* Posts by Dodgy Dave

47 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Mar 2008

Wah, encryption makes policing hard, cries UK's National Crime Agency

Dodgy Dave

To hear some people talk, you'd imagine we've entered some sort of Dark Ages of detecting crime. As though back in the 70's, before mobile phones and internet messaging, Britain was free from armed robbers, terrorists or child abusers.

As it is, the police now have cell tower tracking, ANPR, Google search history, pervasive CCTV and amazingly sensitive DNA profiling. Plus, of course, all the garbage that the nutters willingly broadcast on social media.

I'd like to suggest that's enough raw data; if NCA is having trouble making sense of it they need to up their analysis game. Please leave us with the dignity of private conversation between law-abiding adults.

if dev == woman then dont_be(asshole): Stack Overflow tries again to be more friendly to non-male non-pasty coders

Dodgy Dave

I think I found the problem...

The code 'if dev == woman ...' only works if there's a single woman in development, and you're testing to see if this is her.

Better would be 'if isWoman(dev) ...' to allow _any_ developer to, er, identify as a woman.

I would have suggested 'if isinstance(dev, Woman) ...' but that would be objectifying women...

'Password rules are bullsh*t!' Stackoverflow Jeff's rage overflows

Dodgy Dave

Beware Unicode passwords!

Before you rush in and change everything to be made up of U+1F4A9 'PILE OF POO', here's a cautionary tale:

I worked on a 'secure email' client for a large US company and discovered, following some work on the UI, that the code which takes 'what you type' and turns it into 'what gets hashed' when setting a password had managed to pass on only the first byte of the UTF-8 encoding of each character. So, for instance, an 8-character word in Arabic might have been squashed to 0xD8 0xD8 0xD8 0xD8 0xD8 0xD8 0xD8 0xD8, and would match countless other words.

We were only saved from disaster when it emerged that there was a separate copy of the code used when verifying your password, and this was broken in a different way. The effect was that any password containing a non-ASCII character could never be verified after you'd set it.

So: Unicode - great. Programmers' general ability to write correct internationalized code - needs improvement.

Tear teardown down, roars Apple: iFixit app yanked from store

Dodgy Dave

Re: Hurr durr

According to MacRumors, they did just that: "Apple provided developers with Apple TV Dev Kits to be used to create tvOS apps for the device", and it was one of these which was torn down.

So Apple are pissed at them, not for looking inside a product they actually owned, but for effectively upstaging Apple's product launch. Everyone - really, everyone - knows that nothing winds Apple up more than leaks about forthcoming new shinies.

Yes, Apple can be capricious and inscrutable and pull stuff for the most baffling of 'reasons', but this time round iFixit should have used some common sense.

Why the BBC is stuffing free Micro:bit computers into schoolkids' satchels

Dodgy Dave

Yes, AIUI it's based on the mbed.org toolchain (the hardware appears to be the nRF51822 development kit with some LEDs on the I/Os). With this you can create a skeleton project using the online IDE, export it as a gcc project (complete with libraries, makefiles, etc), then happily hack away offline.

Google blames Flash for hobbling Chrome, says it sucks (too much power)

Dodgy Dave

Was Steve Jobs' "Thoughts on Flash" only five short years ago?

Sir Terry remembered: Dickens' fire, Tolkien's imagination, and the wit of Wodehouse

Dodgy Dave

Among many gems

...was his 'pork futures warehouse' where ghostly pig carcasses faded in and out of existence as the economy rose and fell. Absolute genius.

I will savour his few remaining books that I've yet to read, like bottles of vintage Bordeaux.

New fear: ISIS killers use 'digital AK-47' malware to hunt victims

Dodgy Dave

Where does it send the IP addresses?

With a small amount of scripting, and perhaps an EC2 instance or two, we could of course send /every/ IPv4 address to these neanderthals' server. It's clear they hate all of us, so they perhaps need to know where we all live.

Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy

Dodgy Dave

El Reg needs to get the facts straight

According to the IPO - http://www.ipo.gov.uk/tmcase/Results/4/EU009734096 - Julian Assange(R) is now a registered trademark.

Whether he will sue over the flood of unauthorised Assange(R) dolls which will doubtless be appearing in the kids' aisles in Tesco's remains to be seen.

Scared of brute force password attacks? Just 'GIVE UP' says Microsoft

Dodgy Dave

The First Blast Against The Monstrous Regiment Of Passwords?

If there's one thing I applaud the authors for, it's the epiphany (in corporate IT-space, at least) that HUMANS CAN'T DO PASSWORDS BETTER THAN MACHINES.

It's 2014, I'm using a browser comprising 150,000,000 bytes of code, on a chip with 1,000,000,000 transistors, on a machine with 1,000,000,000,000 bytes of disk storage. Are we really saying that there is no technology we can deploy which will authenticate me to an (even more powerful) remote server that works better than me having to remember and type in 'Ding0E5Kidn3ys' every single friggin' time.

Come on The Internet. Get your ass in gear - we're not the problem, you are.

Record-breaking laser pulse boosts fusion power hopes

Dodgy Dave

Oh, the irony

Anyone remember those "Nuclear power - no thanks" bumper stickers beloved of 70's hippies, the words being written around the edge of a smiling picture of, er, the sun.

OccupySF BOFH runs protest network on pedal power

Dodgy Dave

A grumpy old man rants

In my day protesters belonged to groups with names like "Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament" or "Save the Whale". The clue was in the title, you see.

"Occupy San Francisco" has me a little fuddled. They are indeed occupying San Fransisco - was there something else they wanted? Does anyone know? You'll have to speak clearly, I'm a little deaf these days.

Mac security update leaves users open to ugly Flashback

Dodgy Dave
Thumb Up

Prizes awarded ...

...for best "Malware disguised as an Adobe Flash installer" punchline. Let 'em roll.

FSF to Google: Free Gmail's JavaScript now!

Dodgy Dave

May I propose 'GNU purifier'

... which is a web proxy sitting between Google and your browser. It's loaded up with a bunch of patch files which it applies as the JavaScript is being fetched, before your browser sees them. The code that actually executes is therefore 'free' and you can use gmail without becoming ritually unclean.

Single-patent lawsuit hits Apple, Google, Amazon, Priceline...

Dodgy Dave

Not a snowball's chance...surely?

Presumably, somwhere in their archives, Google have records of searches made from Pocket Internet Explorer dating back to - what - 2000? And when did Amazon first think about a 'mobile' site? Only after they stole H-W's brilliantly original ideas in '05? C'mon.

Google Cr-48: Inside the Chrome OS 'unstable isotope'

Dodgy Dave
Thumb Down

So, Google...

...I've got upwards of 20G of MP3s, 60G of digital photos, 100G of VMware images, and a terabyte or so of video sitting in front of me, not to mention 50,000-odd source files and assorted documents.

If they were already 'on the cloud' I might be able to start using them on Chrome OS. But they're not, and given that I have no more than 448kbps uplink rate it will take _nearly a year of continuous uploading_ to get them there.

It's a joke, less of a proper computer than an iPod touch.

Researcher: Code-execution bug affects 200 Windows apps

Dodgy Dave
Gates Horns

Missed a trick with Vista.

Sounds to me like they've found a bug where, when you play the media file or whatever, the app changes the current directory to point at a network share before executing the media player .exe.

If so, it truly is an ancient vulnerability in the design of Windows, namely that the current directory is searched for named DLLs before fixed paths. This being a design flaw, it's hard to fix in the OS without breaking compatibility with lots of programs which rely on.

Which is why it should have been fixed in Vista, where nobody would notice...

US legalizes jailbroken iPhones

Dodgy Dave
Thumb Up

Sticking it to The Man

I'm in awe of what Apple do technically, but reading this makes me want to punch the air and say "WOOHOO! Suck on THIS!" to all the DMCAtards in corporate America.

Reg hack gives forth in Wikipedia doco

Dodgy Dave
Dead Vulture

Am I the only one...

...who finds the Reg's scorn for user-generated content ironic given their penchant for pure trollbait 'news' ? They're like the Daily Mail, scandalised by paparazzi photos which they then just /have/ to publish.

Daily Mail promotes 'the new Betamax'

Dodgy Dave

DAB is the only way forward

So, what are the alternatives:

AM/FM: Yes, it's cheap, works perfectly well in most places, low-power, has no IP issues, and so forth. But it's Old, and that's bad 'cos manufacturers don't like Old, as they want to sell you New.

Internet: Technical issues aside, internet radio isn't owned by anybody, especially not those who currently own broadcasting. The BBC become just one more choice amongst thousands. The Government have nothing they can cash in on by 'licensing' (bear in mind that 3G operators have already paid a bucketful for the spectrum which would be used here).

DAB serves the future interests of the existing broadcasters and manufacturers perfectly well, so that's what you'll get. And you'll like it, because Stephen Fry will tell you it's OK to like it.

Reverse engineer extracts Skype crypto secret recipe

Dodgy Dave

Front door analogy

Nonononono! What he precisely hasn't done is published anybody's *key*.

It's as if he's taken his own front door lock to bits and described the pins, tumblers and levers which he found. So, you might argue this helps burglars break your lock, but believe me burglars will take their own locks to bits if it helps.

Without this sort of research, companies get either (a) lazy or (b) evil, knowing they won't be caught out.

If it turned out your front door lock insides were made of cheese, or could be opened by any employee of Locks'R'Us, would you want to know?

Googlegate: Mapping a scandal of global proportions

Dodgy Dave

Google are not that incompetent

The 'four core stages' comment is so last century - Google are almost certainly an Agile shop and I imagine their code development could be quite chaotic.

However, what I can't believe is that they didn't - very early in the testing process - drive their car round a few blocks, then look and see exactly what they'd ended up with on the disk. They might just possibly be poor software developers, but they are certainly experts at data analysis, and I just don't accept this would have got through initial testing.

Here's another scary thing - even if they only collected 192.168.x.x addresses, a lot of the traffic collected might be between the user and a Google service; looking at a few headers will link it to the existing Google record on you, which is what they wanted anyway.

Apple picks death not compliance for open source iPhone game

Dodgy Dave

FSF can boil their heads

The GPL serves to promote closed-source development, by keeping its code base so far apart from the world of commercial software.

There are many developers who would be happy to contribute patches and improvements to a bit of open-source code if they could use it in their employer's products. With the GPL they can't (the Linux kernel being the exception that proves the rule).

So there is an entirely unnecessary set of paid-for toolkits and libraries out there whose existence is entirely due to fear generated by the FSF. Fortunately the world is waking up to this, and a lot of useful code is now coming out under Mozilla- or BSD- type licences.

Adobe tilts at windmills with image apps for iPad

Dodgy Dave

Spot on, my friend

Here we have proof positive that Jobs is scaring developers away from the iPhone/iPad. How can software companies go to their investors and ask for $1m to write a major app, when once the project is finished and the money spent, there's a massive roadblock entitled "get approved by the App store".

It's crazy, crazy, crazy. Devs may be very happy to use Objective-C and follow "the rules" now but how can they know what the rules will be 12 months on? They change so unpredictably.

All we'll be left with is boob-wobbling apps written by students, who make a few hundred quid before they're "policed".

Think about it, Steve: why was MS-DOS, bane of the 80's, so incredibly successful?

Applesoft, Ogg, and the future of web video

Dodgy Dave

'All video codecs are covered by patents'

Yes, including MPEG-2, which has been around since DVD was introduced in 1995, and those patents will expire soon. That's great, because the H.264 crew have to prove that any techniques used in Theora were /not/ anticipated by MPEG-2.

And there's no credible FUD about submarine patents on MPEG-2 either: if you had such a thing, you'd have held the DVD market to ransom by now.

Steve Jobs: mystery patent pool to attack Ogg Theora

Dodgy Dave

@Lou Gosselin

You're damned right. Such a lot of obviousness is patented nowadays that it's pointless to even try avoiding it.

The fact is, the patent system refuses to acknowledge independent invention of the same or similar things, but in reality it happens all the time. Why, in absolute terms, is that a bad thing?

What really sucks is that you don't own intellectual property by thinking of it, you own it by employing lawyers.

Apple, the iPhone 4G, the cops and the click-tart

Dodgy Dave

Double standards

What pisses me off is the way everybody's conflating the possible theft of an object with the leaking of Apple's trade secrets. Probably Gizmodo shouldn't taken it to bits, but Apple got it back in the end. That ever happen when you lose a phone? The theft, if it ever occurred, was minor.

The big deal is that someone got one over on Apple's corporate secrecy, and THAT ISN'T A CRIME. The cops, even those bought by Silicon Valley, should know that.

(BTW - why didn't Apple put a big sticker on it saying 'if found call XXX-XXXX?' )

Adobe to sue Apple 'within weeks,' says report

Dodgy Dave

Developers = X-Factor contestants

I'm amazed that Apple keep knocking back iPhone developers, yet the apps keep coming. I can only imagine that the App Store is full and they have no more resource to spend approving apps - instead they're just beating developers with a shitty stick to see if they'll go away.

I'm 100% (well, 99%) behind Jobs' war on Flash, but it's a risky game: if Android apps are mostly crummy and iPhone ones remain slick, he retains his saintly reputation. If Android apps start to do useful or cool things that an iPhone can't, he will look like an arrogant fool.



iPhone 4.0: iAds, multitasking, and 98 tweaks

Dodgy Dave


An ad every 3 minutes? Not even moronic US TV is quite that bad.

Looking on the bright side, my iPod is probably already too old to run this crap.

OS free data splurge lacks public sector licensing deal

Dodgy Dave

Looking a gift horse in the mouth

What exactly are the "thorny questions" about what developers can do with the data? The licence seems pretty clear (equivalent to CC 'attribution only') and explicitly allows commercial use.

What, though, is all this rubbish about Public Sector agreements? How much does the Government waste on buying things from itself?

Apple, Google, world+dog named in mobile patent suit

Dodgy Dave

How to spot a troll

Look at the amount of correspondence with the USPTO cited in the patent. They submitted their "hey, I just thought of SIMD" patent roughly 20 years too late, and the examiner would have rejected it as, at best, an obvious composition of two previous ideas.

They argued and argued, and one day all the computing guys at the USPTO were busy and it ended up on the desk of a veterinary prosthetics specialist, who said "this isn't obvious to me" and let it slip past.

Still, it'll be fun to watch...

Apple yanks Wi-Fi detectors from iTunes

Dodgy Dave
Thumb Down

Shame on you, El Reg

Sorry, but the whole premise of this article is full of sh*t.

"Pretends they were never there" - uh, what? An app is no longer in the shop, like creme eggs or Word 2003, and that's somehow Oceania not being at war with Eurasia?

"Wi-Fi hotspot detecting applications are the latest on Apple's list of verboten apps" - no, it's apps which use private APIs which are verboten, and they have *always* been so.

"even developers are being left in the dark" - you have an explanation from a developer, right in front of you.

Yeah, bad on Apple for letting it in in the first place then having an arbitrary change of mind, but if you really have to froth at the mouth every time this sort of thing happens, I'm deleting you from my bookmarks.

3 Bulgarians charged in 44-day ATM hacking spree

Dodgy Dave

Charge 'em under the DMCA!

Maximum fine of $1.25m, for _actually stealing money_ repeatedly from a major American business (or its customers)?

Banks - take a leaf out of the RIAA's book, and charge these nobodies with copyright infringement - say $80,000 per card inserted into the machine - it must be worth at least as much as the sort of track Jammie Thomas would listen to. Best of all - you get to keep the money at the end of it!



Experts reboot list of 25 most dangerous coding errors

Dodgy Dave

Can I have some of their drugs, please?

In what universe does a customer go to a vendor, and asks to buy their software, then tries to impose contractual conditions on how that software came to be written?

"I'd like a copy of Microsoft Office, written in Ada, using ClearCase for source control, developed entirely by US citizens who were wearing ties at the time."

Free postcoders bang on Ordnance Survey door

Dodgy Dave
Thumb Down

They are still abusing a monopoly

This data, which certainly the Post Office have spent time and effort maintaining, is valuable for just one reason: everybody uses it. It's only selling point is that it's a database that the public have learnt off by heart.

Imagine the alternative: Google gives every street in the UK a Googlecode, and starts a price war with the PO over access costs. Then MS will want to give you a Bing-zip to get a piece of the action. Next, the GNU Free Street Index Database, which will fragment into rival factions. Before long, the punter will need to remember half a dozen of the blessed things, so no-one will bother and we'll be back to square one.

In other words - the PO have only come to have this valuable bit of IP in their hands because, when it was originally developed, they had monopoly power. It is not reasonable that they should tilt the playing field by charging other delivery services to use it; that's clearly not in the interests of the public.

Why are postcodes any harder to maintain and distribute than, say, DNS records?



Welcome to the out-of-control decade

Dodgy Dave


No. my Nokia phone definitely didn't allow apps to be downloaded - it didn't run Symbian either.

My point is that "the notion that if you own a computing device, it's under your control and it's yours to do with what you will" has been a fallacy since practically the dawn of time - I could drone on with more examples. It certainly wasn't Apple that first disrupted this Stallmanesque utopia.

Personally, I don't think the 'vetted apps' idea will scale, and they'll be forced to give up sooner or later. Whether this brings with it a catalogue of security and stability disasters remains to be seen.



Dodgy Dave

What is it with you and iPhones?

I've had a Sony Ericsson phone, a Nokia phone, a Motorola phone, a you-name-it-phone, and guess what? *Not one* has granted me unfettered control over which software can be installed on them. Wait a minute - none of them allowed *any* software to be installed, at all. Neither do my camera, my car's gearbox, my microwave oven, or my wristwatch.

Please, El Reg, GET OVER IT. As if Apple invented this sort of aftermarket control thing, anyway - games consoles have been doing precisely this for decades.



Google Chrome OS - do we want another monoculture?

Dodgy Dave

A porker: will not fly

1) Right now, people *think* they want Windows: it's the devil they know. I continually try to persuade my computer-incompetent relatives to let me set up Linux or just go buy a Mac, but they won't. Even when they go from XP to Vista and everything breaks, they won't switch away from Microsoft.

2) The point of the Web, especially the Cloud, is universal access. Many of us read our daily news or email on a home PC, on a work PC, a smartphone or MID, maybe a set-top box. Browsers are bursting out all over (did you know there are TV's which run Linux internally, just for fun?) and the future will only bring more. Are these all going to run Chrome OS? Consumers aren't going to like the idea of a 'special PC' just to have access to their email and documents.

3) Drivers, drivers, drivers! The entire market for add-ons in high-street stores (from printers and webcams to USB coffee warmers) is based on the fact that a Windows driver is all you need. (Linux people write their own, and Mac people wouldn't be seen dead in PC World anyway). Cheapo tat-makers won't want to write a whole extra driver unless the market is huge, and Google won't seemingly allow them in the OS anyway.

4) They are fighting Microsoft on their home turf. Look: Asus's initial EEE had a Linux distro, which cost them nothing and offered them total control. Now XP has taken over, despite costing money per unit and ceding control to Redmond. I don't know how they did it, but if a completely free (as in both speech and beer) OS couldn't hold out, how will Google's offering do better?

5) The 'security' aspect is completely bogus. There may well be no malware for Chrome OS - yet. But as soon as the whole Chrome ecosystem acquires value, it WILL be attacked one way or another, and frankly I trust Google less than Microsoft when it comes to security.

Microsoft admits Mac was Windows 7 muse

Dodgy Dave

Vista is stable...

...in the sense that it's not easily persuaded to do anything it doesn't want to do right now e.g. by clicking the mouse or operating the keyboard.

Google 'experiment' crossbreeds Python with C++

Dodgy Dave


What we absolutely don't need is another syntax to remember for everyday things like variable declarations, for loops, and if statements. Java, C++, C# and Objective-C all manage it, and what's the point of a fast compiler if you need three goes to get your brackets and semicolons in the right place? Python succeeds because you can get going with virtually zero knowledge of its syntax.

As a spiritual successor to Turbo Pascal, TCC (Tiny C Compiler) is worth a look, BTW.

Vint Cerf: 'Google doesn't know who you are'

Dodgy Dave
Black Helicopters

They've created a monster...

...which they can no longer control. Even if they're not really evil. Ha ha.

"we just care what you do" is bad enough for me. They'll pass on, in all 'innocence', behavioural information to third parties who can be as evil as they like with it. Very soon, I predict, the prices you see in online stores will depend on what Google's database thinks you can afford.

Oh, and however much Google says they won't go mining its records to identify 'pre-crime' personalities, they'll happily and silently hand it over to your local law enforcers, who will.

Stallman backpedals on Mac OS backdoor claims

Dodgy Dave
Black Helicopters

Don't trust him!

Just because we can't find evidence of a backdoor in GCC doesn't mean there isn't one.

See http://cm.bell-labs.com/who/ken/trust.html



FSF launches Windows 7 anti-upgrade letter campaign

Dodgy Dave

@John O'Hare

"If you're(sic) lifts need to be replaced every couple of years, because the current 'version' stops working"

Yeah, really?

Cuddly user-lovin' Ubuntu Feisty's software update literally stopped working roughly 18 months after its release in 2007. XP has been available since 2001, and is still supported.



Dodgy Dave

FSF don't get it

As open-source advocacy goes, that's piss-poor.

Those who run Fortune 500 companies really don't care about 'how it works inside', any more than they care how their office lifts function. They just want to know there's someone they can call when it goes wrong who'll fix it for them. That's why they're CEOs and not lift engineers.

They don't care about lock-in and 'antifeatures', or questionable behaviour over intellectual property, because they're Big Business who do absolutely the same to their customers.

May be worth 50 cents a pop to raise some laughs, though.



Apple blueprints warranty Big Brother

Dodgy Dave

Intel started it

Back in the good ol' days, computers were REAL computers. If you wanted to examine the registers in your CPU, you could find the board with them on and probe around with a 'scope to your hearts content.

Then corporate megalomaniac killjoys Intel decided to target us alpha-geeks by making everything so tiny you couldn't even *see* the vacuum tubes any more, and sealing the whole processor inside an "integrated circuit". Paranoid Secrecy Capsule more like - what are they afraid we'll find out?

Then they did it with storage: they did away with magnetic core memory to stop you checking that no-one had been stealing your bits. And the other day, I took all the platters out of my hard disk just, you know, to give them a polish, and the bastards made sure it "failed" when I put it back together. I *know* they made it break on purpose, just to scam an eye-watering £30 out of me for a replacement.

No Dr No rights for Bond owners

Dodgy Dave

No sympathy for Danjaq

So Danjaq are responsible for protecting the Bond brand, and they had something like 30 years to register 'Dr No' as a trademark themselves, before this other lot pitched up.

What exactly do they do to keep busy during the week?

How big an eco-hazard is IT equipment?

Dodgy Dave

'Wooh! Big Number' syndrome

...is the underlying fallacy which begets the 'false finishing touch' (spot on there, mate). It's as easy as 1-2-3:

1) Pick a small number:

a) one watt

b) the weight of a plastic bag

c) the ink used in printing a copy of The Independent

2) Multiply it by:

a) 60 million (if you're a UK citizen)

b) 250 million (if you're a US citizen)

c) 6 billion (if we're all, like, global citizens, man)

3) Marvel at what a big number you now have! (NB. Avoid at all costs trying to get an idea of the truly big numbers which you should be comparing it to).