* Posts by IanRS

102 posts • joined 24 Sep 2013


Schools email marketing company told us to go away when we told them of exposed database creds, say infoseccers


"We do not hold any confidential information on any of our servers."

Well that much was true certainly.

We're all at sea: Navigation Royal Navy style – with plenty of IT but no GPS


Re: Reg units need not apply

But the timber lengths were probably all multiples of 0.3m, otherwise known as 'metric feet' by carpenters. It does lead to the problem of some 'full size' boards being 2.4m by 1.2m and others are the full 8' x 4' (2.44m x 1.22m). Very annoying when you really do need those last 4cm, or should that be 1 9/16in?

Glasgow firm fined £150k after half a million nuisance calls, spoofing phone number, using false trading names


How do you find them?

I am on the TPS list, and still get a lot of green deal, insulation fitting and oven cleaning calls, although the latter seems to have dropped off recently. However, since the caller ID number is spoofed and any company name they give is likely to be false too, how do you know who to complain about to the ICO?

The obvious fraud ones - "I'm calling from BT/Microsoft..." I normally respond to with "[Do you sleep well at night knowing| Does your mother know] you spend your days [committing fraud | as a petty criminal]". They normally hang up.

Apple wants to scan iCloud to protect kids, can't even keep them safe in its own App Store – report


Advert loophole

My son uses one of my old iphones to play games on. It has no SIM card in, so is generally only useable around the house, on the WiFi network. Only I can install new apps on it, and I make sure that everything is suitable for his age. However, adverts do not seem to have any link to the age rating of the app, and I have often seen completely inappropriate ads being shown in the middle of a what is supposed to be an age 4+ rated game. (He is somewhat older, but that is what some of the apps are rated.) Looking at various Apple forums, this seems to be a problem going back years, but Apple never do anything about it.

The UK is running on empty when it comes to electric vehicle charging points


Re: Recycled battery risks

Take a balloon filled with hydrogen and poke it with a lit match. You will have produced a cloud of water vapour. Now return that to separate hydrogen and oxygen. You all allowed an energy budget equivalent to one match.

Physics proves through the laws of thermodynamics that there is a preferred way for things to go, and that going back costs more energy than going forward. You can reverse things, but only at an energy cost, and eventually you (and the rest of the universe) run out of energy.

Mountains on neutron stars are not even a millimetre tall due to extreme gravity


Re: "extreme gravitational fields"

Make it out of scrith.

Pentagon scraps $10bn JEDI winner-takes-all cloud contract


Indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity

The supplier does not know when they will deliver and the customer does not know what they want.

So, a standard government contract then.

This AI could save a firefighter's life


Simulation accuracy

This shows an example of how little match there is between many simulations and reality. Having written a number of simulators for various parts of my academic research (a long time ago) I could tweak parameters until there was a good match between the simulator and previous observations under known conditions. However, take one step outside the boundary of those known conditions and I could guarantee the simulator would be useless.

Climate model simulations are the obvious exception to this. They have perfect predictive abilities for up to a century ahead.

USB-C levels up and powers up to deliver 240W in upgraded power delivery spec


Re: I predict excitement

Switches in both leads might be the required practice these practice these days. It might even be carried out in new installations. However, it is certainly not always in place in older installations. Light sockets in particular can still be live even when the switch is off.

Train operator phlunks phishing test by teasing employees with non-existent COVID bonus


Re: But isn't this what (real) criminals would do?

Exactly. The whole intention of a phishing attack is to make it both believable and tempting. The problem with many unions is that they will automatically consider any change to current conditions 'a bad thing' which needs all details to be communicated, discussed and agreed beforehand.

I am a security consultant and one of the security education services my company is working on will allow test phishing emails to be sent if the client wants that part of the package. As long as there are clues in the email that it came from outside the organisation I would consider it an acceptable test. On that basis, GoDaddy screwed up by sending it from a legitimate internal address and providing no clues at all that it was meant to be fake, but this one I would consider a valid test.

'Chinese wall'? Who uses 'Chinese wall'? Well, IBM did, and it actually means 'firewall'


Re: Is "Chinese Wall" actually offensive?

A Chinese wall is not big and impossible to pass. Quite the opposite in fact. It comes from the use of paper screens which everybody then pretends are impossible to go through, and usually refers to artificial divisions to keep information about two areas separated. e.g. A company doing work for two clients who are competitors which each other.

On the basis that it refers to a purely language based construct with no physical presence that stops you from doing something I am surprised it is not praised rather than rejected by reformists of woke or SJW flavours.

Millimetre-sized masses: Physics boffins measure smallest known gravitational field (so far)


There is no such thing as gravity.

Everything just sucks!

Good news: An end is in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic. Bad news: Nitrogen dioxide pollution is on the up as life returns to normal


Odd timing

The middle picture, with the lower emission levels, is dated Feb 2020, which is only just as things started to get serious. How much manufacturing had shut down by then, even in China where lockdowns started earlier than most other places?

Space station dumps 2.9-ton battery pack to burn up in Earth's atmosphere after hardware upgrade


A lot of delta-V

I wonder if the ejection of large items is aimed and timed in order to provide a useful orbit correction.

Nurserycam horror show: 'Secure' daycare video monitoring product beamed DVR admin creds to all users


Re: WebCam And Video Everywhere

Somebody once collided with my car in the company car park, cracking the bumper, but left no note. There were obvious cameras overlooking the area so I went to the security office to ask whether they had footage of the incident.

"We turn the cameras off during office hours."

You could not make this stuff up.

Decades-old UK government papers show that they tried to roll out a 'Cab-E-Net' system in the '90s. It was crap


The giveaway!

"doing IT in government properly might result in fewer MPs"

So every government IT project ever since has been doomed.

Windows might have frozen – but at least my feet are toasty


Re: Site services...

Might have been a flame rather than a spark. Sparks normally have something at the other end to complete the circuit. (As this place is pedant infected, yes, I do know about cloud to cloud lightning). I had a PC back in the early 90s which I had unplugged to plug in something else temporarily. When I turned the PC on nothing happened. Oh yes, the plug. Reach under the desk to plug it back in, putting my head next to the PC case, and a flash of flame goes past my face. There went the main house fuse, the ring circuit breaker, the plug fuse and the PSU fuse. Further inspection of the inside of the PSU revealed a large ceramic (maybe tantalum bead) capacitor with a crater in one side.

UK proposes new powers for comms regulator to legally unleash avenging hordes on security-breached telcos


Accreditation scheme

There used to be an accreditation scheme - CAS(T) - which telecoms providers had to meet if they wanted to sell into the government or public sector markets. This was deprecated when the new Telecoms Security Requirements were announced. Announced, not available, so this was around the middle of last year. The Telecommunications (Security) Act 2019-2021 has now been approved in late November so this sets the requirements. I would assume that there will eventually be an accreditation scheme, but I am not holding my breath.

As a security consultant who often works in the telecoms area, I can foresee a very dull period ahead reading the Bill and trying to work out what the requirements really are. An initial glance through reveals this will not be enjoyable.

HP CEO talks up HP-ink-only print hardware and higher upfront costs for machines that use other cartridges


Re: What is "lifetime" ?

You need to use genuine HP 'makes champagne look cheap' ink for the lifetime of the printer - until it finally wears out. They will support it for the printer lifetime - until the next model comes out.

Dutch Gateway store was kept udder wraps for centuries until refit dug up computing history


Robust case

I had a Gateway in the second half of the 90s. Various bits got swapped out occasionally until just the original case survived. Eventually the changing form factors of various components meant it too had to go, but it was still in perfect condition. Built like the proverbial outhouse.

Contact-tracer spoofing is already happening – and it's dangerously simple to do


What are the odds?

How likely is it that while reading an article on COVID-19 related spam or phishing calls, the phone rings? And it is a COVID-19 related phishing call?

Regardless of the odds, it happened.

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT


Re: Luxury

If the writer could have kept up with the reader you know what would have happened - a tape crossing the room, probably at waist height to cause as much obstruction and risk of being broken as possible.


Re: Remember serial breakout boxes?

I am sure mine must still be around somewhere, although it was a little smaller. An open case with a 25 way connector on each end and 25 pins sticking up. Jumper leads could be added as necessary. The last resort in my serial toolkit, which also included a long straight-through cable (1-1, 2-2, ... 25-25), short adapters for common requirements such as null-modem or 25-9 serial, gender-benders. If two boxes could talk via a common protocol through a 9 or 25 pin D socket, I could probably connect them.

Comms room, comms room, comms room is on fire – we don't need no water, let the engineer burn


Re: And then some fool fills up a car with Li-ion...

Diesel is harder to ignite. Drop a lit cigarette on a diesel spill and it will probably go out. However, diesel has a higher energy:volume ratio than petrol, so once it is burning...

Samsung reminds rabble to scan smart TVs for viruses – then tries to make them forget


What telly?

I replaced my telly with a fish tank some years ago. Much more interesting to watch. Although members of the cast do die off occasionally, I don't believe it has suffered a security breach.

Are you sure you've got a floppy disk stuck in the drive? Or is it 100 lodged in the chassis?


Re: Shiela is okay...

They used BBC micros, not PCs.

2 weeks till Brexit and Defra, at the very least, looks set to be caught with its IT pants down


Since when has not knowing the correct requirements been an impediment to a government IT project? Make some requirements up, have it developed, then ask the users what it should be doing and pay lots more later to get it to do what should have been specified originally. Standard procedure.

Strewth! Apoplectic Aussies threaten to blast noisy Google delivery drones out of the sky


Re: Oder placed.

Or even ordure?

Cops told live facial recog needs oversight, rigorous trial design, protections against bias


98% false positive rate?

False positive rates should be low. Really low if you are dealing with a potentially large pool of candidates. A rate of 1% would mean that 1 person in 100 would be falsely recognised as being somebody 'of interest', and in any kind of crowded event there will probably be thousands of facing passing in front of each camera, so 10s of false positives. A 98% rate means this facial recognition system is working at the level of 'yes, that is a face'. It probably even triggers on the police horses.

It might be that 98% of the flagged faces were false alarms which is still stupidly high, but that is not what is properly meant by false positive rate.

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin


Sundials are the easy bit

Sundials are easy enough to get hold of - I have a nice one just sitting on a shelf.

Nice pedestals to mount them on in the garden at a sensible price are another matter entirely.

Attention all British .eu owners: Buy dotcom domains and prepare to sue, says UK govt


Re: Wow, it's almost...

Hardly a decisive outcome to leave, when two thirds of the public didn't support it.

Hardly a decisive outcome to stay, when two thirds of the public didn't support it.

That argument goes both ways you know.

Heard the one where the boss calls in an Oracle consultant who couldn't fix the database?


Octal problem

When I used to interview graduates for a coding position I liked this test (although back then it was in C rather than C++).

What is the output of the following code:

#include <iostream>

int main()


std::cout << 001;

std::cout << 010;

std::cout << 100;

return 0;


Most candidates realise the leading zeros will not be printed, and write down 1 10 100 on separate lines. They are wrong. Some candidates realise that the output has no \n and write 110100. They are still wrong.

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire


Re: Interesting idea

This is why wind turbines are not clean too. Big steel tower on a huge concrete foundation = enormous up-front CO2 cost. Apparently they break even after 20 years, out of a 25 year expected usable lifespan.

GCHQ pushes for 'virtual crocodile clips' on chat apps – the ability to silently slip into private encrypted comms


Re: re: our Kevin's gran's aunt's cousin Sherryl

Gran: up two generations (mother of mother, or mother of father)

Aunt: up another generation then across to a sister

Cousin: shared grandparents, so up two then down two along a different branch of the family tree.

Total: Up five, down two.

So a common ancestor exists five generations up from the starting point, two up from the end point.

Take the lowest number: two, which implies cousin (three would be 2nd cousin, 4 = 3rd cousin, etc)

Take the generation difference: three.

Final result: Cousin three times removed, aka Sherryl.

DXC's Americas CFO splits amid yet more deckchair shifting


Re: Last man out etc

It was like that when it was HP-ES, and when it was EDS before then. EDS UK has done well, but EDS EMEA as a whole has done badly, therefore EDS UK will be punished as it is part of EDS EMEA.

Bright spark dev irons out light interference


Re: Blu Tack

I was wondering if anybody would bring this one up. You beat me by 16K. Sorry, 16 minutes.

Windows XP? Pfff! Parts of the Royal Navy are running Win ME


Re: Few comments


It seems to work when I try to link the A: drive to mapped network drive in a Win10 machine with no floppy drive.

It's been a week since engineers approved a new DNS encryption standard and everyone is still yelling


Too early to argue

The Vi or Emacs debate needs to be settled first!

Neutron star crash in a galaxy far, far... far away spews 'faster than light' radio signal jets at Earth


Re: Just a side note

"Antimatter is just an atom, whose core contains the electrons while the orbits are filled with protons - in "normal" matter it is the other way around."

No it isn't. It really isn't. An anti-matter is made of of anti-protons and anti-neutrons, surrounded by anti-electrons (positrons). It is not just a normal atom flipped inside-out.

Trainer regrets giving straight answer to staffer's odd question


Re: Lightening strike ?

A few years ago I had a problem with the house main fuse tripping several times a day. After a couple of electricians failed to find any fault the local electric board sent one of their more competent ones. He asked whether I used surge protectors for any equipment. I did, and he said to remove them. They can cause problems with tripping and are of little practical use: A distant lightning strike will be handled by the mains grid and a too close strike will blow straight through them anyway. Once I removed them the trip faults stopped, and if there is a close storm I just unplug the computers.

By Jove! Astroboffins spot 12 new spanking moons around Jupiter


Re: What is a moon ?

Pluto has not cleared its neighbouring region because it crosses the orbit of Neptune, and has not cleared it out of the way.

So why is Neptune considered a planet?

Tech team trapped in data centre as hypoxic gas flooded in. Again


Re: A real fire risk

As a teenager, so a long time ago, I had a Saturday job in a clothing chain warehouse. Four floors (with perforated metal grid flooring, allowing for good ventilation / fire spreading, and causing vertigo for those working on the upper floors) full of cardboard, plastic and fabric. The safety briefing for new starters stated that in the case of a fire, the fire crew would come in and try to rescue anybody known to be trapped inside, but otherwise would just keep their distance and let it burn.

Open plan offices flop – you talk less, IM more, if forced to flee a cubicle


Did he get the point?

Outage? No, phones are playing silly buggers, insists Sainsbury's Bank


We've seen no transaction or payment problems

We have seen any transactions of payments either for that matter.

Tech support made the news after bomb squad and police showed up to 'defuse' leaky UPS


It was obviously a mis-typed KMPH, of course!

Git push origin undo-my-last-disaster


Re: Nothing new here...

So where does your database configuration go? In the next turtle down?

No, Stephen Hawking's last paper didn't prove the existence of a multiverse


Cognito ergo universi?

The Hawking-Hertog conjecture has, they wrote, “important implications for anthropic reasoning”, the idea of a relationship between the universe and the sapient life observing it.

I think, therefore the universe is?

It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?


Re: Dates with collapsed zeros

Not ::1/10 ?

Too many bricks in the wall? Lego slashes inventory


Re: The cost!!

Flying lego: https://www.popularmechanics.com/flight/a23667/lego-plane-that-can-fly/

Some of the cheap alternatives are so bad that you can put one piece on top of another, pick up the assembly by the top piece, and the bottom piece stays behind. The tolerances that Lego is made to really are very tight, but they have had a lot of practice at making blocks by now and I don't think the price premium is completely justified by that alone.


2x4 blocks are what Lego is all about

My son got the Saturn V set (target age 14+) for his 6th birthday recently, which I was banned from 'helping' with. It took him a while, but he was able to build it. He now refuses to consider any sets which are not intended for at least age 8. He has an enormous lego collection, plus occasional access to my old Lego Technic sets, but he still likes building things out of standard 2x4 blocks. The specialised pieces are too specialised these day and no good for anything beyond that one function. Ebay comes in very handy for 'vintage' lego.



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