* Posts by Paul

82 publicly visible posts • joined 21 Sep 2008


Touchy Google wraps protective arm around Chrome EULA


Isn't it ironic

If big corporations like Google just slap their EULAs on things without reading them or thinking about what they mean, how can they expect users to take them seriously?

US judge bars teen 'sexting' charges

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Congrats, to the Miller family,

and the rest of you.

It's about time someone stood up to this insanity, and I'm pleased to see you have, thus far at least, prevailed.

US mums sue anti-sexting crusader



Well almost. You're right in principle that there's no reason a child couldn't make child porn, but "intent to arouse" is putting it a little broadly. Normally a picture has to cross some line in terms of conduct to be considered porn as well. A picture of a woman sporting a bikini and a come-hither look wouldn't be called pornography (outside of Afghanistan). Many people wouldn't even call magazines like Playboy (which show nudity but no sex) pornography.

I'd say it's very doubtful that anything these three girls did meets that definition. Of course the actual law may or may not take that into account, but sensible laws usually do. And if it doesn't, it could potentially appealed on First Amendment grounds.

US reality TV 'star' attacked fiancé with laptop, cat, apples


Cats are weapons?

Having a cat thrown at you could be quite painful, seeing as they're naturally inclined to land claws out, but surely the door or even the laptop would be more likely to cause serious injury.

Boffin builds DIY solar cell from doughnuts and tea


Anthrocyanin is people!

Uhh, don't you mean ANTHOcyanin? Nomenclature fail aside, it was cute, though somewhat marred by the fact that "conducting glass" isn't something most people have lying around like the other ingredients.

Robo-fish to hunt pollution in Spanish seas


Good idea?

It's nice not to scare the fish and all... but aren't they asking for their £20,000 gear to be chomped by a shark (or other underwater predator)?

BBC zombie caper slammed by security pros


Some good points

Even though I still don't see a problem with the concept in principle, some good points were raised above about how it was carried out.

First of all, they paid a large sum of money to crooks for the access to the botnet. I wasn't clear about that from in the initial description. That violates the no harm principle. Even though these 22000 computers were most likely compromised ahead of time, it supports and encourages the people who did it.

Second, I agree that the way they chose to inform the users was somewhat naive. Users should not be in the habit of trusting strange messages like that. On the other hand, I don't know what a better option would be, unless they could actually make the "bot" uninstall itself.


I don't see what the big deal is

The people who were told that their PCs were infected and how to clean them are probably pleased. That shouldn't be a problem.

If you want to be legalistic about it, you could think of it as implied consent. If a doctor finds you unconscious on the ground, he can assume you would like to be revived. Likewise it's perfectly reasonable to assume the owner of an infected PC would like to have it cleaned or at least be informed of the problem.

Online attackers feed off Norton forum purge



"A single well-placed post from a Symantec official would likely have nipped most of it in the bud"

Just what I was thinking. All the had to do (assuming they really are on the level) is put a pinned thread at the top of the forum. Something like "We are aware of pifts.exe error, and are working to correct the problem. In the mean time, rest assured that It does not pose a security risk."

Would that be so hard?

Boffins breed new programming race

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Arrays and Functions

Actually it does have arrays. They're called "lists", and easy to miss, but they're in there. No functions, true, but after poking around a little I realized that a "broadcast" is effectively a subroutine (or perhaps a method) so you can accomplish the same thing. Scratch surprisingly complete for how easy it is. (Or surprisingly easy for how complete it is.)

I also noticed that the variables can hold text as well as numbers, though it's definitely short on commands for dealing with strings.

Barnes & Noble muscles Kindle with e-book buy



But fictionwise books are still DRMed, right? I don't see the appeal. Who cares what format they use if you're not allowed to use it where you want.

Google Earth faces terrorist target airbrush bill


No reason?

"There's no reason they need to show where all a school's air ducts are and the elevator shafts and all the entry and exit points..."

A friend of mine is a teacher in California. As it happens he's on the "site council" in charge of making emergency response plans, including evacuation routes. As you can imagine, having aerial photos of the school came in handy for that. Three guesses where he got them.

Judge issues radioactive 'pr0n downloader' alert



Nope, "making" usually means "downloading". because when you download something you "make" a copy. I wish I was joking, but I'm not.

Texting: Good for kids after all?


ths shd suprs no1

Why is anyone surprised? Reading and writing improves literacy. It doesn't matter so much what you read or write, just as long as you do it. I learned to read and write on the computer back in the days before everyone knew what LOL* meant. It figures that some kids today are learning largely by texting.

*My father told me it stood for Lots Of Luck.

Small ISPs reject call to filter out child abuse sites



I have no idea what you're implying. Try using proper grammar and it might be easier to follow.

But it sounds like you're suggesting that instead of blocking child porn sites, ISPs should track who visits them so they can be arrested.

Two reasons that won't happen: Turning your customers over to the police is bad for business; it would be much harder to get ISPs to go for that idea. And it would catch too many people. Guilty people yes, if done right, but too many. The government would rather use pedophiles as a phantom menace to scare people than have thousands of real live ones to deal with.

Eircom to block Pirate Bay


What's the big deal?

You've already got the the CP blacklist? What's the harm in throwing a few more addys on there? It's for a good cause, I mean Torrents are "potentially illegal" too, right?

California ban on violent video games killed on appeal


Two Points:

1. I know it looks silly for judges to say violence can't be restricted but sex can. You have to remember though, these particular judges have no choice in the latter, that decision has already been made and could only be overturned at the supreme court level. These judges just declined to create a NEW first amendment exception.

2. In the US, films are rated by the MPAA. It is a common misconception (even among Americans) that this is required by law. The MPAA is is just trade association of movie studios, and their ratings don't officially have any legal power. Game ratings are done by an outfit called ESRB, pretty much the same deal.

Of course giving "harmful matter" (AKA pr0n) to a minor can be illegal, and presumably that would apply to a pornographic game as well, but it doesn't officially have anything to do with the ratings. Though most people would probably assume anything rated less than the highest on either scale would be legal, if not necessarily advisable, for children.

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In a 3-0 ruling, Judge Consuelo Callahan said California could only justify the ban if the state could not only prove violent video games caused actual psychological harm, but that the best way to prevent it was through criminalization. The court also shot down the act's labeling provision because it doesn't require the disclosure of purely factual information but compels carrying the legislature's "controversial opinion."

"In evaluating the State's asserted interests, we must distinguish the State's interest in protecting minors from actual psychological or neurological harm from the State's interest in controlling minors' thoughts. The latter is not legitimate," the ruling stated.

Sometimes judges totally rock compared to the rest of government.

(Other times they deserve to be shot http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/18/pa_corrupt_judge_scandal/ )

But never the less.

Nudie subterranean rat protein could arrest human ageing


"effectively cold-blooded"

So says Wikipedia. Might not that have more to do with their longevity than any fancy proteins? Isn't this just the converse of Live Fast, Die Young?

'Sexy View' SMS malware targets Symbian devices



It's also possible that the worm creator was able to break the security on the signature. I say that without knowing any details of how it works, but it's not inconceivable. Only as strong as its weakest link, and all that.

What did you do on Emergency Services day?


Am I being a typical American or...

Doesn't it seem like they should have just used 911? I'm guessing that due to Hollywood it's the most recognized emergency number around. Or use the UK's 999, which I understand was the first such number.

Considering it's kind of important that people remember it in an emergency and all... why complicate things by inventing a whole new number?

Fake parking tickets lead unwary to malware



"view pictures with information about your parking preferences"? That doesn't even make sense.

MySpace fingers 90,000 nonces

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There's so much wrong with this, I'm not sure where to start.

The number is too high, and probably includes many innocent people with similar names.

Even those who were sex offenders probably weren't hurting anybody, other online studies indicate online stalking, etc, is rare.

They only caught the *honest* sex offenders, i.e. the least likely to be planning some kind of trouble.

In short it was a total waste of time.

Harry Potter Lexicon published after judgment-guided edit


I might be able to see her side

if this wasn't the same loony who sued people to prevent them from reading her book before the official publication date.

Exploding mobile phone kills Chinese man

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I am skeptical

Was not there a similar case before where it turned out the man was actually killed by some other impact (machinery accident?) and the phone only caught fire because it suffered the same fate.

'Infinitesimal magnetic tornadoes' set to ravage computing



They're all words (except for qits being spelled different) up to dits:

Mits, bits, tits, qits, pits, hits, sits, nits and dits.

Then there's:

Mytes, bytes, tytes, qytes, pytes, hytes, sytes, nytes and dytes.

Gears of War grind to halt


Malware by any other name

Whether you want to call it DRM or not, it's hostile code. If it's designed to get in my way, not help me, I don't want it on my computer.

Fresh privacy fears over IE 8 Suggested Sites


Richard raises a good point

If people want to let MS know where they surf that's their business, but MS is going to have to be very careful how they share those URLs with the public (which is, after all the point of the feature). The safest thing would be to share only the domain name, but as Richard points out that might not be enough if the site is something like Blogger that include a million different sub-sites. But sharing the whole URL would risk giving away user IDs or even (on an exceptionally poorly made site) passwords. But it seems to me theres a middle ground.

And come to think of it, it has alot to do with "search terms or data you entered in forms", AKA query strings. Basically URLs have three levels of detail. "example.com", "example.com/example.php" and "example.com/example.php?foo=example&bar=sample". The middle one should almost always be safe to share, and still provide enough detail to work with most sites. But the last one could definitely be a privacy risk. Ideally IE8 wouldn't even send that part back to MS, only the part to the left of the "?".

Judges: Don't know the law? It's understandable



If they're going to treat the laws like a wiki, why don't they just turn them into one?

On second thought, maybe that's not a joke. At least you could look it up then.

Microsoft's Automatic Update - the way to browser competition?

Paris Hilton

What's the point?

I always thought the courts kind missed the point on the browser wars thing. They seem to think the problem is that Microsoft gave away IE with Windows, and that this can could be corrected by providing other browsers with Windows too. If that's all it was I don't think many people would care. The real problem is that they made it PART of Windows, so you can't NOT use it.

IE8 Suggested Sites suggested to be snoopy

Gates Halo


As long as this is strictly opt-in, i.e. off by default, I don't have a problem with this. I'm certain there are people who would be happy to trade their browsing privacy for some interesting site suggestions. Would I do it? No. But it sounds like they're taking reasonable precautions to avoid major privacy breaches (excluding secure sites, honoring Porn Mode). Additionally other companies (DoubleClick, Quantcast, and of course Google) are already collecting this kind of information on a much less voluntary basis using embedded scripts.

Extreme porn law goes live - are you ready?



> No, I'm not saying people who view this stuff are 'inferior' I would never hold that view. But I don't equate it with normal behavior. Surely normal behavior is behavior that is carried out by the majority of the population.

Indeed. But "sick" is a value judgment. If you had just said initially that looking at "extreme porn" was not normal, I would have to agree, but if you're going to call it sick, you should offer some evidence that it's harmful or otherwise "bad".

> Arrogant is the wrong word to use. Intolerant would be a better one.

Yes, you are intolerant for sure, but more than a little arrogant too.

> If a snail was sexually abused and physically violated then had its picture taken before consumption, then yes I would be happy for the outlawing of eating snails, since it is'nt, I have no opinion on the subject.

I wouldn't have figured you for an animal rights guy, but more to the point it sounds like you're talking about non-consensual violence now. Why? That's not what concerns most people about the law. If two adults get off on having their genitals bitten or want to stab each other with spikes prior to sex, why would it be wrong if I wanted to watch?



Sid, why do you keep conflating non-normal with sick? That's why you come across as arrogant. You're effectively saying "they're different, and therefore inferior". Eating snails isn't normal behavior either, should we outlaw that?



That's a valid point, though TrueCrypt is probably the all-around best free disk encryption program available so there's actually nothing strange about choosing it even if you have no use for the hidden volume feature. You of course you'd have to convince the judge of that.

UK.gov opens up delayed child protection database


Shockly bad idea

How can the same people who would have us believe there's a paedo behind every bush act like giving the personal details of "at risk" children to almost four hundred thousand people is acceptable? To say nothing of what happens when they leave the data on a bus.

That much you'd think even a typical Daily Mail reader could grasp. Though my concern is more about what the database will turn into once mission creep sets in.

Govt uses Obscenity Law to stuff up cartoon sex loophole



It has been discovered that a loophole allows minors to legally purchase beer if it containes no alcohol. That's right beer is being sold to children!!! And the police can do nothing. What if someone took beer and removed the alcohol and gave it to children? We must put a stop to this menace!

Thank you for watching Moral Panic. Please tune in next time when we investigate the loophole that allows thieves to literally walk off with merchandise after paying for it.

Demon ends porn-less Internet Archive block

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@ "Pedantic" AC

You don't know what you're talking about. Maybe you should consider whether IWF is unbiased before you swallow their line (to say nothing of hook and sinker). They call it "child abuse images" and tell you it consists of babies being raped because they know that angle sells better.

In reality child abuse has nothing to do with it. Obviously some images like that exist, but the law doesn't stop there, and neither does the IWF. The real standard is much, much lower: Indecency. Nudity alone isn't enough (or strictly speaking, necessary) but combine it with a funny camera angle or anything that could be interpreted as a suggestive pose and that's all it takes. And of course the kid could be running around perfectly happy at a nudist resort or what have you and that would have no bearing on it.

Calling that child abuse is nonsense. Calling it porn isn't accurate either, but slightly closer to the truth, because in practice, the test is whether a pedophile, real or imagined, will find the picture erotic. There also exists a category of images which could accurately be called pornographic, but not abusive. See here:


But "indecent images of children" just doesn't have quite the same impact as "child abuse images", does it? But hey, thanks to the IWF you can see for yourself what one of these "child abuse images" looks like. Remember, even though they unblocked it, the IWF maintains that this picture is "potentially illegal", so look at your own risk.


Germany pushes IWF-style child abuse blocklist


@Brian Ribbon

And Vice Versa. Many people seem to think a nude picture of a minor is automatically child porn, even if the law says different.

Brit porn filter censors 13 years of net history



>only 2 non legitimate sites have been blocked.

If you seriously believe that, you're incredibly naive. Only two non legitimate sites *that were big enough to notice* were blocked. Considering ISPs chose to dishonestly claim the banned URLs were "not found" it's going to have to be big to notice. You don't seriously think the first questionable judgment they ever made just happened to be on one of the largest sites on the internet, do you?

Other child porn blacklists--when investigated, which is difficult--have a notoriously high false positive rate. I would frankly be surprised if IWF's is really that much better.



Jason: "I worked at an ISP when it was implemented. We were not a massive ISP but saw on average 300 attempts a day to access banned urls (we didn't see the details just the stats.) so say over 4 years thats 438,000"

Congrats, you saved 438,000 legitimate users from accidentally seeing child porn... or annoyed 438,000 paedophiles... or not. 'Cause you don't actually know those URLs were blocked for any good reason do you? You only have IWF's word that there were illegal... I mean "potentially illegal". You only have IWF's word that they may have been illegal. Sorry, but that's not a very impressive success story.

On the other hand, some if the rest of you are getting a little too conspiracy minded, IMHO. Granted I don't live in your country so I don't know how bad things are, but I really doubt IWF is part of a secret plan to take over the Internet. It's more the natural Power Corrupts principle that would worry me. And the ability to secretly censor the Internet is a pretty big power to have with no accountability.



"Maybe a problem with the wayback machine itself."

It seems unlikely that archive.org would be using IWF, since they're based in the US. And I (myself in the US) am not seeing anything like that. I am getting quite a few "Path Index Error" messages, but that's not too unusual.

IMHO, It's starting to look like this is a screwup of some kind rather then a deliberate attempt at censorship, but it's still a problem that wouldn't have happened if the filters weren't there.

US lawmaker wants health warnings on video games


In addition to the more obvious flaws...

Linking this warning to ESRB ratings makes no sense. First of all a game could easily have a Teen rating without any violence to speak of. And more importantly ESRB is private company and has no right to assign ratings with legal power.

Cash-strapped US businessman jumps from light aircraft



I'll give him credit for having a novel solution to his financial woes, but he really needs to work on his planning skills. Which, come to think of it, may be the reason he was in that mess to start with.

Watchdog wags finger at waffly privacy policies



GPL style what? GPL is one of the most legalistic and obnoxiously long EULAs out there. That would hardly be an improvement.

UFO wind turbine prang site sealed



Maybe it was Don Quixote.

Navy SEALs look to grapple with Brazilian


@Daffy the Duck

No, not at all. There are quite a few martial artists in the tech field. (Or a bunch of techies into martial arts, whichever.) There were a whole mess of them in the dojo I went to.

But regarding the story, 30 hours isn't very impressive. I'm sure they've found somebody who will skip straight to the rip-a-man's-heart-out-and-show-it-to-him-before-he-dies type techniques and not bother with the usual niceties, but still, you can't expect to get really good at something by spending less thana week on it.

Password guessing attack exposed in Twitter pwn


"far less sensitive"

Considering compromising this account put him in a place to forge communications from president elect of the Unites States among many other people, yeah I'd say that's pretty sensitive.

Also, no proxy? Looks like the cracker was as dumb as the twitter admins. It shouldn't be too hard to track him down assuming twitter even bothers to keep logs.

Spinning the war on the UK's sex trade

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On "Trafficking"

I always thought there was something suspicious about the term "trafficking". Literally it just means transporting, if you're talking about contraband it means smuggling, but applied to humans it gets kind of nebulous (making it ideal for this kind of bait and switch). The image it evokes is of literal slaves being shipped around like cargo. Needless to say that's almost never what happens.

Confusion over Indian parliamentary rights-grab


Did I read that correctly?

India just outlawed porn? This is going to devastate their IT industry.

US sues to break up military and space kit acquisition



What's that? I thought they'd pretty much given up on busting monopolies these days. I'll be darned. Now could we do it with something people care about?