* Posts by PassiveSmoking

697 publicly visible posts • joined 29 Aug 2010


Internet pranksters send hundreds of cabs to Moscow street, cause gridlock


You know, they really missed an opportunity here. They should have sent all the taxis to Crimea instead, at least they could help with the inevitable evacuation when the Ukrainians come to take back what's theirs.

NYC issues super upbeat PSA for surviving the nuclear apocalypse


Tsar Bomba

"The terrifying thought is how nuclear weapons may have developed since the Cold War; they could be far more powerful."

Actually no. Experience has shown that nuclear weapons don't scale. A bomb with twice the yield won't do twice the damage because of the inverse square law. Building huge monstrosities like the Tsar Bomba is just a waste of plutonium, and the builders knew that full well. It was honestly little more than a publicity stunt.

The real nightmare apocalypse-tech is MIRV: Multiple Independently-targetable Re-entry Vehicles. Basically a single missile carries multiple warheads of about 5 megatons each, mounted to a "bus", a simple spacecraft with thrusters that allow it to reposition during the ballistic portion of its trajectory. It orients itself to a target and releases a warhead, re-orients, releases another warhead on a different trajectory, and so on. This basically results in a hailstorm of warheads spread over an area that will result in far more destruction than any single bomb could ever practically be expected to deliver. Basically it's a nuclear cluster bomb.

Sleep soundly!


Re: After the bomb

Cos we will all go together when we go

All infused with an incandescent glow

No-one will have the endurance

To collect on their insurance

Lloyds of London will be loaded when they go.

MySQL a 'pretty poor database' says departing Oracle engineer


Re: There is no reason not to choose Postgres

Only somebody who doesn't really understand RDBMSes could possibly make a statement so asinine. Postgres is a fine product, and there's very little you can't do with it if you understand that the RDBMS paradigm is great for the stuff it's designed for.

If you're working with data that isn't well-managed with an RDBMS then I agree, Postgres isn't a great choice. But neither is any other RDBMS, including paid ones like Oracle's offerings that aren't MySQL

I did never care much for MySQL though. It frustrates me that it's so widespread when the far superior Postgree is every bit as open source and far more capable.

No swearing or off-brand comments: AWS touts auto-moderation messaging API


I'm guessing people from Scunthorpe will e in for a fun time.

UK celebrates 25 years of wasteful, 'underperforming' government IT projects


Lack of experience? They have 25 years of experience! The problem isn't lack of experience, it's failure to learn from the experience they have.

Survey of astronomers and geophysicists shines a light on 'bleak' systemic bullying


Re: Cue The Misogyny

Not to mention the racism, ageism, ableism, etc


Please enlighten me as to how you scientifically evaluate somebody's feelings, because I'm dying to know.


Re: Biased nonsense

Yeah, absolutely! Why can't they just sweep it under the carpet like normal people?


And I'm sure you're eminently qualified to decide what qualifies as bullying and what doesn't, right?

As a disabled holder of a degree in computer science who spent half a decade unemployed and turned down for jobs I was, if anything, overqualified for because nobody wanted to employ a freak, and then had to endure the nastiest jokes and jibes and cheap shots at the first job I actually did manage to land because the boss was the kind of guy you'd probably get along famously with, all I can say is screw you, pal. Take your victim blaming and stick it where only customs officials dare to probe You're part of the problem. You don't get to gatekeep what constitutes bullying and what doesn't.


It's hilarious to me tat some people's response to reports of bullying isn't "Wow, we need to do better", but "Yeah, but is it really bullying though? Maybe she's just a lazy cow"

Besides, the examples you cite absolutely can be bullying if they're being applied to somebody who is doing perfectly acceptable work and isn't any less productive than their colleagues.


> A person's perception of their victimhood is scaled by the thinness of their skin.

"LOL, it's just bantz, bro"

These kind of arguments are just plain horrid because once again, it's victim blaming

NSO Group 'will no longer be responding to inquiries' about misuse of its software


Deny Everything!

"Are you private S. Baldric?"


"... but you are Captain Blackadder's batman"


"Come on Baldric, can't you be a bit more helpful? It's me"


Open-source dev and critic of Beijing claims Audacity owner Muse threatened him with deportation to China in row over copyright


Remember when El Reg posted an article about how great it was that Muse were buying up Audacity and that the open source community would be in good hands? That's an article that aged well.


Re: I think Audacity has had it, then.

Audacity (the software) will be fine, it will be forked and continue development under a different name (OpenOffice is dead! Long live libreOffice!). Audacity (the brand), however, has been tarnished, possibly irrecoverably, in an unbelievably short amount of time by its new overlords.

Hong Kong busts $150m crypto money-laundering ring


"the law is not needed as its own content takedown procedures are adequate"

Ahahahahaha, that' cute!

If anti-doxxing takedoens were adequate then how come so many people get harassed and victimised by people doxxing them?

Audacity is a poster child for what can be achieved with open-source software


Re: Workers

There are plenty of open source software developers that operate as for-profit software companies with full-time paid developers on staff. FOSS has moved past its hobbiest beginnings a long time ago.

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Wow, this is an exceptionally bad piece of journalism from El Reg. Right when the rest of the web is coming to the realisation that Audacity's new overlords are turning its new acquisition into spyware, you publish this thing blowing smoke up their butts. This is not what I've come to expect from you guys.

Good news: Google no longer requires publishers to use the AMP format. Bad news: What replaces it might be worse


Re: Latency

> So because Google is asking for low latency and other metrics it's evil?

No, of course not. But that's not the point of AMP. Reduced latency is just the carrot Google use to sell AMP to otherwise sceptical people, that along with the (recently dropped) SEO benefits.

Google is evil because AMP

a) takes traffic away from the content creator and instead sends it to Google

b) makes it difficult for content creators to make money from any ads that aren't supplied by Google

c) hides where content really comes from which is bad because

i) The people who do the work making the stuff you want to see don't get credit

ii) It lends an air of inappropriate legitimacy to crank sites that push all kinds of BS because the URL has "google" in it instead of "totally-not-a-propaganda-farm.ru"

d) hampers the adoption of open standards that might actually improve the web experience for everybody

e) Allows Google to harvest even more data about you and your browsing habits

f) encourages the creation of pages that fail at accessibility (for example you couldn't pinch-zoom AMP pages for the longest time in mobile browsers, the supposed target market for AMP in the first place)


Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

And your doddering Aunt Tillie who barely knows how to use a mouse is fully aware of how to install FireFox plugins, right?

Just because you're tech-savvy enough to circumvent it doesn't mean it's not a problem.



AMP was also bad for accessibility. For some perverse reason you couldn't pinch-zoom AMP pages in a phone web browser for the longest time, so if you're visually impaired you'd have to fall back on whatever accessibility features your phone's OS provided (which wasn't much if you were an Android user).

I literally couldn't read AMP pages on the devices they were being supposedly optimised for. I HATE AMP and the sooner it dies an ignominious death, the better.

Gov.UK taskforce publishes post-Brexit wish-list: 'TIGRR' pounces on GDPR, metric measures


Lead Innovation By Winding Back The Clock

What the literal F is this BS?

Even if you did roll back GPDR, if you want to do any kind of business with the EU (and you will want to do any kind of business with the EU) you will still have to follow it anyway. The "literal checkbox exercise" is not the fault of GDPR in itself, it's an exercise in malicious compliance by people who decided to deliberately make opting out as hard as humanly possible whilst still complying with the rules as written. The real solution here is to re-phrase the existing legislation to punish such dark-pattern BS, but do you really expect that the party who thinks we want our medical records harvested for profit to do that?

And seriously, the imperial system? It's dead. And good riddance to it. It was shite and now it's obsolete shite. Who was their consultant on this idiocy, Abe Simpson? My car gets 40 rams to the hog's head and that's the way I like it!

You don't march towards a brave new future by living in the past, you bunch of fossils.

Firefox 89: Can this redesign stem browser's decline?


Re: Please, Firefox, just go away already!

Well you asked for it, so...

> And to be more precise on the browsers' specific tag, or I would call it the vendor prefix, is not something limited to IE6 in the old era as this was implemented in every browser until recently (even Firefox invented their -moz- tag if you didn't know).

You're talking about CSS prefixes. I'm talking about HTML tags. All the browsers added all kinds of daft tags that didn't work cross-broswer like <center>, <marquee>, etc. These were implemented with the specific intent of making sure that a particular page would work properly ONLY in a specific browser

CSS vendor prefixes, on the other hand, were intended to allow experimental features of CSS to be exposed for developers to play with. They were different from tags in several important respects:

* CSS affects appearance, not behaviour. If a browser doesn't recognise a particular CSS element then it will affect how the page looks, but not how it behaves. CSS (in theory at least) shouldn't break a page if a browser can't parse it

* The prefixes exposed features that were proposed updates to the specs that hadn't been ratified yet. They weren't there to deliberately break cross-browser compatibility.

* One set of vendor prefixes would play nicely with another set of vendor prefixes. For example you could use -moz and -webkit in the same stylesheet and be sure that each browser would only parse the prefixes relevant to them. This made it entirely possible to write stylesheets that were cross-browser (albeit requiring more work). This was impossible with vendor-specific HTML

> I think your history information is pretty far off

As a compute science student at the time it was a big issue for me whilst working through the newfangled web design module of my course. Some students were using Netscape, some were using IE, hell, some were even using Mosaic or Lynx. Same deal with the lecturers. You could build a page that looked beautiful on your computer, only for your lecturer to return it with a frowny face because it failed to render properly on his machine. Meanwhile, commercial websites (such as they were in the 90s) would sometimes just plain fail to work if you used the wrong browser. Then when Netscape was finally killed off, MS lost all interest in developing and improving its browser offering because there was nobody left to compete with it.

> What surprised me is that people usually think Chrome and IE are the same despite the fact that IE is a close source proprietary software while Chromium, which Chrome is based on, is open source that's free to use and you can modify its code without any license restriction

Chromium is not Chrome. Chrome has a load of propriety crap bolted onto the open source core designed to exploit your data for Google's benefit. Also, the comparison between Chrome and IE are based on how their enormous marketshare were damaging to the open internet. When one vendor dominates the open standards no longer matter.

> To say that Chromium can't be trusted just because Google is backing it is no different than saying Linux kernel can't be trusted because for a long time Red Hat, a commercial company, is the one who contributed to the kernel the most

That's a ridiculous comparison and I'm pretty sure you know it (At least I hope you know it, because otherwise you're not very bright!). Red Hat doesn't dominate Linux the way Google dominates with Chrome. There are plenty of competitors to Red Hat, and the Linux distro marketplace is far healthier than the browser marketplace. Hell, you don't even have to use linux at all, you could go with a BSD fork instead if you like.


Re: Please, Firefox, just go away already!

OK, not only did you clearly either fail to read my comment or fail to comprehend what I wrote, you then tell me my history is wrong? I was freaking there, man. I remember it vividly.


Re: Please, Firefox, just go away already!

You're probably too young to remember the browser wars and its aftermath.

TL:DR, during the browser war the major vendors (Netscape and Microsoft) just added tags and features willy-nilly that were deliberately incompatible with similar features in the rival browser in an attempt to force vendor lock-in, crapping all over the standards that existed at the time. Once it was over, MS took all resources away from browser development and if it hadn't been for the upstarts like Firefox forcing the issue, we'd probably all still be using Internet Explorer 6.

FireFox needs to be doing more than a cosmetic update to win back share, it needs to at least be on a level playing field performance-wise to the Webkit-derived browsers, but if it went away we'd be back in a situation where one big megacorp basically owned what was supposed to be the open web, and that megacorp would be Google. Is that really what you want?

Vivaldi update unleashes the 'Cookie Crumbler' to simply block any services asking for consent (sites may break)


Malicious Compliance

"While the aim of the questions is noble, for users it can be annoying and can leave them preferring to hit the Accept All button rather than wading through what can sometimes be pages of options to turn off every setting"

Which is exactly the intent of the people who designed those popups. Their terrible usability is no accident, it's intended to funnel users into making the choice that the website owner wants them to make instead of the choice that's in the best interest of the user. It's referred to as a dark pattern. Other examples are the huge "Sign up for prime now" button that Amazon plasters all over its checkout process whilst simultaneously providing a "No thanks" button that you have to go hunting for.

Adhering to the letter of the law whilst still being in flagrant violation of the spirit of the law is known as malicious compliance. As for sites that refuse you access when blocking cookies, they're actually not in compliance with the laws at all, which state that you can't deny access to a service if the user chooses to reject non-essential cookies. Sites that do this should be reported

Splunk junks 'hanging' processes, suggests you don't 'hit' a key: More peaceful words now preferred in docs



Some of these I get (You don't really need to call some relationship "master/slave" when you can use "client/server", or "provider/consumer", or "primary/secondary" or other such terms which in many cases are actually more descriptive), but a lot of these are just plain silly. "Dummy" for example means plenty of things other than a mentally disabled person.

And really, changing language doesn't really change attitudes. It just causes people to express the same attitudes using different language. Making "retard" verboten did not stop people from disparaging people by comparing them to the mentally disabled, they just use different words to do it now.

As somebody who's been bullied and excluded for a disability, I can assure you from personal experience that denying the use of certain words does not diminish the bullying and the exclusion one whit. Changing what words are acceptable does not change what attitudes are acceptable, and attempting to do is is clumsy and misses the real problem.

Vote machine biz Smartmatic sues Fox News and Trump chums for $2.7bn over bogus claims of rigged 2020 election


You're assuming that the presiding judge will be a sane person. Given the last four years, I feel like making assumptions about the sanity of any American is a mistake, doubly so when it comes to Americans in authority.

How do you fix a problem like open-source security? Google has an idea, though constraints may not go down well


Fair enough, seurity-critical components like libgcrypt need more scrutiny and oversight than the average code.

But would the proposed system be guaranteed to have caught the recent libgcrypt memory vuln? I suspect not. So long as software is written by humans, bugs will slip past all scrutiny.

Rubbish software security patches responsible for a quarter of zero-days last year


Fast Vs Right

I think the fundamental problem here is that if a zero-day is discovered, there's an urgency to get a fix out as soon as humanly possible and stop it being exploited. This is entirely understandable, but as illustrated in the article, it can and often does lead to incomplete fixes and ultimately a dev team playing whack-a-mole for a while as new exploits emerge that work around the partial fix.

Of course the time should be take into do things right, properly understand the root cause of the problem and comprehensively patch it, but that takes time. In the meantime the bug is being exploited. An incomplete patch is still better than no patch at all.

And then we have the problem of management not understanding that a quick patch isn't guaranteed to be a comprehensive fix and considering the matter solved as soon as there's a patch out, and therefore unprepared to allocate further resources to a problem that they think is already solved.

Dealing with zero-days really ought to be a 2-step process:

* Get a patch for the issue out as fast as possible

* Use the time bought by the patch to do a more thorough code analysis and get a more comprehensive fix out before anybody can find workarounds for the patch

We've got step 1 down, but step 2 doesn't happen nearly as often as it should.

And just like that, Amazon Web Services forked Elasticsearch, Kibana. Was that part of the plan, Elastic?


You can't put the genie back in the bottle

Sorry guys, I get that it must be frustrating to see some huge cash-rich monstrosity of a corporation grow even richer off the backs of your efforts and not contribute one penny of cash or one line of code back to your project, but that's exactly what the license you released the code under says they can do. That's why it's called a permissive license.

Now instead of having them be a parasite you now have them as a direct competitor. Attempting to shove the genie back on the bottle was never going to work, this was always going to be the outcome.

Should Amazon do the right thing and pay back into a project they're benefiting so much from? Yes, probably. That would be good karma. Must they? Absolutely not.

Remember, when you start on an open source project, the license you start releasing code under will in most cases be the license you're stuck with for the lifetime of the project. A change in license will inevitably lead to a fork. That's not a bug, it's a feature.

Dodgy procedures doomed Arianespace's Vega before it even left the launchpad


"Catastrophic success"

The same thing happened to a little test rocket called Little Joe II which NASA used to launch a dummy Apollo capsule in order to test out the launch escape system. Due to one of the control gyros being wired up backwards, the rocket's control system exacerbated an uncommanded roll instead of damping it out, until the forces on the test vehicle tore it apart. This resulted in the Launch Escape System getting a far more thorough test than was intended, and has been described by one engineer as a "catastrophic success". Shame that this rocket was launching an actual payload, really


Trump administration says Russia behind SolarWinds hack. Trump himself begs to differ


More often than not, they're right.


Re: That tweet is real?

His Twitter password was "MAGA2020!" so it could literally have been anybody



The only thing that's a bigger embarrassment to the USA than your slimy orange mug is the fact that actual American voters still voted for you after you caused the biggest peacetime loss of life in your nation since... possibly ever?

Japan pours millions into AI-powered dating to get its people making babies again


Yeah, do you know which group has consistently been top of the abortion statistics?

Fundamentalist christians. Yeah, you know, the "pro-life" mob.

Scotch eggs ascend to the 'substantial meal' pantheon as means to pop to pub for a pint during pernicious pandemic


It's just like The Inbetweeners. Now give me three pints of cider and three carveries, please

Marmite of scripting languages PHP emits version 8.0, complete with named arguments and other goodies


Re: They keep blaming best practice

Yes, clearly an opinion piece written over 8 years ago by a furry with a section on their website called "weird porn" is an opinion you can trust!

Any remotely complex project written in any programming language requires you to adhere to best practice unless you want an unmaintainable tangle of spaghetti code.

Samsung aims boot at Apple's decision not to bundle a charger in with the iPhone 12, foot ends up in mouth


Re: Pay more, receive less

Price for an iPhone 11 Pro Max with 256 GB storage: 1399

Price of an iPhone 12 Pro Max with 256 GB storage: 1199

Way to gouge us and jack up the price, Apple!

UK, US hospital computers are down, early unofficial diagnosis is a suspected outbreak of Ryuk ransomware


We should not be tolerating this.

Anybody who perpetrates a ransomware attack against a hospital should be treated as if they had committed an act of attempted murder and in the (admittedly unlikely) event of them being arrested they should expect to face the most severe punishment allowed under the law for that.

Conversely, any hospital that leaves their IT infrastructure unprotected and doesn't introduce reasonable protections (firewalls, antivirus, prompt application of software patches, disabled USB ports, etc) should face criminal negligence charges (obviously in the case of them taking reasonable precautions and the hospital IT infrastructure being infected anyway they shouldn't face any charges).

Ethernet failure on Swiss business jet prompted emergency descent, say aviation safety bods



* Fix unexpected crash in FCS software

Changelogs in aviation suddenly sound a lot more alarming

Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced techie is indistinguishable from magic


Reminds me a bit of the "More magic" switch story


Though in that case they never got a completely satisfactory root cause for why flipping the switch crashed the machine and could only speculate as to why a switch that all logic and reason says shouldn't be able to do anything would crash the machine whenever it was flipped.

Geneticists throw hands in the air, change gene naming rules to finally stop Microsoft Excel eating their data

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The Ghost Of Clippy

I freaking hate software that thinks it's smarter than you are, especially if it doesn't make it easy to turn that functionality off.

Burn baby burn, plastic inferno! Infosec researchers turn 3D printers into self-immolating suicide machines


Re: Is this really news ?

> A 3-D printer is not a home appliance, any more than a small CNC lathe or industrial robot is.

Speak for yourself. No home is complete without its own minifacturing workshop


Since when is a 3D printer a HOME appliance?

Since Aldi started selling them?


Hardware failsafes?

Why are there no hardware fail-safes that are physically hardwired into these things? Like a thermistor hardwired to a relay that cuts the power to the print head if it exceeds, say, 270c? Or a physical fuse that blows when it draws too many amps?

Come on guys, this is undergrad stuff. Literally. My computer science BSc included a module on engineering ethics, wherein we covered the infamous Therac-25 radiotherapy machines where wonky software allowed them to operate in modes that cooked the patient with high-energy electron beams. Previous machines had included hardware interlocks and fuses which blew when the machine was activated in a dangerous configuration, but they'd been removed in the 25 which was dependant entirely on software for safety. Said software was full of bugs that the previous machine's hardware interlocks had covered up, but those interlocks no longer existed, and people died as a result.

Dutch Gateway store was kept udder wraps for centuries until refit dug up computing history


Re: Relegated to the attic...

Hey, I've got a great name for that rig! You should call it the Ship of Theseus

Big Tech backs colleges in war against Trump's ban on foreign students taking web-only classes mid-pandemic


He's going to fight any challenge tooth and nail. Trump hates "elites" (by which he means people with an education, not people who own a sky scraper in New York and environmentally dubious golf courses in Scotland. For some reason that doesn't count as elite as far as Trump is concerned), and he hates non-Americans, especially the non-Caucasian variety. This policy allows him to attack both kinds of people at once.

The reluctant log trawler: The buck stops with the back-end


Re: Session ID?

What good would that have done? A different tab in the same browser session would have the same session ID (unless one tab was anonymous)

CEO of motherboard maker MSI dies after plunging from headquarters' seventh-floor


I recall hearing a story once that Mehdi Ali had posted a resume online that included the claim that he "oversaw a major operational turnaround at Commodore International".

For those not in the know. the "major operational turnaround" in question was going from a mildly profitable going concern to a memory. Yes, he was the guy in charge when Commodore went bankrupt. All evidence points to him being an asset stripper and said bankruptcy was a direct consequence of that.