* Posts by I am the liquor

303 posts • joined 9 Oct 2013


Self-driving car supremo Anthony Levandowski sentenced to 18 months in the clink for stealing trade secrets from Google's Waymo

I am the liquor


"the biggest trade secrets crime I have ever seen" but only $750,000 in compensation?

First rule of Ransomware Club is do not pay the ransom, but it looks like Carlson Wagonlit Travel didn't get the memo

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Re: Double Negative!`

It's a mistake, the actual headline at the other end of the link is "Less than half of paying ransomware targets get their files back."

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Re: Crikey

30 days is the worst case if the ransomware has been there for less than 30 days. What if it's been encrypting all the data you've been backing up for months?

I am the liquor

The success of one attack motivates the attackers to repeat it against others, causing much greater losses to the wider economy. Losses which are not borne by the original victim - to them it's an externality, which doesn't come into their financial calculation about whether to pay the ransom or rebuild their data.

The idea of threatening sanctions to force companies to consider such externalities is hardly a new one. It's why companies get fined for polluting water courses or exposing our personal data.

Fines are the appropriate sanction here, though, not prison: you just need a sufficiently large monetary penalty to alter the financial calculus for the company, à la GDPR.

I am the liquor

A ransomware attack is somewhat different to a kidnapping. The entire company knows that the computer systems were suddenly down. The entire IT department knows why. None of them are paid enough to be accessories to a felony. If the CEO chooses not to report to the data protection authorities, they're taking a big gamble.

EU orders Airbus A350 operators to install anti-coffee spillage covers in airliner cockpits

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Re: SImpler solution?

Looks like they picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.

Garmin staggers back to its feet: Aviation systems seem to be lagging, though. Here's why

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Re: "EvilCorp"

They should've hired Allsafe.

Sick of AI engines scraping your pics for facial recognition? Here's a way to Fawkes them right up

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Re: the Scottish play

Shrek The Musical?

'First ever' snap emerges of something vaguely resembling our solar system 300 ly away. We'll take 10 tickets

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Re: happier, simpler times

A time when just wrapping a towel around your head would keep you safe from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

Linux kernel coders propose inclusive terminology coding guidelines, note: 'Arguments about why people should not be offended do not scale'

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Re: The term that had me boggling was "dummy value".

You have to wonder who is putting some of these things on the list.

Perhaps someone so militantly in favour of inclusive terminology that they want to bar any term that might have ever been used as a playground insult.

Or perhaps some opponent of inclusive terminology seeking to poison the well and support the "slippery slope" argument.

Both seem equally possible.

Microsoft has a cure for data nuked by fat fingers if you're not afraid of the command line

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Ah, good old WinForms

WinForms keeps plodding along despite being eclipsed by newer, sometime-trendier alternatives like WPF, Silverlight, Electron, or whatever you're supposed to use to design TIFKAM apps these days. There's still no quicker way to knock up a Windows desktop GUI.

CompSci student bitten by fox after feeding it McNuggets

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Re: Foxes, rabbits, toads, et al

The only place Aussie CompSci students should be seeing foxes and rabbits is in an example problem on their Programming 101 course.

Sure is wild that Apple, Google app store monopolies are way worse than what Windows got up to, sniffs Microsoft prez

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Re: Why does Apple not take 30% of O365 subs?

So the question is why are Apple telling Hey they can't sell their subscription outside the app store, when Microsoft are allowed to.

No surprise: Britain ditches central database model for virus contact-tracing apps in favour of Apple-Google API

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Re: No echo chamber here...

If the government wanted to move to the Google/Apple model, they should have done it, shouldn't they? Does NHSX control the government, or the other way around? Actually don't answer that.

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Re: If it has cost £108M that is more than the vaccine development program!

The total value of the 5 Brexit ferry contracts was £100.4m, not £108m. £13.8m for Seaborne Freight (the outfit with no ferries) and £86.6m split between Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O and Stena:


Not that anyone on Twitter would ever let mere numerical precision get in the way of a good story.

The Serco and Pestfix contracts are both being reported as £108m though. I wonder if Matt Hancock's secretly a Buddhist.


Only true boffins will be able to grasp Blighty's new legal definitions of the humble metre and kilogram

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Re: Probably not entirely a bad thing but ...

I can imagine it looked a lot less Nobel Prize-worthy when it suddenly flipped from "measuring a fundamental property of the universe" to "calibrating this tape measure."

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Re: Im so glad they didn't define things as their relation to Planck Time and Planck Length

Too true. A Plank Length is usually about 8 foot, you don't want to be carrying one of those around with you all the time.

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Re: Lawyers rule that a thing is the thing that the thing is

"Customarily defined" is probably the key phrase there... I bet it's a hang-over from when customary units did need to be defined in law, because they weren't well standardised. Every country had a different ounce. But SI units aren't customary units, they are standardised, so the law shouldn't need to specify what sort of kilogram it means.

I am the liquor

Re: Why a kilogram?

It seems the reason why SI ended up picking kilogram, metre and second as the fundamental units is down to the units for electricity. 1 volt-amp = 1 watt = 1 kg.m2.s-3, and all the base units end up handily sized for practical use. In the 19th century, gram, centimetre and second were used as fundamental units (the CGS system) but apparently the derived electrical units were inconvenient to work with.

I am the liquor

Re: Awkward definition for mass

Presumably there was a good reason why they switched to platinum-iridium in 1899... a reference mass of water would certainly have been cheaper.

I am the liquor

Re: Why a kilogram?

The question we need to be asking the French post-revolutionary government is, having fixed the metre as the unit of length, why did they decide that a gram should be the weight of a millionth of a cubic metre of water? Why not a thousandth, or one? If they'd gone for a thousandth, things would be more consistent now.

My guess is it was a practical decision based on the use of balance scales. A set of weights for a balance scale would increase by powers of 2 or 3, which is easy enough to work with as long as the smallest weight you commonly need to weigh is a whole number. If you need to weigh stuff less than 1, the decimals get unwieldy: 0.5, 0.25, 0.125, 0.0625, 0.03125... (or, heaven forbid, 0.333, 0.111, 0.037, 0.0123...). Or you go back to labelling your weights as 1/2, 1/4, 1/8... which somewhat defeats the purpose of having a decimal system.

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Lawyers rule that a thing is the thing that the thing is

Why does British law need to contain the definition of what a kilogram or a metre is at all, when they're clearly and precisely defined already? What next, copy-and-paste the geometric definition of a circle into the traffic signs regulations, in case anyone's in any doubt?

Surely they could just say "kg is the SI unit of mass" and leave it at that. No need to amend the law every time measurement methods improve by one part in 10 million. Anyone using weights and measures for trade is several steps removed from the reference definition anyway.

There are so many things that should be precisely defined in British law and aren't, yet for this they decide the law needs to include a definition down to the last hyperfine structure transition.

Ex-eBay security execs among six charged with harassing, threatening bloggers who dared criticize web tat souk

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Somehow I don't think that show would have been as compelling if Kenton had dealt with Sergei by posting him Halloween tat and porn mags.

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Fake pig's head

If ebay send you a pig's head, I suppose it's par for the course that it'll turn out to be a fake one.

Top tip, devs – your Chrome extension doesn't have to suck: 'A few hours can result in big improvements for millions of users'

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That's some news article

When it takes 536MB of memory -- enough to store all 32 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, twice if you use ASCII rather than UTF-16 -- to read a news article, you have to think something's gone wrong somewhere along the line.

Forget biz insider threats for a moment – let's talk about partners turning rogue and installing spyware on phones

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Re: All well and good

You could make it possible for the victim to suspend or alter tracking in a way that's not apparent to the tracker.

Barmy ban on businesses, Brits based in Blighty bearing or buying .eu domains is back: Cut-off date is Jan 1, 2021

I am the liquor

Plenty of small-medium European e-tailers have .uk versions of their web sites to market to UK customers, e.g. alpinetrek.co.uk -> bergfreunde.de.

Of course they may decide it's no longer worth the candle when VAT rules, customs, and regulatory divergence start getting in the way, so the number might reduce anyway, regardless of .uk TLD rules.

'I wrote Task Manager': Ex-Microsoft programmer Dave Plummer spills the beans

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Re: Ctrl-Shift-Esc

You may have misread that paragraph. The secret code was in the communication between the old and new task manager instances, to work out if the old one has stopped responding. The keystroke wasn't secret.

Former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman calls on UK govt to legally protect data from contact-tracing apps

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"A minister's letter is not legal protection"

And legal protection is not actual protection.

If you don't LARP, you'll cry: Armed fun police swoop to disarm knight-errant spotted patrolling Welsh parkland

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Re: Meanwhile in Bristol....

I'm sure we've all been wondering whether the major side-effect of lockdown will be an explosion of creativity, or a mental health crisis.

Based on that story the answer is yes, yes it will.

Nine in ten biz applications harbor out-of-date, unsupported, insecure open-source code, study shows

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Re: multiple versions of Microsoft .Net libraries... Are all those being maintained

Microsoft are notorious for being obsessive about backwards compatibility. Even refusing to fix bugs on the basis that it would break stuff that relies on the bugs... Excel still thinks 29/2/1900 is a real date. That one's not even their own bug, it's for backwards compatibility with a bug in Lotus 123!

I am the liquor

Re: multiple versions of Microsoft .Net libraries... Are all those being maintained

You can criticise Microsoft for a lot of things but I don't think that particular criticism is a valid one.

You can go to https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/ and find out not only whether your version of .NET is still maintained, but exactly when it will stop being maintained too. Many other vendors, and most open source projects, will not give you that commitment.

Furthermore, when the version of .NET you're using goes EOL, and you have to move to a new one, you know Microsoft will have bent over backwards to maintain backward compatibility as far as possible, and your application will probably still work on the new version of .NET. Again that's something you cannot rely on with a lot of libraries, and it's a major cause of the problem the article is talking about.

Fancy some post-weekend reading? How's this for a potboiler: The source code for UK, Australia's coronavirus contact-tracing apps

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If you're trying to use data from it to do population epidemiology, or make policy decisions, then sure, a small sample may not be very helpful.

But it's a contact tracing app, not a population epidemiology app. The point is to identify specific individuals who might be infected, so you can prevent them passing on the infection. Even if you identify only a small percentage of all infections, that still allows you to reduce R0 by that percentage. And even a small reduction in R0 can make a difference over the course of the outbreak.

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No doubt the number comes from the same basic arithmetic. The proportion of the population you'd need to not be transmission vectors, for whatever reason - either by immunity or because they'd be identified and quarantined via a contact tracing app.

That probably does give a clue about some of the assumptions behind the 60% figure for the app (actually 56% as per my post above)... 56% is not the proportion of the population that would have to merely install the app; it's the proportion that would have to install it, have it running properly all the time, and perfectly comply with any instructions arising from it.

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Isn't tracing infection chains the main purpose of a contact tracing app?

I am the liquor

A downvote's not really much of an answer to my question, is it, so I looked into it and found an answer myself. Some boffins have indeed been working out the real numbers:


Looking at figure 6 in that report, their various scenarios have cumulative deaths over 140 days being reduced by very roughly 10% when app uptake is 20% of smartphone users.

80% of smartphone users/56% of the population is what they reckon is required to suppress the outbreak if there's no lockdown and you're relying on the app alone. But it's clear there are benefits even if uptake is much lower.

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Re: Why?

While it's true that acts of parliament can be passed quickly, the law governing the lockdown is not an example of it. That's a statutory instrument created by the health secretary under powers granted by the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.

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Does it become useless if you have less than that though?

Say you get an uptake of 20% (meaning 20% of the population have the app installed and actually running properly on their phone when they're out and about). So you've got 20% of currently infectious people. Half of them might never develop symptoms or might not tell you, so maybe you actually find out about 10% of the infectious people. The app could potentially identify 20% of the people they've infected, so 2% of all new infections. With good testing, you might catch a lot of those 2% in time to stop them passing it on, and maybe you could reduce the overall infection rate by 1%. It's not a lot, but it's not nothing. Based on on-line models I've seen, even a 1% reduction in R0 can reduce total fatalities by hundreds.

The above is very much back-of-an-envelope stuff. Hopefully some boffins somewhere are working out the real numbers.

We beg, implore and beseech thee. Stop reusing the same damn password everywhere

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Re: In other news....

The original research assumes just 11 bits per word, but even with a dictionary that small, it's still better than typical passwords.

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Re: In other news....

You are protecting your password from being stored in plaintext or weakly hashed in some unsecured database by every site you have an account on.

Certainly it's a far from perfect solution if you care about privacy at all. But if you don't, it has a clear benefit in the context of this story about re-use of passwords.

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Re: ITYM the registration page

No, the log-in page, for exactly the reason Persona has described above.

Occasionally you see sites that tell you the password policy as part of the error message the first time you fail to log in, which is also a fair enough way of doing it.

I am the liquor

Re: In other news....

If I could give one piece of advice to web site designers about password policies, it would be this:

Put the password policy on the log-in page.

I come across so many sites that I fail to log in to, have to use the password reset option, wait for the password reset email, go back to the site, try to enter a new password, have it rejected, and only then find out that the reason I couldn't use one of my "normal" passwords was that this site doesn't allow punctuation, or spaces, or swears, or has odd length limits, or wants you to use at least 2 upper case letters, or something equally pointless.

I am the liquor

Re: In other news....

It sounds like this report is berating humans for being unable to use a system that's basically unsuitable for use by humans.

Most of the people who claim not to regularly re-use passwords are probably liars. Some are probably using password managers, but not a third of the population. Surely no-one is really remembering a completely unique password for every single device, internet shop, social media site and forum they ever used.

The iMac at 22: How the computer 'too odd to succeed' changed everything ... for Apple, at least

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Re: Remember when *everything* was translucent "Bondi Blue"?

I remember Iomega did a Zip drive with the innards on display through a blue transparent shell.

Prepare to have your shonky password hygiene shamed by Firefox 76

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...will attempt to avoid shipping stuff that might break websites on which users depend

Well thanks.

Britain has no idea how close it came to ATMs flooding the streets with free money thanks to some crap code, 1970s style

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Re: Experienced tester.

A rare talent. Sadly testing isn't seen as a very prestigious role, so it's hard to attract people with the requisite persistence and imagination to do it well.

You can get a mechanical keyboard for £45. But should you? We pulled an Aukey KM-G6 out of the bargain bin

I am the liquor

That sounds like a great feature. It's so embarrassing when you forget to mute your mic and your colleagues realise you're doing work instead paying attention to their time-wasting teleconference.

Microsoft decrees that all high-school IT teachers were wrong: Double spaces now flagged as typos in Word

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Wow, 5 pages of comments, every single one about just one of the four stories in the round-up article. People go proper nuts about typography. I include myself in that.

I can't help wondering if we shouldn't standardise the whole Roman-alphabet world on 3 fonts and then abolish the whole field of typography. Imagine the time savings. To avoid unending arguments about what the the 3 allowed fonts should be, we'd have to pick ones that everyone hates, so probably Times New Roman, Arial and Comic Sans.

I am the liquor

Re: The Brexit brigade will be up in arms!

Interesting that the print example of wide sentence spacing shown in that Wikipedia article is in German. I guess double-spacing between sentences is especially helpful when all nouns have capital letters.



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