* Posts by John Gamble

591 posts • joined 6 Sep 2007


What did turbonerds do before the internet? 41 years ago, a load of BBS

John Gamble

Re: 300 Baud - much faster than Baudot RTTY

Heh. I had the pleasure of looking over a friend's shoulder as he did just that. We had plenty of time for conversation between keystrokes.

I didn't have the cash on hand for a computer and modem in those days. By the time I finally got the cash together, modems had improved to the rate of 1200 bps, which meant text could go by so fast on the screen that I couldn't read it in real time! Amazing futuristic stuff.

(Contrary to some comments above, people were *not* necessarily better behaved then. Rush Dimbulb wasn't that far away in the future, and we had our own not-quite-local paranoiacs to deal with. On the other hand, I did have the how-cool-is-that moment when I suggested a solution for a math problem for a friend of a sculptor in Ireland.)

Good news! Only half of Internet of Crap apps fumble encryption

John Gamble

Re: small memory footprint in devices

I've seen work on tiny cryptography since the 90s (sci.crypt on USENET was very busy with it, for example), and I'd be surprised if all the work on it vanished in the mean time.

In fact, searching on "tinycrypt" found me Intel's contribution (github link here), and it seems that's not the only library that's used the tinycrypt name.

Now it could be argued that even adding this would be an intolerable burden to the manufacturer, but given all the features that a "smart" device is supposed to have, I think it would be worth adding this to the list of must-haves.

Mark Zuckerberg did everything in his power to avoid Facebook becoming the next MySpace – but forgot one crucial detail…

John Gamble

Re: "this ought to be labelled an editorial."

No, "Editorial" is generally reserved for the editorial page. Again, not hard to figure out.

I currently live in Chicago, and have read over the years the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Cincinnati Enquirer, Indianapolis Star, Lafayette Journal and Courier, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and the New York Times. I await your ad hominem attack.

Seriously though, insisting that everyone else must share the same lack of knowledge as you is just strange.

John Gamble

Re: "this ought to be labelled an editorial."

"Comment", "Analysis", and so forth are all fairly standard ways of indicating that the article is about to delve into interpretation of the news, and they are common in American newspapers, assuming the paper is large enough to have the luxury of running them. They're usually on the front page of a paper's section.

It's not that hard to figure out.

Behold, the world's most popular programming language – and it is...wait, er, YAML?!?

John Gamble

Re: Makes me pine for the days of XML...

"Which problems did XML actually solve? And which ones did it create?"

I like a good cynical comment as much as the next guy, but XML is the go-to structure for highly complex formats that have to be communicated between systems, and it works exceedingly well for that, provided the data definition was designed well in the first place. Which, yes, is dependent upon the skills of the designer (not necessarily a coder, although it helps).

So it creates no more problems than that found in most computing standards..

For small configuration files that were slightly more complex than an INI file, XML certainly looked like too much, but I feel that was overreaction (it's not hard to simplify the tagging), and in any event it became irrelevant when JSON appeared on the scene.

YAML, the format that isn't terribly readable, and fragile to boot, just wasn't a good idea.

That Old Time 2018 IT songbook: Verity, Verity - give us your lyrics, do! We're half crazy, all for the love of you

John Gamble

I think we've finally found the musical that will overtake Hamilton on Broadway.

Quick, line up the venture capitalists investors!

Thank $deity that week's over. Look, here's some trippy music generated from pixels of a Martian sunrise to play us out

John Gamble

It occurs to me that they could release an album. There's got to be Terabytes of data from Mars missions just waiting to be put to musical use.

My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

John Gamble

Re: Computer Archaeology

I did manage to toss old cases, keyboards, and monitors, but I removed the hard drives before putting them to the alley (we have scavengers on a regular circuit -- I feel better now about putting out stuff that's too good for the garbage but which the recyclers can't handle).

But I still have a VT-100. I don't expect to ever use it again (well, for a couple years I thought that I might), but instead of tossing it I'm thinking of re-purposing it. Perhaps as an IOT device. Or a compact fish tank.

In news that will shock, er, actually a few of you, Amazon backs down in dispute with booksellers

John Gamble

Re: Choice

It wasn't at first. I, a previously happy customer, dropped them immediately when they got bought by Amazon.

John Gamble

Bad-Ass Librarians

...there's this documentary... (followed by a link to a show).

Aww. I was hoping someone had made a documentary using this book.

F5: Don't panic but folks can slip past vulnerable firewall servers, thanks to libssh's credentials-optional 'security'

John Gamble

Re: State machines are hard?

"With examples like this, how can someone say in 2018 that this type of programming is HARD?"

In part because Cortesi was a genius at producing spare, yet robust, code. There weren't many people who could match him for analysis of code or algorithms.

It's great that he had examples that you could adapt for your own use, but not everyone has his books or columns instantly available to them.

Skype bot airport action, Retpolining into 2019, old Kubernetes versions for the chop in Azure, and much more Microsoft

John Gamble

Re: Note to self

Fly through Gatwick

I see the Queen Mary 2 is still crossing the Atlantic. If you're starting from North America, it's a scant seven days to Southampton. Simplicity itself, and you can get lots of work done. Then an easy 2 1/2 hour train ride to London.

Humour aside, I do wonder about internet connectivity aboard ship. Hmm. Time to make travel plans...

The Obama-era cyber détente with China was nice, wasn't it? Yeah well it's obviously over now

John Gamble

Re: Reall?

"Well, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein employed a Chinese spy as a chauffeur for 20 years, up until a short time ago."

...or possibly not.

30-up: You know what? Those really weren't the days

John Gamble

Re: 1988

"By 1988, email was normal enough to be on business cards."

That very much depends upon the environment. I recall in the 1992ish era a recruiter, seeing my e-mail address on my resume, asking if it was actually useful (at the time, not much; all my contacts came via phone. Land line, of course).

John Gamble

Re: Yellow and blue

White on blue, actually.

Observed in the wild, where the coders at my company were given a default-to-screen-colors editor (green on black), and watched as the white-on-blue style spread to everyone's startup file over the course of a couple of weeks.

Bouncing robots land on asteroid 180m miles away amid mission to fetch sample for Earth

John Gamble

Re: Pity it was Posted on Twitter

"Am I just a miserable git?"

Yeah, a little.

Twitter can be awful if you let anyone follow you. Always assume the worst, and block immediately. Your experience becomes much more pleasurable then.

Sextortion scum armed with leaked credentials are persistent pests

John Gamble

The Three Demands So Far

Three such blackmail attempts. The first and third are probably from the same source, judging by the language style. Here's the bitcoin accounts they insisted I use:

1: 1LKWwvjznDbgPVgMDvN6yRi5kSt7ZhdLt8

2: 1j1tpwNNZDP74pdF1xm7QApHkSK6fDvMJ

3: 1NpddYah4jMJ5hUx5yv6yEL1aPDGbNx4Td

My bitcoin knowledge is pretty much zero -- I imagine posting these won't inconvenience them in any way. It still satisfies me a little bit to do so.

A flash of inspiration sees techie get dirty to fix hospital's woes

John Gamble

Re: Re Terry 6: Upsetting non-techies can be hard

"You can always make a God Mode folder..."

And this is why I read the comments. Thanks.

We've found another problem with IPv6: It's sparked a punch-up between top networks

John Gamble

Re: El Reg & IPv6

It's not an anti-IPv6 article.

It does point out the flaws in the existing peering system, however.

Salesforce boss Marc Benioff objects to US immigration policy so much, he makes millions from, er, US immigration

John Gamble

I'd be more concerned about this if FftF hadn't confused the Border Patrol with ICE.

Border Patrol does exactly what it says on the label, and while I'm sure it has its abuses (it is a law enforcement agency, this will always happen), it in no way should be confused with ICE, an organization that seems to have taken its rules from a translated copy of a Stasi handbook.


ZX Spectrum reboot latest: Some Vega+s arrive, Sky pulls plug, Clive drops ball

John Gamble

Re: What we need

"Wow. That went better than I expected.

Next up Shimano is better than Campag, vi is better than Emacs ...."

Don't be absurd. Shimano is far better than EMACS.

If you're serious about securing IoT gadgets, may as well start here

John Gamble

Re: "if the cloud service goes down, it'll likely take its gadgets with it"

"Won't be the first time. Just ask anyone who's ever had a music subscription - 99% of those are dead.

How often do you ask dead people about their music subscriptions? I find it generally doesn't come up in conversation.

Microsoft's TextWorld gives AI a Zork-like challenge

John Gamble

Re: It is dark

I always think that when going down into the basement.

Cops suspect Detroit fuel station was hacked before 10 drivers made off with 2.3k 'free' litres

John Gamble

"When I lived in Michigan back in the early 2000s, pay-at-the-pump systems were still relatively new in many places and all the kinks weren't worked out."

In suburban Detroit? Maybe in the boondockier areas of Michigan where an independently-owned station can still make a go of it, but in the Detroit area you're going to fuel up in a major oil company's station, which in my experience converted in the 1990s.

Git365. Git for Teams. Quatermass and the Git Pit. GitHub simply won't do now Microsoft has it

John Gamble

As a Memorial To Microsoft's Ballmer Era...

... they will call it GitHubris.

Unbreakable smart lock devastated to discover screwdrivers exist

John Gamble

Re: The Bruce Willis film RED

I like this lock defeat (Youtube, 22s) the best.

Tech rookie put decimal point in wrong place, cost insurer zillions

John Gamble

The steal the rounding errors "scheme" was around for a long time (I'd read about it in a seventies-era book); it was one of those things that everyone knew had happened but when pressed could never come up with an actual example.

It's not surprising that writers of both films had heard about it. Maybe it was taken from Superman 3, maybe not.

Tor-forker Joshua Yabut cuffed for armoured personnel carrier joyride

John Gamble


He seems nice.

Microsoft commits: We're buying GitHub for $7.5 beeeeeeellion

John Gamble

Re: How can it possibly be worth that much?

"... for something they could set up ..."

Who's "they"? I can certainly set up something on my home computer here, but that's not going to help my sometimes collaborators in Canada and France (who, by the way, only discovered my project by searching/browsing GitHub repositories in the first place).

It's not just the version control. Git can be set up on anything. It's GitHub's collaboration features that made it such a powerful tool.

Is Microsoft about to git-merge with GitHub? Rumors suggest: Yes

John Gamble

Re: poll choices poor

I voted Disney because the entire question was obviously a joke (well done, whoever picked the worst of the worst for the list), and I thought it was the most funny choice.

US judge to Facebook: Nope, facial recognition lawsuit has to go to jury

John Gamble

"And meanwhile all the lawyers' children avoid starvation for a few more weeks."

Good. This is not a case where an ambulance was chased down, this has real consequences, and I suspect it will eventually go to a higher court.

And hurrah to judge Donato for slapping down "similar arguments about extraterritoriality". Facebook's computers may not have been in Illinois, but its reach certainly extended into the state.

Pinging admins: Here comes your packet of networking news

John Gamble

Farewell FTP

Though in this century I had only used it with ... Yahoo.

So it's not like I had a pressing need for it.

US border cops told not to search seized devices just for the hell of it

John Gamble

No. Read the third paragraph from the bottom again (or for the first time, if you skimmed).

His case had the side-effect of requiring higher standards for searches. Unfortunately for him, he met those standards.

Windows Notepad fixed after 33 years: Now it finally handles Unix, Mac OS line endings

John Gamble

Re: Vi

Opening files is not the issue though. No editor I've used has ever been confused by DOS-style line endings.

I can conceive of a situation where one would have to share files with people who only use Notepad, but... honestly, I'd just set up a converter script rather than break mine and everyone else's environment. And I'd at least try to point out to the person in question that they might want to switch to a better editor.

John Gamble

Re: Vi

Yeah. This is the sort of article that makes me want to ask, like a passive-aggressive millennial, "You mean you don't use Unix-style line endings?"

I may be biased due to my environment, but I've never encountered a situation where one would want anything else.

(My editors save with Unix line endings, and my git environment is set to check in files with Unix line endings regardless of the file's original line endings. I've never used Notepad.)

British Crackas With Attitude chief gets two years in the cooler for CIA spymaster hack

John Gamble

Re: No Relation

If they don't have (distant) relatives who emigrated to Prince Edward Island, then I win.

John Gamble

No Relation

Or at least a relation so distant that I can disclaim it.

Chrome 66: Get into the bin, auto-playing vids and Symantec certs!

John Gamble

Re: Spectre?

It's not a cure-all, but it does mean that anyone trying to make use of the Spectre flaw can't assume the memory to read is at an easily-deduced address.

It's the same reasoning behind kernel address space layout randomization, or using hash randomization to avoid collision attacks. Making the attack too expensive to use can be an effective counter-measure.

Elon Musk invents bus stop, waits for applause, internet LOLs

John Gamble

Re: What goes down...

"Doesn't Chicago have a mostly over ground metro rail system?"

You're thinking of light rail (which is what our Metra system is), which is used to feed commuters in from the outlying areas. Which honestly seems like what Musk is describing, except putting it within the city, which makes no sense.

Short-hop transportation is what buses and the L is for. I'm all for increased rail usage, but let's make sure it's put where it makes sense to put it -- medium distance travel (city to city) that replaces otherwise inconvenient car trips.

To be fair, there's talk here about using the Boring company to create another L line between airports, with a stop downtown, but that would be using the standard L cars, not Hyperloop.

Here's how we made a no-fuss RSS vulture app using trendy Electron

John Gamble

Re: Pedant alert (but this time it matters)!

"I believe the correct word is 'moo' (having little or no practical relevance), as, like a cow's opinion, it does not matter."

That would be 'mu', although by now we've gone well over the homophone cliff.

Unlucky Linux boxes trampled by NPM code update, patch zapped

John Gamble

Re: So testing before deploying isn't a "thing" anymore?

"What is this word "Equistrutsup"? Your comment seems to be the only Google result for it. Conglaturation!"

I assumed it was a portmanteau word using "Equifax" and "struts" (as in Apache Struts) and "f*ck up". Google can fill you in on the rest.

Crypto-gurus: Which idiots told the FBI that Feds-only backdoors in encryption are possible?

John Gamble

Re: FBI to @cryptoboffins

Yeah, that caught my attention too.

"The FBI is also unlikely to release the names of those it has been consulting over fears that they would be ridiculed and come under pressure from their peers not to work on such an approach."

The third possibility is that the experts the FBI is citing would be appalled to find out that they've been misquoted for this purpose, and would repudiate FBI leadership immediately.

I'm reminded of Mnuchin's economist survey (not a misquote, but similarly embarrassing).

Uber saddles up for a new cycle of controversy

John Gamble

Re: Er, another cash burn effort?

They do seem to be betting on the convenience of being dockless (Ford GoBike is already in San Francisco), without considering that there are downsides and inconveniences to docklessness too.

Considering that the docks represent an infrastructure investment, something that Uber has been reluctant to do in the past, I'm thinking that they're hoping the savings in one area will make up for the costs (bike losses) in the other.

BTW, Citibike, Ford GoBike, Divvy (my area), and others are managed by Motivate, so it looks like Uber is up against a company that knows what it's doing, as opposed to a moribund taxi company.

Super Cali's unrealistic net neutrality process – even though the sound of it is something quite... ferocious

John Gamble

Despite the joke icon, you're not far from the mark. Much of Frontier's network contains the networks dropped from GTE and Bell Atlantic (the rural ones) after they merged to form Verizon.

So it tends to serve the remote and out-of-the-way locations.

President Trump turns out the lights on solar panel imports into US

John Gamble

Re: A stopped clock is correct twice daily

If you believe this sort of protectionism helps, it might have worked ten or twelve years ago. Now, when it's too late? All it's doing is hobbling a growing industry.

This move only makes sense if your goal is to prop up the coal industry.

Don't just grab your CPU bug updates – there's a nasty hole in Office, too

John Gamble

Re: Meanwhile...

Oops, read your response after I installed the update. Fortunately, I survived.

(Athlon II X4 635 Processor running a 64 bit Windows 7 system, for what it's worth.)

John Gamble


"Meanwhile, Microsoft has pulled down KB4056892, the Spectre bug fix that was found to be causing some AMD machines to crash on startup."

Ah good, I can turn on my desktop machine again. No idea if it would have been affected, but I wasn't going to take the chance. My laptop (A6-based -- yes, it's an old machine, but a good machine) survived the updates, although I'm annoyed about the changes to the look of the GUI.

Game of Thrones author's space horror Nightflyers hitting telly

John Gamble

Re: Dark Matter cancelled

Exactly four episodes were shown (on an irregular schedule, of course), then the series was cancelled. I used to show the four episodes to my friends via that modern device called the VCR player.

When the boxed set of Wonderfalls came out I was amazed, and bought it immediately.

John Gamble

Re: Prediction for this comment thread . . .

Yes. In my town it came out the same week as Princess Bride. Princess Bride ran for a while, Nightflyers was one week and gone.

I wonder if the channel is adapting that story only. GRRM has a lot of stories in that setting (called Thousand Worlds -- hmm, "Sandkings" is part of it, that would make an interesting episode), and I'd like to see a wider adaption.


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