* Posts by John Sturdy

595 posts • joined 22 Jan 2008

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Cisco warns 'unintentional debugging credential' left in some network switches can be abused to hijack equipment

John Sturdy
WTF?

As an aside, I'm puzzled by the terminology

If these are "passive optical network switches", how does the concept of root access apply? That doesn't sound like a passive device to me.

Hitting underground pipes and cables costs the UK £2.4bn a year. We need a data platform for that, says government

John Sturdy
Mushroom

In my area there are a high-voltage overhead line and a major high-pressure underground gas pipeline running close to each other for some distance, and crossing over at least once. Another reason to be particularly glad it's not an active earthquake zone.

What do you mean you gave the boss THAT version of the report? Oh, ****ing ****balls

John Sturdy
Holmes

An error from code that tempted people to try its boundaries

I didn't manage to find it with a quick look around the source, but there's rumoured to be an error message from one of the more arcane parts of TeX (or something else in that suite) that says "If you get this error, you know exactly what you are doing, and you entirely deserve it."

All I want for Christmas is a delivery address that a delivery courier can find

John Sturdy
Happy

In pleasant contrast

I lived for several years in rural south-west Ireland, where my most specific address was which townland (division of a parish) I was in --- in my case, it referred to all the houses on a particular hill, regardless of which part of the road network it was on (there were roads onto the hill from either side, but none across it). No house numbers there; in fact, there's a phrase "living in the numbers" referring to urban living, where the houses have numbers.

In pleasant contrast to many of the stories here, my postal deliveries started arriving before I had thought of going round to the local Post Office to tell them which house I was in... the postman spotted a new name, and delivered to the house which had been unoccupied for a few weeks but now had someone in it. But that's an advantage of having a local postman, which delivery companies don't have the target density to do.

VMware imagines 'memory servers' – a new source of shared software-defined RAM

John Sturdy
Boffin

Prior art from the 1980s

The Apollo workstations did paging over the network.

IKEA: Cameras were hidden in the ceiling above warehouse toilets for 'health and safety'

John Sturdy
Holmes

Re: Where were they pointing?

Given that the red light on the camera was visible from below, and that red lights on CCTV cameras tend to be on the front of the camera... I suspect the camera was pointing roughly in the direction from which the light was observed (or at least, a lot nearer to that than the opposite direction). I doubt the light would be sufficiently noticeable from the side of the camera, or significantly below it.

Samsung is planning to reverse-engineer the human brain on to a chip

John Sturdy
FAIL

Ornithopters!

This sounds like trying to design an aeroplane by copying bird anatomy.

One-size-fits-all chargers? What a great idea! Of course Apple would hate it

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: In a statement, a spokesperson for Apple told The Reg

Some standards are widely used without enforcement, but they don't necessarily become universal; for example, AA and AAA battery sizes (although the names for those aren't as well-standardized as the sizes: AA = R6/LR6/FR6/KR6/HR6/ZR6 = 15D/15A/15LF/15K/15H = UM3 = D14 = HP7 = LR06 = AM-3 = Mignon = tansan; AAA = U16 = Micro = Ministilo = MN2400 = MX2400 = Type 286 = Pencil cell = UM 4 = #7 = 6135-99-117-3143)

Technology does widen the education divide. But not always in the way you expect

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Clarification

I don't see that the first and second part of each of your cases necessarily go together (although I think they often may). It could be that technology is helping education and widening the educational divide, by giving the keen learners more opportunity to get ahead of the rest, even if there were to be no effect on the reluctant learners.

I could have learnt so much more from online material (even if restricted to wikipedia and wikibooks or similar) than I learnt in school... although that would have been actual learning, and probably not much good for getting me through exams.

Not too bright, are you? Your laptop, I mean... Not you

John Sturdy
Windows

Re: Ah, a first time user

You can get modern retro keyboards with a return lever on the side (there's one called the Qwerkywriter, but I suspect there may be others)! It even has a scroll knob.

Italian stuntman flies aeroplane through two motorway tunnels

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: I suspect there's some software involved

Might there be some aerodynamic effects that will help (along the lines of ground effect helping to keep the aircraft off the road surface, but applying sideways)?

Give us a CLU: Object Oriented Programming pioneer arrives on GitHub

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Oh no

Or for real papers, done the real old way (TeX)... I've sometimes wished browsers would support .dvi files. But that was a while ago, I haven't seen any recently.

I tried suggesting writing a plugin either for those, or for TeX/LaTeX, as a student project when I was working in a university, but nobody took it up.

WEB@30: The Register pokes around historical hardware of the WWW

John Sturdy
Happy

Re: Wot, no FX-80 ?

The Diablo daisywheel printer had a self-test sequence that included a test of carriage alignment; it would print an H at one side of the page, then one at the other side, then one next to the first H, one next to the second H, and so on, until they met in the middle. So as it worked its way through that, the distance, and hence the time, the carriage travelled before changing direction became shorter and shorter... being sure to hit the resonant frequency of the table it was standing on at some stage.

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Wot, no FX-80 ?

I remember the drum and chain printers the university had when I was a student (just before laser printers took off). For the older generation of them, the control unit was in the mainframe room, in the next building, and a huge bundle of thick wires ran between the buildings; I think it must have been a wire for each of the 132 hammer solenoids, with the driver circuitry at the computer end.

Facebook now says it won't recall staff to its offices until 2022 due to delta variant

John Sturdy
Linux

Re: What data

Not only can a lot of tech jobs be done outside of a corporate office, but many (most, I suspect) can be done better almost anywhere other than the office. (Slight hyperbole there; I can think of plenty of places even worse for tech work, such as a supermarket or a rave. But most of us can find somewhere better than the office.)

Penguin, because if frequent face-to-face interaction is critical to projects, how did the Linux kernel get as far as it has?

Great reset? More like Fake Reset: Leaders need a reality check if they think their best staff will give up hybrid work

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

Switched internet-controlled PDUs will take care of much of the rebooting (although if the PDU model is chosen by bean counters, they can be a pain to work with); setting up a dedicated Pi with a 3G/4G hat or dongle to control them when the gateway is what needs resetting (and even moving them onto a separate network) will probably pay for itself in time taken in a few round trips to the office to reset things, depending on your commute time.

But yes, sometimes someone will have to go in, but not that often.

Steam-powered computers: Retro cool or old and busted?

John Sturdy
Coat

A steam-powered predecessor of Unix?

I remember a temporary sign at the computer centre at the University of Bath, in the late 1980s, saying:

MULTICS is down owing to boilerhouse failure at Bristol.

I didn't enquire for details.

Is it broken yet? Is it? Is it? Ooh that means I can buy a sparkly, new but otherwise hard-to-justify replacement!

John Sturdy
Happy

My lizard was pleased with this article

When I replaced my old monitor with a larger one, I put the old one to the side of the desk as a second display... and moved my soft toy Komodo Dragon to onto the plinth for the new monitor.

Because the Komodo is the largest Monitor lizard.

UK celebrates 25 years of wasteful, 'underperforming' government IT projects

John Sturdy
Linux

I wonder how much of what is written for the government could be downloaded (e.g. from Estonia: https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/collection/open-source-observatory-osor/news/estonia-makes-public-software-public) and tweaked or configured?

Nah, people who think that way don't get to be cronies of the government.

Europe mulls anonymous crypto-wallet ban, rules to make transfers more traceable

John Sturdy
Facepalm

Re: "... to conduct due diligence..."

It's a farce, or perhaps a tragicomedy.

I moved to Ireland to work there for a while in the early 2000s, and of course had to set up a bank account, for which I had to show my passport and some utility bills with my address on them (to prove I wasn't a money launderer, I guess they don't have utility bills)... for a house which I had arranged to move into but couldn't start renting until I'd got a bank account there that my employer could pay into. Catch-22.

But, there was fortunately a loophole. As my employer was a large organization (a university) the bank would accept a letter from them (their HR department) stating that I worked for them, and confirming my address. The university didn't need to know my address, and I could have given any address, because if they wrote to me it would be by email, or if they really needed snail mail, they would use my pigeonhole in my department.

So HR wrote to the bank, who said that the letter didn't meet the requirements... after three or four attempts at HR getting the right wording, the bank rang them up and dictated the letter they required. Using the arbitrary address I had given them (it was actually the real address where I was going to live, but they never would have noticed if it hadn't been).

Yay for due diligence!

Brain-computer interface researchers warn of a 'bleak' cyberpunk future – unless we tread carefully

John Sturdy
Big Brother

Rule 34B

About a decade ago, I was working with a UI researcher on a proposal for a project to explore novel human-computer interaction technologies for use in software development. He decided to steer clear of BCIs, and said he reckoned they would first appear from China, and would be used to enhance pornography --- picking up on what lights your candle and giving you more of it.

And that would be a wonderful source of data for anyone who wants to lean on you.

(Yes, I'm sure there'll also be BCI porn, but I put Rule 34B because the porn industry could monetize it behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera.)

Apple delays recalling staff to offices until October as Delta variant romps across US

John Sturdy
Boffin

Re: Who Knew?

Well, these doctors seem confident that the right masks do make a significant difference: https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/upgrading-ppe-for-staff-working-on-covid-19-wards-cut-hospital-acquired-infections-dramatically

Facebook pulls plug on mind-reading neural interface that restored a user's speech

John Sturdy
Happy

That made my day.

John Sturdy
Unhappy

A company as rich as Facebook should be able to afford supporting some blue-sky research

A company as rich as Facebook should be able to afford supporting some blue-sky research --- and can't they write it off as a loss for tax purposes?

Huh, it's as if something happened that made people not like CentOS so much

John Sturdy
Linux

This might reduce the chafing

A most places where I've worked since both distributions have been around, the people who choose what to put on servers have picked something from the Red Hat family, and the developers have mostly chosen from the Debian family, which has occasionally brought slight incompatibilities to light.

Lenovo says it’s crammed a workstation into a litre of space – less than three cans of beer

John Sturdy
Linux

A way round that?

If you're not tied to Windows software to operate the device, might a Raspberry Pi per device (plus level shifters as needed) be an economical and flexible way forward?

John Sturdy
Thumb Up

Re: a pair of PS/2s

I was a bit surprised to see those (I still use PS/2 via an adaptor, for some old footswitches, so it does make some difference to me) but a quick search revealed an advantage: in a particularly security-sensitive application, you can block off all the USB ports to stop anyone connecting storage devices, and connect the keyboard and mouse via PS/2.

SteelSeries Apex Pro plays both sides of the mechanical keyboard fence – and wins

John Sturdy
Happy

Re: Good non-clicky soft keyboard preferred

I remember those (and indeed have one in the shed, awaiting restoration)... I quite liked them, they gave you some exercise, and kept the circulation going --- as far as I remember, nobody got RSI back then.

Tencent uses facial recognition to enforce China’s curfew on gaming kids

John Sturdy
Coat

Exemptions?

If the Party and its affiliates start to produce games that indoctrinate the players to be Good Citizens, will those games be exempt?

Mine's the one with "Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook" in the pocket...

The splitting image: Sufferer of hurty wrist pain? Logitech's K860 a potential answer

John Sturdy
Happy

Re: keyboard layouts

A compromise would be to buy a separate numeric keypad (widely available)

Go to L: A man of the cloth faces keyboard conundrum

John Sturdy
Coat

Re: accept emailed prayer requests

I think that's more associated with the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monastic_sign_languages

;-)

John Sturdy
Angel

An excellent contact page

I saw an early version of the web site of the Carthusian Order, who are strictly silent.

Their contact page said that their webmaster would be happy to accept emailed prayer requests and reports of broken links, "but please understand that it is not in the nature of our vocation to reply".

Who in America is standing up to privacy-bothering facial-recognition tech? Maine is right now leading the pack

John Sturdy
Unhappy

Re: Sadly

Unfortunately, an even less reliable technology --- polygraphy --- is acceptable for law enforcement purposes in various places, prominently in the USA. So I doubt that the unreliability of facial recognition technology is going to be much of an obstacle to its adoption.

Scientists identify sleep-like slow waves as responsible for daydreaming and... sorry, what were we talking about again?

John Sturdy
Meh

Re: Who?

All those times I've been trying to read a colleague's name badge without looking like I'm staring at whatever part of their anatomy it's nearest to...

India to open-source its Co-WIN national vaccination booking platform

John Sturdy
Linux

Another motivation for sharing

The overly cynical side of me thinks "Perhaps they're opening it in the hope that someone else will fix the glitches?"

But still, it's the right thing to do, and it should be no harm to them; it doesn't seem likely that the alternative was to sell it to other countries.

And, yes, a few more eyeballs may help with the bugs.

Ouch! When the IT equipment is sound, but the setup is hole-y inappropriate

John Sturdy
Facepalm

If you can't get the USB plug into the ethernet socket, you're trying the wrong end of the cable

USB-B plugs (the square ones used on printers etc) do a reasonable impression of fitting into an ethernet socket, if it's round the back of a printer which is in a cupboard, and you're trying to do it by touch.

Anyone still using cash? British £50 banknote honouring Alan Turing arrives

John Sturdy
WTF?

and in Albania

Albanian ATMs will give you 5000 lek notes if they can, which is about 40 euro --- about three days of the average salary there. Not easy to change except at the big cafes, bookshops etc.

Euro court rules YouTube not automatically liable for users illegally uploading copyright-protected material

John Sturdy
FAIL

Own goal?

I'm one of the probably dwindling number of people who still buy recordings on physical media.

I can't remember when I last decided to buy (a DVD or CD) other than having heard/watched a sample of it online, almost always on YouTube.

If I'm aware that an artist or media company is arsey about online samples, I buy the media second-hand, e.g. because of the Sony BMG rootkit scandal, I completed my James Bond DVD collection entirely second-hand.

And I can't be the only one for whom such samples are their main way of finding media to buy. So they may have shot themselves in the foot (I certainly hope so).

We've been shown time and again that strong encryption puts crims behind bars, so why do politicos hate it?

John Sturdy
Big Brother

Re: "Think about the children" - Yes but not this way

I've long assumed that the idea is to have a file of dirt on all individuals in case they turn out to be "key" to something the government (or its associates) don't like. Then if, for example, you attend a protest and are spotted by the Forward Intelligence Teams, they'll have something to add to your "biography" as well as your presence at the protest. Per terabyte of storage, that's about 15k per person in the UK.

John Sturdy
Happy

The irony of it

A camera pointed at an ever-varying scene (say, the area around your front door, with plants moving gently in the the wind) would be a good source of background data for steganography... which means a surveillance camera could be useful for transmitting hidden messages under the nose of state surveillance :-)

Do you come from a land Down Under? Where diesel's low and techies blunder

John Sturdy
Mushroom

UPS risks

Years (well, decades) ago I went on a tour of the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, and was told that the UPS for the 5km telescope was a motor-flywheel-generator set which stored enough energy to shut down the computer centre and park 8 90-ton dishes in a high wind. They reckoned that if the flywheel came off its bearings, it would roll about 25 miles, so it was aimed to have as clear a path between villages as they could arrange.

John Sturdy
FAIL

Make sure you connect the sense wire to the right side

One (large) place where I worked had an automatic diesel generator set (ISO-container sized IIRC) set up to come on automatically on detecting loss of incoming mains, and off again once mains was restored.

I can't remember whether this was on a deliberate test, or a real mains failure, but the first time it detected loss of power and switched itself on... it immediately detected that the power was back, and switched itself off again.

Linus Torvalds tells kernel list poster to 'SHUT THE HELL UP' for saying COVID-19 vaccines create 'new humanoid race'

John Sturdy
Thumb Up

Restrained and very appropriately targeted

He very specifically targets the subject matter of the offending message, and not any inherent characteristics of the person who sent it.

No digital equivalent to the impulse aisle found as online grocery shoppers buy fewer sweet treats than in real life

John Sturdy

Re: Fewer online refrigerated purchases?

Or R&D into possible refrigeration mechanisms for vehicle loadspaces?

John Sturdy
Happy

This may be balanced by an increase in the popularity of baking your own cakes!

Australian cops, FBI created backdoored chat app, told crims it was secure – then snooped on 9,000 users' plots

John Sturdy
Joke

Re: Ah......backdoors again...........

From the look of that, I'm going to have to read between the lines.

How many remote controls do you really need? Answer: about a bowl-ful

John Sturdy
Coat

Re: Only Need One

I would find a TV-be-gone enough for me: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TV-B-Gone

Need some chips? The Raspberry Pi Pico's RP2040 is heading to a channel near you

John Sturdy

Re: Expensive part

About twice the price of a 555 timer.

Congestion or a Christmas cock-up? A Register reader throws himself under the bus

John Sturdy
Coat

Re: PICNIC?

Another IBM part name: IIRC the early PS/2 machines had the power switch round the back, but people complained to IBM about this, and the later versions appeared to have the power switch at the front. In fact the real switch was still at the back, and the control on the front of the machine merely moved a steel rod which poked the real switch. That rod was called the "ferric power transfer bar".

Google employee helped UK government switch from disastrous COVID-19 strategy, according to Dominic Cummings

John Sturdy
Mushroom

Re: Hang on

That may not have been the key realization; taking politicians' primary aim to be re-election, the realization that the people most at risk from Covid were the same people more likely to vote for his party may have been what did it.

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