* Posts by David Knapman

102 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Jun 2007


Bored bloke takes control of British Army 'psyops' unit's Twitter

David Knapman

I love how they've now removed all ways of "following" them from the "Follow us" block but left the block itself behind.

And apparently aren't aware of the wayback machine.


RIP Dr Peuto, Zilog and Sun's bright SPARC

David Knapman

"You can read a case history of the chip's design here (free registration required, though)."

And $20 to get the PDF, unless I'm missing something (I don't have institutional access)

Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?

David Knapman

Re: I can believe it!

But surely that just trains the operators to look for the character that appears in row 1, column 38 and press that. It's still not going to make them read the message, let alone think about what it's trying to tell them.

Scanning an Exchange server for a virus that spreads via email? What could go wrong?

David Knapman

Re: There is a little bit of me

It's not like this one organization would even have been in the minority here, ILOVEYOU was a major wake up call for many orgs to put more work into their email scanning.

Many orgs, if they had incoming scanners at all were just using signature based checks so of no use against a rapidly spreading worm based on social engineering.

Voyager 1 left the planet 41 years ago – and SpaceX hopes to land on Earth this Saturday

David Knapman

Re: V'ger

Unfortunately, that's Voyager 6 which we were meant to launch in the late 20th century but we haven't gotten around to launching yet.

Google Chrome: HTTPS or bust. Insecure HTTP D-Day is tomorrow, folks

David Knapman

Re: stuck on HTTP

If, every time you update your billboard, you find that someone keeps posting outrageously dangerous advice onto the middle of it, but does leave your name prominently associated with it, would you be so relaxed about leaving your billboard unsecured? The biggest risk with HTTP is content being intercepted and *replaced* en-route (malicious scripts, etc)

Whilst there are some circumstances where HTTPS can be MITMed, it's a strictly smaller subset of the cases where HTTP can be MITMed. So if forcing everyone to abandon HTTP reduces the opportunities for MITMs (and working to further reduce MITM attacks on HTTPS are still ongoing), why are you against it?

David Knapman

Re: stuck on HTTP

Troy Hunt has written a *specific* piece on https://www.troyhunt.com/heres-why-your-static-website-needs-https/.

Now, you may choose to disagree with some of his examples, but in most cases nobody can point to people using HTTPS over HTTP and state that it's *less* secure.

Sysadmin cracked military PC’s security by reading the manual

David Knapman

Thankfully this was during integration testing, and I was doing my best to break things.

~Year 2000

We were developing a secure system for the MOD. The client machines we were working on were going to be running a locked down version of Windows NT with keyboard equipped with a magnetic card reader. To log in you had to insert the card and that supplied your username, effectively. You then entered your password and logged in. Any removal of the card had to lock the machine or abort the login process and leave the machine secure. That seemed to work fine.

Separately, we had additional software installed that, after login, but before showing the desktop, would show you information about your last login session - e.g. when/where. That seemed to work fine.

Unfortunately, whilst that dialog was being shown, it was impossible to lock the machine. Which meant that so long as you choose to remove the card before acknowledging the dialog, you'd end up logged in with no card inserted.

Loved showing that one to the guys who had lovingly crafted these separate systems.

TSB meltdown latest: Facepalming reaches critical mass as Brits get strangers' bank letters

David Knapman

Re: ... and Crapita

Sorry, are you admitting to opening post not addressed to you? You know you're not meant to do that, right?

Blot out the address (not technically required but sometimes the helpful posties will attempt to redeliver if the address is still visible), scrawl "not know at this address" on the envelope, stick it back in a post box.

Through many dangers, toils and snares.... SpaceX to send amazing GRACE to spaaaaace

David Knapman

Re: I hope Space X aren't deliberately dumping these at sea because it's cheaper to.

Bear in mind - *every* other space launch provider *always* dumps their first stages at see.

This is a Block 4 Falcon - only really good for one relaunch anyway and this is it. So there's no point recovering these things anyway when everyone else gets to dispose of *their* empties at sea and there's no reuse potential.

By the time any other provider is going to be able to do any reuse, SpaceX should have cleared their backlog of Block 3s/4s and just have a stock of Block 5s which are built for extensive reuse.

The future of radio may well be digital, but it won't survive on DAB

David Knapman

My pet peeve with lack of coverage on main roads is on a Motorway, no less. On the A74(M) about 50 miles south of Glasgow there's a dead spot that takes about 30 minutes to drive through (ignoring the odd splutter when it gets a signal for about 10 seconds)

ICANN takes Whois begging bowl to Europe, comes back empty

David Knapman

Re: They can have their one year moratorium

No, they want a one year moratorium. That's exactly what I've granted them. You're attempting to grant them even more time than they've requested.

(We're both being pedantically rigorous, but in ways that lose their humour very quickly)

David Knapman

They can have their one year moratorium

But to be fair to everyone else who's been working hard on this, it has to be back-dated to start on 25/05/2017

What's silent but violent and costs $250m? Yes, it's Lockheed Martin's super-quiet, supersonic X-plane for NASA

David Knapman

I remember it from a few air shows I went to back in the 90s. It was a joyous noise to experience - the sheer loud growl as it went past and shook the ground, followed by the simultaneous setting off of all of the car alarms in the car park.

Microsoft reveals 'limitations of apps and experiences on Arm' – then deletes from view

David Knapman

2024, if I don't err - not 2019. That's the next time that January 2nd is a Tuesday :-)

China's first space station to – ahem – de-orbit in late March

David Knapman

Re: Coming home

Generally, the bits that have vaporised are no longer classified as debris.

Cool disk drive actuator pillar, Seagate – how about two of them?

David Knapman

For two independent sets of heads to be able to work with the same sets of tracks, the positioning needs to be spot on. When you have one set of heads, it doesn't matter *precisely* where the heads go when they're looking for track 13, so long as they consistently move to the same physical position each time track 13 is asked of. But with two sets of heads, they also have to agree on what that position should be.

I remember that, years ago, this was the reason given for the much lower densities on removable media than were available with hard drives - because they were, effectively, subject to being interacted with by many sets of heads over their lifetime and so the tracks needed to be wide to allow for misalignment.

Perhaps this is less of an issue these days - not sure.

ML fails: Loyalty prediction? Not really. And bonus prediction? Oh dear

David Knapman

From the employer. Higher up in the article:

Your employer explains that you can get your bonus if you achieve 70 per cent Promoters, 20 per cent Neutrals and 10 per cent Detractors (70P,20N,10D).

Your employer has told you you can achieve your bonus if you hit these figures. The rest of the article is pointing out that it's untrue.

David Knapman

Re: Fails at basic logic...

Neutral when the scale has 10 possible values means that you *ought* to treat 5 and 6 as equal. Otherwise, your neutral is 4 steps away from Evil but 5 steps away from Godlike.

This is why if you _want_ to offer a neutral answer option you ought to have an odd number of values on your scale.

(Note that the NPS system has a 0 which you've not assigned a value to, but apparently it's worse than Evil)

Fine, OK, no backdoors, says Deputy AG. Just keep PLAINTEXT copies of everyone's messages

David Knapman

Re: One good thing

Modern crypto systems should not be known to be susceptible to Known-Plaintext Attacks.


Basically, Plaintext + Ciphertext = Key hasn't been true for a long time.

MH370 final report: Aussies still don’t know where it crashed or why

David Knapman

Since our primary means of tracking aircraft is via radar, the idea that we'd massively scale out our radar infrastructure across the oceans despite them containing 0 military or civilian targets is far more preposterous.

I won't get into the actual likely capabilities of spy satellites vs Hollywood depictions, but even in Hollywood they realise that you have to maneuverer satellites to have sight of targets of interest and this takes time.

At last! Vivaldi lets you kill looping GIFs

David Knapman

They didn't do a "version number reset". They follow a long standing convention that, just because something is composed of digits and dots, that doesn't necessarily mean that its a decimal number.

1.10 properly comes after 1.9 and is not the same as 1.1

(What really irritates me is when people apply this logic even when the version number contains multiple dots, somehow embracing a convention that multiple dots are allowed and all but the first is ignored, which is not a rule with decimal numbers that I was ever taught)

No way to sugarcoat this: I'm afraid Uranus opens and closes to accept particle streams

David Knapman

Re: 98 degrees tilt? I'm confused!

Think in terms of rotation. If a planet is orbiting a star clockwise (from some viewpoint) and the planet is also rotating clockwise (from same viewpoint), there is zero axial tilt.

If, from the same perspective, the planet is orbiting the star clockwise, but is rotating anti-clockwise, the axial tilt may be described as 180 degrees.

David Knapman

No, we still can't *see* planets around other stars. We can infer their presence by what they do to the light coming from their star.

Voyager 1 passes another milestone: It's now 138AU from home

David Knapman

Re: Relay?

Because the size of such a relay and its power requirements are huge - beyond anything we could launch today. Bear in mind that we can only receive information from Voyager because we have vast dish antennas sat here on the ground.

Also bear in mind that the particular trajectories used for the probes was only possible due to a planetary alignment. You can't launch a probe a couple of years later and have it follow anything close to the same trajectory.

UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

David Knapman

Re: A backdoor is a backdoor for all

But don't you see? Surely the biggest problem with Wanacry was the fact that it used encryption! Therefore, if they outlaw encryption, they'll be making everyone safer.

The future of storage is ATOMIC: IBM boffins stash 1 bit on 1 atom

David Knapman

Re: What we need...

You might like to read up on Rare Earths before making comments like this - E.g. from Wikipedia "Despite their name, rare earth elements are – with the exception of the radioactive promethium – relatively plentiful in Earth's crust"

Elon Musk joins anti-Trump legal brief

David Knapman

You mean the powers he's asserting under a 1952 law (which was revised in 1965)? Which of those were introduced by "Obama's Democrats"?

David Knapman

The whole point of the legal challenge is to assert that the President does not have this power - that he's overstepped the bounds of what he's allowed to do.

Whether that's true or not will take time for the courts to decide. But in the meantime, and the subject of this very fast schedule, is that its believed that there's a good chance this legal challenge will succeed and so a Temporary Restraining Order is currently warranted.

Even if the TRO is overturned this week, the legal challenge itself will still go ahead and determine whether the President has overstepped his authority.

Asteroid nearly gave Earth a new feature, two days after its discovery

David Knapman

Re: What if it had hit?

Because if you're going to apply an adjustment to its trajectory, such that instead of missing the planet it hits, the possible impact point is... anywhere.

Australia's new data breach disclosure laws have a rather floppy definition of 'breach'

David Knapman

So, the solution to "notification fatigue" is to water down the reporting requirements, rather than, say, encourage better security practices to lessen the number of breaches?

Well, that makes sense.

Latest F-35 bang seat* mods will stop them breaking pilots' necks, beams US

David Knapman

"keeping two sets of spares aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth would be a needless duplication." - because we all know that the defence industries are models of efficiency, of course.

BT customers hit by broadband outage ... again

David Knapman

"It is ideal for telecom providers, financial trading exchanges, media and gaming companies that require speed, reliability and reach."

Hmm. Note how they're careful not to include "power" in that list.

Space station to get shiny new ringpiece for automatic penetration

David Knapman

It'll be in the unpressurised trunk - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_(spacecraft)#Dragon_CRS - basically, only part of the dragon capsule is pressurised and accessed via a docking port. The rest can contain extra goodies but they're only got at by external means (robot arms or space walks)

Home-cooked tech helps China topple US as top supercomputer user

David Knapman

Re: Confusion

No, *you've* reversed what they're saying.

For a long time, the US have had at least half of the machines on the list. Only in the last two years have they dropped to below half.

NASA 'naut to boldly enter pump-up space podule

David Knapman

Why would this one module be worth preserving? You have to bear in mind that this same fate is envisaged for the entire ISS at some future point in time, and surely the project as a whole is more "museum-worthy" than this module.

Lenovo cries 'dump our support app' after 'critical' hole found

David Knapman

What gets me down is that, I practically guarantee that today, or next week, or next month, someone will sit down and write the next great "value added" application to be pre-installed for one of these vendors - and make exactly the same mistakes yet again.

There doesn't seem to be any learning here.

Revealed: How NASA saved the Kepler space telescope from suicide

David Knapman

Re: Just Like Home?.

But we *need* to find the planet of the Trumps so that we can return the one that landed here.

What was all that about a scary iMessage flaw? Your three-minute guide

David Knapman

In the usual cast of characters, Eve is usually a passive eavesdropper. For someone who takes active steps to modify the message, you'd usually be looking for Mallory.

Who'd be mad enough to start a 'large-scale fire' in a spaceship?

David Knapman

"The experiment will ride along with the CRS-6 mission planned to launch on March 6th"

Checks Calendar. Checks sentence. Either there's a lot of lead time in this story, the use of the future tense is wrong, or there's something wrong with that date.

Virgin Atlantic co-pilot dazzled by laser

David Knapman


I can't make sense of the geography here:

> as the Airbus A340 passed over the west coast of Ireland.

Okay. So it was well into its flight then?

> apparently targeted by a laser some six or seven miles west of Heathrow

Now, either the laser was "six or seven" miles west of Heathrow, but somehow they were able to aim into the cockpit of a plane quite far away and heading west? Or the plane itself was "six or seven" miles west of Heathrow and the British Isles are significantly smaller than I thought it was?

Ban internet anonymity – says US Homeland Security official

David Knapman

Has anyone noticed that when people are out and about in public and *not in cars*, they're not displaying *any* kind of license information? That means that they can't be tracked and identified. Surely, this means we should tattoo license numbers onto everyone's foreheads.

For the sake of the children.

Like a version? JDK 9 will point out its own flaws the very first time

David Knapman


So, their version numbers, unlike everyone else's, are middle-endian? If the rightmost number changes, it's a "must install", but if the middle number changes, you can ignore it?

Does anyone else do version numbering like this?

Most developers have never seen a successful project

David Knapman

Yes, the definition of success is the tricky one to nail down. If it's "Did we deliver what the customer needed?", it's very different to "Did we deliver what the customer asked for?".

You can hack a PC just by looking at it, say 3M and HP

David Knapman

Is this "our screens have poor viewing angles, so we're going to make them worse and call it a feature?"

Want to self-certify for Safe Harbor? Never mind EU, yes we can

David Knapman

Re: Who cares?

Until the Microsoft Dublin case is sorted, hosting within the EU is still no protection if the parent company is US based.

PEAK PLUTO: Stunning mountain ridge snapped by New Horizons craft

David Knapman

Re: Science is amazing

Your wish is hereby granted - https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-space-agency

Of course, you probably mean a space agency that does missions like this, rather than them just existing.

Teaching people to speak English? You just need Chatroulette without the dick pics

David Knapman

Chatroulette without the dick pics?

Wouldn't that just be an empty screen where nothing ever happens?

SpaceX gets ready to crash barge-land ANOTHER rocket

David Knapman

Re: fuel?

It's both right and wrong, and so is your comment - since the hydraulic fluid used is fuel (after it's used by the hydraulic system, it enters the main fuel tank)