nav search
Data Centre Software Security DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes
BOFH
Lectures

* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

3647 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Patch me, if you can: Grave TCP/IP flaws in FreeRTOS leave IoT gear open to mass hijacking

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Is it just me

who thinks the "design" of many IoT products makes the marketing division of Sirius Cybernetics look smart?

<sigh>

Next we'll have a load of chatty computers, talkative fridges, doors generating an intolerable air of smugness whenever you approach them, elevators sulking in basements, and a drinks machine that only ever serves cups filled with a liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea (hang on, I think we have one of those in our coffee corner at work)

I'll get me coat. Doffs hat (grey Tilley once more) to the late, great Douglas Adams

4
0

F***=off, Google tells its staff: Any mention of nookie now banned from internal files, URLs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Childcatcher

Well I sure hope they also banned "Semprini"!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfU6bmKsoko

And they should of course also ban "swut", "jujuflop", "turlingdrome" and of course "belgium"!

6
0

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Ringtones are cringworthy

An alarm cock?

I hope your good wife doesn't hit the snooze buttons too hard.

Whoops, that was probably a Freudian slip of the keyboard!

We used to have several alarm cocks in the neighbourhood, but people got sick of the crowing in the morning (and you couldn't change the ring tone), so turned them into variations of coq-au-vin

18
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Ringtones are cringworthy

I have my ringtones set inappropriately (Dr Who theme, Smoke on the Water intro, or Tom Lehrer's Poisoning Pigeons in the Park for general use, Imperial March or Highway to Hell for the SWIMBO, etc), but never really use them as I have it on silent mode the whole time. I still like tweaking the ringtones (only free ones, I am too cheap to pay for such frivolity), let's say it keeps me quietly amused. The only time I really use the sound is for the alarm cock. My wife wasn't too amused I had set the alarm to Chop Suey from System of a Down (hey, it starts with "WAKE UP!!"). Good Morning from Blackfoot also raised hackles, so now I use the intro from AC/DC's Hell's Bells.

9
0

It's Two Spacecraft, One Mission as BepiColombo gets ready to launch

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Nice of ESA/JAXA

To give all space enthusiasts in the Netherlands a Sinterklaas present in 2025. Looking forward to it. Fingers crossed for a successful launch and journey

0
0

Haunted disk-drive? This story will give you the chills...

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Nice one!

Might have been kept for a Halloween edition, but maybe the Reg have a more eldritch story up their sleeves.

11
0

Good news: Largest, most ancient known galaxy supercluster is spotted. Bad news: It's collapsing on itself

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Fascinating stuff

I am currently involved in developing new algorithms for faint-object detection in the EU-funded SUNDIAL project, and it is fascinating to see how rapid developments in instrumentation and software is allowing measurements and discoveries to be made that we could only dream of not so long ago. Often the new discoveries throw up more questions rather than they answer, which is of course how science progresses.

19
0

Party like it's 1989... SVGA code bug haunts VMware's house, lets guests flee to host OS

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

That brings back memories

Back in 1988, in my first programming job, I remember having to support Hercules, EGA, VGA, several flavours of SVGA and two different Matrox frame-grabber and image processing boards (PIP-1024 and MVP-AT/NP) both for my graphics packages and for text output. Great fun. The VESA standard made life a lot easier, taming the explosion of different SVGA options available.

0
0

In Windows 10 Update land, nobody can hear you scream

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: "It has been a hellish couple of weeks for the Windows giant"

'My students love it. It's the next excuse for missing assignment deadline and asking for an extension.'

When my (computer science) students come up to me with an excuse like that, I simply point them to all the Linux machines in the computer lab (they can be booted to Windows too (I think 7, I never use that), we are not an anti-MS shop).

8
0

Alexa heard what you did last summer – and she knows what that was, too: AI recognizes activities from sound

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Mushroom

Not before hell freezes over ...

will I place such a contraption in my home.

If I find someone placed it there despite my opinion,I will most likely reprogram it with a flame thrower.

11
0

NASA gently nudges sleeping space 'scopes Chandra, Hubble out of gyro-induced stupor

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Brilliant work by NASA's Boffins

Really excellent how they manage to solve problems in craft far beyond their physical reach

31
0

NASA's Chandra probe suddenly becomes an EX-ray space telescope (for now, anyway)

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Fingers crossed

Hope they get Chandra up and running again. Even if they don't, it has been a stunning success

3
0

Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Yay, it's nearly weekend!

Great start to it as well, thanks to Gleeballs, Dan!

Cheers

Theethoughts, Phil

6
0

Astroboffins may have found the first exomoon lurking beyond the Solar System

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Exciting stuff

Great boffinry! Fingers crossed for successful follow-up observations

7
0

JAXA probe's lucky MASCOT plonks down on space rock Ryugu without a hitch

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Brilliant stuff!

Love it! Rounds of sake at JAXA and lager at the DLR are certainly well deserved

7
0

Laser-sharp research sees three top boffins win the Nobel Prize in physics

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Congrats to all the winners!

Stunning work, and about time a woman got the accolade too

10
3

MIMEsweeper maker loses UK High Court patent fight over 15-year-old bulletin board post

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Not if you install the BOFH modded version, in which whichever field you click on, you get blown up

5
0

NASA's Kepler telescope is sent back to sleep as scientists preserve fuel for the next data dump

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Re: A pint!

I'll see your pint, and raise you a tot of malt whisky!

Outstanding work by all involved!

6
0

Haven't updated your Adobe PDF software lately? Here's 85 new reasons to do it now

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Plenty of alternatives to the sluggish monster that is Acrobat Reader. I really avoid using it at the moment. I am also always annoyed at how it wants to "save changes" to a PDF presentation (made using pdflatex), in which I have edited exactly NOTHING in Acrobat Reader. What does it feel it needs to change to the file? Does it want to add ads? Custom malware? I seriously doubt any addition made by Acrobat Reader would be useful to me in even the widest sense of the word.

7
0

UK ruling party's conference app editable by world+dog, blabs members' digits

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Security ignorance?

I think the quote

"deploy a massive block-chain spanning the 499km Irish border."

shows exactly how much the Tories understand about "technology"

2
0

Brit startup plans fusion-powered missions to the stars

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

If I am buying electricity in 50 years from any source I'll be happy enough, as I will have passed a century in good enough shape to buy stuff

11
0

Facebook: Up to 90 million addicts' accounts slurped by hackers, no thanks to crappy code

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Has anyone been informed by FB?

I did get a vague message that "Your security is our greatest concern </hypocrisy>" and got logged out, but nothing to state my account was compromised. I am not terribly worried. As with all online stuff: I avoid putting anything online (even if purportedly private) that I wouldn't want others to see, don't use Facebook (or Google) to log in to anything else, and keep separate passwords for different sites. I keep in touch with some friends and colleagues on FB, I post some hobby stuff, which may be of use to those selling cookery items, astronomy and photography gear, and camping equipment, but I get plenty of adverts for those kinds of things anyway (or I did till I installed adblocker).

1
0

Why are sat-nav walking directions always so hopeless?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: As you might expect...

Love Ordnance Survey maps! However, living in the Netherlands it doesn't quite make sense to get the app, although I am tempted to get it when next we go on holidays to the UK.

Regarding tea: It is possible to get good tea at my work, but only because I make it myself from ACTUALLY BOILING WATER and REAL BLACK TEA (are you listening, catering staff? No? Thought not). As my (German) colleague who also likes a proper cuppa always says: "The problem with the Dutch is that they always make tea of boiled water". He may be right. The water may actually have boiled in the distant past (and don't get me started on the difficulties of getting actual tea-flavoured tea).

15
0

Microsoft gets ready to kill Skype Classic once again: 'This time we mean it'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

MS-ICE

is the only product from Microsoft I really do like. It allows me to make really HUGE mosaics of the moon painlessly, and it is completely free.

0
0

New theory: The space alien origins of vital bio-blueprints for dinosaurs. And cats. And humans. And everything else

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Well I personally ...

go for the Great Green Arkleseizure theory.

4
0

Good news: Sub-surface life on Mars possible, moons from big impacts. There is no bad news

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Very interesting stuff!

Great boffinry all round! Really curious to see if the JAXA mission can shed more light on the origins of Phobos and Deimos.

9
0

Scottish brewery recovers from ransomware attack

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Good to hear they are up and running again

especially as it is beer o'clock here!

3
0

Curiosity's computer silent on science, baffling boffins

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Fingers crossed

they get Curiosity to continue its great work

7
0

30-up: You know what? Those really weren't the days

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Thanks Verity, that brings back memories!

I started my first programming job in 1988, coding image processing stuff on an 8 MHz 80286 with Matrox PIP1024 frame grabber. The latter had ONE WHOLE MB of video RAM so you could actually do something useful. I really needed some clever compression schemes to store images on the 20MB HDD. I still have some old Dr. Dobb's Journals from that time lying around, and even the last few issues of Micro Cornucopia to appear in print here in the Netherlands.

I still use some of the C code I wrote in those days. Stuff that ran quickly on a 286 runs like the clappers on modern kit, even without creating parallel versions of the code.

7
0

Garbage collection – in SPAAACE: Net snaffles junk in first step to clean up Earth's orbiting litter

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Partial solution

I advocate a large sheet of Kevlar-reinforced cling film for the small stuff. After all, a big vacuum cleaner counter-intuitively doesn't work in vacuum.

5
0

Holy macaroni! After months of number-crunching, behold the strongest material in the universe: Nuclear pasta

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: What about degenerate matter quark stars?

Pulsars fit the bill of observed neutron stars: objects of over 1.5 solar masses, no larger than a 20-30 km. The best explanation that fits the laws of physics is that they are spinning neutron stars. Therefore I wouldn't say that neutron stars are purely theoretical.

20
0

Oh Smeg! Hacked white goods maker resurfaces after system shutdown

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

At least they didn't name their brand

Quagaars!!

2
0

The Reg chats with Voyager Imaging Team member Dr Garry E Hunt

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Great interview!

Fascinating behind-the-scenes look! Great thanks to Dr. Hunt and El Reg! That brought back so many fond memories from Apollo, Mariner, Viking, Pioneer, and of course Voyager. It was the people that made this possible that got me into astronomy, and indirectly (through image processing) computer science.

19
0

Sysadmin misses out on paycheck after student test runs amok

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Naming Schemes

We have a group of three compute servers (64-core Opteron machines) that three groups ordered together. The fluid dynamics group's one is called Poseidon, the AI group's one is called Pallas, and mine is dubbed Zeus, king of gods, as it is the most expensive one, with 512 GB instead of 256 GB RAM. Fairly boring, compared to some of the schemes mentioned.

I also rather liked the names of various Beowulf clusters in the past, like Hrothgar, and other figures from that epic poem.I suggested calling a cluster at our university Grendel, but that didn't take off, for some reason.

1
0

First 'issue-free' build of Windows 10 October 2018 Update arrives

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Your Companion?

Somehow this reminds me of Sirius Cybernetics' definition of a robot: "Your plastic pall who's fun to be with". So does Your Companion have the GPP feature?

Sorry, couldn't resist. The one with the HHGTTG radio play cassette tapes in the pocket.

3
1

Berkeley bio-boffins' butt-blasting belly-bothering batt-teria generates electricity

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Some consolation ...

If you are way up shit creek, at least you might be able to recharge your phone

5
0

Redis does a Python, crushes 'offensive' master, slave code terms

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Marthter / Igor

Would that be OK? Igors love having a "marthter"

(Doffs hat to the late, great Terry Pratchett once more)

I'd better be on my way. The one with "The Fifth Elephant" in the pocket, please

4
1
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

They should have studied INTERCAL

Where 1/3rd - 1/5th of all statements need to be polite (" PLEASE DO", "PLEASE DO NOT"), etc. I always found the COME FROM (time-reversed GOTO) statement in later versions a stroke of genius.

Next time a student annoys me, I might set his or her next programming exercise in INTERCAL. Evil? Certainly! Fun? Absolutely!!

5
0

New MeX-Files: The curious case of an evacuated US solar lab, the FBI – and bananas conspiracy theories

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Maybe they just got bored

I have been observing the sun for years, and I have rarely seen the sun so quiet, even in Hydrogen alpha light. There were some nice prominences visible on the north-eastern limb yesterday, but otherwise all was quiet. in white light, it is just a dull disk, as my most recent solar image in white light shows. Things are little better in Calcium-K light.

14
0

Martian weather has cleared at last: Now NASA's wondering, will Opportunity knock?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Fingers crossed for Opportunity

I remember pointing out Mars to my kids when they were quite small. If they were impressed at seeing a planet, they were stunned when I told them two robot cars made on Earth were trundling around on that red speck in the sky.

Hats off (min's the grey Tilley) and big thumbs up for the engineers who built such amazing machines. I will raise a pint (or a tot of malt whisky) to Opportunity this evening.

8
0

Article 13 pits Big Tech and bots against European creatives

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: "I noticed because I tried to factor it. Don't ask..."

The I could mean he's a complex number, but then I would have expected a "+" sign (unless he is the product of a real and an imaginary number, which is of course an imaginary number (makes some form of sense, actually)

1
0

It's September 2018, and Windows VMs can pwn their host servers by launching an evil app

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Facepalm

My thoughts exactly. A bitmap image should just be data, and not contain anything executable. Real facepalm moment when I read that.

4
0

Python joins movement to dump 'offensive' master, slave terms

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: I could not agree more

What about BOFH / Luser? Totally clear to anyone in IT (or should be)

26
2

Boffins don't want to burst your bubble – they create them with sound

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

That is brilliant!

Maybe one day this will add to our understanding of the head on a good pint

11
0

AI biz borks US election spending data by using underpaid Amazon Mechanical Turks

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Captricity

You could also look for nominative determinism in their CEO: Nowell Outlaw!? Really?

2
0

'Your computer has a virus' cold call con artists on the rise – Microsoft

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Re "putting the phone down is almost always the right thing to do."

I have recently noticed many of these guys introduce themselves by some very British sounding name (I had a "Mark Williams" recently) in a thick Indian accent. I am SOOO tempted to answer in an equally thick accent "this is Bill Gates speaking". I wonder whether I should use a thick Indian, Scottish or Aussie accent.

Choices, choices

0
0

Voyager 1 left the planet 41 years ago – and SpaceX hopes to land on Earth this Saturday

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Voyager

"That's what happens when you let FORTRAN programmers build things"

Whereas Pascal programmers could simply choose which one would be first, as in

CONST First = 42, Last = 43;

VAR Voyager : ARRAY [First .. Last] OF SPACEPROBE ;

and given that there are just 2 Voyagers, they might have gone for Voyager FALSE, to be followed by Voyager TRUE (or actually Voyager[FALSE] and Voyager[TRUE]), which would have been really, really WRONG

I'll get me coat. The one with Jensen and Wirth's "Pascal User Manual and Report" in the pocket. please

6
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

True! As a teenager, I followed all the Mariner, Pioneer, Viking, and Voyager projects, after being completely captivated by the Apollo project earlier in my youth. I feel forever in their debt

7
0

Black holes can briefly bring dead white dwarf stars back to life

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Unintelligent design

Utterly indifferent indeed. Whenever you shake your fist at the universe, shouting "It's not fair!!" the only answer you can expect is "So?" although no answer will be forthcoming, of course. I tend to think that if a god exists it can either be omnipotent or benevolent, but not both at the same time, given the indifference of the universe to all we hold dear on our little blue dot. I therefore cannot be bothered to believe in any of that kind of mythology, although creation myths are very interesting, not because of what they say about cosmology, but what they say about people, as Terry Pratchett put it so eloquently.

4
0

Space station springs a leak while astronauts are asleep (but don't panic)

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Then they're hurt or killed

"Wait - I thought that was Australia?"

Aren't you thinking of Fourecks?

10
0

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing