* Posts by Saruman the White

71 posts • joined 3 May 2018


Brouhaha over IBM using Flickr faces for AI training, big trouble in not-so-little China for Microsoft, and more

Saruman the White

Re: Ts & Cs

I would have thought that a simpler solution (at least for those to the right of The Pond) is to invoke GDPR to have the photos removed from the dataset. After all there can be few things more personal that a photo of your face!

College student with 'visions of writing super-cool scripts' almost wipes out faculty's entire system

Saruman the White

Head of Faculty was being very fair

So the only consequence of his screw-up was being made to buy the Head of Faculty a beer and being on the receiving end of a first-class bollocking. He got off lightly, however I suspect that the Head of Faculty realised that he had scared himself completely witless, but at least had been able to repair the damage.

Saruman the White

Re: I too have had that

I agree. Once logged in to a Sun workstation as "root" with the intention of cleaning out "/tmp" (it was really cluttered and causing problems). I entered the immortal command:

rm -rf / tmp/*

Note *very* significant space. Ater a couple of seconds my brain caught up with my fingers. Unfortunately it was too late and I spent the rest of the day reinstalling the OS.

Lesson learnt, I have never made that mistake since!

TalkTalk returns to the email hall of shame as Pipex accounts throw weekend-long wobbly

Saruman the White

Is that the script with the following simple steps:

1. Cock-up.

2. Cover-up.

3. Goto (1).

Sure, we've got a problem but we don't really want to spend any money on the tech guy you're sending to fix it

Saruman the White

Re: Corporate travel bookings

Of course you could have taken the satellite phone with and just left it swiched off (with the excuse that you did not have LOS to the satellite due to the mountains)

You'll never guess who's giving Google a right shoeing lately. Talking about barring Chrome, Search as defaults... any other nations watching?

Saruman the White

Re: The best description of Googles Android yet:

I can't help wondering how iOS compares.

Saruman the White

Its not urine, its Australian beer (which you don't buy, you only rent it fora short time).

Oldest white dwarf star catches amateur's eye – and its dusty ring leaves boffins baffled

Saruman the White

However there is no evidence to suggest that white dwarfs have a magnetic field string enough to do what you suggest; in fact the evidence to date says that whire dwarg magnetic fields are no stronger than that of the parent star.

Could you be thinking of neutron stars that do have strong magnetic fields (at least when they are relatively young)?

Cut open a tauntaun, this JEDI is frozen! US court halts lawsuit over biggest military cloud deal since the Death Star

Saruman the White

Blakes 7

Can someone explain to me why a Blakes 7 logo is being used when the headline makes a Stars Wars reference? Mixing Sci-Fi metaphors?

A once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity: NASA bids emotional farewell to its cocky, hardworking RC science car on Mars

Saruman the White

Re: Opportunity---NNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

They don't need monuments constructed around them - they ARE monuments in their own right.

Oh dear, Lads: Spam marketing bosses banned from forming UK firms for clobbering folk with 500k calls and texts

Saruman the White

Of course they can ignore the rules about starting up a new company. However it will be spotted (probably by Companies House who maintain a register of banned directors), at which point they will either face much bigger fines or even time in an HMP (for basically ignoring what amounts to a court order).

Reliable system was so reliable, no one noticed its licence had expired... until it was too late

Saruman the White

Re: I generate the licenses..

Two bricks - the camel's worst friend.

Accused hacker Lauri Love to sue National Crime Agency to retrieve confiscated computing kit

Saruman the White

Re: Representing himself

A man who represents himself has a fool for a client

As far as I remember, the actual saying is "The lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client". However I otherwise agree - if you don't have good knowledge of the law, then you are best served getting someone who does!

Sysadmin's three-line 'annoyance-buster' busts painstakingly crafted, crucial policy

Saruman the White

Re: Great system...

The real mistake was not to the system to make sure that an existing security policy does not have the same name. It does open the question however - were the security policies actually documented?

Saying that this is the sort of mistake that all IT admins make sooner or later; once the dust has settled, the scream silenced (possibly using the sort of techniques taught at the BOFH school of IT admin) and the system been restored to what it should have been, you tend to be a whole lot more cautious/paranoid when pushing out any subsequent changes.

Our vulture listened to four hours of obtuse net neutrality legal blah-blah so you don't have to: Here's what's happening

Saruman the White

Re: Does the FCC have the authority?

Regardless of anything else, if the FCC had the authority to create the rule, then the FCC has the power to change or scrap the rule.

I fully agree with this statement. The real question is: does the FCC have the power to completely abrogate itself of all responsibility.

Saruman the White

Re: So where is Congress in all this?

Correct, however in this case the Secretary of State for Transport is authorised under the Road Traffic Act 1972 to produce regulations covering a restricted domain as defined in Section 199(2) of the Act. He cannot exceed those powers without having the courts declare the regulations as being unlawful (this has happened, albeit rarely, when certain government ministers tried to expand the scope of their powers).

In the UK at least this is a fairly common approach when addressing certain dynamic legal issues that may need response times far shorter than is possible by passing primary legislation. Basically if a problem arises that falls under the domain of a given Act of Parliament, but is not covered by existing legislation, then the rules can be quickly adjusted to as appropriate. In fact if really urgent causes (where there is a safety-of-life issue) the rules can be changed within a few days; it can take months (if not a year or more) to make substantive changes to primary legislation.

Texas lawyer suing Apple over FaceTime bug claims it was used to snoop on a meeting

Saruman the White

I guess this is going to be tossed out

Can he actually provide proof that the Facetime bug actually caused him a problem? At the moment he seems to be saying that because it could (in theory) have caused him a problem, then it must have caised him a problem, and therefore Apple must pay up. In practice he is going to need to prove that the information leak occured in the meeting, and that neither him nor anyone else in the meeting was not carrying any other devices that could have recorded the meeting,and that neither him nor anyone else in the meeting talked to any third parties after the meeting. A pretty high bar to leap over unless he can prove that the bug was actually used in the course of the meeting (which will be even harder to prove).

Post-Brexit plan for .EU tweaked: No dot-EU web domains for Europeans in UK, no appeals, etc

Saruman the White

Re: Didn't the UK create these rules?

However there is always an elected politician who ultimately has to take the flak if the civil servants screw up; that tends to ensure that the politicians usually (but not always) keep a close eye on what's going on an reins in most of the excesses. The civil servants in Brussels answer to unelected politicians who are answerable to no-one, so they have no reason to discourage excesses (and may actual encourage it at times).

Saruman the White

Re: Didn't the UK create these rules?

The rules were invented in Brussels by unelected civil servants with little or no understanding of how the internet functions, but plenty of ideas on how to increase their power (no matter how much European citizens suffer for it).

Irish data watchdog to Facebook: Hang about, what's all this about a WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger merger now?

Saruman the White

What has FB's merger of WhatsApp, et al, to do with Brexit?

Apple: You can't sue us for slowing down your iPhones because you, er, invited us into, uh, your home... we can explain

Saruman the White

Re: This is factually incorrect

Lemons are good. Cutting there head of and boiling it in vinegar is preferred in some places.

Read Carpe Jugulum by the late, great Terry Pratchet for some more ideas.

Florida man's deadliest catch forces police to evacuate Taco Bell

Saruman the White

Re: Candidate failed

"The living Darwin Award is for those who eliminate themselves from the gene pool and survive to tell the tale."

An example being a guy who sliced his scrotum open and decided to deal with it by stapling the wound together. By the time he got to A&E, it was well too late for the family jewels.

NASA's Opportunity rover celebrates 15 years on Mars – by staying as dead as a doornail

Saruman the White

Agree about the upvote, but one of the things the solar panels do is power heaters that keep the electronics nice and warm. Without power, no heaters. With heaters, the electronics have probably been frozen and completely knackered.

Shame however, it is nice to dream about it.

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

Dead link!

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.


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