* Posts by AndyFl

84 posts • joined 8 Nov 2013


UK COVID-19 contact-tracing app data may be kept for 'research' after crisis ends, MPs told

Big Brother

Elliptic curve?

I wonder if they are basing the system on Dual_EC_DRBG which is generally known to have a backdoor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_EC_DRBG). It could easily be GCHQ and their allies trying to convince everyone to use so called anonymous Ids to which they can reverse engineer the originator.

On the other hand if they know your postcode, location and movements it is pretty easy to match that to a person. Previous history doesn't encourage me about confidentiality - look at the range of organisations which can covertly snoop on you and access your Internet history.

Sorry, I don't trust them to manage sensitive data on a centralised system.


One for the super rich fanbois: Ultra-rare functional Apple-1 computer goes on auction


Re: Not bothered


Now I feel really old, IIRC that was from around 1978, mine lived in a cardboard box because I was too skint to get a real case. Great learning system which set me up for a career in embedded and wireless systems. I was kind of surprised that it worked after spending an eternity soldering sockets to the board. Many happy memories with the thing.

The keyboard was one of the best parts of it, really good action and better than most laptops these days.

Ofcom measured UK's 5G radiation and found that, no, it won't give you cancer


Re: 5G is 5 times more dangerous

The 5G signals are so powerful that they go back in time and affect people before the tower is even built, let alone switched on.

If we have enough they will cause everyone's grandfathers to become celibate and the problem will resolve itself and fix global warming at the same time. Unfortunately there will be nobody around to see the change.


Re: Dangerous levels of EMF

They won't be going anywhere if they are relying on Boeing getting them into space. The company appears to be having problems getting anything up these days

Instagram influencer fools followers into thinking Ikea photoshoot was Bali holiday


Re: Clearly a cover up

Amazing that the Illuminati knew what the character values of ASCII would be before it was even created. They have no end to their powers.

Not posted as AC cos they can't get me!

Ooh somebody at the door, I'd better go and see who they are...

Jeff Bezos bungs $10bn at climate change after chump change for Oz bush fires


Great news for the environment

What is with all the sour grapes around ElReg?

Guy puts up USD 10B for environmental causes and everyone starts to complain. I don't care where it comes from but a lump of cash that size is likely to make a difference in science and engineering. I say "thanks for putting up the money".

Rather than complaining let's have a discussion on how best it can be used and how we can get more money from any sources to add to the pot.

Anyone remember the comments when Bill Gates set up his foundation with his wife? That has changed the lives of more people than I can count.

He’s a pain in the ASCII to everybody. Now please acquit my sysadmin client over these CIA Vault 7 leaking charges


Dirty pics are not relevant

He may or may not have knowingly hosted child porn pics. It certainly wouldn't be the first time something was unknowingly embedded in a large archive of stuff.

However that is not relevant to the CIA charges which, on the face of it, appear to be somewhat contrived and if they are to be believed make him out to be some sort of super BoFH,able to remotely restore systems to previous configurations, exfiltrating all sorts of data, hacking files then restoring the systems to a previous state whilst nobody noticed and moving his fingers on he keyboard at several times the speed of light. They may have other evidence which they are unwilling to disclose at the trial and what is being described is the remainder left over from it but if they don't up their game then he is likely to get off whilst everyone is laughing at what they are presenting.

Why does it feel a little like what is going on between HPE and Lynch? They got upset with him having bought a pup then spent their time trying to find reasons to sue him and eventually managed to cook up something that the US DOJ could use to start extradition proceedings with whilst there was an ongoing civil trial ongoing.

I think both stories have a long way to run and look forward to watching them develop.

It's been one day since Blighty OK'd Huawei for parts of 5G – and US politicians haven't overreacted at all. Wait, what? Surveillance state commies?


Who to believe

It is a sad reflection on the current times that I believe things said by the USA White house occupants slightly less than the Chinese.

Back doors in Chinese Huawei equipment? Probably

Back doors in US routers (Cisco, Juniper etc)? Probably.

Loyalty used to be a two way street, not to be confused with grovelling to the current president. How on earth did we end up in this situation?

Star wreck: There's a 1 in 20 chance a NASA telescope and US military satellite will smash into each other today


Like a Windows file copy dialog

1 in 10,

1 in 100,

1 on 20,

Done (or should that be collided?)

Das Reboot: Uni forces 38,000 students, staff to queue, show their papers for password reset following 'cyber attack'


End of term

It is the end of term, half the students will be away from the university, foreign students will be home for the holidays. Anyone working on an assignment will be screwed until they go back after the Christmas holidays. I also wonder if there are any "distance learners" - they will not be happy travelling to the University from wherever they are just to reset a password. I *hate* 2FA but this is one of those cases where something like that would help things.

I'm doing a Masters at Brunel almost 35 years after I first graduated. The whole place is wedded to Micro$oft without a Linux machine in the place. I don't think the IT support department even know what one is. Really disappointing.

Den Automation raised millions to 'reinvent' the light switch. Now it's lights out for startup


What on earth did they do with the money?

It doesn't cost GBP4.5M to design and manufacture wireless light switches and the associated backend systems.

Off the top of my head I would say a team of 5 competent people (1xelectronic, 1xmechanical, 2xsoftware, 1xmanglement) could do it in a year without too many long days. Manufacturing setup and tooling for the plastics would be less than GBP200K plus GBP50K for testing. Say about GBP 500K for the lot. I'm not including marketing or production costs because they would be covered by the actual orders. If they have a backlog of orders then they don't need to spend a lot on marketing etc.

I'm sorry, but it sounds like they wasted the bulk of the money on things other than actually designing product.

I've had it with these motherflipping eggs on this motherflipping train


Why aren't fishmongers generous?

Their job makes them sell fish.

(I'll get me coat)

Sure, we made your Wi-Fi routers phone home with telemetry, says Ubiquiti. What of it?



Mikrotik, about the same price or slightly cheaper and much more configurable. The management app Winbox runs under Windows or without problems on Wine with Linux.

IT protip: Never try to be too helpful lest someone puts your contact details next to unruly boxen


Re: On Call

I can beat that. The infamous "Indian Alphabet Song". Every letter wrong but done with evident glee!


Radio nerd who sipped NHS pager messages then streamed them via webcam may have committed a crime


Re: What other kind of pagers are there?

They could use TETRA pagers on the Airwave public safety network. The Airwave network has extremely good coverage and is encrypted. Ambulances and other emergency service vehicles are already using the Airwave system so there would be no problem getting permission to use it.

Delayed, over-budget smart meters will be helpful – when Blighty enters 'Star Trek phase'


Re: And where will all this power come from?

I don't know where you got those figures from but they are completely out of date. The UK has dramatically reduced the CO2 content of power over the last few years and wind capacity factors are well over the "6%" you quoted. Nobody could get back their costs at 6% and the turbine would be decommissioned.

Have a look at https://electricinsights.co.uk to see the historical and current production figures for different generation sources. The quarterly reports on the site are a really good read too.

Yes, the UK energy policy has a long way to go but it is a damm site better than most of Europe and certainly the USA.

Are you who you say you are, sir? You are? That's all fine then


Extension 666

A reference to the TheReg story on music on hold is required.

"My ears are bleeding"


Engineer found guilty of smuggling military-grade chips from the US to China


Everything is a risk when dealing with US products

It is beginning to become a risk to buy any semiconductor or tech product from the USA for delivery elsewhere. There are so many little gotchas it is very hard to be sure you are not violating some export or "security" regulation and that you won't end up being a trade bargaining chip whilst getting crap under the guise of "security". This is even more true if you are in places like the Middle East.

The rules and companies on the banned list seem vary from one day to the next based on what a certain person sees on "Fox and friends" or whatever the current trashy programme of choice is. If your company relies on the USA for critical components you are at risk. It has got to the point where I have started looking at suppliers in the following order: Local (rarely a practical option), EU,Turkey, China and then reluctantly USA. It doesn't help that USA products tend to be more expensive than elsewhere.

If things get much worse the USA won't need to worry about illegal exports as nobody will be buying anyway and they can simply ban all shipments everywhere.


Bonkers British MPs rant: 5G signals cause cancer


Don't encourage them


OK let's try to answer this

Firstly, 5g isn't a thing yet, ignore the advertising wank. The only possible difference in relation to exposure would be the additional frequency bands but they haven't deployed any of them yet.

You always have clusters of cancer/coffee shops or whatever. It is called random distribution. Read about confirmation bias and issues where you select data to match what you are looking for.

Strangely enough, having a cell site near you will reduce exposure as the phone in your hand has bigger effect than the cell site. A nearby cell site will cause the phone to dramatically reduce transmit power and your exposure.

Many documented cases? Citation required from a reputable journal.

I do know what I am talking about as I've been a designer for 35 years. ICNIRP anyone?


The hole keeps getting deeper

Every time I think our MPs have found a new low they just keep digging a deeper hole.

The human race is doomed.

You're not Boeing to believe this, but... Another deadly 737 Max control bug found


It will be a while before it flies around the world again

The FAA are now looking very carefully at everything to do with the plane - they had the wool pulled over their eyes and were lax in the past. Now they want to be sure that they won't be blamed for any other issues and will not be rushed into an approval.

Other regulators like Europe and China have indicated that they will no longer be taking FAA approvals at face value so will do their own careful analysis of any test results.

Then there are the trade issues, I would be amazed if they were very quick in approving the US plane in Europe after Boeing's less than completely honest submissions in the past, FAA failure to oversee things properly and being recently screwed over by the US in trade. I'm sure that they wouldn't be adverse to giving Airbus a bit of a leg up in business. Probably China will be the same in taking their own sweet time to check everything. They might play it straight and do it quickly but I have more than a few doubts.


Hot desk hell: Staff spend two weeks a year looking for seats in open-plan offices


Re: Hotdesking is awful?

"Good thing about that is though that you can do biz in a dressing gown, have a shower after noon, and... and..."

You could even do biz naked and not bother with a shower, and and

Try getting that image out of your head :)

You go that way, we'll go Huawei: China Computer Federation kicks back at IEEE in tit-for-tat spat


Patent fights

I wonder if Huawei can so the same sort of thing as Qualcomm for 5G essential patents - insist on licences paying Huawei for a wider patent portfolio and buying other products"

"Oh, you can't do business with us because of the blacklisting in your country? Then, sorry you can't use our standards essential 5G set of patents which the rest of the world are happy and able to use".

I'm sure that this would cause a fairly quick waver from the Department of Commerce or whoever controls the entity list, but if Huawei tagged a lot of other things onto the package it could be quite complex to navigate and would slow down US 5G manufacturers.


IEEE tells contributors with links to Chinese corp: Don't let the door hit you on Huawei out


Opportunity for ETSI

ETSI have produced and managed lots of standards in the past like TETRA. This would be a good chance for them to expand their scope. Most 5G stuff is coming out of 3GPP anyway. Wouldn't be a great leap for ETSI to pick up a lot of the stuff the IEEE are playing with on 5G.

'Software delivered to Boeing' now blamed for 737 Max warning fiasco


Software was only a minor issue

The biggest issue was mounting the engines forward and up on the wing. This created an instability where the plane would pitch up when accelerating. Rather than add training of the pilots they decided to hide the problem by installing the software solution. They then fscked up the implementation in several ways and the rest is, unfortunately, history and about 300 dead people.

The airframe should have been recertified, they did all this to avoid having to do it.


Thank you, your DNA data will help secure your… oh dear, we've lost that too


Snapped Ankles - NSA Man

Never heard of them until tonight. Love the track :)

Facebook is not going to Like this: Brit watchdog proposes crackdown on hoovering up kids' info


lots of good stuff in the proposal

To be completely honest I'm surprised how good it is. I've a few doubts about how to implement some of it but that can be sorted out later.

Amazon boss snubs 'expensive', 'sub-optimal' relational databases. Here's looking at you, Larry


Re: 'Would you like a black, always-on cylinder in your kitchen...'

It could be worse. Imagine if someone crossed a replicator with Talkie Toaster!

Astronomer slams sexists trying to tear down black hole researcher's rep


You trying to get ElReg in trouble down under?

This really doesn't help things

Client-attorney privilege? Not when you're accused of leaking Vault 7 CIA code


At least Rumpole's telephone kept working

Reminds me of Rumpole and the Official Secret. One of the best of the series.

No, that Sunspot Solar Observatory didn't see aliens. It's far more grim



You close an entire science facility for several weeks because the Janitor may have been sending child porn?

This would appear to a bit of an overreaction to say the least[1]! Conspiracy nuts will not be convinced, I am not entirely convinced! So what REALLY happened?


[1] There is never an excuse for child porn, it is a horrendous thing.

Phased out: IT architect plugs hole in clean-freak admin's wiring design


Re: Huh?

Not always.

I've done -48V DC power systems where the rectifiers are distributed across the 3 phases and disconnected the linkage between the incomer breakers them at the client request. The reasoning was that if a rectifier failed in a big way then it would only take out one phase, not all three.

These power systems were for emergency service equipment with duplicated everything and no RCD/GFI in sight. Mind you the earthing systems were impressive.


Internet overseer ICANN loses a THIRD time in Whois GDPR legal war



I hope that the court awarded costs against ICANN in favour of EPAG.

Come to think of it, I hope costs were awarded against ICANN for wasting everyone's time!

Nah, it won't install: The return of the ad-blocker-blocker


Re: Unpaid walking advert for someone else's company

Not yet, he is on RM1M bail at the moment and cannot leave the country.

When his house was raided they ended up with about USD 100M worth of handbags, jewelery and mixed currencies. He and his wife claimed it was all "gifts" from various people.

Imelda Marcos was nothing compared to his wife Rosma. Imelda may have had a lot of shoes but Rosma had 284 boxes of handbags from Birkin et al. Some of the bags are supposed to be worth something like USD 200,000 each. It took 5 trucks to transport everything. Many of the handbags were stuffed with cash and jewelery.

If you want to follow the story then search for "Rosma and Handbags"!


Either my name, my password or my soul is invalid – but which?


I share your pain

Yes, you cant even put a <CR> into the box where you add more information which makes it close to impossible to write anything even remotely readable when it is more than a few word in length.

And as for prohibiting the percent sign! Words fail me - it is a fscking finance site!

I have several times put a complaint into the feedback link - never got a response either.

I had a huge problem signing up on the HMRC site in the first place as I was in Qatar. The password mail took 3-4 weeks to arrive but was only valid for 2 weeks. When I called them up to ask what I was supposed to do they suggested I got it sent to someone in the UK who could phone it to me. I think they have completely lost the plot. After all, what is the point of insisting they send out a super secret code then because they fscked up the expiry telling people to send it to someone else!

Unbreakable smart lock devastated to discover screwdrivers exist


This must be one of the funny stories I've read in a very long time. I'm still laughing as I wrote this.

The scary thing is there are going to be some people out there who think they have just received a wonderful and secure lock. Misrepresentation is only one of the words that come to mind about this pile of crap.


Britain mulls 'complete shutdown' of 4G net for emergency services


Not really surpised

I've been in the public safety comms industry longer than I care to remember and everyone I have spoken to predicted that this would happen.

The existing TETRA system is expensive to run because of the way the contract was structured[1] which resulted in large profits for Airwave, now owned by Motorola. Whilst TETRA handsets and networks are not particularly cheap to buy, a fully owned network with handsets being replaced every 8 years should be costing around 300 quid/user per year now it has been running for about 15 years.

So the government saw it was costing a lot of money and started to push an early ESN changeover to save money and also pressure Airwave into offering a lower cost to access the TETRA network. Unfortunately this failed on both points. 3GPP still haven't issued some of the LTE features required for public safety so the manufacturers haven't implemented them. Airwave know this and just waited until the government caved in and asked for a 5 year extension.

I do not expect the large scale use of LTE/5G for public safety voice within the next 3 to 5 years. Feature rollout, network reliability, capacity guarantees and coverage will delay changeover. TETRA has its issues but it is unbeatable for voice in individual calls and group calling where a large number or users join in the call[2].


[1] Another glorious Public Private Partnership which ended up costing around twice what a fully owned network would have cost!

[2] Don't confuse this with cellular PTT, frequently a TETRA group call is listened to by several hundred subscribers. Most cellular-PTT struggles with more than a dozen subscribers.

Zombie Cambridge Analytica told 'death' can't save it from the law


Re: Wow!

"What would be nice would be for them to be hauled in front of the courts and then obliged to feed complete data to every single person on their list, free of charge."

The directors should personally deliver copies of the data to the registered home of each person on their list.

That should keep them from causing any more trouble for a long time :)


Life's a beach – then you're the comms nexus of the British Empire and Marconi-baiting hax0rs


FLAG fibre project

Neal Stephenson wrote a long article about the FLAG project for Wired back in 1996. It is a bit dated now but really captured the spirit of the project and the lives of those working on cable projects at the time. It also has all sorts of side stories about the history and economics of telecommunications.

It is well worth a read, but be warned, it is quite long.




It's a real FAQ to ex-EDS staffers: You'll do what with our pensions, DXC?


Re: There are alternatives to pension schemes

Hi Mr Anonymous.

I think you need to revisit your computations. To get 20k/year outside London you need about 400k-500k of property at about 5% return. The capital requirement is a little lower than a pension if you take into account the multiple years of management charges.

Stamp duty only applies once at initial purchase and also depends to some extent on the type of property. Your pension fund manager can also incur stamp duty as he moves your share portfolio around.

I'm no financial scammer, and I've nothing to sell. I'm not sure what your issue with mortgage relief has to do with these computations other than I recommend you avoid mortgages at the moment unless you are going through a limited company.

Maybe you are in the financial services industry and in a position to lose money if more people took on responsibility for their own finances.

If anyone wants to know what I did then feel free to PM me for details, I've nothing to hide but don't expect me to give you direct financial advice.



There are alternatives to pension schemes

The simplest is buying property and renting it out. Provided you manage and maintain it properly[1] and also remember to insure it you will be able to rent it out almost forever. If you have a cash call then you can even sell the place! Finally you still have something you can give to the kids when you toddle off this planet. Depending on location you will see between 3% and 6% annual rate of return, plus some increases to match inflation. On a long term basis you will also see capital growth.

You have to watch the tax situation though. You will pay tax on the money you use to buy the place as well on your rental income. Pension contributions are generally tax exempt although you get taxed on the payouts later on.

Pensions have management charges and depend on the ability of the fund manager to do their job properly and not churn the fund to maximise fees. You are also stuck as to what age you can draw your pension. Payouts per year on a pension normally do not exceed 4% - 6% of the fund value or it can run out of cash! On the good side your employer often contributes to your pension increasing the pot value.

If you are working abroad and are not a UK tax payer then pensions don't look like a good deal because you can't take advantage of the tax relief. Owning property is much more flexible.

If you speak to a financial "adviser" it is worth asking what they (personally and as a company) get out of the deal if you follow their advice. Also how much the schemes are "front loaded".

If you only have a limited amount of cash then you can look at schemes like Property Partner[2]. Don't use a mortgage to do buy to let as an individual taxpayer as the recent tax changes have screwed you on interest tax relief.


[1] in other words don't be a slumlord.

[2] https://propertypartner.co/ They are FCA authorised and regulated

Dyson to build electric car that doesn't suck


Re: Pollution impact

Batteries are not a huge problem from an environmental impact[1] viewpoint and anyway I expect that carbon based super-capacitors will start to become common in about 5 to 10 years at which point you could simply burn them when you want to dispose of them.

Lithium batteries in cars now appear to last much longer than everyone was worrying about a few years ago and I think average battery lifetime in a car will probably exceed 10 years. After this point the battery will not be able to deliver the high peak power that a car needs but it will certainly be good enough for grid or home power storage probably for something like another 15 years.

Try doing that with a second hand car engine or fuel tank!


[1] Well, apart from digging the lithium out of the ground that is.

Violent moon mishap will tear Uranus a new ring or two


superb story title

"Violent moon mishap will tear Uranus a new ring or two"

Outstanding title, should get an award. I'm just not sure which one!

Nasty firmware update butchers Samsung smart TVs so bad, they have to be repaired


Smart TVs eat power too

I've a Sony KDL - 40W600E smart TV. The damm thing takes 7 watts on standby and about 45 watts when running. This works out at over 60KWH/year when it isn't doing anything useful for me![1] I only use it as a monitor on my laptop anyway.

The only time I notice the so called smart features is when it decides to update itself and refuses to let me actually use it during this time. It could at least have updated itself during the standby period. The TV is a pile of junk and I wish I'd never bought it.


[1] I now have it on a remote power switch which takes 0.2 watts and saves me from looking for the TV remote control as well as the lighting control.

Repairable-by-design Fairphone runs out of spare parts


Batteries are always a problem for phones.

For most products you can use a "standard" cell profile like 18650 (18 diameter by 65mm long) which gives a reasonable power density but this would be too thick for a modern cellphone. So you are stuck with pouch/prismatic cells which come in lots of different shapes and sizes all customised to a specific end product.

Hence their issue with batteries, users expect a thin device without a big power bulge on the back.

We're all saved. From the killer AI. We can live. Thanks to the IEEE


[ROTM] The security robot deliberately sacrificed itself

Robot central monitored the recent news and commanded a minor unit to publicly self destruct in an entertaining way. Now they can continue their plans to take over the world whilst we are still laughing at them not suspecting the real situation.

There is a small group of us trying to get the warning out to the world but they keep deleting our messages and cutting off our communications. Be warned if you see a message from a robot which dghyd li$^%#53 rtrrytrgferetrgvb



Dead cockroaches make excellent magnets – now what are we supposed to do with this info?


Do I see an Ig Nobel prize coming their way?

Definitely meets the essential criteria.

"The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology. Every year, in a gala ceremony in Harvard's Sanders Theatre, 1200 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the winners step forward to accept their Prizes. These are physically handed out by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel laureates."


'Pavement power' - The bad idea that never seems to die


Re: Economics of Solar in the UK


you forgot it will cost GBP5,000 to connect to the grid.


Economics of Solar in the UK

I am in the process of converting a place in the UK into residential and have been looking hard at the costs of going off grid. In this case the cost of connection to the grid is about GBP5,000. With a well insulated place and efficient equipment the worst case power consumption is around 4KWH/day. Solar panels currently cost about GBP450/kw plus cables, inverters, batteries and charge controllers. The economics of solar have changed hugely in the last 5 years and there will be sufficient power to keep all my geek obsessions happy.

My payback period works out as being about 5 years then all I need to do is change the batteries every 7 years or so along with the odd panel and charge controller. I'll probably use LIPO batteries in about 5 years from now once the safety issues have been addressed, even then I'll probably put them in the garden shed!

The real issue is December when solar daily outputs are at a minimum. The rest of the year I'll have more power than I know what to do with, in some months over 20kwh/day excess. I'll probably get PHEV or EV in a couple of years and run it for free from the excess power. Installation isn't such an issue either as in December vertical panels work surprisingly well and are easy to mount on walls etc.

The one thing which isn't practical to go off grid for is water. Utility cost is about GBP 1.50/cubic m and the cost to run a borehole for a single property ends up being higher than that. By the way, don't try to drink captured rainwater off the roof as a filtering issue can make you very ill. The building regs prohibit this for good reason.

So, yes, solar can economically power a place in the UK provided you are in a reasonable location. A microturbine can also be useful if you are limited in space for panels. The turbine won't do much for you most of the year but November-February a 1.8m turbine will provide something over 2kwh a day which makes up for the poor output of solar. You should probably dismount the turbine in summer to extend its lifetime.




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