* Posts by Nifty

1024 posts • joined 13 Sep 2012

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Exsparko-destructus! What happens when wand waving meets extremely poor wiring

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I worked for a company that made process control systems. It was in the days of film cameras with a big electronic flash on top. The installation technician would start up the system for the first time with the processor cabinet doors open. Check that all processor lights were blinking rhythmically as expected. Check the SCADA graphics (and have a good listen to the factory noises) to see that all valves were in the correct position and motors off so that the system was 'at rest'. Now was the time, before locking up the cabinet, to take the photo that went into the project album. These were used by the salesmen or for reference before service techs went to a site.

Flash, then bang and wallop. All processor lights now frozen and valves and motors could be heard activating at random across the factory. Turns out the EMP from the cameras flash was enough to upset the processors so they crashed. One processor crashing was enough to corrupt the shared RAM so the others would crash. In the process, I/O sent signals that caused plant activations*. Normally the risk of this happening even in a lightning storm existed but was low, because the steel cabinet doors are kept locked.

Previous photography had been done the same way without crashes but there must have been a probability that every Nth photography flash would trigger a crash. The procedure was modified after that to ensure that the rack was powered down in the presence of a flash gun.

*For those worried about the implication that factory fires/explosions can occur if automation goes doolally, there were additional direct safety interlocks that override to (theoretically) prevent overfilling/over pressure, overheating, etc. But things can still require a lot of cleaning up and checking after an incident.

Kaseya obtains REvil decryptor, starts sharing it with afflicted customers

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Re: Is there single key ?

Sounds like fairy dust or the ransomware was very low quality (which would contradict all the news stories we've heard about how professional the ransomware attacks were).

The idea that a decryptor can hold 'all the keys' is too fancyful. Must be more to the story.

Subcontractors working on CityFibre's £45m Derby rollout threaten to 'rip up tarmac' in dispute over payments

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I can walk past 10 local building extension projects where they've started but no discernable work has happened for 2 months. In some cases scaffolding has been up for months or part building framed leaning on a wall for 6 weeks. Either all builders are doing bait and hold, or there's a chronic shortage of materials.

In the '80s, satellite comms showed promise – soon it'll be a viable means to punt internet services at anyone anywhere

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Re: Can't wait...

"would plug their laptop directly into the internet and live in ignorant bliss with a woefully insecure setup"

It's a long while ago but when NTL first supplied broadband to my address, they supplied a long RJ45 terminated cable with it. Which I blissfully ran through the house and plugged straight into my PCs Ethernet socket. I was so blown away by the speed compared to dial up that I didn't have a thought about security. Can anyone remember if fully wired NTL even came with a router?

Later a second computer entered the household and I bought my first WiFi router (before NTL supplied them). While on the phone to NTL CS I was told that more than one device wasn't allowed on the home network, when I mentioned my router.

Everyone cites that 'bugs are 100x more expensive to fix in production' research, but the study might not even exist

Nifty Silver badge

Re: Equally unattributed, but different...

"50% more expensive to fix a bug at the coding stage than at the design stage, 10 times more expensive at the integration stage, 60 times more if it’s caught in alpha testing and 100 times as expensive to fix in customer beta test"

True for one group of products, but a huge generalisation there.

I worked with 2 products for comparison. One was data driven with a lot of configurability - quite variable in the way it could be used. The second has an built in programming language that everyday users could use with, so was not just configurable per config files and data driven but also programmable. The variability of usage was near infinite. I would say that genuine, full scenario and regression testing was near impossible. So instead, the approach was developed to provide powerful debugging and crash analysis tools for the real-time system. This was targeted at break/fix and not at the design stage.

How to keep your enterprise up to date by deploying the very latest malware

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I used to keep my work laptop in the bedroom in a backpack. It would regularly wake up in the small hours, sometimes fan would run hard, laptop got very hot and occasionally it'd flatten the battery. On investigating the event viewer I discovered it was coming out of sleep mode to do updates. The BIOS seemed to be able to wake the machine on a schedule. It took some digging to disable this feature.

If I'd shut down instead of using sleep, the overnight updates would've been deferred until switch on (HDD in those days, 5min+ to boot up). I was baffled by the maintenance policy.

Nifty Silver badge

Re: Been there - on a Nuclear Power Plant

"This is pore internet"?

I assume you meant pre internet? If I connect 2 machines with the same ip address to a DHCP router it'll refuse to connect them or maybe connect the first. The response from wrong machine thing I have seen, but usually when there's a 3rd party system running with 2 computers claiming the same application node ID.

Windows 11: What we like and don't like about Microsoft's operating system so far

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"Microsoft will not dare to introduce changes that might break application compatibility with Windows 10". Erm, what about hardware?

Impromptu game of Robot Wars sparks fire in warehouse at UK e-tailer Ocado

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Did they think it was already Freedom Day?

Anyway, self-driving bobots, I knew it would end in tears.

NASA fixes Hubble Space Telescope using backup power supply unit, payload computer

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Re: I'm sure

There's a queue.

Nifty Silver badge

First port of call if your set top box/beloved old PVR fails... see if you can source a cheap replacement power supply and test.

LibreOffice 7.2 release candidate reveals effort to be Microsoft-compatible

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My confidence in LibreOffice was dented recently, as data was disappearing from column 1 in some rows. I'd repopulate the text and some days later the same would happen. Also had a case or two where Excel could not open a file but LibreOffice could (always .XLSX).

Looks just like https://ask.libreoffice.org/en/question/167450/i-lost-a-significant-amount-of-data-from-an-excel-spread-sheet-suddenly/

Due to helping son out with his new job I took a family sub of Office 365 so am using Excel again. When this sub ends in a years time it'll be back to LibreOffice, will see how reliable it is then.

Report: 83% of UK software engineers suffer burnout, COVID-19 made it worse

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I've had a few jobs where the journey to work was an attractive, 20 minute brisk, traffic free cycle ride and there was a pleasant town centre a short walk from the office. This is the one scenario where I would be unhappy to WFH all the time. Regrettably such jobs don't last forever...

Nifty Silver badge

Re: Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.

In many companies testers == customers.

REvil ransomware gang's websites vanish soon after Kaseya fiasco, Uncle Sam threatens retaliation

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Radio programme yesterday illustrating the human side of Revil's extortion activities

File on 4 - held to Ransom - The UK schools caught in a multi-million pound cyber extortion attack by Russian hackers.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000xs0h

Cybercriminals took advantage of WFH to target financial services companies, say financial bods

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"Workers at home were targeted with phishing, malware and ransomware"

And if these workers had been working at work, the crims wouldn't have been targeting them?

The main new available vector was corporate VPNs - there seems to be no detail on whether VPNs were really a successful point of cybercrim entry though.

A secondary new vector would be BYOD at home. Again, where's the detail?

Hong Kong working to share its digital IDs with mainland China

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"adoption rates of similar tech programs by other countries – for example Belgium (2.6 per cent), Estonia (3.6 per cent)"

HK has a way to go to catch up with Estonia then, there 16% of voters use the mobile-ID to access government services. Not sure where that 3.6% figure above came from.

https://e-estonia.com/solutions/e-identity/mobile-id

Audacity users stick the knife – and fork – in to strip audio editor of unwanted features

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Audacious Gracious

Not for children: Audacity fans drop the f-bomb after privacy agreement changes

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Re: Depressing

"Don't you end up with loads of very similar crash reports? Lots of duplication?"

The problem is that it can be the exact nature of the user data that causes the crash. The data is the scenario. I used to use a tool that could obfuscate such data while still allowing it to cause the same scenario crash in replication. With a bit of further development the tool could have been put into an automation sequence to ensure that only GDPR-compliant data left either the users server or a GDPR-compliant vault.

Nifty Silver badge

Re: Depressing

"I've found telemetry and particularly crash reporting to be hugely beneficial to the development process."

When my job included crash dump analysis, the full dump included the entire image in RAM (A standard Windows thing for full dumps), which happened to contain an unencrypted version of the users current data. We used to have to get GDPR consent for each and every dump that we took for analysis.

IBM email fiasco complicates sales deals, is worse than biz is letting on – sources

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Re: Unbelievable

Just establishing a credible track record to pick up some lucrative government contracts.

Openreach to UK businesses: Switch is about to hit the fan. Prepare for withdrawal of the copper-based phone network now or risk disruption

Nifty Silver badge

Re: The future is coming

"Professional burglars use signal jammers"

Traditionalists use wire snippers.

UK artists seek 'luvvie levy' on new gadgets to make up for all the media that consumers access online

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Isn't Britain the country that saw a sharp increase in GDP when drugs & prostitution were included in economic activity?

UK gains 'adequacy' status on data sharing with EU, but making that stick all depends on how much post-Brexit law diverges

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Despite some rumours to the contrary, no change is expected to the cookie opt-in popups that you get on every new web page in EU/UK.

https://www.privsecglobal.com/blog/cookie-consent-after-brexit-what-can-we-expect-in-2021

So it would be nice if browsers started to have a policy manager that can silently apply the consent to each new site for you, depending on your preferences.

Bug at payments processor WorldPay swipes £2k+ per ride ticket from Brighton Pier revellers

Nifty Silver badge

Re: I May Be Cheap...

Over 10 years ago I was at a UK tourist spot cafe with a group of Chinese tourists. One of them was using a Chinese based payment card. She was getting a text for every transaction no matter how trivial, showing amount paid. As it happened she had what seemed like a failed transaction at the till and was asked to repeat the payment. However her texts showed she now had 2 approved payments, she demanded and got a refund in the spot.

PayPal app can notify you of every transaction which is why I use it wherever possible for recurring payments. Its a disappointment that something similar isn't offered wth payment cards.

Indian mega-corp Tata unveils surprise 5G networking business

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Re: Well as Modi...

India's planning to export its wage levels to the UK next.

Flexispot Deskcise Pro V9: Half desk, half exercise bike, and you're all sweaty. How much does it cost again?

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Re: Terrifying

Real LOL thanks

Foxconn builds stuff for everyone. Now it finds vaccines for Taiwan, and TSMC's chipped in, too

Nifty Silver badge

"The cost of the BioNTech procurement effort is expected to exceed $216m. The agreement comes with the stipulation that the doses are to be sent to Taiwan directly from the manufacturer in Germany."

I'd heard in other news that China is successfully leaning on Germany to prevent BioNtech from supplying Taiwan directly:

https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4227222

Beijing adamant Taiwan must go through China for BioNTech vaccines

It's all very murky.

UK gets glowing salute from Bezos-backed General Fusion: Nuclear energy company to build plant in Oxfordshire

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"to showcase its power-generating technology"

I rest my case.

Nifty Silver badge

There is as yet no such thing as net power generation by nuclear fusion. So you can't test such a reactor. Factually bogus headline.

Spyware, trade-secret theft, and $30m in damages: How two online support partners spectacularly fell out

Nifty Silver badge

Re: Smoke and mirrors

Maybe a whistleblower helped the case along. Some day a book will be written on a set of court outcomes like this, anything short of a book couldn't plumb such a complex topic.

Ex-Brave staffer launches GDPR sueball in Germany over tech giants' real-time bidding for ad inventory

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"could prompt an algorithm to remove you from the shortlist for your dream job"

Or could save you from working for a lemon of an organisation.

Roger Waters tells Facebook CEO to Zuck off after 'huge' song rights request

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Maybe Zuck wanted the tune for a protest ad against some governments that want a backdoor to WhatsApp's end to end encryption. Sorting the good guys from the bad is complicated these days.

Mark it in your diaries: 14 October 2025 is the end of Windows 10

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Re: Too much to hope...

Might be an idea to declare to Windows that the WiFi connection is a metered one, and flit to normal overnight. That should halt monster downloads during waking hours. Wonder if one could automate that?

Nifty Silver badge

They're going to fix that bug whereby legacy machines are still able to run Windows 10.

Want to keep working in shorts and flipflops way after this is all over? It could be time to rethink your career moves

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I was fortunate to get the full experience of on-boarding to a new company while working from home during Covid. The water-cooler and over-the-shoulder moments are missing. Now, with best intentions the boss did institute group activities as a replacement, typically fun quizzes and competitions online.

Problem is that both with the group activities and Slack chatting during daily work, the boss keeps a constant stopwatch on everyone's metrics. That kind of atmosphere makes genuine teamwork while working remotely quite a stressful thing. It takes me right back to one of my first jobs where the boss used to patrol the cubicles and comment pointedly if he saw anyone chatting with colleagues...

Nifty Silver badge

Re: Much cheaper.

Yes you can compare WFH here with WFH there.

Now, UK managers are already having a mind-struggle with UK based WFH workers that used to be office based, never mind Croatia based ones. And a legal payroll mechanism is needed for say, Croatia.

The real corporate dream is move whole departments including the 'prep monitor' to Eastern Europe or maybe even India at a fraction of the wage bill. In this case the manager himself may experience an existential crisis.

The WFH-only comparison works where there's a compelling use-case, i.e. employing experienced specialists with a massive track record. That's usually developers or consultants.

In your case it looks like you're exceptionally confident and nimble and have solved the payment/EU employment regs issues.

Nifty Silver badge

Re: Much cheaper.

'My company can employ three IT guys WFH in Croatia for the price of one IT guy WFH in England'

Yes it looks good on the surface and I think that are consultants earning fees by 'selling; how much money an organisation can save. Reality is that salaries are rising at easily 10% pa for just this reason. I've seen the situation where once the employment centre has moved to Eastern Europe it's a struggle to retain anyone for more than 18 months. And some vacancies stay permanently open.

I've also been in interviews where the manager frankly admitted that he'd been trying to hire in Eastern Europe but could not find the speciality he wanted. Kudos for honesty there.

Oh and BTW - what has WFH really got to do with it?

Nifty Silver badge

'Believing a celebrity that the vaccine puts you under Bill Gates' 5G mind control is not a health issue unless you want to claim mental health problems.'

What if it's your wife who's the vaccine refusenik?

We've been shown time and again that strong encryption puts crims behind bars, so why do politicos hate it?

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"call by spy agencies to weaken end-to-end encryption"

Or double bluff to give us false confidence that popular software doesn't already have backdoors?

Nifty Silver badge

Re: Good point

And we will continue not to know until something appears in Captain Hindsight's rear view mirror.

$28m scores mystery bidder right to breathe same air as Amazon kingpin Jeff Bezos in Blue Origin flight

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People who bought this...

Also bought parachutes and DIY will kits...

The AN0M fake secure chat app may have been too clever for its own good

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Re: One Time Pads.

Didn't Tor solve this conundrum?

Pakistan's Punjab province tells citizens to get jabbed or have their SIM card blocked

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Sorry guv, I didn't get the text to confirm my jab appointment.

UK launches consultation on forcing landlords to allow gigabit broadband upgrades

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Re: Leasehold, fleecehold

You do.

The property owners each own a share of the freehold

Only in the *rare* case where the flat owners own the freehold. Freehold is normally owned by a company that specialises in returning shareholder value by extorting fees for any changes to the building, change of tenant and maybe there's something to be creamed off the buildings insurance.

Service charges go to a separate management company and these are for maintenance only, not upgrades. New roof = maintenance. Upgrade fire safety = a bill to be split among the leaseholders.

Nifty Silver badge

Cityfibre plumbed fibre into every floors hallway in a block where I let a flat. The building management seemed unaware it had happened when I emailed them to ask about it - I only found out when the tenant found his address was on Cityfibre's coverage list and he asked my permission holes to be drilled and for the router to be installed. The current tenant is enjoying the service. The fibre only goes as far as the public hallway and the last few metres to router are coax or CAT5 (I haven't been to look). So, not real FTTP then, is it not much different from Virgin Media?

It's completely unsupportable. Yes, we mean your brand new system

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Don't overlook the human factor with the techies themselves though. Senior tech individuals would favour certain platforms and languages because they have the most experience/have an ideological affinity with them. Makes themselves more valuable to the detriment of eventual supportability.

Fastly 'fesses up to breaking the internet with an 'an undiscovered software bug' triggered by a customer

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Re: things missing

'While scrambling through our logs for an hour we found the root cause was there in the first minute of the log'.

In this round of 'Real life or Black Mirror episode', drones that hunt down humans by listening to their screams

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Would be victims will have to find a quiet place.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Quiet_Place

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