* Posts by Ru

1818 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Jun 2007

Big data: You've got to spend a dollar ... to make fifty-two cents – report


A lack of compelling business use case

Why isn't this reason at the top of the list?

REVEALED: Hungry termites nibbling at Oracle's foundation


Re: Postgres? No, thank you.

despise most of the NoSQL stuff because it seems that most of those solutions stem from hatred of SQL instead of rational thinking.

I suspect the real problem here is the marketers and large number of vocal project managers and developers (both commercial and freebie open source) who embrace the fad-du-jour, and decide that now they have this awesome hammer, all their problems can be reduced to nails and often rant a lot in an uninformed fashion and the stuff they used to use and how everyone who is still using it must be a total cretin.

This problem is not exclusive to NoSQL (Ruby and node.js spring to mind, I suspect Hadoop may have had a similar phase). The tools themselves are very useful within their limits; hating NoSQL because a bunch of idiots say 'eventual consistency is good enough for everything!' seems a little... misaimed.

Microsoft offers IE 11 preview for Windows 7 ... but not Windows 8


From the look of it, the only way to get IE11 running on Windows 8 will be to install the Windows 8.1 update when it eventually ships

Hooray for tight integration between applications and the operating systems they run on. Is it still the case that the only way to run multiple versions of IE on a single OS instance is to use Wine on Linux, or similar?

Sometimes I wonder if the company as a whole would have been better off if it was broken up back when the big antitrust cases were kicking off in the US. The corporate politics, unnecessary interdependencies and Windows before everything attitude hasn't done them many favours in the intervening years.

The FLOATING mobile phone shop on the edge of the Internet


Is there anywhere I can go that will help me escape from the blight of the mobile phone?

I recommend taking up diving as a hobby. Or perhaps caving, depending on where you live.

Consider than mobile telephony is not a blight to a person who has no other means of reliable communication beyond earshot.

MS, Chinese boffins team up on Kinect-powered sign language recog


"Also they may be using the new version, which reportedly is much more acurate."

There's more than one prototype depth camera floating around MSR. They're all a wee bit better at capturing fine detail than the original system, but it is the application software that makes them accurate at tracking gestures, not the camera itself.

'First' 3D-printed rifle's barrel splits after single shot


Re: Gun detection

This isn't, ultimately, about identifying gun design motifs or the free and easy production of firearms in some far flung future period when everyone has EBM printers.

This is about marketing.

Who'd heard of these guys before today?



Would the man be able to escape from the whale's mouth? Would the whale get sick by ingesting that man?

They couldn't have been swallowed, so the whale would have eventually had to spit em out. Divers are covered in hard bits, wiggly and have a distressing tendency to generate a lot of gas so the owners of the mouths would have quickly worked out that something was amiss.

I suspect the biggest problem is the fact that the whales are moving pretty fast, and one of them actually hitting you is going to be bad news. They probably wouldn't do it deliberately (the divers are clearly too big to be food) but if you're hiding in a dense cloud of fish, the whales may not notice til it is too late.

Ubuntu boss: I want to make a Linux hybrid mobe SO GIVE ME $32m


Re: Crowd sourcing...

Given that several kickstarter campaigns have raised a few million dollars in funding, it isn't really surprising that large existing organisations would take the opportunity to obtain investment in return for toys instead of stock.

I'm not totally adverse to the idea, but I'd have expected an organisation with that much wealth behind it to have at least some sort of prototype, or indeed anything in their pitch beyond artist's impressions and a wishlist. Poor effort.

Only 1 in 5 Americans believe in pure evolution – and that's an upswing


Re: has your code evolved lately?

For technical readers, many of whom probably write very clever computer code, how many believe that if they leave their computer, or a main frame, or Google's entire system to its own devices, that any useful program, utility or intelligence will evolve randomly given enough time?

Leaving aside the issues of system longevity (the Earth has had a solid crust, oceans and an atmosphere for billions of years; the projected uptime of my computer is a little less), fragility and of the ability to support complexity, there's nothing stopping the bits in my computer's RAM being spontaneously rearranged into a working implementation of tetris by a passing cosmic ray. Probability doesn't require belief.

Incidentally, abiogenesis ain't evolution, as others have already pointed out.

PHWOAR! Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, Prime Minister


Re: Darwin Awards (cont)

Besides, there is no such thing as society. Or hadn't you heard?

Sure there is! Its the stuff that we're all in, together! Or at least, that was some kind of s-word.


Network level porn control is, on balance, the lesser of two evils and

Is it really? It isn't at all clear to me that the ease of access to pornography in the modern world is causing catastrophic social damage and an epidemic of sexual assault, and a little research suggests that there's no strong evidence in favour of that theory.

On the otherhand we risk ham-handed censorship and giving our governments yet another tool of spying and oppression. I'm wondering what you weighed your balance with, at this point.

we should focus our energy on making sure it works well - e.g. it doesn't outlaw LGBT.

Given the sheer amount of cultural nuance and context that might distinguish porn from not-porn, I propose that the classification problem is AI-hard. Categorising the entirety of the internet would be a sisphyean task for humans, after all, and any simple automated system is merely enumerating badness and we should all know how well that works.

Technology is not an appropriate solution for all problems.

Burger-rage horse dumps on McDonald's: Rider saddled with fat fine


Re: Does anyone know

A flashmob of motorised unicycles at this particular McD's would be a glorious sight

Its the poor schmoe behind the window I feel sorry for. I don't believe that independence of thought and action are encouraged at that level of employment. Be entertaining to see how well the manager handles it, mind you.

100-metre asteroid 2013 NE19 zipped past Earth today


Re: Who cares

With odds like that they can fly past every day and I won't care.

They do fly past pretty frequently, and for the most part no-one else cares either... a quick look at https://twitter.com/AsteroidMisses suggests we get a rock passing within 10 lunar distances every few weeks or so.

The problem with this one was that it was only spotted when it was already exceedingly close, because we're doing a lousy job of searching and our interception abilties are so primitive that we seriously need easrlier warning in able to do something about any rock that will actually hit us; that's what you should care about.


Re: Too big for NASA's "Asteroid heist" mission plan, too small for easy detection. OTOH....

Bottom line, the only borderline viable method would be to send 2 nukes, one to dig a hole into the object, one to go down it and shatter it.

To quote from the article you linked,

We can't afford to shatter the comet

Knocking chunks off the outside isn't quite the same.

Pedantry aside, that particular bit of analysis was with regards to a 15-50km diameter comet; a 100m diameter body like this one would be straightfoward by comparison, and a substantially more common risk.

Still, here's hoping that the USAF didn't lose all their casaba-howitzer designs when Orion was kicked to the kerb.

Top Mozillans dream of quarterly Firefox OS updates ... and users, too


Re: @Ru They're kidding right?

"The recent brouhaha regarding android package signing " doesn't exist to the 99.99999% of android users who do not visit tech sites like the Reg.

This isn't about average users, or even experts.

The operating system manufacturer who owns the branding cares, because in the event of a serious and widespread exploit they'll be the ones who get it in the shorts regardless of whether or not it is their fault. The phone manufacturers and telcos will care if they fail to provide timely patches to deal with critical security issues, and end up exposing themselves to liabilities.

These things are externalities now, but they are not likely to remain that way forever. If this isn't enforced by the upstream vendor, the risk is that it will eventually be enforced by a bunch of lawyers, class action lawsuits and ultimately folk like the EU probably making a slightly misguided effort to deal with the problem.

The users won't care til their online banking apps turn out to be trojans.


Re: They're kidding right?

Some manufactures and telcos consider their phones fire and forget. Maybe if you're lucky the'll get thrown an update here and there

The recent brouhaha regarding android package signing suggests that the days of fire and forget may be behind the mobile vendors and telcos. Two year phone contracts without any guarantee of OS updates in that time looks downright negligent these days. I wonder if it exposes the vendors to liability, and if not yet whether it may soon.

WAR ON PORN: UK flicks switch on 'I am a pervert' web filters

Big Brother

Re: Some form of Child Monitoring Adult Required?

The adults taking on this responsibility would be People Acting Responsibly, Educating, Nourishing, Teaching and Stimulating their charges or PARENTS for short.

That's exactly the sort of behaviour these new rules are intended to prevent.

Psssst: If you wanna be rich, make the next privacy Robocop app


Re: No shit, Sherlock!

Even with Javascript decryption, you'd have to trust the site providing it

I did think about this. Ultimately, it is possible to examine the behaviour of software running on your own machines and tranmissions over your own networks. Covert channels can be very stealthy indeed, so you can never be 100% certain, but you can go a long way by logging what the javascript (or whatever) client is trying to send.

I'd prefer to be running my own client software, but even the javascript approach is more useful than Hushmail's.

Technical solutions aren't the answer - only legal solutions

Legal solutions generally have legal workarounds, especially when it comes to issues of national security which often grants those working around the problem with legal immunity of various kinds, and gagging orders. The best you can hope for is a decent audit trail and responsible oversight, which ultimately boils down to a matter of how much you trust Google (or whatever other service provider) and your local friendly security services, vs how much you trust the implementation of GPG in your mail client.

In the spirit of "trust, but verify", I'd lean towards the latter because I can take some minimal steps to ensure it isn't misbehaving. Bit hard to do that with big corporation and government agencies in your own country, let alone foreign ones.

Big Brother

any U.S company and many Western software security companies will simply be pressured (one way or another) into releasing algorithms or making some sort of backdoor for 'national security' requests

Adding a backdoor that's untraceable by cryptanalysts is a tricky job. Creating a cryptographic algorithm that actually works well is also pretty hard, that's why most folk use standard ones like AES. AES may be an NSA approved standard, but ultimately it has seen some serious investigation and appears to be sound. Remember that vulnerable encryption is bad news for big western businesses, and they're the ones who keep the political parties propped up. If nothing else, it'll be quite hard to stop end-users making use of their own cryptographic software.

No, instead you'll see other means for the security services to get the information they need. In the UK at least they'll just lock you up if you don't hand over your encryption keys. The Fifth Amendment appears to protect US folk for now, but I wonder if all it would take is a bomber using encrypted email or files to give police additional powers if they suspected terrorist activity?


Re: Detailed Control of Smartphone app permissions is seriously needed

Cyanogenmod has granular permission toggles, but even better the recent builds have Privacy Guard, which enables spoof empty contact...

Woah, seriously? That's a feature I've been waiting for in Android for years. My next Android device will definitely be a Cyanogen-compatible one.

Black Helicopters

Re: No shit, Sherlock!

When will Gmail incorporate automatic PGP?

Hushmail touts PGP encrypted mail as one of its big benefits. Unfortunately, the private keys are held server side, and as a result they can pretty much decrypt whatever the hell they wanted and indeed did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hushmail#Compromises_to_email_privacy

I'm not aware of a javascript based system that would let you do client-side encryption of webmail, yet, and that's what would probably be needed for GMail to run PGP in a way that actually stopped the likes of the NSA having free reign of your private keys. Now if Google added PGP/GPG support to their standard Android mail clients and let you set up a key pair as part of the Google account registration system, that would be rather different and much more interesting. I'm not holding my breath though.

Pwn all the Androids, part II: Flaw in Java, hidden Trojan


Re: So why didn't google make the play store push out system updates?

Would you expect "GNU" to be pushing out updates to Red Hat, Ubuntu, Mint etc every time there is a bug/security flaw, or would you expect the Red Hat et al to be doing it?

What's in it for the phone manufacturers? If the average customer hasn't heard of this security issue, and even f they have they might not care, and the problem isn't unique to them, there's very little incentive for them to do any work. Google don't make them push updates, and the manufacturers would much rather just concentrate on getting their next batch of devices working and sold and encourage their customers to upgrade.

Even a small team of devs won't come cheap, and the work they do does not directly generate revenue. Unless Google's own Ts&Cs for their licensees include patching timescales and product support lifetime requirements, I don't see many manufacturers doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. I don't see Google making their Ts&Cs more onerous either, because they don't want to lose their customers, who do care about such things.

TL;DR: the manufacturers don't care, because customers don't care and aren't willing to pay a premium.



There appears to be one notable fixed point in the reorganisation. One particular bit of corporate structure that is long overdue for a change, and definitely in need of some new blood. One that seems to have consistently underperformed over the past decade or so, and yet escaped censure.

Anyone else spot it?

Are driverless cars the death knell of the motor biz?


Re: So what the author is suggesting is...

Busses aren't that great, due to their inconvenient timetabling and limited routes. Round these parts busses are okay for commuters because there are plenty of services between the centres of employment and sattelite towns and villages, but they're terrible for getting between those villages, for example.

“why should it be your car?” Why own a car at all?

People like owning stuff. It can be the size and colour they want, with the features they want, and they can leave all their crap in it whenever they like.

Already, there's a trend among “millennials” away from car ownership: they use taxis for short trips.

What's the cost of car insurance for teenagers these days?

Universal Credit? Universal DISCREDIT, more like, say insiders


Another year, another catastrophically broken government IT project. Same idiots, same mistakes. Every single time.

Is it actually possible for any UK government IT project to actually pass at least two of these criteria: on time, on budget, works as expected? How about just one of those?

Where does the justification for these projects come from? Has one ever made things better, justifying further projects?

Android sig vuln exploit SEEN IN THE WILD


Re: @Reda

Android's update infrastructure is crap.

Is it that the infrastructure is crap, or is it that the policies regarding updates are crap?

It is basically left to the discretion of device manufacturers (and potentially network operators) to integrate, test and push updates to end users. The ability of those people and their willingness to do so varies dramatically. Google don't twist any arms, certainly.

OFFICIAL: Humans will only tolerate robots as helpful SLAVES


Re: Do we actully have robots?

Is this going to turn into a "no true Scotsman" type argument? What do you consider to be a "real robot"? Do you mean a human-type android? If so, the answer is no. Otherwise, the world is full of mobile automated systems capable of reacting to stimuli and performing tasks with out the active direction of a human.

Elon Musk's Grasshopper tops 300m, lands safely


Perhaps you could remind us of the history of successful lifting body based launch vehicles.

It is remarkably simliar to the history of successful reuseable launch vehicles capable of controlled vertical landing on Earth.

If you include air-breathing, winged first stages then I'd say that aerodynamic, re-useable launch stages have had a rather better history... WhiteKnight has been the first stage of a couple of suborbital flights, and Orbital Sciences' Lockheed L-1011 has been a part of numerous commercial launches putting payloads in orbit using a Pegasus rocket.

I am aware of the PRIME, ASSET, BOR-4 and MiG 105 payloads only.

The fact that no-one has used primary stages capable of aerodynamic landing has not passed me by, believe it or not. This is why I was asking actual figures or at the very least some research papers. Pointing out that no-one has made such a thing does not even begin to explain why not.


Re: VTOL booster, crazy?

A little more pondering presents two more possible reasons...

1. asymmetric rocket designs are not your friend. The spaceshuttle was very usual... almost all rocket designs are axisymmetric as it makes all sorts of balancing and steering issues at takeoff vastly simpler.

2. The Grasshopper design can almost be integrated 'for free' into the existing Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy stacks

From a short-to-medium term point of view, (2) is probably the major benefit. Boosters capable of aerodynamic descent probably want a new rocket design, and that's expensive enough for now that any future cost savings might not look very attractive.

Roll on Lofstrom loops, eh?


Re: VTOL booster, crazy?


Of the 135 Space Shuttle flights, single Buran flight, single BOR-4 flight and at least 3 X-37 flights all of which involved an orbit, re-entry and glide phase, only one had a catastrophic failure on re-entry. That failure, damage to heat shielding, is exactly the same sort of risk that any large re-entry vehicle would face regardless of whether it had wings or not.

Furthermore, the accident was caused during re-entry, not something that the Grasshopper or its immediate descendants are ever likely to be subjected to.

Actually, there was a fair amount of research done on the concept of a piloted "flyback booster" very early in the Space Shuttle program, but were scrapped for technical and cost reasons.

Ahh, that's a bit more like it. I guess I'll have to look into those a little further, but I wonder if technology has marched on sufficiently to deal with the issues they'd encountered then. Modern approaches to rocketry staging are slightly different, too. The Grasshopper design is probably cheaper to scale than building ever bigger winged external fuel tanks though, so that is definitely in its favour.


Yes, I am aware of the fact that other planets/moons have insufficient atmosphere for an aerodynamic landing, but that isn't particularly interesting... landing on other bodies in the solar system isn't exactly a solved problem, , but it is one that has been done many times in many different ways. The Grasshopper is interesting mostly because it is doing so with a quite a large rocket, in a pretty strong gravitational field.

You'd need as much if not more fuel to carry the extra weight of the lifting and control surfaces, it would dramatically increase the cost of each launch and it would introduce a lot more potential failure points.

That argument could work both ways though. Wings and lifting bodies are potentially very simple devices, with no parts that might be expected to explode in an enormous fireball, and control of gliding and flying bodies in Earth's atmosphere is a well understood science after all... the Grasshopper by contrast is quite novel.

That's why I asked about actual figures. The implication is that cost of this whole Grasshopper project, and the additional cost, weight and engineering complexity per rocket using this technology in future still represents excellent value for money compared to parachute+crunchdown or the production of glidable boosters or indeed the use of WhiteKnight style aircraft first stages. Vertical rocket landing is positively Heath Robinson; where are the savings?

Paris Hilton

It seems a bit crazy to me that vertical landing under Earth's gravity and in a thick atmposhere is considered a good idea, compared to a lifting body design that can do a glide landing. All that fuel you need to carry up just to give you a soft landing seems like an incredibly expensive waste.

I assume they've run the numbers on this. Anyone got any ideas about what is wrong with aerodynamic landing on a runway? Do vertical landing rockets really weigh less and cost less than wings?

Brits: Give us £1m and we'll build a crack ALIEN-HUNTING TEAM


Personally, I'd be more keen on funding going towards ensuring we don't get smashed by an asteroid any time soon. Because if we do happen to be the only intelligent things around, it would be a bit of a waste if we were squished because we were looking for little green men instead of big grey rocks.

Run for your (private) lives! Facebook's creepy Graph Search is upon us

Big Brother

Re: Optional

If you haven't erased your profile then now is the time to do it.

What is this 'erase' you speak of? We can offer you a 'temporary unlinking of public profile' but we know you don't really mean it, so we're keeping all your data available and searchable so as to provide a better experience for you when you think better of your foolish actions and rejoin the flock!

US public hate Snowden - but sexpot spy Anna Chapman LOVES him


Re: Dear Mr Snowden

Now the Snowden haters are in the ascendancy, with 43 percent of Americans saying they have an unfavourable view of the whistleblower, and 36 percent in favour.

I wonder how the survey went.

"Do you you love freedom, apple pie and the American dream and support those who protect it? Or do you hate democracy and want nothing more than this great country to be laid waste by suicide bombers and godless communists?"

Godmother of Unix admins Evi Nemeth presumed lost at sea


1. There's no such thing as a freak wave

Would you prefer "rogue wave"? Or perhaps "totally natural but rather rare and effectively unpredictable wave of substantially greater height than prevailing sea conditions" if you're not into that whole brevity thing.

Either way, I'm reasonably certain that they're a thing that exists, and that "freak wave" isn't a totally unreasonable term for them.

Tickle my balls, stroke my button and blow the fluff from my crack

Paris Hilton


I was half expecting you to link to this: http://www.joepublicamsterdam.com/old-work/playboy-mouse/

Apple files patent for 'Waze-plus'

Paris Hilton

Re: You've got to be kidding me

Like it or not, crowdsourced traffic data works and works well, you don't have to use it, listen to the radio if you wish. To try to extol the virtues of being a luddite on a technology site seems a little short-sighted.

Er, I'm not actually claiming that the new stuff is crap compared to the old stuff, only that it is effectively the same with a shinier wrapper. You presumably didn't notice that I at no point claimed radio was better. Anyway, the clue is in my concluding question, "So, uh, the inventive step is, uh... help me out here?"... turns out this article is about a patent which are (at least theoretically) supposed to be about a means for advancing the state of the art and granting a temporary monopoly over a novel process or an important inventive step over an existing one.

Perhaps you have some ideas as to why this is a valid patent?

Google maps and Waze both show real-time information based upon actual traffic speed and, with waze, real-time reports of debris, roadworks, car breakdowns, speed traps etc.

Ahh, no... you have some examples of more recent prior art. So, uh, thanks for angrily agreeing with me, I guess.


Re: Not binary

Joe Bloggs likes Junction 8 of the M5!

Click here to see other motorways Joe likes, or here to recommend M5J8 to your friends!


Re: You've got to be kidding me

Here in the UK we have things called "numbered routes", say "M25". And specific locations upon that route are also identifiable, say "Junction 14". Now, there's this fairly asymmetric and quite old school communcations medium called 'radio', which in combination with another old school communication system called a "phone" enabled people aware of accidents and traffic jams at particular locations to inform the radio station, and anyone listening to that radio got to hear about the problem and plan alternatives.

This system also had the benefit of getting information from slightly more reputable sources, such as the poluce, rather than merely relying on the public to volunteer useful information crowdsourcing it.

So, uh, the inventive step is, uh... help me out here?

US Navy coughs $34.5m for hyper-kill railgun that DOESN'T self-destruct

Black Helicopters

Re: Revolutionise what?

if there was only naval warfare available, russia would be on the top with their supercavitating shkval torpedoes

Interestingly, the Iranians appear to have reverse-engineered the Shkval and made their own. No idea if it actually works, of course.

The important thing to note is that the Shkval was designed as a defensive system, and has a relatively short range... ~12km or so. That's pretty close to a carrier battlegroup that'll have a screen of antiair and antisubmarine stuff out around it to a reasonably large distance... it would be tricky to get close enough to make a kill with a Shkval without being spotted.

By comparison, the Sunburn/Moskit missile has a 120km range, and doesn't require a submarine force to launch it from.


Re: Cooling

very few weapon systems are designed on the basis that you build the platform around them - the only one I can think of easily is ICBM nuke submarines.

Aircraft carriers, perhaps? Old-school big gun battleships certainly were, and anything with railguns as its primary armament will be reaching back to that era.


Re: Pizza ?

Pizza? Tricky... the toppings would all get blown off. Calzone on the other hand...


Re: Revolutionise what?

But I haven't seen much serious naval warfare lately.

No, but there's been plenty of sabre rattling regarding the straits of Hormuz, and then there's the whole Taiwan thing, too. The US's ability to project force is heavily dependant on its carrier battlegroups, and it is clearly prepared to spend crazy money to keep that ability.

Cryptocat WIDE OPEN, new version a must


Re: Open source or closed source.

If open source. Shame on the users.

Have a quick read of some of this stuff: http://security.stackexchange.com/questions/37157/flaws-in-crypto-cat

Seems like the code was audited, more than once (I have no particular interest in finding out how competent the auditors were, however). The problem is, some kinds of keying bugs are startlingly difficult to spot and very easy to introduce... see the Debian SSL/SSH screwup in the recent past for another example. If this stuff can be missed by so many people for so long, it is perhaps a good reminder that "many eyes" helps software quality, but does not guarantee it.