* Posts by Scott Wheeler

87 posts • joined 13 Sep 2007


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

Scott Wheeler

Re: "Apple had no duty to disclose the facts regarding software capability and battery capacity."

You can't convert hp in to kW. These are not "bhp", i.e. brake horsepower, measured on a dynometer. They are "taxable horsepower" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_horsepower), calculated from the bore (not the stroke!) and number of cylinders of the engine according to a standard formula. My modern 1200 Triumph motorcycle would have 13.5hp according to this formula, but is claimed to develop 135bhp.

Heads up: Debian's package manager is APT for root-level malware injection... Fix out now to thwart MITM hijacks

Scott Wheeler

Re: Lousy advice guys

> Shouldn't be anyone who is not experienced or at least not willing/eager to dive deeper into linux using something like Debian. For those folks anyway this specific thing mentioned in the article is a non issue to begin with.

No - this presumably affects Ubuntu and other distros downstream of Debian.

Scott Wheeler

Re: "Supporting HTTP is fine,"

apt supports HTTPS (by changing the URLs in /etc/apt/sources.list and /etc/apt/sources.list.d/*). However that doesn't mean that the web servers ("apt data sources") that those URLs point to actually implement HTTPS. Certainly the default servers for Ubuntu for a UK user do not support HTTPS.

Lords of the DNS remind admins about Flag Day, Juniper likes Watson and more

Scott Wheeler

Re: DNS/EDNS Flag Day?

I haven't heard of it either. Also the version numbers for BIND are odd. The latest number that ISC offers for download (https://www.isc.org/downloads/bind/) is 9.12.3-P1 - earlier than this article speaks of. I run an Ubuntu server (version 9.10.3-P4-Ubuntu is current), so I looked at the Ubuntu packages that ISC offers. Again, the latest version is 9.12.3.P1.

I am not familiar with https://dnsflagday.net, or whether they are actually authoritative. However announcing a flag day two weeks out for which the sw they say is mandatory has not yet been released seems very strange.

Oracle v Google: Big Red wants $9.3bn in Java copyright damages

Scott Wheeler

Obligatory Linux angle

If APIs can be patented, there is no obvious reason why this would be restricted to application libraries, rather than including things like the API or ABI of operating systems. Linux was designed as a work-alike for Unix, and this could imply that the entity holding the copyright for Unix would be able to shut Linux down. It is not entirely clear who that is at the moment - either Micro Focus International, or our old friends SCO.

How to help a user who can't find the Start button or the keyboard?

Scott Wheeler

Re: Can't click any of the things on the screen

> I've heard of people asking for a bigger mouse mat because with their

> small one their pointer can't reach the whole screen.

Well what's wrong with that? Would you want to spend all day lifting your mouse and re-placing it under the circumstances? Yes, you know that it's possible to "gear up" the mouse movements. They don't, so a larger mouse mat is a reasonable solution from their point of view. And since it would actually work, what's the problem?

From Zero to hero: Why mini 'puter Oberon should grab Pi's crown

Scott Wheeler

Why Oberon is not my favourite language

Three reasons why children would hate an Oberon programming environment.

* Oberon is case sensitive

* The key words are upper case

* You're going to have to type PROCEDURE an awful lot.

So you need a PS/2 keyboard with a comfortably upholstered Caps Lock.

Let's get to the bottom of in-app purchases that go titsup

Scott Wheeler

Re: Re SCART -I think you'll find PAL is about as English as Queen Victoria ....

> Is there still a special relationship between England and Hannover?

No. Hanover had Salic law (monarchs must be male), so Victoria could not inherit it when she came to the throne.

POW: Smut-seeding copyright troll slammed as 'extortionate'

Scott Wheeler


Isn't this straightforward blackmail, and hence a criminal offence?

Hello? Police? Yes, I'm a car and my idiot driver's crashed me

Scott Wheeler

Re: How severe does the 'crash' need to be..

> As a bonus, there is a summary of the privacy considerations contained in the technical document above.

Thanks - this is exactly what we needed to see. So to summarise the document: the device is not registered with any network until an accident occurs. This is more stringent than not having a data connection open: the device will not have a way to receive incoming calls, data or SMS. [This should preclude its use for bugging or tracking, including use by insurance or road-use based taxes]. The device will not retain more data than is necessary to establish the current position and the direction of travel - older data will be discarded. All of this being subject to possible change in the final requirement.

In summary, it seems to be designed with privacy in mind, and to be resistant to abuse by state agencies. While I would rather not have one, this appears to be a Germanic product - safety conscious, and also very cautious about the potential for mis-use.

Scott Wheeler


> My iPhone tracks my every move in much more detail anyway, who cares if the car is doing it too!?

Your iPhone tracks you because you have allowed it to do so. Mine doesn't because I've turned off that option.

US military SATELLITE suddenly BLOWS UP: 'Temperature spike' blamed

Scott Wheeler

They have already demonstrated the capability to destroy an old satellite, so it would appear that either this is not a treaty violation or they don't care: more likely the former I would say.

Lenovo shipped lappies with man-in-the-middle ad/mal/bloatware

Scott Wheeler

Re: Microsoft hardware

> You would simply find that an Apple device is all but unusable if you deny it the chance to phone home with a far more comprehensive set of personal data.

No it isn't - that's exactly what I do, using Little Snitch. In any case, Macs don't do MITM attacks on HTTPS sessions. They are far from perfect, but on both Windows and Mac it's still usually possible to prevent sw phoning home.

However I do agree with you that a Mac will attempt to phone home much more than I am happy with.

Ferraris, Zondas and ... er, a bike with a 500hp V10 under the saddle

Scott Wheeler

Re: fugly

> Wrestling a V10 down a motorway seems an utterly pointless exercise, and on a racetrack it would be doubly so due to bends.

The bike was build by Adam Millyard a few years back. As with all his bikes, it's a real road-going bike, not a design freak. I've seen him ride it down single track road to the West Hagbourne bike night. It's a lot more practical than the donor Viper car. The fact that it does 207mph is neither here not there.

You'd probably prefer his latest creation, the Flying Millyard, a 5L V-twin minimally based on a big aircraft radial. It's hard-tailed, has manual mixture and advance/retard, and requires kick-starting - which I've seen him do. Or is that removing too much complication and weight for your taste?

Quicker, easier to fly to MOON than change web standards ... OR IS IT?

Scott Wheeler

Re: We went from NCP to TCP/IP overnight.

NCP could only address 256 hosts. It's hardly a comparable problem to changing an Internet standard today.

Speaking in Tech: 'Software-defined' anything makes me BARF in my MOUTH

Scott Wheeler

Please take that phrase out and shoot it. And I'm not talking about "software defined".

AV for Mac

Scott Wheeler

Re: Impossible.

Al fazed:

The computer is a Mac (i.e. Macintosh) not a MAC. The company is Apple, not MAC. Given this level of knowledge, perhaps you'll understand if I ask for a source for your assertion that:

> thousands of users and administrators contacting MAC tech support asking for help with, what turned out to be .... a virus.

Are you perhaps thinking of other forms of malware, such as a Trojan?

TrueCrypt turmoil latest: Bruce Schneier reveals what he'll use instead

Scott Wheeler

Re: Whoa there

> Furthermore, Bitlocker requires TPM hardware

No it doesn't. It will use it if available, but it runs fine without it.

MPs blast HMRC for using anti-terrorism laws against whistleblower

Scott Wheeler

Re: Lawmakers and the law

As far as I know, RIPA was not justified on the basis of counter-terrorism. It's simply there to define which authorities can require interception, and what authorisation they require for it - and this has always included use for criminal investigation. A RIPA-type law was clearly needed as prior to that it was ambiguous who had the right to intercepts, which could lead to abuse. Of course it's possible to argue that it permits interception too easily (and I would agree with this), but that doesn't argue against the need to define the legal framework for interception.

Planes fail to find 'credible' candidate for flight MH370 wreckage

Scott Wheeler

Except that following DB Cooper, the planes have been designed to prevent parachuting out of them.

Blighty goes retro with 12-sided pound coin

Scott Wheeler

That sort of thing is what I'm worried about with this "authentication". While it's unlikely that they use RFID because the coins are metal, I'm concerned that they may give coins individual identification, which will make cash transactions trackable.

Spend zero notes to take all notes with OneNote: Microsoft makes app free, builds it for OS X

Scott Wheeler

No local storage on Mac version

You have to use Microsoft's Skydrive on the Mac version - no way avoid your content going on to their servers. I can't use it for this reason. While I prefer OneNote on the PC to Evernote, at least Evernote allows local storage.

Mac OneNote also missing a significant amount of other stuff which I happen to use - for instance the "Print to OneNote" function has gone. On a PC I'm in the habit of printing large docs to OneNote, putting the image in the background, then writing notes over the top. This won't be used by everyone, but it was important to me.

DARPA: You didn't think we could make a Mach 6 spaceplane, so let us have this MACH TEN job

Scott Wheeler

Re: Once something become possible

> Basic nukes aren't hard. They require zero engineering experience (for a gun-type nuke.)

Ok, that means you need U235. Do you know of an easy way to get that?

Do you need an initiator for your design? What will you make it of, and how large is it?

What is your critical mass? What amount of explosive do you need in the gun to avoid a squib explosion? Is there any danger of the explosive shattering the uranium that it is propelling?

iPhone 5S: Fanbois, your prints are safe from the NSA, claim infosec bods

Scott Wheeler

Re: Pinky

> everything on the iPhone (except the fingerprint, of course) is in the clouds

Speak for yourself. I don't use cloud storage, and I don't use Siri (because it would upload my contacts). You may be happy living in the panopticon, but you don't speak for everyone.

Steelie Neelie calls for TOTAL BAN on EU mobe roaming charges

Scott Wheeler

Unintended consequences

I work for a large international mobile phone company. I think this would probably work well for us: we can do cheap roaming on our own footprint anyway (and have some pretty good deals to encourage it). However it looks to me as though this will kill smaller companies: they will have to pay a roaming partner (perhaps at a reduced rate) while not being able to recover the costs. This is particularly true of MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) who use the infrastructure of MNOs (the big companies). Some of them are tiny - a few thousand users. Basically this looks good for the big incumbents, bad for others.

Xerox copier flaw changes numbers in scanned docs

Scott Wheeler


A) Users don't have the manual; B) Users don't have the admin privileges to raise the scan resolution; C) A bug like this should be fixed, not documented as a "feature".

Two more counties to get gov-funded bumpkin broadband from... guess?

Scott Wheeler

Why do you always refer to anyone living outside the Great Wen as a bumpkin? Were you frightened by a cow-pat at an impresionable age?

USB accelerates to 10 Gbps

Scott Wheeler

Re: Potential

It turns out that running network protocols over USB is already used. Many 3G USB "modems" are actually routers, and also run a small web server on the device to control the router functionality. However I agree with the general point that replacing physical Ethernet cables with USB is not obviously a good idea.

MS brandishes 'Katana' HTTP/2.0 server

Scott Wheeler

Does anyone know whether it will support SCTP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCTP) transport in addition to TCP? SCTP is a protocol at the level of TCP or UDP which is intended for just this sort of message stream. It's extensively used in the telecoms world for signalling, but is not supported on Windows without a 3rd party driver.

Nuke plants to rely on PDP-11 code UNTIL 2050!

Scott Wheeler

Re: if it aint broke....

> BTW I believe DLR run a PDP11 in every single train.

I think it's an 8080 running Forth, from memory.

How did something so small and pink cause so much trouble?

Scott Wheeler

> After having carried a Hong Kong ID card for a few years now....I'm all for it, provided the cost isn't absurd. Very convenient.

Even more convenient *not* to carry an ID card.

Scott Wheeler

Re: Tyranny

> And yet strangely France is one of the countries where ID cards aren't compulsory.

Up to a point. You are not required to carry it, but if you don't, you can be held for up to three days while someone fetches it for you.

Hotel marketplace Airbnb: Show us your privates if you want to book a bed

Scott Wheeler

Bear in mind that most continental hotels will require a photocopy of your passport when you turn up, so that information is going to leak in any case if you're travelling in Europe.

Firefox 'death sentence' threat to TeliaSonera over gov spy claims

Scott Wheeler

Re: CAs

DNSSEC itself relies on the DNS records being signed, and hence on the integrity of the CA chain. So no, it doesn't appear that verifying web certificates using information carried by DNS will help.

Office for Mac 2008 support umbilical chopped off

Scott Wheeler

Re: History son, history!

> MS really need to sort out the backup problems with Outlook for Mac (effectively, you can't) , although we know they won't, don't we!

MS need to sort out Outlook backup, full stop. At some stage long ago, someone had the bright idea that everything should be in a database on Windows. Admittedly, that was the orthodoxy of computer science at the time, and Windows was supposed to be changing to a database file system (WinFS). That left us with gigabyte .PST and .OST files rather than small files that could be individually backed up: a problem for both MacOS and Windows.

Scott Wheeler
Thumb Down

Re: OneNote, Access and Publisher?

> And OneNote is ably replicated in the Word for Mac Notebook view.

Oh, rubbish. I use both. Notebook view is better than nothing, but it's missing about 95% of the functionality of OneNote. It's basically good for banging out indented pure text notes in linear sequence, with perhaps ten pages in a "notebook". Push it beyond that and it's very poor even for the features it is supposed to implement. It also has problems with its rendering, so that you can find that a chunk of text simply doesn't display: this is absolutely fundamental functionality which does not work reliably. A couple of weeks ago I even managed to corrupt a document by moving a notepad tab (i.e. a section), so that if I tried to display that section, Word would lock up. The only reason I use it is because the small number of things that it does do happen to correspond to one job I do on a Mac every 2-3 weeks, and I want to use Word to be able to read the documents a few years on. I'm not a great fan of Evernote compared to OneNote, but for most purposes it is a country mile better than notebook view.

Giant solar-powered aircraft to begin cross-country flight

Scott Wheeler

Re video: a small point, but I wish the USAians wouldn't keep flagging up Lindbergh as the first to fly the Atlantic. The first non-stop heavier than air flight was by Alcock and Brown. Lindbergh did the first solo (and had a more elegant landing).

Microsoft unwraps sysadmin-friendly Office 365 for biz update

Scott Wheeler


MS Word is not a copy of Word Perfect; Word Perfect is not a copy of Wordstar. Unless you consider the concept of a non-modal screen editor to be innovative

MS Excel is not a copy of Lotus123; Visicalc had some dependence on Visicalc, but was very different.

MS Access is not a copy of dBase. Did you ever use dBase?

Nokia wants to build the Google of human behaviour - and share it

Scott Wheeler

> “Where do people go at 10pm after a movie? It’s about building up these kinds of connections.”

Nope. And to be clear, this is not just about what they do with the data, or which third parties have access to it.

Open source app can detect text's authors

Scott Wheeler

Old hat

This was in use at least 40 years ago for analysing Biblical texts. Other than it being open source, I don't see anything new.

Phone-bonker Bump tells desktop users: We swing both ways now

Scott Wheeler

Ad-hoc WiFi is used to offer a tethered 3G connection on iPhones - but that's the only use I can think of for it.

Sick software nasty uses child abuse pics to extort infected victims

Scott Wheeler

Re: I think the only solution here is DBANing the drives.

However, if you report CP on your disk, expect to see some repercussions if you ever need a CRB2 check, which is based on suspicion and rumour as well as criminal record.

Brit 2.5-tonne nuke calculator is World's Oldest Working Computer

Scott Wheeler

Re: "Oldest Working Computer" - stop on exception

> Any of the elderly (*human*) "computers" still "working"?

Probably not, but I know one who is in her mid 70s.

Entire Reg readership would fill 205 Olympic-sized swimming pools

Scott Wheeler


Popn 2500 - only reason I know of it is because it's on the Kungsleden long distance path.

Facebook: 'No merit' to claim we broke German privacy law

Scott Wheeler

> Under UK law you are allowed to go by a pseudonym, as long as you maintain documentation of your real name.

As I understand it, legally it is (or was) the other way around. The name that you are known by is your "real" name. Changing your name by deed poll is a recognition that you are already known by that name, and allows you to update your official documentation.

Mystery X-37B robot spaceplane returns to orbit on Tuesday

Scott Wheeler

Re: Hovering over China?

A way to get the effect of long dwell time over China is by using a Molniya orbit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molniya_orbit). That's a highly elliptical, highly inclined orbit with the apogee (furthest away from Earth, and hence slowest moving) in the northern hemisphere. Although the orbits the Russians use for their Molniya satellites have a six hour period, you could use a one day orbit to put the satellite consistently within sight of China for most of its orbital period.

Use a Mac? For actual work? Evernote Business has arrived

Scott Wheeler


I use both Evernote and OneNote, and I develop enterprise products. I'd say that OneNote is much more enterprise friendly in that it is trivial to host shared notebooks on companies' existing MS infrastructure - no need to use a cloud-based solution, which is often a blocker.

Having said that, I've yet to meet someone who uses shared notebooks. Are they a solution in search of a problem?

Einstein almost tagged dark energy in the early 1920s

Scott Wheeler

Re: Huh?

> A variable constant? That's revolutionary maths right there!!

No, it's cromulent.

The cosmological constant arises as a "constant of integration", i.e. there's an equation, and Einstein integrated both sides of it by some variable (sorry, I don't remember which off hand). When you do this, you get a new equation where you introduce a "constant". This means it's a value which doesn't depend on the variable you are integrating by. It may well depend on some other variable, or it could be a fixed number, but in this context you call it a constant of integration. The interesting point is that the process gives you no information at all about the value of that constant.

World's oldest digital computer successfully reboots

Scott Wheeler

Re: Note that *accuracy* prized over speed

> This is a a *true* decimal computer with counting by 10's built (literally) into the hardware.

Still true of modern PCs and Macs! Some 8-bit BCD instructions are buried in the 8086 instruction layer of Intel-family processors.

Malware made which can share a smartcard over the internet

Scott Wheeler


> I'm surprised no one as yet has tried introducing code via an infected smart card

Although smartcards do have something analogous to files and directories, PC/SC smartcard drivers won't allow you to mount the file systems on a PC. More importantly, there is an ornate privilege mechanism which would usually stop you creating or writing to files without provisioning keys specific to that particular smartcard. Also smartcards generally have only a tiny amount of unused storage, of the order of 2-4kB.


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