* Posts by dfsmith

60 publicly visible posts • joined 22 May 2018


Fed-up air safety bods ban A350 pilots from enjoying cockpit coffees



Let's work this out:

Shuttle launch $440M for 7 people -> $63M per ticket.


Distance traveled (SS Discovery) 148Mmiles (39 flights) -> 3.8Mmiles per ticket.

Giving $17/mile.

Cattle class flight is about $400 LHR->SFO (5300miles) -> $0.08/mile.

So NASA is about 200 times more expensive per passenger mile*. They can probably get a higher class of waterproofing for the mark-up.

* I'm counting the flight crew as passengers as well.

Android owners – you'll want to get these latest security patches, especially for this nasty Bluetooth hijack flaw


Re: "you'll want to get these latest security patches"

Given that Android was only 16 months old at the time of your update, I'd say you were fairly safe from any kind of attack that relies on a modern communication channel.

Cheap as chips? Not for much longer, analysts reckon, after rough year for memory makers


Re: [Red pen] Typo?

Given the bacon analogy, maybe he was thinking runt?

Take DOS, stir in some Netware, add a bit of Windows and... it's ALIIIIVE!


Re: Progress

Our sleep day was February 30th every year. And if we got called in anyway, we'd take action by sneaking an anonymous chit into the suggestion box!*

* It was on the wall by the boiler room and always seemed a little warm to the touch.

The time that Sales braved the white hot heat of the data centre to save the day


Re: Awww bless..

We learned that there was a salt water research lab above our computer lab. Learned the wet way.

There's something fishy going down in the computer lab


Here's a simulation

Open tuna web console (ctrl+shift+K), type:

document.body.innerHTML=document.body.innerHTML.replace(/ the /g," tuna ")

Note: if anything goes out of plaice, well, tough.

Someone needs to go back to school: Texas district fleeced for $2.3m after staff fall for devious phishing email


Re: So what happens to the money?

The story says a month [+/-1] elapsed between the transfers and the discovery. I'm curious how France copes with this, since the money would now be long gone.

LG announces bold new plan for financial salvation: Trying to actually make phones people want to buy


Re: “wow factor” phones?

With the exception of 5-year support and a replaceable battery, you're pretty much describing LG's current lineup. The strategy doesn't seem to be working for them.

Wham, bam, thank you scram button: Now we have to go all MacGyver on the server room


Re: Yep, had a very dodgy HP tape array in the noughties

I keep several of them.

1) Look for bent paper clip.

2) Cannot find one, so bend a new paper clip.

3) Decide to store the bent paper clip in a special place.

4) Discover all the other bent paper clips.

Remember the Dutch kid who stuck his finger in a dam to save the village? Here's the IT equivalent


Re: Dikes, dykes & levees

'Flew my Hawker Harrier to the water ingress barrier...'

Tesla has a smashing weekend: Model 3 on Autopilot whacks cop cars, Elon's Cybertruck demolishes part of LA


Re: I Can't Stop Myself

Was the vehicle in "self-driving" mode, or "autopilot" mode?

An aircraft autopilot does not relive you of the responsibility for checking with Air Traffic Control before landing. It will happily autopilot you into a grounded airplane if you request it to.

That code that could never run? Well, guess what. Now Windows thinks it's Batman


Re: vegetable errors

A celery fault could be berry serious.

BOFH: Trying to go after IT's budget again?


Re: Cut IT budget... lose 50 times more money in a ramsomware attack!

Can you buy a carbon offset for all those bitcoins you "had" to send to the "kidnappers"?

Judge shoots down Trump admin's efforts to allow folks to post shoddy 3D printer gun blueprints online


I vaguely remember a news story from maybe 30 years ago, about some shop selling an orange* for UKP50 or so, which came with a free electric drill. I seem to recall that the powers that be were not impressed.

* Fruit and most food was exempt from sales tax.

Hyphens of mass destruction: When a clumsy finger meant the end for hundreds of jobs


Re: thin fingers, small brain

The issue is still around in the crontab command:

crontab -e (edit the crontab)

crontab -r (remove the crontab)

Luckily, I had previously done crontab -l, so I could reconstruct it with copy and paste from the scrollback buffer.

UK Home Office: We will register thousands of deactivated firearms with no database


Re: Why?

According to the (US) Bureau of Justice statistics office, only about 50% of firearms are actually fired when committing a crime*. So a undeactivated weapon may still have nefarious purpose. (Can you reundeativate them again afterwards?)

* Usual caveats about summarizing surveys with a specific cohort of convicted prisoners.

Radio nerd who sipped NHS pager messages then streamed them via webcam may have committed a crime


According to part (1)(a), it would be illegal to take a photo[1] with your phone[2] if it includes a license plate[3].

[1] Recording of photons that travel without wires.

[2] Wireless telegraphy apparatus. (Definition of "telegraphy" notwithstanding.)

[3] Unless that license plate was there specifically for him, or the person on whose behalf he is acting.

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority asked drone orgs to email fliers' data in an Excel spreadsheet


Re: loophole?

Weight versus mass matters quite a lot in aviation. I wouldn't want to fly with a pilot who didn't know the difference (tire loading vs resistance to acceleration, etc.).

Remember the 1980s? Oversized shoulder pads, Metal Mickey and... sticky keyboards?


I know your comment was flippant, but ISO 3631...

IT workers: Speaking truth to douchebags since 1977


It's not as if there were a sort of Spanish Inquisition.


Re: Minions do get fired

Seems sensible to me. If your contact changes from "Mr McHedgehog, ABC Widget Company" to "Ms Porcupinesson, ABC Widget Company" then the new charge will probably benefit from receiving a welcome pack, telling them of all the fantastic products and services that your company offers for very reasonable terms, and much better than that other company across town.

BOFH: We must... have... beer! Only... cure... for... electromagnetic fields


Re: Warning! 50,000 Ohms

Those parents were smart! Didn't your dad realize that you could get a whopping 3mV of voltage across those resistors, on a hot day, assuming the parents were sensitive to 10GHz! Pfft, what's the world coming to when anybody can leave voltages around where kids can touch them.

Sussex Police gives up on £790k Gatwick drone shutdown probe


Re: Were there really any drones?

Two european swallows carrying a coconut tied between their legs with a strand of creeper?

Tesla Autopilot crash driver may have been eating a bagel at the time, was lucky not to get schmeared on road


Well, autopilot will happily fly into mountains.


MAMR Mia! Western Digital's 18TB and 20TB microwave-energy hard drives out soon


Re: Contradiction

It's easy to remember:

Serial bit streams use 10^3.

Binary addressable bit tables use 2^10 (historically).

Hard drives are serial devices; like networking. DRAMs are binary addressable. Flash is weird, and getting weirder.

Beware the developer with time on his hands and dreams of Disney


Re: Printers were another prime target

Many moons ago I wrote a Mandelbrot generator on the mainframe. To display the images on the remote serial terminal in an efficient way (i.e., binary raster rather than point graphics codes), I had it redefine the character set as groups of three overlaid 8x8 pixel maps. Everything worked great as long as you didn't interrupt the output: in which case you'd have to blindly type the escape sequence to reset the character map. It was the fastest-drawing Mandelbrot on the system though!


Re: Any chance of a truck?

Suddenly I'm peckish for a Hedgehog Sandwich. Anyone else?

Transport for London Oyster system pulled offline after credential-stuffing crooks board customers' accounts


Trusting Google

I don't trust Google not to be evil, but I do use their 2FA tool. You can audit the code (and recompile) at


(Android at https://github.com/google/google-authenticator-android/ )

I hope people have audited the build tools... :-O

Rise of the Machines hair-raiser: The day IBM's Dot Matrix turned


My laser lecturer made an offhand comment on the importance of correctly focusing the system. He handed us an expensive pristine-looking lens. Except there was a very well defined 0.5mm hole through the exact center.

SpaceX reveals chain of events that caused the unplanned disassembly of Crew Dragon capsule


Re: That's why we do the test


I don't know but it's been said, Amphenol plugs are made with lead


Re: "The router went dark"

I dont' see any-one whose mentionned Muphry in the preseeding tecks.

Having bank problems? I feel bad for you son: I've got 25 million problems, but a bulk upload ain't one



I want to know how he thought he could use the "upload service" from a 56kbps modem for 25 megatransactions in 600 seconds.

If Uncle Sam could quit using insecure .zip files to swap info across the 'net, that would be great, says Silicon Ron Wyden


Re: The algorithm weakness is almost irrelevant

Yup. If the recipient is less than 80 years old, there are fewer than 30,000 days to choose from.

Freaking out about fiendish IoT exploits? Maybe disable telnet, FTP and change that default password first?


Re: But surely

I think everyone should leave telnet open. E.g., https://github.com/Phype/telnet-iot-honeypot or https://hackertarget.com/cowrie-honeypot-analysis-24hrs/


Wow... just imagine if you got a message in the morning letting you know that your IoT sock drawer had spotted a pair of socks that match (in the dark, with the light behind them).

Not very bright: Apple geniuses spend two weeks, $10,000 of repairs on a MacBook Pro fault caused by one dumb bug


U.S. definition of "torch"

I read your comment and immediately thought "Wow! I need a flamethrower on my phone too!". Guess I've been living here a while....

Oh, the massive sky dong? Contrails from 'standard' F-35 training, US Air Force insists


Re: Where's the US Army?

The US Army does have a sizable quantity of choppers.

Never let something so flimsy as a locked door to the computer room stand in the way of an auditor on the warpath


Re: Wouldn't Happen Here

Given that xerography (ξηρός γραφή) is ancient Greek for "dry writing", I'd says it's been in use for a very, very long time.

Hi! It looks like you're working on a marketing strategy for a product nowhere near release! Would you like help?


"Toilet" is like "lavatory". Both can refer to the room or fixture. (Toilet is the thing you sit on. Lavatory the thing you wash your hands in.) Yay, English euphemisms!

Airbnb host thrown in the clink after guest finds hidden camera inside Wi-Fi router


Re: Some people would argue....

It seems you are arguing that regulation hurts genuine businesses. I always though it was the other way around: businesses ensure that regulations are designed to protect their business model and deny competitors entry to the market.


Re: To be fair to AirBnB I don't think they can be held responsible for people doing this

No, it's the market's responsibility to know what they are purchasing. Another AirBnB rival could start up with minimal overhead, and advertise "We check the properties for hidden cameras!", and if the market cared to pay for the extra service, then the rival would win more share. (In fact the "rivals" already exist in the form of hotels, lodges, etc. Not that they search for hidden cameras either....)

'Lightweight' UPS-style flywheels to power naval laser zappers


Yes. 3.2MJ sounds impressive until you figure out it's about a quarter's-worth of electricity (25 cents, just under 1kW-hour).

So you've 'seen' the black hole. Now for the interesting bit – how all that raw data was stored


Re: Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.

Pfft. Spinning rust is terrible for PB of data. It would take almost 100 million "spinning rust" drives to store 14PB. Luckily, spinning cobalt alloy media is far superior. (The last iron oxide drives were sold in the early 1990s.)

Two Arkansas dipsticks nicked after allegedly taking turns to shoot each other while wearing bulletproof vests


Re: only .22?!?

Doubtful that it was an AR15 style rifle. They're typically chambered for 0.223 (same external dimensions as 5.56 NATO) rounds (up to about 29 grains of powder) whereas a .22 is shorthand for .22LR cartridge (up to 2 grains of powder). That said, there are some modified AR15s chambered for .22LR for silent or cheaper target practice. The energy of .22LR from a rifle (10" barrel) is about 60% more than that from a handgun (3" barrel).

Boeing big cheese repeats pledge of 737 Max software updates following fatal crashes


Re: Want to try to reprogram it so it feels and drives like an F1?

Bicycles are an unstable system. As long as there are active inputs, it can be controlled quite consistently.

Fun fact: GPS uses 10 bits to store the week. That means it runs out... oh heck – April 6, 2019


Re: 52 weeks per year

GPS was a military project. Military stuff tends to sit in a box for a decade or so, and some people get rather annoyed when it doesn't work straight out of the crate and the bullets are flying.


just keep wrapping

How do you sleep at night knowing that the TCP checksum is only 16 bits? Or do you set your MTU to less than 284? It must be terrible knowing that well-defined integers might wrap! ;-)

Not cool, man: Dixons spanked over discount on luxury 'smart' fridge with wildly fluctuating price


Re: American-Style Smart Fridge Freezer

The fridge keeps getting warmer and warmer, but it denies it.

Heads up: Debian's package manager is APT for root-level malware injection... Fix out now to thwart MITM hijacks


Re: "Supporting HTTP is fine,"

Using HTTPS (rather than HTTP) means than an external observer (e.g., your friendly network admin) cannot detect that your machine is retrieving indexes with invalid signatures. Uh oh!

This message brought to you by the Department of Implausible Contrary Scenarios.*

* Acronym now 20% more funny.

Germany has a problem with the entire point of Amazon's daft Dash buttons – and bans them


I really liked my Dash button, placed strategically inside the toilet paper cupboard.* But that appreciation evaporated when they sent me a different product to the one I wanted (which didn't fit properly in the holder). I'd much rather the button *only* send me an email if they cannot ship the right thing.

* It's amazing how little I think about TP during the day, and realize, at home, too late, that I should have been.