* Posts by keithpeter

1476 posts • joined 14 Jul 2007

Euro police forces infiltrated encrypted phone biz – and now 'criminal' EncroChat users are being rounded up


31 payg sim cards on a daily rotation? Choice of 7 burner phones bought off the market stall? (gcd 7, 31 = low repetition)


Re: But private ciphers also exist...even if end-to-end encryption is broken.......

@Basis and all...


I am old enough to have actually used a code book to send domain specific information over a Telex link (shipping, 1980s).

Coat: Journal of Commerce in the pocket.

Linux Mint 20 isn't exactly bursting with freshness but, hey, there's kernel 5.4 and it's a long-term support release


Re: Low end machines

"My biggest surprise with Linux is how much better the more lightweight window managers now look. Years ago I'd look at screenshots of anything that wasn't Gnome or KDE and turn away in horror. Now, something like xfce looks good to my eye."

Xfce4 is lightweight these days according to OA and parent poster?

Coat: shuffles off with aid of Zimmer to the comfort of jwm with a couple of xterms, one running lynx

'It's really hard to find maintainers...' Linus Torvalds ponders the future of Linux


Re: Maybe...

If you think about all the instances of the Linux kernel operating right now - from phones and embedded devices via servers and network devices in data centres, through to high performance compute clusters, isn't the desktop operating system aspect (i.e. endpoint client) almost of measure zero? Nice to have but it hardly defines the project.

Is it not amazing that a self organised group of programmers managed this huge project?

'One rule for me, another for them' is all well and good until it sinks the entire company's ability to receive emails


"my PhD thesis (written in LaTeX) was entirely stored (including diagrams) on two floppy disks"

@Custard [OT]: as a matter of interest, have you ever tried recompiling your thesis on a recent LaTeX version? I sometimes wonder about the longevity of digital formats. I'm guessing markup based systems are probably the safest bet

Coat: mine hosted, in the distant past, a Selectric maths golfball and a set of Rotring pens...

80-characters-per-line limits should be terminal, says Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds


cat <somefile> | grep -B 1 -A 1 PATTERNS #?

"They cause problems for things like 'grep' both in the patterns and in the output, since grep (and a lot of other very basic unix utilities) is fundamentally line-based."

See title

Ah, my coat.

Laughing UK health secretary launches COVID-19 Test and Trace programme with glitchy website and no phone app


Re: Unmanaged BYOD

Does anyone know if a DBS check is required of applicants?

These people will be handling the address phone number and details of contacts of children (<18) and vulnerable adults.


Re: Oh No Surely Not...

"This was on Radio 4 yesterday (they were talking to an ex-junior doctor academic). Those on near minimum wage just take the incoming calls from people who think they might be positivie. The clinical tracers are the ones who make the outgoing calls to those who are confirmed positive."

Numbers look wrong way round for that.

Fred(a) gets a positive test, phones up, gives minimum wage person the contact list with (say) 10 names.

Clinical tracers have to do 10 phone calls, each of which could generate n new contacts, including Freda of course

One new positive test generates a large cascade of follow ups.


Re: Oh No Surely Not...

Verification: OK daft question (this is Serco) why not...

Issue each call a unique case number

If caller asks for verification, advise caller to ring off, ring number listed on Web site and on posters, go thru' the menu and give the case number

System then connects caller to advisor who has the relevant details including the time that the caller rang off...



I gather that the tracers are recruited, employed, and trained by Serco.


One hopes there has been a change of culture since then.

I'm going to avoid the usual 'what could possibly go wrong' comment because we really need a system that works, in the sense of allowing local measures to deal with clusters, to avoid economic meltdown.

ALGOL 60 at 60: The greatest computer language you've never used and grandaddy of the programming family tree


Haskell's grandad?

Microsoft doc formats are the bane of office suites on Linux, SoftMaker's Office 2021 beta may have a solution


Re: Compare with WPS Office?



I think parent poster means this one...

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


Re: Sage & onion

@Dr Syntax

I'm a bit worried about the trend towards criticism of epidemologists and public health modellers generally based on micro-analysis of small samples of particular implementations of models. People are playing defence lawyer when they should be looking at the basics (one person infects between 2.4 and 3.6 other people on average when there is no immunity in a (sub)population, there is a 6 to 14 day period when someone is infectious but not showing symptoms, simple differential equation)

This is applied (messy, political, entangled with desperate economic imperatives) science not systems level software engineering. The basis of science is that independent work by different teams using different methodologies tends (with eddy currents) to converge on something that we can regard as close to truth or reality in some sense. This is not an argument about engineering change orders or which library to use or what code style might be best.

I suspect that there is a lot of 'flood the zone with shit' going on by various kinds of useful idiot.


Re: Sage & onion


Put something together and run it past these people.

You might find project 5.6 of interest

(I have some interest in what comes out of project 5.2 based on a walk across town this morning as my daily exercise)


Re: Sage & onion

Not my field really, but John Carmack worked on the Imperial College model for a bit before the Microsoft people got involved. The quote below comes from a couple of parts of Carmack's twitter thread about the code...

"Before the GitHub team started working on the code it was a single 15k line C file that had been worked on for a decade, and some of the functions looked like they were machine translated from Fortran. There are some tropes about academic code that have grains of truth, but it turned out that it fared a lot better going through the gauntlet of code analysis tools I hit it with than a lot of more modern code. There is something to be said for straightforward C code. Bugs were found and fixed, but generally in paths that weren't enabled or hit."

It is also worth pointing out that the broad ballpark results of the model were similar in general outline to those produced by a team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. They have put a simplified model up as a Web page for educational purposes. You can twiddle around with that and get thoroughly depressed. You need to read the help page and the associated paper to understand how the variables and interventions interact. The point is that these programs are not systems engineering, they are research. We draw some comfort when different research teams using different methodologies, implemented using different tools give broadly similar results.

Finally, it might be worth checking the last paragraph of the article quoted in the parent thread to this. The - no doubt very talented and effective - software engineer who looked at the code seems to have some interesting ideas about how to manage public health which probably lie quite a few standard deviations from the views of the majority in the UK.

(I still think that Ferguson should release the original file)

Wanna be a developer? Your coworkers want to learn Go and like to watch, er, Friends and Big Bang Theory


Re: Correlation and causation

Selection effect?

Only workaholics would want to do 60h+ weeks?

Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer


TDLB was the D units. Later came the A units. Fun not


@Mr Humbug

Count yourself lucky that you did not have to complete the TDLB or A units for assessors as well. You had to compile evidence for those - in voluminous quantities.

Prepare to have your shonky password hygiene shamed by Firefox 76


Re: Firefox has sought to arrest its slide in the rankings

"I've got FF set to use a separate search field so I DON'T want search and shonky suggestions added to the address bar when all I'm trying to do is enter an address myself!"

Does unticking Preferences | Search | Provide Search Suggestions help at all still? I'm on the current ESR one (68.xish). I still get the 'helpful' search suggestions in the separate search box though

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal


Re: And what about the people ...

Those that do have a smartphone and run apps can run this one. Those that don't, won't. Just because this app won't reach 100% of the population doesn't mean we shouldn't bother with it at all (privacy issues aside)

I think that you are basically assuming that the percentage who do/are able to download and use the app are a random sample from the population as a whole in a particular district (I gather the idea is to modulate lockdown/restrictions in specific areas). If that assumption is correct then yes, a percentage will be enough.

However if there is any systematic difference between the set of people who download and successfully use the app and those that don't, then the decisions generated could be less than optimum in an area. You would not know about the mis-match between the data generated from the application and reality for the incubation period + symptoms worsening period, so say 14 to 21 days. If the R from app was 1.05 and the real R was 1.5 (say) that could be a very significant issue


Re: And what about the people ...

The age distribution of those prepared/able to download and run the app will be skewed away from those most at risk from infection because of the need for an Apple/Android device as mentioned or implied above. This means that the decisions based on the data may not actually be those needed to minimise infection in a given region. (That would be an issue with the Google/Apple api based system as well tbf)

The lack of compatibility between the UK based NHS application and the Rest Of The World Except Australia and Possibly India system may have issues for mutual travel arrangements going forward especially if the UK system is missing a significant number of interactions

And finally, if the system really does miss significant interactions, the data generated will be obviously divorced from the true infection rate in a given postcode - as will become apparent some weeks later (infection/symptom time lag) for each degree of separation in a local graph

Have I missed anything?

Coat: mine's the one with an ancient Blackberry which I may decide to replace with a landfil android if this app looks like it might actually generate useful public health action

Ding dong Dell, servers in the well. Who pulled them out? Little PC stout


Forced replacement

""We executed well," said Clarke, "taking advantage of tailwinds from the Windows 10 refresh cycle, declining component cost while navigating through CPU shortages and a dynamic tariff environment.""

Am I correct in thinking that this sentence means that Dell sold a load of client PCs because of Windows 10? One assumes that continued updates to Windows 7 would have saved lots of businesses, public sector organisations and domestic users a bit of money?

So pointless market churn?

RIP Freeman Dyson: The super-boffin who applied his mathematical brain to nuclear magic, quantum physics, space travel, and more


Couple of more names for your 19th Century chronicle



Dynamical systems basically. Just how many times has negative feedback been invented? (Steam engine governor onwards)


Re: Nothing ignomious

Alas, falls of any kind when you are over 80 or so can be serious. I know this from experience with family members. It is part of the 'old age' experience.

Robotic exoskeletons?

Coat: mine's the one with a copy of Disturbing the Universe in the pocket. His generation basically invented operations reseach (sort of a gap year project during ww2)

iFixit surgeons dissect Apple's pricey Mac Pro: Industry standard sockets? Repair diagrams? Who are you and what have you done to Apple?


RAMdisk! Excellent idea

Windows 7: Still looking after business (except when it isn't)



Just wondering: could you not provide the functions you miss from Lotus in the form of an Excel plug-in and profit?

Icon: I had A level Maths students doing investigations on old 286 based DOS computers as noone else in the college wanted them. The students liked a change from the symbolic work. Memories.

Flat Earther and wannabe astronaut killed in homemade rocket


Just ask a Bristol fishing boat skipper. They had all of this crap sorted around 1100 or so (grand banks cod)

Icon: welcome back to port


Only one parachute?

Why not a last chance personal pack?

Why not 3 parachutes deployed in various locations and under control of the rocketeer?

Hope the dependents are looked after

Startup Mycroft AI declares it will fight 'patent troll' tooth and nail after its Linux voice-assistant attracts lawsuit


Re: Startup Mycroft AI declares it will fight 'patent troll'

Does anyone in the US sometimes worry that this kind of shenanigans might act as a damper on innovation and new ideas?

I mean, can you imagine if Claude Shannon and Bell Labs had to hack their way though this stuff? Or Johan Von Neumann or any of the other founders?

Just a thought

Tech can endure the most inhospitable environments: Space, underwater, down t'pit... even hairdressers


Re: Ex fruity genius...

One of the great advances that has occurred over my working life is the advent of smoke-free workplaces. Your experience was the *norm* in many places in the 1970s. When I worked as a messenger in Liverpool in the mid 1970s there were offices that appeared to have their own internal fog and ceilings that were honey brown (having been painted white).


Re: Surprisingly ...

Routine now that one (I work in further education)

One day soon I'll take my portable typewriter in and show them what the shift key does and why it is named thus.

Keyboard icon: I can be a little heavy handed while typing

Wake me up before you go Go: Devs say they'll learn Google-backed lang next. Plus: Perl pays best, Java still in demand


"Forth is so niche it's not on anyone's radar."

The dish pointing software could well be written in Forth back in the day. But there we are...

At last, the fix no one asked for: Portable home directories merged into systemd


Re: Systemd is devastating

Got Devuan?


Slackware as canary.

If/when PV has to include systemd so as to be able to provide a full desktop within the default install as a result of the creeping symbiosis, then its freebsd.

Google promises next week's cookie-crumbling Chrome 80 will only cause 'a very modest amount of breakage'


Re: Oh....like the silent change that borked thousands of business users....

Quote from theverge article referenced above.

"After complaints, Google was forced to reveal it had launched an “experiment” on stable versions of Chrome that had changed the browser’s behavior. The experiment was made silently, without IT admins or users being warned about Google’s changes."

Firefox allows you to disable 'experiments' and 'studies' through both the preferences page in the GUI and through the about:config list for more granular control. Is there an equivalent in Chrome?

Icon: just upgraded the missus to Windows 10 and she is a Chromie

Capita Education Services accidentally spaffs email addresses in Helpdesk snafu


Re: Oh for fucks sake

Instructions for sending a TELEX message from the comfort of your email application...


I especially like the idea of an ocean code...

Mine's the one with the ACME code book in the pocket.

A fine host for a Raspberry Pi: The Register rakes a talon over the NexDock 2


Re: Bring back netbooks

Interesting. How bendy is the keyboard?

I need to learn about Windows 10 for.... reasons

Sometimes shining a light on a nuclear problem just makes things worse


Re: Solved by a stroke of sheer luck

How does your colleague separate out the factors once he has seen a promising result?

Long-term Linux Mint: 19.3 release unchains the Gimp, adds HiDPI, is kind to your older, less-beefy kit


Re: Mint 19.x Cinnamon has been an uncharacteristically rough patch in the road

T500 with intel or radeon graphics card? Just wondering if that could be a factor. Yet to try Mint on a Core Duo based Thinkpad, currently setting it up on an X220 with Intel video so the missus can try it out before Win 7 eol.

Beware the three-finger-salute, or 'How I Got The Keys To The Kingdom'


Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

Excellent: we assume you are well away from the server room and that you have disconnected all your terminal sessions...

Cheque out my mad metal frisbee skillz... oops. Lights out!


Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

Good for them

Surprised they were not using letters of credit.

As a messenger boy in Liverpool in 70s, I trundled about with LOCs and bills of lading most days. I'm quite proud of having held a job that is now completely obsolete, even if only for a short time.

Paying the ships' crews off: £50k in packs of £20s. Four large chaps in a lorry cab and a satchel. Never any problems except for one bursar who insisted on opening the packs of notes and counting them...

Buzz kill: Crook, 73, conned investors into shoveling millions into geek-friendly caffeine-loaded chocs that didn't exist. Now he's in jail


Re: I don't get it...

One wonders if putting some coffee in a food mixer with the chocolate concentrate used by confectioners would result in something that could be called a 'product sample' even if not a very compelling one.

I suspect that the fraud bit was pretending that famous companies were interested rather than the actual lack of product.

Tramp: me and money don't mix

We've found it... the last shred of human decency in an IT director – all for a poxy Unix engineer


Re: Beer...

Clueless end user here

Is copying bash history to different accounts a normal procedure?

Just thinking of some of the jolly japes I have perpetrated with Ctrl-R and Up-Arrow over the years. Blast radius one recycled laptop, not anything important.

@Alessandro: see icon

Uni of London loses attempt to block mobe mast surveyors from Paddington rooftop


It did occur to me that new buildings may now have 'skin' or 'membrain' roofing more often than now so as to ensure that they fail any potential survey assuming owners don't want the masts...

When the IT department speaks, users listen. Or face the consequences


Re: Been on the receiving end of that

Glad things worked out OK sort of

On the old GCSE Maths modular courses, there was an X code for a missing component on the full results line. That meant either didn't go to the exam or missing bit of coursework, and the other components would show actual grades or scores obtained.

Might be worth trying to get the grades for each separate component of an exam if anyone finds themselves in this situation again.Will tell you what went wrong, and will show good scores for the other components which is a confidence boost to student.

Most FE Colleges use upload to virtual learning environment or similar for plagiarism checking and to ensure backups and no modifications subsequent to deadline &c.

Tearoff of Nottingham: University to lose chunk of IT dept to outsourcing


Re: On the upside...

Clueless end user here.

At one of the places I teach in with around 8k teenagers and 5k other enrolments (apprentices, adults, employees on training &c) the workflow is as follows...

1) student fills in basic information on screen

2) after interview with teacher/initial skills check teacher sets up a 'pending enrolment' to course

3) student toddles off to physical desk to show ID and sign forms

4) enrolment becomes active and IT account works within minutes

5) single sign on to most basic systems plus teacher created accounts to a few commercially provided subscription services depending on course

6) Library offer IT induction courses including how to print, e-safety and what that acceptable use policy thingy you clicked on when you logged in actually means

Mostly seems to work.

Father of Unix Ken Thompson checkmated: Old eight-char password is finally cracked


"I'm still looking for a solution compatible with no extra software AND very bad (say geriatric) memory."

There comes a time when you just need a small black book and a pen. Then you can do things like take the first two letters of each word in a text, or use a Playfair type grid &c.


Coat: mine's the one with the All Weather Notebook in the pocket


Re: Well, there's your problem

Arrived here late. If anyone is still reading...

Suppose I put batteryhorsestaple in a Playfair like grid of (say) 5 by 4 squares like this





and then read the grid top to bottom in columns giving


have I just defeated the probability based crack strategy and dropped down to brute forcing a 20 character passphrase? Or do the crack algorithms look at permutations like this?

Hey, I wrote this neat little program for you guys called the IMAC User Notification Tool


Re: Hardware Testing

In the (rarefied) world of computer aided theorem proving one of the most important systems rejoices in the name Coq.

Still trying to work out if this is an innocent oversight or deliberate jibe.

Oracle demands $12K from network biz that doesn't use its software


Re: This reminds me of that scam..

Boxes of carbon paper was the scam in the 1970s. A box of 100 sheets of carbon paper was a reasonably high cost but a small object (only half an inch thick). The price invoiced was significantly higher than the high street cost.

Behold the perils of trying to turn the family and friends support line into a sideline


Re: Valves

"Weird, socially inept people with odd clothes have been fixing stuff for other folks since the dawn of time."


An upvote is not enough for this insight.


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