* Posts by peter

62 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Jun 2007


El Reg reader crafts Gordo Lolcatprat

peter Silver badge


Surely he's not still gonna be there on Friday, is he?!

Hulu headed for subscription service scheme?

peter Silver badge

*micro* payments?

Fine by me if he wants to give it away that cheaply. But, speaking for myself, I'd happily make milli-payments - you know, a few 10^-3 of a sterling per view.

It's okay I didn't bring a coat - I trusted the English summer...

'Thieving' sperm whale caught on CCTV

peter Silver badge

They may be guilty of thieving...

...but I'd like to see one in the dock.

Mine's the waterproof one with the Sou'wester beside it. Thanks.

Safe signals in Perl

peter Silver badge

I'm with Eddie Edwards...

Brute-forcing terminating even the most carefully-crafted object-orientated library is a recipe for a pile up. (Say, Bugs, wasn't that a realloc call you interrupted?) After that sigalarm had been raised, the only sane action would be to cross your fingers, pray hard, log the condition, print an error message, and exit swiftly.

But yay! for perl on El Reg. More please.

Gov 'smart meter' plans: Sky box in charge of your house

peter Silver badge

@Comms #2 (the one after Alan's)

If I'm about to be cut-off for defaulting on my bill, I'm not gonna be worried about breaking the sodding T&Cs.

Father of Playmobil dies at 79

peter Silver badge

"No horror, no superficial violence, not short-lived trends"

A clean sweep, methinks.

Mines the one that solid polypropylene, articulated only at the shoulders...

(But before I go: well said moderatrix.)

Retired army generals: Spend Trident money on the army

peter Silver badge
Dead Vulture

@Greg Trocchia

>>On what basis a computer could discern an independent attack plan from the above is beyond me<<

Any sort of digital signing; something as crackable as:

if ( md5( fire_plan.coordinates + pentagon_secret_key ) != fire_plan.checksum ) printf( "bog off\n" );

That said, I really hope we have independent control of our nukes.

Wikipedia exceeds $6m donation goal

peter Silver badge
Paris Hilton


Because if Wikipedia ran ads, Google would go bust. Oh wait, that's not such a bad idea. Bring it on.

Paris, because she doesn't need to advertise.

Tragic Twitterers tweet goodbye to family life

peter Silver badge

Title's are so Web 1.0

These days I can stomach "Web 2.0" as a phrase. After all, we need a term for all the AJAX flummery which fascinates real users. But these twits are earnestly talking about "Web 3.0".

Web 3.0? Web 3.0?! WEB THREE POINT BLOODY ZERO! I just put the term into Google. OMFG.

(Sorry that turned into a rant. But I needed to get it off my chest.)

Stob latest: It was a cunning trick, says Open University

peter Silver badge
Thumb Up

Good work Andrew

Good work, Andrew. Keep it up. These people are supposed to be the cream of our intellectuals; if they don't have the backbone to condemn the linguistic slush Verity uncovered then they shouldn't be teaching. And while we might not be able to catch all these jobsworth academics, maybe the efforts of the fourth estate can make them think twice. Critical thinking? My arse!

Police told: Delete old criminal records

peter Silver badge

@Chris Thomas

You're mistaken in thinking the Police database has an "innocent" column. If you're in the database, your guility.

San Francisco's 'rogue' sysadmin still being paid while in jail

peter Silver badge

Am I the only one to wonder...

...if he actually remembers the bloody password?

Utility computing's 'dirty little secret'

peter Silver badge

@tony trolle

Only once it's be turned to wine... ;)

CERN declares Large Hadron Collider perfectly safe

peter Silver badge

LHC gifts el Reg a new unit?

From the report "a pair of protons in the LHC will release an amount of energy comparable to that of two colliding mosquitos"

Henceforth can El Reg give all energy measurements in units of "colliding mosquitos"; e.g. "To solve our climate problems, wind turbines would have to produce the energy equivalent to 20-billion collidng mosquitos..."

peter Silver badge

I know I'm spamming here, but...

...the report /also/ says,

"...the rate at which [black hole] absorption would take place would be so slow if there are seven or more dimensions that Earth would survive for billions of years before any harm befell it."

Hang on a minute, hasn't the Earth been around for about 4.5 billion years?

That's means any time aboutTX▒$&""H",1↔Y☻NO CARRIER

Dutch boffins clone Oyster card

peter Silver badge

@I wonder

My naive, uninformed guess is that they presented a card with malformed data which caused the gate software to hang or crash, so it couldn't read any more cards.

But I agree it would be nice to know for certain.

World+dog ignores Sweden's Draconian wiretap bill

peter Silver badge

I've been itching to share this quote:

"In our society we have no major crimes...but we do have a detention camp full of would-be criminals."

--From a 1956 PKD short-story about precognition (Minority Reprot).

Frameworks and the danger of a grand design

peter Silver badge
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"Hell, why not just code everything in assembly!"

I'm with you all the way their mate. Where do I sign on?

'Crazy rasberry ants' target Texan tech

peter Silver badge
Paris Hilton

@Smoke 'em out

Apparently their colonies have multiple queens.

A bit more detail and a pic (of Rasberry with his ants) here:


(Paris, because, well, she's clearly got crazy rasberry ants in her pants...)

Astroboffins moot massive Moon-mirror heliograph

peter Silver badge

Make room for the boffin... ;)

1) Any alien observer will see the change in the sun's brightness - rather than the signal itself. (This is how we detect extrasolar planets at present.)

2) This would be a /helluva/ lot more powerful (i.e. "brighter") than the delicate Radio signals we're currently broadcasting. Plus an optical signal wouldn't be turned to mush by dispersion or swamped by the vast amounts of RF the sun naturally "broadcasts".

3) The lizard army is already on route, so what's the point?

4) It was in New Scientist.

Scientist who named the black hole dies aged 96

peter Silver badge

British giants

Paul Dirac was a British giant from the same generation.

But for now: so long colourful, poetic, vibrant John Archibald Wheeler - assured a place in the history of physics.

New code strategies to fight side-channel attack

peter Silver badge

Why unencrypted passwords

A server with access to a cleartext secret can send a "challenge" and demand the client provide a hash of the challenge + secret to login, preventing the transmission of the password over an unencrypted connection. This is used, for example, by the APOP command of pop3. (And if that sounds rudimentary, Outlook doesn't even bother to do this - it just sends it as plaintext.)

But to do that, the server needs access to an unencrypted password. Even if you use encryption on the password file (properly salted, to prevent the use of rainbow tables) then chances are anyone who can get at the password file can get at the master key and decrypt them.

Microsoft lines up with the good guys on identity tech

peter Silver badge

FIne but...

"The outstanding question is how well the undoubted intentions and integrity of both men will stand up to the residual primitive and exploitative tendencies that still reside in large parts of Microsoft"

And even should they stand up to it, what happens once they move on...

New banking code cracks down on out-of-date software

peter Silver badge
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I think I might move to Bulgaria.

Galaxy's smallest known black hole discovered

peter Silver badge


"Also, so that I actually learn something from El Reg, could someone please explain the Swarzschild radius in layman English?"

Its where the escape velocity matches the speed of light - i.e. the event horizon of a black hole. Once you're within the Schrwazchild radius not even light can escape, and you ain't never coming out. (And any object smaller than its Schwarzschild radius must a black hole.)

SMALLPRINT: it applies only to non-rotating, uncharged, spherically symmetric mass distributions as modelled by general relativity. The value of the Schwarzschild radius may go down as well as up.

Everyone's a winner in the Comcast - BitTorrent detente

peter Silver badge

5237 and counting...

"Since the days of three-digit RFCs..."

Lol! That line brilliantly captured the growth of the internet. And it made me laugh. A lot.

How long before we're remembering the halycon days of four digit RFCs?

Bolluxed router configuration? Click here for help

peter Silver badge


I spell it like that. It's kinda like writing "BS" instead of bull shit - somehow, it's just that extra bit politer.. ;)

Miami cops trial 'hover and stare' ducted-fan Dalek

peter Silver badge

That's not a Dalek!

It's more like V.I.N.CENT out of The Black Hole

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V.I.N.CENT), or, given the state of it, Old Bob (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_BOB)

(And Whatddaya mean you've never seen The Black Hole?! Call yerselves geeks?!)

Equifax asks customer to email debit card photocopies

peter Silver badge

Is snail mail any more secure?

We've got a new postman, and everyday seems to bring another piece of misdelivered mail. One last week felt like a bank card. (It was in a "discreet" plain envelope that just shouted "bank".) And presumably there are human beings, aside from the postie and unintended recipients, who have access to snail mail and could pinch, say, 0.05% of that being delivered to Equifax. (And if they're really smart thieves, then, after reading it, they'll put it in a new envelope and add it to the next day's post. Who would know?) I'm probably wrong on the details, but I'm sure its possible for rogue employees to read snail mail.

Is the risk greater than that of a plaintext email be snarfed by someone at an ISP? I can't quantify either. Certainly it's happened. But my emails rarely pass through a dozen SMTP relays (NOT HUNDREDS). And separating the genuine missives from the spam seems beyond human ingenuity. Finding this stuff at the packet level, would be even more impressive - particularly if its a jpeg of a credit card. Surely there are easier ways to get ill gotten gains from the web?

That said, I'd won't be trusting my financial details to an unencrypted connection any time soon. But maybe that's down to my faith in tin-foil millinery. ;-)

Is it or isn't it? Brown keeps bottling the ID card question

peter Silver badge

@Gordon Brown

GB: "But the very fact that you’ve got biometrics now in a way that you didn’t have two centuries ago gives you opportunities to protect people’s identity.."

This from the government that lost half the nation's identity?! ROTFLMAO

Gordon Brown? Gordon Bennett, more like.

Google spanks memory, disk and networking vendors

peter Silver badge
Thumb Up


You don't need to refresh the DRAM if the memory’s not being used. The trick would be figuring out which memory is unused, or could be swapped out to save power. Since memory controllers are (becoming) integrated into the processors, that's not so infeasible. (And of course, libc needs to be capable of deallocating core when pages in the heap become empy.)

And why shouldn't hard disks be capable of working at 50% speed? Why should they have to go flat out, every time I want to write a line to a logfile.

'Death Star' galaxy blasts neighbour

peter Silver badge

They're merging

Went and found the paper (http://arxiv.org/abs/0712.2669) And they labelled _their_ pretty picture. In case its not obvious, the galaxies are the two (violet) blobs in the lower left corner; the blue wisp is the jet, having passed through the second (companion) galaxy.

BTW the authors believe the two galaxies are merging,not just orbiting. (And the companion’s orbiting "clockwise", since you don't ask.) They tentatively suggest that the merger may have cause the supermassive black holes at the centre of each galaxy to become (AGN).

Daring Register raid snatches key government URL

peter Silver badge

FOIA request?


"Would we be correct in thinking that traffic to your splendid registered-users-only consultation site has in the interim been in the high severals?"

How about a Freedom of Information Act request to find out? And while you're about it, throw in a few more telling questions - like, "How many people have registered?"

Secret mailing list rocks Wikipedia

peter Silver badge
Black Helicopters

I've seen these kind of tendencies in real organisations...

There's nothing uniquely Web 2.0 about this. I've seen similar behaviour in Real World 0.9 organisations, as well. And actually, it's a lot more frightening face-to-face.

Microsoft offers $300m for web-washing ad campaign

peter Silver badge

Yet More...

Windows Live: Search for dummies^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Search-ing for dummies.

Windows Live: Seek and ye shall....▓◊♫≠ž䇷㓪øʰsX⅓¶ 404 NOT FOUND

Windows Live: An import paradigm shift in the redefinition of paradigms.

Windows Live: Bult by Copper Nanotubes.

And finally, with apologies to C.F. Gellert and Frances E. Cox:


Windows Live! Thy terrors now__

can no more, O Page, appal us;

Windows Live! by this we know

thou, O Brin, canst not enthral us.



Windows Live! henceforth h-refs__

are the gate to Redmond's portal;

this shall calm our trembling breaths,

when we see ol' Google's stock fall.



Windows Live! for us Bill Gates__

indexed all the seedy content;

VISA in hand may we dictate

payment to his chosen extent.



Windows Live! our hearts know it;

Microsoft's our search provider.

Life nor death nor Torvald's shit,

tear us from their page-rank spider.



Window Live! to them the pit__

of the deepest hell is given;

may we go where they are gone

if we dare their algorithm.


(The messianc imagery was too hard to resist.)

peter Silver badge
Gates Horns

All I've got

Windows Live: It's live Jim, but not as we know it.

21st century travel: building your own warp drive

peter Silver badge


That's not even true under Special Relativity - the two photons really do fly apart from each other at the speed of light. Look up a Lorentz transformation.

Dwarfs threaten Kepler and Newton

peter Silver badge
Dead Vulture

Broken Links, Missing Links, and BS


2/ Some of us like links to arXiv papers, so we can read them. We certainly expect the authors have read them. For the record, I think, the paper in question is:


3/ This article waffles where it should be explaining. The first page is not too bad, but the second is appalling.

I'd not heard of MOND before, and I had to go read about it on on wikipedia - just to make sense of this article. I still don't understand what the author means when he says "The outre model of spiral galaxies as cosmic Faraday motors, espoused by some theorists,". Which theory is this? (It's not the "mainstream" CDM, surely?) Which theorists are espousing it?

Dark matter is fascinating. There are lots of tantalisingly off-beat theories (try this http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0612286v2), and its a constantly shifting field where new evidence is accumulating all the time. This article doesn't come close to doing it--or science--justice. Please, no more articles like this.

Blank media levy breaches should be criminal, say authors

peter Silver badge

Why doesn't blank paper come with a levy...?

...after all, people might use blank paper to photocopy books and other copyrighted materials. So don't authors^H^H^H^H publishers have a right to be compensated too?

Thousands snared by malware warning from big-name websites

peter Silver badge


I pulled down malware.com with wget and got this dull page:



<title>Welcome to nginx!</title>


<body bgcolor="white" text="black">

<center><h1>Welcome to nginx!</h1></center>



So I switched to 'doze and Opera, I got the identical result. :(

El Reg deploys (extra) comment icons

peter Silver badge

More suggestions for extras...

I guess it was Friday and you didn't feel like doing any real work. Trouble is, now I'm gonna be disappointed if there aren't new icons every week. So here are my suggestions for a few more:

>> DUI – I've just got back from the pub, and mee liquid lunch is pressing heavily on mee median-pareital-temporal lobe, but that's not gonna inhbit mee from wading in with mee five-penneth worth...

>> Lexographical apoplexy – this article contains a word that needs banning/Hell I though we'd banned it and hung the author already.

>> Keeping abreast – the only thing that could have allowed the author to walk away unscathed from this wreck was a pair of fully inflated Bulgarian Airbags. And I didn't see them deployed.

>> "Why the hell hasn't the What's-the-IT-angle? icon got a picture of something computer related on it?" icon. – Self explanatory.

>> Incoming! – I was mentioned in this article and am going dispute points of fact with the author in a snarling hissy fit, so why don't y'all ready some popcorn and start a little pool on who's gonna win.

>> not a geek – despite working on a helpdesk, the only IT expertise I have is knowing where the off-button is. But I heard the site had some cool icons and Paris Hilton stories; c'mon guys, where are the Parish Hilton stories?

>> Orlowski is a God! – man, that Orlowski guy always says it as it is, and sure gives those blogging, Sadvillian, Web 2.0 badgers one in the eye. Down with Wikipedia! Down with Sadville! Down with Web 2.0!

>> Die, Orlowskie! Die! – I'm a wiki-fiddlling Web2.0 blogger who, despite being thirty-something, still lives with my parents. And I'd of rather been locked in a body bag with Orlowski's decomposing corpse for a year than read that crock of shit. Up with Wikipedia! Up with web 2.0! Up with Sadville! Up my giant, deflated furry member!

>> amanfrommars?! WTF! – hey guys, why the hell did this algortihm get the ultimate accolade of its own icon?

>> Deputised – Sherriff has skimped on the links again, so visit _here_ for [more] pretty pics and _here_ for maths that violate countless international treaties on torture. You have been warned.


Open source CMS - promise without pitfall

peter Silver badge
Thumb Down

I agree with Senor

I definitely wanted more meat.

US nanotech boffins track evanescent light

peter Silver badge


They probably just can't get their kit in the gap. ;)

Actually, there's more to QM than Heisenberg. For example, the position of an electron in a Hydrogen Atom is unknowable, thanks to wave-particle duality and the need for its Energy etc.. to be quantised.

Plus evanescent waves are little buggers. For example, frustrated total internal reflection (which is what is being described in the article) is a form of "tunnelling" that can be modelled classically using Maxwell's equations without QM. And the PR link above claims the photon's *direction* is imaginary, which, if correct, would make it tough to pin them down.

peter Silver badge

Link + Pics

This seems to be the initial press release (with pretty picture):


Couldn't find the paper on arXiv.

TrafficMaster sells clients' location info to UK.gov

peter Silver badge

ID theft...

I think someone's stolen my userid. I let it go when the name differed by case, but now someone's posting under my name, and kicking up a stink! This is why we need a bloody national ID card - to stop this kinda traversty (as well as to stop people registering cars with false details). So /peter/ hands off my nick - I got there first. ;)

Web host breach may have exposed passwords for 6,000 clients

peter Silver badge

Re: Couldn't the bank spot man-in-the-middle attack

So maybe we should let the programmers run a few more companies? ;)

Boffins challenge shape of neutron neutrality

peter Silver badge

Its worse than that...

The electromagnetic force (i.e. 'charge') is independant of the strong force, at less than GUT energies. So why even bring the strong force into it?

What I really wanted to know was whether this conflicts with the Standard Model.

Facebook's marketing goldmine may be crock of shite

peter Silver badge

The year is the only thing I don't lie about.

The year I was born is the one piece of personal info I give accurately, since I can understand how it helps their marketing (hence income) and it's not overly personal. Of course, I block all the ads they throw at me based on it, but hey - life sucks.

Space watchers spot pulsar eating a star

peter Silver badge

It might have been a great uses of massess...

...but it was missed opportunity to talk about Roche Lobe Overflow..

Astronomers detect red giant survivor planet

peter Silver badge

Links + More Info + Red Giant Astrophysics

This appears to be the press release (in Italian):


English translation provided here (as PDF):


This seems to be the paper about the same planet:


They were planning on integrating more data – so maybe its been revised before publication in Nature.

Anyway, based on the above, THE PLANET ORBITS at 1.7AU (about the distance of Mars), and HAS A MASS of at least 3.5 times that of Jupiter.

And for the record, a Red Giant doesn't exhaust *all* its Hyrdogen - just all that IN THE CORE, it then contracts, heats up, and begins fusing hydrogen in a shell around the core (now composed mainly of Helium) - try this link (with nice graphs):