* Posts by RobS

20 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Jun 2009

Melbourne man arrested for broadcasting fake messages to pilots


Re: … no hacking is required … ?

Any measure to prevent hacking is most likely to result in the inability for some pilots to communicate with air traffic control leading to bigger safety problems than the occasional idiot. Secure key distribution is really hard for a single organisation, distribution to every ATC and every aircraft and everyone who might have a valid need to communicate to an aircraft or ATC is more likely than not to result in some people who don't have the right keys and therefore, no communications path. Just getting everyone capable of using the same language correctly is pretty tricky.

Engineer uses binary on voting bumpf to flag up Cali election flaws


Shades of Friday by Heinlein

Not long before his vision of California comes true (at least the voting on everything part)

FBI iPhone unlock order reaction: Trump, Rubio say no to Apple. EFF and Twitter say yes



@Lysenko , strongly agree. Even if it is "just software" it takes time and effort and I imagine that the Feds want it to be reviewed and thoroughly tested (and not on the actual evidence the first time). Who is paying?

Aereo has to pay TV show creators? Yes. This isn't rocket science


Re: Confused?

Don't think that it is a grey area at all. Much more likely that

a) Copyright is civil law so Amazon would have to encourage people to violate public performance clause on a specific work to be in trouble

b) Not a great idea to clobber customers in court - too many of them, they make it possible for you to exist


"What sane broadcaster would do anything but jump at this chance to extend their audience at no cost to themselves?"

Well, it is my understanding that the Supreme court has left that option open. If Aereo want to get a signed contract with the broadcasters (with no money changing hands) and the broadcasters indemnify Aereo from any problems with the content creator (who may feel that the price that they agreed to broadcast across New York state isn't quite the same price that they would have asked for worldwide broadcast rights) then all is good.

What Aereo aren't allowed to do is to create copies without a license from the creator/copyright owner by playing with the semantics (Monkey Parking is in a similar boat)

To those who talk about "artificial scarcity" - Just watch the whole of a season of "<your country here> got talent". Talent is genuinely scarce and I applaud the existence of a system to persuade them as have it to make it available to those less fortunate. I agree that the boundaries of the system might need a bit of work from time to time.

Amateurs find the 'HOLY GRAIL' supernova – right on our doorstep


Re: No neutrinos?

Well this is guessing but -

Neutrinos assumed to be sent with radial symmetry (all directions equally).

A (very) small fraction of the neutrinos in our direction will be lost because of the dust.

A (very) small fraction of the neutrinos are coming in our direction (Total/area of sphere 11.4 light year radius)

Our detectors capture a (very) small fraction of the neutrinos coming in our direction.

Therefore, the astronomers think that the combination of effects are likely to result in an imperceptible change in the number of neutrinos detected relative to baseline - Can't do any science.

Pacemakers, defibrillators open to attack


Secure, Reliable, Cheap pick two

Then again, if I needed one of these and I could have the (really complex) secure one or the (really simple) reliable one and my life depends on it - not sure that the worry that someone would hack me would come into the decision process.

Remember that the probability of death by hacking is substantially lower than the probability of death by heart failure if you actually have one of these.

Google crafts algorithms to get more women in more positions


On boasting

I have been on interviewing panels in the UK and in NZ. While in the UK, all interviewees were British. In NZ, I have had a range from all over the world. I discovered that I had to be very careful when interviewing US and UK candidates on the same day (NB male candidates) because the US candidates always came across as arrogant no-it-alls (not only do I know everything, I could write the definitive textbook with my eyes close) compared to the UK candidates (I know that I don't know everything). I realise that the difference is primarily cultural and no longer automatically discount the US guy as an idiot (Dunning Krueger effect). Nice to have some evidence that the indoctrination hasn't taken for at least 50% of the US population. I think that always having to "give 110%" has something to do with the problem. I can't manage more than 100% myself.

Daily Mail group boss spoof tweeter fights to protect anonymity


Re: So the Mail Group gets to dictate the rule of law in California?

There are (at least) two branches of the Law: Civil and Criminal. The police ONLY handle breaches of the latter. The "wronged" party has to do their own digging in the former. There has already been far too much migration of Civil law into Criminal law.

Apostrophe’s cause problem’s in e-health system’s


Still Required reading


Legal expert: Letters can be evidence, so can Facebook


Evidence Admissibility vs Weight

When arguing about the rules of evidence, far too many people seem to be of the opinion that if the evidence could possibly have been tampered with then it should not be admitted in the court. The legal system has been handling tricky stuff like lying for a very long time. The rules for admissibility of evidence are loose by design. Let anything that might be relevant through but try not to completely swamp the system. The weight given to the evidence at trial is what you are lessening with your arguments. If you want to challenge admissibility, attack the rules for admission not the quality of the evidence.

Indian courts 'rule astrology is a science'



Spot on.

Assume a subsistence diet, seasonally available foods, seasonal environmental conditions and a limited range of niche employment opportunities (and a sky clock/calendar). Under those circumstances, astrological birth sign would probably correlate quite well with personal health/robustness/activity preferences which would correlate quite well with what you did. Month of birth would be a good predictor (forget about the astrological sign precession etc, those are just proxies for "born in June around the time of <nutritious berry harvest>".

I don't think that astrologers are REALLY using planet positions in star-signs for prediction, those are just the traditional way of figuring out how much food and outdoors activity time you got in your first few months of existence.

Under those conditions, I would expect that birth sign->prediction would have some merit and the test of hypothesis would be that places with low seasonal variation but strong year on year variation would have "year of birth based astrology" and southern hemisphere astrology would be 6 months out of phase with northern hemisphere astrology.

None of the assumptions hold for modern Europeans. None of the predictive power of astrology would be any use at all for what to do this week (unless it was harvest/not harvest or possibly hunt/not hunt)

Lock and load: Birmingham launches gunfire location IT


Not triangulation, its multilateration

Since you only get timing differences between receivers (you don't know exactly when the shot was fired) you need 4 points to work out where the shot came from. The first two give you one value and you get an extra one for each additional receiver.

US may disable all in-car mobile phones


@Chris -not quite true

Except that the text doesn't say average, it says median and that is defined to be the midpoint (ie 50% above median, 50% below).

A Rumba with a Roomba


Heinlein's original spec was better

In "door into summer" his automatic vacuum cleaner had a little tray on top into which the robot placed anything "larger than a quarter"

Dell begs ToryDems to keep NHS IT project


A proposal

Professor Les Hatton came up with an excellent (and cheap) proposal for the work. I couldn't see any major flaws - check it out at http://www.leshatton.org/ComplexSystems_03_2009.html

Microscope-wielding boffins crack cordless phone crypto


A pox on your analogies

The problem with security by obscurity is primarily when the goods secured are not physical. If you hide your money under the bed then you know quite quickly when your security has been breached (if you count it regularly). If you secure information and somebody "steals it", you still have it as well (but its value might be reduced to nothing if the wrong person also knows it). I think that the phrase goes back to Kirchoff who showed that you have the most security if you depend on the smallest possible secret. "Security by Obscurity" is the name now given to making the algorithm part of the key size. Worse, the algorithm is by definition a non-physical secret so someone else might know it (thus reducing the actual key size and the level of security) without you being aware.

Tories will let voters 'rewrite' legislation online



Dreadful Heinlein potboiler but this reminds me of the Californian democratic process from that novel. Masters degree anyone?

Airliner black-box 'real time data streaming' tech developed


Emergency detection algorithm ?

I bet Airbus would love to get their hands on that algorithm, just stick it into the flight computer and implement an exception handler. Sweet !

Flight recorder - copious data collection for 30 minutes leading up to a crash. Difficult to recover, difficult to modify.

Real-time streaming - copious data collection (for every significant event when our algorithm says that we are up the creek, otherwise at least some of the usually important stuff). Easy to recover, easier to hack, easier to lose, easier to redact

The only thing that I have learned about finding causes of unexpected problems (we call it debugging round here) is that you must be able to trust that the data you are analysing is complete and comprehensive. If you have the slightest doubt about either you cannot honestly give a definitive answer.

Cyber security minister ridiculed over s'kiddie hire plan


Foxes guarding henhouses

Can't be bothered finding the link but the US Navy had a big spy in the sixties and seventies, when asked why he did it he said (paraphrased). "If I had access to drugs, I would have sold those, I had access to secrets so I sold those"

The analysis of his career indicated that, contrary to policy, a judge suppressed a conviction so that he could be put into the Navy "to make a decent citizen of him".

'Course these are only slightly naughty boys so they aren't likely to cause much harm to the enemy or the state.