* Posts by Mike

81 publicly visible posts • joined 1 Mar 2008


Google lets you code for Googlephones on Googlephones

Mike Bronze badge


I like the fact that it includes a sleep to "give the sensors time to come online", if they are having to use hacks and workarounds like that in such basic examples, i'm glad i've not had to write anything for android!

Display maker spends $215m on E Ink

Mike Bronze badge
Paris Hilton


I thought the problem with eink was the relatively slow response, which makes it fine for reading static text (ebook readers etc), but makes it less useful for things like laptop displays?

another problem being that if you get caught with paris on the screen, quickly hitting the power button won't help!

Deleted Tweets found living in the hereafter

Mike Bronze badge


Name Address and DOB give someone full access to your bank account? better start warning people who put up "Happy Birthday John" type signs in their windows!

Microsoft's JavaScript strategy hurting IE 8?

Mike Bronze badge

javascript performance

all i can say is DOM performance... it's faster to render things by building a string of HTML and updating the page, rather than just using the DOM to add an element in the right place - and that about sums up why performance is so terrible

Sri Lankan Army site 'assasinated' by rebels

Mike Bronze badge

@Christopher Ahrens

that's the simplest solution you can come up with?

the vulnerabilities come from poorly written programs/scripts, if those are on your server then it is insecure if they aren't then it is secure (obviously i'm assuming nobody is stupid enough to use "password" as their root password), the only way you can reduce this problem is using the minimal software for the job and making sure to deal with user input correctly in the few scripts you do run

your convoluted method does nothing extra to help protect the server - if your solution to a server being compromised is to reset it back to the same vulnerable state it was in when it was compromised the first time then i really hope i never have to work on any systems you have "secured"

but regarding the article: it's a public army website, it's not like any secure systems were compromised, probably the only people looking at the site would be reporters looking for a bit of information (and potential recruits - but trying not to sound racist in any way, i suspect recruitment online is probably much less common in sri lanka than it is in most western nations)

RFID goes Underground

Mike Bronze badge

why they even need to know the serial numbers of the steps?

if they are wondering which step to replace - it's the broken one, there i just worked it out even quicker and without waiting for a laptop to boot up!

UK gov squeezes 'best pricing' pledge from MS

Mike Bronze badge

open source?

so, if i were to take a copy of windows and move it from one computer to another - that's what they mean when they are talking about open source? ahhh.... thanks, i thought it had something to do with the source code being open or something, silly me!

Verizon to prosecute anons for communications sabotage

Mike Bronze badge


i know yanks are sue happy, but isn't it at least standard practice to find a target *before* starting the court proceedings against them?

Peugeot's on-road, off-road ‘leccy ATV

Mike Bronze badge

i'd consider this...

something like this would be great, i've seen the same concept little 50cc engine mini-cars (and even a mini-pickup), but it's the sort of thing that electric power would suit

although the solar panels would be a joke, that size panels would probably get you about 1 mile of charge per very sunny day...

'Soon soldiers will have 3 tiny choppers in their pocket'

Mike Bronze badge

can't wait

come on china, you know you want to!

/me starts monitoring ebays hong kong sellers

Facebook vote a 'massive con trick' says privacy advocate

Mike Bronze badge


well it's called democracy, just as any politician!

Pirate Bay loses trial: defendants face prison time, hefty fines

Mike Bronze badge


@Lee Jackson

those guys told thousands of robbers how to make a copy of a key which couldn't be used to steal anything from you... pretty damn harmless right?

just because they are greedy enough to demand money for something *someone else did* doesn't mean refusing to give it to them is theft, not only is it not theft because nothing was stolen from them, but the simple fact is they were in the wrong for demanding money for it in the first place.

what would you think if i started demanding that all of your clients start paying me for the work you've done instead of paying you (what the RIAA/MPAA does to artists)? then would you call it theft if they told me to piss off?

Mac and Linux Bastilles assaulted by new attacks

Mike Bronze badge

linux no more secure than windows

next story: linux is no more secure than windows: a researcher has found that a user with root access to the machine is able to replace system files.

During a test they reformatted the hard drive to NTFS, wrote a specially crafted boot sector (ripped from a windows machine) and placed a load of new files on to the drive (copied from a windows machine), they then issued a remote reboot command. Several minutes later the system booted up running windows - with all of its associated security flaws. The research paper therefore concludes that linux is no more secure than windows.

Virgin Media switches to Gmail

Mike Bronze badge

from address...

currently i can send email through virgins servers with my own from addresses (my own domains), not a problem

when they switch to gmail this will apparently not be possible, to those saying gmail lets you send from your own domain, no it does not - even if you stick multiple domains in a single google apps account all outbound email is associated with your account on the primary domain

if you add alternate "from" addresses it changes the from address, then adds a "sender" header with your original gmail account in it - which anyone who has ever tried emailing companies like this will know outlook shows the "sender" address and relegates "from" to just showing "on behalf of" next to it - with replies etc going to the "sender"

Trend Micro to eyeball malware from cloud

Mike Bronze badge

wait... what?

"Of course, for safety's sake, the files being checked don't leave the system."

so it's going to send just the details to the server to check? perhaps the files name, path, and a hash or something? great, that'll work perfectly against the obsolete infections from last decade

surely there must be something else i'm missing here...

UK police bust lottery scam centre in Somerset

Mike Bronze badge


so, these types of scam really do still work that well?

@AC (SOCA Prize Draw !)

you can have london, i'll have the rest, sound good? (i really don't give a crap about londoners, i'm not going to help educate them on scams!)

i think £1000 a pop should work, sure i'll get fewer responses than £20, however the fewer responses should still add up to a larger amount

Man gets life for killing game-obsessed partner

Mike Bronze badge


come on guys, you're slacking, you should know there is *always* a way to twist any story to fit with a government agenda:

if this game had been banned then she wouldn't have been playing it so this incident would never have happened and another life would have been saved, therefore banning violent games will save lives, think of the women!

IBM tries to patent offshoring

Mike Bronze badge

@Patent Evasion

did you file a patent application on deciding weather to offshore the off-shoring decision process using a combination of factors such as additional costs of off-shoring the process vs the cost of acquiring the patent licenses to be able to perform the decision making process within the US?

Mike Bronze badge

@Patent Evasion

oops, nearly forgot to file my patent application:

the process of deciding if your decision on weather to offshort the decision making process should be offshored using the cost of offshoring the offshoring of the offshoring decision process *stack overflow*

Smoking power supply alarms net brokerage house

Mike Bronze badge


or a bug crawled in to it? never had it happen to a powered system, but it does give a nice bit of smoke when i've pulled systems out of storage and gone to turn them on...

Researchers poke holes in super duper SSL

Mike Bronze badge

don't blame javascript

javascript was mentioned as an example, but if you can inject javascript then you can make other non-javascript changes as well... it's not a fault with javascript, but with the browser allowing mixed certificates and displaying the status of the "most trusted" one, rather than the "least trusted" which would probably be the correct way to deal with it

as for being anti cheap certs... what if i want SSL on my small website? i can't without forking out a small fortune - yeah, good on you for sticking it to the man! this TAX on the use of encryption is just stupid.

have 2 types of certificate,

1. cheap/free certificate which has basic anti-spoof checks (ie. send email to the contact for the domain in whois + automated check for a random file which you need to put on the website - proves you have control over the real site and therefore it's OK to give you a certificate), this allows encryption to be used low cost/free by anyone who wants to with basic protection from someone spoofing it

2. extended validation with the green bar where they are required to do *real* background checks to validate you are who you say you are, and therefore charge appropriately, for large organisations needing to prove their identity as well as use encryption (ie. banks, online shopping, etc)

we're sort of moving in that direction except apparently the browsers allow mixed types and display it as the second type, when they should display mixed types as being like the lowest form, and also the normal non-verified certificates are still expensive considering they don't actually do anything for your money except run a program to sign it!

The Pirate Bay punts BitTorrent cloaking device

Mike Bronze badge

@Sean Baggaley

how about for the same reason i provide people with free software? one of my old programs had about 10-20 million downloads, which i paid for (hosting costs for a couple of servers for a few years...), i'd never charge someone for copies of something i'd made, charge for providing a service sure, but not for copying a file... charging for services is the only way to make money, and so it should be because that's the only way that's fair

keep paying someone over and over again for making a copy of something they did earlier? what a joke...

regarding the VPN service... erm, OVH can give you a server with a pretty decent connection (shared but certainly not over subscribed too much, 100Mbit burst i believe 8Mbit 95%ile) for £11.49/month - they are the cheapest i've seen however it's not exactly uncommon, just get 3-4 people to "club together" and you can set up your own dedicated VPN server cheap enough (i run a couple of tor nodes at OVH which push a constant 5-10Mbit 24/7, only reason they don't push more is lack of demand, the bandwidth is there when i go to use it)

BOFH: Defiling the profile

Mike Bronze badge


what can i say? great as usual!

London health authority put on notice over data breach

Mike Bronze badge


but that means it's OK for them to make their huge database to track every bit of detail about us - as long as they "lose" all of the data before putting it in to the database it is now public information and isn't private and confidential any more, so it's OK

Virgin Media to battle modem hackers

Mike Bronze badge


it's a lot easier than you seem to think, re-read the article:

"It added that recent network upgrades allowed it to detect modems cloned in this way and it intends to pursue those involved."

network upgrades, such as the blocks of flats i've seen being re-wired which now have a separate coax from every flat back to a central box with a fibre uplink in? i'm not sure if it is related to virgin or not as the way they have fitted them seems to be sub-optimal for anything i can think of that would require running coax around the building, however if that is indeed virgin coax (it's not connected up yet here) then that would make it trivial to locate cloned modems

or of course they could just head out and start unplugging things, while there might be thousands of sources to track down now there wouldn't be many at all if they actually put effort in to tracking them down and prosecuting, there are only so many people doing it because they can get away with it

personally i think they should just block the MAC Addresses that show up twice on the network, sure it'll cause temporary loss of service to legitimate customers initially (who won't even notice it as more than "the usual service level"), but it'd make the modem hacking stop working so people would stop even trying it - no point leaving a hacked modem connected up and turned on if it doesn't even work - so the legitimate user wouldn't stay blocked for long

Voice analysis trial gives wobbly results

Mike Bronze badge

read the figures

so you're saying that even when they clearly did a biased test to try and make it look as positive as possible for the "technology", even the single region with the most "positive" results in favour of the conclusion they wanted to bring the results were:

out of the people it identified as "lying bastards" 60% were telling the truth, yet those it labeled as "completely honest truth telling" were lying 10% of the time (that says something else about people, but that's a whole different subject...)

if you categorized the staff in to "heads flippers" and "tails flippers" and got them to flip coins no doubt you'd find at least one region that came up with "heads flippers" getting heads 80% of the time, would this prove your "heads flipper detection technology" was working? i guess it would, as long as you selected how you listed your results to bias them in your favour

the large amount of money being paid for this is probably nothing though compared to the amount they'll need to pay once people realise there's a potential case for slander - system lied and said bad things about them and it directly cost them money (benefits reduced), sounds like exactly what those sorts of laws were made for...

Superfast-charging batteries? Whoa there, MIT

Mike Bronze badge

change the batteries

why does someone always suggest changing the batteries at the filling station? batteries have a fixed life, one day you get a decent battery and the charge lasts 300 miles, then you refill and 30 miles later you're flat because you got given the duff battery that the guy before you offloaded in to the filling station with a huge grin on his face?

ISS crew flees flying space junk

Mike Bronze badge


the one thing that seems to work well in space is solar power, would it be practical to make a huge electromagnet powered by solar power, send it in a low orbit, then any small pieces of crap up there would be attracted to it and it would change their orbits pulling them down and causing them to fall to earth much sooner than they otherwise would?

it wouldn't effect functional satellites at least, because they are rather large so the same force that might divert a screw probably wouldn't effect a satellite much

of course i have no idea how practical that would be, ie. how much of a difference a huge magnet 1 mile away would make passing in the opposite direction (so only at 1 mile very briefly) or of course how much of it is non-magnetic, but perhaps it is a possibility?


but blue alert would mean changing the bulb!

Multi-site bug exposes cloud computing's dark lining

Mike Bronze badge


if your response to "what is the resolution time for outages?" is "never gunna happen", well i won't even get as far as asking you any more questions

what happens when one of your transit links goes down? do you have a time machine to go back in time to a few minutes before the JCB started digging and send out a withdraw so it has finished propagating before the line goes down? if so, could i borrow it for a couple of hours this evening? i have to send myself a couple of numbers...

BOFH: Cable entanglements

Mike Bronze badge


what about when the PFY finds out? i'd avoid the lifts... and the stairs... and any room with a door handle...

Forced retirement due to age can be justified, rules ECJ

Mike Bronze badge

forced retirement is stupid

One of the supervisors at work recently retired, it was only then that we found out he was 74! he was much fitter and more active than most of the rest of the staff, hardly "unable to work" rather the opposite, more like he'd see someone struggling with something heavy and he'd be the first to jump in and help

Microsoft aims 'non-security' update at gaping security hole

Mike Bronze badge


Autorun for CD/DVDs is a good idea, the convenience of it allows users to just shove a CD in the drive and have it come up with a program specific welcome menu with options to install/run/whatever, just like you expect your DVD player to do when you put a DVD in - and let's face it malware trying to spread by piggybacking on CDs you burn isn't going to be very effective (hence there not being any malware problems with it)

Autorun for USB sticks and network drives etc... now that's a different matter, theses types of media are mainly used for file storage, you want to use them you browse the contents and select the file you want via whatever method, the potential security problems with automatically running programs from a drive that was designed to be written to by many potentially infected systems - what were they thinking???

A better idea would be to send out an update that disables autorun for non-optical drives (ie. anything except a CD/DVD drive), as well as fixing any issues with the options to disable autorun on optical drives. The few legitimate reasons i've seen for autorun on a USB stick actually normally use modified USB sticks which present a virtual CDROM drive anyway for the autorun part, so this idea wouldn't even break those, it would just restrict autorun to only working on devices that are actually meant to run software

personally i have autorun disabled for practical reasons (if I put a CD in i might want to access it from any of the VMs i have... and i know how to make it autorun if i want to anyway), however for the average user who thinks the internet is the blue icon autorun is a very useful feature

Good idea, bad implimentation

(for those who think autorun from a CD is a bad idea... did you know that these days you can actually boot an entire operating system from one? that's autorun taken to the extreme! i doubt you still use floppies to bootstrap your OS install CDs "for security" though)

E-tailers can't claim on returned goods

Mike Bronze badge

ha ha

Why do i get the feeling that this particular retailer will now start following the rules and informing people of their rights to return it within 7 days?

although i do have to say that if the customer wanted to return it after 8 months use, not in the same condition it arrived in, they should not have that right - it's one thing to say "oh it's not what i expected" and be allowed to return it, it's something else to use it for 8 months, break the screen, then expect your money back

it would be quite simple to just require that the product be returned in the same condition it was received in (with for example "you opened the box" not being a valid excuse for the retailer to refuse) that would be fair on everyone, the consumer gets the right to return things that aren't what they expected, but the retailer doesn't have to worry about having to give someone a full refund for a product that is now in such a bad state they can't sell it to someone else

Storage breakthrough could bust density record

Mike Bronze badge


> It's quite possible the only useful application for this is to send the entire knowledgebase of mankind out into space on a probe (minus the pron, which always grows faster than it can be written to disk, nevermind how big that disc is).

imagine if aliens sent us all of the knowledge of their civilisation, and they left out the porn - how pissed would you be? that's how intergalactic wars get started!

Grand Theft Auto IV add-in censors original game

Mike Bronze badge


so they accidentally added code to modify the game play to disable things that were already there?

Boffins: Blue light kills MRSA 'superbugs'

Mike Bronze badge


so, if there is light in this wavelength then it will kill the bug, ok great i have an implimentation plan:

we cover hospitals in devices which give off this blue light, but better than that we make them also give off the full visible spectrum of light, so they give off this light which contains this blue light as well as other colours so you can see properly, a multi-purpose device you see - we'll call this device a "light bulb"

you take this "light bulb" and cover hospitals with them, not only do they let you see things, but as part of the light given off is in this blue spectrum that kills the bugs, the hospital is steralized and MRSA stops

the fact that we already have hospitals covered in light bulbs yet still have a MRSA problem there tells me that it's not quite as simple as shining a light as they seem to be claiming - meaning this is pretty useless information for practical purposes

i suggest we impliment a more effective solution in our hospitals - there is one solution which works extremely well that they might try, it's called "cleaning" and has worked extremely well accross the rest of the world

Satyam boss 'invented' thousands of staff

Mike Bronze badge


I don't think it's the fact that it's a foreign call centre that is the cause for them always having crap customer service, it's probably more like the sort of company who doesn't give a crap outsources abroad

company that cares about customer service: let's get 100 people who speak english properly and know something about the subject and hire the 10 best

company that doesn't give a crap: well we need 10 staff, oh screw it let's just see who can answer the phone cheapest then we can tell our managers that we performed excellently and all calls were answered at a fraction of the cost of running our own call centre

BSA: Turn in workmates, make fat dollar a few quid

Mike Bronze badge

Cheaper in the long run

That argument works with the lottery where the money vs chances work against you so you make a net loss, but in the case of piracy where the money saved by not paying vs the chances of getting caught are the other way around... well, if you're one of the unlucky few then you might pay a few thousand, but you'll almost certainly actually save a few thousand

not that i support piracy of course, the copy of windows i am using right now is fully licensed (only because i'm currently running the windows 7 beta given away for free :P), and most of my systems run fully licensed copies of linux (again, because it's free :P)

surely if they want to stop piracy then all they have to do is give it away for free? seems a much more polite way to do it than threatening old grannies and corpses etc, and probably much more effective

McKinnon's lawyers hope UK prosecution will derail extradition

Mike Bronze badge


"Just send him to the state where he committed the crime" - so that would be the UK then?

Microsoft delays first Windows 7 public beta

Mike Bronze badge


The direct download links work just the download pages don't link there: (I obtained these from the description on a torrent download!)

32bit: http://download.microsoft.com/download/6/3/3/633118BD-6C3D-45A4-B985-F0FDFFE1B021/EN/7000.0.081212-1400_client_en-us_Ultimate-GB1CULFRE_EN_DVD.iso

64bit: http://download.microsoft.com/download/6/3/3/633118BD-6C3D-45A4-B985-F0FDFFE1B021/EN/7000.0.081212-1400_client_en-us_Ultimate-GB1CULXFRE_EN_DVD.iso

Although I hope M$ haven't gone with the "start as you mean to go on" principle, because this windows 7 beta has a "feature" where it apparently scans the hard drive and any network shares (!!) and trashes any mp3 files it finds (!!!!) so make sure you install this hotfix before letting it lose on your network:

32bit: http://download.microsoft.com/download/7/D/0/7D0A4440-7B8F-4ABC-8BEE-1AF6D80047EE/Windows6.1-KB961367-x86.msu

64bit: http://download.microsoft.com/download/F/B/7/FB7BC04D-66E6-413F-94F0-A54D0196EBDE/Windows6.1-KB961367-x64.msu

World's first 'thought images' seen on screen

Mike Bronze badge

old news...

they've been able to read thoughts for a while, i recall seeing a TV program where thought was used to control a robotic arm (badly admittedly) years ago

while the use in the article is slightly different, the general principle is the same but this is actually a much better use of the technology, to assist paralysed people/artificial libs/etc

and once we've dealt with all the cripples we can then turn our attention to the really important part - controlling a computer through thought, think how quickly you could type if you didn't have to move your fingers and press keys! and the increased working speed might mean it stops being considered acceptable for so-called programmers to release the sort of bloatware crap that most software is these days

Second Firefox 3.1 beta under starters order

Mike Bronze badge



I agree, unfortunately this seems to be the way with a lot of software these days eating huge amounts of system resources, I think it's mostly down to the so-called programmers not caring - "write code to combine 2 bits of text? but there is this nice utils library which has a really advanced string class which i can use to combine strings, it only takes 10MB of RAM which is nothing really...", get 10 people with their own favourite library, multiply it by a new library for every simple little task they need to do, in no time at all you have yourself a vista!

I pride myself on not using such bloat in my own programs, people come up with all sorts of excuses for "code re-use", while i have to agree that there are some cases that it's useful (such as if you need database functions, the sqlite library would save a lot of time) most of the time it doesn't save any time at all (how long is spent fixing bugs due to unexpected behaviour? you'd expect it if you wrote the thing...). It's also extremely rare for software made by these people to run reliably - although I can't say i'm surprised when you consider they couldn't even be bothered to look at the majority of the code in it to see what it's doing...


Firefox uses sqlite3 databases, so you can use standard sqlite tools to manage them... i know not as easy as a text file for some tasks, but then it is easier for others (simple tasks editing a text file is easier, but then you can make an SQL query to do other tasks that would perhaps need complex scripts to parse a text file..)

while i agree in principle that the use of sql databases for a simple list of bookmarks is overkill, it is apparently used for the search features of the address bar and has no real disadvantages to use it as it's used elsewhere anyway (probably better than having a second set of code to maintain for parsing a bookmarks file... just stick in an sql query using the already included sqlite library... although i should point out that this is only because the sqlite library is one of the rare relatively fast and efficient ones, it's the general "well might as well use that library instead..." mentality that causes the above!)

McKinnon suffers further legal setback in extradition fight

Mike Bronze badge

It is impossible to break a law that does not apply

are the yanks trying to claim jurisdiction over the UK?

of course he probably broke UK law on computer misuse, however that's a different issue between him and the UK courts, bugger all to do with the yanks

BOFH: Taking out a contract

Mike Bronze badge


a contract with terms like that... and it wasn't with BOFH Printing Support Services Ltd? (trading under the name Customer Assistance System Help for cheque purposes of course)

Bespoke top level domains 'to cost $200,000'

Mike Bronze badge


and set up wildcard entries pointing to HTTP proxies directing to tor hidden services? could be interesting if tor hidden services could be accessed with or without tor with the same URL

Orange bundles free HP laptops with HSDPA deals

Mike Bronze badge


give me a laptop that i can put in my pocket...

phones are getting qwerty keyboards and running PDA style operating systems, those types of phones will likely replace the current style phones, but devices of that sort of small size will always be around - bigger devices just aren't as convenient for the average user to carry around with them as they go shopping

Judge: Breath test firm must hand over source code

Mike Bronze badge


if i'm not mistaken, surely if the only evidence they have against these people is a breath test and not a blood test, all they need to do is prove that the breath test gives false positives and they get off, right?

ok, defense lawyer takes out an approved breath test machine in the court room, does a breath test which gives a result of 0 showing no alcohol at all. now defense lawyer breathes in puts a drop of vodka on their tongue and blows in to machine again. machine claims they are drunk - case dismissed.

not sure if they would be allowed to do this in the court room in front of the judge (not sure if there are rules about alcohol consumption in court), so it might need to be done elsewhere and filmed then the video submitted as evidence, but doing it in the court room would make the point in the most effective way.

Ubuntu lovers slap Canonical over Firefox EULA

Mike Bronze badge


Debian is annoying with their stupid "not GPL? then we won't even give you the option" policy, they have a non-free repo but don't actually put stuff in it that should be there! ubuntu pops up and says "hey there are some closed source drivers if you want them", click install and they are there - debian? after i figured out how to tell them i don't give a damn about GPL or non-GPL by adding the "non-free" repo i was still sitting there with limited video drivers and a browser called iceweasel that won't run any firefox plugins!

The biggest problem with changing the name is plugins refusing to install, so take advantage of the open source nature of the firefox code and submit a patch to make the browser list itself as "webbrowser" or something instead of firefox internally, then you can have your own version with its own name that also lists to plugins that it is "webbrowser" without having to worry about trademark issues, allowing plugins to work on all the renamed versions just as well as the original.

And don't use the name Iceweasel, if you want to bundle it as default then do it M$-style and just call it "Web Browser" or "Web Explorer" or something, ubuntu is after all aimed at the sorts of idiots who use windows and whatever is bundled with it, rather than people who like to change defaults.

I use debian on all of my servers because it is the only mainstream distro with plenty of support that can be installed without all the bloat, but for workstation use it is useless because of their refusal to allow anything non-GPL.

Pub toilet todger tiff ends in bloodbath

Mike Bronze badge
Paris Hilton


you don't mention which one really did have the largest penis

@AC with urinal code:

*cough* you forgot the first rule, it is unspoken/unwritten

paris looks like she is trying to measure a really tiny penis

Morgan Stanley gets spectrum grab bag gig

Mike Bronze badge


Doing my calculations, a population of slightly over 60 million means I own just under a 60 millionth of it, so if the 4 billion price is right then that makes my share either £66 or £66,666 depending on if you used short or long scale (I hope the latter). I can take cash but I'd prefer a cheque.