* Posts by Suricou Raven

1643 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Jun 2007

Bionic eyes to be a thing in the next decade? Possibly. Boffins mark sensor-density breakthrough

Suricou Raven

Re: We have the technology

The brain interface part is the only essential new element. You can do the rest with a camera mounted on a headband and a wearable computer. It's just the brain interface is really hard to engineer.

The only convenience nature has given us in that task is that the visual cortex is easily accessible to surgeons. Once a suitable device makes it out of the laboratory and into regular the use, the actual installation is practically a routine procedure already. Just remove a section of skull at the back, carefully pull aside a membrane, and there's your target ready for probing. It's not entirely safe, but it's as safe as neurosurgery gets.

Capture the horrors of war in razor-sharp quality with this ruggedised Samsung phone – or just lob it at enemy forces

Suricou Raven

Samsung Galaxy?

In a pinch, you can use it as a grenade too.

More automation to suddenly look like a jolly good idea as businesses struggle through coronavirus crisis, say analysts

Suricou Raven

There lies the problem. Our hypothetical farm in 2060 is capable of manufacturing thousands of tons of food with a staff of four people to maintain the robots. They can sell that for next to nothing and still break even. But next to nothing is still more than nothing, and there are billions of unemployed who long ago spent their very last penny. So the people starve, and the crops are left to rot in their silos.

Eventually this is a recipe for social unrest. That could end in political reform to give the starving masses at least enough to not be starving any more, or it could end in violent uprising, or it could end in a police state established to quell that violent uprising.

Suricou Raven

Re: Colour Blindness

Sort of. The 'Black Swan' is the event you can't imagine, so you can't prepare for it.

The common analogy is the isolated island tribe. Imagine being on one during the era of exploration. You've been sat there for your life, living of hunting and subsistence farming. Your family have since the beginning of history. Your entire world consists of your island and a few small nearby islands. Occasionally there's a war, which consists of tribes sending raiding parties to kill a few people. Overall life seems really stable. Sometimes there's a famine, or or storm, but the gods are appeased and it feels as if life as you know it has existed since the beginning of time, and will exist forever more.

Then some strange people turn up with magic sticks that can kill from a distance, stick a weird cloth in the ground, declare that you are all now subjects of a king you've never heard of, and execute all your shamen for heresy.

That's the black swan: An event that is so far outside of experience that no-one could reasonably have anticipated it, and anyone who did would have been treated as a lunatic.

Apple owes us big time for bungled display-killing cable design in MacBook Pro kit, lawsuit claims

Suricou Raven

Re: Even those guys knew

It's actually worse than that. Their 'apple certified technicians' are expressly forbidden, on pain of revocation, from carrying out any hardware repair other than replacing modular components in the pre-approved manner. If they open up a laptop and see a failed capacitor on the backlight driver, they have to replace the entire screen - and then they need to return the faulty one to apple for destruction, to make sure it can't end up on the grey market for non-certified technicians to use.

Square peg of modem won't fit into round hole of PC? I saw to it, bloke tells horrified mate

Suricou Raven

Re: Hmmm

There are some rare cases where the PCB is nothing but critical traces - every spot on it occupied by wires that, if cut or shorted, will destroy the device. It's a technique used for tamper-proofing devices. Usually power lines for the SRAM chip that holds the secret device key that the designer wants to keep people from extracting.

Internet Archive justifies its vast 'copyright infringing' National Emergency Library of 1.4 million books by pointing out that libraries are closed

Suricou Raven

Re: It has been explained many times ...

It also wouldn't be possible without violating international multilateral agreements, which has some serious diplomatic fallout.

Suricou Raven

Re: How Archaic Are the Opinions Here?

Sort of. Corporate personhood is complicated. In any case, US law solves that on copyright in a very simple manner. If a work was produced by a corporation (more precisely, by individuals in the employ of a corporation who assign their copyright to it under their employment contracts), then it is valid for a fixed term of 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter. It's ridiculously long, but at least it's unambiguous.

US prez Trump's administration reportedly nears new rules banning 'dual-use' tech sales to China

Suricou Raven

Plus we get a technological arms race. Great for motivating governments to throw limitless piles of money into research, which they later end up stealing from each other.

Suricou Raven

Wrong example. FPGAs are not going to be used in ventilators. I'm sure there are plenty of them in medical imaging equipment though. That's just the type of high-speed signal processing work they are made for.

Don't be fooled, experts warn, America's anti-child-abuse EARN IT Act could burn encryption to the ground

Suricou Raven

Re: Problem: Math does not know if you are crook or cop.

The obvious next step, if I were a politician with little technical knowledge? I would mandate that all digital cameras including mobile phones use software to identify child sex abuse material at point of creation and alert the authorities.

How is that achieved? Don't ask me, I'm just a politician. Apple and Google have really smart engineers, I'm sure they can figure out how to make it work.

US Homeland Security mistakenly seizes British ad agency's website in prostitution probe gone wrong

Suricou Raven

Re: Why?

It does now. It didn't recognise citizenship when first introduced - it didn't need to, as there was no concept of federal citizenship. State decided for themselves who could be a citizen. Then things got ugly as states started disagreeing on how exactly a citizen was defined after the end of the civil war - a person could be a perfectly legitimate citizen in one state, travel to another, and promptly be declared an alien and deported from the country. The fourteenth amendment settled that by establishing a mostly-agreed-upon definition of citizenship, though it still took a lot of court rulings to iron out all the details.

Suricou Raven

Re: WTF?

The DHS was originally established for counter-terrorism purposes, but their role has been expanded greatly since then. Many previously-independent agencies have now been merged as sub-agencies within the DHS. The coast guard, ICE, Customs and Border Protection, and Citizenship and Immigration Services included.

The DHS announced just last month their new priority, a "Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, the Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labor, and Child Sexual Exploitation." I'm guessing this seizure was under the human trafficking part.

Take it Huawei, Pai: Senate passes bill to rip 'dodgy' kit from rural telcos

Suricou Raven

Re: Finger up the arse assassination

The President is very well protected these days. That protection includes a supply of specially-prepared food made only from properly vetted ingredients with a documented chain of custody. They don't go around in open-topped limos any more either.

It's really an annoyance to any place the President visits. Their travel route is secured in advance by a large team of secret service agents that search and lock down every building which might provide a suitable place for a sniper. Roads are closed down. Businesses are shut. Schools are closed. Even storm drains and sewers are inspected for explosives. It's hugely disruptive and costly, but given how many people would happily give up their own lives to kill the president (Especially the current one), it's the only way to ensure that doesn't happen.

In the event that fails, the motorcade even includes an ambulance, ready to rush in and try to save the president's life following an almost-successful assassination attempt.

Suricou Raven

Re: Broken political system

America used to have a center-left and a center-right party. Now it has a center-right and a far-right party. Most of the political positions which are very popular in the rest of the developed world are poison in American politics. The things American politics decries as 'Socialism!' are mainstream elsewhere.

Suricou Raven

Re: Americans are dumb

Probably. Incumbents are re-elected more often than they are not, and the college is strongly in his favor. It is quite likely his second election will be a repeat of the first: He'll win the college, but lose the popular vote, leading to much wailing and gnashing of teeth by people who feel the college system is inherently unfair - and a renewed determination among Republican supporters to defend it at all costs.

Tutanota cries 'censorship!' after secure email biz blocked – for real this time – in Russia

Suricou Raven

Sort of. The relationship of the Soviet Union to religion changed through their history. When initially founded in the 20s, and through the 30s, they were intensely anti-religious for ideological reasons - the 'opiate of the masses' thing, regarding religion as a tool of capitalist oppression. Promising people justice in the next life so they would accept the lack of it right now. This shifted in the 40s and 50s, when religion became not just acceptable, but encouraged - providing it was the right religion. Specifically the Russian Orthodox Church, now under full state control - and a powerful way to build loyalty to community and country, and a shared Russian identity that went beyond just communism. The church and state benefited from their close alliance - the church got political influence, funding, state-provided buildings, and their propaganda in the school system. Plus there was WW2 to consider - nothing drives people to religion quite as effectively as the prospect of imminent death. This shifted again from the 60s onwards, with the church once again repressed for ideological reasons - though not to the same extreme that it was in the 20s, when purge-the-Bourgeoisie sentiment was running high.

So at some points in Soviet history, you might have been smuggling bibles in - but at other points, the government was printing and distributing bibles themselves.

A fine host for a Raspberry Pi: The Register rakes a talon over the NexDock 2

Suricou Raven

Re: Bring back netbooks

I have wondered if some manufacturers ended their netbook lines because they were cutting into sales of higher-margin ultrabooks.

Smart speaker maker Sonos takes heat for deliberately bricking older kit with 'Trade Up' plan

Suricou Raven

Re: Many happy non-returns

Speaker technology was perfected decades ago. It's just seldom used to full extent because a 'good enough' speaker is a lot cheaper to build than a perfect one, and few people are bothered by the difference.

How do you ascertain user acceptability if you keep killing off the users?

Suricou Raven


I ate a sprout for Christmas. Just one. Enough to conclude that they are very bit as disgusting as I remember.

Bitter, boiled brassica balls.

El Reg presents: Your one-step guide on where not to store electronic mail

Suricou Raven

Change the icon, and the metaphor.

Just replace the recycle bin icon with a recycle bin on fire.

A user's magnetic charm makes for a special call-out for our hapless hero

Suricou Raven

Been there. Almost.

Laptop kept turning itsself off whenever the user tried to do anything with it. Problem turned out to be one of those magnetic healing woo wristbands, combined with the laptop using a magnet for the lid-close sensor.

Boeing, Boeing, gone! CEO Muilenburg quits 'effective immediately'

Suricou Raven

Re: Resigned or fired?

CEOs are never fired. They are just directed to resign. Usually with a very substantial lump sum too.

This isn't Boeing very well... Faulty timer knackers Starliner cargo capsule on its way to International Space Station

Suricou Raven

Re: Hubris

With the number of planets and ships named after gods, we're running out of gods

Why is the printer spouting nonsense... and who on earth tried to wire this plug?

Suricou Raven

Re: The user replied: "The same electrician who changed that plug rewired my house last week!"

Mostly something from the US and other countries with such anemic wiring. They have 10A sockets at 110V, so 1100W if you're running a resistive load*. That's not even enough for a large space heater, so it's very easy to overload if you start chaining equipment. five somewhat-dated PCs at an office desk and your plug strip is on fire. British sockets are 13A at 230V, so about 3KW - you have to really put some effort into overloading that.

*A bit more for SMPS.

Suricou Raven

Re: Goal the frauds

Good luck certifying mine... there's an arduino involved. Interfaced to a humidity sensor.

China fires up 'Great Cannon' denial-of-service blaster, points it toward Hong Kong

Suricou Raven

Re: Anyone surprised

If she steps down, she will be replaced by another puppet. It won't appease the protesters for long. The things they demand, cannot be given - any Chief Executive who does will be swiftly out of a career.

How to fool infosec wonks into pinning a cyber attack on China, Russia, Iran, whomever

Suricou Raven

Re: Don't we?

Plus the Lusitania incident. Shipping vital munitions to Britain on a passenger ship, using the passengers as human shields. Put Germany in a very awkward situation: Either they ignore the Lusitania, thus allowing a safe means by which Britain can be resupplied by their officially-neutral ally America, or they classify the ship as a war supply and sink it, but in doing so have to kill a great many American civilians, thus giving the American government a justification they can use to convince their reluctant population to support a declaration of war. A lose-lose situation.

Germany choose the latter.

Is your computer doctor secretly a racist? Two US senators want to find out the truth

Suricou Raven

So, no

Catchy headline, but on further investigation the algorithm doesn't want to kill black people. It just wants to kill poor people.

I guess that's ok then.

High-resolution display output or Wi-Fi: It seems you can only choose one on Raspberry Pi 4

Suricou Raven

Re: Interference

Cans are pricy. The Pi is built to the tightest possible budget (it has to be cheap enough that schools can accept students smashing a few in boredom), so compromises are made.

Uni of London loses attempt to block mobe mast surveyors from Paddington rooftop

Suricou Raven

Re: Vodafone's London HQ also a NIMBY?

If only Vodaphone had some radio engineers on staff who know how to re-orientate an antenna. Alas, they lack such knowledge.

'Horndog hackers' have a Wales of a time slinging smut from UK gov Twitter account

Suricou Raven

The worst part about this?

It's just not funny any more. Just plain pornography has been done so many times, there's no humor value. Mix it up a bit next time. Try something weird - maybe the porn comedy "Hard BreXXXit" would be a good choice? Or something from the world of amateur adult animation that defies the limits of the real world. Or anything at all from Japan.

Surely someone, somewhere must have made Rule 34 of the Welsh flag?

Gospel according to HPE: And lo, on the 32,768th hour did thy SSD give up the ghost

Suricou Raven

Re: you never know when your SSD might be used in a time machine.

Many CPUs still do: BCD operations are still part of the x86 ISA. Not sure how often they get used though.

Halfords invents radio signals that don't travel at the speed of light

Suricou Raven

Re: Definition

Not any more. The DAB+ version of the standard now in common use runs a codec called 'AAC+'. It's considerably more efficient, which allows the operators to turn the bitrate down even lower to cram in even more stations that no-one wants.

Microsoft joins Google and Mozilla in adopting DNS over HTTPS data security protocol

Suricou Raven

Re: Windows Server

Cleanfeed is just BT's implementation. It has become something of a genericised trademark though, as other ISP filters are sometimes referred to as Cleanfeed.

There is no government mandate on exactly how the filtering is to be achieved. There isn't even a statutory requirement that filtering be used at all - but there have been a few political statements making it quite clear that if all major ISPs do not voluntarily maintain some form of filter, a law to force them will be passed. It's an optioinal-but-not-really thing.

As for how it works, who knows? The systems are very secretive. There was the incident some years ago in which part of Wikipedia was blocked that shed some light on how it works, and the Australian block list was leaked once revealing it to be full of mistakes and over-blocking, but for the most part it's so secretive that when a page is blocked some ISPs spoof a 404 error in order to obscure that any filtering is happening at all. The Virgin Media system, as of 2008, used a combination of DNS filtering, IP filtering and - for hosts which required blocking only some files, or shared hosts - redirecting all HTTP traffic for a certain host through a proxy server which could block specific files. That's how the Wikipedia block was detected - for a brief time all UK traffic was being directed through just a few proxy servers, and appearing to come from this handful of IP addresses, which played hell with Wikipedia's abuse and spam detection. That was more than ten years ago, so it's very likely they have moved on to something more advanced now - probably involving a list of suspect IPs on which to carry out DPI.

Intel end-of-lifing BIOS and driver downloads for dusty hardware

Suricou Raven

In a hundred years, the personal collections of pirates may become a valuable historical resource - the only people to systematically store and organise all the things which others could not for legal reasons.

Judge shoots down Trump admin's efforts to allow folks to post shoddy 3D printer gun blueprints online

Suricou Raven

Re: Why a 3D printed gun?

Because if you feel you need a gun, a crap gun is better than no gun. The liberator is not aimed at people who can go out and buy a gun legitimately - it's for people who either live in countries with strict gun control, or who are prevented from buying a gun legally and lack the underground connections to obtain one illegally. It's a libertarian project, thus the name - the idea is to render it impossible for the any government to decide who is and isn't allowed to carry lethal force. If any idiot can print a gun, then everyone has access to guns, and it doesn't matter what the law says if it cannot be enforced.

Without any apparent irony, Google marks Chrome's 'small' role in web ecosystem

Suricou Raven

I sense more AMP.

"...Badging is intended to identify when sites are authored in a way that makes them slow generally, looking at historical load latencies."

Translation: "If your site doesn't use AMP, our beloved make-all-our-trackers-run-faster system, we'll classify it as a slow site and steer people away.

Suricou Raven

Re: Using market share to influence the web...

Don't knock WebP too much. I can't speak for the lossy mode, but lossless wipes the floor with PNG for image compression ratio. Even pngcrush/optipng/advpng optimised PNG. If only Safari would support it, the world could consign PNG to the legacy-bucket along with GIF.

I'd add AMP to the list though.

What is this, 1989? Laplink is still a thing and wants to help with Windows 7 migrations

Suricou Raven

Re: external USB hard drives

I've had lots and lots of DVD-Rs turn unreadable after a few years. Various brands, if mostly cheap ones. If you really want something kept safely, no media is perfect - you just have to keep two copies of everything.

Delayed, over-budget smart meters will be helpful – when Blighty enters 'Star Trek phase'

Suricou Raven

Re: "when we move to the Star Trek phase..."

Star Trek: Where the technology is all super-advanced, but it breaks down every ten minutes in exciting and plot-affecting ways? Where a ship can be crippled by cooking the wrong type of cheese, and control panels explode in a shower of sparks every time the camera wobbles?

Suricou Raven

Re: None of the mooted advantages need smart meters anyway

There might be for the freezer. It depends how fine-grained and responsive the control system is. If we're down to a resolution of minutes, it might well be practical for the grid to direct all the nation's freezers, air conditioners and heating systems to turn off for a short time in response to sudden load spikes or loss of generating capacity - just as a temporary measure while the pumped storage or gas turbine stations spin up to operating speed. With suitable financial incentive to make sure manufacturers have reason to support the capability, of course.

Suricou Raven

Until they do figure it out, project the losses with a back-of-the-envelope calculation, and hit you with fifteen years of unpaid bills at once.

Suricou Raven

Re: It's about money

There's a long history of 'hacking' power meters for free electricity. Lots of tricks thought up by inventive criminals. On some older models of meter you could saturate a sense inductor or jam a mechanical movement by placing a strong magnet in just the right place, though meter designers caught on and fixed that vulnerability long ago. There's always the simple method of sticking a concealed tap into the incoming wires before they reach the meter.

There's a history of countermeasures too. The substation measures power going out, the company adds up the usage of all customers on that circuit, and if they don't match up it's time to send out the meter 'readers' with orders to look for anything suspicious. Some meters also include a magnetically-tripped tamper-detection device, to catch those who still try to use the old magnet-on-the-meter trick.

We read the Brexit copyright notices so you don't have to… No more IP freely, ta very much

Suricou Raven

Re: The copyright scam and its demise

You forget that the UK is in much the same boat: We too were once a mighty giant of manufacturing, who lost much of that trade to countries more geographically suited and economically disposed to low wages and lax regulation just as we once were. Our economy shifted towards services and intellectual property. The cycle affects many countries - even China is starting preparations for their own transition,and eyeing Vietnam as a good place to get low-cost manufacturing done.

Suricou Raven

Re: In other NEWS...

I think this is more of a vodka situation.

Suricou Raven

Something missing.

The UK increased the copyright duration on sound recordings from 50 years to 70 in order to comply with EU law. This will of course remain codified into UK law post-brexit... but we could repeal it. In theory. We won't, of course. The Beatles are far too important to do that - if they don't keep getting paid, they might not make any more music.

Well, well, well. Fancy that. UK.gov shelves planned pr0n block

Suricou Raven

Re: It would never work

You also underestimate the internet. Soon there would be a foo-unblocked.com, which carries all foo's content plus some extra adds. Followed in short order by foo-unblocked.org, foo-unblocked.net, foo-unblocked.xyz, foo-unbloked.io, f00-unblocked-dot-everything.

Suricou Raven

Re: They obviously overlooked the RTA system

If 99% of smut-peddlers properly label their sites, and the filtering is actually enforced, the last 1% will get a lot more traffic. It creates an awkward incentive for sites that actively try to avoid being filtered.

Google unplugs AMP, hooks it into OpenJS Foundation after critics turn up the volume

Suricou Raven


You want a fast-loading webpage? Do it old-school then. No javascript dependencies - if you need javascript for something, make sure the page can at least render without it needing to load and run. No loading from six different tracking and analytics sites. No fancy layout of things that scroll in and out from the side and probably don't work on tablets anyway. Just nice, simple HTML and CSS, with maybe a few img or video tags.