* Posts by Steve Graham

473 posts • joined 21 May 2007


‘Staggering’ cost of vintage Sun workstations sees OpenSolaris-fork Illumos drop SPARC support

Steve Graham

We found that £2000 x86 blade servers with Linux outperformed our £20,000 SPARC servers. We didn't buy any more after that.

Apple patches iOS, macOS, iPadOS, watchOS, kitchen-sinkOS bugs said to be exploited in the wild

Steve Graham

Have I Really Been Pwned?

So lots of people got an unsolicited email from the FBI. "Oh sure," they thought, "as if the real FBI would be mailing me."

"Your login credentials on the following website have been compromized. Please change your password immediately by clicking on this link."

(I spelled "compromized" with a zee to make it look more authentic.)

Microsoft demotes Calibri from default typeface gig, starts fling with five other fonts

Steve Graham

Re: Microsoft’s new default font options, rated

I can't view that Techcrunch site. It redirects to https://guce.advertising.com/collectIdentifiers which my armour is blocking. If you can view it, your browser isn't locked down well enough.

Steve Graham

Re: Compatibility?

No, it's designed not to help. Unless the author embeds the font(s) in the document file, Office downloads them on the fly. LibreOffice will probably not be able to do that. It certainly can't now.

Shadow over Fedora 34 as maintainer of Java packages quits with some choice words for Red Hat and Eclipse

Steve Graham

Re: Hell has frozen over!

And there's a systemd module to mitigate out-of-memory conditions? What does it do - kill systemd?

UK's National Cyber Security Centre recommends password generation idea suggested by El Reg commenter

Steve Graham

Re: Isn't this terrible advice?

My thoughts too. Basing your password on a smallish, fixed database is probably a bad idea.

I don't know if the W3W database is publicly available, but their business model is clear: get the concept used widely (including by paying for TV advertising) and then start charging.

Airline software super-bug: Flight loads miscalculated because women using 'Miss' were treated as children

Steve Graham

Re: Not necessarily.

Look up the "Central Limit Theorem".

Steve Graham

Re: Not necessarily.

"Weight distribution of course is very important."

I actually wrote check-in and seat allocation software (back in the 1980s, I think) which was mostly used by small, regional airlines in rural Africa. It was necessary to distribute passengers evenly around the cabin to keep the small planes balanced.

IBM creates a COBOL compiler – for Linux on x86

Steve Graham

Re: [Aside] Storage media

Didn't the Amstrad actually use 3-inch floppies?

Browser tracking protections won't stop tracking, warns DuckDuckGo

Steve Graham

I started to use DuckDuckGo as my main search engine a few years ago. I still do, but it's been driving me nuts.

There is no way to get it to search for the exact search terms I've entered. Put 'em in quotes. Prefix with plus signs. Add exclusions for the incorrect hits with minus signs. Nothing helps. And what is worse, much worse, is that DDG gives me "hits" in which some of the search terms (or their half-assed guesses about what I "really" meant) don't even occur.

Yesterday, I even used Ublock Origin to blank their "non-creepy contextual ads" because the awesome power of artificial stupidity was giving me ads which were not remotely related to my search terms. Or anything else in the universe.

The Audacity of it all: Version 3.0 of open-source audio fave boasts new file format, 160+ bug fixes

Steve Graham

You're using what?

I'm a long time user of Audacity on Linux, but only for very simple stuff. That's why the model of "a project" doesn't suit me at all. I want to load an audio file, tweak it and save a new copy. And when I exit Audacity, I don't want it to ask me if I want to save "the project". Every time.

And they've decided to use a relational database to store a project's files? A database is for analyzing and organizing data. It's not a general container for files. You would use zip or gzipped tar for that.

Name True, iCloud access false: Exceptional problem locks online storage account, stumps Apple customer service

Steve Graham

Re: Could have been worse

The original victim seems to be referring to the Bobby Tables strip in her final comment.

Linus Torvalds issues early Linux Kernel update to fix swapfile SNAFU

Steve Graham

A swap partition saved my life

Well, saved my Linux installation at any rate.

You know how you can create a bootable USB stick with dd?

# dd if=image.img of=/dev/sdc

or whatever.

Well, I always think to myself "Hah! Better not type /dev/sda, because that's the boot disk!" Well, one day, I thought it, and then I did it. Trashed the partition table, of course -- but that was rebuildable -- but I interrupted it before it got into the second partition, which was the root filesystem

Boeing successfully flies unmanned autonomous military 'wingman' aircraft that may become pilot's buddy

Steve Graham

"a human pilot in the lead"

This human pilot would put the robots up front and keep back at a safe distance.

("Skyborg" is a genius name though.)

Chill out, lockdown ain't over yet – perhaps FUZIX on the Pi Pico could feature in your weekend shed projects

Steve Graham

Re: Young people these days...

Yes I was mixing up my kilos and megas. Call it memory corruption.

Toshiba Portégé 3020CT circa 1990.

Steve Graham

Young people these days...

256kb? I have a very old, very thin Toshiba notebook which has 32kb of RAM and boots several flavours of Linux, including one with a primitive GUI (not X11, obviously).

Spotify to introduce lossless audio streaming: Better sound or inefficient gimmick?

Steve Graham

Re: AB Testing

I'm not aware of any convincing research that shows that people can tell the difference between well-encoded, high-bitrate MP3 and CDs.

However, I've been in the studio with good producers and engineers and they definitely can hear stuff that I can't. Actually, given my age and the abuse my ears have suffered, it's surprising that they work at all.

Up until recently, I bought physical CDs, but my last album purchases have been MP3 downloads, bought directly from the artistes or labels. And I'm happy.

Malware monsters target Apple’s M1 silicon with ‘Silver Sparrow’

Steve Graham

"Installer JavaScript API"

"Installer JavaScript API". Does that mean what I think it means?

Facebook bans sharing of news in Australia – starting now – rather than submit to pay-for-news-plan

Steve Graham

Re: Nobody mentioned...

Well, the actual article mentioned exactly that. Perhaps you couldn't read it because you were trying to access it via Facebook?

Devuan adds third init option in sixth birthday release

Steve Graham

Re: PulseAudio?

PulseAudio needs a fully-working ALSA layer anyway, since talking to actual hardware was too difficult for its developers. So you just have to nuke the PulseAudio daemon, permanently or temporarily, and your sound applications can then interface directly to ALSA. Even applications which are compiled with PulseAudio support will almost always work fine with ALSA if they don't find the daemon running.

Except Firefox, whose Linux audio developer declared that interfacing to ALSA was too difficult for him.

ALSA is an ugly carbuncle stuck on the side of the kernel source tree, and its configuration language is nearly incomprehensible -- and mostly undocumented, but it does generally work, functions with a multitude of hardware, and can do quite powerful sound operations.

Phishing awareness gone wrong: Facebook tries to seize websites set up for staff security training

Steve Graham

Proofpoint are doing it wrong

Let's say you want your staff to have some training to recognise dodgy links. Why do www.instagum.com & www.fakebook.com actually have to exist on the internet? Shirley you would use your internal DNS to point them at a local server.

Supermicro spy chips, the sequel: It really, really happened, and with bad BIOS and more, insists Bloomberg

Steve Graham

Coincidentally, the original "confidential briefing" given to Bloomberg by the three-letter agency (allegedly) occurred just after a large budget cut made to projects investigating Chinese electronic skullduggery.

How embarrassing: Xiaomi and Motorola show up to high school prom both wearing remote-charging tech

Steve Graham

Nobody's mentioned Nikola Tesla yet?

Linux maintainer says long-term support for 5.10 will stay at two years unless biz world steps up and actually uses it

Steve Graham

I've always found that embedded devices have very old kernel versions, that is, they aren't "supported" at all. The companies just keep churning them out once they have software that mostly works.

I remember finding an open telnet port on a cheap webcam. It was running a 2.x kernel with an old version of busybox as the shell. I logged in using root/123456.

New study: DNS spoofing doubles in six years ... albeit from the point of naff all

Steve Graham


Why not have a DNS resolver built into your browser that pipes all queries to a TOTALLY TRUSTWORTHY server over HTTPS? What could possibly go wrong?

Thought the M3 roadworks took a while? Five years on, Vivaldi opens up a technical preview of its email client

Steve Graham

I've been using Vivaldi as my main browser for a couple of years now, but why would I want an email client in it? What next? A word processor? A C compiler?

The GIMP turns 25 and promises to carry on being the FOSS not-Photoshop

Steve Graham

Re: full-fat PS just as confusing

It depends. If I've done a lot of work on something, I'll save it in GIMP's XCF format, which is lossless and retains edit history. I may even save it as a new XCF, to ease reverting changes. However, if I've just cropped a photo or enhanced the saturation to slap it up on the web, saving only to a new JPEG file is good enough.

Actually, I suppose that is exporting, since I never overwrite the original.

No, the creator of cURL didn't morph into Elon Musk and give away Bitcoins. But his hijacked Twitter page tried to

Steve Graham

Re: About the Stockholm geolocation

Or maybe the access to Twitter did in fact come from the victim's own machine, and his confidence that his own network was not compromised is misplaced.

China compromised F-35 subcontractor and forced expensive software system rewrite, academic tells MPs

Steve Graham

No shit

"using minimum viable product (MVP) release methods for critical items such as flight controls and weapons was an inappropriate model to follow"

Now-patched Ubuntu desktop vulnerability allows privilege escalation

Steve Graham

Re: I think I see the problem here...

I'm with you on this. The footprints of freedesktop.org are all over the average Linux distro, and provide little useful functionality for much-expanded attack surface.

And as for the Gnome system watching to see if the Account service is running and then deciding you need a new privileged user, it's not the first approach I'd have thought of. Is there a password file? When was it modified? Does it have a root account enabled? And so on.

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro would be the best Android flagship on the market – were it not for the US-China trade war

Steve Graham

I guess that the majority of Reg readers have at least some technical proficiency. That being the case, to us the absence of Google services on a phone is either a minor inconvenience or a Very Good Thing Indeed.

A review, in the Reg, which "fails" a phone for that reason is perhaps aimed at the wrong audience?

Normal people, of course, might have a different opinion, but not many of them read this publication.

X.Org is now pretty much an ex-org: Maintainer declares the open-source windowing system largely abandoned

Steve Graham

Re: Network transparency

My very first thought was "A Red Hat employee denegrating Xorg? What a surprise!"

The Wayland stack is a tightly integrated lump of Red Hat subsystems although I don't think it necessarily requires SystemD. Yet.

RIAA DMCAs GitHub into nuking popular YouTube video download tool, says it can be used to slurp music

Steve Graham

"a world of lawful usages"

Did the EFF's claim of, "a world of lawful usages," include any examples perhaps?

I did one a couple of months ago. I think it was lawful anyway. I wanted to make a video for one of my old band's original songs, "Accidents in Space", so I downloaded the very early movie "Un Voyage Dans La Lune" and extracted a clip from it.

Amusingly, when I put the result on Facebook, some bot issued a takedown on behalf of UMG. I'm guessing, but the official video of the Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight" is a "parody" (to put it politely) of the ancient French film, and may have looked similar enough.

So I uploaded it to YouTube and put the link on Fakebook. YouTube doesn't care about copyright.

Need a new computer for homeschooling? You can do worse than a sub-£30 2007 MacBook off eBay

Steve Graham

My main machine for the last few years has been a Fujitsu Lifebook from 2011. Intel i5-2520M. It was an ex-corporate machine with no memory or disk and cost me £40.

The screen and keyboard are perfect, and the original battery is showing 84% of the original capacity.

Its predecessor, a Thinkpad T61, is now my home server.

Has Apple abandoned CUPS, the Linux's world's widely used open-source printing system? Seems so

Steve Graham

Re: Same thing ...

If CUPS stops supporting PPD files then it will cease to be able to drive many older printer models.

Perhaps, but that doesn't mean that Linux will not be able to use older printers. What CUPS does is to orchestrate programs that tranform input to something that the printer understands. It typically takes several stages.

I'm pretty sure I could replace CUPS with a simple script, starting with the PS or PDF which Linux applications generate when they "print", through to the binary (386!) Linux drivers that Canon kindly provided last century.

BBK mixed-grill realness: Realme's pair of 7s are two more reasons not to spend over £300 on a smartphone

Steve Graham

Re: WTF?

Yes, the petrolhead in me boggled at that too. The most powerful Corsa engine is only about 20% more powerful than the top Dacia (actually Renault) engine.

Red Hat tips its Fedora 33: Beta release introduces Btrfs as default file system, .NET on ARM64, plus an IoT variant

Steve Graham

We had an intern who decided to delete all the junk in the trash. That is to say, in the bin, /bin.

Key-cutting machine borked sideways after visit from the BSOD fairy locks things down

Steve Graham

Young whippersnappers...

It's the same phenomenon that also sees, for example, ATMs and voting machines rolled out with Windows. I can see that a PC-architecture board might be a cost-effective way of putting brains in a device, but the choice of putting WIndows on it is disfunctional.

I can only assume that today's "software developers" have had a career, or perhaps a childhood, of tinkering and developing on Windows PCs, and know no other way. A couple of generations back to my time, and kids were writing software on platforms with minimal or no operating systems, and when they grew up they would have realised that for a kiosk application, you definitely do not want to put a general-purpose, desktop operating system on it.

Looking for a new tech job? Just browsing? This week's list includes roles for devs, engineers, and Perl maestros

Steve Graham

dream job

Perl on Debian-like platforms (actually Devuan) with a little HTML and CSS is exactly what I do in IT these days! I am happy to be in retirement.

Epic, Spotify, ProtonMail and pals rise up as one against Apple's 30% cut, call for end to Cupertino-style markets

Steve Graham


I was trying to think of an anlogy to explain the situation to legislators and others who aren't technologically clued-up.

How about this:

To the purchaser --

Here's your new Audi car. Oh, by the way, you can only put in petrol from an accredited Audi petrol pump.

To the developer (petrol station owner) --

We have to take a 30% slice. Think of the infrastructure we need to put in place to test your petrol.

Ancient telly borked broadband for entire Welsh village

Steve Graham

Re: More to the point

I joined the Post Office (trading as British Telecommunications) in 1981. Yes, it would have been a "chap" of the male gender.

Times haven't changed much, but I have seen a female technician up a telegraph pole at least once.

GNOME alone: FOSS desktop folk to start counting in whole numbers again

Steve Graham

Nigel Tufnel

"Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?"

Amazon staffers took bribes, manipulated marketplace, leaked data including search algorithms – DoJ claims

Steve Graham

Re: Hmm. Spend $100k and get back revenue of $10m

In the UK, a £12,000 donation to the Conservative Party "coincidentally" happened after a Conservative minister's decision saved a developer £45M, so that's an even better ratio.

Microsoft to charge $200 for 32 GPU cores, sliver of CPU clockspeed, 6GB RAM, 512GB SSD... and a Blu-Ray player

Steve Graham

Re: Wait a minute

It took me a moment, but the $200 referred to is the amount EXTRA that you pay for the bigger box.

Zero. Zilch. Nada. That's how many signs of intelligent life astroboffins found in probe of TEN MILLION stars

Steve Graham

Re: Surprise, surprise...

Lasers would be better than microwaves.

Steve Graham

Re: Surprise, surprise...

The aliens use modulated neutrino beams.

Meanwhile, we're the ants: https://xkcd.com/638/

Digital pregnancy testing sticks turn out to have very analogue internals when it comes to getting results

Steve Graham

Re: Low tech is too old tech

"It’s a powerful deep instinct"

As they say on Wikipedia "citation required". In fact, the consensus among psychologists seems to be that in humans there is no deep-seated desire to procreate. People do feel an irresistable love for their children when they are born though.

I suppose if you're suscepible to social pressures, you might think you have an instinct to have children.

COVID-19 tracing without an app? There's an iOS and Android update for that

Steve Graham

The article confuses "England" with "the UK". Northern Ireland rolled out its Apple/Google app about a month ago.

Vivaldi composes sweet ad-blocking symphony for users of browser's Android version

Steve Graham

Re: Just in time, too

I use Vivaldi on Linux all the time too, but for Android, I use Kiwi. It supports Chrome extensions, therefore I can run Ublock Origin, ScriptSafe and Privacy Badger.

NHS tests COVID-19 contact-tracing app that may actually work properly – EU neighbors lent a helping hand

Steve Graham

Re: As far as I can tell, Northern Ireland is part of the UK....

The same company did develop both North and South versions, and they are supposed to interwork, so you're probably correct that they are effectively the same software.



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