* Posts by Alan J. Wylie

567 posts • joined 12 Jul 2008


The perfect crime – undone by the perfect email backups

Alan J. Wylie

A similar story involving core store

A previous post of mine:

"You mean that the top secret contents of memory don't get lost when we power off?"

Original Acorn Arthur project lead explains RISC OS genesis

Alan J. Wylie


Me again, after posting yesterday about 1st Word+ on the Archimedes.

ARX was a highly buzzword-compliant project from the Acorn Research Center (ARC) in Palo Alto – neighbor to the famed Xerox PARC, where the graphical user interface as we know it today was pioneered. The design was ambitiously Unix-like.

UNIX did come to the Archimedes

On the 8th March, 1988, still working for GST in Cambridge, I worked on a "UNIX Kernel Validation Suite" to test the port of BSD 4.2 (and shortly afterwards, 4.3) to the Archimedes

Some history here: Chris's Acorns: RISC iX

It exercised all the (2) system calls with expected arguments to check correct functionality and invalid arguments to check error returns.

I've got lots of scribbles in my daybook on the design and implementation, paper is definitely more persistent that bits on Winchesters. I wonder whether a historian might be interested in some of my jottings?

RISC OS: 35-year-old original Arm operating system is alive and well

Alan J. Wylie

Re: The 24th June is the anniversary for me

Do you still have the code? Would love to see it running on contemporary hardware

Sorry - I'm afraid not.

Alan J. Wylie

The 24th June is the anniversary for me

From my daybook: Wed 24-Jun-1987

4 hours Monotype

3.5 hours Acorn

ACORN 0060.7

RISC Machine 1st Word+

[Porting from the Atari ST / DR GEM]


A few snippets:

'Only 1 "short slower than int message'

'sscanf corrupts its 1st arg"

'Bug in the linker: cannot create non-contiguous files'

Boeing demos ground-based anti-jam system for satellites

Alan J. Wylie

spread spectrum hopping

Courtesy of Hedy Lamarr

Testing for COVID with the sound of a cough? There’s an app for that

Alan J. Wylie

I'm triple vaccinated, however I'm currently testing positive for Covid-19 (and feeling distinctly under the weather). The only time I cough is when I'm very occasionally bringing up phlegm from my lungs. I certainly don't have the "dry" cough which has been one of the symptoms.

Brit data regulator fines five cold-calling fiends £405k

Alan J. Wylie

TPS News - Making company directors personally liable

This means that the ICO could hold individual directors to account where the company fails to pay the fine or is placed into liquidation; and where the individual is no longer in a senior position, for example through resignation.

Arch Linux turns 20: Small, simple, great documentation

Alan J. Wylie

Rock Linux

the first rolling-release distro – that was arguably Gentoo, founded in 2000

The first stable release of Rock Linux was August 1999. Not to be confused with Rocky Linux. Like Gentoo, you compiled everything yourself.

Archived "news" page

Wikipedia article on a fork of Rock

Car radios crashed by station broadcasting images with no file extension

Alan J. Wylie

This sounds very similar to the "Samsung Blu-Ray bootloop issue" last year

Here's why your Samsung Blu-ray player bricked itself

"Upon reboot, the player parsed the XML file again from its flash storage, crashed and rebooted again"

"The problem with the XML file, sent out on June 18, 2020, is that it wasn't formatted in a way compatible with the device's code"

Crack team of boffins hash out how e-scooters should sound – but they need your help*

Alan J. Wylie

The answer's simple. A man with a red flag walking in front of the scooter.




Spoiler for those who don't spot the reference

Silk could tie up all-but-unbreakable encryption, say South Korean boffins

Alan J. Wylie

Glitter nail varnish

Glitter nail varnish was suggested to be used for this back in 2013. It has the additional advantage that it can be used to seal a screw-head

Wired article

Thwarting Evil Maid Attacks

Mentioned in the video at about 51:50

Pop quiz: The network team didn't make your change. The server is in a locked room. What do you do?

Alan J. Wylie

Obligatory XKCD

Devotion to Duty

Epoch-alypse now: BBC iPlayer flaunts 2038 cutoff date, gives infrastructure game away

Alan J. Wylie

VMS got it right

VMS (since 1977) has stored time as 100ns clock ticks since 17 November 1858 (the start of the Reduced Julian Day (an astronomical timescale, the "reduced" variant was introduced by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in 1957 to record the orbit of Sputnik). It will run out of bits in the year 31,086.

US Army journal's top paper from 2021 says Taiwan should destroy TSMC if China invades

Alan J. Wylie

Re: Almost A Perfect Plan...

Sweden provided ball bearings to the UK, too. The Ball Bearing Run

Don't forget IBM and the Holocaust

Alan J. Wylie

an automated mechanism to destroy the foundries

Dr. Strangelove would be proud. Taiwan needs to be carefully considering its Power Over Ethernet vulnerabilities

(I'll get my coat)

Humanity has officially touched the Sun (or, at least, one of its probes has)

Alan J. Wylie

Well done, Parker and Ray Bradbury wrote a short story about a spaceship sampling the Sun

Thunderbirds, too.

Alan J. Wylie

Jorge Cham's graphical illustration

Graphic illustration by Jorge Cham, aka PHD Comics

Not only was the UK Financial Ombudsman Service's Workday system months late, 38 IT workers' jobs are at risk

Alan J. Wylie

Re: ICO - broken by design

Thanks for that.

Yes - I do have a case reference number, quoted in the subject of my e-mails.

Perhaps broken by design, to help limit the number of cases they have to deal with?

Cynical? Moi?

Alan J. Wylie

I only contacted the FCO because the bank said to do so, and I didn't want to run out of "statute of limitations" time if the ICO didn't help.

So I contacted the ICO at the same time, via their web page. I attached several PDFs and PNGs of snail-mail letters, but they kept saying that "I never supplied supporting information". I finally attached them to an e-mail, but I haven't had any confirmation that they received them, despite a follow-up e-mail asking them to do so. I suppose I'll have to chase them, too, to find out why their workflow is broken.


Alan J. Wylie

The Financial Ombudsman clearly had a problem with their workflow, I sincerely hope that the new system solves it.

A few weeks ago I contacted them through their web form with an issue I had with a bank seeming to have leaked the unique e-mail address I had given them. I received an automated reply to the different, unique address I had used for the FO. A few days later I saw a rejected connection in my mail log: a1 "1" had been mis-transcribed as an "l" in the address! Why on earth did they have a system that required an e-mail address to be re-typed? How many times previously has this caused an e-mail to either not be delivered or to be delivered to the wrong person?

In: EHLO mailgate2.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

In: MAIL FROM:<complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk> SIZE=25646

In: RCPT TO:<.l.@wylie.me.uk>

Out: 550 5.1.1 <.l..@wylie.me.uk>: Recipient address rejected: User unknown in local recipient table

How to destroy expensive test kit: What does that button do?

Alan J. Wylie

The VLS space is sprayed down with water

Fresh or sea water?

Crypto for cryptographers! Infosec types revolt against use of ancient abbreviation by Bitcoin and NFT devotees

Alan J. Wylie

Re: "Crypto" means Cryptosporidium

"CDC", when I was in uni, stood for Control Data Corporation

From the Jargon File:

In 1989, a random of the journalistic persuasion asked hacker Paul Boutin "What do you think will be the biggest problem in computing in the 90s?" Paul's straight-faced response: "There are only 17,000 three-letter acronyms"

Alan J. Wylie

"Crypto" means Cryptosporidium


A very unpleasant intestinal parasite

From the studio that brought you 'Mortal Wombat' comes 'Pernicious Possum'

Alan J. Wylie

"Pernicious Possum" sounds just like an Ubuntu release codename

Ubuntu releases

10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)

11.04 (Natty Narwhal)

11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)

12.04.5 LTS (Precise Pangolin)

Google denies Gmail users an early start to the weekend after problems accessing service

Alan J. Wylie

Loss of service is bad enough, but a spurious "critical security alert" is ridiculous

First I knew was an e-mail:

"Subject: Critical security alert"

"Someone just used your password to try to sign in to your account. Google blocked them, but you should check what happened."

Why can't Google show the IP address that the attempt came from? It would have saved me a lot of worry.

Then I checked my logs: lots of these messages starting at 08:31 GMT, triggered by fetchmail

System error during SSL_connect(): Connection reset by peer

pop.gmail.com: SSL connection failed.

Connection errors for this poll:#012name 0: connection to pop.gmail.com:pop3s [2a00:1450:400c:c0b::6c/995] failed: Connection refused

Linux kernel 5.15 released with new NTFS driver plus an LTS sticker slapped on it

Alan J. Wylie

Re: Slightly confused about samba

LWN article

Alan J. Wylie

50 years have gone by since the UK's one – and only – homegrown foray into orbit

Alan J. Wylie

Previously on The Register:

A couple of Geek's Guides, covering the sites where Blue Streak rocket motors were tested.

Spadeadam and The missile test facility at the High Downs on the Isle of Wight

31-year-old piece of hardware not working very well: Hubble telescope back in safe mode over 'synchronization issues'

Alan J. Wylie

As well as the James Webb

There is also the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, due to launch in the mid-2020s.

How not to train your Dragon: What happens when you teach an AI game sex-abuse stories then blame players

Alan J. Wylie

The Eye of Argon

Did they include The Eye of Argon in their training data? Enquiring minds want to know!

UK umbrella payroll firm Giant Pay confirms it was hit by 'sophisticated' cyber-attack

Alan J. Wylie

I knew before I followed the link that what the first comment would say!

Electron-to-joule conversion formulae? Cute. Welcome to the school of hard knocks

Alan J. Wylie

"electron-to-joule conversion formulae"

That would be ""electronvolt""

$ units -1 "electronvolt" "joule"

* 1.6021766e-19

Tachyum's Prodigy emulator achieves first boot, runs Linux and says 'hello, world'

Alan J. Wylie

Re: Transmeta

"Anamartic" was wafer scale integration: external software programmed faulty circuits to be bypassed.

I've got a copy of The Catt Concept: The New Industrial Darwinism on my bookshelf, it must be a very long time since I bought/read it, though.

Alan J. Wylie


"Low power", "dynamic binary translation software layer" (although most processors translate instructions to microcode anyway): this reminds me of Transmeta, and look what happened to them.

Tired: What3Words. Wired: A clone location-tracking service based on FOUR words – and they are all extremely rude

Alan J. Wylie

Shame it's not 5 words

Then we could have pee.po.belly.bum.drawers

Alan J. Wylie

Re: a bit late to the show in featuring this site

Interesting. The bastard offspring of NTK and Viz

Alan J. Wylie

sadly FourKingMaps doesn't yet have a linking function so you'll have to visit it by copy and pasting.

This works


Happy 60th, Sinclair Radionics: We'll remember you for your revolutionary calculators and crap watches

Alan J. Wylie

Don't forget the multimeters

radiomuseum.org page.

I've still got my PDM35. I built myself Sinclair Scientific calculator too, but sold that on when I got myself a Texas Instruments SR51A

BT to phase out 3G in UK by 2023 for EE, Plusnet, BT Mobile subscribers

Alan J. Wylie

Rural coverage is still very poor

The Yorkshire Dales have seen a huge increase in visitors since lockdown. Many areas (and not just the tops, but roads down valleys) have no coverage at all.

Visit The Ofcom map and look at the area around Hubberholme (BD23 5JE). Even "Outdoor", "No 4G" there are huge areas of white.

Indoors some towns have areas with no coverage at all. Even text messages don't get through, making the new two factor authentication for online purchases a pain, Settle for instance (BD24 9DJ).

Ah, I see you found my PowerShell script called 'SiteReview' – that does not mean what you think it means

Alan J. Wylie

A few years ago ...

much the same: Staff sacked after security sees 'suspect surfer' script of shame, including my memories of red faces when the contents of the squid logs were read out at a sales meeting

A real go-GETTR: Former Trump aide tries to batter Twitter by ripping off its UI

Alan J. Wylie

chmod 777

chmod 777 allows everyone to read and write

So it appears some of you really don't want us to use the word 'hacker' when we really mean 'criminal'

Alan J. Wylie

I was a volunteer at the library

Did they had a copy of The New Hacker's Dictionary on their shelves?

What happens when the internet realizes the stock market is basically a casino? They go shopping at the Mall

Alan J. Wylie

I wonder whether someone will make a film about it?

Previously: Trading Places

Alan J. Wylie

Clop ransomware gang clips sensitive files from Atlantic Records' London ad agency The7stars, dumps them online

Alan J. Wylie

The IT angle? Charlie Stross is one of Random Penguin's authors.

Negative Trustpilot review of law firm Summerfield Browne cost aggrieved Briton £28k

Alan J. Wylie

Re: If you're going to represent yourself...

"The man who defends himself in court has a fool for a lawyer and a jackass for a client"

Police drone plunged 70ft into pond after operator mashed pop-up that was actually the emergency cut-out button

Alan J. Wylie

Re: Fail safe?

It reminds me of the emergency stop button on Multi Wheel Journal Grinders that I used to work on.

(I was out in Cleveland for 10 weeks in the late 80s installing one of the three shown in the photo in the above link).

There were, IIRC, 9 large grinding wheels for finishing the journals and oil seal on a Ford V8 crankshaft. If the emergency stop was hit just as the cut started, power was removed from the motor rotating the crankshaft, the inertia in the grinding wheels would start spinning it backwards faster than it was ever meant to turn, it would pop out of its head/tailstocks, be thrown into the bed of the machine, shatter, and the pieces bounce out at high speed..

How good are you at scoring security vulnerabilities, really? Boffins seek infosec pros to take rating skill survey

Alan J. Wylie

Re: CVE scores are dynamic

Did you click on "Base Score"?

Alan J. Wylie

CVE scores are dynamic

The NIST provides a calculator. On their page for a particular CVE, e.g. CVE-2017-5550 click on one of the two "CVSS" versions, then on the "Base Score" button, and you can tune your score depending on your particular circumstances, e.g. external network access, Privileges Required.



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