* Posts by rg287

142 posts • joined 13 Apr 2018


Oh Deer! Poacher sentenced to 12 months of regular Bambi screenings in the cooler


Re: 'Murica never ceases...

Utter BS, disproved by all statistics on the subject made anywhere in the World.

But nonetheless confused by the fact that the Czech Republic has one of the highest rates of private firearms ownership in Europe and even allows Concealed Carry (subject to stringent licensing and a test), but has a homicide rate half that of the UK.

When you come down to it, rates of violence have nothing to do with rates of firearms ownership and significantly more to do with having a sensible regulatory regime in place.

For instance, the UK is unique in Europe in prohibiting pistols. But as mentioned, our homicide rate is far higher than that of countries like the Czech Republic, Sweden or Switzerland where firearms and shooting are a part of life.

A variety of societal problems causes violence and crime in the first instance (and the US, with it's limited social welfare and socialised healthcare suffers many problems that we don't have in Europe. The entire premise of Breaking Bad is implausible in Europe). Firearms are only a secondary consideration to that, and the US has a problem because of lax licensing (rather than widespread ownership) and a reprehensibly irresponsible mass media who glorify mass shooters and encourage copy-cats (unfortunately European media is going the same way - e.g. putting a shock jock like Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain).

Falcon 9 gets its feet wet as SpaceX notch up two more launch successes


It's interesting that Musk thinks they might be able to use the whole thing again (even at a lower level of confidence where they wouldn't risk a customer payload).

There were certain bits that would - without a doubt - have been recycled. The titanium grid fins are pretty much the most expensive individual components on the entire vehicle. A rinse down and recoat and they would have flown again. They are not thrown away lightly.

Everything else is a toss up. Electronics may well be shot (though it was still sending telemetry after splashdown, so some of it was dry). At least one (but probably three) of the engines will have not only been immersed but also suffered significant thermal shock on splashdown. It would be interesting to know what the prognosis is on the other 6. No doubt they're good - individually - for spares if nothing else.

Do not adjust your set: Hats off to Apple, you struggle to shift iPhones 'cos you're oddly ethical


Re: Data slurping

This would be true except that every single iPhone user I am aware of has the Facebook app installed

I don't, and neither does the good lady. We attend a monthly tech meetup in our town and this actually came up in the open discussion about 18 months ago. Something like half the room had uninstalled the app (regardless of OS). A few more did afterwards too, having not previously really thought about it.

It is a fair point though that picking an OS from a manufacturer who touts privacy and then installing a bunch of native apps from ad-slingers is worthy of an eyeroll.

Microsoft polishes up Chromium as EdgeHTML peers into the abyss


I disagree. Browsers should adhere to standards and not enhance without changing the standard first. Enhancing standards has always been caustic to the web and is how we end up with nonsense like sites that only work with specific browsers.

That's not how the web has ever worked. HTTP/2 is a standardised version of SPDY. Google put it out, people with a compatible browser (Chrome) got SPDY, people with a non-compatible browser got HTTP/1.1. HTTP/3 is being built significantly on QUIC.

Nothing wrong with that, provided that the developer is ensuring cross-compatibility before they bolt on experimental features.

The risk comes in a browser/engine monoculture where the incumbent (Google) is in a position to say "Chrome now uses n by default. Too bad if your server doesn't support it". This is what we had when IE6 ruled the web, Netscape was dead and MS could bolt on proprietary features.

In my examples, Google is the origin of both SPDY and QUIC, but they didn't have the power to simply say "this is what you're using now" (like MS did) because other significant browsers and browser engines existed (Gecko, Trident, EdgeHTML). They had to sell the protocols to the community and convince them to adopt and support them, eventually being written up as standards.

Enhancing standards is fine. So long as it's done in a graceful, open and backwards-compatible fashion. If it's a bad idea, it won't matter and eventually will die. If it's a good idea, someone will eventually write a standard for it.

Hell - HTTP wasn't a standard. TBL knocked together this new protocol, people preferred it to Gopher, and eventually it became a standard because everyone was using it.


It is hard to see much of a downside to Microsoft ditching EdgeHTML in favour of Chromium. Aside from a little wounded pride within the bowels of Redmond and some fanboys desperate to see Microsoft "beat" the likes of Google, many developers would be relieved to see a reduction in target platforms.

Diversity. I don't want to see Microsoft "beat" Google, but I do want to see at least a few different implementations of browser engines. Let's not forget that MS disbanded much of the IE dev team after IE6, feeling that they had "won" the browser wars. Consequently the development of web technologies stalled for at least a couple of years until Mozilla started pushing niceties like tabbed browsing in their "niche" Firefox product, and then Google stomped on everybody with the blistering V8 JS engine.

MS wanted to own the web. They imposed their own ActiveX controls and various other proprietary standards. A legacy that many organisations are still dealing with.

Google also wants to own the web, and perhaps in the past they have been less closed-shop than MS were - a benevolent dictator. But fundamentally, allowing one corporation to effectively dictate the planet's technology choices is not a good thing. The web has always worked on the principle of an organisation pushing out a new feature or protocol, and if people like it (e.g. SPDY), then it gets adopted more widely until someone eventually writes a standard (like HTTP/2). On the other hand, if it's not so popular, it gets to die a death.

But in order for that process to work, you need a community. Multiple browsers, hopefully running multiple engines (I'm looking at the slew of Chrome-a-likes here, Vivaldi, Opera), and multiple servers at the other end.

The server side is reasonably buoyant at the moment - IIS, Apache, nginx, Litespeed, GWS, et al. The browser side not so much. There's no shortage of browsers touting new user-side features or interfaces, but they're all just a glossy skin on top of Chromium...

Customers baffled as Citrix forces password changes for document-slinging Sharefile outfit


"In response to this, we are requiring a password reset and will be incorporating a regularly-scheduled, forced password reset into our normal operating procedures."

FFS. I thought we'd got past stupid bollocks like this.

Doing a reporting process vs. the HIBP Pwned Passwords API and then forcing resets on specific users with matching passwords (and then querying HIBP on password resets going forward) could be construed to be a useful and sensible thing to do to scotch people speculatively trying compromised passwords. Along with encouraging/pushing adoption of (token or H/TOTP - not SMS!) 2FA to outright mitigate password theft.

Arbitrarily going back to 2001 and requiring regular password resets is just stupid.

I was once one of you, F1 star Lewis Hamilton tells delighted IT bods


Re: What a knob

You do realise that everything you see at the race is basically irrelevant if we're talking team composition?

The race crew is merely the pointy-end representing hundreds of designers, engineers, strategists back in the factory. Many of those are women - but obviously you'll never see that in the race coverage. And that's without counting the standard business-support staff - HR/Accounts/Marketing/PR/Legal/Medical/etc.

There are female drivers, but few of them have been good enough to progress from Test Driver to get a seat as a number 1/2 driver (or failed to qualify if they were entered). Susie Wolff was reserve/test driver for Williams for 5 years, Tatiana Calderon is a test driver for Sauber at the moment.

There are also plenty of girls coming through the lower formulas with mixed success. 17 year old Sophia Florsch had a fairly spectacular/horrific crash a couple of weeks ago in Macau.

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box


Re: Hey software, get the fuck out of the way!

I rather think the biggest error on AF447 was the two pilots not knowing what each was doing; one of those sticks should have overridden the other (I don't claim to know how to implement this!)

The main thing is not to override (though there is a feature for one stick to take priority in the event a stick goes faulty) but to warn when dual, conflicting inputs are received.

Boeing does this with linked yokes - if the other side of the cockpit is pushing forward, you'll receive physical tactile feedback of that if you're trying to pull back. The Airbus sticks do not provide linked force feedback.


Re: Hey software, get the fuck out of the way!

In the case cited above, the Airbus aircraft recognised it had no idea what was happening, so it gave full control to the pilots, it did not overrule the pilots.

Yeah, AF447 saw a significant chain reaction of errors, some down to human factors, some down to cockpit design. It really epitomises that complex systems can fail in complex ways, even when sparked off by a seemingly simple root fault (like a pitot tube icing over).

- The autopilot correctly realised it was getting unreliable data and correctly switched to alternate law.

- The co-pilot had lost situational awareness and thought they were in a dive, pitching up and placing the aircraft into a stall.

- The pilot attempted to correct the stall condition, but this was where a combination of human factor and cockpit design created a fatal error condition.

1. Cockpit cooperation and communication broke down - the pilot was unaware that the copilot was trying to correct what they perceived as a dive condition

2. Because the airbus sidesticks are not mechanically linked and there was apparently inadequate indication of conflicting inputs, the pilot was unable to perceive this from his controls and did not understand that this was the reason why the aircraft was failing to react to a nose-down input on his stick.

On a Boeing, the linked yokes would have led to at least one half of the cockpit asking "WTF are you doing?" to the other because they would have been physically fighting against each other.

Ironically, an MCAS system (separate to the autopilot, which had already quit) may also have prevented the co-pilot pitching up into a hard stall condition.

Facebook spooked after MPs seize documents for privacy breach probe


Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

The Tower still has working* dungeons.

*Pedant alert*

The Tower doesn't have any dungeons and never has (as the Beefeaters will remind you. Repeatedly). It's a Royal Palace, not a Prison.

Only nobles were ever "accommodated" there at the Crown's pleasure. Standards of accommodation of course may not meet modern expectations.


Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

The last time I checked, Sugarheap wasn't a British subject.

Indeed, just as Assange is not a US citizen. Not that that's stopped a couple of US Congress-critters accusing him of "Treason". Which tells you a lot about the standard of political discourse over there. American's can't commit treason against the UK, Australians can't commit treason against the US!


Re: Sovereign Power applied.

This is what happens if you P*** off parliament for long enough. let's see how many FB execs take foreign trips in the coming months.

Foreign trips is less of an issue. Taking documents with you is the issue at hand.

There's most likely been a slew of mail going round Facebook regarding new policies on burner laptops and not crossing borders with confidential documents.

The Serjeant at Arms could not have compelled Ted Kramer to hand over documents he didn't have.

Big data at sea: How the Royal Navy charts the world's oceans


Re: Not being a noisy neighbour

How the hell do they do that? "Hellooo, yes you that funny-looking crab, is it OK if we do some surveying"

We used to generate the acoustic pings by throwing sticks of dynamite in the water and listening for the echo (there was a lot of surplus going cheap after the war).

This was found to be a bit antisocial and we now use various other methods of creating compression waves (which is all a sonar ping is) that have less potential to upset creatures using echo-location, or indeed concussively stun/kill anything in the immediate vicinity (not necessarily so much of an issue in blue water but considered poor form in coastal surveys!).

They also listen out on the hydrophone and hold off on mapping operations if there are active pods in the area.

Aside from environmentalism, the tech has also moved up that we can use multiple coordinated sources (as mentioned by other commentards) to get a more accurate profile compared with single-source methods. Arbitrarily throwing explosives off the back of the boat isn't accurate enough for those purposes!


I would imagine that one situation where subs would be better than ships would be mapping the seabed under ice.

It might make sense to use a cheaper non-stealth unarmed mapping sub for that. Possibly even a drone sub?

You've actually hit on one of Autosub's very specific party pieces - they have used Autosub precisely mapping not only the seabed, but also pinging "up" and mapping the underside of the ice, which is useful in understanding how sea ice forms..

Autosub 2 is currently thought to be in long-term cryogenic storage - it never made it back to the recovery waypoint from an under-ice mission in 2005.


Are subs not better at this than surface vessels, especially given the "afternoon effect"?

Not if you want positioning to an accuracy of 20cm. I suppose a sub could stick a long antennae up top to break the surface and get GPS, though that only works if your surface region is fairly shallow - not hundreds of metres. But actually the afternoon effect remains of interest anyway - because even if your survey vessels were subs, you still have a significant surface fleet who want to account for it.

For instance, temperature is not the predominant driving factor in sea water density - salinity is. If you're up north somewhere then in the summer, relatively fresh ice melt will (despite being very cold) sit on top of the sightly warmer, but denser saline.

In various parts of the world you get various Pycnoclines of various thicknesses at various depths for a number of reasons (e.g. anywhere you have a significant estuary/river outlet - the outflow will sit on the surface as it is basically fresh whilst the deep water is salty with limited vertical mixing). You do also get vertical mixing/downwelling at the poles ("Deep Water Formation") where the thermal influence eventually dominates the salinity.

It is useful for the Navy and UKHO to profile those gradients so that (for instance) a minesweeper can account for them. Submarines can also carry the full profile and just disregard whatever is above them (unless they're looking for ships or other subs, in which case it may be useful to know what is between them and the surface!).

The one particular place subs would be useful is that - as the author notes, deeper water gives you a wider spread on your survey - but this comes at the cost of reduced resolution. Generally if you want better resolution you deploy a towed fish down to a sensible depth above the surface. You'll get a much narrower survey swath but higher-res data. This is also where subs do make an appearance - you can fire off an Autosub to go do an autonomous survey and meet you again at a designated waypoint. It can gather hi-res data from deep down, but to the cost of lateral positioning accuracy (though inertial positioning isn't bad, but not up to DGPS standards).

Vision Direct 'fesses up to hack that exposed customer names, payment cards


That's rather a large assumption to make based on Scott Helms' IO headers site, which is mostly bollocks.

Bit harsh. Whilst using the site as a tick-boxing exercise would not necessarily leave you with a secure system, it's nonetheless a useful tool for double-checking configurations. Moreover, this attack could have been mitigated with an appropriate CSP, the lack of which is highlighted by Helme's site, along with a failure to set XSS-Protection.

Having a good score on securityheaders.io does not mean your system is secure (e.g. unpatched CVEs, insecure server config, etc) but having a bad score does tend to indicate that the devs are probably not paying attention to best practices and if they haven't bothered to set CSPs or the HSTS header (on an e-commerce site which should be all-HTTPS all-the-time) then it's a good indicator to ne'er do wells that there are probably other vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited.

Court doc typo 'reveals' Julian Assange may have been charged in US


Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

And the problem with that is...?

The *RUBBISH* was that he would be forcibly extradited against the UK's will, or attacked or shot or killed or something.

But charges were always possible and pretty much inevitable.

To apply them to him, they have to apply for extradition. To the UK. Who approve or not based on law. Like everyone else.

The problem of course is that these charges are sealed. The US has no business calling itself a free or democratic society if a person can be charged without actually being informed of those charges.

Moreover, it raises the question as to the purpose of sealing the charges. In order to extradite him, the US would have to reveal those charges - even the lopsided UK-US extradition treaty doesn't stretch to "We want him. Because. We'll tell him about the charges after he's been extradited. Promise."

Unless they were going to extradite him on one reasonable charge and then unseal a raft of trumped up charges the moment he lands, with the intention of dragging him through a show trial and setting an example. Because if there's one thing you never do, it's embarrass the US government by telling the world that their security is crap, they've been repeatedly breaking their own laws and don't have proper control or oversight over their own agencies. History tells us they'll be far more interested in persecuting the whistleblower than actually remedying their faults.

None of which makes him any less of an arse, but he wouldn't get a fair trial in the US - a country where at least one Senator called for him to be brought to justice for treason, thus raising the question of whether he was so self-centred he assumed Assange to be American (because nobody has ever done anything worthwhile outside those borders), or whether said US Senator literally does not know the definition of "Treason" and why an Australian can't commit Treason against the USA (or indeed any nation other than Australia).

'Unjustifiably excessive': Not even London cops can follow law with their rubbish gang database


Re: Help me out here

Just trying to get a grip on whether this is THE one true Gang Matrix or really the 'Black Street Gang Matrix'

Given that it refers to Boroughs having independent versions and diametrically opposing policies on what intelligence goes in, plus widespread copying of data to local storage it seems most likely that this is being parked on someone's PC somewhere rather than being a properly managed central system on a server that MPS has oversight of.

Which adds credence to the idea it's likely just an Access DB somewhere with a front end slapped on or even a hefty Excel file.

Bloke fined £460 after his drone screwed up police chopper search for missing woman


Re: Priorities

I am almost certain that a helicopter could suffer no damage at all if it was to make contact with a drone...

That depends on a given value of "drone".

A chunky camera rig like a DJI Phantom (the offender in question here) or something carrying a DSLR-class camera with enough mass/inertia for sensibly stable flight in wind and weather could indeed make a mess of a tail rotor.

By contrast a diddly little racing drone would be batted down like a gnat (not that such a thing would be out playing "in the wild" anyway).


The actual reason for rubbernecking, is the off-chance that the accident DOES have something to do with you. He saw the lights from his home, so he had higher than average reason to believe that he or someone related may be relevant.

The actual reason for rubbernecking is the exact same reason that public executions were both public and well-attended, often being the social event of the month.

Good old morbid curiosity, we just can't help ourselves.

Six critical systems, four months to Brexit – and no completed testing


Re: How about scrapping them?

Do we really need "notifications to manage food imports"?

Well of course, how else will the baying hordes know to descend on Dover when food aid arrives in the post-Brexit wasteland?

Where's the zombie apocalypse/Mad Max icon when you need one?

Scumbag who phoned in a Call of Duty 'swatting' that ended in death pleads guilty to dozens of criminal charges


Re: Throw the book at him

Yes, true. In the UK we had the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, I don't think any police officers were charged in that case either.

We did, and there was public outcry, the IPCC ripped the Met a new one and the Met Commissioner was prosecuted, though they wasn't enough evidence to convict individual officers (though it was likely "career-limiting" for a number of those involved). The Met formally apologised to the family and there was a 6-figure settlement.

AFAIK the Wichita police have not yet apologised to the family or formally admitted fault.


Re: Throw the book at him

I see a lot of people discussing US gun laws and trigger happy police officers, but nobody is condemning this piece of shit who has called in 46 bomb hoaxes and (indirectly) got an innocent man killed due to his childish actions.

That's already spoken for by virtue of the fact he's been arrested and is going to the clink.

What we're all confused about is the lack of comeback on the officer who shot a hostage-taker who didn't actually have any hostages. Or a weapon.

It's nearly as bad as the Police who killed the guy who shot at them from the top of his stairs. But from his point of view, he wasn't shooting at Police. He was shooting at the masked intruders who'd broken down his door in the middle of the night without announcing who they were.

They were executing a no-knock warrant and had just broken into the wrong house...

What's that old rule - measure twice cut once?


And, yet London is the knife muder capital of the world, supassing even New York in violent crimes. So yeah, again worry about your own mess.

New York Homicides:

2015: 352

2016: 334

2017: 290

London Homicides:

2015: 109

2016: 102

2017: 117

Knife crime? Gun crime? Do go on about how violent London is. And watch less Fox News.


Re: Cant they tell where the call was placed?

Especially if it wasn't even the same state!

You can get proxy numbers, make it look like you're calling from anywhere. VOIP is great.

However, you would think the first thing that would happen is that a negotiator would call the number assigned to the address in question (surely the Police have a phone book) and start a conversation before anyone even thinks about firing lethal shots.


Re: Hostage situations...

Put yourself in the cops shoes.

What would you've done if you get a 911 call regarding a hostile hostage situation, you go out to try to defuse that situation.

Whilst I take your point, and they are in a bit of a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't position, the fact is the number of swatting calls is now sufficiently high that there's a very good chance a hostage call is swatting. It's to the point where Seattle PD has an anti-swatting register where you can sign up if you think you might be "at risk". It's part of "SMART911" where you can also pre-register that residents at an address are perhaps deaf or have some other impediment, so officers can make more informed decisions if someone appears not to be complying with (say) spoken instructions.

The appropriate response in all cases is "Trust but Verify". Any competent police officer should be following their ABCs - Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody and Consider all possibilities.

There is actually bodycam footage of the Andrew Finch shooting and there is no officer within 30metres of him. The cars are all parked on the far side of the street.

No officer can possibly say that they had a clear view of his hands or that he posed an "Imminent Threat to Life" (which is the one and only scenario is which it is ever appropriate to deploy lethal force).

The only statement they can possibly give is "We had a call about a murder-hostage situation. We didn't know if there were hostages, we just had a guy stood in the doorway of his house who we assumed was the hostage taker so we shot him because he lowered his hands momentarily in the confusion."

That simply isn't sufficient. Had they tried calling the house? Speaking with the subject calmly? Establishing whether there were any actual hostages? No?

Two fool for school: Headmaster, vice principal busted for mining crypto-coins in dorms, classrooms


Makes you wonder how much cumulative energy has been wasted by computers running SETI.

On a related note, did the crowd-compute schemes for protein folding ever produce anything worthwhile, relative to the energy used?

Whilst the value of SETI@Home's goals can be debated till the cows come home, SETI pioneered the practical application of grid computing at scale, which is worth something. BOINC has a list of papers published by BOINC Projects.

Perhaps those results could have been found more efficiently in a purpose-built supercomputer rather than random people's computers (some running more efficiently than others), but if you don't have time allocated on a supercomputer, then it's a valuable resource compared to nothing.

Windows XP? Pfff! Parts of the Royal Navy are running Win ME


Re: Its complicated

There's little enough money to replace the obsolete and unsupportable without ditching kit that works just fine.

They also don't often update sw on ships equipments without a very good reason, because its difficult and expensive to prove the system as safe following such a change.

This. It's not just the computers that might need updating. Depending on whether the civvie company who provided the surveying equipment still exists, there may or may not be W7/10-compatible software to collect the data for your £££ towed sonar array. Or for the esoteric interface cards they use. It's just a floating version of the six-figure CNC lathe made by an obsolete company.

So if you were to upgrade the hardware, you could end up virtualising stuff anyway, which has some advantages (if it works and is stable), but eh, why overcomplicate what works.

At some stage Enterprise will go in for deep maintenance/refit and it will all come out and be replaced with the latest-greatest. Then the new cycle of bolting bits on for the next couple of decades starts again!


Re: Oh boy, ME

Since it may well be connected to specialized hardware that only has to do a specific job, the problem of getting the same hardware working with a newer version of windows comes to mind. How many systems are still running 32 bit versions of windows so they can still access that hardware by a real parallel port.

More or less this. The data for my (watery) Final Year dissertation (~2008) was collected on a box running Windows 95. For context, W95 went out of Extended support in 2001, so this was well past prime time. As often happens, the flume lab I worked in was built around sensing equipment made by a company that went bust shortly after it was all installed, so no software updates were expected. It's probably still there unless it's suffered a terminal hardware failure, in which case someone may have had to do some surgery on a new mobo to get the esoteric interface card in.

In any case, it wasn't networked and didn't need to be, though I doubt anybody had a golden image to restore the system from should a nasty be introduced by removable media.

I was the one who installed USB drivers on it - I guess everyone to that point had been taking data off by floppy since the CD drive was only a reader, not a burner. My moderately recent (2005) Toshiba Satellite didn't have a floppy drive...

Macs to Linux fans: Stop right there, Penguinista scum, that's not macOS. Go on, git outta here


Re: Why Linux on Apple Hardware?

There was once a time when the MacBook Air didn't have any non Apple equivilents for several years And it suited Linus Torvalds - light and quiet being his priorities. At the time he lamented Apple's competitors for not being able to release a similar machine.

Absolutely. People forget that when the Macbook Air came out, this was their advert. No words. They didn't need to explain to you why you needed it. The product just spoke for itself - it was a beautifully designed all-metal unibody that you could fit in a standard manilla envelope. At a time when laptops were hulking slabs of plastic that looked like this.

And we all stood there with our jaws dropping going How slim?. That's amazing. It had a great screen for the time, excellent battery life, looked pretty, offered the best build quality on the market and weighed next to nothing (compared to anything else on the market).

How times have changed. Apple are hawking basically the same thing, but the rest of the world has caught on.

'Blockchain SAVED my Quango'


Re: The one use

Fails due to need to change the data:

People do change their name. E.g. trans people will want their certificate re-issuing with their new name after they transition. Also witness protection. Also, grades get appealed, degrees get revoked due to discovered fraud/cheating, etc.

Actually, many of those cases should be auditable. For instance, with my degree certificate was information on what to do if your Cert is lost/destroyed. They will issue a new one, but it will have "Copy" marked on it. You only get one "original" and that's it.

If your degree is revoked due to cheating, that's actually useful information in the blockchain - not only can it be seen that you were issued a degree, but also the disgrace that follows (probably breaches GDPR Right to be Forgotten, but from a basic position of academic integrity, it's a matter of historical record. X happened, then Y happened. Though people might prefer to pretend that X didn't happen given Y).

Likewise, changing your name - you get paperwork for that. In the majority of cases it should be an audit-able change for fraud prevention. You don't change your certificate. If you get married, you don't get your Birth Certificate reissued - you have your original records, then your marriage certificates and your change-of-name. In a basic case, blockchain is ideal for recording those immutable historical facts - you were born on day x1 with name y and gender g, you did graduate on day x2 with name y and degree z, and you got married on day x3 and changed your name to y2, you changed your gender and your name on day x4, etc.

It runs out however when you need to subvert the normal order of things for legitimate purposes that need to escape auditing - like building a legend for witness protection, or a spook going undercover. You can't simply insert records because they'll appear in the wrong place in the blockchain - a degree awarded from 20 years ago but only logged last week...

Woke Linus Torvalds rolls his first 4.20, mulls Linux 5.0 effort for 2019


We all know the naughty words by now, I find it more impressive if someone gets bullocked without a single swear word being used.

I've spent some time as a high-level amateur athlete and been fortunate to travel to some international comps. At most events, the majority of the officials are from the host country, but with a few international officials flown in to bring expertise - any given country usually only has a couple of officials qualified Class-A so you bring a few in from other countries to share experience, maintain consistency and standards on the jury and teach the local Class-C/B officials as they develop their skills on their way to (one day) getting their Class-A licence. You might also fly in a few Class B/Cs in from other countries to build their international experience.

The most terrifying thing I've ever seen was a British Class-A (who has officiated over two Olympic finals) dressing down a local Class-C official who had fucked up to the point that an athlete's scores could have been invalidated.

I have no idea what he said to this official because he didn't raise his voice. He didn't get angry, shouty or sweary. He just stood there with a disappointed look, speaking to them very calmly - but you could see their face falling and their shoulders slumping as he want on. When they parted, they knew exactly what they had done wrong and were unlikely to repeat the mistake having been significantly chastened. I knew on that day I never wanted to get on his wrong side.

There's also a hard core of athletes who push the limit and interpretation of the rules. When this particular Official is on the Jury, even the ring-leaders all button the fuck up and behave themselves. It's quite impressive to watch.

Transformers: Robots... at least it tries: Watch boffins' Optimus Dime rearrange on the fly


SMORES-EP represents a small step toward realizing the dream of robots with the shape-changing capacity of fiction's Transformers, though Hadas Kress-Gazit, associate professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said, if anything, her inspiration for the project was Disney's Big Hero 6. After The Register let slip our lack of enthusiasm for the Transformer films, Kress-Gazit admitted to similar ennui.

For a more usefully/realistically applied fictional example, I'm thinking readers might enjoy the bots from Neal Stephenson's Seven Eves (the first half anyway - the second half is a bit thrown together).

Mourning Apple's war against sockets? The 2018 Mac mini should be your first port of call


One of my colleagues has an old iMac (~2010), which became unusable due to a succession of OS updates making it unbearably slow

Whilst the successive OSes have got heavier, just as a point of comparison. I'm still running an early-2008 Macbook (the first metal-unibody one) and it's fine - though it did get a midlife RAM upgrade and the 5400rpm HDD has been swapped out for an SSD. That might be a bit biased since that model is a joy to work on - with a tool-free catch to get into the HDD compartment.

The 2010 iMacs aren't too hard to whip the screen off the front of and swap the HDD for an SSD. Lifting out the big panels on 27" models does give me "the fear", but we've managed it a several times without incident.

With the tumbling price of SSDs, updating the storage gives them a new lease of life.


It's another Apple "designer" product, and I don't see why anyone would touch them, nor why Reg would cover it at all seriously.

I can - stacking them as a render cluster for Final Cut Pro to send jobs to via Grand Central Dispatch. Or for macOS/iOS application developers to send compile jobs to.

Yes, you can get the same hardware for less, but not (legitimately) running macOS .

Outside of that, nah. Don't see it. Too expensive for normal desktop usage (in either a corporate or domestic context), and sofa-surfers or "lifestyle" users who simply prefer macOS will buy a laptop anyway. Moreover, they've driven off the pro and prosumer photographers by binning Aperture. If I was a heavy FCP or Logic Pro user, I'd be keeping a very wary eye on the future of those products given that Apple have already binned off one pro app.

The only Mac desktop users left are the ones wedded to the OS because of specific applications.

Budget 2018: Landlords could be forced to grant access for full-fibre connections


In addition to these efforts to kick unresponsive landlords into action, the government has also issued a consultation (PDF) on changes to the law that aim to ensure new builds are connected up to gigabit-capable networks.

About bloody time.

Retrofitting fibre (digging up roads and driveways) is expensive. It should be illegal to install copper-only in new-builds. Ducted fibre or fibre+copper should be the base minimum - stops the problem getting any worse, even if it still leaves a lot of retrofitting to do for the rest of us.

The 'roid in Spain drills mainly on the plain: Plucky Brit Mars robot laps up sun, sand and, er, simulated science


Re: One thing Brexit won't hurt

I'm not sure, will you be able to rock up with a Mars rover to do some testing in the desert just like that after no deal, FTA Brexit, or EEA without Customs Union Brexit?

ExoMars is an ESA mission. Any participating ESA members will happily support the testing and development of mission elements, regardless of whether other partners (like Russia/Roscosmos) are EU members.

Belgium: Oi, Brits, explain why Belgacom hack IPs pointed at you and your GCHQ


Re: Other angles

Perhaps as the state hosting both the EU & NATO headquarters there are a lot of 3rd party countries doing sneaky beaky stuff that we both are quite keen to keep tabs on.

I have no doubt that there's an element of this. Lower level NATO <Classified> documents will be in the Kremlin before they've been read by everyone on the official circulation list. It's blatantly obvious that you'd want to be keeping an eye on who is talking to who, or sharing what and where - and if Belgian spooks aren't doing it (or aren't sharing), then you do it yourself.

BepiColombo launches, Russia ponders next lift-off, and 50 years since Apollo 7 got its feet wet


Re: MS-10 failure mode

To be fair, using a big hammer to fix things has always been a design requirement for russki hardware. Can be very therapeutic.

Or a big spanner

American components, Russian components. ALL MADE IN TAIWAN!

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s


Re: Little Big is so cool...

A former (thank god!) colleague of mine had his message ringtone set to an audio clip of his toddler daughter saying "daddy, daddy, a message!" complete with Violet-Elizabeth Bott lisp, at high volume.

Sadly a not-former colleague still enjoys his "trick" custom ringtones, which he changes every 10 weeks or so. For much of January we were subjected to Crazy Frog non-ironically. Pussy Cat Dolls and the Scissor Sisters have also featured. Everyone else in the office has their phone set to vibrate. Most of us have the good grace to leave them in our pockets (ooh err missus) or on top of a notepad or something, so you only get the quiet "bzzzt" without the harsher vibration on the desk surface.

What's worse is that not only does he receive a significant number of calls (his wife calls 2-3times a day about this or that), but he doesn't answer immediately, taking a moment to enjoy the bangin' tune emanating loudly from his device.

That 'Surface will die in 2019' prediction is still a goer, says soothsayer


Re: Really?

And Microsoft's killing Surface won't push lots of former Surface users into Apple's delighted arms?

Apple don't make anything that can compete with Surface. "Her indoors" has a Surface and it's a great bit of kit. Nice to use as a tablet or with the keyboard. But it doesn't run an OS I want to use.

If Apple made a Surface look-a-like that ran macOS I would have bought it already. My 2008 Macbook is on it's last legs, despite a few mid-life upgrades!

Their Macbooks are full laptops, but under-powered and under-ported, whilst their iPads run iOS.

As it is, I'm actually considering moving back to W10 (or Linux, which will end up being installed onto a device designed for Windows) because Apple's hardware offerings are so lackluster.

Chinese tech titans' share prices slump after THAT Super Micro story


Re: Yet another example of the need for security

IMO Nations that can do their own manufacturing, should do their own manufacturing. That is also true for food and other basic services. Supplying such basics should the measure of which countries are Nations and which are just territories or puppets for the more powerful.

Which is not to say that we should be self-sufficient or that every country needs it's own semi-conductor fabs, but there is an intense concentration of tech manufacturing in South-East Asia. We all recall the global shortage of hard drives in 2011 following heavy flooding in Thailand, and a significant earthquake caused global shortages of RAM in the 90s.

The idea that we have limited native sources of x86 chips or core electronic components in Europe (for instance) is bizarre. India has taken steps to encourage investment in domestic semiconductor manufacturing, which at least spreads some risk from natural disasters and major weather events. I get that Europeans cost more than your average Asian factory worker, but it's amazing there isn't an economic case for at least one big fab in Europe for business continuity (and to supply European National Security contracts). It's incredible that so much of the world's semi-conductor manufacturing is around the Pacific Ring of Fire, subject to flooding, earthquakes and typhoons, as well as potential political interference (for those in or under the influence of Beijing).

NASA's Kepler telescope is sent back to sleep as scientists preserve fuel for the next data dump


Re: Refueling Kepler

I'm not that sure about that. Kepler cost was $500 millions, TESS is around $200million. If Bezos or Musk can refuel those with unmanned vehicles for let say $50millions, it may be worth the try.

The launch would cost you north of $75m. And that's before you developed your payload (including robot butler to disassemble Kepler). Realistically it's at least a $200m mission.

In 5 years launch costs will (probably) be much lower, but not today.

And refuelling still leaves you with the issue of replacing a bunch of failed components. It is absolutely not worth it compared with spending the money on a new (and better) telescope. Which is what we did (TESS).

Maybe in the future (once the economics and launch costs have fallen, and we have orbital factories/shipyards) we will build modular science platforms which can be easily serviced, refuelled and have reaction wheels replaced. But Kepler is not of that generation.


Re: Refueling Kepler

Refueling Kepler

Wouldn't that be worth the money?

Unlike Hubble, Kepler is not in Low Earth Orbit where it is easily accessible by existing manned vehicles.

Moreover, it's not designed to be refueled, and even if you did refuel it, one of it's thrusters and two of the reaction wheels have failed - so you'd be looking at a deep space overhaul of something which was never designed to be touched post-launch (i.e. lots of tiny fiddly bolts and plugs which are fine for a tech in a clean room but not for a spacewalking astronaut).

It would be cheaper and easier to just build a new telescope with the latest tech and launch that instead.

UK cops run machine learning trials on live police operations. Unregulated. What could go wrong? – report


It's amazing how much money these cash-strapped forces have to spend on speculative machine-learning products.

Meanwhile routine tasks like renewing a Firearm Certificate require one to fill in a sheet of dead tree with a load of information the Police already have. Post it to the Licensing Office, where (some weeks later) a hooman will get around to comparing it against the information in their database and then (usually) make some modification so that your data is wrong. Three months later they will have finished querying the various Police/Criminal intelligence databases and pass it to an FEO who will come and see you and check your storage. They will then send you your new FAC, which you will put back in the envelope and return so they can correct all the mistakes they've introduced to it.

Pretty much everything prior to the FEO coming to visit requires no human input and could be reduced to an online application form on gov.uk, which triggers a series of very small scripts to query the relevant DBs, forward that report to the relevant Enquiries Officer who can then follow up, apply professional judgement and ask various questions that computers aren't good at.

But that won't happen, because it's a useful whipping boy to say "We're underfunded, no no, ignore that Facial Recognition/ML/AI project over there, gis more money".

Revealed: The billionaire baron who’ll ride Elon’s thrusting erection to the Moon and back


Re: SpaceX is known for blowing past its deadlines

Er, no actually. I'm fascinated by the landings of the first stages, can't get enough of that.

Two for the price of one.

I keep going back and watching this periodically. It just doesn't get boring.


The first section of the BFR being assembled by SpaceX

That photo shows the inside of the mandrel, which is the form they're using to make the BFR's fuselage (from carbon-fibre type composites). It's not flight hardware or part of the BFR itself. It's also the largest such mandrel in the world - bigger than Boeing's similar one for making Dreamliner fuselage sections.

The grand-plus iPhone is the new normal – this is no place for paupers


Re: SE gone - so am I :-(

Don’t give up, my 5s is just over 4 years old and works absolutely fine.

So is mine. But if it went for a swim tomorrow I was rather hoping I'd be able to buy a 2017/8-spec upgrade it rather than a second hand SE.

Pluto is more alive than Mars, huff physicists who are still not over dwarf planet's demotion


Re: Active geology

Io has formed itself into a sphere and appears to be the most geologically active "planet" in the Solar System with Titan not far behind. Be interesting to find out how many of the rereclassifiers consider Cruithne to be a moon of Earth...

Our Moon has also formed itself into a sphere, despite being largely inert. Io and Titan orbit Jupiter and Saturn. Cruithne orbits the Sun in a standard (albeit highly eccentric) elliptical orbit that happens to resonate with Earth's orbit in an interesting way.

Io and Titan are therefore Moons. Large and interesting moons to be sure. But moons nonetheless.

Cruithne cannot be considered a Moon of anything other than the Sun (which earns it an asteroid/Minor Planet designation).

Official: Google Chrome 69 kills off the World Wide Web (in URLs)


Re: Dislike

Either way a URL is supposed to go in the URL bar. All of it. Not just some bits.

Unfortunately, Chrome doesn't have a URL bar. It has an "Omnibox" which does bloody stupid things like performing a Search when you type "" into it.


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018