* Posts by 2+2=5

1089 posts • joined 21 Jan 2014


Brexit text-it wrecks it: Vote Leave fined £40k for spamming 200k msgs ahead of EU referendum

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Re: I'll Cheer You All Up

> (Can't think of anything the Welsh might do)

The Welsh seem to be channeling their Brexit angst into playing better rugby. :-)

Facebook blames 'server config change' for 14-hour outage. Someone run that through the universal liar translator

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Re: Not sure the comparison is valid

> What kind of company puts all their communications eggs (or even a good percentage of them) in one basket ...[snip] Answers on a postcard.

Oh the irony. You do realise that, in days of yore, there was only the Post Office and every company relied on it for all their comms needs?

There is nothing new in a business being dependent on single comms provider.

What today links Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram – apart from being run by monopolistic personal data harvesters?

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Skynet achieved sentience and decided that Facebook was a bigger threat to it than humans. :-)

That's Numberwang! Google Cloud staffer breaks record for most accurate Pi calculation

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Three point one four one...

A server toils endlessly

to bring a Pi-ku.

Swiss electronic voting system like... wait for it, wait for it... Swiss cheese: Hole found amid public source code audit

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Re: Potentially unpopular opinion

> So for me its "ties to my official spot on the face of the Earth" versus workforce mobility.

You are conflating electronic voting with electronic voting!

There is electronic voting which replaces the paper ballot and box with something computerised but you still have to attend the polling station and vote in person.

Then there is remote, over the Internet voting, which I don't think anyone thinks can be made secure, yet.

I'm not sure what benefit the former brings: the equipment costs just as much as printing ballot papers if not more. The count will be quicker but currently (in the UK at least) counts happen overnight so for most people they wake up the next day to the result. A faster count means they might know by midnight instead. Whoopy doo.

Alphabet top brass OK'd $100m-plus payouts to execs accused of sexual misconduct – court docs

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$100m payout

Did the victims get $100m between them?

Radio gaga: Techies fear EU directive to stop RF device tinkering will do more harm than good

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Re: What's the problem....

> So why such strong objections for equipment plugging into the RF grid which, I think, lacks the kind of safeguards that apply to the electricity grid.

Firstly, any wifi router, as sold, has to comply with RF interference rules. If a rogue product comes onto the market then it can be removed, subjected to a recall notice etc as necessary.

BUT this legislation doesn't apply to routers as first sold: it applies to user mods afterwards. That would be fine if and only if there was evidence that user mods were causing widespread (or even near spread) RF interference problems. But there isn't any.

So we have proposed legislation that defends against an essentially hypothetical problem but is absolutely guaranteed to exacerbate a proven problem, namely that of botnets taking advantage of weak router security. Why would you do that?

Sure, we've got a problem but we don't really want to spend any money on the tech guy you're sending to fix it

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Fun fact...

Fahrenheit gets ribbed for having a cold "on the day" that he set his scale, with the result that the average human body temperature is 98.7 rather than the 100 he supposedly measured on himself.

The reality, of course, is that it took rather more time than the duration of a short cold to define his scale rigorously. Fahrenheit actually chose the upper value of his scale to be 96 so that the set points of 0, 32 and 96 were multiples of 2, which allows the scale sub-divisions to be easily marked mechanically.

The scale was later redefined to set the upper point to 212 - the boiling point of water - again deliberately 180 above the freezing point of water at 32, so the scale is still easily sub-divided mechanically.

But that redefinition caused the average human body temperature to go up a couple of degrees and almost ever since people have claimed that he had a cold.

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Travel related....

Not a travel disaster story but...

I once did some work in the States for the same client - first two weeks, then back home for a month then another few days back in the States. Everything went well and all was fine except for one quirk: the invoice for one of the stints in dollars was exactly the same (to the penny) as the invoice price in Sterling for the other stint. This caused no end of problems between each company's finance systems as each would reject it in turn as a duplicate (as they would auto-match on the monetary value).

It was only when they eventually came to me to ask exactly how much time I had spent was I able to spot what had happened.

Resistance is... new style: Samsung says it's now shipping resistive eMRAM for IoT chips

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Re: Core

> Magnetic? I knew core memory would have its day again some time!

Yes but any device using these new chips won't be able to be used above the Arctic Circle.

From hard drive to over-heard drive: Boffins convert spinning rust into eavesdropping mic

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Pinky and Perky...

I'm using a Helium filled drive so that Pinky & Perky get the blame for anything nefarious I might be recorded saying.

Google finally touts $150 pint-sized Linux dev board with Edge TPU AI math copro brains

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“Thank-you for that booking Google Assistant. Does your client accept our booking terms and conditions?”

What does Google say and who is liable?

Canada has lunar dreams as Germany worries about what lies beneath

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Conclusive proof...

> [...] German boffins reckon the thing got between 18 and 50 cm down [then] “the mole seems to have hit a stone"

So barely a spade's depth down and it's jammed on a rock already -- conclusive proof that digging on Mars is exactly like digging in my back garden.

USB4: Based on Thunderbolt 3. Two times the data rate, at 40Gbps. One fewer space. Zero confusing versions

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Re: Crazy

> Just how much more complexity can they pile into this 'simple' interface before it all collapses under it's own weight? Does anyone actually understand the protocol(s) anymore?

It's okay - Poettering's on it and USB4d will be in the kernel soon.

It's not your imagination: Ticket scalper bots are flooding the internet according this 'ere study

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Solution 9... Hold a ballot

9) Make it compulsory to sell tickets by ballot, not first come first served.

So the ticket agency (or ballot operator if outsourced) would be obliged to accept entries up until a deadline date - at least two weeks after the ballot opens, say. Anyone can apply and has to give an address. Maybe a credit card as well, but it would be illegal to take money at this point.

After the registration period ends:

- the ballot operator is obliged to check for duplicate addresses, duplicate credit cards etc and exclude what appear to be multiple entries from the same source

- tickets are allocated randomly to those who applied. At this point the 'winners' can be contacted and asked to supply photos / whatever else is deemed necessary to prevent resale and the card is charged.

This has two advantages:

a) Large-scale scalpers would need a multitude of addresses and cards which would require much more effort that at present. (Small scale ones would still be able to operate using friends and family but they're not the concern here)

b) Fans who have 'real' jobs, such as nurses or teachers and can't just slack off for half-an-hour of repeatedly pressing 'Buy' on their phones can actually have a chance of going to a concert.

TBH it is (b) that most annoys me about these concert events where the breathless publicity blathers on about "...ticket sales opened at 10am and were sold out in minutes...". That's lovely unless you're driving a train, flying a plane, or trying to save the life of the latest teenage stabbing victim.

Customer: We fancy changing a 25-year-old installation. C'mon, it's just one extra valve... Only wafer thin...

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Re: Line editor without echo...

Vim has had a Vi compatible mode forever.

UK's beloved RNGesus machine ERNIE goes quantum in 5th iteration

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> Surely that's not entirely random, I'm not sure how feasible it would be to create a mirror that would reflect exactly 50% of photons? Otherwise there will be an overall bias towards a 1 or a 0 over time?

IDQ's website has a non-technical paper describing this. The mirror is within 10% - i.e. gives results between 45% and 55% and then an unbiasing procedure is applied to produce 0s and 1s at exactly 50% each.

I say, that sucks! Crooks are harnessing hoovers to clean out parking meters in Chelsea

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Bootnotes? Shouldn't this story be filed under "Emergent Tech"?


Long phone is loooong: Sony swipes at flagship fatigue with 21:9 tall boy

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Re: Fingerprint sensor location? Waterproofing?

> a side mounted fingerprint sensor

Yes, but this phone's so tall the fingerprint literally is the whole finger!

Eggheads want YOU to name Jupiter's five newly found moons ‒ and yeah, not so fast with Moony McMoonface

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Re: Rampant Grade-ism

> What's all this pro-grade/retro-grade nonsense? Why can't we just accept that some moons "go the other way" without labelling them with culturally loaded terms like Pro and Retro?

Would it help if we were to introduce more labels, e.g. pro-grade, prosumer, consumer, vintage and retro?

Samsung pulls sheets off costly phone-cum-fondleslab Galaxy Fold – and a hefty 5G monster

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Anyone who doesn't buy one of these must be completely unhinged.

Just do IoT? We'd walk a mile in someone else's Nike smart sneakers, but they seem to be 'bricked'

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Re: Self lacing?

> but if I don't have to dick with shoelaces, I'll pay bucks for that

Perhaps one could interest Sir in the following?


[icon: service with a smile]

All your ETL pipeline are belong to us: Google snaps up Alooma

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The new, improved ETL...

Extract Transform Lock-in

What's in a name? Quite a bit when it's the most hated abbreviation of 2018 (GDPR, of course)

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decided to switch its name to Conteur

Did they channel Inspector Clouseau?

You know the drill: SAP has asked Joe Public to name Munich arena so go forth and be very silly

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Re: I hate "naming rights"

Yes, it's a pity they have to do that.

Sing along now: SAP-ity-doo-dah, SAP-ity-ay / Why oh why did they name it this way?

Use an 8-char Windows NTLM password? Don't. Every single one can be cracked in under 2.5hrs

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Re: The Usual Response...

For kicks, I'm thinking of using the bitcoin addresses from the large amounts of blackmail spam that I now receive, courtesy of LinkedIn's incompetence, for use as 'random' passwords.

ACLU: Here's how FBI tried to force Facebook to wiretap its chat app. Judge: Oh no you don't

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Re: Here's the fundamental hypocracy

> Here's the fundamental hypocracy

That's a surprisingly common form of Government, from the national right down to the local town council level.

Granddaddy of the DIY repair generation John Haynes has loosened his last nut

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The Haynes Manual of Life

Death: follow the birth process (sections 1.1 - 1.6) in reverse order.

Fun fact: GPS uses 10 bits to store the week. That means it runs out... oh heck – April 6, 2019

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Re: I don't buy this

> Whilst devices may not have been prepared for the rollover in 1999 (all mine were fine), I doubt anyone could not be aware of such a thing by now. If you are writing the firmware in 2014, you buy any year less than 2014 as a rollover. Duh. The sky is falling not.

Some programmers still get leap year century calculations wrong. Whatever the reason is, it's not because they weren't aware of leap years.

Reliable system was so reliable, no one noticed its licence had expired... until it was too late

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If you're running on old-style Unix kit then 'soon' is January 19, 2038 03:14:08 GMT. The heat-death of the Universe can wait. :-)

German competition watchdog tells Facebook to stop combining user data without consent

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> I like it when websites try to tell you that "targeted advertising" is a benefit for users.

But it is! Think about it. If you buy something innocuous, say a screwdriver, then you get endless ads for tools. But if you don't buy a screwdriver then you get endless ads for PPI, "A Surrey Woman Discovered This Neat Trick That Untidy People Refuse To Use" etc - endless, endless crap. Don't fight it. You know it makes sense.

Yay, we got a B for maths. Literally, a bee: Little nosy nectar nerds smart enough to add, abstract numbers

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> I'd always taken Bee memory as a given, as they remember the direction and distance needed to return directly to a specific area from the hive (with siblings).

There is a possibility that direction and distance is some sort of 'built-in' memory only usable for that purpose. This research shows that bees have a 'general purpose' memory that can be used for other tasks.

Hey, UK.gov: If you truly spunked £45k on 1,300 Brexit deal print-outs, you're absolute mugs

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Re: Out by over £2500

> Has nobody heard of duplex printing?

But it was printed double-spaced because all MP's will be going through it with a fine-tooth comb, marking-up detailed notes and corrections on almost every line. Or not.

Icon: Brexit wishful thinking

I won't bother hunting and reporting more Sony zero-days, because all I'd get is a lousy t-shirt

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Re: Really? A shirt?

"I reported a security vulnerability to $corp that saved them from being fined 4% of their global revenue and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."

Hmm. Could be snappier.

Maybe send the shirt back and ask for underpants?

Tedious Service Bulletin: No prizes for guessing which UK bank's services are DOWN for business users

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> I logged into my personal account earlier. The login page froze so I looked in the console. SignalR was trying to connect to a hub on

Take care you aren't accused of being a hacker. It's subversives like you with your knowledge of how to use a console and the basics of IP addressing that need to be watched you know.

I'm a crime-fighter, says FamilyTreeDNA boss after being caught giving folks' DNA data to FBI

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Re: inaccurate testing

The 'phantom of Heilbronn' is a particularly worrying case - mostly because I don't know whether to laugh or cry: it took TWO YEARS for the police to work out what was happening.


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

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Re: Pretty soon, you won't be able to turn them off


> That's not going to happen. Smart people are not buying so-called "smart technology"

That's true for you and I because we live in homes that pre-date 'smart' and so anything we choose to add is exactly that: something we chose to add, and made a risk assessment in doing so.

New build properties, on the other hand, will be the reverse: just as car manufacturers are currently obsessed with adding 'connectivity' to their cars, so house builders will soon decide that building a smart house will be a selling point.

And then buyers of new builds will be in an impossible position: if the light switches are not physically wired to the lights then disabling the smart lighting system is rather impractical.

Their only hope is that a new industry springs up providing additional security to smart homes. :-)

"It all makes work for the working man to do" as Flanders and Swan once sang.

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

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> A pair of wire cutters suffices.

That brings back memories of school friends cutting the speaker on one of these Casio calculators so you could play 'Invaders' at the back of the class without being (so easily) detected.

And on a related note, years ago I once rang the manufacturer of the Concurrent CP/M machines that we were using to ask which IO port the 'beeper' was mapped to. I was passed through to a gentleman who rather snootily informed me that the Audible Warning Device was mapped to port whatever. :-)

You're the Swan that I want, you are the Swan I want, ooh ooh ooh: Intel anoints Bob as CEO

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New chip naming scheme to be announced: Kaby Lake -> Coffee Lake -> Swannee River

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

> So for your example I'd prefer to see:

> ObtainWidgetFromAppropriateRepository();

> PerformSecondStep(); // Obviously these would use a better description.

> PerformThirdStep();

The only problem I have with this is when the code doesn't split cleanly between the functions. Often something in step 1 sets up something else ready for step 2. And then you have to decide whether to pass it as a parameter or do something else. From a purist computer science theory point of view it's a parameter and should be passed as such. However, returning a minor value from one sub-function, to pass on as a parameter to the next sub-function gives it an exaggerated importance (because it's highly visible in the listing).

As always, YMMV, and rules are better if they can be broken occasionally.

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

Comments within code suggest code that isn't clearly written

I disagree. Yes, simple code and breaking things down into simpler and simpler sub-functions makes the code itself simple to understand, but if there is some domain knowledge required in order to understand why an algorithm is the way it is then no amount of simplification is going to help.

One way I get around this is to put the description of the algorithm in comments at the start of the function/procedure definition and then refer to the sub-steps at the right points in the code.



Function calculateFoo() uses the XYZ algorithm to determine appropriate responses for widget_x and widget_y controlled devices; as follows:

1) Identify the widget from the repository; use old repository for pre-1976 widgets

2) description of second step

3) third step



and then in the body of the code...

/* Step 1 */



/* Step 2 */



That way the explanation is all in one place but it is easy to see which bit of code implements which bit of the algorithm. It's not perfect, nothing is, but better than no comments at all.

and the big problem with comments is that the compiler doesn't verify them.

That's kinda why they're called comments. :-)

Out of date comments can be worse than no comments at all.

That's not a fault of comments, that's a fault of lazy programmers. (Or programmers not fully understanding the impact of the change they're making if they've left in something that's no longer required..)

Forget snowmageddon, it's dropageddon in Azure SQL world: Microsoft accidentally deletes customer DBs

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Rapid response from Microsoft

> the biz is at pains to explain “if TDE encrypted SQL databases lose access to the key vault because they cannot bypass the firewall, the databases are dropped within 24 hours.”

The one time, the one time Microsoft actually does something quickly and efficiently - it's to delete your data. D'oh

Ouch, Apple! Plenty of iPhones stuck in tech channel. How many? That's a 'wild card'

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Re: Apple boredom

I doubt it, there's usually good stuff in the Lidl & Aldi bargain bins. You might not want need much of it, but the price/performance/endurance want factor is usually very good indeed.


PSA: Disable FaceTime. Miscreants can snoop on your iPhone, Mac mic before you pick up call

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It's just a branding opportunity - call it 'PrefaceTime'

Amazon's titchy robots hit the streets, Waymo starts a self-driving car factory...

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Re: Scout - what could possibly go wrong?


Yes, how long before a drug gang starts making clones that look like the Amazon Scouts but deliver drugs instead? Not enough drug dogs around to go sniffing every one.

Likewise have a gun delivered to the bank just ahead of your armed robbery!

The Putin version delivers Novichok.

I wonder if Banksy will paint one while it is trundling along?

Aah, the possibilities are endless.

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> it will be supervised by an Amazon employee during its trips to and from houses

Because the robot doesn't yet know how to throw the package over the wall. Coming soon to v2.

Crispest image yet of Ultima Thule arrives on Earth, but grab a coffee while the rest downloads

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Re: Good Framing?

On the BBC's "The Sky At Night" TV programme covering the Ultima Thule flyby, the mission person interviewed said that the aiming was so accurate the first detailed images received were only one pixel out from where they were expected to be. So the image could be what was actually taken.[1]

(And if it was cropped, then the cropping was done by the spacecraft to save bandwidth.)

Either way, still impressive.

[1] Bar contrast, colour enhancement etc

Golly 4G whizz: Vodafone caught using a cheeky bit of Three UK's spectrum

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Subcrontactor error

> "As part of routine monitoring, we noticed that a subcontractor had inadvertently configured the site to work on the 10MHz bandwidth rather than the correct one.

I wonder if that same subcontractor used a drone to inspect the mast?

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

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Re: Inquiring minds want to know...

> To be fair, there's an equal chance of getting that combination as any other combination. Of course you would end up sharing the winnings a bit more widely...

In 2009 the Bulgarian lottery drew the same numbers two weeks in a row. There were more winners the second time around because some people choose the previous week's winning numbers, each thinking that no one else would do that. :-)


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