* Posts by Stoneshop

4917 posts • joined 8 Oct 2009

'I'm telling you, I haven't got an iPad!' – Sent from my iPad

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

Re: you never have to print the emai? For rather loose values of 'never'.

We've sent a message, signed with "Sent from our Friden Flexowriter".

Although "Composed on" or "Written on" should have been the correct wording, as the sending involved a papertape reader and a system that actually performed the sending.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Which is why I always turn off email sigs...

People should have to go on a course to be allowed to use anything but plain text emails, with annual refreshers so they don't forget how not to email.

People are amazingly fast at forgetting/utterly incapable of remembering. A year would be several epochs too long.

The only way to fix this would be to have their keyboard explode when appending a .sig that's over the limit, or unlicensed use of formatting.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Headmaster

you never have to print the emai? For rather loose values of 'never'.

Well, sometimes I want to have the content available as hardcopy, saving me having to schlep a laptop[0] to a place where I just have to show the missive.

[0] or a tablet, except that I don't have one.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. Hang on, the PDP 11/70 has dropped offline

Stoneshop Silver badge
Flame

Re: Nobody home, turn it off.

There was also some water-cooled IBM system at an University in the US where snow occurs in winter. Fair amounts of snow.

Over Christmas the system was turned off as no one would be using it, indeed.

Starting the system after the holidays demonstrated that you'd either simply keep such a system on, make sure there's sufficient antifreeze in the circuit or you fully drain the outside heat exchangers.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Not only Unibus

Likely, yes. Unibus is a system bus, into which you wedge the interface boards; Massbus was one of the storage buses. If you had RM or RP series disks and/or TM series tape drives you were running Massbus. But AFAIK none of the RP disks had butt-accessible offline buttons. If you wanted that option you'd be looking at the RM03/RM05, or one of the RK series.

Massbus cables were quite substantial, with a little over 60 twisted pair signals.

Incredible artifact – or vital component after civilization ends? Rare Nazi Enigma M4 box sells for £350,000

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Definitely not for "after civilization ends"

You lot are aware that Enigma (in all it's guises) has been translated into software, and much of that code is freely available, right?

Indeed. I've actually built a kit for an acquaintance whose soldering skills were such that he knew that you should hold the cold end and poke the hot end at things you want soldered, but that he was unlikely to end up with a working unit unless he'd hand that part of the job off to someone with a little more experience.

However, the article mentions the situation where civilisation has collapsed, which probably means that even SIMTEL-20 is out of order, and you'd have to fall back on the original Enigmas.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Definitely not for "after civilization ends"

Did you ever see an Enigma machine?

Yes.

Anyway, a single one is as good as useless; you need one for each entity who wants to communicate via Enigma-encrypted messages. Then, going from the premise that you know in general how they're supposed to work, and that you have batteries for them, for a start you check out that they have identical rotors, set them at the same starting position, set the switches the same and press a key on one of the units. Now a bulb lights up, you press the corresponding key on another unit and, when all is well, the right character gets lit. If it does you proceed to "Der schnelle braune Fuchs springt ueber den faulen Schweinhund", else you re-check whether every part is indeed identical, all wiring is intact, bulbs and switches working and fix what you find.

Stoneshop Silver badge
FAIL

Re: A fine piece of German engineering

Another operator in N Africa used 'hit' 'ler' as the two daily secret keys.

Most likely an urban legend, as your Enigma setting: code wheels and reflector used, starting position, and plugboard wiring, has to match that of the unit at HQ. And as that one has to match the setting of the other field units they were in contact with they all had sheets with the daily settings to use for the next couple of weeks sent out to them. No way that a single station would be able to use an unchanging setting.

Also, two three-character keys? You had 1] which rotors to use (3 out of 5), 2] their starting positions (that would be 3 characters), 3] the reflector wiring to use, and 4] the plugboard setting or the 'uhr'box switch position.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Right up to Nuremberg

Were said by whom? The existence of the Enigma decryption system ("Ultra") was not publicly disclosed until 1974. Who would be stupid enough to tell (former) enemy military about such a secret?

There were a lot of captured German commanders, not just the ones that ended up at Nuremberg, as well as scientists and technicians that were interrogated regarding German technological achievements and how useful they were. RV Jones talks about some of those interviews, for instance. And as such an interviewer you should be able to pick up whether they think their secrets had been cracked or not from the way they talk about events related to those secrets, without actually letting them know whether they actually were cracked or not.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Super duper encrpytion device brought down by simple mistake

Look at the mechanical side of the rotor system: in the initial design each keypress turns the rightmost rotor one position, then after a full rotation (i.e. 26 keypresses) the next rotor turns one position. The third rotor will move only after 26^2, or 576 characters, and for the fourth rotor to move the message would have to be 26^3 (17576) characters long. It was in effect stationary and thus didn't add cryptographic complexity, just more starting options. Later modifications would have a rotor move twice or thrice during a full rotation of the rotor to its right, but a fourth rotor would still move only very infrequently.

In contrast, the postwar Russian Fialka had a mechanism where several of its ten rotors would turn, forward as well as backward, on one keypress. It also had rotor logic that allowed an input character to be mapped onto itself.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Pirate

Unfortunately, I'm vegan.

Compost them and use as fertiliser, maybe?

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Super duper encrpytion device brought down by simple mistake

Also, if information had to be used that could only conceivably have been obtained from a cracked Enigma message, a 'thank you for your invaluable info' message would be sent to a nonexistent agent. Which would have the side benefit of tying up Abwehr manpower, but also risk collateral damage of real agents being rounded up.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Right up to Nuremberg

I think the trade in such artefacts is ghoulish. These are tainted goods after all, not something to be venerated.

In our museum are a couple of Friden Flexowriters, papertape-controlled typewriters that can read their message body text from one (looped) tape and any number of variable text segments from another. They were used (though not these particular ones) by the US government during WW2 to write the letters informing relatives of fallen service personnel. Had one of ours been used for that task, would it likewise be tainted? Or can you accept that even a war-time Enigma might be valuable in showing the development of cryptographic machinery *including its actual implementation*, where otherwise there would be a gap between pre-war commercial Enigmas and post-war derivatives like the Fialka and Typex. Plus, those would likely have been used in messaging related to armed conflict as well.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Right up to Nuremberg

As opposed to the perfectly sane British inventions like.. a bouncing bomb?

Given that it was put forward by that utterly loony chap Barnes Wallis, later Sir Barnes Wallis, who had already made his name designing airships and crucial bits of the Wellington bomber, there was some quality boffinry behind that proposal.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

Re: A fine piece of German engineering

The Enigma wasn't all that obscure; it was commercially available from the 1920's and its encryption already broken by the Polish Biuro Szyfrów in 1932.

The German Wehrmacht and Kriegsmarine used them, adding further complexity through a plugboard (army) and a fourth rotor (navy) respectively, but its inherent cryptographic weakness was not addressed.

As well as that outpost transmitting the same message day after day, there were the obvious failures like encoding and transmitting the first message of the day with yesterday's setting then re-sending it encoded correctly[0], resending a differently-worded version of a message because of a garbled transmission[1], and certain word patterns that would be present at the start and end of most messages[2].

[0] same length, same sender, different cyphertext. Bletchley Park gleefully rubs their hands.

[1] same sender, usually shorter content length, transmitted shortly after HQ sent a 'please repeat'[3]

[2] 'Heil Schicklgruber' being quite common at the end

[3] A lot of info was gleaned just from traffic monitoring: message size and their frequency, sender location and morse operators. What we'd call metadata now.

Don't strain yourself, Zuck, only democracy at stake... Facebook makes half-hearted effort to flag election lies by President Trump

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: The mistake you're making

"... and his cronies."

Their influence doesn't stop at the federal level.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: The mistake you're making

Does he have the ability to gerrymander this election? No

He doesn't need to, and hence he doesn't need to be capable of doing so.

Mitch McConnell and his cronies were busy keeping the Democratic rabble away from the voting booths for years already before Trump managed to get his orange ass into the White House.

Twitter hackers busted 2FA to access accounts and then reset user passwords

Stoneshop Silver badge
Holmes

Re: 2 Fiddle All

It's like burglar-proofing your house: it doesn't have to be Fort Knox, just sufficiently tougher to get into (and out of again) than one of your neighbours.

"You don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the next guy."

Stoneshop Silver badge
Alert

Re: insider trading

That would not be the first high-profile system like that, but in the end even if you have the strongest imaginable authentication process, if your system admins themselves only need login+password and can log in from anywhere in the world, your entire security model is worthless.

Or their support people have a second and possibly even a third method to get access to vital systems (eggs, basket, etc), that happens to have an unpatched vulnerability.

Citrix anyone?

Black hole destroys corona

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

Oh really?

Or to put it another way: the TDS psycho anti-Trumpsters are responsible for the bulk of the USA COVID-19 deaths.

That would have been a percentage of the preventable deaths of those that were under treatment. Preventable, as in being admitted to a hospital that had available ICU beds, staff and appropriate equipment. And being admitted at a point in their case where permanent lung, heart and brain damage hadn't progressed to a point where any cure would be futile.

Now, there's this saying that prevention is the best cure. In most of Europe, once the gravity of the pandemic became evident, measures were put in place to keep spreading at bay. Social distancing, face masks in public places and shops, and even strict lockdowns. It proved effective. Even Lombardy is now down to single-digit daily COVID19 deaths.

Compare that to the US, where a bloviating orange loon has basically ignored the problem until he really couldn't, and all his lackeys and bootlickers following his example. Keeping science out of it and promoting unproven, weird, and in some cases downright damaging 'cures' (injecting bleach? What the everloving fuck?) has propelled the US to the #3 spot in the current mortality rankings, with only Brazil and Mexico ahead.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Boggle of the Day

And if you compress them with a supermassive black hole, they'll beam across the observable universe.

Theoretically, any luminous object beams across the observable universe, give or take some blocking by an inbetween object. It's just that someone switching on an outdoor light on Proxima Centauri B won't significantly contribute to the general emission of visible light from that planet, plus that the chance of even a single photon from that light reaching a detector on Earth is very very very small.

Stoneshop Silver badge

In just a couple of months, its corona returned and appeared almost as bright as before.

So that's that second wave we've been warned about.

But I expect social distancing to be a bit of a problem when you're a black hole just indiscriminately pulling in everything around you.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Pint

Spin too fast: you exit "now".

So, clearly it's a playground roundabout.

Oh sure, we'll just make a tiny little change in every source file without letting anyone know. What could go wrong?

Stoneshop Silver badge

which I've also set to announce which files it is (or isn't) deleting.

find . -type f -print -delete

IBM job ad calls for 12 years’ experience with Kubernetes – which is six years old

Stoneshop Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: Why wouldn't Tim Berners-Lee have 17 years experience designing websites?

"Traffic was equivalent to shipping the entire collected works of Shakespeare every second."

Plain text? Lotus Ami Pro? Scanned as uncompressed bitmaps, and at what paper size?

Stoneshop Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: And so it ever was.

HR drones don't use terms like redundancy!

Some do, as camouflage.

Anyway, they're also the origin of the redundance, a variant of musical chairs but with the number of chairs missing per round seriously greater than one.

Stoneshop Silver badge

I had access to the thing that became Win95 way back in '93 ...

My condolences.

NASA trusted 'traditional' Boeing to program its Starliner without close supervision... It failed to dock due to bugs

Stoneshop Silver badge
Flame

The next question: are the problems so severe that they can't be fixed?

Even a sufficiently large piece of space hardware dropping through the roof of the Capitol won't fix it as the lobbyists won't be affected and will just resume their work with the next bunch of representatives and senators.

UK government shakes magic money tree, finds $500m to buy a stake in struggling satellite firm OneWeb

Stoneshop Silver badge
Trollface

Re: It Could Be Made to Work ???

from which they will broadcast a radio beam.

But then an Evil Adversary will do an Aspirin on your Knickebein, causing every traveller to end up at Barnard Castle.

Stoneshop Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Hmm.

Go read tfb's comment again.

There's nowt suggesting that he thinks (VPN) encryption can be backdoored; it's the government that is stubbornly wishing it into existence.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Re: It Could Be Made to Work ???

To me, $500m is a lot of money to speculate upon for something that "could be made to work".

May I inquire about the status of the procured F35's vis-a-vis the Lizzie? And their combined cost?

UK space firms forced to adjust their models of how the universe works as they lose out on Copernicus contracts

Stoneshop Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Thank U UK

It will be November in the UK too. With the first Thursday, or rather its night, being the appropriate moment.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: This project is, though

Including, to a first approximation, the common people living there not having mobile phones and television, and eating just potatoesrice.

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

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Use offline encryption/decryption

Which can be thwarted by keeping that offline machine inside a Faraday cage, running off a car battery that you disconnect from its charger when in use. And of course you religiously sweep the room.

Still not perfect, but a few more hurdles between you and your adversaries.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Flame

Re: Lies, damned lies and official statements?

1) It looks like the crims were awash with cash, so maybe it was not that uncommon for a 'user' to have more than one phone even at £3k a pop?

The drug cartels at least aren't really short of money indeed, given that they treat second-hand Learjets and such as consumables[0], and have "submarines"[1] built. So a couple thousand quid per phone appears to be just loose change.

[0] to be consumed by fire that is, after the cargo has been unloaded.

[1] not actually capable of diving, but they resemble one; a fully submerged cylindrical hull with a small canopy protruding above the water surface.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: That sort of defeats the point of an encrypted text chat app

Two devices - a non-networked IO device for entering and reading messages and a communications device for transmission only.

Basically, this is the way encryption devices such as the Enigma, Fialka and Typex work, where you encrypt or decrypt the message airgapped from the comms method.

Although that means that you still have to fully trust the crypto device, as you don't want to leak a plaintext segment of the outgoing message, and its QR reader needs to be fully isolated from the OS otherwise a malicious incoming message could still compromise the device. But that's not just with QR codes; any data transfer method between the crypto and comms devices opens an attack surface. With an Enigma you can't really compromise the machine itself so any attack should target the reader of the received message, but software-based systems will quite likely have _some_ weakness allowing them to be compromised.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Honey pot

Same with codes. You have to have a predefined set of actions corresponding with the set of message codes exchanged with each party you are dealing with (e.g.. "Jean has a big moustache" means "Bring me the head of Diego Garcia"), but if something not covered by that set comes up you are stuck and you have to fall back on other, encrypted, methods

Stoneshop Silver badge
FAIL

That sort of defeats the point of an encrypted text chat app

Transfer the encrypted message by USB stick to the communications device.

Clearer now?

Boffins baffled as supergiant star just vanishes – either it partially blew itself apart or quietly turned into a black hole

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Job done

Probably not been using an HP inkjet then; it would have jammed at least twice before the cartridges it came with ran out, and after the second set and five more jams some flimsy but essential part would have snapped, rendering the printer useless before even 9000 names had been printed.

Probably a Printronix belt printer that someone kept feeding boxes of greenbar, and fresh ink ribbons.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Always a simple explanation

One that must have gone wrong, as sundives are done to create a spectacular finale to the gig. Shows that even their, no doubt well-paid, stage technicians can occasionally miscalculate.

Finally, a wafer-thin server... Only a tiny little thin one. Oh all right. Just the one...

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Partial blackout story (not UPS, though)

Someone still got a right royal for that one - a lot of the cost of preparing a site for works is carrying out utility surveys.

Airborne pigs around you much?

This was removing an ex farm shed from a plot where two (private) houses were going to be built. They'd already found and disconnected the feed that had been in use until then which came from the farm building meter box; this was a much older one, clearly way older than the shed, that ended, well, somewhere under the shed floor roughly in the front 1/3rd branching directly from the substation cable under the access road (otherwise it'd only have taken out the main fuses in the farm building). So apparently there had been another farmhouse there but only our 75-year old neighbour vaguely remembered it; no-one else did.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Mine's a very old APC also

Mine's an APC, about 18 years old, 800kVA, enough to still keep a modern PC and its monitor alive (thank god for LCDs) for several minutes and an comfortable orderly shutdown.

With an average PC and an LCD monitor an 800kVA UPS should be able to keep them powered for weeks, not mere minutes. Is it perhaps time to change the batteries again?

Stoneshop Silver badge

Acrid smoke

I've learned to keep well away from mid-'70's and earlier Japanese equipment, as the electrolytics they are built with not only go bang when powered up after a long hiatus (as old electrolytics are prone to do anyway), but when doing so emit noxious fumes that play havoc with my sleep for weeks. So first thing with that kind of kit is a long and thorough session with the soldering iron and a tray of fresh caps.

Back in University we were doing an intro electronics lab; a doddle for people like me for who it had been a decade since building their first radio, but there were others who were utterly new to this. One of that second group was working on the lab bench opposite me, and the circuit we had going involved, for some obscure reason, 150V DC.

Electrolytics prefer to have their polarity respected. Very much. When violated they tend to protest noisily and noxiously. The student also reacted quite noisily, and I don't doubt he emitted some noxious substances as well

Stoneshop Silver badge

UPS drained *real* quick.

Existing DC, getting more and more crucial so it was decided to put a no-break in. 80 to 100 kVA by my estimate, going by the stuff humming inside.

A shed was built, genset and an UPS with a huge battery bank were installed and wired up. And after some dry runs the Real Test is planned: they'll just whack the Big Red Breaker on the incoming feed. Fair enough, and I don't see many options to perform that test in a meaningful but different way.

So, with a little bit of trepidation, the head of facilities and the DC manager flip that switch and yes, the UPS takes over without a hitch. Fifteen or so seconds later the diesel starts up: good, good. But then the fun starts. Note that this is 1986, and power electronics that can just twiddle 100kVA at 50Hz to sync with a diesel generator aren't quite there yet, so this setup has an UPS with a fixed output and needs the diesel to sync before the load can be switched over without fireworks and explosions.

So the diesel's controller starts tweaking the revs, but the damn thing fails to lock sync with the UPS. And of course the UPS batteries are meant to bridge maybe five minutes, during which the diesel would surely have been able to sync, but in this case didn't. And yes, the whole DC went down.

Stoneshop Silver badge

How to blow up 1000 houses all at once...

Pilot lights are supposed to have a shutoff safety valve controlled by a bimetal strip or a sealed oil-filled container that expands when heated if the pilot flame goes out, the valve closes and the pilot light extinghuishes. To light it again you'd have to press and hold a button that opens the valve manually, ignite the light and keep pressing the button until the safety has heated up again keeping the valve open.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Partial blackout story (not UPS, though)

In my, fortunately limited experience, when 1 phase goes it is best to expect the other 2 to follow soon. To fix a distribution board or substation the sparky attending to it usually has to power the whole thing down.

About two years ago I was sitting at the workbench in my study/room/den when I saw the lights briefly dip and heard a short *Whonk* of the UPS kicking in, then switching off again. Turning around I saw one of the ceiling lights being off[0], and part of my workbench had lost power but the network cabinet was still up and the UPS was on passthrough. Opening the circuit breaker cabinet I saw the power monitor display just one phase; it was clear that whatever had happened had taken out two phases, and it was equally clear that it was some external event as otherwise there would have been audible and olfactory indications emanating from that breaker cabinet. A quick probe confirmed that two of the three phases in the incoming feed carried only a very feeble voltage, not the normal 230V AC. Calling the energy supplier confirmed that a) it was indeed external and b) they already knew the culprit: a JCB on a building plot 200m away.

A short while later two sparkies turned up at the substation[1], notified me that they'd have to cut all the power while checking out the transformer and other stuff, which they expected to take two hours. It actually took three and a half, because the cable the JCB had hit was rather prehistoric and not shown on their drawings.

[0] Of course every room is fed from two groups on separate phases.

[1] right next door.

Stoneshop Silver badge

The Dell rep did exactly the correct thing based on the information given,

One of the smoothest service calls I've had to make, regarding a deeply problematic intermittent network error.:

* Call service hotline, get contract status verified, get connected to 2nd line tech for problem analysis.

* Tech notes down my problem description, preliminary analysis, corrective actions taken and current problem status.

* Tech verifies several actions that should have solved the problem, or at least narrowed down the source, as having been taken.

* Tech moves problem up to 3rd line support.

* Shortly after I get a call back from 3 line support: an honest-to-goodness greybeard and ex-colleague. "So you've already eliminated $this, $that, and $thatotherthing as the problem source, and I can see from the logs that you've done so correctly. Means we're into Really Interesting territory. I'll be there in an hour and a half."

Stoneshop Silver badge
Flame

Surely the first thing you do when asked to move a large number of systems is talk to the facilities group to make sure that adequate power & cooling is available. Before plugging things in.

At one of my contracts I happened to get 'floor manager' as one of my duties, as that position had been empty for a good while despite being rather urgently needed: a reorg would see about 80 racks worth of systems move into our computer room.

That was more than just a bit ambitions, as even after Much Reshuffling of the kit present, and redoing several access aisles, there was room for a mere 55 racks. But with respect to power and cooling, all was supposed to be fine even after the last box would have been moved in and powered up, as both power and cooling were at about 15% load initially and were calculated to go up to about 35% of maximum capacity. Apparently, someone had opted for Massive Overkill on the design specs and managed to get them signed off.

And indeed, those post-move figures were close to correct, and even showed we had been somewhat zealous about rounding up. So, just when things had settled again after the move, there was a power failure and the no-break dutifully kicked in.

Still no problem. Really.

Until ten or so minutes later sensors in the UPS shed started calling out severely elevated temperatures. This was saved by Site Facilities through the use of all the floor-standing fans they could find, pointed at the opened doors of the UPS shed.

Lessons Learned: yes, the UPS shed's cooling system should also be running off the no-break power.

Belief in 5G conspiracy theories goes hand-in-hand with small explosions of rage, paranoia and violence, researchers claim

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: 5G also causes missing words syndrome

b) they don't have an email address that they want to "waste";

I could be mistaken, but isn't there an email address involved in account creation? There's one listed in my profile, and I don't think it's optional.

With intelligent life in scant supply on Earth, boffins search for technosignatures of civilizations in the galaxy

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Evidence?

If we really believe that life will be similar to our on another world then we should be checking for facebook and twitter postings too.

A lot of those appear to come from another planet anyway; are you sure you can tell the difference?

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