* Posts by Graham 24

196 publicly visible posts • joined 27 Mar 2012


IBM punts cryptotastic cloudy ID verification services

Graham 24

Rate Limiting

Presumably there's some rate limiting in there somewhere.

Identity Mixer can confirm that Alice is at least 12 without disclosing her date of birth and reveal that she lives in the correct region.

Q: Is Alice at least 12?

A: Yes

Q: Is Alice at least 13?

A: Yes

Q: Is Alice at least 14?

A: Yes

Q: Is Alice at least 15?

A: No


Powering the Internet of Stuff – by sucking electricity from TREES

Graham 24

Re: Energy from a nail in a tree

Tree puns are a real beech. I willow you a beer if you stop, oak-ay? Yew know you're only trying to make yourself poplar with everyone. So fir goodness sake, spruce yourself up and cedar whole thing from my point of view.

Opera Jon weaves a brand new browser

Graham 24

Re: Just what the world needs

It uses the Chromium engine underneath (all the way down to getting the same text in the same debug log file on install), so if it looks OK in Chrome, it should look OK in Vivaldi.

Graham 24

Re: /.

Just tried it - /. in address bar brings up slashdot.org....

On the downside - why do application developers seem to think that it's alright to build their own outer frames for windows and ignore the operating system's configuration? Some people, due to eyesight issues and so on, deliberately change things like border colours. It's a real pity when an arrogant dev. assumes that they know better than the end user.

On the upside - I can see "tabs on left" catching on, particularly with those mahoosively wide screens that seem to be the fashion these days.

Welcome to Spartan, Microsoft's persuasive argument for... Chrome

Graham 24

Re: But it's Google...

No, you just sign in to Microsoft when you start the computer

I don't - I just log into the corporate domain, which I do trust, since it pays my salary!

Graham 24

Re: "having to build for not one but two Microsoft browsers"

There will always be rendering differences between different engines though. HTML 5 and CSS are extremely complicated, and providing a totally complete specification of how pages should be rendered is impossible. Completely specifying any software system is impossible - there will always be grey areas and those are ultimately implementation decisions made by the developers, who may well genuinely believe they are coding to specification but different developers will make different decisions.

Those implementation differences and good old fashioned bugs in each engine mean that in reality, complex pages are going to be different in different browsers.

As just one example, look at W3 Box model, section 8.5.1. The official specification, when discussing border widths, says

The interpretation of the first three values depends on the user agent.

The chances of the developers at Google, Microsoft and Mozilla all having the same definitions of what constitutes a thin, medium or thick border is very slim - and that's just drawing a line around a box, which most people would not consider to be complex rendering.

Graham 24

Re: But it's Google...

To be fair, how is that specific to Google?

Start Chrome, you are asked to "sign in to Google". Start IE, you are not asked to "sign in to Microsoft". Google is the only browser publisher that wants to know who you are from the outset.

It's not the fault of a syncing service if an internal system is insecure (and I never said it was) - but the fact that a syncing service is built in to the product makes a breach more likely in that case.

Graham 24

But it's Google...

For Chrome in the enterprise, there's probably still some trust issues to get round, I think. The Chrome download page, talking about how Google copies your bookmarks etc to all devices, says "It’s your web. Take it with you". I read that as "It’s our web. Tell us everything you do".

A lot of corporate applications aren't terribly well designed, and do things like put account numbers in URLs and so on. That's not so much of a problem if nothing leaves the network perimeter. It's more of a problem when someone in Payroll bookmarks their page in the in-house accounting application, and it's stored in the Googleplex, which is then synced to their phone, and that phone is then left behind on the underground one day...

Chunky Swedish ice maiden: Volvo XC60 D4 Manual EE Lux Nav

Graham 24

Re: Equipment as standard/Options disabled

Most industries do it. The technical term is "capturing the consumer surplus". You're basically getting those with more money to pay more, and those with less money to pay less. It happens with everything from a coupon giving 10p off a £1 loaf of bread (if you have the time and the lack of money to make searching for and cutting out the coupon worthwhile) to a software company charging five times as much for an "Enterprise" operating system that can access more memory than a "Standard" operating system (if you need the extra memory, you probably have the budget to pay for it). For the operating system, it's a hard-coded compile option rather than a solder bridge, but the principle is the same.

I'd heard that Audi were considering putting all options into all cars, and then enabling them on demand through the car's control modules. It may be that the extra cost of including the features in every build is outweighed by the efficiency savings on the production line and the extra purchasing power Audi would have from their component suppliers due to the increased volume. Apart from the second-hand market already mentioned, there's also the possibility of "renting" features. Heated seats that are a £900 option on a new car might be a tough sell in the showroom, especially in the summer. Enabling heated seats for 4 months a year at £30 a month allows Audi to get that same revenue, albeit over an 8 year period.

Graham 24

"The more complex the electronics, the more likely it is to go wrong".

I have a desktop computer at home. The quad-core processor in that contains many millions of tiny transistors, and is truly a marvel of engineering. I also have three incandescent bulbs over the kitchen sink, which are essentially bits of metal that get hot. Guess which one I have to replace more often?

Graham 24

Re: So, just how big is this car?

It would have been quicker for you to type "Volvo XC60 dimensions" into a search engine of your choice and click the first link.

When I did this I arrived at Volvo XC60 | Technical Specifications which told me, to the nearest millimetre, eight external and eight internal measurements.

Panicked teen hanged himself after receiving ransomware scam email

Graham 24

Re: Wait a minute

I thought all this fancy spying without court oversight would enable them to hunt terrorists and anyone who dare fart in their computer chair"

It probably does, but just as likely is that intercept data would not be used for a case like this, since it exposes the true depth of the state's capabilities. Even if the content isn't captured, I would imagine that source IP and mail headers have been, especially for a foreign-originated email.

NASA probe snaps increasingly detailed shots of MOIST DWARF goddess

Graham 24

Uh oh...

It's off-white with one large dimple in it. Remind you of anything?

"That's no dwarf planet..."

Buggy? Angry? LET IT ALL OUT says Linus Torvalds

Graham 24

Re: There are a lot of unscrupulous people in the world

Well, I've never seen the need for it - on internet fora or in "real life".

Far from finding you to be "efficient, ruthless and brutal", to me you came across as crass.

If you can't voice your opinions clearly and concisely without swearing, it's probably time to expand your vocabulary.

Graham 24

Re: There are a lot of unscrupulous people in the world

Most places, if you used the language from your post at work, you wouldn't have a chance to quit; you'd be fired first. Try standing in reception at your place of work, in front of customers, and read your post out loud. My guess is that someone would complain in fairly short order.

Graham 24

Re: Middle finger

"have your coworkers never seen a middle finger ?"

I'm sure most have, and that they know what it means. That doesn't make it appropriate for a site like The Register.

Most co-workers know the meaning of all the common "four letter" words. Most co-workers know what a person of either gender looks like without any clothes on. That doesn't make swearing or nudity appropriate for a Register article either.

'F*** you', exclaims Google Translate app, politely

Graham 24

"doesn't translate until you stop talking"

It's sometimes impossible to do anything else. German can put the verb at the end of the sentence.

German: Ich einen Kuchen gebacken

English: I baked a cake

If translating from German to English, it's impossible to get more than one word into the English translation until the German sentence is complete.

DigitalOcean adds FreeBSD, explores cloudy Windows

Graham 24

But one of the plus points of any "cloud" server is that you don't have to worry about that - you just start up an instance and pay number-of-hours x cost-per-hour.

For everyone apart from Azure, the cost-per-hour for Windows is generally higher than that for Linux, since you do ultimately pay for the licence, but not in any way that requires any additional involvement from you.

Graham 24

Apples and Oranges

The AWS to Azure comparison is based on revenue. The AWS to DigitalOcean comparison is based on web-facing server count.

There's probably little correlation between the two. DigitalOcean will be running lots of cheap lower-end Linux boxen just hosting a simple LAMP web site, whereas I expect the Azure stuff is probably a more enterprise-oriented workload with high-spec databases, financial orgs running VAR calcuations and so on, that typically wouldn't be web-facing, so invisible to Netcraft, but still commanding a much higher total revenue that DigitalOcean

Google unleashes build-it-yourself 'Ara' slablet phones (in Puerto Rico)

Graham 24

Re: No way, no how

If there's different costs for different qualities of component (battery life, screen resolution, camera image quality and so on) I can see it working.

You sell a very cheap phone built using the lowest cost component of each type, and then periodically upsell the customer a whole new phone, bit by bit. For customers without much money, this is often a much better way to get them to spend with you. Also, once you've hooked them into the ecosystem with the base model, moving away becomes less attractive. Fed up with short battery life? Don't buy that replacement iPhone, S5 etc for $$$$, just buy this high-capacity battery for a few $. Repeat this a few times and the overall spend is actually greater than if they'd bought the high-quality phone in the first place (which they couldn't afford at the time, anyway).

It's the "Vimes boots" theory of economics applied to phones.

It also possibly creates a new market in component hire. Going to a wedding? Hire this hi-res camera component for your current phone for the weekend.

iPhone addiction will RUIN YOUR LIFE – if only that were true

Graham 24

Power Switch?

If your work means that you can't be disturbed, or you want to get your beauty sleep, could you not just turn the phone off?

Tesla S P85+: Smiling all the way to the next charging point

Graham 24

Re: If only..

Two hundred years ago the world's best scientists would probably have agreed that putting 300 people in a metal tube and transporting them across the Atlantic in 6 hours was impossible...

One hundred years ago the idea that you could pick up something the size of a cigarette packet and talk to someone in Australia would have sounded impossible...

Today someone says that storing a high level of electric charge in something small enough and light enough to fit in a car is impossible...

Get your special 'sound-optimising' storage here, hipsters

Graham 24

Re: Feature requests

Russ Andrews is always good for a laugh. Re "SuperFuses", the description says

"We’ve tested our SuperFuses™ against several other competitors’ fuses and in our systems here and at home and we’ve yet to find a competitors’ fuse that outperformed our new fuses. They are a straight swap for existing 13A fuses in our mains cables – or indeed any mains cable that needs a 13A fuse.

The level of improvement that can be gained by simply changing the fuse in your mains cable makes this one of the best value upgrades you can make. Price is for a SINGLE fuse"

Nowhere does that say it will actually make things better. Still, I'm sure that's just an oversight on the part of the copywriter. Having passed the mains power through tens of metres of the cheapest 30A twin and earth the sparkie contracted by the house builder could get away with, the addition of a small fuse into the circuit will make all the difference.

Of course, that they wouldn't knowing sell snake-oil cables at massively inflated prices to gullible idiots. That's why they publish independently verified, statistically valid double-blind ABX tests on their products, proving their value.

They must do, surely? I'll just go and try to find details of these tests on their web site.

Probably best not to wait for me - I may be some time...

Cloud Backup stew in Docker container? Check – Asigra

Graham 24

Re: Diagram wrong

It looks to me like the diagram on the left is using a type 2 hypervisor (i.e. essentially an application running under the host OS). Since a type 2 hypervisor is not as efficient as a type 1 (i.e. VMware), that's what I'd do if I wanted to make the benchmark difference between VMs and containers as large as possible.

It's not relevant to most real world situations, but hey, this is marketing we're talking about.

Meru Networks ready to DECIMATE its workforce

Graham 24

Re: Decimate

Historically, it did mean "to lose 1 in 10". These days, it also means "to lose a large part of", so I would say that using it in the latter sense would also be correct.

That may conflict with an older dictionary, but languages evolve with use, and the generally held view is that a dictionary is descriptive, not prescriptive. Indeed, if this wasn't the case, the OED wouldn't have to keep issuing new editions.

For extreme examples of how language changes over the centuries, try reading a Shakespeare play from the original Folio, or even one of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the original form.

Alien Earths are out there: Our home is not 'unique'

Graham 24

Re: Nice simple recipe

Even if you could afford it, the cost would certainly put a Dent in your bank balance...

Graham 24

The final step

Once your new plant has cooled, carefully bounce a Mars-sized object into it.

This will, in Theia-ry, break a bit off which will then go into orbit around your new planet.

Graham 24

According to a certain Mr Arthur C Clarke...

"Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying."

Dev put AWS keys on Github. Then BAD THINGS happened

Graham 24

Re: What about pre-payment?

You get buy pre-paid "credit cards" with a fixed amount of money on them. They are intended for people who need a credit card, but can't get one for credit history reasons, but need the use of one. I don't see why a cloud service wouldn't accept one.

Alternatively, if you use a genuine credit card, as opposed to a debit card, they usually have a credit limit built-in. The maximum financial damage might be higher than you would like, but it won't be unlimited.

UKIP website TAKES A KIP, but for why?

Graham 24

DNS game of "chase the record"

www.ukip.org is CNAMEd back to ukipdev.nationbuilder.com...

which is CNAMEd back to atl-proxy4.nationbuilder.com ...

which is CNAMEd back to mcname.nationbuilder.com.cdn.cloudflare.net ...

which does have an A record.

Yes, adding an A record to the ukip.org domain would probably have been easier...

Graham 24

DNS issue methinks

On two unrelated networks here, on the first www.ukip.org resolves to (the 123 holding page) and on the second. The second network displays a valid UKIP web site for www.ukip.org, but not if you go the IP directly (host header processing in there, at a guess).

Renault Captur: Nobody who knows about cars will buy this

Graham 24

Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

It's a car for people with young families, not a car for a tech-, speed- and power-focused reviewer. Unsurprisingly, you don't like it much. That doesn't make it a bad car - it makes it a bad car for you. It sounds very good for taking Mum, Dad and two kids and all their paraphernalia out on a Saturday afternoon, which is its intended market.

Music fans FUME over PJ Harvey ticket CHAOS as Somerset House site buckles

Graham 24

The use of the singular is perhaps significant

increasing the resources available to the miniserver"

Whois says that Somerset House is hosted by Memset, and the lowest level of Memset's offering is their "miniserver" (http://www.memset.com/dedicated-servers/vps/), so this seems to be a simple case of Somerset House not understanding that demand can't be met just by increasing bandwidth (which is the implied recommendation from Memset), but that underlying processing capacity has to be increased too.

It may well be that the site is running on a single machine, although in fairness, "the miniserver" could be referring to just a back-end database or other single-server component of a larger site infrastructure.

German minister photo fingerprint 'theft' seemed far too EASY, wail securobods

Graham 24

Re: In a sane world

"if you're a "high net worth individual" (aka a rich b*****d), with sensitive financial data on the device then you'd be a fool to rely on your fingerprint."

I would say that if you're a high net worth individual, you'd be a fool to have sensitive financial information on the device at all, regardless of how it's protected, as highlighted in this XKCD cartoon.

Graham 24

How about this?


Graham 24

Worse than just data loss

Sure, El Reg is a technology site, so the article focusses on "hacking" - getting into someone else's smartphone and so on. The ability to take a photo of someone's hands and then generate usable "fingerprints" has more problems than just giving someone access to those dodgy selfies you have.

What if I can make a pair of gloves with all ten fingerprints from someone else on them, and then go and commit a crime and leave "my" fingerprints for SoCO to find?

Devuan rebels hope to deliver Debian fork in 2015

Graham 24

Logo Plagiarism

Is it just me, or does the D from the logo look suspiciously like the tail of OpenSUSE's Geeko chameleon?

Google's first stab at control-free ROBOT car rolls off the line

Graham 24

Re: No just no

A lot of people now run cars at a higher financial cost than simply getting a taxi everywhere.

It's easy to assess the total cost of running a private vehicle against the cost of getting taxis at a purely financial level. It's harder on a more personal level. The two clear advantages of having a private vehicle are:

1) It's always there when you need it - no waiting around. The idea that you can just summon a car to take you home from the pub at 11pm is appealing, but neglects the fact that everyone else has too, and if the "car hire" business has enough capacity to fulfil this peak demand immediately, they must have excess capacity, which needs to be paid for in higher charges.

2) It's clean, or if it's messy, it's your mess. Don't underestimate the appeal of not having to clear out someone else's take-away from a late night trip home when you want to go to work in the morning.

Most purchasing decisions are not just about money.

Graham 24

Re: Voiced by...

Originally said by Mr Gently to the lovely Ms Schechter, or course.

Some consider the whole approach to be "Piffle".

Graham 24

You don't fly on a modern aircraft, then? The days of bits of steel cable from the yoke to the ailerons and the pedals to the rudder have long since gone. The pilot tells the computer what he wants the plane to do and the computer tells the flight control surfaces how to move. When you're at 30,000ft over the Arctic, you'd better hope that computer doesn't go wrong.

My car (and probably yours too) has no direct link from the throttle to the engine. The computer reads a voltage from a potentiometer attached to the accelerator pedal and feeds that to the ECU, which then controls the fuel to the engine.

Although a mechanical link is still present, all modern cars have ABS, or to put it another way, have a computer running that can disengage the brakes on all four wheels if it so chooses, regardless of how much the brake pedal is pressed.

If you don't want to travel using a machine that is ultimately controlled by a computer these days, buy a bicycle or walk.

Soon everyone will be doing it with a strap-on: The Reg's 20 festive wearables

Graham 24

Re: Useless junk

"Lost 10kg in two months"

That's more than 1/3 lb per day, every day! Either that's a typo, or you need to get out of IT and sell your weight loss technique to the world.

UK air traffic bods deny they 'skimped' on IT investment after server mega-fail

Graham 24

Failover not necessarily the answer

Failover works well for hardware failures. It's not so good for software failures (and this apparently was a software failure), since typically the software on the failover system is the same as on the primary system, so has the same bugs. In a worst-case scenario, it's an older version that has more bugs / expects or produces different data structures / has worse performance (or all of those).

The theoretically correct way to do software failover is to have multiple teams develop, test and validate the software completely independently, so that when the primary system fails, you switch to another system that is supposed to do the same thing, but correctly this time.

In practice this approach generally doesn't work - the secondary system is not subject to the same day-to-day running that exposes latent bugs, the costs of doing everything twice upsets the beancounters, preserving the necessary independence between the teams is really difficult, the primary systems failure may have corrupted the very data the failover system needs to work properly... ... the list goes on.

TALE OF FAIL: Microsoft offers blow-by-blow Azure outage account

Graham 24

Openness Preferred

Given the choice between this approach of telling all, and the opposite approach of a "there there, don't worry your pretty little customer head about it - we've fixed the problem, and that's all we're saying", I would prefer the first.

At least with openness I'm in a better position to decide whether this sort of outage is likely to reoccur.

As a somewhat stretched analogy, if my car broke down, was towed to a garage and subsequently returned to me working again, I would expect the garage to tell me what was wrong and what they did to fix it.

Goes like the blazes: Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 late 2014 edition

Graham 24

Re: Single page view ?

<cynic mode>

The advertising department had it removed so that this one article now counts as three page impressions.

</cynic mode>

Four tuner frenzy: The all-you-can-EEat TV Freeview PVR

Graham 24

Generous Space?

Since the retail price difference between a 1TB drive and a 2TB drive is about £25, and the cost of the contract over 18 months is about £460, 1TB of space hardly seems "generous".

No mention of extending storage with an external device, so I assume that's not possible either.

The STEALTH Plug-in Hybrid: Audi A3 e-tron Sportback

Graham 24

Re: They've made the same charger cable FAIL as Vauxhall and BMW...

I think at the moment these cars are only suitable for those that have secure access to charging points (domestic garage building, patrolled/monitored work car park etc.) I really can't see how it would be practical for someone who, for example, only has on-street parking and drives to the railway station as part of a daily commute, which is a real shame, because the "short journey within a town" is exactly the scenario the vehicle itself is ideal for.

As for driving off while plugged in, they have an interlock that prevents any vehicle movement if the cable is physically connected, whether it's charging or not.

Graham 24

Re: Why does every ev need its own charging cable?

Probably because without the cable, you can't simply get home and charge the car using that 13A socket on the garage wall. Even if you install a dedicated charging point at home with the correct cable, what do you do when you go to visit someone and need to charge up before driving home again? If they only have normal domestic sockets, you're going to need the cable.

Graham 24

Re: The Eco Option?

Overall "ecology" is always arguable, since it depends (as posted elsewhere in the comments) on how the electricity to charge the batteries is obtained.

However, a key point for electric vehicles is not overall fuel economy or even overall CO2 emissions. It's emissions at point of use. Your 2.2L hatchback driving in an urban environment is pushing out some nasty stuff (and if it's a diesel, some *very* nasty stuff in the immediate vicinity of people - there's a reason Paris is banning diesels from 2020). Petrol cars aren't perfect either, of course, but better for the immediate environment than diesels. Electric cars are *much* better than either for the people who have to walk down the pavement next to the road you're driving on.

Searching to destroy ... Bing? Facebook JILTS Microsoft

Graham 24

Well, when I use Bing to search for that phrase, the page you mention is right at the top - first link.

You must be clicking the search button incorrectly.

More seriously, the problem is that Microsoft can't win. There will be lots of pages with that phrase on them (Google claims 8,500 results, Bing 30,000). If Microsoft don't put their own pages first, someone like you says "Bing is rubbish - they don't even index their own site". If they do put it first, someone else says "Bing is rubbish - they always favour their own site above the rest of the internet".

EU law bods: New eCall crash system WON'T TRACK YOU. Really

Graham 24

Re: Lies, Lies and Politicians

If you have a reasonably detailed basemap and GPS coordinates for the last 60 seconds of travel, then yes, it's fairly easy to determine which road you're on.