* Posts by David Pollard

1321 publicly visible posts • joined 29 May 2007


IBM: Hm, medical record security... security... Got it – we need blockchains

David Pollard

Some form of logging is also needed

It's not enough just so make transmission of data secure. Many of those whose medical history is being used will want to know who is accessing it and for what purposes. This presents a more difficult problem.

New Windows 10 privacy controls: Just a little snooping – or the max

David Pollard

Re: Rule number 0

The initial version of Raspbian for USB stick seems to work quite well; and will presumably be well supported; albeit that it's a bit slow with USB 2.0. This could be a useful dual-boot option for users who aren't technically minded and would only need to know how to disable the Windows internet connection.

Indeed it might be this or something similar that is a turning point for widespread uptake of Linux.

David Pollard

Re: Now that is what I call a bait-and-switch

You have to go and declare yourself.

You have to go and declare someone. To get started, Tesco's mobile costs £1 for a SIM plus £10 to load it if you need a burn phone. Local shops and pubs will have a postcode that is plausible when compared with ISP data and local searches for weather etc. that might otherwise betray the real user.

Could YOU survive a zombie apocalypse? Uni eggheads say you'd last just 100 days

David Pollard

Re: They're...

Then they need to know that Marc Abrams and the crew at Ignoble Research are a bit more selective than that. It's not enough just to be silly.

David Pollard

Relevant and accessible?

The University of Leicester web page giving details of this study includes a link:

"Read an article on why it is important to make physics and science education relevant and accessible to the public."

Rather than making physics 'relevant and accessible', these zombie papers seem to me to endorse the complaint that is often made by university teachers that a great many students arrive with an abysmally poor understanding of mathematics and science, and thus need remedial education before they can properly follow a degree course.

The papers may have been little more than fillers for the local student journal. It was perhaps a mistake to promote them as the university press office did.

BT and Plusnet most moaned about broadband providers. Again

David Pollard

Re: Best of a bad bunch...

Why .. Miele... 10 year parts and labour warranty?

I checked with my friend. The washing machine actually failed 3 years + 2 months after she bought it and she hadn't bought the extended warranty to cover beyond 3 years because this costs almost as much as a new machine. Her comment on the downvotes was, "and it doesn't spin my woolies properly."

David Pollard

Re: Best of a bad bunch...

There are people who ... buy Miele appliances.

It took considerable effort to find the correct replacement heater for a friend's Miele washing machine, which failed after 14 months' light use. It also took a small age to find information about how to change it. I'm by no means sure that the construction is actually better than other makes; certainly not worth twice the price of competitors' machines, some of which provide better controls.

Landmark EU ruling: Legality of UK's Investigatory Powers Act challenged

David Pollard

How times have changed

Here is an excerpt from a 'Report from the Select Committee on the Police of the Metropolis', 1822. It puts the argument against snooping rather well.

“It is difficult to reconcile an effective system of police with that perfect freedom of action and exemption from interference which are the great privileges and blessings of society in this country; and Your Committee think that the forfeiture or curtailment of such advantages would be too great a sacrifice for improvements in police, or facilities in detection of crime, however desirable in themselves if abstractedly considered.”

David Pollard

Re: But I thought we "took back control"

"I wonder what people who voted leave think of the snooper's charter anyway?"

At least some of them have been doing what they can to oppose it. Though I wish I could have done more, I myself been opposing excessive use of DNA profiling and other forms of snoopery for a couple of decades.

Ich nicht bin Charlie: Facebook must crack down on racists, says Germany's Merkel

David Pollard

Re: I'm doing my bit!

Perhaps you should get out less.

Microsoft quietly emits patch to undo its earlier patch that broke Windows 10 networking

David Pollard

That's a nice internet you've got there

Of late there has been a great deal of discussion about DDOS attacks and so forth and the possibility that a foreign power might bring the internet down, thus causing huge economic damage. The recent disconnection of a few computers is a broad hint to ensure that no one will forget exactly who the boss is.

Japanese robot space maid will incinerate Earth's dead satellites

David Pollard

Fleming's left hand rule?

Since reading the article I've been puzzling about the direction in which the force appears. Fleming's rule says it will be at right angles to the direction of current flow and at right angles to the movement of the wire carrying the current through the magnetic field. Won't the force on the wire be sideways, causing the wire to bow and pulling the weight at the end back towards the satellite?

UK.gov state of the nation report: Infosec's very important, mmmkay

David Pollard

Open learning?

The Open University does a free course, Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online. At first glance this looks as though it might be a cost-effective way of getting members of the public to be more aware and more able to defend themselves against at least some of the threats. There probably won't be too many takers, but at least someone is trying.


Icelandic Pirate Party asked to form government

David Pollard

Indeed we live in interesting times

Pirates take the reins in an advanced capitalist democracy while China's brand of communism further outlaws the development and use of open source software.

Online criminals iced as cops bury malware-spewing Avalanche

David Pollard

Window of oppoertunity?

... computer users should use this window to install anti-virus software and make sure they're protected."

Surely if you haven't got them in place then it's important to install AV measures as soon as possible whether or not there is a convenient window. The point is not so much that now is a convenient time as there is less activity at present but that the gangs will have re-formed and will be back in action very soon.

Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

David Pollard

Oblig XKCD


Google turns on free public NTP servers that SMEAR TIME

David Pollard

One second?

So we're getting a rebate of one miserable second. What about our eleven days?

UK.gov was warned of smart meter debacle by Cabinet Office in 2012

David Pollard

Re: Points from a briefing

a move towards grid level battery storage

When I did the sums a year or two ago this was far from being cost effective. I wonder now how the EROEI of batteries compares with building nuclear power stations so that we aren't short of energy.

Tobacco giant predicts the end of smoking. Panic ensues

David Pollard

A curious coincidence

PMI spent $3bn developing the vaping technology.

That's exactly the sum that, just a short while ago, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan promised to fund "a medical initiative to cure, prevent or manage all known diseases by the end of the century."


Bletchley Park Trust vows to shore up insecure website

David Pollard

Re: ??

... seems fitting that their own website has a weakness that can be exploited ...

But shouldn't they put a honeytrap in there or something similar?

Passengers ride free on SF Muni subway after ransomware infects network, demands $73k

David Pollard

Free Charlie Now

Maybe the perpetrators could be persuaded to target Boston MTA so that it's free to ride for a few hours. A chap called Charlie has apparently been stuck there for decades because he didn't realise that a fare increase had been imposed.

See: Charlie on the MTA


Tor torpedoed! Tesco Bank app won't run with privacy tool installed

David Pollard

Re: Missing the point again

... Tor hides the identity of the endpoint ...

So does a throwaway laptop, or an RPi with a newly written SD card and reset MAC.

Three certainties in life: Death, taxes and the speed of light – wait no, maybe not that last one

David Pollard

Re: scrap inflation?

"Meanwhile the universe appears to be expanding at an ever increasing rate "

Maybe the accelerating expansion was all a mistake, down to there being insufficient observational data at the time. Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University's Department of Physics has used the larger dataset that is now available. He suggests that "the apparent manifestation of dark energy is a consequence of analysing the data in an oversimplified theoretical model."


Deliver-oops! Takeaway pusher's customers burger-ed by hijackers

David Pollard

Take the cash - use the card

A couple of years ago a chum who was visiting had paid for our meal at a local pub/restaurant with his credit card. A few days later the details were used to pay for a rather large takeaway order order from at a nearby pizza parlour. I puzzled for a while as to why anyone might do this and then realised that it's a means of getting cash.

The way I imagine this scam is done is that a couple of people work together in the catering trade, where there is a fairly fast turnover of casual staff. One collects card details, which aren't used for a few days. The other, at a different establishment, waits until a customer pays cash for a large order, trousers the money and pays using the stolen credit card details.

Unless one or other is caught/observed in the act of collecting or using the credit card details it would be rather difficult to bring a prosecution, even if it was possible to find out who the perpetrators were.

Allow us to sum this up: UK ISP Plusnet minus net for nine-plus hours

David Pollard

Week of wobbly e-mail

For a few days now their e-mail in this part of the world has been plagued with delays and occasional 'Service Unavailable' please try later notices.

New state of matter discovered by superconductivity gurus

David Pollard

using liquid helium or liquid nitrogen, which is expensive.

Liquid nitrogen is not terribly expensive. It used to cost about the same as beer. And there's a lot of nitrogen about, just needing a rather good refrigerator to cool it, as it comprises 80% of the atmosphere. The supply of helium is in contrast rather limited and it needs a special multi-stage refrigerator to liquify it.

Going shopping for a BSOD? We've found 'em in store at M&S

David Pollard

Re: The second photo is not a Linux error screen.

falling standards?

It's not been the same since the moderatrix left.

Smart meter benefits even crappier than originally thought

David Pollard

Re: Increase in the Standing charge likely.

IANAL but I'd imagine that reprisals for changing the WiFi password would be breach of contract on the part of the supplier, in that they have both failed to make it clear that such a change would incur a penalty; and also failed to provide instructions on what to do if a password change should becomes necessary. In addition, as I understand it, unreasonable terms and conditions are disregarded should a case come to court.

Gone in 70 seconds: Holding Enter key can smash through defense

David Pollard

Is this what they call ...

... forced entery?

Brit smart streetlight bods Telensa named 'global market leader'

David Pollard

Sleep impairment

There seems to have been little mention of human sensitivity to blue light and the way it affects circadian rhythm. See, e.g.:


Is this because the new lighting doesn't cause any significant effects or because these have been ignored?

NASA discovers mysterious super-fast electrons whizzing above Earth

David Pollard


It's sad to see Hannes Alfvén lumped in with new age mystics. He does seem to have come in for a great deal of undeserved flak; for opposing Catholic dogma posing as science, for coming into science from a background of engineering, and for having the temerity to suggest viable alternatives to orthodox explanations. Although the Alfvén-Klein hypothesis didn't work out, he did at least have the courage to point out flaws in big bang creation.

Roger Penrose's latest book, Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe provides interesting perspectives on contemporary cosmology; it is similarly critical. (It might make a nice Christmas present.) And David Tskilauri's paper showing that the jxB force can account for anomalous galactic rotation without the need for elusive dark matter is worth a read.


David Pollard

Variation with the solar cycle

It will be interesting to know how this phenomenon changes as the Sun's magnetic field oscillates. Presumably the dynamical field reversal is associated with changes in the distribution of charge throughout the solar system and beyond.

Secretions on your phone reveal your secrets

David Pollard

Re: And this part of the reason why...

After reading the list of contaminants I think I might start to wipe it before using it.

Panicked WH Smith kills website to stop sales of how-to terrorism manuals

David Pollard

Re: Tincture of iodine

The withdrawal from sale could be because of its possible use in making nitrogen tri-iodide. It used to be that one could buy iodine crystals too.

The clamp-down in response to trrrsm has spoiled a lot of schoolboy fun. Mind you, one of my chums was fortunate that the prompt criticality he accidentally triggered left him with nothing worse than yellow hands for a couple of days.

David Pollard

Re: Streisland ????

What does Duncan Campbell know that we don't that has prompted El Reg to encourage commentards to brush up their skills relevant to decentralised national defence?

'Pavement power' - The bad idea that never seems to die

David Pollard

Wading through treacle

Wikipedia, your friend and mine, tells us that "a healthy well-fed labourer over the course of an 8-hour work shift can sustain an average output of about 75 watts." If the walkway is generating "between 4W and 8W" per person then the input power will need to be something like 20 or 30W; probably about as much as is expended in a gentle stroll.

I imagine that people would soon learn to walk along the edges of the pavement where the going is likely to be somewhat easier. Even without such avoidance the projected cost per unit energy is presumably horrendous, and, crucially, the EROEI negative.

Quantum traffic jam of atoms could unlock origin of dark energy, physicists claim

David Pollard

... hasn’t been experimentally proven yet

The mystery of why the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate might well be solved in a rather different way. The idea of accelerating expansion was based on observations of supernovae that had been available in 1990. A recent paper by J. T. Nielsen, A. Guffanti & S. Sarkar using the larger dataset that is now available suggests that expansion may in fact be constant.



Portable drive, 5TB capacity. Hmm, there's something fishy here

David Pollard

... in my waste bin now ...

Let me commend to you groups such as Freecycle and Freegle. It may take a bit of effort to give away stuff that is still useful rather than to simply dump it but it does help make the world a nicer place.

UK Ministry of Defence splurges £280,000 on online 'good ideas' form

David Pollard

Re: Money well spent IMO

If they had developed the idea as open source they could have given away the software lo local councils, the NHS and other public bodies.

UK privacy watchdog sends poison pen letter to Zuckerberg et al

David Pollard

Next the NHS?

Hopefully she can to take a similarly strong line with respect to NHS data gathering, use and sale.

Join the Q: British intel agencies seek tech-savvy apprentices

David Pollard

... but there's good surfing at Bude.

IoT worm can hack Philips Hue lightbulbs, spread across cities

David Pollard

This sheds a new light ...

... on the notion of painting the town red.

Leaked paper suggests EM Drive tested by NASA actually works

David Pollard

Battery plus Faraday cage?

It's puzzling that the experiment only uses only a couple of hundred watts. Why then didn't they mount the device on the torsion balance together with a battery powered RF generator and a programmed test controller inside a non-gas-tight box in order to provide electrical, magnetic and thermal shielding?

Brexflation: Lenovo, HPE and Walkers crisps all set for double-digit hike

David Pollard

Re: Cause and effect?

... UK goods are now more attractive to overseas buyers [o]nly to the extent that they don't depend on imports.

When the pound devalues with respect to all other currencies, the cost of the imported component of goods which are re-exported remains constant in terms of external currencies. With a 'weaker' pound the sterling cost of the added value in such re-exports becomes less expensive in terms of external currencies. So trade dependent on imports does become more competitive, albeit by a smaller amount than goods or services which are wholly sourced within the UK.

Twitter trolls are destroying democracy, warn eggheads

David Pollard

Re: "What happened to the American Dream? It came true!"

This is pretty much what Arthur Koestler suggested in his 1967 work The Ghost in the Machine. Wars and indeed most aggressive acts stem not so much from an inherently angry and aggressive nature but from a deep rooted desired to be liked and recognised by fellow humans.

El Paso city bungs $3.2m to email crooks pretending to be bosses

David Pollard

I've got this plan for a bridge in London ...

Even though it will only carry pedestrians and isn't really needed to ease congestion, it will have gardens and so forth and will be a real treasure for residents. The £30 million that the government has already provided ran out some while ago so another payment of a few million is needed for more research to be done on this project.

Brexit may not mean Brexit at all: UK.gov loses Article 50 lawsuit

David Pollard

Re: Are there any current polls on Brexit sentiment?

There's a Sky poll which asks if Ms May should be able to trigger Article 50. 49% say she should, 45% say she shouldn't.


David Pollard

Re: Handy....

Which laws would you like to get rid of that are so bad for us?

Repeal of the European Communities Act, 1972, which gave precedence to EU law over UK law, would be a good start.

Brexit judgment could be hit for six by those crazy Supreme Court judges, says barrister

David Pollard

Re: We live in a parliamentary democracy

Only Parliament can override an Act of Parliament.

The major problem with membership of the EU, as the notorious Factortame case demonstrated, is that UK statutes do not apply where they conflict with EU law. This is the main reason why, irrespective of Article 50, we need to repeal the European Communities Act, 1972, which presently gives precedence to the EU.

David Pollard

Re: Thursday's explosive anti-Brexit judgment

The "once in a generation decision" leaflet that was sent to every household in the country to explain the referendum had been quite clear. It read:

"The referendum ... is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union." ...

"This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide."