* Posts by Saruman the White

46 posts • joined 3 May 2018

Ooh, my machine is SO much faster than yours... Oh, wait, that might be a bit of a problem...

Saruman the White

Re: no provision for utilities at all

Or, apparently, a cup of tea (which the civil service lived on then, and probably still does).

Saruman the White

Re: Well that was an invisible problem

This is an old problem. If you read "Most Secret War" by R. V. Jones, he relates how a new building was built for the Admiralty in the late 1930's that had no provision for utilities at all. They had to move in as-is and wait for 6 months, at which point the necessary modifications could be attributed to depreciation.

Oracle's in-house lawyer denied access to Uncle Sam's procurement docs in JEDI legal battle

Saruman the White

"feral contract"

This seems so appropriate somehow!

Just for EU, just for EU, just for EU: Forget about enforcing Right To Be Forgotten outside member states

Saruman the White

Re: EU being sensible again...

Don't be so harsh on the Remainers

Saruman the White


At which point Google can (and probably will) argue that the person concerned deliberately and actively concealed their location, and that there is no technical mechanism in place for Google to be able to determine their true location given the intrinsic technical characteristics of a VPN.

I'm just not sure the computer works here – the energy is all wrong

Saruman the White

I fully agree - now. But in the early 80's (I think this was about 1983) it was not on the forefront of anyone's mind.

Saruman the White

When I was an undergrad, I spent a year working for Link-Miles (the old flight simulator manufacturer) down on the South Coast of Blighty. I was actually working in the business support section of the company, and my manager had a Commodore PET computer - the more expensive business-class model. This was used to generate various reports for the PHBs.

Some of these reports required over-night runs, which most of the time was not an issue. However once or twice a week we would come in on the morning and find the computer frozen with the report job only partially done. Much head-scratching occurred, and I eventually put together a small program (almost embarrassingly simple) which we could use to work out when the computer was freezing. To our surprise it was at almost the same time every night - about 2:00 in the morning. Cue more head-scratching for the next couple of days, until someone realised that there was a medium-engineering company next door. Light-bulb moment! A quick trip over resulted in us finding that: (a) they had an electrically-powered drop-hammer on the premises, (b) they tended to use it during off-peak hours to save money, and (3) they where currently using it two or three times a week in the early hours of the morning.

It turned out that the drop-hammer was generating voltage drop-outs on the primary mains supply which was serious upsetting the CPU of our PET computer, hence the lock-ups. The subsequent installation of a UPS to regulate the voltage saw the problems magically disappear.

New Horizons snaps finish buffering: Ultima Thule actually two dust bunnies that got snuggly 4.5 billion years ago

Saruman the White

Re: Astronomical

Million to one chances occur 9 times in 10.

Apple blew my mind – literally, says woman: MagSafe plug sparked face-torching blaze, lawsuit claims

Saruman the White

Well a previous poster has noted (from the legal failings) that she *did* have the unit dialled up to 100% oxygen. Sounds pretty self-inflicted to me, but in the good ol' US of A you never accept responsibility, you always sue, sue, sue!

Time for a cracker joke: What's got one ball and buttons in the wrong place?

Saruman the White

The pile of tokens on the floor should have been a clue.

Excuse me, looking for my coat ...

BOFH: State of a job, eh? Roll the Endless Requests for Further Information protocol

Saruman the White

Re: tgiBOFHf

I've been trying to reach Simon Travaglia through several means (Facebook, Twitter, emails) ... but to no avail. I have got some ideas myself for future BOFH stories.

Your messages are in The SYSTEM.

He's not cracked RSA-1024 encryption, he's a very naughty Belarusian ransomware middleman

Saruman the White

Re: The Need For Speed

Depends on which country you are operating in. Since the miscreants are are encrypting peoples files and then demanding money before they *might* give you the key to decrypt them, under UK law they are committing blackmail (or technically, "demanding money with menaces"). If you set up a brokerage company like you describe, you could end up being charged as an accessory to the blackmail, since you are clearly profiting from the actions of the bad guys even though you are not performing the blackmail yourself.

Sysadmin’s plan to manage system config changes backfires spectacularly

Saruman the White

Other screw-ups

Many, many years ago when I was young and working in my first job, I was given responsibilty for managing a small network of Sun workstations (one of which was a diskless node). One day I decided I need to clean up /tmp since it was close to being full and causing problems, so I logged on as "root" and entered the command "rm -rf / tmp". Note the significant space!

Control-C followed after about 2 seconds, but there was not enough of the system left to be usable (although I was able to dump the data directries to tape prior to a full re-install).

It's all a matter of time: Super-chill atomic clock could sniff gravitational waves, dark matter

Saruman the White

Re: Pseudoscience

However gravity waves are not constant; each one moves in a particular direction, so the clocks on one side of the Earth would be affected before those on the other side.

Same principal as LIGO, but orders of magnitude more sensitive.

Saruman the White

Re: Complications

The effects of gravity on time has been known for nearly a century. Surprisingly the SI definition actually takes that into account; a measurement of (say) a second will be identical whether made on the surface of the Earth or in deep space; however an absolute comparison of the measurements will show a (very small) difference due to gravity-induced time dilation.

In order to detect gravity waves, they will need a network of four or more clocks equally distant from each other. One would then measure the absolute differences in the clock readings caused by gravity waves; by looking at the order in which the clocks drift back and forwards it becomes possible to determine the direction from which the gravity wave hit us.

Microsoft sysadmin hired for fake NetWare skills keeps job despite twitchy trigger finger

Saruman the White

Re: Memories ...

I can remember in my first job we received a Dec VAXstation which was going to be used on a specific project for a customer. The thing arrived on a pallet containing a vast quantity of boxes (including one that just contained a sheet of paper saying "this box is empty" - shades of Douglas Adams), including enough manuals to fill 3 shelves of a cabinet.

About a month later the software engineer working on the project needed to know the system call to print a text message on the console. This ended up talking 4 us, and having to refer through 4 fully cross-referenced manuals before finally tracking down the system call.

Paper documentation is good, and I often still prefer it. But Dec used to take it just a tad too far in my opinion.

Cheeky cheesemaker fails to copyright how things taste

Saruman the White

Re: "This ensures the law remains uncertain"

The court has just expressed an opinion and provided advice. It is not legally binding as such, although the Dutch court will probably toe the line (it did ask the question in the first case).

GDPR USA? 'A year ago, hell no ... More people are open to it now' – House Rep says EU-like law may be mulled

Saruman the White

Re: Inquiring minds

Brussels will never agree to weaken GDPR, that could be seen as an admission that they might have got something wrong, and hence is completely against their standard dogma.

I very much doubt that Washington will enact something as tough as GDPR since there will be too many "interested" parties who will be busy buying the votes of Congress/Senate critters to let anything through like that.

London flatmate (Julian Assange) sues landlord (government of Ecuador) in human rights spat

Saruman the White

Re: Suing Ecuador ???? What a joke!

I think that what is more to the point is that the UK Human Rights Act does not apply inside the Ecuadorian Embassy (the Embassy is diplomatically considered a part of Ecuador), so Julian's court action will probably be tossed out PDQ. However it is likely to annoy the Ecuadorian government enough that, shortly after the case is tossed out of court, Julian will be tossed out the front door. Probably after giving the plods a heads-up so they can organise a "taxi" for Julian to nearest nick.

Core-blimey! Riddle of Earth's mysterious center finally 'solved' by smarty seismologists

Saruman the White

Re: out of curiosity

Yes they would have, however the bulk of the core (maybe > 90%) is made up from Fe and Ni. You tend to ignore trace elements in that situation.

SCISYS sidesteps Brexit: Proposes Irish listing to keep EU space work rolling in

Saruman the White

Re: I'm not sure it's that easy

I don't see why they cannot avoid EU taxes. After all Amazon, Facebook and the likes have been doing just that for years!

Sure, Europe. Here's our Android suite without Search, Chrome apps. Now pay the Google tax

Saruman the White

Re: Actually, they haven't stated the price.

Does not matter what value Google sets the price at, the commision will complain that it is also anto-competative to make people pay. They are determined to make Google suffer whatever they do.

Leaked memo: No internet until you clean your bathroom, Ecuador told Julian Assange

Saruman the White

Re: Considering....

Ecuador did try to give him diplomatic immunity a couple of years ago; I suspect so that they could get him on an aircraft to South America. HMG refused to agree to it (diplomatic immunity is only valid if the recipient country agrees to it, you cannot just extend it to anyone you like) . The whole point of diplomatic immunity is that it is not supposed to be abused; Ecuador came within a cat's whisker of breaking this rule!

Saruman the White

Re: @James O'Shea

No, they stopped that several years ago. However you can be sure that if Assange does decide to leave, old Motor Mouth will let everyone and their dog (or cat) now about it. At that point the plods will make sure that they are in a position to greet His Dickheadness with open handcuffs.

Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on

Saruman the White

Re: Bah!

I can't help but think of the short story "Wait it Out" by Larry Niven. Granted the short story was set on Pluto (a long while before we knew anything about that frozen wasteland) but the say events could happen.

Saruman the White

Re: It's not ROCKET science

Sounds like me the day after a really good vindaloo

Sun billionaire Khosla discovers life's a beach after US Supreme Court refuses to hear him out

Saruman the White

Dammit, I thought there is no "out of season" for hunting Scotsmen.

Nameless Right To Be Forgotten Google sueball man tries Court of Appeal – yet again

Saruman the White

Re: Contempt of court?

They probably could, but it might well be more satisfying to simply kick this current case into the long grass, and make a court order stating that he cannot make another attempt without identifying himself.

Judges are human too, they might as well get some satisfaction from their job!

How an over-zealous yank took down the trading floor of a US bank

Saruman the White

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

I've always preferred "Printer on fire..."

Brit airport pulls flight info system offline after attack by 'online crims'

Saruman the White

Re: The weakest link....

It is definitely possible, and in my experience there are too many people who click on links automatically and regret them immediately afterwards.

Saying that however, the real question is why their flight info system could be accessed from the internet, whether directly or indirectly (e.g. via an internal router). Yes it is really convenient to get your updates as they occur, but what you really should do is download your updates to a DVB, check them via an antivirus footbath, and then load them on to your systems manually. Means more work for the techies, but ultimately secures your systems against 99.99% of attacks, and helps to neuter the ones you cannot secure against.

This may sound paranoid, but it isn't really. Remember, they really are out to get you.

Euro bureaucrats tie up .eu in red tape to stop Brexit Brits snatching back their web domains

Saruman the White

Well that's the end of the .eu domain

Typical European Commission thinking, they seem to think that anything even vaguely European needs to be regulated until the pips squeak. They have no idea how the real world operates; instead they operate in a cloud-cuckoo-land where the entire universe resolves around them.


2-bit punks' weak 40-bit crypto didn't help Tesla keyless fobs one bit

Saruman the White

Re: Problem-solution dichotomy

Enigma was broken because there were inherent weaknesses in the system (e.g. a letter would never encode to itself) and the way that the operators used it (retransmitting the same message with different keys) that gave the brainacs at Station X a lever allowing them to crack open the whole system.

It also helped that the Allies captured some Engima machines and the rotors, meaning that all they had to do has break the code settings.

PPI pushers now need consent to cold-call you

Saruman the White

Our local NHS trust does not call (at least not to your mobile), they send a text message that clearly identifies them in the first sentence.

TSB goes TITSUP: Total Inability To Surprise Users, Probably

Saruman the White

Re: what's the problem?

"... But so are all the other banks ..."

I've had no problems with Nationwide!

Lawyers sued for impersonating rival firm online to steal clients

Saruman the White

There is an old saying ...

A lawyer who acts for himself has a fool for a client.

Hot US deal! IBM wins $83m from Groupon in e-commerce patent spat

Saruman the White

An (apparently true) story.

IBM was caught red-handed infringing on one of Sun's patents. Their respective legal-eagle teams then had a meeting that went something like this:

SUN: We want you to pay $x million in order to be allowed to use this patent, plus another $y million in damages. Otherwise we sue your ass.

IBM: We want a cross-licensing deal and no damages.

SUN: No way. See you in court.

IBM: We have the largest patent portfolio in the world. You almost certainly have infringed on something. Do you really want us to go through the portfolio to find out exactly what and how many times?

SUN: About this cross-licensing deal ...

Sysadmin trained his offshore replacements, sat back, watched ex-employer's world burn

Saruman the White

Many years ago (just before the 21st century) I was doing some work as a contractor to a company that was building a major new satellite communications system. The employees of this company were outnumbered by contractors; in fact I think about 60% of the company was made up of contractors at this time.

Things did not precisely go according to plan, and having blown $5 billion in 3 years and not achieved anything the decision was made by the very senior PHBs to get rid of all of the contractors. This decision was actioned the following Monday when all of the contractors were given 1 weeks notice.

The company made two basic mistakes. Firstly the forgot that several of their most specialised and expensive contractors were also on long-duration contracts (one had just signed a 12-month contract with no get-out clauses). As I understand it the company was sued by at least 30 of their former contractors the following week, and ultimately lost each and every case. The second mistake was even more basic - they failed to ask for a hand-over to the remaining staff who did not have a clue what the contractors actually did.

You can probably visualise what happened the following two weeks, and also the reactions of the company's management when they tried to ask the contractors to come back for a few days for free to perform a belated hand-over.

One year later it was completely bankrupt.

Tech support chap given no training or briefing before jobs, which is why he was arrested

Saruman the White

Re: Training?

"... variable reluctance system ..."

Sounds like an intern towards the end of the week.

Saruman the White

Re: Vetting? Does he thinks he's James Herriot?

On the flip side I had to visit a satellite ground station site in the Netherlands a couple of years ago with my boss (not military, but these commercial sites normally have tight security due to the cost of replacing all that fancy kit). My boss had to go through a long process to prove who he was to the security guard. In my case he just tossed me the security pass (a higher grade one than my boss I should add) with a friendly greeting - I had worked at that site 10 years ago and they still had my details on file!

That'll learn ya! Data watchdog spanks two Brit phone botherers

Saruman the White

We actually a phone which basically has the same function - a BT 8600 (yes, BT actually sells something that is both useful and works). Has basically eliminated the cold callers on our landline. Wish it would do the same for the mobile, but I've found that putting them on "hold" sooner or later results in them hanging up (having wasted a load of dosh on a useless call).

Brit reseller Aria PC's appeal against HMRC VAT fraud finding gets under way

Saruman the White

Re: I have to say...

Most barristers do have serious balls, however they also have a very good idea on how far you can push a judge. In this case I think Firth may have crossed that particular line. When a judge starts frowning at you, that is probably a good point to back off.

The ice must flow: Dunes of frozen gas spotted on alien dwarf

Saruman the White

Re: Bring it on!

No, you are right. What you may have forgotten (or just not been aware of) is that NASA was able to make very accurate measurements of the mass of Uranus and Neptune when Voyager-2 made it's close approaches to them. They discovered that Neptune's mass was significantly different from the first estimate made by astronomers (I think it was about 4% heavier); when they dropped that into the orbital motion calculations the unknown perturbation disappeared.

Court says 'nyet' to Kaspersky's US govt computer ban appeal

Saruman the White

Re: maybe they should just...

No-one has every said that Linux is immune to viruses; however it's security model (in particular the hard separation of the kernel and user-space) makes it *very* difficult for a virus to get any more that a nominal foothold. This should be compared to all versions of Windows what are designed for infection!

Beardy Branson: Wacky hyperloop tube maglev cheaper than railways

Saruman the White

A time bomb (or suicide bomb) is possible. Triggering one from vibration is probably a no-goer since the "train" is flying through a vacuum without touching anything (that is what maglev is) so there is unlikely to be enough vibration to work with. However you do it, the result would be a very nasty mess!

Undocumented alien caught stealing orbits in our Solar System

Saruman the White

No, he's a planetary nebula. Long past the end of his useful life and now bloated up to many times more than it's actual level of importance.

NASA demos little nuclear power plant to help find little green men

Saruman the White

Re: Only 10kw?

For a space mission, 10 kW is plenty! I am working on a mission right now where our power budget (for the payload) is 15 W.

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