* Posts by Threlkeld

38 posts • joined 9 Feb 2017

Real-time OS: Ordnance Survey gets snuggly with Intel's Mobileye

Threlkeld

Re: Ripe for the picking

As it's the Ordnance Survey, presumably it still has some military function which has kept it in public ownership? There is an invisible line which defines what can be sold off and what must be retained in public ownership, but it doesn't seem logical. I'm sure that there are many military functions which would attract foreign interest, even if it was only for sponsorship. I've always thought that the 'Hitachi Grenadier Guards' would look well outside Buckingham Palace, for instance, and why are we still naming Navy ships traditionally instead of utilising those big grey expanses for advertising - a big horizontal Pepsi bottle would be almost as good as dazzle camouflage, and would bring in the sort of steady, reliable income so sadly lacking in the military tradition.

London Gatwick Airport reopens but drone chaos perps still not found

Threlkeld

Fire and forget ...?

It would seem to be possible to program a drone to fly for a short interval and then land in an obscure resting place and wait for a quasi-random interval on the order of hours before repeating the foray. How long would the battery last for 5 minute flights every four hours, I wonder?

It would also seem to be possible that an individual infuriated by the idea of folk flying half way round the world for a holiday might decide to discourage said folk for the future. He might even be smart enough to see that not getting caught would achieve his aim best, and also allow him to do it again some time.

He would not need to retrieve his drone from the hornets' nest of activity he has caused, as long as he had been careful not to let it be traceable back to him or his organisation. It could be left on a flat roof, or in an abandoned pigsty, or wherever else he had chosen for its resting-place. It could be a 'fire and forget' operation. Makes it a lot easier to establish a good alibi.

I'm sure that there must be a flaw in this argument, but I can't just now see it. Nor can I see any very convincing counter-measure, short of jamming GPS locally whenever a drone is detected. Which might be possible, but not without undesired consequences.

Expired cert... Really? #O2down meltdown shows we should fear bungles and bugs more than hackers

Threlkeld

Re: Was this

They're funny things, Accidents. You never have them till you're having them.”

― A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Brits' DNA data sent to military base after 'foreign' hack attacks – report

Threlkeld

Re: "100,000 Genomes Project is secure, insists chair"...

After over 70 years I'd guess that my medical records could be matched to me even if ‘anonymised’. Only the radical pruning out of such details as time and place might prevent this.

The data may be 'safe' in a bunker, but it's only going to be useful in the hands of researchers. And they will be in universities and big pharma research labs all round the world. Granted, many will only have a subset of the whole, but they certainly won't be in bunkers. I wonder what kind of security conditions will be imposed, and how well those conditions will be policed?

In any case, since expertise is needed to make any sense of the medical data it is probably easier for big national or commercial interests to employ that same expertise to craft really good research applications, obtain the data legitimately, and then feel free pass it on to any dark-side entity with which they might have a quiet understanding. Again, I wonder what kind of security conditions can be imposed, and how on Earth those conditions could be policed?

Another Hancock-up? UK health secretary appears in piece about controversial GP app

Threlkeld

Macular generation?

I could do with some of that to patch up the holes in my vision caused by DEgeneration of the macular area of my retina.

I don't see how an app would help me to detect that I can't see properly. Walking into furniture already does that quite effectively.

But perhaps I can't see that because I can't see properly to read the puffery. Do I have to take a selfie of my retina and send it out on the interweb thingy?

Your RSS is grass: Mozilla euthanizes feed reader, Atom code in Firefox browser, claims it's old and unloved

Threlkeld

Goodnight, Firefox

So, as I would like to retain this very useful way of quickly scanning for items of interest, where do I go when the light of Firefox dims and my bookmark toolbar loses its row of RSS feeds? Suggestions?

Judge: Georgia's e-vote machines are awful – but go ahead and use them

Threlkeld

Player piano

As Kurt Vonnegut pointed out in 'Player Piano', published 65 years ago, any voting system can be hacked.

You can have checks on the system, (i.e. an audit trail) so that any hacker would need to hack them also. To make all this work, there has to be a strong intention on the part of the people involved that the system shall be fair, and seen to be provably fair.

This isn't about different practices in different countries, or one approach being intrinsically better than another one. It's about a having a continuous determination to test, review and check important procedures in order to ensure that they serve the public interest and no other. As William Penn wrote in his preface to the first Frame of Government for Pennsylvania, bad people can spoil a good system just as good people can mend a bad one.

Complacency is an enemy, because the 'mending' must never stop.

First it was hashtags – now Amber Rudd gives us Brits knowledge on national ID cards

Threlkeld

Get ID ... under your skin

Think yourselves lucky that she hasn't confused hashtags with RFID tags ...

... yet.

It's here! Qualcomm's new watch chip is finally here! Oh, uh, never mind

Threlkeld

From the published info I think the 45-day standby is achieved by using a colour e-ink display - anyway it's always-on. The thing recharges on a stand quite quickly as the battery isn't huge. (The whole thing looks like a Apple watch). So, just needs the SIM and Linux, then. Almost there. ... possibly.

Threlkeld

The AMAZFIT Bip claims to have a 45 day standby battery life. Presumably it is just telling the time, though.

Reviewers seem to be saying they only get a week or so when using GPS, and having it check that their heart is still beating and other non-basic-watch-type activity.

I wonder if it knows about British Summer Time?

Microsoft might not support Windows XP any more, but GandCrab v4.1 ransomware does

Threlkeld

High-tech options

Oh! doesn't 'air-gapped' mean the same thing as 'no wi-fi, no bluetooth and chewing gum in all the Ethernet and USB sockets' then?

Who knew?

Dixons Carphone 'fesses to mega-breach: Probes 'attempt to compromise' 5.9m payment cards

Threlkeld

Re: Useful fallbacks

spamgourmet.com

Disengage, disengage! Cali DMV reports show how often human drivers override robot cars

Threlkeld

Re: And for comparison...

A common experience. In 1947, Robert M. Coates wrote a science fiction story in the New Yorker about it, called "The Hour After Westerly"

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1947/11/01/the-hour-after-westerly

When automated driverless cars can write imaginative short stories, THEN we will need to worry.

Forget cyber crims, it's time to start worrying about GPS jammers – UK.gov report

Threlkeld

North Korea

The North Koreans seem to have a nuclear bomb, and a rocket capable or reaching a significant altitude with it. They don't seem to have a proven targeting and re-entry capability or much sense of responsibility, and it's quite hard to see them obtaining any of these things in the near future.

In the circumstances, they might be tempted to try a high-altitude air-burst as a way of 'proving' their nuclear credentials without actually frying a city.

Now, I guess that all GPS satellites are hardened against EMP damage, but I do wonder even so if enough would survive to maintain a continuous GPS and timing service worldwide. High-speed trading on the stock exchanges of the world might collapse, though personally I'd be happy to see that shut down anyway. But the consequent stock market instability would not be slight. And self-driving vehicles might become quite puzzled, along with a lot of human drivers as well.

It isn't hard to imagine a plausible scenario in which Kim Jong Un might, just might, try his luck with this one. Chances seem to be that folk would really notice if he did.

Electric cars to create new peak hour when they all need a charge

Threlkeld

Re: Off peak?

To elaborate a little more, the user could select a priority level. In effect, a frequency-monitoring charger could be set to shed load on line frequency drop if the user was relaxed about getting more charge, or to remain connected (at extra cost) if the user urgently needed it. There would have to be something like this, as a lot of extra load switching in and out at exactly the same frequency point would do nothing for system stability.

Also, a freezer that has been shut off for a while gradually becomes a higher priority, but I guess that need could also be built in at relatively low cost per unit.

Who needs smart meters? Just charge consumption according to the prevailing line frequency ... though it would be necessary to ensure that the system wasn't run at an artificially low frequency to produce increased revenue! Now, how to do that?

Cloud-building alien space rays altered Earth's climate – boffins

Threlkeld

Re: In what universe is this hard science?

"Very few things are absolutely (dis)provable in science: hypothesis are put forward, tested and evidence accumulated."

No, it is fundamental that any hypothesis that cannot be tested (i.e. cannot in principle be disproved) cannot itself be scientific. It can be many other useful things, and (as in the present case) it can offer the challenge of working out the test that will make it scientific, but unless there is a way to test it, it's not a scientific hypothesis.

To say the moon is made of green cheese is not scientific unless there is a way of checking that it isn't. Once there is a way, then the hypothesis that the moon is made of green cheese is a valid part of science. (In case the incautious should be tempted to believe in lunar cheesism, I must add that that ship has sailed. The hypothesis happens to be wrong. But it's not just wrong, it's scientifically wrong).

One thing that we know about past climate is that all the ice core and deep-sea sediment data suggest rather strongly that changes tend to occur in steps. That is, it rather looks as if the total climate system response tends to be quite highly non-linear. Wise people don't mess with systems like that, especially when the system in question happens to be an important part of their own life-support. (Bits of that argument may not be completely scientific yet, but the common sense involved is undeniable).

Threlkeld

In what universe is this hard science?

If scientific hypotheses have to be testable to be science (that is, it should be practically possible to prove them to be wrong), then this idea is only very tenuously scientific. To test it you have to irradiate the whole earth, or wait for the solar system to reach a different part of the galaxy. It's fair to say that the basic phenomenon can be demonstrated in a cloud chamber (that's what cloud chambers do), but quite a leap to go from that to the atmosphere of the whole Earth, with many other phenomena present. Nice idea, could be true, but like the man said the beer stays on ice for now.

Russia could chop vital undersea web cables, warns Brit military chief

Threlkeld

Re: Resiliency options

That all sounds very sensible. Once he is made aware of the facts, I'm sure that Sir Stuart Peach will be glad to divert some funding from the MOD to beef-up the resilience of the system.

I mean, defence funding is always deployed in the most rational a cost-effective manner, after an objective analysis of the most important and most likely threats. Anyone can see that.

HMS Queen Lizzie formally joins the Royal Navy

Threlkeld

Actually, the plan is to send it to sail around the South China Sea. Without any planes. To amuse the Chinese, I guess.

They are noted for their appreciation of light-hearted whimsy and have absolutely no negative feelings about past contacts with the British Empire, so it will all go jolly well.

It says here....

Night out in London tonight: Beer, Reg and platform wars

Threlkeld

We have been here before ...

Anyone who has read 16th and 17th century pamphlets dealing with religious differences must feel a sense of deja vu when encountering many Mac/Linux/Windows discussions. The willingness to divert into argumentum ad hominem, the reluctance to establish common ground before addressing differences, and the total failure to read anything written by anyone else as carefully as it deserves are quite characteristic of both.

In the case of pamphlets, the availability of the Bible in the local European language was one trigger. Translators went back to the oldest Greek and Hebrew texts and found inconsistencies with the Latin text which had been in use for 1000 years. But relatively cheap printing was the enabling technology. Reformers like Luther exploited it brilliantly to push forward the Reformation. Indeed, they were in some senses dragged forward by the technology. Without it their arguments would have been made in handwriting to a minority: with it, they sent Europe (and eventually and rather later England) into schism and turmoil. And quite a few people got burned. Literally.

After a while, folk began to work out that showing politeness and respect doesn't undermine a strong argument, but actually makes it more likely to be heard and understood. But a good punch-up is always fun, no matter how pointless and counter productive. That never changes.

1,000 jobs on the line at BAE Systems' Lancashire plants – reports

Threlkeld

Re: The unfortunate thing about this

Er... as we have sold off our energy industry and our railways to foreign governments (so that the national interest has no champion), and our most successful chip design business to the Chinese, who are also funding and possibly constructing nuclear power plants, why get at all upset about our defence industry?

For certain political parties seems to be possible to act against the national interest for profit, while assuming the mantle of patriotism and accusing other parties who opposed privatisation of being unpatriotic.

And folk believe them.We get the government we deserve, I guess.

Boffins prove oil and water CAN mix – if you do it in a gas giant

Threlkeld

Clathrates

Methane forms clathrate or 'cage' compounds at highish pressures and low temperatures. Basically, methane is trapped within an ice-like water structure, and the presence of the hydrocarbon stabilises the structure even at temperatures rather above the freezing point of water. Methane migrating upwards from deep in ocean sediments along the geothermal gradient becomes trapped a few metres below the cold seawater present at the seabed (~ 2 deg C)

The effect is to 'stiffen' that layer within the sediment and produce an acoustic reflection horizon, visible on reflection profiles. Back in the 1960s geophysicists were quite puzzled. Took a while to work out what was going on.

You can actually set fire to these ice-like compounds. Looks very odd, burning ice.

So I suppose you could say that methane and water have been known to mix for quite a long time, at least as a solid phase. But clearly, it's a lot more fun with diamonds.

US Navy develops underwater wireless battery-charging tech

Threlkeld

Re: Even in a sea of chemicals...

You would need a long cable to reach below the thermocline. But there are long-range autonomous 'gliders' that travel by sawtoothing up and down, changing buoyancy to do so. Very low power consumption. Navigation underwater isn't easy, so they pop-up now and again to see where they are.

Threlkeld

It's obvious ...

Base the new standard on a standard torpedo tube. Induce vehicle to enter open tube. Seal tube. Expel seawater. WD-40 spray (optional). Charge using standard contacts on hull. Disconnect. Flood tube and release vehicle.

You know it makes sense.

At least, for vehicles less than 20 inches diameter, or so. Bigger than that, you would need a very big plastic bag instead of the torpedo tube.

Dangle a DVR online and it'll be cracked in two minutes

Threlkeld

... or possibly 'ANRAIN'. The original source is equivocal about the name. He says he bought the item off eBay a year ago.

I'm sure that by now it will have been much improved.

Whatever it's called.

Threlkeld

"Anrai"-branded DVR" er ... would that be ANRAN, by any chance?

Hackers could exploit solar power equipment flaws to cripple green grids, claims researcher

Threlkeld

Keep it simple, why not?

The grid itself signals its state continuously, because the frequency falls below 50 Hz when there is too much demand, and rises above when there is an excess of supply. It is surely not beyond the wit of mankind to make use of this fact?

Some equipment, like battery chargers and refrigeration loads, can often be turned off for periods of up to hours without serious impact on performance. If the user could set a simple control that represented their choice between continuous service (on the other hand) and lower cost (on the other), then such loads could be shed automatically and incrementally at periods of high demand, and brought on line at periods of low demand.

Much of the practical functionality of control via the internet could be attained without having any of the potential problems of actually connecting to the internet. And the problem of how to hack the system would keep lots of potential evildoers occupied in harmless fun. Any suggestions?

Teen who texted boyfriend to kill himself gets 15 months jail

Threlkeld

Did you forget to add a message?

"In the UK and Republic of Ireland, the Samaritans maintain a free-to-call helpline number on 116 123. Hotlines in other countries can be found here." (with a link)

This message is appended to some Register pieces dealing with suicide, but not to all. Not to this one, as it happens. Personally, I don't think this message can be given too often. There are volunteers waiting 24/7/365 to provide confidential, non-judgemental listening.

Judge uses 1st Amendment on Pokemon Go park ban. It's super effective!

Threlkeld

Re: Amend this!

It's an English idea. Blame William Penn. His Frame of Government for Pennsylvania incorporated a provision for his constitution to be amended as circumstances changed. It was just after the English Civil War and having a way to alter things without executing (e.g.) the king was pretty novel. The Founding Fathers, ~100 years later thought it was a neat idea. The rest is history.

Trident nuke subs are hackable, thunders Wikipedia-based report

Threlkeld

Re: The weakest point ... ?

Yes, Bligh was a good officer and a remarkable navigator . However, the fact remains that his Royal Navy crew mutinied, and the mission went terribly wrong. Nobody knows quite why there was a mutiny, and it is clear that in many ways Bligh was a good captain with enlightened views. Wikipedia offers this suggestion: "The modern historian John Beaglehole" [please, no adolescent jokes] " has described the major flaw in this otherwise enlightened naval officer: "[Bligh made] dogmatic judgements which he felt himself entitled to make; he saw fools about him too easily ... thin-skinned vanity was his curse through life ... [Bligh] never learnt that you do not make friends of men by insulting them."

It sounds as if Bligh would have been right at home on today's social media. Or as a US President.

Threlkeld

Re: The weakest point ... ?

Damn! I never realised that I was supposed to plug those VGA cables into the keyboard.

Threlkeld

Re: The weakest point ... ?

Ah, a counterstrike. Yes, we could kill millions of civilians, none of whom had any responsibility for the original attack, but a few of whom might be related to those who had that responsibility. The latter, being prudent people, would be likely to be very well protected in deep bunkers.

What sort of war crime is that: genocide or collective punishment?

And all done with XP.

'Blue Screen of Death', indeed.

Threlkeld

The weakest point ... ?

As there is no UK equivalent of the US 'football' which contains the launch codes for the US nuclear systems, one gathers that the crew of a UK Trident have the total responsibility for initiating a launch. They are provided with a letter from the Prime Minister, and no one person can launch by themselves, but apart from that they are locked up for months in an isolated metal tube with rather awesome potential power.

Since the weakest point of any computer system is generally agreed to be the bit between the screen and the keyboard, this probably means that USB sticks are not the greatest of our worries.

But it's OK, we have systems for ensuring that only extremely responsible and stable people are assigned to this very critical position. They won't appoint anyone called Captain William Bligh, Captain Jack D. Ripper or Commander Queeg.

Fascinating to think that the crew's personal entertainment devices probably now have a collective computing power many times that of their boat's command and control systems. it's a funny old world, and as long as nothing goes wrong, rather quaint and endearing. Very British.

Blighty's buying another 17 F-35s, confirms the American government

Threlkeld

Re: "it wouldn't be able to completely depopulate Russia immediately. "

As the French used to say "We only have to be big enough to tear an arm off".

Which never seemed to me to be a terribly rational way of dealing with a large, angry bear. The Russians, as has already been pointed out, can destroy us many times over. It would be up to us to give them a good reason to want to do that.

Once a Trident boat is at sea, the crew cannot be prevented from firing missiles (should they decide to do so) by anything short of sinking the boat first. No codes, no locks, no real control. Navy traditions and discipline are very good indeed: perfect, not so much.

Anyone fancy a remake of Dr Strangelove, only with dolphins?

Threlkeld

Re: Appeal to armchair strategists

I can't decide if this is the post-colonial illusion or the sunk costs fallacy. A bit of both, perhaps.

Yes, we have historical links with many countries, and yes students have valued an education in the UK (though we may have blown this advantage now). But why should we have military obligations? The reality, surely, is that any such obligations cannot aid the other parties because the true economic costs of really accepting those obligations would impoverish the UK and thus lead to unacceptable deaths here. The austerity programme is already killing our citizens in significant numbers, but a global military commitment would kill many more, even before any more British blood was spilled, just by draining more resources from the Health Service. If the duty of the state is to protect its citizens, then UK citizens would need to accept a lot less protection for Singapore to enjoy even a modest level of extra UK support. Most other countries don't burden their economies in this way, and we are competing with them.

It's an illusion of power, and an expensive one. It's backward-looking and hinders the adoption of a truly effective national strategy that plays from our strengths and not our weaknesses. The military tail is wagging the national dog, surely?

Threlkeld

Appeal to armchair strategists

I still don't see why we are planning to send an aircraft carrier to the South China sea. What potential dogs do we have in any potential fights around there?

What would be the Daily Mail's reaction to a Chinese carrier force in the North Sea, and would having such a force be any benefit to China at all? How long would it last in a real shooting war?

What kind of a crazy post-Imperial game are we actually playing here, at vast expense?

Answers would be appreciated, honestly. It can't possibly be as mad as it looks/ I hope.

Alert! The dastardly Dutch are sailing a 90-ship fleet at Blighty

Threlkeld

Re: Kipling, "The Dutch in the Medway"

"The Gods of the Copy-Book Headings" is also pretty trenchant about forgetting the past. Kipling is very under-rated.

Samuel Pepys records that the English sailors heard Englishment taunting them from the Dutch attacking ships. A lot of British sailors were so fed up about not being paid that they had signed-on with the Dutch navy, which did pay promptly. That's how the Dutch knew how to get past the defensive chains strung across the Medway.

BTW, it's not just the Royal coat of arms that the Dutch took away. It was the whole ship. The stern section is still displayed, as noted above, in the state naval museum. And very impressive it is, too.

USMC: We want more F-35s per year than you Limeys will get in half a decade

Threlkeld

"The carrier's maiden operational deployment will see her sailing to the South China Sea, ...."

OK, I'll ask the obvious question:

Why? Are we planning a replay of the Opium Wars? And if the South China Sea becomes a war zone, what exactly would be the name of the dog we would have in that fight?

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