* Posts by Owen Carter

231 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Jul 2007


UK.gov tries to close site giving home addresses of badger cull figures

Owen Carter


In a couple of years, when this has had very little impact, the 'if it moves shoot it' brigade will try and claim that this is because they have not been allowed to kill enough badgers.

Their gun obsessed tiny minds will never be able to comprehend the real reason; greed. Bovine TB is principally spread by the way cattle are continually shuffled between farms to maximize revenue, and whole herds are no longer tested, just a few of individuals are tested (to lower standards than previously).. again done to maximize revenue by reducing costs and 'red tape'.

As for Jay keeping himself secret, as anybody who has seen the shooting crowd in action will testify, it's a wise precaution.

Report: SAP exec charged with $1,000 LEGO bar-code caper

Owen Carter

Re: "Legos" is wrong

Unfortunately we're not dealing with linguists: Undereducated; they genuinely believe they keep their Legos in boxen, etc..

Google Street View Wi-Fi data slurper named

Owen Carter

Re: I won't hold my breath for the apologies

No Alexander pleqase don't,

..you claimed expertise that you did not have, and wrote an article in the technical press that revealed you did not understand how modern companies develop non critical software in short timescales using limited resources.

..and completely missed the fact that a single engineer working in an agile environment could have achieved what you insisted it would take a huge dedicated team to achieve.

Yes, this was a Google project to collect the SSID map that enabled them to break free from Skyhook,

And yes, it was a project that was approved at a high level and overseen.

But the actual payload work was done by a single engineer who took existing opensource tools and integrated them into the existing (high capacity) street view IT stack already sitting in the cars and at their bases.

As part of that they used Kismet (look it up, Bing if you want), and set it to record everything unencrypted, instead of just the SSID info headers.

That was the only actual mistake, a small one with big consequences.

And finally, are you seriously suggesting that it was done with any serious evil intent.. How could it be? the data collected was far too random and transient to be used reliably for malicious purposes. For that you'd need to sit a car on every block 24/7.

As criminal masterplans go it's far too crap to have originated with Google.

Google to FCC: Protecting Street View coder didn't derail probe

Owen Carter

Re: One reason Google would capture the data ...


"Google, on the other hand, correctly identifies me as living in City Y, probably based on info they have slurped from my neighbor's wireless unit."

Do you have any idea how technically illiterate that is?

All they have done is paid for higher quality GeoIP info than the other websites you visit. You can easily get ISP-level Geoip from whois, so it its the cheapo option, and will give broad geographic area. But it is better to use a 'proper' GeoIP company (or have your own..), since for $$$ you can get street-level data by paying the cable ISPs and telco's (who handle the ADSL exchange routing) for it.

Owen Carter

Re: Imagine if it was your govt doing this?

"Did they not notice the extra terabytes of data collected?"

My understanding is that it was approx. 600Gb worldwide.

Probably less data than flows through googles networks every millisecond.

Less data than is sitting on the USB drive in my bag..

Owen Carter

Re: Kismet

@flibbertigibbet, thanks :-)

Yes, that actually makes sense. I suppose I can counter that the dev can verify they are getting what they want in local testing before deploying onto the national system.

However, I still buy this as a reasonable explanation, it comes down to a very geeky thing: Lets just capture it all and analyse later rather than faff about trying to pre-filter the data onboard.

(after all, a car capable of storing the data from 5 HD cameras taking a shot every second or so won't notice the data, and will already have the storage subsystem.)

And, it makes a darn sight more sense than the 'eeeevil' explanation that is all some can imagine. Cockup and Conspiracy often look similar.

Owen Carter

Re: Kismet


Yes, I'm aware of what AGPS is, how it relates to this, and have posted about that here in the past.

Collecting the SSID's and MAC's, causes me no problems, Google is building mapping and navigation solutions in Android and online, a SSID/MAC map would be logical for them.

But... What's your theory on the unencryped packets they also captured?

- Having read this thread the best explanation comes from Flibbertigibbet, below.

Owen Carter


While I'm waiting for the 'turfers to turn up asserting that this was some intricate evil masterplan..

They appear to have taken kismet (opensource wifi analysing/sniffing framework), modified it to also dump the unencrypted packets as well as general network data, and then wrappped it in the general software suite on the streetview car. Searching for google+street+kismet will dig up the links from last year. It's quite credible that a single coder/engineer could do that.

What I wish they would explain is why he/they did it? as a serious plan to gather passwords etc. it sucks.. not enough data gathered... so what gives? Was it just a bad idea that was not disabled? a hangover from some other use they were making of this tool? or just a geek having a good idea 'lets gather (randomly) lots of unencrypted wifi data to run statistics on, for fun or publication?'.

It's quite reasonable that the investigators would want to ask that question directly. And not great PR from Google to be so reticent and take a fine rather than open up.

Wikileaks regains relevance with Stratfor doc-drop

Owen Carter

Re: Re: Media partners

Read the Press Release here: http://pastebin.com/D7sR4zhT ..end of line 31.

I think there might be a bit of discussion happening amongst the Journos at the Guardian today.

...Given the history of a couple of their reporters, ahem, accidentally revealing the password to the US state department leaks. Although to their credit this story is already on the Guardians mainpage, I am very curious to see what Mr Murdoch decides is fit to publish. The BBC article has no links, only soundbites. And ends, as usual, by reminding us all that Assange is a potential sex offender.

Hey Commentard! - or is that Commenter?

Owen Carter

Re: Re: Re: Re: Go for it!

One of the all-time classic errors from PHP:

Warning "array_merge_recursive(): recursion detected"

That made me say something similar to 'tard-tard-tard'..

Owen Carter

And one for our esteemed Mr O.

I've been trying to come up with a pithy -tard for El Regs star contributor, but cant really do better than Übertard.. And that is somehow too.. Germanic. Anyone got a better suggestion?

- It'll take more than a coat to hide from his wrath but what the hell..

Owen Carter

Go for it!

Freetard? Moi? ... grins.

Actually, I really like it. More than once I've thought of having it on a t-Shirt.

But I think for the sake of fairness the principle could be expanded, 'Paytard' is a good start but round there there is also room for 'Articletards', 'Reviewtards', 'Apptards', 'SEOtards', lots of variants on 'Mototards, Googtards, RIMtard (oh-err), and 'GrannySmithtards'.

And finally, dare I say it and get banned, 'Moderatards'?

Microsoft claims Google bypassed its browser privacy too

Owen Carter

"like women inviting rape because of what they're wearing?"

..followed by..

"Some of us are a bit smarter than that sort of level, evidently a lot associated with IT are the awkward stereotype."

So, you are so smart that you think this is equivalent of raping a user.

Being able to spot and call out BS + hyperbole does not imply awkwardness.

But falling for it does imply a certain lack of critical facility.

Owen Carter


I really need to remember that MS likes to embrace some technologies: P3P is not proprietary, far from it, it's a W3C standard. And, having read about it the basic principles seem sound, it's a shame it was not developed to keep it relevant as web technologies overtook it's capabilities.

Still, some Cludos to MS for being the only major Browser to widely implement this..

..followed by a big whack with a cluestick for disabling it when a site returned a invalid response.

Owen Carter

Did anybody read the link...

It's there in the P3P string; I'm surprised nobody here seems to have read it:


This is terribly trivial, a non-malicious bypassing of a failed, obsolete, and rather silly proprietary privacy technology that was being pushed by MS and ignored by everybody else.

The only reason we are reading about it is that people who are loosing to Google commercially are pushing it as hard as possible. Yet again it's MS at the root of it all.

And, as needs to be continually mentioned, the UK government is accelerating plans to centralise the database with a record of -every- web transaction you make. You can block Google (it's easy; google for 'block Google'), but you cant block HMG.

FTC urged to probe Google's Safari-tracking gaffe

Owen Carter

Re: Re: Meanwhile, somewhere at your local phone exchange

"I'm still more worried over companies tracking our activity."

..Yes, I think this proves my point quite nicely. Amazing what can be achieved with a sufficient amount of distraction.

Owen Carter

Meanwhile, somewhere at your local phone exchange

While we are all doing 'My Fanboi Favorite is less evil than yours.. no.. really.. and here is why..' discussion ad-nauseum, and it is dominating the 'privacy' news: The usual suspects have resurrected the Communications Capabilities Development Programme, and want to push it through before the Olympics.

Total surveillance at source and recording in a database of all packet header data transmitted by every UK citizen; all in one database and accessible without any judicial oversight by the UK state. Bad people doing bad things find trivial distractions very, very useful huh.

Proview fears fanbois will derail iPad export ban bid

Owen Carter

Did they have rounded corners?

Heartland Institute documents leaked

Owen Carter

@James Pickett : You are right, it's not just climate denial!

"Actually, to launch another website,"

Would that be one of the Phillip Morris funded 'health' websites that these documents also show them being paid to set up.

Apple demands US ban on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus

Owen Carter

Nokia 6110 from mid 1997.

It was crude, the phone picked up on phone numbers in incoming messages and allowed you to list them, select one and call it if I'm not mistaken. I followed it with an 8210 which definitely had this feature (so I might be confused.. but I don't think so, IIRC the UI's were essentially the same).

As for email.. the first Nokia Communicators were out by then; I never used them but would not be surprised if they allowed you to create address book entries from the text in email and messages.

Owen Carter

Must be relying on the courts being full of fanbois.

"infringes on our patent... which recognises data such as phone numbers and provides a link directly to the dialler"

I had a black and white Nokia that did that 14 years ago. Patent denied. Next...

How thick does a fanboi have to be if they fall for this crap and really start to believe that Apple is the grand source of all innovation?

StreetView disappears Dutch office tower

Owen Carter


I used to work in Hoofddorp, It's Holland's Slough, right next to the airport and built up since the 50's to be 'a great place for business' etc. It's sole attraction is it's proximity to Amsterdam and the train line between them.

The edges of it are a permanent building site, most of the locals would not notice this even if it happened in real life.

Apple and Google ramp up proxy war

Owen Carter

In Florida;

I wonder exactly where in the Southern Florida Court District? Fort Lauderdale? There is (or was, 10 years ago) a really big Motorola engineering/manufacturing plant there. That might make for quite a friendly court too.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter expose Google's 'evil'

Owen Carter
Big Brother

Oh Noes! Googles Broken teh Internets

Calm down dear! click on: http://www.bing.com/

- There.. I've fixed it for you.

More to the point.. are Facebook; Myspace and Twitter complaining about how Google monetizes users data? Oh HAHAHA! Presumably this is pure jealousy on their part.

Google boots out contractors for allegedly damaging OpenStreetMap

Owen Carter

Contractors are rarely 'recruited'; generally they are 'acquired'; like the flu or herpes.

Google accused of vandalising OpenStreetMap

Owen Carter

Err... An ad hominem would be if I'd pointed out an irrelevant fact; I don't think that is the case here.

The article was submitted by Coast, not by either of the co-signatories; It's not unreasonable to assume he is the principle author.

Owen Carter


Some interesting details emerging about one of the three authors of the OSM post; eg:

http://blog.stevecoast.com/ :

"Steve Coast founded OpenStreetMap and works for Microsoft in Seattle. "

Parody is illegal, say barmy bureaucrats

Owen Carter

I say old chap; any chance you are American? I don't think arguing 'protected speech' works well in the UK legal context; on account of there being no constitution etc.

The UK has a hodgepodge of ancient laws protecting a few, and the recent enlightenment of the EU and Human Rights legislation which has extended this to the plebs, for a short while at least. These provide an exception for criticism; traditionally quite liberally interpreted, that would provide a safe haven for, say, a photoshopped Donny R as Voldemort collection.

Owen Carter

"There is no copyright exemption for parody and satire, and yet satire booms"

Doesn't 'Fair Dealing' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_dealing_in_United_Kingdom_law) provide a mechanism that exempts published works for criticism, review and reporting of current events. Which would cover a lot of parody and satire, even if they are not specifically covered in the law.?

Met to push rape warnings over Wi-Fi to Xmas partygoers

Owen Carter
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Of course! thanks

That makes a lot, lot more sense than what I was assuming.. thanks for thinking this through.

I wonder if they will also be using an interstitial when people connect even if a login is not needed? redirecting legitimate web requests to a 'Oi! You!; Watch it!!' page too? Maybe it's just an advertising system being given a trial run and a veneer of respectability?

Owen Carter

Yippeee, someone has made it rich

Whoever sold the police this gimmick is a genius; makes those selling the IT suystems to the NHS look like a bunch of amateurs. I mean this is even more pointless and technically illiterate.

(and the cost is.. probably secret, and probably coming off the 'preparing for next summers riots' public control slushfund, Still I suppose I'd rather they wasted money on this inept gimmick then on rubber bullets and watercannon. )

Google's Siri-a-like to be named 'Majel' after Trek actress

Owen Carter

I agree they fare pretty poorly on 'me, too' projects; especially where the IP space is already owned by others (they are not alone in this of course); but:

"I am continually startled by Google's inability to innovate"

I dont agree; it';s when they are making stuff up from scratch; or re-imagining existing tech that they do their best work. And of course their roots are a highly innovative ranking system for web searches; adding a bunch of innovative ideas; pagerank; minimalist design, text advertising automatically keyed to user inputs; to an existing concept (web search).

Owen Carter

But how will it make eye contact?

On this topic I think todays Dilbert is eerily prophetic;


Android malware victims offered free WinPhones by MS

Owen Carter

I want Android to succeed; but If the market gets a reputation as a sewer it will never be able to shake it off..

And that requires a bit more of a Jobbsian attitude to the market by G; having a pogrom and throwing vast numbers of slimeball apps off it; in a storm of publicity/outrage from slimeball app developers, would do Google a power of good with their customers.

And this is Android; if these apps are so great the devs can always create their own market system for people to use. The ability to install apps directly instead of being tied to the market is one of Androids defining 'open' features.

The mechanism by which these crap apps survive is obvious to us here; it is also obvious to non technical folks, but they feel powerless to stop it and powerless to make really informed choices.

Apple (while far, far, from being perfect) are still doing a much better job; My iDevice owning colleagues feel like Apple is actively trying to protect them; how many Android users feel the same?

Owen Carter

Removing malware after it has been in the market and installed many times is not the same as pro-actively preventing malware getting onto the market in the first place.

That's why I used the words 'pro actively' 'ya see ;-)

Owen Carter


Google and Android deserve a lot of bad publicity from this.. I like Android a lot.. but the market is a sewer; a few dozen useful apps, a few dozen good games. And countless thousands of lightly polished shiny turds; sticky, shitty, clingy stuff you want out of your system, not in it.

And all of them require you to allow full access to your Network; all of them want access to your contacts; without fail.

- Do they want access for Ads or for Spamming? Tracking? Lulz?

- Does anybody know?

- Does anybody involved in running the Market care? apparently not.. I've never seen much evidence that anybody involved with the Market has ever pro-actively protected users..

And don't get me started on all the apps that say 'Free' but actually require you to create an account with the developers; This goes double for all the facebook/twitter/chat social media aggregation apps where their real business is gathering a list of all your social media accounts and interactions in one place in order to monetise your personal details..

Sooner or later it was inevitable that someone would pick this shit-covered stick up and start beating Google with it.. If MS want a way to differentiateWinP7 from Android; here it is..

LOHAN: Reader vacuum pump plans really suck

Owen Carter
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I had the same thought; if you are chilling the air and lowering it's pressure you will condense all the moisture in the chamber pretty rapidly and then potentially freeze it solid.

If this happens in the vacuum line itself you could get a nasty blockage (so to speak).

My initial thought was that the vacuum line would be better if it went through the lid itself (and easier to make the fitting to), but that might interfere with the plans for it to blast off as the motor ignites.. as a minimum you should leave the pipe protruding into the chamber so that if condensation pools at the bottom it does not enter the pipe.

And have you considered the effect on the vacuum pump as it suddenly goes from low negative pressure to high positive pressure at ignition? any seals and valves in it might get a pretty rough ride in the blowback.

New 'plasma lamps' to replace fluorescent bulbs, LEDs

Owen Carter

Humm. Plasma is a type of Vapour?

Just looked through their website; lots of jargon and pretty pictures. Not one mention of how power is actually supplied to this.

Which is important since the biggest limitation on conventional plasma lighting is not the fact it shines all round (solved by correctly shaped and silvered emitters), but rather the substantial pack of power electronics that supplies the RF frequencies used. Amongst all the guff praising it's advantages I see no lines saying 'just plugs in to a 12v DC supply!', or 'no inconvenient RF-frequency inverters to carry'.

- It will fail to replace LED's in home electronics and cars/boats unless the control electronics let you just apply 3v/5v/12v DC (eg. the standard power for cars and home electronics) while keeping the price very low; though it could do well for some applications if it appreciably extends battery life compared to LEDs.

- It may be better able to compete in AC powered lighting space; especially with super low heat output.

Visa's amazing answer to e-wallet domination: A new logo

Owen Carter

Oh look.Visa! Yesterdays technology tomorrow!

Similar to the iDeal system we have had here in Holland for, ooh, 6 years or so..

Except iDeal works with all Dutch banks (by law) so merchants can use it with confidence that it is available to all their Dutch customers.

IDeal is a similar payment framework; Customer tells the merchant who they bank with, the merchant passes the payment to the bank and redirects the customer to the banks iDeal portal. Customer confirms payment on their banking site (where they can also check balance etc), merchant gets a confirmation once payment is made. Payment is direct to the merchants account! Costs are born by the customer as part of our general banking charges.

Oh, and since the banks (again, by law) must provide 2-factor logins it is secured with a two-factor system.


Fedora 16: A GNOME lover's paradise

Owen Carter

Gnome3 is growing on me.

Liking Gnome3 is all in the mind..

From a lot of irritation at first I have stuck with it on F15, using it on my work machine every day but keeping other machines at F14/Gnome2. With use has come a grudging acknowlegement that the basic design and direction of G3 is sound.

So now I have Fedora 16 on all my machines. Gnome3 works best on the netbook, it really is a small-screen OS. But It's usable on desktops too, and the 3.0->3.2 tweaks have helped make it nicer on the big screen. The clutter-free nature make it (for me) a surprisingly productive environment

Epic fails still abound; the three that exercise me are:

1) Defaulting to suspend rather than shutdown, and insisting you use a modifier key to see 'Poweroff' in the menu. Grr.. NONE OF MY MACHINES RECOVER FROM SUSPEND.. period. they ALL lock up and need a 5-second press of death. This is due to the very buggy nature of suspend in the kernel (and Windows fares no better.. if you want reliable suspend get a Mac).

- Fortunately you can set system policy to disable suspend; and then the menu changes to offer Poweroff (Gnome3 is well coded.. it's a victim of poor defaults, not poor code). See http://www.fedoraforum.org/forum/showthread.php?p=1437655

2) Pressing an Application icon in the launcher opens a running instance of the app. by default, only opening a new instance if there is none running. This is a half-arsed attempt to do what MS do in the Win7 quick-launch bar.. Its a UI fail there and also fails here.

3) No screensaver.. I don't want much, just a really simple photo slideshow.. please..

Ryanair ponders in-air mucky movie service

Owen Carter

Why not..

Just have the youngest female in the aircrew topless; similar stuff works for the tabloids; same market..

But since I know the RA publicity department just loves a controversy: Maybe they can get pictures of proud mums and their school-age daughters who want to become stewardesses when they grow up.. put that in adverts along with the date of their first flight? it worked for the Sun many many years ago.

Secret US 'Jedi' ghost-copters kept out of bin Laden raid

Owen Carter

Yeah right

This is just the Telegraph and the rest of the military doing a 'look a the size of our choppers' act again isn't it.

Linux Mint moves to Gnome 3, keeps Gnome 2 MATEy

Owen Carter
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The 'Manual' as you describe it doesn't exist; there is a flashy web tutorial that is 90% screenshot and 100% on-message; is that what you were thinking of?

- The workarounds to G3's deficiencies had to be found by pouring through forum threads and ignoring the idiots posts (yours would be a good example of one such post) to find the info that actually helped.

- Retrospectively some decent articles on how to regain your productivity have appeared but this is too little, too late.

You post encapsulates a lot of what has gone wrong with G3.. An anonymous low-level spod, bereft of comprehension, trying to put down someone who manifestly knows vastly more about IT then you ever will. And all because he thinks having to use undocumented modifier keys to compensate for bad design sucks.

Owen Carter

A KDE user who thinks Gnome3 is cluttered... wow. KDE Plasma is a lot less cluttered than KDE used to be; but by default it is about the same as Gnome2. Gnome3 has many faults, but clutter is not one of them.

Owen Carter

I prefer:

'If I seem shorter it is because I have giants standing on my shoulders'

(thanks to /usr/bin/fortune for that)

Owen Carter
Thumb Up

Very well said; there is so much potential in what they are doing; and some really excellent innovative stuff.. but then they throw it all away by failing to put it together coherently or appropriately.

The best bit of news in this article is the appearance of the MGSE extensions; I suspect they will be rapidly ported to other distros (cough..Fedora..cough) and widely adopted.

It will be interesting to see if the small band of dorks currently dragging Gnome3 down will then try to kill MGSE by changing the extensions mechanism... I would not put it past them; their immature reaction to the current criticism does not bode well for this.

Google: We're not pushing our gear over rivals

Owen Carter


I just did a little experiment; I typed the word 'search' into Bing, then into Google.

Bing gave me search.com, yahoo, then google

Google gave me bing, search.com, dogpile, then 4 results for yahoo.

Bing did not list itself at all on the first page; Google listed itself 8th.

I was expecting more of a smoking gun..

Android voice assistant shootout

Owen Carter

Vlingo power use

The reason why Vlingo Safereader hammers your battery is that it heavily loads your network connection; it does most of it's actual audio processing on a central server; see: http://www.vlingo.com/about/technology

So everything you say to it goes via a server in the US or wherever; and it requires pretty much unilateral access to your phone (access all files; all network info; etc..) Ie: a total dependence on network connectivity even for dialling numbers etc. and an ability to gather voice prints plus access almost everything on the phone in a jurisdiction that might not be to your liking. But great voice recognition, pronunciation, and a reassuring privacy statement. Pick your poison.

Consumer Watchdog lambasts Los Angeles over Google Apps

Owen Carter
Big Brother

"a privately funded group"

Indeed.. Interesting article on this here:


And a well written slapdown of their behaviour here:


Apple gets patent for ‘unlock gesture’

Owen Carter

From the patent as linked in the article:


Filed: June 2, 2009


The Patent from 2005 is one (that was apparently not granted!) that they are trying to extend with this new filing. Again, from the linked filing:



This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/322,549, filed Dec. 23, 2005, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,657,849 which application is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

This application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/322,550, titled "Indication of Progress Towards Satisfaction of a User Input Condition," filed Dec. 23, 2005, which application is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.


So looks like they are just incorporating a general UI element (a form of progress bars? hardly a new tech) as part of this, ie the visual feedback of your 'progress' towards unlocking the phone.