* Posts by Phil P

9 posts • joined 9 Feb 2010

NSA PRISM-gate: Relax, GCHQ spooks 'keep us safe', says Cameron

Phil P

Re: People use gmail.

The Gmail off-shore prison camp is where your mail is forwarded onto outlook.com and you're forbidden by court-order to use any other mail service.

Phil P
Black Helicopters

Now now, the NSA are not reading the letter.

They're intercepting the letter, opening it, photographing the contents, scanning it for OCR for text-based indexing and saving metadata about who the envelope says sent and received it, how many words there are, topic domains and so on for searching, then carefully sealing the photographs away, unread by humans.

If a later search across the metadata suggests there might be something, or if a full-text indexed search suggests there might be something, then they have evidence with which to establish probable cause to get a warrant to unseal the photographs of the letter you sent. Because they've successfully argued to the Star Chamber, er I mean FISA, that the interception doesn't _really_ take place until a human looks at the photos, they argue that this is all legal and compliant with the US Constitution.

And folks? Echelon has for decades operated on the principle of "we spy on your folks, you spy on our folks, neither breaks the letter of the law and then we just hand over the data to each other", in the USA treating the US Fourth Amendment as an inconvenient problem to be worked around, and the Bill of Rights as a subject of contempt, instead of something to be safeguarded.

The difference is that with PATRIOT the NSA was able to start cutting out the middle-man. If GCHQ are still involved at all then it's just because the NSA don't want to burn any bridges and want an ally to fall back on if PATRIOT ever gets repealed and they have to go back to the Old Ways.

Good to see The Guardian continuing this battle. It was 20 years ago that I first read (in The Observer?) about the Echelon stuff, and the British "Class Warrants".

Seriously, if folks in the UK are going to get upset, you should be upset about the continued existence and use (and lack of repeal) of Class Warrants. What is it, 98+% of the UK population covered under Class Warrants that have never been repealed? So if you own or have ever owned a motorcycle, then as a Dangerous Person the UK security services don't _need_ an individual warrant for you. You're already covered under a Class Warrant.

Microsoft's saucy compiler exposes privates to devs

Phil P

Compilers and hooking in

The front-end of a compiler parses the source code, pulls in references and creates an internal representation of the program. Then various programs can manipulate the internal representation, adding safety checks, performing general improvements, before the target-architecture-specific backend generates the binary code, while doing architecture-specific changes.

Other compilers have exposed this for a long time, and we see some third-party tools pop up as a result; it's reasonable for MS to want to encourage some of that development work to happen in their compiler tools, rather than being _forced_ to go elsewhere -- forcing customers and developers to support the competition not generally being considered a winning strategy.

Now, a project like gcc-sense providing tab-completion for C programming probably isn't anything new to those using IDEs, but it gives you an idea for some of what people are doing. GCC has traditionally been of the "it must be GPL to plug into GCC" persuasion, which has kept some independent developers away, but they've finally shifted. Perhaps because the Apple-sponsored LLVM compilation infrastructure (with the Clang frontend for C) have spurred competition here, with LLVM IR (Intermediate Representation) and BSDish licensing.

Now that there's GCC and Clang _free_ for the taking, MS pretty much _have_ to open things up to keep any development work happening there and remain relevant.

World braces for domain name EXPLOSION

Phil P


I'm already seeing mail admins look at this situation and asking how to configure resolvers to only accept the existing set of TLDs (presumably while still getting updates to those, instead of just serving the root zone locally).

Imagine, your university's school of business uses "business.example.ac.uk" and people internally are used to mailing around to <fred@business>; what happens when "business." becomes a TLD? We know to not use existing TLDs for sub-domains, but when anything can become a TLD, all bets are off.

If you thought .biz got you high spam scores and wasn't worth trying to communicate with, you haven't seen anything yet.

Exim code-execution bug, now with root access

Phil P

Version numbers: bug

For silent fixing, not a real comment:

The article references version "4.7" erroneously in a couple of places.

The bug was fixed in "4.70", the current recommended release is "4.72".

The full announcement is available at:



Jobs savages 7-inch tablet competition

Phil P


He manages to make it sound as though all of the competition is 7" and therefore the Apple product is superior to all of the competition. But this simply isn't the case. Proof by counter-example: the 9.7" iPad compared to the 10" Pixel Qi display Notion Ink Adam.


Google open sources JPEG assassin

This post has been deleted by a moderator

'Negatively strange' antihypermatter made out of gold

Phil P

hydrogen includes deuterium & tritium?

Dredging old school memories here, but it seems strange to define hydrogen as a proton with no neutron. hydrogen = { protium, deuterium, tritium }, protium has no neutrons and hydrogen can have 0, 1 or 2.

At least, that's how I remember learning it.

Battlefield skyhook robocopter 'passes US Marines' test'

Phil P

So close ...

Just a little jiggling of the title and ... "Immediate Cargo Aerial Robotic Unmanned System".

(And anyone familiar with the story will understand the choice of icon)


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021