* Posts by Tom7

213 posts • joined 3 Aug 2010

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An anti-drone system that sneezes targets to death? Would that be a DARPA project? You betcha

Tom7

Especially if it's loaded with half a kilo of plastic explosive.

It's interesting that the interceptor appears to be a sort of drone but one that uses two contra-rotating propellers and (presumably) variable pitch to control attitude rather than just using another off-the-shelf quadcopter, especially for demo purposes.

39 Post Office convictions quashed after Fujitsu evidence about Horizon IT platform called into question

Tom7

Re: System Failure

You do need to put this in context a bit. There were more than 700 prosecutions of subpostmasters over this time. This appeal dealt with 42 of them. The court allowed three to stand and quashed the convictions of 39 others, but based on the summaries of the cases given in the judgement, it seems likely that some of those 39 were guilty. These convictions were not quashed on the grounds that the defendants can be shown to be innocent, but on the grounds that the process used to convict them was grossly unfair. That doesn't make them innocent.

These 42 were referred to the court of appeal by the criminal cases review commission because they were the ones where convictions seemed most likely to be unsafe; three of them were allowed to stand because their convictions didn't depend on Horizon data. It seems likely, then, that the 700-odd other prosecutions were also based on evidence other than Horizon data. What I'm getting at is that these convictions didn't just happen out of the blue, but as part of a much larger number of prosecutions where the defendants probably were guilty.

When you see 39 subpostmasters have their convictions quashed in a group, its easy to wonder how no-one saw the pattern; when those are less than 5% of the prosecutions of subpostmasters over that time, it's a lot easier to understand how they seemed to fit into a different pattern.

Tom7

Re: Perjury?

It is pretty clear from the Court of Appeal judgement that the Post Office knew there were problems with Horizon from very early on and concealed the fact.

They were, at the time, also in the position to ask Fujitsu for data from the keylogger they installed on every Horizon system that would have been able to show whether the shortfalls were caused by the people they prosecuted or by Horizon, but Fujitsu would have charged them a fat fee to deliver that data so they almost never did it. Even where they did request the data, they didn't use it to investigate whether the crimes they were alleging had been committed, they just handed it over to the defence team who had no idea how to use it. The judgement comments on this repeatedly as a breach of the prosecutor's duty to pursue all reasonable lines of investigation.

Tom7

Re: Perjury?

It's even worse than that. Their own lawyers told them they were breaching their legal obligations as prosecutors by not disclosing documentation, so they shredded some things and stopped writing things down in the hope this would either prevent the creation of more documentation they would have to disclose or at least hide the fact they failed to disclose it.

"Startling" is the strongest word the Court of Appeal has for prosecutorial conduct and they use it repeatedly.

Tom7

The court of appeal judgement comes very close to saying in as many words that Fujitsu expert witnesses perjured themselves in the course of these trials. TBH, given the conclusions they reach, it's hard to see how it could be otherwise.

God bless this mess: Study says UK's Christian beliefs had 'important' role in Brexit

Tom7

Re: Lies, damned lies, and statistics...

Yup. Religion was a net influence for remain but, you know, blame religion for Brexit, why not?

New lawsuit: Why do Android phones mysteriously exchange 260MB a month with Google via cellular data when they're not even in use?

Tom7

Don't assume malice here

I've been doing some work for a client recently who develops access points with 4G and Ethernet connectivity. It's surprisingly easy to get this wrong. Suppose you want to fail over between links at most 5 seconds after the link becomes unresponsive; that means doing some kind of connectivity test every 5 seconds. Most of the internet treats "I can ping 8.8.8.8" as exactly equivalent to "I have internet access." A normal ICMP echo packet is 86 bytes, multiplied by two to include the reply. At every 5 seconds, you're sending 17,280 of those a day and you've just eaten roughly 100MB per month.

It doesn't take many other services that poll every few seconds to see if anything's happened (hangouts, gmail, play services, assistant, maps, location sharing...) to make "only" 250MB per month look pretty good.

OnePlus 8T: Solid performance and a great screen make this 5G sub-flagship a delight

Tom7

Re: But did you turn off the high refresh rate?

[checks quickly] No.

Tom7

It's a bit disappointing that the battery barely lasts you through the day. My 7 Pro still normally lasts 36 hours between charges and when new often did me for 48 hours. The 7 Pro's screen is good; the 8T would have to be a *lot* better to justify cutting the battery life by that much, in my view.

NHS COVID-19 app's first weekend: With fundamental testing flaw ironed out, bugs remaining are relatively trivial

Tom7

Old iPhones.

It's good to see it here. A remarkable number of people I know seem to have old iPhones, though, and it seems to be a horrible battery drain on them.

An Internet of Trouble lies ahead as root certificates begin to expire en masse, warns security researcher

Tom7

Re: What problem are the certificates solving?

...and trust the BBC to manage the certificate at the root of a chain of trust. It is better for a few specialist organisations to the do this than for every media streaming service to manage its own rarely-expiring root of trust.

Tom7

Re: What problem are the certificates solving?

But the problem is fundamental: in some way or other, the client needs to verify that the server it's sending credentials to is actually the server it meant to send those credentials to and not some other server that's stealing those credentials.

There are all sorts of ways that that verification could be done and PKI certificates are only one of them; but they are a good choice for it precisely because they have a chain of trust with differing expiry intervals. The root certificate, which allows you to verify servers, expires rarely and the security precautions around it are extreme; the server certificate expires often but that doesn't matter because the client doesn't need to be updated when the server certificate is updated.

Anything you can suggest to replace that is almost certain to be worse.

Tom7

Re: What problem are the certificates solving?

The most pressing reason for using certificates from the end user's perspective is that many of the services accessed from the connected kit require logins and if you don't verify that the service you're sending credentials to is the right one, someone steals your login. For an example of what goes wrong when the certificates aren't validated, see this 2015 story.

Samsung made an internet-connected fridge. Yes, it's one of the dumber ideas ever, but apparently some people want email notifications while they're cooking. The fridge didn't bother to validate server SSL certificates, which made it possible to mount a man-in-the-middle attack. Since the fridge had access to email accounts to give email notifications, this allowed stealing of email credentials.

As someone has pointed out, once the certificate expires, you are in a hard place. If you don't verify the server certificate when you download a new firmware package, you have to assume that you've just installed malware on your customer's LAN. If the certificate fails verification, you really really ought to refuse to install the firmware update. In the case where your root certificate has expired, this leaves you in a place where you can't install the update that would fix the problem. In some cases, it will be possible for end-users to download and install an update. In other cases, the bit of kit is effectively bricked because either there is no feasible way for an end-user to install an update or because the average end-user is as likely to figure out the process as they are to grow antennae on their foreheads.

What do we want? A proper review of IR35! When do we want it? Last year! Bunch of IT contractors protest outside UK Parliament

Tom7

Someone hit the publish button a bit early?

So it's rather a shame that Saj is no longer chancellor...

Remember when Europe’s entire Galileo satellite system fell over last summer? No you don’t. The official stats reveal it never happened

Tom7

Re: WTF?

Ah, yes, the vaunted "two sevens" reliability standard.

Oi, Queenslander who downloaded 26.8TB in June alone – we see you

Tom7

Someone hit the publish button a bit early?

It's a little more complicated than that because you need to find out whether nbn's numbers include the encapsulation overhead (and find out what the encapsulation is) and then decide if you want to include the encapsulation bits in your numbers. But thereabouts, yes.

OPPO's Reno 2, aka 'Baby Shark', joins the deepening pool of high-spec midranger mobes

Tom7

Two things to note

I've recently purchased a OnePlus 7 Pro which also has a mechanically-extended selfie camera. It's rather unnerving; for some reason, every time I open eBay in Firefox, the selfie camera pops up briefly - I assume it's taking a photo of me. Of course, on any phone with a fixed selfie camera you just won't know this is happening.

The other thing that midrange phones almost always skimp on (and which is not mentioned in this review) is waterproofing - and the Reno 2 is no exception here.

This fall, Ubuntu 19.10 stars as Eoan Ermine in... Dawn of the Stoats

Tom7

Someone hit the publish button a bit early?

See here

Tom7

Someone hit the publish button a bit early?

The link still only shows 18.04 LTS and 19.04 downloads.

Don't mean to alarm you, but Boeing has built an unmanned fighter jet called 'Loyal Wingman'

Tom7

I sure wouldn't want to be flying the manned half of this if the unmanned half has weapons...

Go, go, Gadgets Boy! 'Influencer' testing 5G for Vodafone finds it to be slower than 4G

Tom7

Looking at the graph of download speed, it's pretty hard to argue that it'd reached its peak.

OneDrive is broken: Microsoft's cloudy storage drops from the sky for EU users

Tom7

The Register was keeping quite a useful count of Office365's actual availability in these articles, but that seems to have been abandoned, possibly due to the complexity of defining whether "Office365" as a whole is "available".

By my rough count, we're somewhere down around Office352.

Huawei MateBook Pro X: PC makers look out, the phone guys are here

Tom7

Cons

It tops out at 8GB RAM. Yes, you can fit more - because when I buy a new laptop, the first thing I like to do is throw away the RAM it came with (because the chance of there being a free slot is PRECISELY zero) and spluring another £150 on it.

13.9" is a little on the small side for my not-as-sharp-as-they-were eyes.

But oh my, it's pretty.

Agile development exposed as techie superstition

Tom7

At the same time, asking for randomized, controlled trials of methods of managing large projects is kind of unreasonable. Why not go the full medical-grade route and ask for randomized, controlled, blind trials? Engineers aren't allowed to know with management method they're using...

Hot NAND: Samsung wheels out 30TB SSD monster

Tom7

Blast radius?

Can someone point me to a reference on this? Are we talking actual explosions? Google doesn't turn up much...

Sorry, I can't hear you, the line's VoLTE

Tom7

Re: "only when you buy them directly from Three"

Oh, good. So the only way to escape the Three walled garden is... to... join Apple's walled garden?

Tom7

Re: Correction needed

Hmmm, so they've updated the list since I looked a couple of months ago. Still no good if you bought your own handset.

Tom7

Re: Correction needed

They may have been first - but two and a half years later, they still only support a handful of handsets on it, and even then only when you buy them directly from Three.

Huawei's just changed the way you'll use Android

Tom7

My Elephone has a similar setup, and it sounds like the reviewer would even prefer it. It has the fingerprint sensor on the back, then a touch button at the bottom of the screen. Tap to be back, double tap for home and hold for the task switcher. It does indeed work well.

Train your self-driving car AI in Grand Theft Auto V – what could possibly go wrong?

Tom7

Wait, what?

It's a great fit because it runs on a different platform from all your AI tools? At the very least, if the connection is platform transparent then it doesn't matter what platform the game runs on. It doesn't make it a "great fit."

Huawei Mate 9: The Note you've been waiting for?

Tom7

Re: Competition

Well, so go buy a phone that costs £650 and let the little ones find some other way of breaking it. I can afford three broken and replaced phones to break even with your purchase cost.

Tom7

Re: Competition

Specifics? I've really still yet to fault it. I'm probably not the most demanding smartphone user - I use it for web browsing, email, Facebook, Skype and, you know, making phone calls - but I can't see a lot wrong with it. OTA updates also seem pretty regular and do make significant improvements (which I guess is another way of saying it shipped before the software was ready, but I'm not complaining).

Tom7

Competition

TBH I'm having trouble seeing how this is hundreds of pounds better than the cheap competition.

I've recently bought an Elephone P9000. It kicks the Huawei into the gutter for value. Alright, the screen's 0.4" smaller on the diagonal and it won't hit quite the same benchmark numbers. And... I'm struggling to think of anything else where it doesn't match up. It's a gorgeous 1920x1080, 400+ppi, display. The camera is 13MP, with laser focus and two-tone flash. The bezel is perhaps a mm larger than the Huawei. The body is a single piece of aluminium. It's Android 6.0, but the beta of 7.0 was available to download a couple of weeks ago. It doesn't have waterproofing or a stylus, but neither does the Huawei. It *does* support wireless charging, which the Huawei doesn't..

The speakers are pretty rotten to listen to. But you can own one tomorrow if you throw £185 at Amazon.

South Australia blacked out by bad bespoke software, not wind farms

Tom7

Low voltage ride-through is not something you can just arbitrarily reconfigure to happen as often as you want; it usually involves dumping a significant proportion of the turbine's output power into a resistor - and they have a limited capacity to get hot before they melt.

Wind generators are generally unhelpful in this regard. Because of the way their inverters work, they need the grid to be operating at rated voltage to export power. Any voltage dip is amplified by wind generators as their contribution to the grid also dips.

British jobs for British people: UK tech rejects PM May’s nativist hiring agenda

Tom7

As others have pointed out elsewhere, this is the problem with having a government full of remainers implement brexit. They see the referendum as a xenophobic, isolationist outcome and feel bound to abide by it - when that's not the basis the campaign was fought on and, when asked, not the outcome those voting leave say they wanted (on the whole). So they end up proposing what amounts to a sick caricature of what the leavers actually wanted.

When UKIP thinks you've gone too far in your immigration policy, you need to sit down and take a long, hard look at yourself.

'Geek gene' denied: If you find computer science hard, it's your fault (or your teacher's)

Tom7

I suspect that having a liking for something is more important than having a "gift" for it. I remember hearing concert pianist interviewed some years ago. I don't recall the exact words, but the interview went something like this:

Interviewer: "Do you feel privileged to be so gifted at something so unique?"

Pianist: "I'm not gifted."

I: "But look at what you've achieved. You're one of the best pianists ever. You must have a gift for it."

P: "No. Anyone could do what I do. All you need is the willingness to practice the piano for ten hours of every day of your life."

Not many people have the willingness to put that sort of time into *anything*, and so not many people are that good at anything. Some people start something and really, really like it, and that gives them the impetus to keep going and work at it.

Unimpressed with Ubuntu 16.10? Yakkety Yak... don't talk back

Tom7

Re: I find what people hate about Ubuntu weird

Forgot to add the footnote:

[1] Except that typing `calc` brings up LibreOffice Calc and not the desktop calculator. Perhaps it's just me, but I find this one of the most annoying things about any desktop I've seen in the last five years (though I managed to avoid Win8.x).

Tom7

I find what people hate about Ubuntu weird

Because Unity is one of the better interfaces I've come across. I say that as a fairly die-hard command-line/Emacs user: With Unity, you never have to touch the mouse. I mean, using the keyboard is actually faster than using the mouse for almost every task. Every application you want to start, just hit the super key and start typing its name. Four letters in, you're almost guaranteed to have the right one[1]. Same for menu commands; hit Alt and start typing. You'll get what you want.

What's got me worried about recent releases is Snaps. The great idea of distributing every application with all of its dependencies. Remember DLL Hell? Yeah, that. It can only be so long before they realise that snaps take up a *lot* of disk space and hit on the brilliant idea of a central repository of every version of every shared object used by every application. Remember Windows SXS? Yeah, that.

I'd like to know, for how many people was conflicting dependencies on Ubuntu actually a problem? I've never seen it - but perhaps I'm not quite keen enough at following the bleeding edge.

Nul points: PM May's post-Brexit EU immigration options

Tom7

"...even as evidence to the contrary starts to accumulate."

Do you mean the stock market growth post-referendum? Or the jobs growth? Or consumer confidence? Or retail sales? Or manufacturing sector sentiment? Or services sector sentiment? Or commercial property sales? Which accumulating evidence are we talking about here, exactly?

New UK trade deals would not compensate for loss of single market membership

Tom7

Re: @Tom7

So point to some pre-vote predictions about the economy that turned out to be right. Come on, they're experts. There must be some, right?

You don't quite seem to understand. You don't assess whether someone's prediction was right by checking whether they've got letters after their name. You check whether their prediction was right by comparing what they predicted to what's actually happened. This isn't hard, unless you've got your head shoved so far up your arse that all you can do is give a muffled whine, "But they're experts!"

Tom7

Re: "Amirite...?"

You tell me. Did they predict the FTSE100 would go up, or down? And is it now lower? Or higher?

When it became clear that the FTSE100 was very quickly going up, did they predict the FTSE250 would go up, or down? And is it now lower? Or higher?

Did they predict that unemployment would rise, or fall? And did it rise? Or fall?

Did they predict that retail sales would go up, or down? And did they go up? Or down?

Tom7

Re: We've heard enough from experts

And to all the down-voters: That's the internet equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying, "Lalalalalalalalalalala. Don't want to hear the good news!"

Tom7

We've heard enough from experts

These are the same economists who said the vote would cause a ~9,600 increase in unemployment in July, right? Oh wait, unemployment fell by 8,400.

These are the same economists who said the vote would cause a slump in retail spending in July, right? Oh, wait, retail sales rose by 1.4% in July (bonus challenge: spot brexit in this graph).

These are the same economists who said the vote would send the FTSE100 through the floor, right? Wait, what, the FTSE100's up? Oh, no, don't look at that, it's not a good indicator. Look at the FTSE250 instead. What, that's up too? Shit, better issue a new doom-and-gloom report on trade.

I'm getting pretty sick of this BS. What's the point in issuing a report that essentially says, "Hey, look, if we make all the worst-case assumptions, things look pretty bad!"? So far all bar one of the expert economic predictions have proved exactly wrong (the exception is the value of the pound - as an exporter, I'm not complaining). The only person who's been consistently right turns out to be Michael Gove: The "experts" know bugger-all.

Prominent Brit law firm instructed to block Brexit Article 50 trigger

Tom7

What a horrible waste of time and money

AFAICT, the basis of this action is that the country's entry to the European Union happened through the European Communities Act 1972, and triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty without an act of parliament would be using prerogative powers to override that legislation. Since the prerogative powers are generally subject to legislation, as the sovereign-in-parliament is sovereign, not the sovereign, then using them to override legislation in this way would be unlawful.

But. The Lisbon treaty was added to UK law by the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008. So doesn't that legislation incorporate the Lisbon treaty into UK law, giving the government the right to trigger article 50 when it wants?

I'd be interested to hear informed opinion counter to this position; as far as I can tell, existing legislation enables the government to trigger article 50 without a new authorisation from parliament.

New Reg mobile site - feedback here!

Tom7

Re: RSS Feed Links

Though it seems to have reverted. Was I part of some A/B testing?

Tom7

Re: RSS Feed Links

Nice to see this fixed recently.

Why you should Vote Remain: Bananas, bathwater and babies

Tom7

Re: YMMV

You have.... about 16 hours 33 minutes. Get cracking.

Tom7

Some stuff to like in here, but some of it is plain stupid.

You want eventually something like the Euro, but not much more political union. Meanwhile, European governments are pushing towards tighter political union in order to deal with the problems caused by the Euro. Y'see, currency unions don't work very well without corresponding fiscal unions, and since one of the big jobs of governments is still taxing and spending, for the Euro to work then major portions of government policy have to be decided at the European, not national, level. Hmmm.

You see the EU as "a defence against local knee-jerk narrow-mindedness at Westminster." Well, at least it's _honestly_ anti-democratic. You're saying, in about as many words, that you prefer to be ruled by unelected bureaucrats than by an elected government. Why not abolish parliament and bring back the personal rule?

"Why not push more of the enterprise and creativity (and probity and humour, even!) of the UK into EU institutions and make it work better for everyone?" Because we tried that; look at exactly what Cameron won. If this whole exercise has shown us anything, it is that the EU is unreformable because those who run it don't want change.

Labor's broadband policy decides 39% fibre is healthy NBN diet

Tom7

AFAICT, the costing amounts to, "FTTP will cost about the same as FTTN, assuming that FTTP costs are considerably less than what they actually are." 'Fantasy economics' seems about right.

England just not windy enough for wind farms, admits renewables boss

Tom7

Re: selective use of facts

Yep. For instance, he quotes 'REF's current "real" spot price' for wind energy as £101/MWHr. This might be true, but is heavily cherry-picked. The monthly average for May was more like £65/MWHr and the monthly average hasn't topped £100 since May 2013, generally hovering around £75 +/- £10 since then. It's still above the wholesale electricity price, but then the wholesale price is subsidised.

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