* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Intel's super-secret Management Engine firmware now glimpsed, fingered via USB

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"Any more articles on this lovely backdoor?"

Keep watching. It looks like the sort of gift that keeps on giving.

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Minix licence

The FAQ link to the licence on the Minix site, http://www.minix3.org/license.html returns 404 and, according to archive.org has done so for some years. Going back to an older version it is, as the FAQ states, a fairly standard BSD link which requires that binary distributions credit the origin in the documentation. I wonder if Intel do that and if so how conspicuously. A very quick search through the generation 8 datasheet failed to find anything and Tanenbaum himself has recently said that it would have been nice if they'd let him know. Does Intel's use actually abide by the terms of the licence?

Oh dear, DXC: Outsourcer loses two UK.gov contracts

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"strategy over the past five plus years has been to cut headcount"

Yup, losing contracts. That'll do it.

Learning how to do things yourself isn't a bad idea but when the would-be learners are DWP why do a feel unconvinced?

Our oldest mammalian ancestor named after British pub landlord

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Re: palaeontology

Scientology - Yup, no quibble with dissing that. It's a cult invented by a Sci-fi author. The name is about as close to being an -ology as it gets.

Egyptology - Funny you should mention that and contrast it to physics. Someone who first established the wave theory of light by demonstrating interference, first defined energy as a term in physics; would you say he was a physicist? Meet Thomas Young, "the last man to know everything", physicist, polymath - and Egyptologist. Actually, once a bi-lingual, tri-script inscription was found and it was realised the language had survived in the form of Coptic the study of ancient Egypt was placed on a fairly sound footing. You might wonder why anyone should bother but then I suppose a lot of people will, over the years, have wondered why anyone bothered with some of the more arcane areas of mathematics.

Palaeontology and teeth - You may have led a sheltered life and not realised this but over the years zoologists have looked at a vast array of animal species in minute detail. As a consequence they have a reasonable competence in recognising mammalian teeth when they see them. They also know - and this might come as a surprise to you - that there's an overall plan to mammalian dentition. So they can recognise what part of the jaw a tooth comes from.

They can also recognise when a tooth comes from a full-grown individual as opposed to an infant and, taking that together with their knowledge of that overall plan, they can work out that small teeth come from an animal with a small jaw (you don't get mammals having indeterminate numbers of small teeth in a large jaw). If the jaw is small it can't feed a large body so they know they're looking at a species where the adult size is small.

One of the things they also know about mammals is that they need to keep the body temperature fairly high to be active. If an animal is small it has a high surface to volume ratio so it loses heat rapidly (this is almost like a real science, say physics, isn't it). To minimise heat loss it would need some form of insulation. Given that it's a mammal this is more likely to be made out of hair rather than feathers so it's a reasonable deduction that it's a furry creature.

What else was there? Oh, yes, its diet. Again, that comes from looking at the teeth of a lot of different species and comparing them with their diets. After a while they get to recognise the adaptations that go with different sorts of diet.

Over the years zoologists have gained a lot of experience with looking at a new species and being able to predict aspects of its life-style. Such predictions can be checked. Do they have to be able to check predictions made on the basis of fossil evidence? If you're given the fact that a triangle has sides of ration 3:4:5 do you have to go through Pythagoras' theorem from scratch to know there's a right angle in there?

TL;DR Just because you don't have the background knowledge doesn't mean that nobody else does. Or, to put it another way, whatever your bag is there's a reasonable probability that it's something I don't know in detail so, on your view, if I don't know what you're talking about neither do you.

Brit moron tried buying a car bomb on dark web, posted it to his address. Now he's screwed

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Re: er...

"3) That's usually connected with terrorism."

Read what you wrote again. See that word "usually"? It's a dangerous word to use if you're not into rigorous thinking. It can lead you seriously off-track.

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Re: Improvised Marketing Term to defend the defence industry.

What's all this "improvised this that and the other" bollocks?

Maybe you've never seen one. They don't look high-tech with 7-seg red LEDs and loud bleeps like you see on James Bond. "Improvised" was probably the first appropriate word that came to mind when some ATO was writing up his report.

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Re: Time to start deporting the problem fast before it gets much worse!

"Britain for the beaker people"

Johnies come lately.

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Re: Time to start deporting the problem fast before it gets much worse!

"Us Neanderthals were here first."

Big John is going to be lonely.

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Re: maliciously possessing an explosive substance

"Hell, being in possession of a table leg and a Glasgow accent can get you shot dead in London."

Was the Glasgow accent even a factor?

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Re: sudden jihadist

"Big John's point was that the Police were likely not being entirely honest."

That's the result of passing it through the brain filter that Rich 11 mentioned.

Marissa! Mayer! pulled! out! of! retirement! to! explain! Yahoo! hack! to! Senators!

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Re: Root Cause: HAIRBALL Systems Design

"What software can I run on it?"

And what hardware can you run it on? If that were to run on the variety of H/W that Windows, Linux or BSD can run on there wouldn't be many lines of code per driver.

Logitech: We're gonna brick your Harmony Link gizmos next year

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A side note about the "burning water" quip. That near enough happened. The wife was hard boiling eggs, and I didn't know about it until I hear "popping" sounds from the kitchen.

I wonder if you ever lived next door to me where that happened more than once.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

It should be obvious

If a one-off purchase requires some on-going expenditure by the vendor to keep working it's always going to end in tears.

There are only two ways it could be made to work:

- the initial price is high enough to provide an annuity that will support the service in the future and at present interest rates that's going to price it out of the market.

- the purchaser is going to be the product in which case it could be given away.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

It should be obvious

If a one-off purchase requires some on-going expenditure by the vendor to keep working it's always going to end in tears.

There are only two ways it could be made to work:

- the initial price is high enough to provide an annuity that will support the service in the future and at present interest rates that's going to price it out of the market.

- the purchaser is going to be the product.

You know what's coming next: FBI is upset it can't get into Texas church gunman's smartphone

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Re: FBI can't unlock smartphone

"the second amendment allows for gun ownership."

And it's working out very well isn't it?

Credential-stuffing defence tech aims to defuse password leaks

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"The only thing which helps is to get users to stop re-using their passwords."

There is one thing that businesses could do to help themselves. Stop specifying the customer's email address as the user ID. As most people only have one email address the hacker doesn't have to guess both ID and password.

We're not saying Uncle Sam has lost control on Twitter, but US Embassy in Riyadh just did a shout out for oatmeal

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"I would suggest that the implications for our trust in official information from the US government, Twitter as a communications platform, and the Internet Archive as the historical record are significant,"

There are similar implications for anyone who views a social media account as a form of "identity" (for want of a better word).

Give us a bloody PIN: MPs grill BBC bosses over subscriber access

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In fact I found it amusing that BOTH sides accused the BBC of "bias" in turn

It's usually the case. It's trendy left-wing elite biased but pro-Brexit and supports the Establishment. Go figure.

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Re: How much better value the BBC catalogue is...

"They have to buy in programming from third parties because the Government says they have to"

Yes. And this is a Select Committee MPs asking about it. So they can recommend that the Govt change it. It's the sort of thing Select Committees are supposed to do if they find something wrong.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: How much better value the BBC catalogue is...

One is that increasingly the BBC "catalogue" doesn't actually belong to the BBC, because the BBC is obliged to buy a lot of programmes from third parties.

That raises the question of why this should continue if it isn't helping the Beeb. I suspect the reason is that it's helping Beeb execs. If they don't want to sully their brains with actually making programmes they can go out to expensive lunches with companies who want to sell them programmes. And if they do want to they can take nice jobs with the 3rd parties and sell back to their erstwhile colleagues at the said lunches.

They've already got out of running the actual transmitting network. Maybe they should be given the option of being freed of the 3rd party obligation and told to produce their own stuff or to get out of ... well, I suppose, employment altogether.

Don't worry about those 40 Linux USB security holes. That's not a typo

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Re: Tell me now

"How can I block it?"

Epoxy resin in the USB port. Always the best thing to do unless where there's no valid reason for a USB connection and less trouble than unsoldering the connector from the board.

Well, you did ask.

Parity calamity! Wallet code bug destroys $280m in Ethereum

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Re: How many DevOps are we talking about here

Rather silly convention if you ask me.

English has a perfectly usable gender pronoun, "it". In fact "they" is the plural of "it".

English personal pronouns and their accompanying tenses are rather more complicated than you think. For instance, why is the 2nd person always plural in modern English?.

Oh Brother: Hackers can crash your unpatched printers – researchers

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"Completely disagree with your opinion on the printers themselves - for SOHO with low to moderate printing needs, brother printers are my first choice, both for reliability and for cost-effectiveness."

I have one and whilst it's a good printer it does seem to get lost from the network from time to time.

Would insurance firms pay out if your driverless car got hacked?

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"a precedent [to] allow insurance companies to weasel out of claims "

Never heard such nonsense. Would an insurance company ever do that?

More expensive, takes longer than usual, not particularly brilliant. Yes, it's your robot surgeon

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Is there a selection bias? A surgeon could opt to only use mechanical assistance in difficult cases where an extended operation might be more likely.

Imagine the candles on its birthday cake: Astro-eggheads detect galaxy born in universe's first billion years

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Re: Confused

"They're a miserable pig to find"

Hard to find, yes. I doubt miserable is an appropriate term. If you think working on technically challenging scientific experiments is miserable you don't understand the people who do it.

Microsoft goes to bat for Dreamers: Windows giant sues Uncle Sam to block staff deportations

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Re: Optional

"I'd be hugely amused if Microsoft implemented a system whereby any customer of MS Federal Sales had to provide reams of documentation and evidence of eligibility in order to activate their software"

And also prove that neither their staff nor contractors were running cracked hookey versions at home.

Official US govt Twitter accounts caught tweeting in Russian, now mysteriously axed

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"Security? Our government has heard of it."

Are you sure?

Post-Brexit economy SAVED: Posh-nosh truffle thrives in Wales

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Re: does anybody know why people don't grow them in greenhouses?

"Or is Quercus ilex a particularly tiny sort of oak tree?"

It certainly isn't.

Fat-fingered Level 3 techie reduces internet to level zero: Glitch knocks out connections

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"Level 3 is one of the trunk roads of the internet"

A sort of Information Superhighway?

ATM fees shake-up may push Britain towards cashless society

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"If your a small business, having to accept card payments - especially for smaller transactions - cuts into your profit."

OTOH it means the money goes into your account without having to wait to take it to the bank which, these days, is becoming a longer hike. I wonder how the two aspects balance each other out. The fact that some shops offer cashback suggests that cards win.

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Re: Cash for me

"I do not have a contactless card, I told my bank to send me a normal card and that is what they have done"

Did you check?

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Re: Buy local.

"withdraw some cash to put in the collection on Sunday. Of course locals just put it all on the slate."

They put the collection on the slate?

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Re: Hang on a sec...

"Every fee-free ATM is unprofitable, and every business seeks to eliminate unprofitable activities."

Which was the point of my earlier post. The banks set up ATMs to save money, which they still do in comparison with the costs of counter staff (who, if they're anything like the last Lloyds' counter staff I encountered will also cost custom). It ill becomes them to then complain about the cost of saving money and it would serve them right if we went back to asking for cash at the counters.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"if you shop in person at a real shop, you can ensure you get the best possible from what's on display and available."

Or, if you're in Yorkshire you can choose the "reduced - still fresh" options. Morrisons seem to have improved their patisserie stock control to distressing degree recently.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Oh and to help knock the ageist Luddism accusations on the head I'm 50."

Youngsters these days...

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Re: Surely thats phone banking?

"So, unless she was talking to her phone screen, or talking to somebody on the phone, you never overheard then, you saw"

Maybe she was one of those people who can't type or write without also saying it out loud (or at least mumble it).

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Be careful what you wish for

The banks might think they can save money by cutting back on ATMs. They could be caught out if it results in queues in banks for an RTP (Real Teller Person).

Paradise Papers were not an inside job, says leaky offshore law firm

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"the BBC makes its decisions based on what the public are interested in, rather than what is in the public interest."

The media view these days seems to be that the latter means the former.

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Re: Live by the sword, die by the sword

" If you gloat you cannot get paid."

Gloating doesn't have to be public. You can gloat all the way to the bank.

The only thing to worry about is that your part in one breach gets outed because it's documented in stuff that subsequently comes out when your own solicitors get breached.

'Lambda and serverless is one of the worst forms of proprietary lock-in we've ever seen in the history of humanity'

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It looks as if we're getting about as far as the pendulum swings on this particular cycle. Then a few people realise that the lock-in has made it difficult to get anything done without consulting the resident Kubernetes or whatever wizards or break the hold the beancounters have on the AWS account and it would be a lot easier to sneak in a PC or two...

Your future data-centre: servers immersed in box full of oil, in a field

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Re: Surprised

"installs servers that look like radiators into domiciles. The residents get free heat"

I was thinking about this one the other day. There were reports about this a year or two ago and then nothing further. I'd assumed the idea had died.

ICANN gives domain souks permission to tell it the answer to Whois privacy law debacle

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I think you will find that it is only "incomprehensible" (or more accurately "unconscionable" ) to large US corporations that want to hoover up all this information because of "money".

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Estonia government locks down ID smartcards: Refresh or else

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Re: Is there any chance

"What we don't like"

Perhaps I should qualify "we" as GB. During the troubles in we got used in NI to having to provide ID at checkpoints. It came as a major culture shock to my parents when they visited and we got stopped at a VCP on a back road from Aldergove to Listburn.

I'm curious as to what's the attitude there now. Anybody?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"What worries me though is the potential single point of failure issues and also the possible function creep, if it's not tightly regulated. That's already happened with PPS numbers (equivalent or Social Security / National Insurance) where all of a sudden they're needed for everything from school registration to applying to University etc etc"

That seems to be a problem with the US SSN which is regularly part of the PII lost in data breaches.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"In the UK Sir Humphry would spend six months obscuring the problem."

It would, however, be Sir Humphrey, and not Jim Hacker, who'd be in favour of the ID card in the first place. Hacker would realise it could lose him an election. Sir H would, of course, not have to carry such a demeaning object himself; he'd excuse graduates of both Universities.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Is there any chance

"You do have to identify yourself at times, soon so much easier with that passport of the right and only colour. driving perhaps with some identification too."

What we don't like is the idea of some jobs-worth coming up to us and demanding our identification. It doesn't sit well with our ideas of the assumption of innocence etc. The easiest way to stop that is to ensure that there is no such item that the jobs-worth could demand.

Equifax execs sold shares before mega-hack reveal. All above board – Equifax probe

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Re: Different story now

"So now that these dishonest and libellous accusations have been shown to be false"

I think I'd wait for an SEC investigation to get a definitive answer on that.

And have a down vote for answering your own question - such a tiresomely childish meme.

Take off, ya hosers! Silicon Valley court says Google can safely ignore Canadian search ban

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Re: Hmmm

"This is in addition to the local ones being liable for a contempt of court."

More likely they'd fine the local Google office for contempt.

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