* Posts by vir

286 posts • joined 31 May 2016


Well Holby damned! We've caught a virus: Brit medical soap operas team up for 'cyber' episode

vir Silver badge

It's A Fire Sale

Everything must go...

Ever used VFEmail? No? Well, chances are you never will now: Hackers wipe servers, backups in 'catastrophic' attack

vir Silver badge

Interesting Conclusion

"Yes, @VFEmail is effectively gone. It will likely not return. I never thought anyone would care about my labor of love so much that they'd want to completely and thoroughly destroy it."

One could also draw the conclusion that since someone cared enough to thoroughly nuke the whole thing - ransom be damned - then it was certainly doing a good job at some level (though not the security/backups level, presumably).

But then, other people just want to watch the world burn.

Redditors start flinging Pooh after mega-forum takes cash from Chinese behemoth Tencent

vir Silver badge

"Here at El Reg we are of the belief that it's more about quality rather than quantity when it comes to forum contributors"

Hear him! Hear him!

Techie finds himself telling caller there is no safe depth of water for operating computers

vir Silver badge

Re: Ex designer of military kit

I can tell you - from observation, not experience - that the Panasonic Toughbooks we used are not fist-to-screen resistant.

I can also tell you - from direct experience - that the COTS computer we used for a handy but non-essential function is not resistant to a bucket of water being accidentally dumped on it.

Western Digital deploys heatsink on remodelled M.2 to tempt gamers

vir Silver badge

Re: And always remember to get gold plated oxygen free HDMI leads...

I have a custom linear power supply for my tv to prevent artifacting introduced by the beat frequency between the switching power supply and the screen refresh rate.

DNAaaahahaha: Twins' 23andMe, Ancestry, etc genetic tests vary wildly, surprising no one

vir Silver badge

Zhou, Zhang, and Ebright found random nucleotide/base pair substitutions occurred in about one of every 27,000 pairs during PCR sample amplification. Some back of the envelope math: if the regions that 23 and Me et. al. are looking at are on average 700,000 pairs long, we can expect about 26 pair substitutions after the first round of amplification. But PCR is cyclical and any errors introduced in the first cycle get copied into the next cycle plus a new (on average) 52 substitutions on the resulting 1.4 million base pairs. I'm not sure how many cycles these outfits are using but I see 30 get bandied about pretty frequently. Add to that imperfect genetic profiling for certain parts of the world and you could see how such a situation might arise.

RIP 2019-2019: The first plant to grow on the Moon? Yeah, it's dead already, Chinese admit

vir Silver badge

Re: Cotton, really?

Interesting idea, though: recyclable clothing. When it wears out or rips you just melt it down and weave some new fabric.

vir Silver badge

Re: Puzzled

I think the point wasn't that "the experiment didn't return any data" so much as "the experiment didn't return any useful data". We know what the temperatures are during a lunar night. We know that with the lander powered down, the capsule temperature will drop to the same temperature or very close to. We know that the plants/animals they put in the capsule won't be able to survive exposure to those temperatures. While this experiment will confirm that, it seems strange that they didn't make some provision for heating and illuminating the capsule during the lunar night since "how will plants grow in an approximation of a greenhouse for a future lunar base?" is a much more interesting question to answer than "if we expose plants to cryogenic temperatures, will they die?".

Germany has a problem with the entire point of Amazon's daft Dash buttons – and bans them

vir Silver badge

Re: That does seem kind of shady...

Isn't the solution to this just to have the dash button only order a product if the price is the same or lower than the price it was when you first used the button?

Y'know how you might look at someone and can't help but wonder if they have a genetic disorder? We've taught AI to do the same

vir Silver badge

It's fine; we just need to expand the training set. Once we get all 7 (8?) billion people's faces in the model, it will be 100% accurate.

Dark matter's such a pushover: Baby stars can shove weird stuff around dwarf galaxies

vir Silver badge

Re: There is one thing that might explain dark matter

"REAL physicists" have looked at his work and found it to be nonsensical and irreconcilable with observations. It's impossible to definitively prove him wrong, of course, as his theories are predicated on the refutation of established science. Rather like saying, "I'm actually 20 feet tall, you've all just been using the wrong ruler this whole time".

Forget 2019's tech biz takeovers, here's the mega-merger everyone's talking about: Milky Way and LMC, coming soon

vir Silver badge

"Knock us out of the Milky Way and into interstellar space"

But isn't every star in interstellar space?

It's fine though, no one goes to this part of the galaxy anymore.

Florida man stumbles on biggest prime number after working plucky i5 CPU for 12 days straight

vir Silver badge

Hold Please

I am verifying with pen and paper.

It's 2019, and from Beijing to Blighty folk are still worried about slurp-happy apps

vir Silver badge

Re: Missing the damn point!

Unfortunately, the prevalent smartphone app business model almost ensures that this trend will continue. As long as "we take your privacy seriously" is good enough for 99% of users, there will be no change.

Hacker cyber-gang: Give us cyber-cash for cyber-cache of 18,000 stolen Sept 11th insurance docs

vir Silver badge

But how do you really feel?

Forget your deepest, darkest secrets, smart speakers will soon listen for sniffles and farts too

vir Silver badge

Google, Amazon, et. al. don't care about your personal conversations. They don't want a recording of what you say or do in the privacy of your own home. The bandwidth and storage requirements are too high. They much rather prefer a concise summary of the soda you drink, the toilet paper you wipe with, and the frozen peas you wish you had bought at the store.

You know the perennial gripe about Amazon's product suggestion algorithm? The "you just bought a vacuum, would you like to buy another vacuum"? Get ready for "you just sneezed, would you like to buy a pallet of tissues?", "you just opened a window, would you like to buy a window?", "your child is screaming, would you like to buy a case of wine?". These detect a burglar/your child stopped breathing/something caught on fire use cases will ironically be the ones disallowed for privacy reasons.

Oxford startup magics up metamaterials for next-gen charging

vir Silver badge

"What is the electrical efficiency of such a system?"

About 83% - that's the power into the transmitter unit vs. power out of the receiver. Your AC to DC conversion to supply the transmitter and the battery current to battery charge conversion are separate. To put it in perspective: your average phone charging at 2A consumes 10 watts from a 5V USB supply. If we are using a USB cable with 28AWG/0.32mm wires, the resistance of a 1m long cable is 0.212 ohms for a loss of 1.7W (two 1m long runs - supply and return). In comparison, the wireless charger has a system loss of 2.0W if adjusted to give 10W output.

A datasheet for a typical system is here:


There are some pretty clever ways they can detect foreign objects on the transmitter antenna.

vir Silver badge

Re: I have another theory

9. its difficult to continue using the device whilst its charging.

This is why I didn't go back to wireless charging after my Palm Pre (a decade ago!). While it was rather nice to be able to just throw the phone onto the charging pad and not have to deal with fiddly little connectors, if you wanted to use it you'd have to take it off the pad which obviously stopped charging. Now with Lighting/USB-C, the "big hassle" - looking at the end of the connector to see which way to insert it - is behind us. I suppose there is still an argument to be made about connector longevity, but that still isn't enough to get me to switch back over to wireless.

Thanks to UK peers, coming to a laptop near you in 2019: Age checks for online smut

vir Silver badge

Non-photographic Images

What's objectionable about my collection of erotic Byzantine mosaics?

IBM is trying to throttle my age-discrimination lawsuit – axed ace cloud salesman

vir Silver badge

Re: Nope

"Stories abound of people training their younger replacements, then being laid off; being laid off and being re-hired as consultants; being laid off and being re-hired to train their replacements; and other assorted nonsense."

Though maybe the "come back as a consultant for twice the pay and half the administrative BS" does have a bit of a nice ring to it. Good work if you can find it.

Lenovo tells Asia-Pacific staff: Work lappy with your unencrypted data on it has been nicked

vir Silver badge

Re: Lenovo takes the security of employee information very seriously

They forgot the second part of the phrase: "out of an abundance of precaution, we will be providing free credit monitoring services to all affected for one year".

Dine crime: Chippy sells deep fried Xmas dinner

vir Silver badge

Raffinose. A trisaccharide produced by beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. Humans don't make the enzyme needed to digest it so it all goes through to your intestines where bacteria have a field day. Kind of like lactose intolerance but everyone has it. You can buy the enzyme supplement needed to digest it (Beano); it works pretty well.

'Say hello to my little vacuum cleaner!' US drug squad puts spycams in cleaner's kit

vir Silver badge

Just move the camera back from the exhaust hole. An inch or so should do. You'll get some windowing of the scene when you're fully zoomed out but at full zoom (the likely case - "why is the shop vac five feet away from us?") you'll be in past the edges. Just hope they don't decide to empty the vacuum.

Wow, what a lovely early Christmas present for Australians: A crypto-busting super-snoop law passes just in time

vir Silver badge

"Ship! Come back!"

If it's been said once here, it's been said a thousand times: mathematics, third-party key security, etc. Now we get to see how this "technologically literate" discussion goes, or if this is just a rubber stamp on something that's already been decided.

Peak tech! Bacon vending machine signals apex of human invention

vir Silver badge

If you had it from a hotel breakfast buffet, then it was most likely was the precooked stuff heated up in a steam tray which is to good bacon what a can of cooked peas is to the fresh kind. Even many restaurants will just have a tub of thin bacon (profit margins!), burnt to a crisp, sitting off to the side and congealing. It's not hard to find the good stuff; many butcher shops will have meaty, thick cut - or if you're lucky, slab - bacon that they smoke themselves. I've got nothing against back bacon, but it's a shame to see so many people put off by inferior versions of something that can be so good.

Hate me.

vir Silver badge

I'll throw my hat in the ring for American bacon (streaky bacon?).

Not too much fat, but enough so that it crisps up nicely and gives you that crunchiness that you can't get without close intermingling of fat and meat. Bacon weights help, as well as a not-too-hot pan.

Awkward... Revealed Facebook emails show plans for data slurping, selling access to addicts' info, crafty PR spinning

vir Silver badge

$0.10 per Year

What you're worth, ladies and gentlemen. On the high end.

Tumblr resorts to AI in attempt to scrub itself clean from filth

vir Silver badge

Spare A Thought

For the "real, live humans" who will have to deal with the onslaught of false positives from the 32 million Tumblr posts per day. From the examples, it looks like there could be quite a few!

FYI: NASA has sent a snatch-and-grab spacecraft to an asteroid to seize some rock and send it back to Earth

vir Silver badge

But you can prevent infection by drinking heavily and the organism takes care of itself in a few days...could be worse.

Three become six as new 'nauts arrive for a visit to the ISS

vir Silver badge

Re: Still find it amazing

Maybe I'll just have to start up as a vocal and especially irritating flat-earther in the hope that some billionaire/Kickstarter campaign will pay to stuff me on a SpaceX flight "to teach me a lesson".

Wanna save yourself against NotPetya? Try this one little Windows tweak

vir Silver badge

Makes You Wonder...

Just what kind of company would intentionally infect itself with malware. Let's guess:

Tiger Snake Fondlers-R-Us Pty Ltd

Ebola Neti Pot Booster Packet makers

International Union of BASE Jumpers, Skyscraper Scalers, and Those People Who Eat Gas Station Sushi

European fibre lobby calls for end to fake fibre broadband ads

vir Silver badge

Re: Meat

I'd still say that those nuggets contain a higher proportion of fiber than the average internet connection.

Creepy or super creepy? That is the question Mozilla's throwing at IoT Christmas pressies

vir Silver badge

Re: Why buy this stuff in the first place?

The Hidrate [sic] Spark's website is that great border area between serious and satire:

"Syncs with Fitbit, Apple Watch & Health, Under Armour Record, Nokia Health Mate, and Google Fit.

These are optional fitness integrations. The bottle and app can be used without them."

"Proven to be accurate within 3% compared to manual recordings during a medical study."

"Keep an eye on friends and make sure they stay hydrated."

"Never lose your bottle. See your bottle's last synced location in the app."

And then a "benefits of water" section that interestingly enough fails to list "postpones death, but doesn't avert it".

vir Silver badge

Re: Word association football

The hot water bottle connects to your Apple watch so you can tell if it's still hot with a simple glance at your wrist or you can ask "Alexa, is this water bottle in bed with me still hot?"


Open the pod bay doors: Voice of HAL 9000 Douglas Rain dies at 90

vir Silver badge

I honestly think you need to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.

Many fond memories of downloading sound clips (no bandwidth for video, natch) of this film back in the AltaVista days and trying to get my Performa 6400/180 to do its best HAL impression. Now that we have Alexa et. al., I'm sad to say that the allure has faded.

Bill Gates joined on stage by jar of poop as he confesses deep love for talking about toilets

vir Silver badge

Obligatory XKCD

While it's statistically likely that some of the water you drink has been previously consumed by another person, the actual percentage is quite small.

Stairway to edam: Swiss bloke blasts roquefort his cheese, thinks Led Zep might make it tastier

vir Silver badge

"If so, El Reg would like to see the experiment rolled out to Lancashire, Gloucester and Wensleydale."

Make sure you roll through Gloucester twice.

Goodnight Kepler! NASA scientists lay the exoplanet expert to rest as it runs out of fuel

vir Silver badge

And let's not forget that the design life was 3.5 years, which was up back in September of 2012!

Alexa heard what you did last summer – and she knows what that was, too: AI recognizes activities from sound

vir Silver badge


"There is no way to recover the audio"

...until another team of researchers discovers a way to contextually reconstruct spoken phonemes with 99% accuracy.

Great "use cases" guys. Alerting you when your washing machine is done? There's already a 100dB buzzer on it for a reason. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but they already make wi-fi enabled washing machines if you want it to post to your Twitter feed.

GCHQ asks tech firms to pretty please make IoT devices secure

vir Silver badge

Re: Internet of S%!£

And even if you get something with what seems to be a legitimate setup behind it, most of the time it's a rebadged piece of crap from some fly-by-night outfit. You can count yourself lucky if it doesn't shock you or burn your house down - nevermind any security concerns.

Samsung’s flexible phone: Expect an expensive, half-bendy clamshell

vir Silver badge

Re: I still think a bifold device will be a market failure

Maybe they'll be a holdout though; they sacrifice a lot for a thinner form factor. You'll say that the phone could indeed be thinner when unfolded, but you can't fold one of these up and shove it in a pair of tight jeans like it was nothing.

Facebook's new always-listening home appliance kit Portal doesn't do Facebook

vir Silver badge

Re: "Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,"


The FAQ "Does Portal Have Ads?" contains the ominous response:

Portal does not have Facebook ads at this time [emphasis added, but not entirely necessary].

Conveniently, the Portal TOS are not readily accessible - just the improbably "Frequently Asked Questions" for a product that hasn't been released yet - a great example of Pynchon's maxim: "if they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers".

vir Silver badge

Re: Yeah right

Exactly: when it comes down to it, they really don't care about the actual data stream; it's far too diffuse to justify the bandwidth or storage cost. What they really want is the condensed version that flags preferences, demographic data, economic indicators - the kind of info their ad machine can really use.

There's enough wiggle room in their statement to hide a whole elephant's weight in data gathering and enough bad-faith moves on their part to deny them the barest benefit of doubt.

Uncle Sam gives itself the right to shoot down any drone, anywhere, any time, any how

vir Silver badge

Re: "Credible Threat"

Even easier... streamers!

Having a good chuckle at the thought of Secret Service agents wheeling out a huge party popper on the roof of the White House.

Wi-Fi Alliance ditches 802.11 spec codes for consumer-friendly naming scheme

vir Silver badge

Re: I hope they don't let manufacturers "spice up" the names

Oh, they'll do it. A new naming convention that has essentially no relation to a technical standard? Brace for "Wi-Fi 6+", "Wi-Fi 6 MAX", and the inevitable "Wi-Fi 8-ready", "Wi-Fi 8-compatible", etc.

Reminds me of the time an over-zealous marketing writer decided to "bump up" the spec on one of our products from IP66 to IP67 and I had to explain that no, that doesn't mean that it's 1.5% more weather resistant.

Astroboffins may have found the first exomoon lurking beyond the Solar System

vir Silver badge

Re: That is a moon

Endor's forest moon, I believe you mean.

Why waste away in a cubicle when you could be a goddamn infosec neuromancer on £50k*?

vir Silver badge

Re: Tools

I think you mean an Ono-Sendai Cyberspace 7 with coronal dermatrodes, 4 megabytes of hot RAM, and extended capacity battery pack.

The Reg takes the US government's insider threat training course

vir Silver badge

Maybe use it as punishment for leaving your computer unlocked or password on a sticky note?

Silence! Cybercrime's Pinky and the Brain have nicked $800k off banks

vir Silver badge

Re: "That's quite a pile of cash....the mound of Silence?"

I liked Baron Harkonnen's Cone of Silence better.

Lights, camera, AI-ction! Robo-drones turned into spies, er, filmmakers

vir Silver badge

Re: "The drone travels slowly at 7.5 metres per second"

There's someone in my neighborhood who pops up a drone from time to time. A DJI Phantom in all likelihood but it's too high for me to really get a good ID and I don't care enough to find out for sure. It is fairly loud - about the same sound and intensity as a gas-powered weed whacker - and really stands out because you're not expecting to hear that kind of sound coming from above you.


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019