a next-year fix is clearly too much to expect. Good thing I've got that 4G backup connection from a real provider.

Scanning an Exchange server for a virus that spreads via email? What could go wrong?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Sweet memories...

"Oh, I never read messages from IT, you're always just sending out warnings."

The boy who cried Wolf springs to mind.

Can't comment on your individual situation, but warnings are more effective if you pick your cases with some care to avoid overloading users with esoterica that'll only baffle them.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Still baffled

... at how noone sued MS for damages at the time.

The means by which this email evaded detection in a simple and sensible email scanner was MS's deliberate breaking of MIME standards dating back to 1992. And the RFC even contains an informational section under the heading of security implications explaining exactly why what MS subsequently did would leave their users wide open to attack.

Your RSS is grass: Mozilla euthanizes feed reader, Atom code in Firefox browser, claims it's old and unloved

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I've always liked RSS

RSS is still the best way to consume day-by-day data on the 'net. For a site like El Reg, we get the executive summary, then click on selected stories we want to read. I don't think I'd hang around here if there were no feed. Ditto other news sites. And all the blogs I follow are through RSS or Atom feeds, either directly or aggregated as Planets (which I follow using a Planet's feed).

The web browser does nicely for sites one visits proactively but not daily, and for interactive contents. Mailinglists serve for full two-way communication, with a much higher bar to subscription than a feed. Usenet does (or did) interactive comms best of all. RSS serves a niche that is none of those.

Fortunately these media still integrate: the RSS button in a webpage, and the feed reader launching a full Reg story in a browser. No need for Firefox's builtin stuff, which was always less-than optimal.

Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID

Nick Kew Silver badge

@Russell Chapman

Thanks for that explanation. Sounds like one of those words whose meaning evolves. Like "frogs" (from the Parisian coat of arms), or various others that would likely get me banned if posted here.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Starbucks

a daily <insert brand name> coffee

As far as I'm concerned, <insert brand name> coffee is something one has in the order of once or twice a month, when in town or when travelling. Are these people who drink the stuff every day real (and with money to burn) or mythical?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Who needs an alias?

When I don't want to give someone my name (more-or-less any site that asks for it in circumstances where signing up seems an unnecessary hurdle), I'm just Not Me, and have an email address of not.me@not.here .

Noone cares if it's even remotely plausible.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Silly first name.

Spoken like a true sassanach!

Oy! That's enough anti-sassenach hate-speech. We're not all like that!

That french sexologist is clearly a canard. As is so much more of this Dabbling.

Powerful forces, bodily fluids – it's all in a day's work

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Just the Usual...

Hmmm. For a busy office, this kind of thing must be routine. Surely there should be a healthy market for scanners and printers incorporating a metal detector that'll complain *before* potentially self-harming if fed a stash containing staples and paperclips?

Likewise sticky things that might feature in a stash.

US may have by far the world's biggest military budget but it's not showing in security

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Not Again!

Was that the battlefleet that got eaten by a small dog?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Big budget

Would that be a budget big enough to support an entire bug-ridden comms system as a decoy, while having an altogether different system sitting behind it in the shadows?

Age-old military tactic.

Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on

Nick Kew Silver badge

Nanny Ogg's space travels

Her favourite song captures the essence of this planet's defence against alien (e.g. human) interference.

Google and Microsoft boffins playing nicely together to stop replay attacks in their tracks

Nick Kew Silver badge

'scuse me. We need a *groan* response that is neither thumbs up nor down but a nice big LART.

Damn, never having looked at the innards of OAuth, I'm surprised it uses tokens subject to replay attack in the first place.

Which? That smart home camera? The one with the vulns? Really?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Which ${subject-I-know-about} related reviews

Fixed your title for you. If your expertise lay elsewhere, you'd see similar issues with their reviews of something else.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: common place

Indeed. Long, long ago I used to read Which? reports with lots of interest as a great source of information. Then I read one or two reports into subjects where I had some expertise, and saw a different side.

Basically, a lot of what's there is "how happy are the owners with a product"? That leaves a situation where owners of a cheap product take the view "yeah, it's fine, does the job, I'm satisfied", whereas those who take a serious interest in a subject and buy top-end gear remain sensitive to its flaws.

The importance attached to security would seem still to be something that depends heavily on ones perspective, so IT practitioners differ radically from Joe Public. Some journos are working on that divide, but I guess they still have a way to go.

Has anyone (here) studied the actual vulnerabilities under discussion, and where they fall on a scale of hypothetical to easily exploitable by a stranger?

Oracle? On my server? I must have been hacked! *Penny drops* Oh sh-

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: bleh...


I remember setting up a cron job before working on firewall rules. Cron job would run hourly and reset port $ssh to the state before I started a session. I don't recollect ever needing it, but it made the job less scary.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Early days of easy/cheap connectivity

The Sun (or otherBigName) with the expensive contract would be for users needing that reliable very-high uptime. For the rest of us, Linux or *BSD on commodity hardware has made more sense since about the mid-90s.

The difficulty back then was that the choice was between an expensive package like yours and something slapdash like the host in the story. It's only really this century we've seen the rise of cheaper hosts who also make it their business to know their arse from their elbow.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: 128K of ISDN

28.8? Luxury! My first modem was 1200 baud down, 75 baud up (enough for me, but not for a touch typist). And it got much worse from there when I had to switch from prestel to one of those new-fangled ISPs.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Those days of hosting

I think my first hosts (of a physical server, once I'd upgraded from a vhost on shared hosting) themselves had about 128k ISDN connectivity. It seemed quite fast back then.

One day my server just vanished from the 'net. Turned out the host had gone bust, and my kit, like theirs, was in limbo at the mercy of liquidators. Until my colleague who knows about such things got in his car and physically rescued it.

Ah, the Good Old Days!

Boffin: Dump hardware number generators for encryption and instead look within

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Ultimate Source of Entropy!

So not amanfrommars then....

... demonstrating that you can identify patterns (thus proving that entropy isn't suitable for an RNG) without anything so ambitious as guessing the actual poster.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Very platform dependant

Citation required.

Seriously, I'd be interested in anything reputable that purports to be an auditable test. I'd've thought it was one of those problems where you can prove a negative but only speculate on a positive.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Why would you avoid using the HWRNG?

I read it not as "avoid using the HW", but rather "avoid relying on the HW". Subtle difference.

Of course for the purposes of a test run for an academic paper or even a back-of-envelope calculation ("Just tested it" comment above), results that avoid it altogether play an obvious role. For real life, you take all sources you can get!

The main issue with any proposed approach is the difficulty measuring entropy from a RNG. No matter how good your test and attack tools are, they could be missing a weakness someone else has cracked. Debian-vs-OpenSSL history kind-of demonstrates there's a genuinely hard problem.

UK pins 'reckless campaign of cyber attacks' on Russian military intelligence

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Invading Crimea?

Crimea has been Russian for centuries.

And voted 97% to become Russian (again) in the 2014 referendum. That was of course after the second time their elected president in Kiev had been ousted at the instigation of the West, and with the experience of the country having been a total basketcase under the previous western-facing government.

Perhaps we should also recollect that Kiev was historic Russian capital before either Moscow or St Petersburg. There's a lot of history to this.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I've no sympathy with the Putin dictatorship


On the subject of Afghanistan, I recommend reading "Caravans", by John Michener. Set in Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of WW2.

Published in the early 1960s, so no question of hindsight about the Soviet invasion or what's happened since. But still seems to anticipate a lot of it.

The word "Taliban" isn't used, but their presence and influence is strong and clear. Though at that time, they hadn't been armed and internationalised.

Educated Western-facing Afghans feature peripherally, and have an interesting message for the protagonist (who is a junior US diplomat): these [taliban] are a problem that must be sorted. Please come and sort them, because if you don't then the Soviets will.

Interesting background to what subsequently happened. The only thing he really failed to anticipate is that when the Soviets went in, the West would respond by weaponising the real loonies.

Where can I hide this mic? I know, shove it down my urethra

Nick Kew Silver badge

Storage capacities were measured in gigabytes - albeit not large numbers of GB unless $$$ - when USB first emerged.

Brit mobe operator O2 asks cut-off customers: Have you tried turning it on and off again?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Not that many rebooting at once. Only those actually affected, presumably!

I'm an O2 customer, and never noticed any hiatus. My only change yesterday was to put it in "airport" mode in the evening for an event where a call would've been unwelcome.

UK space comes to an 'understanding' with Australia as Brexit looms

Nick Kew Silver badge

The last satnav constellation anyone will need

'Cos under aussie law, there'll be a backdoor to the encryption. So those countries that don't already control a constellation can just tap into it.

If it ever happens. And works ...

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: does the landlord refund you all the money you gave to pay the rent?

Within the limits of that analogy, wouldn't it be more like not being refunded for the new bathroom you fitted?

In the UK, a tenant doesn't get any recognition for improvements to a house or flat. Though a tenant might get charged for any alterations. And improving a place means means it's worth more, so expect the rent to rise. Even if you have a landlord who would naturally play fair, they'll have to have the strength to stand up to the agent who recommends the higher rent for the improvements.

What do Zuck, Sergey, @Jack and Bezos have in common? They don't want encryption broken

Nick Kew Silver badge


Lizzy O'Shea of Digital Rights Watch is acting as Alliance for a Safe and Secure Internet,

Erm, I'm getting cognitive dissonance there. You've introduced the "Alliance for a Safe and Secure Internet" as having a lot of big and important members behind it (oo-er, missus), now you imply she's one woman.

I can correct that in various ways, with meanings that are similar but not identical:

" ... is acting for ... " (the minimal correction in letters changed)

" ... is acting as spokesman for ... " (as above, more specific capacity)

" ... is speaking for ... " (limiting the occasion too)

" ... acts for ... " (generalises the context),

" ... speaks on behalf of ... " (generalise context, specifies capacity)


Who is proofreading as El Reg?

Send up a satellite to zap space junk if you want Earth's orbit to be clean, say boffins

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: It all seems a bit far fetched, to me

Similar thoughts crossed my mind.

For this to work as described would surely call for military-grade precision beaming. Could that be a clue as to anyone's motivation?

Why are sat-nav walking directions always so hopeless?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Happy medium

I think I strike a happy medium there. I'll take the 'phone and sometimes use the maps, but I've never considered letting it tell me directions.

Back in the Good Old Days I used to go out deliberately without map and compass in any non-clear weather in my local stomping ground of the time[1] for a fleeting illusion of wilderness.

[1] One of the best times was when that stomping ground was the Peak District: Kinder was a favourite place to get lost in the swirling mists. Sadly far too small an area to get genuinely away from things.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Tea with milk

My biggest bugbear: I had to give up drinking tea on First Great Western. Which, due to where I live, means most of my train travel. For the exact same reason of the atrocity they now give you in the name of tea. I once asked about the cup of water and teabag before rejecting it, and they told me something entirely implausible about that general-purpose scapegoat Elfin Safety.

As for coffee ...

I spent quite a few years in Italy, so I grew accustomed to good coffee. That left me in the position where, when in a third country, my English tastes meant I found the tea foul, and my Italian tastes did the same for the coffee. Not a nice situation. Though thankfully that has improved quite a lot this century.

Swedish ISP spanked for sexist 'distracted boyfriend' advert for developer jobs

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I advise everybody to use the photo in their next advert

We all know what Bahnhof means in German. But not in Swedish: their word is spelt (though not quite pronounced) the same as the English.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: There is another interpretation of the meme

Surely in this context you mean "faectious".

I'd worry more about the sausage factory aspect of it.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I'm torn here

@Pascal - do you really think this image is "using a girl"? It's about the couple who are the butt of the joke. That's precisely the twist: it's not at all about the girl who appears to have turned his head.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Damn, am I completely out of touch? I've just seen the image for the first time here on El Reg. Does that make my reaction to it more spontaneous than anyone else's?

I rather like it. A good chuckle. Catches an archetype.

Objectifying? Hmm, that's a bit of a stretch. Yes she's attractive, but only in the same way as women you'll randomly pass in your everyday business. All the more attractive for NOT being tarted up as a sex object. And she's not even in focus!

Sexist against men? Definitely plays on that stereotype. But too good, and too genuinely humorous, for that to be offensive, IMHO. The sexism would probably be gratuitous if it lacked those redeeming merits.

What about the girlfriend? OK, she's (also) the butt of the joke and could legitimately be p***ed off at the use of the image. Is that offensive or sexist? Surely no more than the ubiquitous image of the dumb male in advertising today.

If there's a real issue, it's whether the image is being used with or without permission of the protagonists, and (given the commercial use) were they paid royalties?

Open-source boffins want to do for the IoT edge what Kubernetes did for containers

Nick Kew Silver badge

An open source collaboration is your best hope for something more generic. Open source[1] means everyone gets to scratch their own itch, which means in turn they'll want a flexible modular architecture that can serve many purposes. And yes, that's entirely feasible on today's smallest ARM CPUs.

[1] Unless it's too tightly controlled, in which case you either fork or ignore it.

Canadian security boss ain't afraid of no Huawei, sees no reason for ban

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: BlackBerry

They killed blackberry with bogus patents. It's the 'merkin way: outsource your dirty work to private-sector pirates (in this case, from memory, some bunch called NTP) and their henchmen the Courts. With the ultimate weapon of banning them doing business in the US.

Turn your enemy into a grey-suited lawyer-dominated company where technical innovation no longer stands a chance.

Open-source software supply chain vulns have doubled in 12 months

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Hmm....

Indeed, much more interesting.

Or would be, if it were more than a dark hint. Who exactly is being accused here? Developer communities? Packagers? Distributors? And what are they accused of: malice, incompetence, insufficient oversight, being blackmailed, ??? Or is this just the case that's been my bugbear for years, of downloads from reputable sources but with no cryptographic signature?

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