* Posts by Robert 22

37 posts • joined 12 Dec 2013

Hubble 'scope camera breaks down amid US govt shutdown, forcing boffins to fix it for free

Robert 22

Re: Easily solved @Mooseman

The real idea was that the members of the Electoral College would be able to negotiate a compromise choice. Remember this was all set up in the days when:

(a) long distance communication and transportation were slow and problematic

(b) it was possible that there could be many contenders without a clear winner emerging.

Robert 22

Re: Easily solved

A compromise solution.

1. Deport Trump to Mexico.

2. Build the wall!

It'll soon be even more illegal to fly drones near UK airports

Robert 22

Re: Ha

There are numerous precedents for imaginary events. Consider the Second Gulf of Tonkin Incident, a response to an imaginary attack:

"Over the next three hours, the two ships repeatedly maneuvered at high speeds to evade perceived enemy boat attacks. The destroyers reported automatic-weapons fire; more than 20 torpedo attacks; sightings of torpedo wakes, enemy cockpit lights, and searchlight illumination; and numerous radar and surface contacts. By the time the destroyers broke off their "counterattack," they had fired 249 5-inch shells, 123 3-inch shells, and four or five depth charges."


It wouldn't take much for people to imagine a drone incursion - perhaps as little as a bird or escaped birthday balloon.

It's the end of 2018, and this is your year in security

Robert 22

Re: The election wasn't hacked, oooh no it wasn't, honest.

I'd say that the evidence is pretty convincing here:


Aside from this, gerrymandering is being used in a systematic way to manipulate election results. One example that I would suggest could be described as fraudulent:


Euro eggheads call it: Facebook political ads do change voters' minds – and they worked rather well for Trump in 2016

Robert 22

Re: Democrats only have themselves to blame

The Trump bankruptcies were mostly structured so that it was other people's money that was lost. But I guess this does make him a good businessman.

Trainee techie ran away and hid after screwing up a job, literally

Robert 22

Re: O lord, some screw-up...

the window installer who replaced may windows told me about a previous customer, who, after the installer left for the day, decided to improve the installation by squirting polyurethane foam between the studs and the window frames. Unfortunately, it wasn't the low expansion type and ALL of the windows broke when the window frames were distorted by the expanding foam.

Robert 22

I remember instructing a summer student to install a rubidium frequency standard (this was basically a very expensive box) in a chassis. He didn't notice the warning in the documentation that said to used short screws and the one of the ones he used broke a resistor when he tightened it. Fortunately we figured out what happened and were able to repair it.

User fired IT support company for a 'typo' that was actually a real word

Robert 22

Paradoxically, spell checkers are most useful when you know how to spell.

I remember my son, when learning to write, would use spellings so far off, tha the spell checker would find totally different words.

Probe: How IBM ousts older staff, replaces them with young blood

Robert 22

Re: 67 This Year

I remember being interviewed by them in the 1970's - I distinctly recall the interviewer making a big deal of the fact that they had never laid anyone off.

How things have changed!

FBI raids home of spy sat techie over leak of secret comms source code on Facebook

Robert 22

I recall trying to hire a summer student about 15 years ago. Although this was for an unclassified position, the security types would not provide the necessary approvals, apparently on account of his having written a bad check to a video store.

I have the distinct impression that there is a fair bit of subjectivity involved.

Cambridge Analytica CEO suspended – and that's not even the worst news for them today

Robert 22

Re: I could be wrong but...

What do you think he is going to say???

Robert 22

You can be sure that CA's customers have every reason to distance themselves from the company.

Also, if I recall correctly, Cruz did outlast most of the other contenders. Aside from this, in a primary contest, there are some limits on how far you can go - you can't afford to do things, such as disseminating widespread accusations of criminal conduct, that will destroy the overall reputation of the party.

Robert 22

Re: All is not how it seems !!!

This is the tip of the iceberg - everything indicates that this isn't just about a few bad apples. There were obviously many others who, unencumbered by ethical standards or any sense of decency, were prepared to do anything to achieve their goals.

Auto manufacturers are asleep at the wheel when it comes to security

Robert 22

Re: Obviously...

"What are the odds of that?"

Someone has been watching too many James Bond movies. This is a situation where one should consider Occam's razor.

It would take a considerable amount of effort to intentionally set up such a situation. Aside from getting the other vehicle to carry out such a maneuver with the requisite timing and precision to hit another vehicle that presumably carries out some evasive actions and do so with sufficient speed to ensure fatal damage, there is also the problem of locating and identifying the specific target in time. I doubt you would find a sufficiently skilled and motivated volunteer. The alternative scenario involving remote control or some kind of homing guidance would involve considerable engineering effort - note that there would be a need for sensors and other bits and pieces that would likely be noticed in the aftermath, and would likely provide some clues to the identity of the responsible party.

Hey girl, move a little closer. 'Cause you're too gun shy. Hush, hush, bye says Pai

Robert 22

Re: Morals. Ethics. His Testicles.

I remember being told that it would be wrong to accept a cup of Tim Horon's coffee from a contractor.

Woe Canada: Rather than rise from the ashes, IBM-built C$1bn Phoenix payroll system is going down in flames

Robert 22

Re: The History Goes Back Further Than That

There would have been pressures from the government of the day to deliver unrealistic results.

I will offer that it is likely that many of the major decisions would have been made by managers who did not understand the issues at hand - there is a widely held notion in the Cdn government that managers don't really have to understand what they are managing, Apparently the final decision to go online was made at a meeting of 45 deputy minister level officials; it is not difficult to imagine how hard it would be at such a meeting to make controversial arguments, even if one had the knowledge to support them.

Robert 22

Re: The History Goes Back Further Than That

There was the further complication of a parallel scheme to relocate the compensation staff to another geographical area (i.e., moving government jobs around for political reasons) AND reduce their overall numbers. The end results were that most of the incumbent personnel quit or were laid off (as expected) and you wound up with a buggy system operated by mostly inexperienced people.

FCC inspector general sticks corruption probe into chairman Ajit Pai amid $4bn media merger

Robert 22

Re: Clearly a new definition of "Drain the swamp"

An the alligators are Yuge!

Mueller bombshell: 13 Russian 'troll factory' staffers charged with allegedly meddling in US presidential election

Robert 22

Re: But how gullible do you have to be...

In the echo chambers of the internet, one can get a lot of mileage by feeding people stuff that is crafted to appeal to their biases. This is actually quite easy to do - it doesn't have to be based on reality, or logically coherent. And there are some real positive feedback loops at work. The situation has got to the point where there are a significant number of people who are absolutely convinced of the most improbable things, for example, that the various mass shootings are false flag operations or were carried out by people with left wing affiliations.

During the last election, I don't think there is any doubt that the toxic nature of the political discourse dissuaded many people from voting.

Ever wondered why tech products fail so frequently? No, me neither

Robert 22

Re: Software testing?

Also, people of limited means, if they do try to save for retirement, are likely to get steered into financial products having high fees.

H-1B visa hopefuls, green card holders are feeling the wrath of 'America first' Trump

Robert 22

Re: @nerdbert - Einstein's "moral turpitude"

And worse still - a pacifist!!!!!

'The capacitors exploded, showering the lab in flaming confetti'

Robert 22

Re: Improbable

That would seem to be a plausible scenario. If 12V ended up on a lower voltage rail, I could imagine the capacitors on the lower voltage rail going. Alternatively, if the computer was old enough, there would have been a negative supply that one could short a positive rail to.

This reminds me of an experience I had in the early 1980s. My group had acquired a memory expansion board for a Floating Point Systems array processor. Unknown to us, there were slightly different versions of this exact model that differed in the backplane power pin assignments. On being told by the sales guy that "you just plug it in - what's hard about that?" we did just that with seemingly catastrophic results - smoke and, on further investigation, melted PCB traces. Miraculously, we were able to revive it after improvising repairs for the burned traces - it seems that the large current flow that resulted when the negative bias supply on the memory chips became forward biased was distributed over a sufficiently large number of chips to avoid destroying them.

Dear US taxpayers, 4.5 BEEELLION of your dollars were blown on unapproved IT projects

Robert 22

Re: Part of downsizing government, enriching the corporates

These companies really know how to game the system. Tell the customer whatever they want to hear and by the time reality sets in, the bridges will have been burned and they can only move forwards.

Worst-case Brexit could kill 92,000 science, tech jobs across UK – report

Robert 22

Re: meh

As a Canadian with some knowledge of the situation North America, I can state that most US government research programs are more or less restricted to Americans. Aside from this, judging from what we are going through on the NAFTA negotiations, you are likely to find that the US negotiating positions will be insistent on terms and conditions that amount to "Heads up, we win, tails, you lose."

Cost-hurling IBM seeks more volunteers for employment bonfire

Robert 22

Its actually worse than that. There are lots of useful tricks:

- persuade the customer representatives to sign off on milestones that haven't been fully achieved (so they can make themselves look good (albeit temporarily) to their management

- deliver a system that sort of does what the customer spec asks for, but is unusable.

Furthermore, the threat of a government customer taking legal action is minimal - they know that a large vendor, such as IBM, has better lawyers and that there is likely to be a presumption that the government people screwed things up on general principles.

What’s the real point of being a dev? It's saving management from themselves

Robert 22

I worked for a defense R&D organization. One of my colleagues was dabbling in AI at the end of the 1980s. Management decided that he should give a presentation on AI at a high level departmental conference. When gave them a dry run of his presentation, they were horrified to discover that it was of an introductory nature and wasn't going to impress the audience - the result was an immediate change in the conference program.

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

Robert 22

Did you see the footage of the Friday night demonstration? It was something out of 1930s Germany - heavily armed men with torches parading about chanting authentic Nazi slogans. This was followed by the spectacle of the President trying to avoid saying anything negative about them and even then, he felt he had to find a few nice things to say to say. And not even the slightest sign of a belated recognition that he may have gone too far with his previous demagoguery.

I would also add that I am much more concerned about the militias and other right wing groups in the US than the Antifa groups. Among other things, the most serious example of a terrorist act carried out in the US by American citizens would, by a large margin, have been the Oklahoma City bombing.

Donald Trumped: Comey says Prez is a liar – and admits he's a leaker

Robert 22

Re: The nub of the biscuit.

Not a valid comparison. The US intelligence agencies were under extreme political pressure from the top levels of the US government to find "evidence" of Iraqi WMDs. Furthermore, military leaders, such as General Shinseki, who raised awkward questions were forced out or marginalized.

Tech industry thumps Trump's rump over decision to leave Paris climate agreement

Robert 22

Re: Not as bad as it appears

Perhaps, but I don't think someone like Trump worries much about legal niceties.

Robert 22

Re: Trumpy the clown

The current rate rate is more like 3 mm/year (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sealevel.html).

Note that there is a significant time lag introduced by the thermal mass of the oceans - when things get bad enough by your standards to justify a response, it will be far too late.

Robert 22

Re: Topsoil

I have some familiarity with the Canadian Shield which makes up a significant part of the area you are referring to. The description given below and quoted from Wikipedia is a reasonably accurate summary:

"The current surface expression of the Shield is one of very thin soil lying on top of the bedrock, with many bare outcrops. This arrangement was caused by severe glaciation during the ice age, which covered the Shield and scraped the rock clean.

The lowlands of the Canadian Shield have a very dense soil that is not suitable for forestation; it also contains many marshes and bogs (muskegs). The rest of the region has coarse soil that does not retain moisture well and is frozen with permafrost throughout the year. Forests are not as dense in the north."

This area isn't going to become an agricultural powerhouse anytime soon given any reasonable assumptions.

Cyber-spying, leaking to meddle in foreign politics is the New Normal

Robert 22

I would take the claim of the source given by Assange with a grain of salt. It is really unlikely that someone leaking information obtained by a sophisticated hacking operation would want to draw attention to themselves, their methods and their motives. Attributing it to a disgruntled Sanders supporter is a perfect cover. From the viewpoint of maximizing the damage inflicted, there would be the bonus of sowing distrust within the DNC.

This reminds me of some very successful and damaging WWII deception operations.

CIA: Russia hacked election. Trump: I don't believe it! FAKE NEWS!

Robert 22

Actually, the CIA did not entirely play along with the script written by the Bush administration - look up Joe Wilson. In any case, the Bush administration ended up creating multiple parallel intelligence channels, each of which had incentives to outdo the others in conjuring up intelligence supporting the case for invasion.

IT boss 'set up fake companies to charge his employers $2.4m'

Robert 22

You mention Canada. There was a low level official by the name of Paul Champagne in the Canadian Department of National Defence who, over a period of years, collected 10s of millions of dollars by persuading managers to sign off on documentation for mostly imaginary procurement activities. It seems that if anybody asked questions, he would tell them that they involved secret programs that he couldn't talk about.

I believe he received a 7 year sentence around 2008.

An anniversary to remember: The world's only air-to-air nuke was fired on 19 July, 1957

Robert 22

Actually, they would have relied mostly on vacuum tube electronics that would be much more tolerant of EMP than the solid state equipment that came later

Samsung: Don't install Windows 10. REALLY

Robert 22

I have the same issue with an HP laptop - Windows 10 appears to install OK and the wireless functionality is recognized in device manager, but it just doesn't work.

Through-wall tracking of humans using Wi-Fi: Now more accurate, low power

Robert 22

Big Brother will be happy! Now, even if you are outside the Telescreen field of view, we will still be able to monitor your traitorous behavior!

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