* Posts by mt_head

40 posts • joined 5 May 2011

Ransomware scumbags leak Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX documents after contractor refuses to pay


Re: Anti-mortar system?

"The best block: no be there."


Anti-mortar system?

I'm assuming that uses radar triangulation to determine the firing location, rather than actively try to ward off incoming rounds... unless technology has improved FAR more than I was aware of!

Put the crypt into cryptocoin: Amid grave concerns, lawyers to literally dig into exchange exec who died owing $190m


Re: Dead in some places, but not in others

Where are all the good men dead -

In the heart, or in the head?

Fairphone 3 stripped to the modular essentials: Glue? What glue?


I usually hold on to my phones (and laptops, cars, etc.)until they just can't be ridden any further, but I actually replaced my last-but-one phone because the USB cable wouldn't stay plugged in - it still worked, but only if I held it in my hands while it charged. And my current phone - which I keep in a magnetic mount on my dashboard - has a loose headphone jack, which crackles every time I go over a bump.

So yes - modular replacement sounds like a Good Thing.

When you play the game of Big Spendy Thrones, nobody wins – your crap chair just goes missing


My life of crime

At my first "real" job (half time BOFH, half time extremely junior COBOL codeslinger), my boss's boss had a coffee mug of which he was inordinately proud. It was the sort that change color when filled with hot liquid - which was the new hotness at the time - and it demonstrated the "stealth" capabilities of the B-2, which was also the new hotness at the time. He dearly loved that mug. Unfortunately, he demonstrated that love by carrying it around on his motivational tours of his domain, and occasionally forgetting it on the desk of the person being motivated.

One day when he had left it on my desk and wandered away, I hid it under the glass-room floor. I started sending him ransom notes through the interoffice mail, along with shards of a plain-white mug I'd broken for the purpose. Eventually he paid my ransom (a six-pack of San Miguel) and I gave his mug back; I don't remember him ever leaving it on anybody else's desk again. How we laughed and laughed!

I've often considered my luck that he was such a good sport about it all...

Oracle boss's Brexit Britain trip shutdown due to US government shutdown



I know he's a Big Deal and all, but... is he saying that he could ordinarily travel internationally without a passport? Or is he saying that his passport had expired/was lost, and that ordinarily he could have gone and got a replacement?

I call BS on the first, and as for the second... you can pay to have your application expedited, and the resulting turnaround actually _is_ amazingly fast... but it sounds like he or his staff efdup by leaving things to the last minute. I'm not sure that inspires me with confidence re: his management of a large company (as if I needed more evidence after his tenure at HP.)

Wombats literally sh!t bricks – and now boffins reckon they know how


Re: Wombats shit bricks?

>> I'll email the university now, they're always looking for PhD theses suggestions.

Surely you meant "feces suggestions"?


Tumbling dice

Our dog used to poop roughly-cubical, extremely dense turds whenever he'd had bones to chew on. Since he was a fairly tall dog, they'd be released from a height of a foot or so, and would bounce in a satisfying manner when they hit the grass.

Needless to say, we began to refer to these artifacts as "dice", and many craps-related jokes ensued.

Miss that boy something fierce, we do.

Software changed the world, then died on the first of the month


I work with one of the major players in the US electronic health record market; how they got as popular as they are is still something of a mystery to me. Each data entry screen (called a "template") corresponds to its own table in the database, and template development is a wild and woolly free-for-all - in fact, the program originally shipped with no templates at all, just a template editor. After a couple of years, the company acquired the templates that a few of their biggest customers had developed, and now provide them as the core of the product. Unfortunately, some of those templates were "developed" by people whose expertise... lay in other fields, let's say. In particular, there's a lot of re-inventing the wheel: home-brewed date pickers, static conversion factors saved as SQL columns (example: the vital signs table contains columns called "lb_to_kg", "in_to_cm", etc.) - it's a nightmare.

I discovered a bug: if a doctor were a little behind on charting, and tried to enter data for the last couple of days of the previous month on the first or second of the new month, the template would blow up and refuse to save data. It turned out that the custom date picker fields - there are four separate dates on the template, and each is separated into day, month and year fields - each tried to validate whether today is a leap year. AND the calculation wasn't even right! As a result - in every month except March - for a few days at the beginning of the month, the end of the previous month ceased to exist.

I fixed it in our system, and reported the bug to the vendor; it was fixed in a widespread release about six months later.

SpaceX's internet satellites to beam down 'Hello world' from orbit


Scaled-back market

>> the biz said it would be primarily focused on areas that don’t have good internet access, or where speeds are slow.

So... Los Angeles, then.

Cryptocurrencies to end in tears, says investor wizard Warren Buffett


Heard an excellent quote

...on the most recent episode of "Risky Business": "Cryptocurrencies are basically an Internet-wide bug bounty." (I don't have the audio at the moment; the wording may not be exact.)

It does seem to be the most consistent use for them: as something for criminals to steal, or extort, or to get other people to unknowingly mine. I think I'll start my own crypto coin and name it the McGuffin.

Birds are pecking apart Australia's national broadband network


Reminds me of a bit from an old Emo Phillips joke/song (which I'm sure I will mangle):

I walked into a pet shop, and said "Give me a parrot, please"

He asked "Would you like a cockatoo"

I said "No thanks, just the bird."

Boss put chocolate cake on aircon controller, to stop people using it


Saw this as a giant mural on the wall of a pie shop once...

"My favorite people are the people of the dessert", said Lawrence as he picked up his fork.

Yes, British F-35 engines must be sent to Turkey for overhaul


Re: Import Duty

>> And how nice for the Americans were not adding a 200% import tax on the planes.

Who would pay it, and to whom?


The F-35 Joint Programme Office is a US Department of Defense body that does not answer to the UK.

Except in questions of orthography, it would seem.

Power meltdown 'fries' SourceForge, knocks site's servers titsup


Re: Impacted projects

I wanted to re-install PyScripter (or at least access the forum). I just updated my Python install and now PyScripter can't find it anymore.

Sci-Fi titan Jerry Pournelle passes,
aged 84


I remember him more as a columnist than as a novelist...

I was a long-term reader of his column in BYTE, which was generally divided between personal reportage (including, obviously, his struggles with whatever computer was on his desk at the time), philosophy, and ruminations on the life of a technology-embracing writer. I'm sure I'm mangling the quote, but one sentiment that's stuck with me was (approximately) "My plots may not be revolutionary, and my characters may not be the best, but by God the computers will work properly!" He sold himself a bit short there.

Bitcoin-accepting sites leave cookie trail that crumbles anonymity


I will give a rat's ass

when this lack of anonymity leads to actual hard time for one or more of the ransomware a******s. Until then, like very nearly every other aspect of Bitcoin and its astounding bubble-like properties, color me unimpressed.

Confirmed: Facebook shifts away from AI… and like a miracle, the bots start working


Re: Facebook AI

Your description of mary janes reminded me of Steve Martin's "Cruel Shoes", which blew my mind when I read it as a young'un:

Anna knew she had to have some new shoes today, and Carlo had helped her try on every pair in the store. Carlo spoke wearily, "Well, that's every pair of shoes in the place."

"Oh, you must have one more pair ..."

"No, not one more pair...Well, we have the cruel shoes, but no one would want..."

Anna interrupted, "Oh yes, let me see the cruel shoes!"

Carlo looked incredulous. "No, Anna, you don't understand, you see, the cruel shoes are..."

"Get them!"

Carlo disappeared into the back room for a moment, then returned with an ordinary shoebox. He opened the lid and removed a hideous pair of black and white pumps. But these were not an ordinary pair of black and white pumps; both were left feet, one had a right angle turn with seperate compartments that pointed the toes in impossible directions. The other shoe was six inches long and was curved inward like a rocking chair with a vise and razor blades to hold the foot in place. Carlo spoke hesitantly, "...Now you see why...they're not fit for humans..."

"Put them on me."


"Put them on me!"

Carlo knew all arguments were useless. He knelt down before her and forced the feet into the shoes.

The screams were incredible.

Anna crawled to the mirror and held her bloody feet up where she could see.

"I like them."

She paid Carlo and crawled out of the store into the street.

Later that day, Carlo was overheard saying to a new customer, "Well, that's every shoe in the place. Unless, of course, you'd like to try the cruel shoes."


Re: looser syntax

For some reason, whenever I click a form these days I get New Order's "Subculture" stuck in my head...

"In the end, you will submit

It's got to hurt a little bit..."

Zuck off: Facebook's big kahuna sues Hawaiians to kick 'em off their land


Spoonerism, surely?

>>> car ownership dealer

I have no idea what that would mean... unless it means "car dealership owner"?

MIT brainiacs wrangle 2D graphene into super-strong 3D art homework


So... not actually a story about graphene, really?

Interesting nonetheless, but unless I missed it they didn't actually, y'know, _build_ a graphene gyroid - they 3D-printed some plastic ones and speculated about graphene. Not quite such a catchy headline, I suppose.

DARPA does a podcast


2006 wants its technology back, indeed!

Dear DARPA: it's not a "podcast" if you can't subscribe to it. Otherwise it's just an MP3 file.

I like Soundcloud and all, but...

Avoiding Liverpool was the aim: All aboard the world's ONLY moving aqueduct


Native Mancunians will assume it’s just the weather.

Obligatory song:


Kaspersky cracks CryptXXX, throws lifeline to ransomware victims


You know nothing.

LibreOffice 5.0 debuts, complete with fewer German code comments


A slight step backward in MS Word compatibility...

I've been using LibreOffice since I got my latest laptop; I've been telling myself I'll fork out for Office365 if I run into anything that LO can't handle. It's been nearly a year, and so far no need. But today I upgraded to 5.0, and this afternoon I tried to open a change-request form from our hosting company. I've been using this form just fine for months now; it has a nightmarish little mess of Word tables and a stupid number of font changes, but LibreOffice-prior-to-5 handled it OK.

Sadly, 5.0 mangled it: made wonky font substitutions, and totally destroyed the last table (the bit where I specify the date, window, and time zone, so non-optional.)

So I had to choose: fix the form, or buy Office365? For the moment, I fixed the form...

ETA: I should mention that otherwise I'm liking it: all the Excel files I've opened have been just fine, and the load time is significantly improved.

Google hits TurboFan button on Chrome's JavaScript engine


Not only was the old Turbo button a swindle, but it was inspired by the Turbo button on the Viper joysticks in the original 'Battlestar Galactica' TV show. That button, in turn, was obviously inspired by the internal-combustion concept of turbo/supercharging... but it made ABSOLUTELY no sense in the context of space fighters, whose engines presumably didn't rely on carburetion. I was a little kid at the time, and I dearly loved that show... but every time I saw Starbuck or Apollo punch the Turbo button, I cringed.

Firefox preps processor revamp under Project Electrolysis


I foresee... issues.

Already, under the current model, my most common Firefox support issue is when the the user has closed Firefox - it's no longer visible - but when you try to start it again you get "Firefox is already running". You have to open Task Mangler (or better yet, Process Exploder) and kill the invisible firefox.exe process before the user can get on with things.

Somehow I imagine this problem becoming even more common under the new regime.

Review: McAfee Endpoint Protection for SMB


Re: Positive?

I was a big fan of Avast! Free, and recommended it wholeheartedly, until an update about two weeks ago - when avastsvc.exe suddenly started consuming 85%-100% CPU and couldn't be stopped, even if I temporarily "disabled protection". I put up with it for a day or so, but gave up and went with AVG's free offering (which I had ditched in favor of Avast a couple of years ago when their IDS component became too intrusive, even when disabled.) The day after I made my own switch, I received multiple calls from people to whom I'd recommended Avast, complaining of sudden slowness; I'm pretty sure it wasn't just me.

No company in this sector seems to be able to long resist feature creep and the temptation to monopolize your PC; it's nice to hear from the author that McAfee has apparently got better than it used to be, but it burned through all of my goodwill years ago.

This $10 phone charger will wirelessly keylog your boss


Re: Decrypt any Microsoft wireless keyboard: MUH TRUSTED COMPUTING!!

Not to defend Microsoft here, but with "BlueTrack" they're not trying to pass themselves off as similar to BlueTooth - they're referring to the fact that the optical mouse uses a blue LED rather than the traditional red. This actually does provide better resolution and tracking, so it's legitimately something that's worth advertising on the side of the box. (Still not as good as even the oldest laser-based mice, but on the upside it's cheaper and less battery-hungry.)

Woman who stung Tinder with sex-pest sueball stings again – with rival Bumble app


That's the way the bee bumbles

That's the way the bee bumbles

That's the way the bee bumbles

That's the way the bee bumbles


Down on your knees again

Saying please again no, no, no


Fake antivirus scams: It's a $120m business – and alleged ringleaders have just been frozen


Re: Now let's clean up download sites.

I'd like to second the endorsement for Ninite. Absolutely amazing; one of the many things I love is that they automatically say NO to the crapware that gets bundled with a lot of program updates (no more worrying whether you remembered to un-check the Ask.com Toolbar!)

As always, exercise some sense in what you choose to download; you should never run more than one antivirus at the same time, for example, but Ninite will cheerfully let you check off AVG, Avast, and Essentials at the same time. Don't do that.

Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED


Re: Can't wait

The only thing that doesn't compute is this word "untraceable". It's only untraceable if you weren't logging your traffic - and why is it unthinkable that an Internet-facing tax agency's server would be logging its traffic?

I don't know who first used the word "untraceable" in conjunction with Heartbleed, but s/he needs a good kicking. On the bright side, it seems to have fooled both the public AND the script kiddie community; this individual may be neither the biggest fish in the pond nor the sharpest tool in the shed, but the world will not suffer because he's out of circulation for a while. Good riddance, sez I.

Sysadmin Day free give away


Trainsignal should perhaps change their name a bit

CamelCase perhaps? Whatevs. In any case, each time their name appeared in the article, I had to do a double-take to be sure I hadn't just read "Transvaginal"...

US Ambassador plays Game of Thrones with pirates


Interesting choice of House...

Lannisters may pay their debts, but except for Tyrion I'm not sure I'd want to be associated with them. I suppose the difference in seasons made "Winter Is Coming" a bit problematic for an American in the Antipodes.

All you need to know about nano SIMs - before they are EXTERMINATED


Re: Blue US Robotics Sportster....

The first modem I ever had was 300 baud... and I still remember that the box loudly proclaimed NEW! HIGH SPEED!

LightSquared offers low-power olive branch to GPS


Ah, the ironies presented by RSS...

This story appeared right next to this one:


Coincidence? I think not...

Google lands patent for, um, estimating shipment time


Far be it from me...

... to disagree with El Reg's signature snark, but I suspect that this filing is much more of a defensive move than offensive. Rather than Google vs. Amazon, I think this is meant to prevent (or at least forestall) Lodsys vs. Google.

Google opens tiny window onto Baltic Sea-cooled data center


Hamina, hamina!

Oh god. I've said it.

Facebook fails webmail tests


Hotmail wins? I don't think so!

I've had a Hotmail account for years and years, and I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread... until Gmail rolled out.

The researchers cite four quantifiable features (I don't know what to do with "it feels like part of the operating system", except perhaps shake my head in disbelief.)

- 5GB of storage. First of all, Gmail rolled out with 1.5-2GB of storage when Hotmail offered 100MB; second, as I write this my Gmail account has 7.5GB.

- Messages grouped into conversations - Gmail had this feature first, and Hotmail still doesn't do it very well. In fact, this was the first thing I loved about Gmail.

- Unobtrusive ads, my Aunt Fanny! If I turn off Adblock, Hotmail has a giant flashing column occupying the right fifth of the screen. Gmail has a single line of text at the top - which disappears from view if I scroll down to read a long message. Far less distracting, far less annoying.

- Spam filtering - I only have anecdotes, not statistics, but Gmail's filter feels much more intelligent to me. Far less spam gets through, and far less bacn gets falsely flagged as spam. I've kept my Hotmail address as my primary contact with Microsoft, and every once in a while a newsletter from MSDN will end up in the Junk folder. That always makes me smile.

As you can tell, I love me some Gmail, and Hotmail... not so much anymore. But I reserve my true scorn for Yahoo! Mail - chat-spam hell, clown vomit design, noisy ads everywhere, and still no HTTPS option after all this time. Burn in Hell, Yahooligans!


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