* Posts by Conway

29 publicly visible posts • joined 23 May 2007

UK electricity crisis over - for now


Phileas Fogg

In around the world in eighty days Phileas Fogg is a man on a mission. When the Captain of the paddle steamer he is makng the last leg of his journey on refuses to go any faster "to conserve fuel", Phileas buys the boat and proceeds to run at maximum speed. As the boiler needs it, he has the combustible parts of the boat chopped up and fed to it.

He finally steams into dock in a tin tub which he gives away to the stoker (I believe).

Can't imagine why this suddenly came to mind. Carry on....

Web 2.0 bloat trebles web's waistline



It's about the best free widget I ever found. I can now read web pages without being in danger of motion sickness. Easy to switch flash on, just as easy to switch it off.

Mine's the stationery one over there.

Invisible-shed spy beam tech detects hidden artworks



If you could make a pocket sized enclosure that could not be seen through it might well hide it's contents but I would imagine it would be glaringly obvious that it was there, just by the fact you couldn't see through it. I could always be wrong of course.

Mine's the Chameleon coat you can't see over there.

How HMRC gave away the UK's national identity


@Encrypted or unencrypted?

It means that if you open the file in the software package that was used to save it, you will need a password, but if you open it in a plain text or Hex editor (for instance), you will be able to read the contents although they probably won't be formatted.

In short it means the data is effectively unprotected.

Record industry pushes ISPs to cut off file sharers


Time and technology waits for no man

Hehe, I love to read all the spouting off that goes on when someone mentions putting controls on file sharing. There are only a couple of camps

1) How could they prevent people from sharing files,

2) What about the legal files being shared

If the will of the ISPs to prevent filesharing is strong enough it doesn't matter how annoyed you get, filesharing will stop because they will stop it. You can encrypt your data all you like, if they throttle your upload speed your files are effecively not being shared any more. Most "Home Users" have little legitimate use for massive uploads to the internet. "Of course sir, if you want to run a business from your home then we have just the product for you. It'll only cost you 150 quid a month for each gbyte you upload".

Which gets us to those people that claim their's are "legal" uploads and shares. They must be running small businesses and so they will be charged accordingly. If these small businesses don't actually make any money then that is not the ISP's problem. The Royal Mail won't deliver things for free just because you don't charge for them and pretty soon neither will your ISP.

Get used to the idea people. The Internet is maturing. It's been a hive of slightly dodgy behaviour for a long time and now it is going to get cleaned up.

Don't flame me for writing this, think about it, it is happening and will continue to happen.

Police bail OiNK admin after filesharing raid


Different economies

You can base your economy on digging coal out of the ground, or making cars, or kids sewing football shirts, or on being creative and innovative. Problem is, if you are creative/innovative, technologies exist to replicate your hard work fairly quickly. Once replicated, what was your idea can quickly be distributed to all and sundry at a fraction of the cost of actually producing the "idea" in the first place.

Looks to me like the UK wants a slice of the "Intellectual Property" pie, in which case it needs to crack down on people that share other people's intellectual property.

The logical alternative would be to convert our secondary schools into sweatshops and get our kids sewing Gucci handbags together..... But they would probably want more money than a Chinese kid so they'd be out of work anyways.

Pump-and-dump scammers debut MP3 spam


Who does their market research?

I wonder who told the spammers that fans of Elvis and Fergie (presumably the 80s popster not Prince Andrew's ex) are likely to fall for this sort of thing. If the crud being pushed was penis enlargement pills would the "Stars" be different (Kylie and Sandie Shaw maybe?).

PIN patterns go mobile

Thumb Down

I Don't know

First there was the PIN, which was a PaIN to remember, so we all memorised the patterns. Now, if this system comes into effect we are going to have to remember a pattern, visually map that pattern without tracing our finger on the screen and key the resultant numbers in. This is going to slow the whole process down, increase anxiety levels of users and, I would hazard, increase the number of PIN rejections.

Is the grid going to be the same 5x5 that was touted for ATM's? If so, the patterns will probably be more difficult to visualise as well.

I know it's a good idea, but that does not mean it is the right idea. My verdict is a thumbs down.

Mars rovers can keep on rovin'


Wait a minute

If we are going to send people then we are going to have to at least make a show of bringing them back. To do this they are going to have to land with enough fuel to get them back off the surface and join the mother ship. The Mothership is going to have to carrying enough fuel to get them home.

Mars has a higher gravitational pull than the moon and an atmosphere to hinder you. Getting enough fuel up there is going to be difficult, landing with it on board could be classed as suicidal.

Fuel is going to be a major problem, even with improved engine technologies.

What we really need is a lighter OS...

Storm Worm descends on Blogger.com



Alan, I've been meaning to ask, do you a blackberry, or some other handlheld device? It's nothing personal but all lower case, little punctuation and double line spacing is not that common around here.

Facebook moves to cut down application annoyances



I wandered in here out of interest only to discover some sort of foreign language being spoken. I shall shuffle quietly toward the exit and hope no one notices me.

Google changes Street View privacy policy



I should be able send them a picture of me, and my registration / house number, and tell them that I don't want them to appear on their site. They can do the checking for me as presumably they will profit in some way by publishing stuff about me.

The fact I live in the UK, htis is not an issue at the moment, maybe I should send my mugshot anyway.

Enceladus' icy threat to Cassini


Lies, Damn Lies and Odds

How on earth do they calculate the odds of such things? Is there a department at NASA calculating odds.

Shouldn't this story be under Odds and Sods?

Comcast throttles BitTorrent users



I like your style Steve.

Tidal power project fails to start on schedule


It's all relative really

Today, here and now, in 2007, we are about as wasteful of resource as it is possible to be. So, in 200 years time, when our kids kids kids kids are scratching around looking for stuff to burn, a fraction of the power we consume today for a couple of hours a day might be considered a luxury.

It's worth remembering, we haven't yet managed to create an energy source. We have harnessed some energy (mainly by burning stuff), and using that energy we have managed to convert inert things into stored energy, but the amount of energy we create is a fraction of what we poured in to create it.

Hydrogen looks good, as long as we have colossal amounts of energy available to create the amount of hydrogen we need.

Nuclear is seen as a good option once we have finished burning the planet from under our feet, but what a price there is to pay in the long term. Our kids kids kids kids might prefer a couple of hours of weak tide energy a day, but we might not give them the choice.

I don't consider myself a treehugging greenie, but I don't mind facing facts.

The difficulty of validating systems and users



I never mentioned biometrics, on some occasions it might be necessary to biometrically prove you are the rightful owner of an ID card, however, in most cases (like installing piece of software for instance) just holding the card will be enough. The card will hand over certain information when the RFID is interrogated. None of this will be personally identifiable, which means we will all be represented by some kind of number or globally inique identifier.

Dongles have their own problems. IE

Different dongles for different packages,

No single source for checking if a dongle has been stolen,

Legal owner of the software has no proof if they lose their dongle

Can't download a dongle from a web site.

Picture this

1) Download installer from Web Site

2) Start install, system asks you to present your ID card to the reader.

3) System is not really interested in who you are, as long as it can register some kind of GUID it retrieves in response to it's querying of the card.

4) Installation continues with your GUID being stored locally and being the only one that can access that program.

By default everyone will use this system. So while you may be free to opt out of having an ID card, it will almost mean you opt out of living.

Now, occasionally cards will go missing, so there will be an ID clearing house that web sites etc can use. They send a GUID with some kind of card issue number (also available via the RFID) and the check site either gives a green light or a red light. Of course, having one global check site might not be politically acceptable for all nations, so maybe the GUID will be formed in such a way that the first x number of chars return the originating country so any checking can be referred to the correct site (but notice, this gives away where the user is from, and thus their privacy starts to be stripped away).

Maybe the check site will send a code that the web site should present to the ID card (via the user's machine/card reader), and based on the response it gets back will know if it is the genuine card or a clone of the publicly available info.

Initially, law enforcement agencies will be able to go to their nation's ID GUID check system and see all the companies that have carried out ID checks on it's citizens. Maybe inputting dodgy companies to find dodgy citizens. After a while someone (ITIL maybe?) will decide to encode the types of company and service, so reports on citizens can be sold to businesses. And all the time, those poor old citizens will be sold further and further down the river.

Ok, so maybe my imagination gland is a little overactive today, but think about it for a few minutes and you can see why so many politicians (control freaks) want ID cards and why we should all resist.



I'm not sure which is the hardest to read, the article or the response(s) from Amanfrommars.

Dongles eh, that identify the current user/system as being allowed access to certain things eh. People, be very careful, you are very nearly identifying the dreaded Identity Card as of being some benefit, nay, of being a burning necessity for the future. Imagine, a USB RFID reader that could pick you up within 3 metres if you have your ID card in your wallet. No more DRM problems, no more licensing issues.

I have seen the future, and the future is horrid.

Livid woman torches ex-hubby's wedding tackle



He described it as "Mosntrously Painful", well now we know.

I wonder if Mrs Boris in a fit of remorse is going to offer to apply the savlon? (picture scenes from a singing detective with Joanne Whalley).

BAE demos DSL-esque military radio protocol


Only a matter of time

I guess it's only a matter of time before a military plane falls foul of a trojan or worm and starts doing it's own social re-engineering.

'Grim reaper' dog senses nursing home deaths


I don't know

If this dog were a care worker, he'd be suspended while all these mysterious deaths are investigated.

Maybe fido has worked out how to hold a pillow...

Cops taser crap-smeared Oz clubber


I'd have thought

That this sort of situation was almost tailor made for the Taser. Some of my rationales....

As a taxpayer I'd rather buy a couple of AA batteries than pay for the cleaning of a couple of police uniforms.

Why should the punishment wait until after sentencing, let it start as soon as possible. This has the added benefit that psychologically the offender will relate acting like a twat with being Tased (or is it Tasered, or Taserised or.. or). I know, innocent until proven guilty and all that, but just how many people covered in crap and blood were there running amok that night?

If I were a copper I'd study my contract to see what it said about wrestling with self destructive toilet brushes and then probably phone in sick. As a member of the public I want the police to protect me. If they choose not to wrestle but to zap, I'm not going to argue.

I for one am quite looking forward to the video appearing on YouTube.

FaceTime exposes prospect contact info



It could happen to anyone, I am just glad it didn't (hasn't yet) happened to me.

Code a web site in haste and not only can you repent at leisure but you can do it in the public eye.

iPhone becomes phisherman's friend


Never in the history of human conflict..

.. has such a small device had to deal with such focussed attempts to crack it. The best anyone has manged so far is to get the wi-fi / mp3 bits of it to work without activation which makes it a very expensive Mp3 player with wi-fi. I don't think it will be a popular hack. The next best thing is to discover a couple of passwords, but no one seems quite sure what they do (if indeed, they do anything).

I am never going to own one of these things but I always like to side with the underdog and with so many security experts (crackers/hackers by any other name) picking on this thing I am beginning to root for it.

Go iPhone go, you can resist.

The return of the ransom-ware Trojan


Neat trick, and it goes full circle

So the first thing a user does on receiving this e-mail is to check a few files to see if they have access to them. If they find them encrypted they then fire up the browser and go to their online payment facility, but didn't the article mention a key logger?

I remember the old pickpocket trick of putting up signs saying "Beware pickpockets, have you still got your wallet?". All they then had to was watch where someone patted and it saved them having to guess which pocket the money was in.

Yes it's low, yes it's mean, despicable etc, but you have to hand it to them, they know what they are doing.

(Un)lucky UCLA student cops Paris's old mobile number


For the benefit of Marco

It's very easy for a mobile to go down the toilet (apart from when it keeps ringing at 3-0-clock in the morning).

Try this simple experiment.

1) Place phone in back pocket.

2) Stand facing away from toilet and drop your strides

3) If at first you don't succeed, try a couple more times after adjusting distance between yourself and toilet.

Eventually you will find the perfect position to flip the phone out of your pocket every time. I guess this is one of Murphy' laws.

Rufus quits Gadspot


Does it look like the same person to you?

I don't know, reading the emails purporting to be from Rufus in the main story, then reading Rufus' email to El Reg, they don't seem to come from the same person. What we need is the email equivalent of a handwriting expert to prove the fact.

Brit fumes over Wikipedia, lava lamps


And there's the rub

I have always found the problem with Wikipedia to be that it contains an awful lot of words, and very little real information. I guess that is a shortcoming of articles written by committee, there is a lack of cohesion that grates.

I prefer www.uncyclopedia.org myself.

iTunes Plus - plus user details that is


High Frequency encoding

A couple of years ago there was mobile phone service, I think the number was 2581, if you dialled the number and held your phone to the speaker, they would text you the title/artist of the track. I believe this was achieved by reading high frequency signals encoded in the track. Would it be possible to encode Personally Identifiable Information in the same way? If so, then it might survive re-encoding to different formats and would be difficult to remove without degrading the track.

I for one am in favour of discrete means of preventing wholesale copying. I am a part time musician and know a lot of other musicians. Their work is as valuable as anyones, but for some reason everyone believes that music is written and produced by machine (the versificator maybe) and distributed by greedy corporations. Wait a minute, with some of the pulp being produced these days maybe it is... Ho hum, you only get what you pay for.

Abbey online banking takes 24-hour lie down


Natwest isn't bad

If online banking is the sole criteria for switching, you could do far worse than Natwest. As long as you don't try using their branches(Wait for ages then speak to one of their helpful salespersons, you can't call them bank tellers any more).