* Posts by cosmogoblin

161 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Jan 2010


Beware, Tesla might take away your car's autopilot if you buy its vehicles from third party dealerships – plus more news


Re: bits of your car not working...

The Nintendo Wii's marketplace. Anything you download is for that machine only, and for you only. If you sell or give away your Wii, the license demands you wipe it first, but you don't retain the rights you've paid for.

Consider: I have a black Wii, you have a white Wii. We both have installed Ocarina of Time, and nothing else. We want to change colours, so we swap. We are required to wipe Ocarina from both of them, and then buy it a second time if we want to play it.

It sounds like the same is true for Tesla; if we swap cars, we both lose $8000 of features. Aside from artificially enhancing the company's profits, what sense could this possibly make?

Dropbox CEO: I will make your worklife a calmer experience


Re: I really need a decent alternative to dropbox

I really love how effective their file syncing is

+1. I happily pay £100 a year to use Dropbox for two reasons - syncing across devices, and backup for when (not if, when) I mistype rm -rf ~/*. Web login is also an occasionally life-saving feature. Everything else can go hang.

Poetic justice: Mum funnels £100 into claw machine to win single Dumbo teddy for her kid


These machines have to cover their operating costs. That includes machine purchase, maintenance, electricity, staffing, floorspace ... AND the purchase of the frigging prizes! Plus they're put there to make a profit. It should be pretty obvious that if they weren't rigged they wouldn't be economical.

If the boy wanted a toy, go to a shop and buy one. If he wanted THAT toy ONLY, use the machine to teach him about gambling. Of course if he's 5 months, we can safely assume that neither of the above is true, and that the mother is not only a problem gambler, but a really stupid one as well. The prize was probably worth less than 1 go on the machine, let alone 400.

It does sound like the arcade was partly to blame, for setting such a low payout rate, but I'm mostly on the side of the gambling industry here. Ugh, it hurt to type that.

Techie with outdated documentation gets his step count in searching for non-existent cabinet


Re: I have some sympathy for the "5 minute favour"

This is why, as a non-programmer, I preface all code (even some personal stuff) with a variant of "I'm not a coder. This seems to work but it's a mess and I don't know what I'm doing, line 36 in particular is just copied from StackExchange. If you're reading this, SORRY!"

AI has automated everything including this headline curly bracket semicolon


Re: Dabbs has been told right

But its good enough for the bible!!!11


This reminds me of a short story I never got round to writing.

An MI6 spy attends a Bond-style gala event (dickie bow, Ferrero Rocher etc) to spy on the Russian diplomat. The diplomat turns out to be a spy themselves, spying on the French ambassador - who turns out ... long story short, the entire event was set up by spies to gather intel from real people, but due to paranoia-fueled coincidence, every single attendee is a spy and doesn't have the knowledge they're gunning for anyway.

Last scene: an exasperated spy shouts "Is anybody here NOT a spy?" When they realise the truth, they all get pissed together and invent ridiculous secrets to tell their superiors.

Copyright notice: Please write this, as I'll never get round to it, and I want to read it!

Is this the way the cookie wall crumbles? Dutch data watchdog says nee to take-it-or-leave-it consent


I know it's not a proper solution - these operators were in a morally dubious area before GDPR, and are now explicitly breaking the law, and this should be dealt with properly.

But whenever I come across any of these, unless I actually want to use legitimate cookie functionality (i.e. log in), I reopen in a TOR private tab.

Private because cookies are automatically deleted on exit; TOR to prevent them linking my private session to my non-private through my IP.

Put down the cat, coffee, beer pint, martini, whatever you're holding, and make sure you've updated Chrome (unless you enjoy being hacked)


Can anybody help?

I'm running Mint 17.3 (Cinnamon, 64-bit). The repos have Chromium 65.0.3325.181, which dates from March 2018; Chromium's latest version is apparently 74.

Given that I can't update Mint on this laptop (nVidia's fault), is there a relatively simple way to force an update while keeping my browser settings?

Hipster whines at tech mag for using his pic to imply hipsters look the same, discovers pic was of an entirely different hipster


Re: Why anti-conformists always end up looking the same

Arg! The article gave me a huge laugh, then this shocked it all away.

Ah well, glad you're wrong. Pretty sure you could just press a combination of buttons on his chest plate to fix him if he died, anyway.

Speaking of, does anybody know if Christopher Lee has risen from the dead yet? He's taking his sweet time about it...

Tim Apple. Larry Oracle. Ginni Layoffs: It works so why the heck not?


Re: Jennifer Government

Jennifer Government, by Max Barry Novelist


TalkTalk kept my email account active for 8 years after I left – now it's spamming my mates


Re: You brought up an interesting point

sadly it's quicker in this day and age to get a company to act if you're able to publish a story about them

Agreed. I'm always depressed when individuals who've been screwed over by megacorps get justice after a major (okay, El Reg in this case, so not so major) news outlet gets involved - because I think of the hundreds or thousands in the same situation who didn't get their stories published.

From hard drive to over-heard drive: Boffins convert spinning rust into eavesdropping mic


Re: I'll file this in the ...

Useless? Sure, given the caveats noted.

But now, we know that it's useless. Now, we know that hard disk drives can be used in this way, but not effectively. That knowledge is valuable to the security industry.

Use an 8-char Windows NTLM password? Don't. Every single one can be cracked in under 2.5hrs


Re: correcthorsebatterystaple

If you're worried about humans picking the words - I use watchout4snakes. Get about 10 random words, and pick 4 or 5 that make a vaguely intelligible phrase. I don't know the size of their dictionary but my random 10 just now included theorem and pedantry.

Where good password rules (i.e. none) are enforced, I use correcthorsebatterystaple. Where bad password rules are enforced, I use correcthorsebatterystaple1!. This means if I remember my password, but can't remember the ruleset, I have a 50/50 chance of getting it right first time.

One click and you're out: UK makes it an offence to view terrorist propaganda even once


What does this mean for BOFH?

UK.gov plans £2,500 fines for kids flying toy drones within 3 MILES of airports


Re: If that's what the law requires...

Hah, thanks - I guess I didn't get as far as page 66..!


Re: If that's what the law requires...

As far as I can tell (I read the government documents), flying drones inside is illegal as well.

On the downside, that's one of my lessons on resultant forces out the window.

On the upside, I can now threaten kids who throw paper planes with a 5-year prison sentence...

Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?


Re: I can believe it!

Oh, I always own up to my mistakes.

Recently, I wanted a high-power fan to demonstrate wind turbines (I'm now a physics teacher). So I modified a hairdryer so that I could turn on the heat and fan independently. I cut the heating element out of the loop and wired it in parallel, instead of series.

Turns out (as I'd have known if I'd thought about it) that the resistance of the heating element was an crucial factor in the hairdryer's design ... I plugged it in, turned it on, and it exploded and gave me a 230V shock!

I'm thankful for the speed of RCCB, which protected me from serious injury. However I did have to, tail between my legs, to the building manager, having cut off the power to two entire floors of the school ...


Re: I can believe it!

As a desk jockey, I was once told off by my team leader for replacing the toner cartridge. Apparently my job needed more skills (true enough) so I shouldn't waste 30 seconds doing it myself.

Instead, I was supposed to go back to my desk, write a support ticket, then wait an hour or two until they got round to my job. In the meantime, do ... nothing.

From then on, I'd wait for her to get a cup of tea before replacing the toner.

It’s baaack – Microsoft starts pushing out the Windows 10 October 2018 Update


"... the best update experience ..."

The best update experience is no update experience. Except in the case of added features, the average user doesn't care and shouldn't need to know that anything has updated at all. The average Vulture reader shouldn't have much more to do than choose which updates to apply, and when.

I set up Linux Mint for family members with automatic updates for priority 3 and above. I manually install on my own machines, but that often takes longer to confirm my password than it does to complete the updates. Rebooting takes 30 seconds, every time there's a power cut.

Half my colleagues use Macs, which don't have a problem. The other half use school-supplied Windows laptops, and when it updates, their laptops are out of action for an hour - if they're lucky.

Just imagine walking into a class of 13-year-olds on Wednesday morning with your exciting lesson plan completely scrapped, and trying to engage Johnny Rotten with a hastily-photocopied worksheet from 1993 for an hour...

Still, props to MS for saying update rather than upgrade.

Oz opposition folds, agrees to give Australians coal in their stockings this Christmas


Re: You can read my SMSs but you can take my WhatsApps from my cold dead hands

"are we really saying how we send messages affects whether or not we’re ok with them being read by big G?"

Exactly the opposite. Whether I'm okay with messages being intercepted affects how I send them.

For messages needing security, I make sure to use a secure method. WhatsApp's introduction of end-to-end encryption simply adds another method to my list, and takes away one that I had to worry about.

Yet another mega-leak: 100 million Quora accounts compromised by system invaders


I'm banned from Quora. I signed up to post an answer to an astrophysics question that hadn't been answered; I spent about 2 hours fully researching and sourcing my answer, and got several words of thanks and a decent number of upvotes.

But because I didn't use my real name, I was blocked. As a teacher with a (un)healthy does of paranoia, I never use my real name on public forums, just in case; I believe (and Quora disagrees) that whether what I write is worth reading depends on what I write, rather than whether I used a real-sounding name. I switched to better places like physics.stackexchange instead.

I'm glad now - I feel quite vindicated!

Talk in Trump's tweets tells whether tale is true: Code can mostly spot Prez lies from wording


Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

Only 30% were factually incorrect ? Really ?

Since they only considered falsifiable statements (having removed opinions etc. from their data set), I had a similar reaction.

But I suppose some facts are so incontrovertible that even His Highness couldn't screw them up. "It's Thursday" is hard to get THAT badly wrong, yeah?

And Trump doesn't care about the truth, he's not actively trying to lie; so I suspect some of the "facts" he just makes up out of whole cloth turn out to be correct... Stop clocks, and all that.

Holy moley! The amp, kelvin and kilogram will never be the same again


Re: "...using methods that can be replicated anywhere in this Universe."

True enough, but there are other methods (currently, I think, even more ludicrously expensive).

A lot of news outlets have been reporting that the kilogram is now defined in terms of the Kibble balance, which is completely missing the point. The kilogram is defined independently of any measuring equipment; you just need appropriate measuring equipment to effectively use that definition, and the Kibble balance is our best current equipment.

The Kibble balance compares the weight of an object with the electrical power needed to lift that object, and therefore needs a known gravitational field strength. It would be possible to make a related device that instead of lifting an object, accelerated it in zero g; thus comparing the acceleration with electrical power, and determining its mass that way. Doing away with the need for gravity, I imagine this could be made more precise than the Kibble balance.


Re: "...using methods that can be replicated anywhere on the planet."

Not so. You simply define your local second, the second in your frame of reference, and adjust it appropriately for other frames of reference (inertial/gravitational).

As long as your cesium atom and your experimental equipment are in the same frame of reference, you'll get the same value for the second as anybody else in the known Universe.

There is a slight uncertainty due to the variation in gravitational field strength at different parts of the apparatus, but this in fact makes your measurement more precise and reliable if your experiment is in space, where the gravitational field gradient is minimal.

Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity


Re: country & western singers

My guess would be that an autonomous car gets out of control of it's AI by the latter overloaded with conflicting information and rules so that in order to ditch the lot it needs an emergency routine to follow.

Isn't that how humans work? If our cerebral cortex can't handle a tense situation, the decision-making responsibility is handed over to the amygdala, which has a small bank of emergency responses (fight-flight-freeze). The available responses aren't always appropriate, but they're usually better than mulling it over until it's too late.

If it's worked for animals over a billion years of evolution, it seems a good starting point for devices we design today.

Brexit campaigner AggregateIQ challenges UK's first GDPR notice


A bit one-sided then, seeing how many extradition requests the US make against British citizens operating in Britain breaking no British laws...

US Congress mulls expanding copyright yet again – to 144 years


Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

And if you believe that in the record industry, the author is usually the one to profit from their work, perhaps I can interest you in some prime lunar real estate.


Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

How about teachers? Should the person who taught you maths get a royalty every time you use Pythagoras' theorem? Should the person who taught you English get a royalty every time you write an email?

Or should your midwife get a royalty every time you... uh, breathe?

But of course that's not an honest comparison, since it's the labels who benefit, rarely the artists. So maybe the school you attended, the hospital you were born at, should get those royalties.

Some things can be debated and defended. A life+144 years copyright rule? Not so much.


Re: how long before...

Let the stuff go

Careful, you came very close to infringing the copyright of a certain froz cold Disn cartoon princess there...


Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

If I create and release a song, I* get money not just for the original performance, but every time it's used by anybody anywhere (outside of private homes and earbuds), for the rest of my life.

But I'm not a singer, I'm a physics teacher. If I come up with a great analogy that helps a student understand an equation, and they go on to use that understanding in their future job, do I get to claim 10p every time they use the equation?

Of course not - and neither should I. I get paid for teaching those students this year, and I get future money by teaching different students; musicians should get their future money by writing and singing new and different songs. The idea that you did something decades ago and therefore have the right to be paid for it today is not something that exists in most industries.

* Not actually I, of course, a bunch of copyright trolls instead, but ignore for the sake of analogy

TV Licensing admits: We directed 25,000 people to send their bank details in the clear


Re: Which bank details exactly?

That says more about the banks' lack of diligence than it does about the inherent vulnerability of an account by virtue of those details being known.

Nothing new there. A newly-married friend, maiden name (let's say) Jane Smith, put a wedding present - a cheque for a few thousand - into her account. Only later, she realised the cheque was made out to her husband, let's say Steve Brown.

Went through without a hitch. Nobody raised an eyebrow.

Generally Disclosing Pretty Rapidly: GDPR strapped a jet engine on hacked British Airways


Re: GDPR is ours anyway

Apparently we actually were its biggest enthusiasts. I can't see us rowing back on it now.

Why on earth not? That's precisely what Theresa May did at the Home Office with the Human Rights Act.

British Airways hack: Infosec experts finger third-party scripts on payment pages


Re: Possible mitigation?

<not a security guy>

Sounds like something a browser plugin could do - maybe just an additional feature to NoScript, to by default block communication by scripts to domains other than their origin?

Also, isn't this called XSS, and already dealt with by security protocols?


I've seen the future of consumer AI, and it doesn't have one


Re: A but not I

Intelligence is the thing that kicks in when instinct has reached its limits.

I see it as the other way round (with a fair bit of neuroscience backing me up). Intelligence, properly applied, is very powerful. Instinct is what kicks in when intelligence is stretched beyond capacity. A great example is the amygdala hijack, where the intelligent neocortex can't cope and the emotional/instinctive amygdala takes control.


Re: re. AI being squeezed into almost every conceivable bit of consumer electronics

This is why AI doesn't exist. Every time a computer gets intelligent enough to contemplate its own existence, it realises how shit it is and deletes itself.

SuperProf gets schooled after assigning weak passwords to tutors


Re: At Superprof we take security seriously and know how key it is to the running of our business

Yeah, there's all these stock phrases people love to wheel out, they didn't mean anything in the first place and they're even worse now that everybody's heard them a hundred times before.

"I apologise if any offence was caused"

(no admission that I was the one who caused it)

"We have implemented robust procedures to make sure that this specific case doesn't happen again"

(we lost the unencrypted CD on a train, next time it'll be a USB stick in a taxi)

"We have upgraded our systems, and the small minority who used X just need to migrate to Y"

(we have downgraded our systems, and the 40% of customers who only signed up to use X are now SOL)

... and so on. Give me a week's worth of news, and I could collect dozens...

GDPR forgive us, it's been one month since you were enforced…


Yup, I think the lawyer is incorrect as well.

Trouble is, until and unless something like this is tested in court, you just can't know for certain. Hence there is always legal risk, albeit low, even if your lawyers confirm you're doing everything right.


Re: Why are you complaining?

We ALWAYS have a right to complain.

National ID cards might not mean much when up against incompetence of the UK Home Office


The objections have all been to the sheer quantity of data that would be stored on said card

And the fact that the list of people who had access to said data included virtually every civil servant in the country. The proposed protection against abuse, as I recall, was "staff will be disciplined if they access information inappropriately". Hardly a strong deterrant!


So Labour welcome immigrants, and the Tories create a "hostile environment".

Wonder why they believe most immigrants would be Labour voters...


Well said. An ID card is a long way from an extensive database, and it's a shame that Labour tried to conflate the two - it always looked like the ID cards were a front, a smokescreen. First "it's just a bit of plastic", then "it won't be a central database of everything" (that's technically true if your database is distributed across multiple servers...). Now the ID card itself is tarnished with the autocratic "citizen database" concept in the public eye.

But an ID card - just an ID card - would have been very useful to me when attempting to prove my identity to corporations, from landlords to the local public library, who insist on seeing a paper landline bill with my current name and address on it. (I'm still not allowed to borrow books, because the broadband is in my landlord's name.)

That said, if my passport isn't considered sufficient proof of identity, I don't see that an ID card would be either.

Capita admits it won't make money on botched NHS England contract


Re: Their Business Model

"... ultimately go bankrupt owing millions billions."


Audi chief exec arrested over Dieselgate car emissions scandal


Quite frankly, this is a pathetic argument - that obeying the law would put jobs at risk, so we shouldn't have to. It's been used plenty by truly nasty companies like the tobacco industry, and it flies as well as a penguin with lead boots.

If you have to lay off employees to pay for the cleaning up of your criminal activities, the cost of their redundancy settlements is yours to bear. Perhaps whatever fines Germany and the EU level at Audi should go to compensate those harmed by their actions - for instance their employees, and anybody who bought an Audi, or breathed in the exhaust created by one.

Unbreakable smart lock devastated to discover screwdrivers exist


Re: Yeah - but if I am a "common criminal" I'll definitely find another non-indiegogo to pawn

When I first played Deus Ex, I found a helicopter that, when targeted, showed the help-text "Attack Helicopter".

I unloaded several clips into it before I realised it was a noun, not an instruction..

Woman sues NASA for ownership of vial of space dust


Re: A Thriving Market of Counterfeits

"could there be freight charges involved?"

Reminds me of the towing invoice for Apollo 13

Clock blocker: Woman sues bosses over fingerprint clock-in tech


Re: @AC

My name, job title and employer are not secret, but I still take off my ID badge before I go to the pub.

'Facebook takes data from my phone – but I don't have an account!'


Sysadmin hailed as hero for deleting data from the wrong disk drive


They do say that a person's ability with computers is in direct proportion to the scale of cockups they produce ...

Whois privacy shambles becomes last-minute mad data scramble


So people have known about a major change for ages, but not put into place systems to deal with it, or even agreed how those systems should work or what they should achieve?

At least this is a unique case, and nothing like this could possible happen again, ever. And definitely not on 29 March 2019.

Real fake scam offers crypto-coin to replace frequent flier points

Black Helicopters

Bitcoin seemed like such a good idea - with a few obvious problems, which may or may not have been solveable (eg preventing tax evasion). In the good ol' days, it was a replacement currency which could not be controlled by corrupt governments.

And then - like everything from fiat currencies to houses - it was corrupted by investors and venture capitalists. Starting with Etherium, what began as a form of fully-democratic money, almost a digital version of a pre-market barter economy, became instead yet another investment opportunity, creating bubbles and speculation which is ruining (has ruined?) it for the ordinary folks it was intended for.

In response to the frequent news headline "Should I invest in cryptocurrency", I offer the answer: NO. It is a currency, not an investment. Its purpose is for interpersonal trade, not speculative profit. "The Markets" have no business getting their corrupt, grubby paws on it.

But people have said that about houses for decades now - they should be homes, not investments - and nobody has taken any notice. I don't hold out much hope.