* Posts by lowwall

85 posts • joined 5 Nov 2011


Facebook rendered spineless by buggy audit code that missed catastrophic network config error


Who me?

"During one of these routine maintenance jobs, a command was issued with the intention to assess the availability of global backbone capacity, which unintentionally took down all the connections in our backbone network,"

I'd like to nominate the lady or gent who entered this command for your next edition of Who Me.

And offer them a no-doubt sorely needed pint.

We have some sad news about Facebook. It has returned to the internet after six-hour mega outage


So they switched it off and then switched it back on again. Did Daddy Pig lead the crack team of engineers?

Arms not long enough to reach the plug socket? Room-wide wireless charging is on the way


Re: Frequency? Effects OUTSIDE the room? Messaging IN ADDITION to power?

They don't emit effort to matter. Now if you keep Torpedo Rays as pets...

Software bug in Bombardier airliner made planes turn the wrong way


Re: Dislexia Lures KO


Boffins find an 'actionable clock' hiding in your blood, ticking away to your death


Kept waiting for this

How has this not been posted yet?

And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again

The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say

El Reg checks in with Rocket Lab's Peter Beck to see how that hat tastes amid reusable rockets and swelling payloads


Re: Why is that name not familiar ?

Agreed that size isn't important. Where Falcon 9 makes Electron look like a toy is in payload, ability to launch satellites beyond LEO and cost per kilo of payload. Rocket Labs is developing a Falcon 9 competitor called Neutron, but they don't expect it to launch until 2024. By which time SpaceX should have Starship working.

Falcon 9's size does give Rocket Labs a niche though. Even though SpaceX is much cheaper per kilo, if you need less than a couple of tons lifted, you have to wait until they aggregate a bunch of smaller satellites into what they call a rideshare package. Because SpaceX is concentrating on Starlink launches, those rideshare launches are few and far between, they only have two scheduled for this year. So if you have a small satellite and a need for certain orbits or launch times that cannot be served by a SpaceX rideshare, it may well be worth paying a premium to Rocket Labs.

BTW, Rocket Labs also received US government support. Almost half of their commercial launches have been wholly or partially dedicated to US government payloads.


Re: Why is that name not familiar ?

Because compared to SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, the Rocket Labs Electron is a toy. Most of those 100+ satellites have been very small Cubesats. Max payload to LEO is currently 300kg in theory, although most launches have been well below that. Total payload flown to LEO to date is under 2 tonnes, released over 17 successful launches starting in 2018 (he had one failure during a commercial mission).

Compare this to SpaceX. Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 heavy have 112 successful flights (with 2 failures) commencing in 2010. The standard payload for Falcon 9 is 15,600kg. They had a single flight that launched 143 satellites.

Of course, it's still incredibly impressive that he managed to build a launcher capable of sending satellites into orbit. And even though it's far more expensive than a SpaceX launch on a per kilo basis, it's probably cheaper and easier to get a single mini-sat launched by Rocket Lab.

Airline software super-bug: Flight loads miscalculated because women using 'Miss' were treated as children


Re: Not necessarily.


You remember Antoine Roccamora, half black, half Samoan, used to call him Tony Rocky Horror?


Yeah, maybe. Fat, right?


I wouldn't go so far as to call the brother fat, I mean he got a weight problem. What's the [man] gonna do? He's Samoan.

SpaceX small print on Starlink insists no Earth government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities


Re: Remember 1776 ......

Do some more, it's the funniest extended piece of movie dialogue of all time. Here's a link for the entire thing: https://sluggerotoole.com/2018/04/18/strange-women-lying-in-ponds-distributing-swords-is-no-basis-for-a-system-of-government/

Apropos of this topic:

King Arthur: Then who is your lord?

Peasant Woman: We don’t have a lord.

King Arthur: What?

Dennis: I told you, we’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as sort of executive officer for the week…

King Arthur: Yes…

Dennis: …but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting…

King Arthur: Yes I see…

Dennis: …by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs…

King Arthur: Be quiet!

Dennis: …but by a two thirds majority in the case of more…

King Arthur: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!

Peasant Woman: “Order”, eh? Who does he think he is?

King Arthur: I am your king.

Peasant Woman: Well, I didn’t vote for you.

Of course we know how it's all going to end:

Arthur: [shakes Dennis] Shut up!

Dennis: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help, I’m being repressed!

Tablets and Chromebooks are hot, towers and desktops are not: El Reg combs through Q3 PC numbers


My children were 11 and 6 last summer when our school district announced school would be online only until winter (now extended indefinitely). The younger one got a new Chromebook. The older one wanted to build a machine he could also game on, so he used the same amount to spe a secondhand Dell Optiplex 9020, an SSD (at my insistence), and a webcam. I supplied the monitor, keyboard and mouse from my old stuff. It's been interesting watching the order in which he purchased upgrades from his allowance. In order, a graphics card (a 1650 Super), RGB light strip, gaming mouse, an RGB mechanical keyboard, video light, external microphone. Spend to date is $515.

Developer survey: C# losing ground to JavaScript, PHP and Java for cloud apps, still big in gaming


This one goes to < 11

C# is least popular in data science, machine learning and mobile, the report added. The categories of web and cloud are not mentioned in the context of C#, indicating middling usage, whereas JavaScript, Java and PHP score strongly in those areas.

Reminds me of something. Oh yes, here we go...

Ian Faith: The Boston gig has been cancelled...

David St. Hubbins: What?

Ian Faith: Yeah. I wouldn't worry about it though, it's not a big college town.

Google adopts ‘value-neutral’ language to make selfies less about ‘beauty’


Wait what?

More than 70 percent of photos taken on Androids use the front-facing camera.

Can this possibly be true? The level of societal narcissism this implies is... Oh, right. Carry on.

Microsoft will release a web browser for Linux next month. Repeat, Microsoft will release a browser for Linux – and it uses Google's technology


Re: A web browser based on Chrome by MS

Try Fennec F-Droid if you prefer the previous version of Firefox for Android. Because it actually is the previous version of Firefox for Android with a few of the more annoying bits removed.

Howdy, er, neighbor – mind if we join you? Potential sign of life spotted in Venus's atmosphere


xkcd coverage


Apple to Epic: Sue me? No, sue you, pal!



They've been vocally unhappy about the 30% and giving up control since day 1. They actually pulled the game off Google's store for almost two years in favor of sideloading from their own store. Google slowly made it somewhat harder and scarier to sideload, so Epic eventually gave in.

You'd think 1.8bn users a day would be enough for Zuck. But no. Oculus fans must sign up for Facebook


Facebook + Zuck + Oculus =


What do you call megabucks Microsoft? No really, it's not a joke. El Reg needs you



Or keep the name, but reduce the font: <small>Microsoft</small> to indicate its relative importance these days.

It's Terpin time: Bloke who was SIM jacked twice by Bitcoin thieves gets green light to sue telco for millions


Normal practice in the USA for a case like this is for the law firm to absorb most or all of the costs against their expected share (typically 30%) of the eventual payout. This is known as a contingency fee basis. If his law firm is insisting on a pay as you go basis, that's a good indication they don't believe there is a reasonable chance of a large verdict or settlement.

Speaking of settlements, usually once pre-trial maneuvers like the one reported on here have failed, the defendant company will seek to settle. All the lawyers want to settle, the plaintiff's for the certainty of a payout and the defendant to avoid a major business risk. Sometimes the sides will let it go to a trial if they feel they have a potentially decisive argument. But if this actually goes all the way to a jury or judge's final decision, it means one of the parties has decided to overrule their lawyers to prove a point.

Your McDonald's demo has expired. For full functionality, please purchase a licence or try another fast-food joint


Re: "those content to let their vehicles smell like ground-up cow."

I imagine that would be diesel for the last few minutes. And they probably actually did it to increase starting reliability.

Astroboffins may have raged at Elon's emissions staining the sky, but all those satellites will be more boon than bother


We'll get there yet

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

- William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

The only question is whether anyone will still remember analog TV snow when we do.

Weird flex but OK... Motorola's comeback is a $1,500 Razr flip-phone with folding 6.2" screen


Re: "Like the Model T, it comes in just black."

Young'ers read?

Stalker attacks Japanese pop singer – after tracking her down using reflection in her eyes


Enhance 34 to 36

Any excuse to link to https://typesetinthefuture.com/2016/06/19/bladerunner/

If you are a fan of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott, typography, design, or just humour in general, please visit.

Details of the ESPER sequence are about midway. Beginning with

After his ineffectual piano playing, Deckard decides that it’s time to study Leon’s photographs in more detail. In doing so, Blade Runner gives us perhaps the Ur Example of popular crime trope the Enhance Button, via the suspiciously amazing ESPER Machine:

This chunky-looking gadget is a voice-controlled photographic enhancer with an almost supernatural ability to follow its controller’s verbal instructions. When Deckard inserts Leon’s photo into the ESPER and asks it to enhance 224 to 176, it diligently enhances 197 to 334 as requested:

Second MoD Airbus Zephyr spy drone crashes on Aussie test flight


"It was being flown from Wyndham"

Should have launched from Claravale instead. It's only 600km away.

P.S. I looked at a map of the area to see if there was a Calmford or such nearby. What I found is there is only nothing nearby.

Introducing 'freedom gas' – a bit like the 2003 deep-fried potato variety, only even worse for you


Re: Freedom Gas...

When Gene Wilder died in 2016, they did a short re-release of Blazing Saddles in major US cities. I took my then 7-year-old son to see it after a lengthy explanation of satire and the history of US race relations. The latter of which, having grown up in Chicago, he was not fully unaware.

After all that, he still liked it. Especially Mongo and the fart jokes.


Re: Freedom Gas...

The US theatrical release, the VHS, DVD, and streaming releases all include the farting scene. It was only the broadcast TV version (i.e., the US version of the "before the watershed") that was bowdlerized.

However, and oddly from today's point of view, they left all the racist language in the original TV edit. You might think this showed that the TV execs actually understood the point that Mel Brooks was trying to make, but the reality is the FCC had never found the words to be indecent and so they weren't on the broadcasters' censored lists. I remember that they removed Lily Von Shtupp's surname, apparently in an attempt to render the broadcast safe for impressionable young Yiddish speakers.

I say, Eaton boys are flogging spare capacity on data centre UPS systems to keep lights on in Ireland


Re: Really?

Of course it won't help if the whole grid is out of capacity. But it should work for the much more common scenario of local shortfalls that require voltage regulation or very short term bridge capacity while power is shunted from another part of the grid. So more of a using your fire extinguishers to put out the fire in your neighbour’s garage kind of thing.

It could even help the whole grid situation if the shortfall is small and it's enough to keep things going for a few minutes until peaker plants can be brought up.

The cost does seem silly high though, at that price it would be more economical to build dedicated grid backup batteries.

Boeing admits 737 Max sims didn't accurately reproduce what flying without MCAS was like


Re: Say, what?

dvvdvv is correct, the plane was still under control when autopilot disabled itself. The pilot put it into a stall around 30 seconds later. Sorry, I was doing this from memory.


Re: Say, what?

Excessive Angle of Attack results in an aerodynamic stall, not an engine stall. An aerodynamic stall means there is not enough airflow over the wings to support flight, so down you go. This normally occurs when the nose of the plane is held too high for the engines to maintain airspeed. A stall is normally a recoverable event as long as you have enough altitude. If the plane is level and center of gravity is where it should be, it's actually a non-issue. The nose will drop and once you speed up a bit from falling, there will be enough airflow over the wing for it to start flying again. The Airbus crash over the south Atlantic a few years ago was caused by the computers putting the plane into an aerodynamic stall (due to faulty incoming data from iced over air pressure ports) which the co-pilot (who had command of the controls once the autopilot shut off) exacerbated by holding the stick back until it was too late to recover.

But this isn't what caused the Max crashes, it was actually an attempt to avoid the above scenario in the first place that did it. The issue on the 737 Max is the engines are mounted further forward than normal. At high power levels (for example during takeoff), this tends to pitch the nose up more than pilots are used to which could eventually result in a stall if allowed to continue. MCAS was designed to counter this by automagically trimming the tail to lower the nose when it detected the nose was too high. In both flights, it appears that a faulty AoA sensor resulted in MCAS repeatedly applying the trim when it wasn't needed. Poor software choices and inadequate training resulted in 2 planes diving into the ground while the crews tried to figure out what was going on.

Note: depending on how many other engines you have, an engine stall means you are either flying a glider or have reduced power. But the plane is still under aerodynamic control. Sully's "Miracle on the Hudson" along with millions of other successful glider and engine out landings tell us that an engine stall is not a death sentence, just an issue to be handled.

IBM Watson Health cuts back Drug Discovery 'artificial intelligence' after lackluster sales


Re: Peak AI?

Now it all makes perfect sense.

So you've 'seen' the black hole. Now for the interesting bit – how all that raw data was stored


Re: The usual exaggeration

It's rolled under the sofa anyway.

Israeli Moon probe crashes at the last minute but SpaceX scores with Falcon Heavy launch


Payload Fairings also recovered

Indeed. They gave up on Mr. Stevens and the giant butterfly net though. Instead they made it saltwater corrosion-resistant and pluck them from the sea. Each fairing half has avionics so it knows and can report where it is, thrusters for (presumably) attitude correction and perhaps some guidance and parachutes that allow it to land it fairly gently in the ocean.

Musk tweeted that they are going to reuse them on a Starlink flight this year. Starlink is SpaceX's own planned constellation of mini-sats that will provide global internet access. It's a nice way to demonstrate reusability of the fairings without having to deal with an external customer.

NASA 'nauts do what flagship smartphone fans can only dream of: Change the batteries


Re: Timed designs?

If only that were the case where I live. In the US at least "literally" has the following meaning in descending order of usage:

- figuratively

- adjective to express emphasis, e.g. "literally bonkers"

- indicates exact meaning, usually followed by some version of "I mean this actual thing happened" because people can no longer tell what is meant by the word literal. As in this El Reg headline from a few years back "Apple iOS 7 makes some users literally SICK. As in puking, not upset".


Re: Timed designs?

This "feature" of English can result in a confusion over what is really meant. "Jury rigged" and "jerry built" have two precise and different meanings. Jerry built means (meant) shoddily built from the start. Jury rigged means something repaired not with the proper materials and procedures, but with whatever is at hand. Jury rigged does not require that the fix was poorly done. As the original poster notes, some jury rigs last longer than a "proper" repair would.

I assume people who misuse these at least get the "built" versus "rigged" part correct. But what does "jerry rigged" mean? Are they using it to state it was a shoddy fix?

Along the same lines, the transformation of "literally" into an emphasis word with random meaning has meant that English has lost a word for which there is no true synonym.

McAfee – the completely sane guy, not the biz – told to fork out $25m over 'torture, murder' of his Belize neighbor


Re: US Court ?

Hardly a reach. Party being sued is a US citizen who is physically located in the US.

Whats(goes)App must come down... World in shock as Zuck decides to intertwine Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp


Re: Damn

I'm in the USA and it's been my experience that those who have friends or families overseas use WhatsApp and those who don't are unaware of it.

Six Flags fingerprinted my son without consent, says mom. Y'know, this biometric case has teeth, say state supremes...


Re: fingerprinting children

I once had a season pass there. I suspect that the parents who care about this have done what I have done and simply refused to go to Six Flags since they started requiring fingerprints for the pass.

Happy Thursday! 770 MEEELLLION email addresses and passwords found in yuge data breach

Black Helicopters

Still have 3 good passwords

In case anyone missed the link above, you can check if your passwords appear on any of the lists at https://haveibeenpwned.com/Passwords

As expected, the passwords I use for forum sites (including this one) and other throwaway accounts all have "been seen nn times". Happily the ones I use for sites that hold data that actually matter are fine.

Or maybe they aren't now that the site has linked all my passwords to my IP address. WHAT HAVE I DONE?

No plain sailing for Anon hacktivist picked up by Disney cruise ship: 10 years in the cooler for hospital DDoS caper


It's sinister all right.

I mean left.

Germany has a problem with the entire point of Amazon's daft Dash buttons – and bans them


Since sometime in the second week of December 2014, the order confirmation has been particularly unhelpful if you have ordered more than 1 item on a personal account. That's when they quit giving a breakdown of the individual items and prices. Now it's just a total, "Thank you for shopping with us. You ordered ____ ..." and __ other items.", and a link that requires a sign-in.

I notice they still give you a complete list on the confirmation e-mail when using an Amazon for Business account.

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box


Re: Hey software, get the fuck out of the way!

You are missing a critical point.

There were three pilots (one was the original captain who had been recalled from his rest period when the trouble started). Two of the pilots realized what was going on. And one of those pilots did realize what was happening and made the correct (forward) movement with his joystick to lower the nose. But the other pilot's stick was actually controlling. The Airbus controls are fully fly by wire and give no feedback, including no indication that the pilots are making conflicting inputs. The only way to tell there is a conflict is to actually look over at what the other pilot is doing and everyone was too distracted by the aural warnings and odd data coming from the displays. This was the last link in the chain that doomed the flight.

Here's the last words from the CVR:

02:13:40 (Bonin) “But I’ve had the stick back the whole time!”

02:13:42 (Dubois) “No, no, no… Don’t climb… no, no.”

02:13:43 (Robert) “Descend… Give me the controls… Give me the controls!”

Euro consumer groups: We think Android tracking is illegal


That's not a real problem

They can still make their megabucks advertising. It's only the "personalised" advertising that would be curtailed. They get premium rates for such ads, but I'm sure they can figure out how to charge enough to keep the electrons flowing for ads based on currently deprecated data like the actual search phrase entered into google or maps.

RIP Paul Allen: Microsoft cofounder billionaire dies at 65 after facing third bout with cancer


Philanthropy was not his first thought

Let's not make too much of his late interest in philanthropy. The reason he had given $2 billion and had only $20 billion left to give - instead of the $50 billion Mr. Gates has already donated and the $90 billion he has left - is that Mr. Allen spent the decades of his retirement buying the biggest toys and coolest stuff available. This includes multiple megayachts culminating in the 18th largest yacht in the world, complete with 2 submarines, a glass-bottom pool, and a recording studio; private planes including a G650 and the 757 he later re-sold to Donald Trump; the above-mentioned sports teams, plus the Seattle soccer club, which are perhaps the ultimate toy for US billionaires; the usual 10 figure homes in Seattle, Beverly Hills, Mailbu, Manhattan, Hawaii, London, Côte d'Azur, etc. and a private island or 2. He also like to collect things including a billion dollar art collection, enough planes (even a MiG-29) to open one museum, enough guitars and music memorabilia to open another, and enough old computer gear to open a third. He even collected his childhood movie theatre, buying it when it was slated to be torn down and refurbishing it just for the hell of it.

He also dumped a lot of cash over the years into dozens of business projects, but nothing much came out of it. He certainly would have been better off leaving it in Microsoft stock or something passive like an S&P 500 fund.

I'm not blaming him, when I was a kid and read about what he was doing, I thought it was the coolest thing imaginable, except for the lack of supercars. But the appropriate summary bio would be Coder, Microsoft Co-founder, Billionaire Hedonist.

How an augmented reality tourist guide tried to break my balls


Re: Dead trees never failed anyone


Glibc 'abortion joke' diff tiff leaves Richard Stallman miffed


Re: Wait, what?

Right. And I've noticed that humour is the hallmark of all internet utterances that contain the term "SJW" (or its apparent synonym "snowflake").

App devs bewildered by last-minute Google GDPR klaxon


Re: Sorry Google, you've fucked up again.

Looks like they've already addressed that:

Google returned to the fray. There will be three options on the consent dialog, a rep explained: 1) Personalised ads 2) Non-personalised ads or 3) Ad free.

"The first two constitute consent to show ads to the user (personalized or non-personalized as the case may be)," explained Google's "Sam".

"The third option is up to you. As previously mentioned, a common use case will be to send the user to the store listing for the premium version of your app."

This makes perfect sense to me. Instead of having to dig through settings menus to turn off ad tracking, you get the option at first run. And, depending on what the app maker decides to offer, you may have a further ad-free paid version. They should, however, list the price of the ad-free version on the consent dialog so the choice is clear.

Beach, please... Billionaire VC finally opens way to waves


Re: B E A C H P A R T Y ! ! ! !

Did regular concert goers judge that the best sound balance was usually to be heard from within large concrete bunkers some thirty-seven miles away from the stage?

Drunk canoeing no longer driving offence in Canada


Re: Surprised

It's a canoe. Not a bloody speedboat.

Dieting cannibals: At last, a scientist has calculated calories for human body parts


2) Amputate a lower limb - cauterise and apply a makeshift tourniquet to prevent the resource spoiling...

You've just described the opening of Richard Morgan's sci-fi novel Thirteen. Now I really enjoyed his earlier future-noir books, but this was a bit off for my taste. (sorry)

Gov wants to make the UK the 'safest place in the world to go online'


Re: It ain't that easy

I do have a cheap Amazon Fire tablet. We bought it for my son when he was 5 and have handed it down to his sister. It does work well if all you need a tablet for is to temporarily distract the little ones. We give it out where their patience runs out in the car or at restaurants. It's especially useful if you have Amazon Prime because they give you versions of some kids' games that have in-app purchasing stripped out and you can download several videos at a time for offline viewing. But it falls apart if you need to go outside Amazon's walled garden. Even after sideloading Google Play, I was unable to get certain apps he needed for school to work. And it suffers from the same lack of granularity in its parental controls that everything else does. For example, you can set a total time limit for all apps, but not individual apps nor can you distinguish between school and entertainment apps.


It ain't that easy

Any of the commenters above have young children? I have a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old. It's hardly as easy the comments above suggest. When I'm minding the young one, how am I supposed to constantly monitor her older brother? I can't cut off net access, his school requires much of his homework be done through websites or apps, including Google Docs.

I can't tell you how many hours I have spent fiddling with privacy and parental control settings and applications between a chromebook, a tablet and the Xbox One his maternal uncle (and thus my wife) insisted on. And he still constantly finds loopholes. For example, I've cut off his YouTube access on all the devices. So imagine my surprise when I get copied on his e-mail that he has comments on his new video. He was making videos of himself and his sister with the tablet and, thanks to Google's integration of everything, sharing them to YouTube via the camera app.

And, BTW, this isn't about porn that I can just filter away. It's about the complete jerks that populate every corner of the web, from commenters on newspaper websites to popular YouTube stars to how gamers talk to each other. Starting around age 5, kids eat that stuff up. They think it's cool and it clearly affects how they act.

Frankly I would welcome some regulation here. Not of internet content, but requiring that devices offer useful and usable parental controls. For example, the parental controls on standard chromebooks are very limited. Such as you can either allow all apps or none. So if I want him to do school work on a chromebook, I have to allow alll. What is most annoying about this is that the chromebooks that google sells to schools can be tightly configured even down to per app time limits. Why can't they make that software available to parents? And why can't I easily configure an XBox to do something like only play games, allow anyone to play anything E10 and below, while disallowing chat and purchases? And Google needs kids' accounts - ones that let parents whitelist allowable activities. They let me do this with my staff at work so I know they have the capability.



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