* Posts by CaptainHook

279 publicly visible posts • joined 27 Aug 2010


MPs to grill Post Office and Fujitsu execs on Horizon IT scandal after workers jailed over accounting errors


Re: But where did the money go?

My understanding is that the money was never missing, the system has a very dodgy method of reporting transactions back to the central server. It worked something like this.

1. customer withdraws money from Post Office.

2. local system logs the transaction as being completed

3. local system attempts to send that information back to the server

4. if there was a connection failure during the reporting back of the transaction, local system gave up

5. At some point, the local system then deletes the local logs (possibly immediately after the aborted transaction upload).

Therefore, the discrepancy are valid transactions which the local software didn't push to the server properly, at the end of the day, the tills would appear to be down on cash compared to what the server was expecting by the sum of the transactions which didn't get reported back to the server.

Post Office / Fujitsu then started trying to reclaim the difference in money that their own software had created out of thin air.

Having trouble finding a job in your 40s? Study shows some bosses like job applicants... up until they see dates of birth


Re: driving down costs

Stated like that, the solution would seem to be that the role should pay some base salary everyone doing that role gets and then a bonus each month/quarter/year to reward the performance of that employee in that role for the period in question.

Age becomes irrelevant, it is performance which matters.

Of course, there are a lot of issues with that approach.

1. companies just not giving that bonus out to save money (see the problems Oracle Sales Staff are having).

2. how do you divvie up the bonus pool among different roles within the company (do customer support and software dev have access to the same amounts of money?)

3. how do you measure performance (customer support has some simple metrics which could be used, software development doesn't).

4. employees gaming whatever metrics are used to track performance.

Yikes. UK military looking into building 'fully autonomous' killer drone tech – report


Re: Before we worry too much...

"It's not logical to assume the use of AI would encourage or lower the threshold for the use of lethal force. It's entirely possible to create an AI with conservative firing permissions rather than being at the go-ahead of a potentially excited, possibly blood thirsty, maybe mistaken young man."


It's not the front line troops decision making they are worried about, it's the political leaders decision making.

The reasoning is, drone warfare will be much cheaper, both in terms of less service personnel being killed and injured (creating bad headlines at home) and in terms of resources needed to carry out a campaign (less personnel in the field means less logistics needed).

The fear is that drone warfare makes the idea of waging a war more palatable to the politicians and hence make armed conflicts more likely to happen.

Gillian Anderson: The next James Jane Bond?


Can't really change the gender of 007 until they bite the bullet that they should reboot Bond to be MI6s top agents 'identity' and not just a single person.


Doesn't necessarily have to be "The Top Man", especially not if the man keeps changing and therefore you can never be sure that 007 in this mission is necessarily the best man at the time, but I've always like the idea of a small team of the best of the best, who get promoted into the role when there is a vacancy in the team and remains in that position until death or retirement (i.e the size of the team remains roughly static)

If that theory is correct, then there have probably been lots of 006 Alec Trevelyan's running around as well.

Want a better password? Pretend you eat kale. We won't tell anyone



Yes there is. It's using numbers, so there's 62 options per character space, as opposed to letters-only, capitals and lowercase, discounting punctuation) 52.


You are assuming that the attacker knows that your password only contains upper/lowercase letters, if he doesn't know that, he has to assume that the password contains other symbols. In that case and for a 8 character password, he is still looking at a 8^62 possible passwords even if your password is only using 52 possible symbols to brute force it. And even more possible symbols if the attacker has to assume that there are any of the printable ASCII characters, and even more than that if you start dealing with long lists of possible symbols.

By having a password required to be X number of characters long as a minimum and must contain certain classes of symbols, you are actually weakening the strength of a _random_ password because you are telling an attacker a lot of about what the password can't be and thus reduce list of possible passwords. NOTE: The key word there is random, the problem is most people don't use random passwords.

Stop resetting your passwords, says UK govt's spy network


Re: No words in any language

It is even worse than that. Remember that to modern password cracking software a lengthy word has the complexity of a single character -- entire words are tried the way old cracking software tried characters.


There are what, around 70 different symbols which are routinely allowed in password (upper/lowercase characters, digits, a few other ASCII characters). Even if you allow the full printable ASCII character set you only have 95 symbols which can be chosen from.

But if you use truly random words from say the Oxford English dictionary, that allows for ~171,000 different symbols.

A string of 8 random words, even without special characters injected in random places is multiple orders of magnitude greater than an 8 character ASCII password to brute force and much easier for a human to type in because all the characters are easy to find on a keyboard.

The problem with words as passwords is that they are usually not chosen at random.

Watch six tiny robo-ants weighing 100g in total pull a 1,769-kg family car


Not pulling with their wheels

From the description in the article, it sounded like the were using ultra sticky glue on their wheels to pull the object forward by moving themselves.

But from the video (I watched without sound so maybe the commentary made it clearer) it looks like they use the wheels to move forward, playing out thread as they go, then pull up the wheels allowing the flat plate with glue to stick to the floor, then draw the thread in pulling the object to them, repeat as necessary.

Women devs – want your pull requests accepted? Just don't tell anyone you're a girl


How did the study identify women?

If the project leads aren't able to tell if a contributor is Male or Female because the username and avatar is gender neutral, then how did the study authors work out the gender in order to work out various acceptance rate of different groups?

NOTHING trumps extra pizza on IT projects. Not even more people


Oh look, another DevOps article. If you push just 3 more articles about this, I'm just going to have to admit I'm wrong and that DevOps IS the most relevant thing and interesting topic I can read about right now.

Bringing discipline to development, without causing pain


I’m traveling in a car at the speed of light and I turn the headlights on, does anything happen?”

If you have mass you can't travel at the speed of light


A photon has mass, and is by definition, traveling at the speed of light.

Mystery object re-entering atmosphere may be Apollo booster


Re: Low mass? Hollow??

Low mass? Hollow??

How'd they work that one out?


They know roughly the strength and direction of the gravity field the object should be experiencing that close to the moon.

Mass can be worked out if you know the velocity of an object and measure how that velocity is changed by the gravity field it's traveling in.

Hollowness is simply based on the apparent size of the object compared to what they think it's mass is based on known densities of different materials the object might be made of.

Volkswagen enlarges emissions scandal probe: 'Millions' more cars may have cheated


Re: Was it intentional though?

@Dick Emery

"Did VW really intend to 'cheat' the system? Or was it a 'feature' used to make the cars low emission when used in built up areas?"


The software specifically triggered on the pattern of stops / accelerates / cruises (and probably other indicators such as GPS not showing any speed while the wheels reported speed) which are used in the various tests.


Re: I Don't Care

My VW Golf estate diesel does between 55 and 65 mpg


Assuming it's a model which is affected by the emissions cheating software, then when that ECU software is updated then you won't be getting 55-65 mpg any more. That's the whole point, to make vehicle meet the required NOx emissions standards it will mean VW is effectively going to have to make the cars run in the test cheating mode all the time reducing power and fuel efficency (or install Urea injector hardware to every vehicle affected)


Re: NHS funding

If it's true that the cars (outside of tests) only get 40 instead of 50 to the gallon (as an example), people want the 10mpg difference with interest in cash for however many thousand miles they've driven.


No, the vehicles will have been doing 50mpg (or what ever the figure is) in real life conditions for the lifetime of the vehicle up to the point where the fix is applied to the engine management system so there are no claims from a consumer on that score.

The issue is that in order to achieve that stated mpg figure they had to emit far more NOx compounds than they are allowed to, so the government has a legitimate grip for the past performance of the vehicles.

The fix to make the vehicles hit the corrent NOx emission requirements is probably going to reduce the mpg figure and the performance of the car, so after the fix is applied the consumers have a pretty legitimate grip that the vehicle isn't performing as advertised and would demand compensation for future increased fuel bills and potentially increased rate of deprecation (whose going to want to pay the same price for a used VW now as they did last quarter?)

It's a pretty nasty little catch-22 for VW, the government are going to come after them for emission in the past. For the future they either do nothing and incur the wrath of the government or do something and incur the wrath of their customers. There's no nice way out of this for them.

NASA announcement of MAJOR MARS DISCOVERY imminent: WHAT can it be?


I think Shergar was always pretty close to naked, so I don't think that would be very surprising

Attempted bank robber demands cash transfer ... to his own account


Re: You know you're a loser when...

You know you're a loser when...

You try to cash a stolen payroll check, and the teller recognizes her husband's name on the check.


Unlucky maybe, but not what I would call a loser in the sense which I think you mean... unless said loser knew the couple of course and still didn't think she'd notice.

Geeks on quest for world's most pointless YouTube video


IOCOSE are a collective of four artists: Matteo Cremonesi (Brescia, IT), Filippo Cuttica (London, UK), Davide Prati (Berlin, DE) and Paolo Ruffino (London, UK). They have been working as a group since 2006 through a variety of media, such as websites, videos, social networks, portraits, sunflower seeds and dogs.


No doubt a funny project, but it does look a bit like a bunch of professional artists trying to discredit anyone not a professional artist by picking out the worse examples.

Why do driverless car makers have this insatiable need for speed?


Re: Mandatory

I'm not sure that rising insurance premiums will be allowed to reach a point where people can't afford them. That doesn't really play out very well for the insurance industry...


I suppose that depends on how driverless cars are insured. If the owner has no effect on operation then making owners buy insurance seems pointless and the vehicle should effectively be insured by the manufacturer. In that case large part of the car insurance industry will wither and die.

If the user is still expected to maintain insurance to use the road, then from the insurance industries point of view, it's still just a car policy with a different risk analysis, so long as the average profit margin per policy remains the same then I don't see why the car insurance industry would care.

W3C's failed Do Not Track crusade tumbles to ad-blockers' Vietnam


Advertising on websites

Advertisers already know a fair bit about a site reader by knowing about the site not the reader. If I'm reading TheReg or Slashdot, I'm probably interested in Tech, so advertise Tech related products to me. If I'm reading a Motorbike forum, show me a picture of that latest Ducati.

You don't need to track me individually from the Tech related site to the Motorbike related site just to show me an Intel ad while I'm asking a forum about bleeding brake lines.

I've never had a big problem with ads, except maybe Popups etc which get in the way of the article I'm reading, but I have a big problem with companies I have no relationship with logging every webpage I visit and that desire to avoid tracking is what forces me to run with RequestPolicy etc.

The Online Advertising industry seem more interested in tracking than advertising.

NHS England backs down over another data extraction scheme


After all the fuss they've walked into by now you'd have expected them to have learned some lessons.


Lessons were learnt, unfortunately the lesson wasn't sale of patient data is bad, it was don't let privacy campaigners find out about the scheme ahead of time.

The insidious danger of the lone wolf control freak sysadmin


Well, that article all seemed a bit wishy-washy and didn't really go anywhere.

Don't panic. Stupid smart meters are still 50 years away


Auto Switching

The only Smart Meter that I would consider worth while would be one which compares the unit prices on offer from each supplier at different times during the day and auto switched supplier for me.

Web tracking puts lead in your saddlebags, finds Mozilla study


Re: A revelation

+1 for Request Policy here

However, trying to find the right combination of domains to enable to see the content you wanted to look at is not always an easy thing to do.

mSpy: We haven't been breached. Customers: Oh yes you have


Re: mSpy statement

As I understand things, if mSpy had been UK-based then it would be legally obliged to inform people if personal data it holds on them had been breached.

"Dear X, you don't know it, but we've been snooping on you and harvesting details about your personal life....."


Don't companies in this country also need informed consent to collect personal data? Seems mSpy would fail at the first hurdle in this country because they would need permission of every target they are tracking to be able to collect anything.

Employers would be able to make users of company phones give consent but then it's not a secret monitoring system any more.

Parents giving consent for collection of personal data on their children is a bit murkier. I'm not sure how that would work.

Zuck can EFF off: Internet.org is SO NOT the INTERNET


I see the value coming from 2 directions

1) Today's poorest are tomorrows outsourcing locations

A bit of investment now gains you a huge market share for those groups most likely to have big percentage increases in income in the future. A group who will be very easy to profile by the gatekeepers because all the traffic is in plain text.

2) Chance to become de facto communications provider

A bit of investment now means you already have a network in place ready for expansion as a poor country starts to increase it's communications requirements as it takes on outsourcing work for the 1st world, why use a local company when Internet.org already has a fledgling comms network in place and serving people in exactly the sort of locations outsourcers are likely to want a comms network.

Amazon fires rocket up FAA for dithering on drone approval


Re: So

"If they weren't allowed to make test flights in the US, how has the model approved for the test flights already become obsolete?"


I believe no approval is needed for indoor flights, presumably the data gained from those flights which didn't need approval were enough to move the design forwards but eventually outdoor flights/real world flights will be needed

We have no self-control: America's most powerful men explain why they're scared of email


Re: snail mail

I suspect the slightly longer composition time is not the reason someone like that might prefer snail mail to email.

Snail mail is harder to forward to people that weren't on the original addressee list. Someone has to have physical access to the letter and time / desire to forward it to someone else, and the more people you want to forward it to the more effort it takes. And of course, a physical letter is much easier to destroy, in fact short of taking deliberate steps to preserve a letter chances are it will be lost / destroyed in a fairly short time.

Email on the other hand is trivial to forward to lots of people, doesn't require physical access to the document and has a nasty habit of sticking around somewhere for long periods of time and also tends to have logs to backup it's authenticity to some extent.

I suspect that people like those mentioned in the article prefer not to use email because it has a tendency to resurface years later at embarrassing times.

UK cops caught using 12 MILLION Brits' mugshots on pic database


Re: In other news...

Why? It says they are uploading custody photographs


You're assuming they are matching the custody photo to other custody photo's as opposed to say matching a custody photo to a picture of someone on the street (public protests, sporting events cctv images etc) as a way of identifying people outside of custody.

The masks will be worn in public, not in custody.



Re: That's not even tax avoidance, that's tax evasion.

And illegal. For him, and for you too, if you know he's going to do it. Which you do, because why else would he give you a discount for cash?


With Cash In Hand, he can go straight to the building yard, buy the materials he needs for this or the next job and if he's using cash directly in like that then there is no waiting for transactions to clear, no bank fees for paying the money into the bank account etc. Sure Tax Avoidance is a possible reason for a reduction but by no means the only one.

Jeff Bezos rolls up another $437m, lights Amazon's cigar with it


All the previous commenters missing the point

Amazon are not really unprofitable, they are just making sure that all the profits they make are 'reinvested' so that the don't have any tax to pay.

Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function


​What, then, is Sway for?

it's for the one thing it already does... forcing greater adoption of OneDrive

One million people have bonked on London public transport


Re: Card clash detection

How are TFL detecting card clash?


I don't know for sure, but the obvious check would be to find 2 transactions from the same scanner less than a few seconds apart.

UK.gov eyes up virtual currencies, fingers red tape dispenser


Re: Offers?

What inflation? The leaf can't last forever and there is a hard albeit variable limit to the supply each year.

Who will kill power companies? TESLA, says Morgan Stanley


Re: I would love to use solar panels

Except I refuse to pay such a price for something that only has a 20% efficiency rating, and doesn't last a decade at that rating.


Why do you care about efficiency when you are talking about making use of energy which is currently not exploited at all (i.e. 0% efficiency).

Surely what you actually care about is price per kW, efficiency plays into that by affecting the surface area of the panels needed to provide a certain kW / day but if you can get solar for less per kW than the grid provides it, even if only using cells which were 5% efficient, wouldn't you take it?

Sure, in a future and every spare inch of roof space is already generating power then efficiency becomes a significant decision maker in it's own right but at the moment, cost per kW is king.

US escalates Stingray mobe-snooping secrecy battle as judge unseals evidence


Re: Operation battery death

So presumably anybody on the affected network has their phone battery flattened as the thing shouts away at the top of its voice?


No, only the phone with the correct ID.

Seems to me that if the user monitored transmit power relative to signal strenght then they might have an easy indicator that the phone is not connected to a normal base station.

Time-rich Brit boffin demos DIY crazytech wolverine talons


There's a man who'll end up stabbing himself one day.

Google+ maker Vic Gundotra: My work on this 'NETWORK THINGY' is DONE


"We’ll continue working hard to build great new experiences for the ever increasing number of Google+ fans."

And as Google+ extends its reach into different Google services, so my participation in those services decreases. I'm basically down to my email address now which ironically has my real name as a the user part of the address.

NASA: Vote now to put flashy lights on future spacesuits


Re: Sensless!

I had the same thought, I think the idea is to have light patches/wire purely intended for easy identification of which suit is which based on colour and maybe pattern, not as a beacon to aid in locating a suit or help identify orientation which for a item which can theorecticaly have any orientation relative to the observer seems a bit weird.

Personally I would have had a light wire on viewable from every angle running down the lenght of the arms and legs (to help show that human shape), with a standardized easy to recognise pattern at the top and bottom of the torso to help identify orientation, maybe something as simple as a single wire running around the bottom of the torso and 2 parallel towards the top, finally a light panel front and back, again something simple light a large circle front and a large square at the back to indicate orientation and maybe a non equilateral triangle on top of the helmet with the sharper pointing forwards.

Then you have either colour or maybe patterned patches on shoulders to identify individuals if needed.

That makes it easy to location, orientate and identify a suit.

Crap turnover, sucky margins: TV is a 'terrible business' – Steve Jobs


Re: Jobs was a genius

The hardware turns over ok.... if once every four to five years is ok.


My last TV lasted 20 years.

Fee fie Firefox: Mozilla's lawyers probe Dell over browser install charge


Re: Mozillidiots

There nothing, NOTHING, wrong with charging for free software. Zero, zip nada, not a thing. You can even charge for GPL software, there is no problem.


This is a Trademark / Contract issue. If there weren't any restrictions associated with the use of the Trademark then you would be correct. As it is, you're an idiot.

Frenchman eyes ocean domination with floating, mobile Bond villain lair


Re: Ah-

The shark is lurking in the bath; last place you would expect one.


Actually, the last place I'd expect a shark is the aircondition duct.

Think about it, you, being a sauve internationally recognised undercover agent, are casually walk around the room looking for venomous snakes or spiders or scorpions with a lighter and a can of deodorant thinking you're being all cleaver.

You open the airconditioning ducting and an angry 3000kg Great White slids out of the duct onto your head toothy end first.

Volvo tries to KILL SHOPPING with to-your-car Roam Delivery


Re: why just cars?

I agree, a home dropbox would make more sense in most cases but I think it will be more expensive than you realise for a dropbox idea.

A modern car already has all the necessary components build it, secure area with electronically controlled locks, with onboard power to drive the locks and possibly data commuication channels for checking authenticity.

Any home dropbox solution has to provide all of those things just to allow access for the occasional delivery.

Bosses to be banned from forcing new hires to pull personal records


Re: I'd pass that test @PyLETS

However, should you subsequently end up in a court dispute, you will likely have problems introducing said covertly recorded conversation as evidence.


I would have thought that the moment the company plays that "Calls maybe recorded" message, that the notification requirements have been met, it doesn't matter that the side doing the recording isn't the side which gave the notification.

Office Online rises from ashes of 'confusing' Office Web Apps


Re: clean cut & paste

All word processors have that option, but it's NEVER the default, nor it is possible to MAKE it the default,



That often, but not always gives a plain text paste operation on window applications..

Sony on the ropes after Moody's downgrade to junk


Jesus give it a break with the rootkit nonsense.


The rootkit was less a privacy issue and more of a damaging their customers own equipment issue, purely for the benefit of Sony.

As consumers, we have pretty much no power, watchdogs are toothless unless it becomes a political issue.

As consumers, our only power is to not buy from a company and that means you don't forget. Sony deserve to have potential future customers reminded about how they have treated those customers in the past for the root kits, other DRM schemes and for removing features from products after they were sold.

Elderly Bletchley Park volunteer sacked for showing Colossus exhibit to visitors


Re: Future of work

exactly, there's money to be made

Faster, more private, easier to read: My 2014 browser wishlist


Re: Block by default

JS is an integral part of a modern website!


Only because so many browsers allow JS by default, start turning off JS by default in browsers and you'll see more and more websites return to the good old days where content was provided as simply as possible and not requiring local resources to transform that content into something usable because if they didn't then they would lose page viewers.

Desperate MS flaunts UNDEAD SPLAT TALLY to pep Xbox One fans


Re: @Grogan 20:45

True gamers sweat pure caffeine as a result of all the coffee, red bull, and mountain dew they consume.


Which suggests the best thing for a gamer pulling all nighters would be to lick the sweat off another gamer

False widow spiders in guinea pig slaughter horror


A Møøse once bit my sister ...

What's wrong with Britain's computer scientists?


Massive Graduate Unemployement

In the UK, there are more unemployed graduates in computer science than in any other discipline.


Large numbers of unemployed graduates in a subject suggest that there are too many graduates for that subject. So a meeting is arranged to discuss how to get even more students to study the subject.

Does anyone else see a flaw in this plan?