* Posts by Pete 2

2938 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Smile? Not bloody likely: Day 6 of wobbly services and still no hint to UK online bank's customers about what's actually wrong

Pete 2

Re: No technical information

> Presumably because it would be embarrassing.

Embarrassing as in "thick fingered individual deleted the database and we've just discovered the backups haven't worked for months" That sort of embarrassing?

Pete 2

one egg in one basket

Most people understand intuitively that only having a single copy of your front door key is a bad idea. It can get lost. It can get broken or left on the wrong side of the door.

There are many other aspects of life that follow the same principle: car keys, royal heirs .... bank accounts.

If you rely only one, lone, bank account not only are you totally dependent on the competence of that bank but you only get one card. The smart people will apply for both a debit card and a credit card. If one gets lost, they still have the other. Provided both weren't kept in the same wallet / handbag. But for complete financial security, more than one current account is required.

A volt from the blue: Samsung reportedly ditches wall-wart from future phones

Pete 2

The Ryanair model

Salesperson: Certainly, here's a cheap phone. You won't find one cheaper - guaranteed.

Oh, the battery is an extra £60 plus fitting charge

A screen, you say. By all means .... kerching £100 more please.

Great. Now, would the customer like some software to go with their new phone .....

FYI: You do all know that America's tech giants, even Google, supply IT to the US military, right?

Pete 2

Aid and comfort?

Where should a commercial company draw the line between active collaboration in destructive and deadly technologies and passive assistance in making a military more capable of delivering those functions on its own?

Specifically making weapons is one thing. How about allowing military operators to use all the civilian functions that are available to everybody else.

ISTM that armed forces all over the world gain specific and quantifiable benefits from commercial software, from Word to Google search to the internet in general. There are even military TLDs assigned.

Is there a line to be drawn and if so, where? I do not claim to know the answer, but the question is reasonable.

We'll pay £400k for a depth charge-proof robot submarine, says UK's Ministry of Defence

Pete 2

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water

> The so-called "unmanned underwater vehicle" must have "the ability to sense, interpret, and understand its local environment, and then respond autonomously to that understanding"

Can it be shark-shaped? Possibly with a you-know-what attached.

Euro police forces infiltrated encrypted phone biz – and now 'criminal' EncroChat users are being rounded up

Pete 2

Lies, damned lies and official statements?

> British, French and Dutch law enforcement agencies to have been used by around 60,000 people

> British police claims that all 10,000 of EncroChat's UK users were criminals

but only ...

> 746 arrests. I.e. about 1 in 15 UK users.

We know that all reports of "cyber crime" are bigged-up. Both in extent and sophistication. Is that the case here, too?

60,000 users each paying £1500 per 6 months, comes out at £180 million a year to the owners of this network.

If that is the true value of a covert mobile phone network, I cannot imagine that it will be down for long (esp. given what the operators will have learned from this). Nor that such networks do not operate elsewhere. In other parts of the world.

Should we expect further reports of other "busts" in other countries - the USA being an obvious one. Or are those networks just better run and can avoid detection.

Linux Mint 20 isn't exactly bursting with freshness but, hey, there's kernel 5.4 and it's a long-term support release

Pete 2

Form or function?

What would interest me is a description of what new things I will be able to do with Mint / Debian / Ubuntu / any other new linux distro, that I was unable to do before. What "killer" apps it now contains, that weren't there before? What functions that previously were difficult or convoluted have been made easier? What giant strides have been made in the documentation (OK, that one's a joke).

I am sure it is nice to know that the colour scheme has been diddled with - that we can now have yellow folders. But if that makes it to the list of newsworthy features, I feel there isn't anything more significant that would entice me to upgrade.

NASA mulls going all steam-punk with a fleet of jumping robots to explore Saturn and Jupiter's mysterious moons

Pete 2

Just sublime!

> each SPARROW will melt ice from the surface of these moons to create steam.

Have they missed a step: ice -> steam. Or is the atmospheric pressure really that low?

You'd think lockdown would be heaven for us layabouts – but half the UK has actually started 'exercising more'

Pete 2

Say or do?

> After getting nearly 4,000 responses

So all this survey did was ask some people (ones who stepped forward to tell the researchers how virtuous they are?) what they did. That is a long way short of having actual evidence that they weren't lying, mistaken, exaggerating or didn't understand the question. ISTM that surveys are far too unreliable to base any course of action on.

In fact, I asked 8,000 people online if they thought surveys were accurate ...... they replied in the affirmative to whatever question anyone who is willing to pay me for the results, cares to ask them. Of course, it might just have been one person or a 'bot, that responded 8000 times. I guess we'll never know.

CSI: Amazon.com coming soon to a screen near you

Pete 2

Hit where it hurts

> the job of helping Amazon “to more effectively pursue civil litigation against suspected criminals

So in other words having a reputation as a tat bazaar, filled with low-quality knockoffs, is finally beginning to affect the bottom line.

Or was it that eBay objected to Amazon muscling in on their turf?

Things that make you go foom: Destruction derby as NASA and SpaceX test rocket components to failure

Pete 2


> The test will see the tank filled with water to simulate the liquid oxygen

apart from the real contents of the tank being some 200°C colder in practice. As we would have hoped NASA had learned from the shuttle, materials behave differently when cold

Ampere smacks the ball over the net, back at Marvell: Our Altra Max cloud processor will have 128 Arm cores

Pete 2


> a maximum TDP of 250W

Those of us who remember 1990's science fiction series will be aware of the Video Toaster.

With each of these chips generating up to 250 Watts of heat, there could be a resurgent secondary function. Just imagine: camping out in the datacentre late at night, sitting in a circle around the server. Recounting tall tales while chomping on warm marshmallows fresh off the heatsink!

Ex-director cops community service after 5,000-file deletion spree on company Dropbox

Pete 2

back .... up!

> an 18-month community order along with 80 hours' unpaid work.

Hopefully the unpaid work won't be as a systems administrator for one of her ex-employers

(Although 80 hours unpaid work doesn't sound like a punishment. It sounds like the week before a deadline)

The girl with the dragnet tattoo: How a TV news clip, Insta snaps, a glimpse of a tat and a T-shirt sold on Etsy led FBI to alleged cop car arsonist

Pete 2

Who's watching whom?

> The FBI also obtained 500 images from an amateur photographer who had documented the protest.

With citizens happy-snapping everything that moves, the case for state surveillance seems pretty thin.

Either that, or it wouldn't add greatly to the volume of evidence collected: publicly or privately

Out on a tangent: Almost two decades into its 5-year mission, INTEGRAL still delivers the gamma ray goods

Pete 2

Summed over its lifetime

> Its service module, containing power generation and conditioning, control and communications, is a rebuild of the one used by XMM-Newton, which goes some way to explaining INTEGRAL's extraordinary longevity

So that's what differentiates INTEGRAL from other research satellites?

Bigger than big: Linux kernel colonel Torvalds claims 5.8 is 'one of our biggest releases of all time'

Pete 2

Bigger! Newer!! Better???

> accelerator support for the Habana Labs Gaudi AI Training Processor – this last one mentioned by Torvalds as accounting for a large chunk of new code.

I have to say, none of this makes me want to rush out and upgrade.

Russia drags NASA: Enjoy your expensive SpaceX capsule, our Soyuz is the cheap Kalashnikov of rockets

Pete 2

Market price

> But with the Crew Dragon capsule costing $55m a seat vs. Russia's $90m a seat

I think there is an important difference between what something costs and what it is sold for.

The russians charged the USA $90m a pop because they knew that the americans would pay that. Especially since they had no other options.

However, that price does not mean that it cost Russia $90m to send a person to the ISS.

US Air Force wants to pit AI-powered drone against its dogfighting hotshots in battle of the skies next year

Pete 2

Still fighting WW2

> “in some sort of air-to-air dogfight”

Does anyone still do that? ISTM that the modern version is to get within 50 miles of an adversary and then fire a missile at it

Huawei launches UK charm offensive: We've provided 2G, 3G and 4G for 20 years, and you're worried about 5G?

Pete 2

Re: Swings and roundabouts

> forced organ harvesting

Not my biggest concern regarding 5G. Should we expect a hand with a scalpel to morph, terminator-style, out of a Huawei 5G phone?

Pete 2

Swings and roundabouts

> perceived ties to the Chinese government

No worse than more than half of the UK's approved suppliers (approved by the USA, that is) having more than perceived ties to the american 3-letter agencies. Being US-based, they are about as resistant to "pressure" as a blancmange. Further, with Musk's Starlink making a bid to own the whole world's internet, I find it difficult to get upset about Chinese spying. At worst it just levels things out a bit.

Smart fridges are cool, but after a few short years you could be stuck with a big frosty brick in the kitchen

Pete 2

Smart freezer - code frozen!

> promised to issue software updates for a full decade after the release of a device

But what other services do they rely on?

If there is third-party stuff, then they are just as much a part of the product as what the vendor promises hopes to support. But if they close down, raise their prices, get bought, go bust, are hacked / pwned / blacklisted, rely on other (fourth party?) stuff or generally can't be arsed to keep their code working properly then your premium fridge is just as functional as a bargain basement version.

This is exactly the same as for every other "smart" device: TV, vacuum cleaner, cat feeder, doorbell and probably electric car, too. While they all might have the intention to deliver on their marketing promises, experience tells us that in the end: they don't. Whether it is a phone that stops getting updates or security patches after a few months, or a car that gets "premium" features locked out when sold second-hand. It turns out that all vendors of "smart" kit are insincere shysters.

We all know about buiilt-in obsolescence. But the new obsolescence comes in the form of an OTA update - or lack thereof.

Apps get bit animated: Android Studio 4.0 released with new Motion Editor

Pete 2

Be annoyed, the country needs more noyds

> but developing for Android still has annoyances

Such as deadlines, bugs, managers, change requests and users?

Barmy ban on businesses, Brits based in Blighty bearing or buying .eu domains is back: Cut-off date is Jan 1, 2021

Pete 2


The website for leaving the EU

Blight the power: Jamming attack cripples wireless signals using clever reflective technology

Pete 2

An immobile solution

> An IRS-enabled element like a wall ...

I think the idea of hauling a wall around, just to jam someone's mobile phone, would be a bit of a giveaway.

Although all this seems to be doing is reflecting the cellphone radio frequencies back, out of phase with the incoming one. The wavelength of an 1800MHz mobile signal is only 16cm. So you would only have to move the mobile phone a small amount to be away from the nulled out point. What would this wall do, if there were two cell towers that a phone could connect to?

Even if the wall has the ability to track the position of a phone down to 1cm or so and can do that in real-time, there must be easier ways to futz with someone's signal.

Watch SpaceX's Starship SN4 prototype accidentally self-destruct in a rocket test burn

Pete 2

Designed to go BANG!

> yet another setback

Hardly. The only thing of importance that has been lost is time - and maybe 1 Raptor engine. These test bed rockets (although "rocket" is a misnomer since none of them have got off the ground¹ yet) are disposable rigs positively intended to find the weaknesses, faults and places for improvements. It is far better and much more cost-efficient to discover all these faults now than when these things have payloads or people on them.

Experience is another word for mistakes, learned from.

[1] in a controlled fashion

Before IBM started axing staff, it told them Q3 2020 would be super-busy with post-lockdown catch-up jobs

Pete 2

double think

> before the deepening coronavirus crisis prompted IBM to re-think what clients actually need

Or possibly before the deepening crisis prompted IBM's customers to re-think what they needed.

Help your fellow IT pals spruce up their virtual meetings: Design a winning background, win Register-branded gear

Pete 2

Give yourself a promotion

The best backdrop? Your boss's office. Or better: their boss's office.

If it doesn't instill fear and uncertainty in whoever you're videoconferencing with, at least it might make those who don't know you, personally, think you have more seniority and power than they would wish to challenge.

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC

Pete 2

Minimum spec?

> 32 cores and 64 threads at 3.7GHz

The problem with giving developers (does Torvalds count a a developer? probably not) ultra-high spec kit is that it disincentivises them from writing efficient code. I understand that resource consumption is waaaaaay down there on the list of priorities for code mungers - probably even lower than fixing bugs or writing documentation. However, when we are told that Linux is "lightweight" and will run on ½GB of memory and 1GHz of CPU then it would be nice to have some confidence that this sort of box would do meaningful work.

And what could be more meaningful than the head honcho adopting it for their daily lambasting of all around them?

NASA's Human Spaceflight boss hits eject a week before SpaceX crew launch

Pete 2

Going while the going's good

Loverro is head of NASA's manned spaceflight division. A part of the organisation that has been developing their latest Space Launch System since 2011. A project that will build and fly 3 manned missions for sure and more planned but not confirmed, after that. The rockets are cobbled together from old Shuttle left-overs and will still cost around $2 billion per shot.

Compare that with Space-X. The company has gone from zero to manned operations in 10 years and expects its crewed Dragon flights to come in at $160 million a pop - due to the inherent reusability of their system. With a design capacity of 7 crew per launch (though I doubt it will ever cram that many in - at such a low cost, why bother?)

If I was head of NASA's manned operations, I'd want out before other people in the organisation start making these sorts of comaprisons, too.

Afterthought Perhaps a higher-up has already had that conversation with Loverro. Something along the lines of "Hey Doug, you do realise that if this Space-X flight succeeds, we're going to can your manned missions and just buy seats with them instead?"

A real loch mess: Navy larks sunk by a truculent torpedo

Pete 2

Re: Test passed

> they got a kill on the first try.

I think that would be a first for any modern-day torpedo.

Pete 2

Too many return() statements in the code?

> The impact made short work of the fragile fishing boat.

And here was me thinking that the story would end with the torpedo performing a U-turn and heading back to "honour" all the naval types on the jetty.

The Rise of The (Coffee) Machines: I need assistance. I think I'm running Windows. Send help

Pete 2

A taste of its own medicine?

> Speaking in the first person, the computer is pleading for an operator to assist with whatever malaise had befallen the thing.

Maybe all it needs is a nice hot cup of tea-flavoured beverage.

(I wonder if anyone has switched it off and back on?)

Microsoft doc formats are the bane of office suites on Linux, SoftMaker's Office 2021 beta may have a solution

Pete 2

The other bane ...

> A permanent annual licence costs £44.90 per year

... is software subscriptions. Essentially holding your content to ransom.

Software security is intended to stop outside agents from doing this without the user's consent. But people are forced to do this by legitimate companies.

DBA locked in police-guarded COVID-19-quarantine hotel for the last week shares his story with The Register

Pete 2

Back in time

Uber eats, Netflix, remote working, hotel wifi, plus all the other trappings of "modern" tech existence.

It makes a chap wonder what the situation would be like if this virus had hit 10 or 15 years ago.

While many of those things were possible for a few, they would not have been widespread enough (or familiar enough) to scale to a national level.

Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer

Pete 2

Mistaken identity

> Ever taken a call from a customer unable to discern fact from paranoid fiction?

Many decades ago, when the concept of "technical support" was still in its infancy I was called in to see the boss's boss's boss. Me and another individual from the "industrial" (I worked with "commercial" customers) side of the biz.

We got a rollocking because one customer had filled in a survey (I didn't know we did surveys. If I had, I would have "helpfully" filled them out for my customers - just another example of going "above and beyond") and given a big fat ZERO for customer satisfaction. Somehow mentioning me and my colleague by name, hence the carpeting.

When put under the spotlight about this, I rightfully said that I have never heard of this customer. Nor were they one of "ours" - which my colleague agreed with. The B's B's B took all that in, then ignored it with the words "I don't want to know. Go out there and fix it"

From the customer's point of view this all worked out fine. They got the attention they were seeking. They got loads of free support and they got their own lack of technical competency sorted out. They also got my office phone number - although by an error of transcription (I'm sure I said " ... 2, 3" - but they wrote down 3, 2 ) that phone line was terminated at a junction box in a store room.

We beg, implore and beseech thee. Stop reusing the same damn password everywhere

Pete 2

protect what you value

> they knew it was risky to recycle passwords or light variations on a theme

People reuse passwords on so many sites because it is of no consequence to them if those accounts get compromised.

For example, if you joined, or were forced to join, a website or forum because you ONE TIME wanted some information that was only available to members, it is quite reasonable to use abc123 as a universal password.

The same if you wanted support from a user forum. Join - ask question - get ignored as a noob - leave.

If the account gets hacked and your password is stolen, it's no big deal (you've probably forgotten about it anyway). There is no risk as nothing of value is being risked.

It has been 20 years since cybercrims woke up to social engineering with an intriguing little email titled 'ILOVEYOU'

Pete 2

Plus ça change

> Hahaha, we were pretty gullible


Bezos to the Moon: Blue Origin joins SpaceX and Dynetics in a three-horse lunar lander race

Pete 2

Really only two runners

> Two of those will also be making use of United Launch Alliance's (ULA) upcoming Vulcan launch system

Both Blue Origin and Dynetics are critically dependent on the Vulcans. So really the race is between SpaceX and an outfit that have yet to lift anything off the ground.

The maiden flight is planned to take place in July 2021 [ wiki ]

Jeff Bezos tells shareholders to buckle up: Amazon to blow this quarter's profits and more on coronavirus costs

Pete 2

Robots don't get Covid-19

> business process changes to allow for greater social distancing

Unless Amazon can magically increase the size of their warehouses and shipping facilities, increasing the distance between employees while keeping the acreage the same can only be solved by having fewer people in the same space.

Baby, I swear it's déjà vu: TalkTalk customers unable to opt out of ISP's ad-jacking DNS – just like six years ago

Pete 2

Diversion --->>>

> The Register has asked TalkTalk to comment. We haven't heard back yet,

The reply probably got redirected by Talk Talk's DNS

There is now a fly-by-night "enlargement" outfit wondering what a technical support is and whether they should be selling it.

Bad news: So much of your personal data has been hacked that lesson manuals on how to use it are the latest hot property

Pete 2

Less than you'd think?

> The Terbium team reckons that these guides, ...

> make up just under half (49 per cent) of all data transactions on the store (not including drugs or for-hire services like DDoS attacks)

So in reality, just a tiny fraction - when you exclude all the high profit stuff!

It also makes you wonder what is in these "how to" guides for online fraud.

I can imagine how the advertising goes:

Buy my book on how to commit online fraud. Only ₿1

and inside the book is just the sentence:

Create an advertisement for a book telling people how to commit online fraud.

Automatic for the People: Pandemic-fueled rush to robo-moderation will be disastrous – there must be oversight

Pete 2

grep is cheap

> implementing these systems, inexpensive compared to salaried employees or underpaid contractors.

Yup. grep -f blacklisted_words text_to_moderate

what's not to like?

Are you extracting the urine, ESA? Why, yes it is, from Moon dwellers to build homes out of lunar regolith. Possibly

Pete 2

What goes around comes around

> a waste product, such as the urine of the personnel who occupy the moon bases

Any Moon base will have to be a closed system. There will be no such thing as a waste product.

As for using materials (and resources) available on the Moon? The other thing there is plenty of is sunlight. How about tightly focusing that to fuse the regolith into solid blocks, or refining out the metals and building the structures with that.

Or do what The Jam suggested: Going Underground?

Brits swarm Dixons Carphone for laptops, printers, games consoles, fridges, freezers to weather out COVID-19 storm

Pete 2

A grave undertaking

> Brits began preparing en masse to work from home ... buying up TVs, fridges, freezers

freezers? A sign that funeral directors are part of the home working crowd. (I'm sure there's a sitcom in there, somewhere)

There's no Huawei a virus can stop us! 90% of our staff in China are already back at work, says CEO

Pete 2

Bad becomes good

Huawei ..... oh yes: 5G rollout.

Way back in the beginning of time (i.e. December 2019, before Coronavirus took over every news channel) there was a bit of a kerfuffle about the UK using Chinese kit in its nascent 5G network. Doncha know? they might spy on us. Just imagine!

Three months later and governments all over the world are considering ways to do just that. To track their people and see who they come in close proximity to. It seems to me that this "spying" stuff is ideally suited to this application. And since the Chinese seem to be ahead of the game in mass surveillance, they could probably supply a turnkey system to fully integrate with their 5G systems. To do just what governments now consider a valid reason to "spy" on us all.

Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo dies aged 92

Pete 2


> Asterix is an obvious pun on "Asterisk".

Sadly now brought to a full stop

Tech won't save you from lockdown disaster: How to manage family and free time while working from home

Pete 2

Be careful where you practice

> buck arse nekkid while playing the bagpipes

From any distance, playing the bagpipes looks and sounds like a person molesting an animal - whether you are naked or not.

We all know that the British hold anything with 4 legs (but fewer than 6) in much higher regard than their own species. So be prepared for an armed response unit to descend on you for crimes against the animal kingdom.

If you're wondering how Brit cops' live suspect-hunting facial-recog is going, it's cruising at 88% false positives

Pete 2

Re: Lies, damned lies and The Guardian's view of statistics.

> the police would have stopped those people in response to the system's result to check id

No. That is not how it works.

The facial recognition system scans thousands of faces.

It flags up a small number of potential matches.

Each of those potential matches is checked by an officer in the control room

If the officer agrees, a call goes out to stop the individual for an identity check.

The only time a call is made is if the person (or persons) who have re-checked who the computer flagged agree that there is a match. 5 times out of the 6 times, the officer (a person) made the same error of positively matching that the computer did.


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