* Posts by laird cummings

588 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Aug 2007


FAA powers up an invisible hand, groping the skies for rule-busting biz drones

laird cummings

Terminal ballistics is why God invented shotguns. :p Falling shot pellets are quite low-risk. If the drone is too high to take with birdshot, it's high enough that you're unlikely to take it with anything short of anti-aircraft artillery.

British Airways slaps 'at risk' sticker on nearly half its app delivery dept

laird cummings

Free Trade

Everyone wants free (or at least cheap) service and product. When the great masses lemming on over to the newest low-cost option, what do you think all the other players in the market are going to do?

So folks rabbit on about "saving the domestic wage-slave," but still keep flocking like sheep to the cheapest thing they see... and they're surprised at the results?

If you want to save the domestic wage-slave, folks either will need to work at outsource rates, or open their wallets.

laird cummings

Re: TCS: Not all bad

TCS has been handling complex document management and regulatory compliance for my company over the last two-plus years, and they've done a capable job of it. Rather rough to start, but they mastered the learning curve, and are doing reliable work now.

Yes, I know - not the same as app dev wotk, but still a complex and arcane task, handled competently.

China's Dalek-like robots fear only one terrifying nemesis: Stairs

laird cummings

Re: 78 kilograms, eight hours of continuous work

Heck, a strategically-placed broomstick will do for any pursuit.

Auto erotic: Self-driving cars will let occupants bonk on the go

laird cummings

Re: Just looking at the Google car

Rule 34. No exceptions.

laird cummings

New meaning to the phrase...

"...Go play in traffic!"

(back in *my* old fossil days, these were called "Pussy Wagons")

laird cummings

Re: KR200 bubble car

If my girlfriend and I could get busy in the *front* seat of a Chevy Vega (and we were both of us six feet tall*), then I don't see any realistic barriers to getting it on in any vehicle that can accomodate two adults.

*(and a lot more flexible then, than now)

laird cummings

Re: If you are required to be available to take over

As would simply minding one's own business.

Must listen: We've found the real Bastard Operator From Hell

laird cummings

Max Headroom with a head cold...

Wow. What an utterly horrible fate. Couldn't happen to a more deserving set of folks.

You can always rely on the Ancient Ones to cock things up

laird cummings
Big Brother

They know when you're watching, they know when you're awake...

Long ago, and far away... A 400hz Motor-Generator set had a nasty habit of tripping off. We'd go down into the hole and pull the case, only to find no fault. So we'd dutifully close it up, report the lack of defect, and go about our day. Until it tripped again. After several cycles (heh) of this, the Chief finally tapped a picture of himself to the inside of the case. Never again did that particular unit trip offline. Because clearly, the machines know when you are watching them.

(No joke. True story.)

Canadian dirtbag jailed for SWAT'ing, doxing women gamers

laird cummings

Re: Doxing Had to Read the Article...

Or, in other words, what The Trump did to Lindsey Graham recently, though The Trump used a speach and the media as his vehicle, instead of the internet. Mighty-old school of him...

laird cummings

Re: the guy needs proper pschiatric help

If you're going to warehouse him, I would suggest it be somepleace with a fairly structured routine including major efforts at socialization. Not a greybar dungeon, but a work camp where he can get a lot of outside time, and learn some interpersonal skills. Operant conditioning *does* work on humans - and if he gets the kind of conditioning you'll find in a standard prison, you'll get a potential monster back on the far side, instead of a (best case) slightly-less-dysfunctional human being.

How much info did hackers steal on US spies? Try all of it

laird cummings

Re: One-stop shopping for ID thieves; but necessary

What you *do* is not place it in an internet-accessible archive. Also; you apply solid security standards to the archive. And you segregate the archive into 'current' and 'historical.' There's generally not much call for SF86s from twenty years ago, though some MAY be called forth to corroberate a current case - But every instance where the form isn't being used for current clearances should be pushed right back into the 'History' bin, which should be kept 'near-line' as opposed to 'on-line.'

laird cummings

Re: Snowden

"The US's own OPM gets hacked, over a period of years, and nobody notices till some software outfit does a demo of an intrusion detection package..."

Entirely plausible, if you're familliar with the Gordian Knot that is the US Civil Service and Government agency rules - including procurement rules.

laird cummings

Re: Probably explains why..

"Either they're going to check or they're fishing."

They ARE going to check, but without help from you it costs too much. And if you're not going to be cooperative, you've already demonstrated a bad attitude, as far as security goes. Why should they waste extra $$ on an attitude case? Especially as you're no special snowflake, and there are thousands of people without attitude problems who also want jobs.

laird cummings

Re: That's what they want you to think?

"As for the really spooky peeps in the US, would they necessarily have any details on this database still?"

Oh, yes. Absolutely - those 'really spooky' people didn't spring forth, fully-formed, from the CIA's head. They were once lowly applicants. The SF-86 is the gateway to the very first clearance, which is necessary to gain entre to the kinds of programs wherein one becomes 'really spooky.'

The comforting factor is that those 'really spooky' people are burried as needles in an enormous needle-stack, and the SF-86 doesn't link forwards, only backwards. Mister X's *pre-spook* history revealed, but no one knows which of those millions *became* Mister X.

Government data is forever (until deleted in a mis-timed backup or datacenter fire).

laird cummings

RE: The Real WTF...

All in the interests of making it 'accessable' and 'searchable.'

Which appears to have been accomplished in a grand fashion.

laird cummings

Re: Let's put it this way

Yup. Also, your spouse, your children, your siblings, your parents.

laird cummings

Re: I keep telling ya

"You can't fix the special kind of stupid that is the US" ...Government.


laird cummings

One-stop shopping for ID thieves; but necessary

The article makes it sound all so pointless and sinisiter and intrusive... Well, they're right on intrusive, but then, you don't have to ask for a security-clearance job, either.

The primary point of the SF-86 is to give the suits doing your background check a leg up, so they don't have to spend so much money checking you out. If they had to do it from scratch, it would take years, and cost millions - per clearance.

It's not JUST the leg up, either; those references that they could 'just look up' themselves? Who you pick as your references tells something specific about *you* - your judgement, that is. Did you pick morally-upstanding citizens? Or did you cite your drug-smoking trouble-making friends? (I have literally seen just exactly that on an SF-86!) If you lack the judgement to cudgel your brain for a few 'good citizen' refferences (or don't have any!), then the guys in suits can bin your application for 'demonstrated poor judgement' and save the taxpayers a lot of cash.

The more complete your SF-86, the less it costs for the government to make an informed decision about your judgement, trustworthiness, and lack of hostile influences - All of which are necessary. It generally works out pretty well - Despite some very public breaches of late, the VAST, overwhelming majority of security-cleared persons go abuot their jobs in a trustworthy manner, day in, day out, for their entire careers.

Which of course makes the breach of trust on the part of the government that much worse. I'll guarantee you that my name is in that pile of data. And my wife's. And my father's. My children. My siblings. And pretty much all of my friends. Every last one of us, betrayed by the government to whom I (and my wife, and my father) rendered faithful service.

NIST in suspected 'meth lab' blast: US Congress is demanding answers

laird cummings

Re: "NIST Police and Fire Departments"

Which pretty much makes my point: The facility is large enough to compare to a military base. You don't support more than a small handful of deer on the landscaping in your typical office park... NIST in Gaithersburg is a BIG facility.

laird cummings

From context...

It appears some Security Puke was engaged in a little extracurricular labwork... I couldn't see a NIST scientist blowing up a lab on a Saturday; they like their regular hours there.

laird cummings
Big Brother

Re: "NIST Police and Fire Departments"

That NIST site is literally around the corner from where I work; it's huge. It's also barricaded to a fare-thee-well; I've been on military bases with less security. The place is so large it has its own resident herd of deer... Really, if they had to wait for local agencies to thread the bottleneck at the gate, you could burn acres of buildings to the ground.

Site police are probably Federal Police - Which agency handles site policing for a wide range of facilities - though it *is* possible they have their own internal security. After all, there are something like 73 or so Federal agencies with armed agents.

How British spies really spy: Information that didn't come from Snowden

laird cummings

Re: "many hours in Cheltenham are spent filling out forms."

For every James Bond, there are thousands of Bob Cratchits slaving away...

laird cummings

RE: Snowden as BOFH...

Snowden was more of a PFY. Or maybe a B*User*FH.

NSPCC: Two nonces nailed by cops every day

laird cummings
Black Helicopters


...Because they're hoping to create a stampede.

"Boo! Scary headline! Give us more lucre, power, and authority!"

laird cummings

Re: "the only risk to children is fathers and other males"

Some numbers*:

"...adjusting for the different statistical populations and applying our stated assumptions, men are 12 times as likely as women to perpetrate abuse against children, or put another way, they are 1100% more dangerous to children than are women. "

Whilst not specifically limited to rape, nor discussing severity, nor discussing outcomes, it does provide a bit of perspective.

*From here:


Vicious vandals violate voluminous Versailles vagina

laird cummings

Re: Offensive "art" deserves an offensive response.

"It's high time the Yarty-Farties learned confrontational pieces making a political statement are not art."

I'd argue that they ARE art, but part of the art would be the responses - If you get confrontational, you had best expect reaction. Otherwise, you aren't, in fact, being confrontational - you're just being a wanker.

EXTREME FEEDING: BLUE whales' gluttonous gobbling of fishy fluids

laird cummings

Re: iceland

Iceland *is* the freezer...

BOFH: Getting to the brown, nutty heart of the water cooler matter

laird cummings

No school like old school

The PFY has stepped into the past in a grand fashion.

British armed forces get first new pistol since World War II

laird cummings

Re: ...someone swaggering...

Even the other shooters think the guy with IMI's chrome paperweight is an idiot.

Personally, have never bothered to even pick one up.

I have, however, had my shooting position peppered with cases from a DE in .50AE with a bad extractor. THAT was sufficiently annoying that I cut my range time short that day, and have never since agreed to share a shooting line with anyone carrying one of those chrome bricks.

laird cummings

"2kg is nothing"

Thus speaks the person who has never had to carry a ruck.

Just what the world needs: Android in the rice cooker

laird cummings

Doomed, I tells ya...

What happens when you cooker gets hacked? Does SkyNet then live in your kitchen appliances?

laird cummings
Thumb Down

Re: I just created this account to say this...

Sweet gods - It's *rice.* Any moron can cook it, if they bother to learn. Which learning takes about two minutes.

First rigid airship since the Hindenburg enters trials

laird cummings
Thumb Up

"As a cargo carrier it certainly doesn't look that useful."

I like it better for delivering large amounts of cargo to remote, unimproved sites where there is no likely prospect of a landing field, and where helos are range-probibited.

Probably be damned useful in logging, too - no need to cut roads in or out - deliver the loggers vertically, remove cut trees the same way.

Wilderness firefighting? Possibly as a high-endurance on-scene incident controller? Has possibilies.

Fisheries surveilance, enforcement, support, and survey? Yup.

Poor-man's satelite? Why not?

So - I see uses. Whether they're *economic* uses remains to be seen.

laird cummings

@ AC @ 2013GMT

" ...stuff like big bike chains round the warhead, or a cylinder or cone of metal around the charge... "

The concept you're looking for is "(expanding) continuous-rod warhead." Take a bunch of fairly ductile metal rods. Arrange them in a cylinder. Weld alternate adjacent end bits together, so the stack of rods becomes a continuous circuit, closely collapsed. Stick an explosive charge in the middle. Hang a rocket off one end and a proximity fuse off the other, and Voila! A modern AA missile!

The warhead detonation tends to turn the rods into a very large ring, violently expanding flying high-velocity ring. They do horrifying things to conventional aircraft - I suspect they'd do rather worse to lightly-hulled dirigibles. Hydrogen or no hydrogen.

Sky watchers prep for early 2013 asteroid fly-bys

laird cummings

How do we know that we know where all the big ones are?

" Short answer - we don't. "

Correct. And it's the one's you *don't* see coming that you gotta worry about...

BOFH: Cannot terminate PFY instance... ACCESS DENIED

laird cummings
Thumb Up

Re: Talking of contracts

One supposes the Bursar is high on the Headmaster's Christmas list...

laird cummings
Big Brother

Re: There is another fun assumption floating around..

I work as a publisher in Pharma - Document control *and* ensuring re-usability of content are big issues in my day-to-day life. Most major deliverables are presented in final form via PDF. Digital signatures are creeping in, but the validation process to demonstrate source integrity to various regulatory agencies is a copper-plated bitch, so those are usually reserved for high-urgency, high-consequences documents.

The upshot is that subordinate ('Minor') PDF document versions are fairly open, but approved ('Major') PDF versions are locked up tighter than the sultan's seraglio. Those documents for which digital signatures are part of the validated process are locked up tighter than the sultan's vigin daughter.

Author of '80s classic The Hobbit didn't know game was a hit

laird cummings

Sick Genius

HFG, that's utterly brilliant. And seriously twisted, too.

BOFH: Can't you just ... NO, I JUST CAN'T

laird cummings

RE: No, but...

They do over here in the States. How high you want your zappies to go? I've got a catalog right here hawking units up to 1 megavolt...

Better luck next time Blofeld! Five Bond plot myths busted

laird cummings

Nuclear pedantry

"...you would need to somehow ram the whole reactor core down into a subcritical mass in a tiny fraction of a second, the way a warhead does."

That would be a *super*critical mass. Subcritical masses just sit there and do nothing terribly interesting. It's all about critical goemetry - And a core designed to generate use power levels is *very* hard to get to go 'bang.' Excepting in the mundane 'steam expolosion' manner. Which would hardly suit a Bond villian.

Mine's the canary-yellow one with lead lining. Cheers!

Bone-bothering boffins pull TINY fanged dinosaur from drawers

laird cummings

Re: Re: Is it me...

Actually, shortly after the movie was filmed the Utahraptor rose to popular awareness in the general public; a near-on replica of the baddies in that film (minus the feathers).


Skydiver sets date for 'supersonic' edge-of-space PLUNGE

laird cummings

Doesn't matter

"Note the SR71 M3 is *horizontal* speed. while an ejection in level flight you will be moving *forward* at M3 but falling at the standard g. So likely to accelerate until drag matches g under Stoke law. Likely to be about 120mph as per usual freefall."

Doesn't matter - He was in free-fall the instant he departed the aircraft, no matter what might have been his vector with respect to the surface of the earth. Certainly his vertical component was less than his horizontal component, but he was still free-fallling much as a bullet free-falls once it leaves the muzzle.

laird cummings

...sting like a bitch...

Kinda like ejecting straight into a brick wall.

Kiwi cops forgot Kim Dotcom's visa

laird cummings

It seems that the NZ officials are every bit as incapable, clueless, and out of control as our own. Depressing for the Kiwis, I'm sure, to be on a par with the FBI.

Reg hack uncovers perfect antidote to internet

laird cummings

Re: That, Mister Anderson... is the sound of inevitability.

Time to buy a Rough Collie.

Dredd movie review

laird cummings

If only...

...We could splice the Stallone film's look to this storyline, we'd be a lot closer.

DARPA builds faster-than-Usain-Bolt Cheetah robot

laird cummings

Enteretined by (mostly elsewhere, like on Aunty's pages) the knee-jerk "Oh noes! A Killing Machine! 'Dem Ebil 'Mericans is gun' slaughter us!" reactions I'm seeing to this.

Seriously now, folks. We only slaughter folks as what piss us off, and those as stands next to thems as what pisses us off. Most y'all are just fine and safe. (lock your doors)

Global strategic maple syrup reserves hit in Canadian mega-heist

laird cummings

Re: No worries here

Perhaps the Canuks will remember the reuslts of *every* invasion launched southwards from Canada? Y'all got some catching up to do.

Besides - We don't need to cross the border - we've got our own maple syrup region. Indeed, it's located in exactly the region where every south-bound invasion has foundered. Coincidence?