* Posts by Andy Dingley

23 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Feb 2008

New leader, same old job for Martha Lane Fox

Andy Dingley

Friends and Family policies

So no money for Web Science and Opendata.gov.uk is under threat, but there's still a job for MLF

First among SQLs

Andy Dingley

Old-ish terminology?

A little outdated surely? "true-ish" has been deprecated in favour of the 2.0 term, "truthiness"

NZ police pursue cuffed and naked fugitive

Andy Dingley

NZ - land of the free-range orc

Nasty hobbitses chaasing Gollum!

Philip K. Dick's kid howls over Googlephone handle

Andy Dingley
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Deja Apple?

I'm waiting for the next model: "Butthead Author's Daughter"

Visa gives merchants crypto card security guidelines

Andy Dingley

Encryption - just encourages the wrong approach

Encryption can itself be one of the worst enemies here.

Post-authorisation, very few sites need to encrypt the card number. It's not even necesary to store the thing! The attitude of "we can store it, it's OK, we've encrypted it" is a fallacy shared by a huge number of sites, operators and even major players who Ought To Know Better (and are indeed told so in PCI DSS). It's a shift from "we don't need to do this" to "we need to do this competently, forever, against attack" and we know how hard that is.

If you want an audit trail, _obfuscate_ the number (wipe all but the last digits), don't encrypt it. That's just not reversible, even if the whole database is compromised. Works fine for audit trails and answering customer post facto denials too.

If the card number does need to be held long-term (future repeat charges), then that's a whole different business, not the usual one-off web shopping visit. Do it if and when it's needed, but that's the rare exception on most sites, not the rule.

As for encryption with a symmetric key cipher (and just how nearby is that encryption key held?), that's a WTF of its own.

Black-hole sniffing 'laser combs' are go, say Brit gov boffins

Andy Dingley

Colour of space

Space isn't black, it's very dark red. A shade called "3K". Black holes are black, as black as it gets.

Demon splurges details of 3,600 customers in billing email

Andy Dingley
Paris Hilton

Demon is so last century

The question isn't even why anyone is still with Demon: for some years now it has been why you're still with Nildram, to where you'd moved after the first mass migration away from Demon when Thus first got involved. As seems sadly inevitable, that bolthole went downhill too and it was time to abandon it in turn.

(Andrews & Arnold are lovely though)

Paris, because it's who Cliff would have chosen

HP sees techies living in a box

Andy Dingley

Welcome to the new HP

That's not a datacenter, that's the new Bristol Labs building.

UK childcare voucher site offline after security snafu

Andy Dingley
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Which Nick was that?

"according to email seen by Griffin"

Oh dear Reg, not every data security hole with someone called "Nick" is about Nasty Nick

I've just grepped the BNP address list and there's no Gibbins in there (couple of gibbons and a few apes maybe)

Wacky Jacqui Smith says whole country crusading against CCTV

Andy Dingley

Not the first careless phrasing from Jacqui Smith

This is also the Home Sec who supported Tasers for the police as being a better alternative than firearms.

Of course under UK law, a Taser _is_ a firearm, else we'd be allowed them too. Unless of course this pronouncement means that we're no longer classifying electricity as a "noxious fluid", and thus using it as a firearm.

Ares I manned rocket section explodes in testing

Andy Dingley

How to shut off a solid rocket motor

Solid motors (the Shuttle SRBs at least) do have some capability to be switched off in flight. The burn rate of these propellants is strongly dependent on internal pressure. Opening a large vent port (once only, with explosives) at the top of the booster drops the pressure and reduces burn rate to a crawl. This is already done on the Shuttle when the SRBs are jettisioned.

It makes little difference to Ares (I've no idea if such a system is even fitted), but it's a workable bit of rocket motor technology.

Andy Dingley

Isn't Lewis supposed to be ex-mil?

I thought he'd appreciate the difference between a self-forging fragment and a simple Monroe effect shaped charge.

But then again, "Black Arrow", 'nuff said

The HTML that says no - Joi Ito's pitch for a theft-free web

Andy Dingley

DRM that assumes the decency of the majority

"...astonishing that a grown adult could..."

Maybe Creative Commons needs to go back to its roots: a teenager and a Stanford law professor, and no-one able to tell who was the smarter of the two.

Of course this is DRM. If you like it, it's Marxist DRM - it assumes that people are basically good and honest, and if you advise them simply as to what's OK and what isn't, then most of them _will_ behave themselves.

This only fails when you meet the deliberate pirates or the naive (or el Reg a couple of days ago, with the CC-licensed but uncredited Mac photo) as technical DRM regularly fails here anyway; you're still falling back to enforcement and working back from who's selling the Mama Mia DVDs at the car boot sale. That doesn't invalidate Ito's call for client-side examination and notification of bundled licences.

25 years of Mac - the good, the bad, and the cheese grater

Andy Dingley
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What's with the CC-by-sa on the image?

The SE/30 image is tagged as "Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License."

So where's the attribution? You've used someone's copyright image, how about complying with the licence under which they allowed you to do so and crediting them for it.

Story withdrawn

Andy Dingley

Bad neologisms or bad topics?

Most of the votes so far seem to dislike "2.0" etc. and to give "ZOMFG" and the like an easier ride.

Agreed that the content of 2.0 might be the biggest pile of powerpoint-flavoured dysonist crapwank and badgers' paws ever, but as a _neologism_ to refer to the topic, it's not bad. Equally "edutainment" and "webinar".

Now WTF is WTF? Why is ROFL funny? These are just the crude linguistic shorthands of dullards.

Would Stephen Fry ever ask us to downcast the podload of his mashup? I believe so (should he ever wish to inflict such a thing on the blogosphere)

Would the esteemed Fry respond to Alan Davies' witticism with a ROFL? I think not.

UK bank chief stung in ID theft scam

Andy Dingley

John Munden

"interviewed by his bank manager"?

This is HBOS, as in "Halifax". How about him serving some real prison time for being a victim of fraud? After all, it was good enough for John Munden

Dead author's estate snatches child's domain

Andy Dingley

Who forces Narnia on their kids?

"so that their son could have a Narnia-related email address."

That's not just bad faith, that's Cruel and Unusual. No matter how much money and CGI Hollywood throws at these things, CS Lewis is always going to be the naffest "improving" literature ever foisted upon suffering, embarassed kids.

Did LotR have to be made out of order, cherry-picking the least feeble of the tales first? No.

Mind, if they make "The Silver Chair", Puddleglum might sell to the emo-kid market.

Prius hybrid to get rooftop solar panel

Andy Dingley
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Cooling alone is worth having

It's a great idea. A big market for the Prius is So Cal (partly due to local pre-EV regulations), where temperature rise when parked is a serious ergonomic problem. This solar panel might do little for driving the car, but if it means the car can keep itself circulating air (and thus cooler) when parked without flattening the traction battery, then that's worth it on its own. Such cooling is well-established on boats, and AFAIR Saab did it a while back too.

As to overall efficiency, then the Prius is a brilliant way to make an urban taxi. It's _not_ a super-efficient motorway cruiser (and not claimed to be one), but i's a damned clever hybrid.

Wikipedia kills Greatest Show On Earth

Andy Dingley
IT Angle

When did the War with Eastasia start?

The crazy world of Wikipedia is also busy arguing as to which year it was when WW2 started:


(maybe we need a Wikimedia icon)

US Army funds $10m bat-droid

Andy Dingley

"Spy planes to recharge [from] power lines"

Life imitates Starglider?

Astronauts in seven-hour ISS construction session

Andy Dingley


The "Kibo" ISS module?

Who said spending all your time on Usenet would never make you famous

McCain taps Fiorina

Andy Dingley
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Why change a winning strategy?

Fiorina's first policy:

Alaska is to be sold off as Agilaska

Fiorina's 2nd policy:

The USA is now too short on cold inhospitable moosefarms, so they're to merge wiith Canada.

Claimed ignorance foils Economist domain case

Andy Dingley

Just what do you need to demonstrate Bad Faith

"The panel cannot find bad faith registration proved on the balance of probabilities,"

When did Wikipedia become a court?