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

* Posts by Milton

588 posts • joined 14 Jun 2016

Page:

Shatner's solar-powered Bitcoin gambit wouldn't power a deflector shield

Milton
Silver badge

Shatner's skills

I don't think he's a terrible actor. Star Trek didn't always give him great opportunities, did it, considering the intermiitently abysmal scripts. That fight with the Gorn was never going to give Shakespeare a run for his money. Some of the better scripts gave him a chance to strut his stuff well enough: City at the Edge of Forever, perhaps; and the second movie of the series, Wrath of Khan.

And we shan't say much about singing or writing.

IMHO, his most spectacular skill, always overlooked, was horsemanship. You didn't see much of that in ST ....

4
0

CIOs planning to snub Oracle for other cloudy vendors – analyst

Milton
Silver badge

Eventually, the arrogance bill comes due

It may sometimes take an unconscionably long time, but when a person or company is an arrogant SOB, there's always, always a price to pay.

In the mid 90s, when Oracle was arguably still worth paying money for (focusing then, as it did, principally on the RDBMS and before all the other crud got stuck on like so many mismatched barnacles), its corporate and staff attitude was, shall we say, a little malodorous. There was an almost religious feel about the company and product, something which would brook no crticisim, no matter how well justified or positively expressed.

During the years since it seems to have become ever more desperate in attempting to follow, badly, where rivals have led, often well. The pattern of good products acquired, quickly ruined as an Oracle badge was pasted on along with a shoddy integration into a "suite", seems to have resulted in paradoxically more unearned arrogance as the company has fallen further and further behind. (For a long time now, to compare someone's character to an Oracle salesperson has not been a nice thing to say.)

You can't help feeling that a little humilty, flexibiltiy and willingness to learn, ten or fifteen years ago, might have made all the difference.

But now it's too late. Why would any new customer choose Oracle for anything, by this point? Really, why would you even consider doing that? There is an abundance of competitors with better, cheaper, faster, more innovative and reliable technology—who also have the great advantage of not treating their customers like dumb, ambulant ATMs.

So Oracle is actually well into circling-the-drain mode, although its installed base of hostages means it will take a long time to gurgle away. But gurgle it will. And very few of us will shed a tear.

13
0

Universal Credit has never delivered bang for buck, but now there's no turning back – watchdog

Milton
Silver badge

Arrogant + Ignorant + Wrong = Her Majesty's Ministers

This is what happens when you let ill-conceived ideology infect ignorant people whose ambition vastly exceeds their ability. Not only do they routinely phuc up every single that they touch, they are overweeningly arrogant to a fault, refusing to listen to experienced people who know the topic, ignoring advice, suggestions and warnings.

The UC idea wasn't a bad one per se, but it needed professional and informed execution after a period of thorough planning and genuine consultation. As soon as it became a political plaything—especially in the hands of one of modern Britain's most blitheringly, transparently stupid ministers, Iain Duncan Smith—it was doomed. There were many points at which the sober warnings of knowledgeable people could have been listened to, and corrective action taken: but polticial ego insisted that government knew best, even as its failures and stupidities paraded past daily.

I don't criticise ministers for deciding that a streamlined new system was needed. But their staggering incompetence in implementation is simply shameful, and their arrogance in ignoring experts unforgivable.

24
0

Huawei unveils bigger iron KunLun server at CeBIT

Milton
Silver badge

Re: Big Iron vs. Software

I realise your point is about more than bloat, but bloat is still one of the key issues here.

'Big Iron' is a manifestation of something seen all the way up from the phone in your pocket, through tablets and laptops and desktops up to workstations: fantastic amounts of CPU power, memory and storage compensating for the fact that so much modern software, whether it's a phone app to take notes, a Windows program to edit images or a big red database running across a datacentre, is badly written, obscenely bloated and grotesquely inefficient.

I feel sure there is a computer science thesis brewing somewhere for a postgrad team prepared to take a couple of widely-used application systems at each current hardware point, refactor them from the ground up with a view to compactness, speed and efficiency, and demonstrate that it's possible to do all the same stuff with the same data just as fast—on kit that's three years old (or runs at a tenth the speed with a hundredth of the RAM).

Sometimes it's as if there is a kind of bizarre "waste race" going on, to see how much unnecessarily colossal computing power is needed for the latest generation of morbidly obese, unfit code.

But I'm realist enough to know that it all depends upon incentives. If computing power continues to get more bang for buck, and cheap second- and third-rate coders can knock out stuff that sort-of just about works, no matter that 100Mb of logic is delivered in a 10Gb fatberg of shonky code and endless libraries, with their many sins obscured by freakishly quick computing—who, if anyone, has a reason to seek efficiency?

As a one-time Ada practitioner (doing what you'd expect with Ada in the early 90s), I wonder how the kind of code found in, say, modern commercial aircraft systems compares with the stuff written for the corporate world's CRM, ERP systems and others. Obviously, I personally suspect that the efficiency of the former is orders of magnitude beyond that of the latter.

Maybe that's another thesis for someone?

1
0

The eyes have it: 'DeepFakes' bogus AI-meddled videos outed by unblinking gaze

Milton
Silver badge

Back to the old ways?

In a way, the arrival of deepfakes tech and its inevitable use as a propaganda tool—yes, inevitable, beyond question: Vlad The Emailer's little crew of scumbags will be all over this like a rash, right now—might actually turn out to have a silver lining.

The point case is undoubtedly politics. And few would disagree that 21st century politics, even in the west, is suffering a crisis of falsehood, corruption and democratic deficit. So consider: if politicians are routinely faked in video, with footage available everywhere, pretty soon no one with a scrap of sense will believe what they see. Mainstream media will try to defuse this by employing Fair Witnesses to certify that video is true to life, but the level of distrust is still going to be sky high. (Fake video won't harm pathological liars like Trump: it'll actually help him, because he will claim that the asburd lies and contradictions shown on the screen were made up by enemies. After all, grown-ups already find it hard to believe that a human being as patently unfit, ignorant and downright ridiculous as Trump is president at all.)

A century or more ago, a politician wishing to spread their message, demonstrate intelligence and integrity, show compassion, decency and wisdom, and sell themselves to the voters, did this by frequently appearing in public. They'd get up on a soapbox, schedule a meeting in the town hall or the church or the factory, and spend hours, if necessary, speechifying and taking questions. It was often a rough and rowdy business, because they'd meet both supporters and critics and have to develp masterful powers of persuasion and quick thinking.

In fact, that is so far from (to take one one example) Theresa May's spectacularly cowardly tour before last year's election—doing anything to avoid a critical question, packing every venue with guaranteed supporters, scripting everything—that you have to wonder whether this might an excellent way to filter out the dross. Instead of the lying 'Career Politician' hypocrites who can barely read a teleprompter and never answer a straight question (the appalling May, again), we will get people who have the mental robustness, commitment and intestinal fortitude to tour the country, to meet ordinary people, to make their case in words folks can understand, to show that they can actually think about and answer tough questions. Is there a better way to establish a persona that voters can relate to, and perhaps have trust in? Far from the shallow, lazy imbeciles so common in Westminster now, we might actually return to having MPs who are intelligent, energetic and willing to work hard for their beliefs.

All of that said, however, there remains the question of how people communicate their audience experience to each other. An anonymous internet—which personally, I am thinking, has turned out to be a terrible thing, as a place for the worst cowards and vilest bigots to hide—may yet make a mockery of even the best candidates' performances.

I guess we're going to find out.

"no one with a scrap of sense" = excluding the frothing, hate-filled denizens of right wing echo chambers, some of whom seriously believe that the colour of the outer millimetre of a person's epidermis means something. Racism: the equivalent of a forehead tattoo saying "Thick as Shit"

4
3

Ex-Rolls-Royce engineer nicked on suspicion of giving F-35 info to China

Milton
Silver badge

There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

I thought it was an open secret that the Chinese had swiped everything on the F-35 from Lockheed and subcontractors as long as a decade ago. I'm surprised they'd need any more information at this point. Maybe they're going back for more giggles.

No doubt they will be putting the information to good use, in a how-not-to-do-it kind of way: the F-35 is arguably an even worse mistake than F-111 was (not least because it includes many of the exact same blunders, top of the list being an absurd faith in the one-tool-good-at-everything notion so completely discredited with F-111).

Perhaps the Chinese wanted an update in case any extra cup-holders had been installed. Meantime, they can continue their strategy of delaying a war with the USA until the latter has decommissioned its effective teen-series planes and is nicely dependent upon the F-35 POS.

"Don't bother shooting at the cockpit, Xiang. Just put one round into the engine. The ejector seat will kill the pilot for you."

27
1

Apple will throw forensics cops off the iPhone Lightning port every hour

Milton
Silver badge

Re: Why didn't they operate a 1 hour lock-out after five (or whatever) failed attempts?

I still think there is nothing better than a 10—12-character alphasymbonumeric passcode. The Adversary can try a million times a second for half a billion years and see where it gets him.

I won't rehearse the passwords again because I've said it here before. To summarise:

• Make up something ridiculous, non-dictionary and memorable because you can say it—like "sq8-Ed2ph01e" (squat-ed-to-foal)

• Make up a nemonic if you need to, e.g. a short fat guy called Ed having a baby horse: hard to forget that image once you've pictured it

• The Adversary has 12 random (to him) characters, each from among about 70 possibilities if you include upper/lower alpha, numeric and a few symbols

• That's 13,841,287,201,000,000,000,000 combinations

• To go through half of those at 1 million/sec would take just under 439 million years

I agree the system should introduce progressive latency after X failed attempts, but even if it doesn't, you can easily create a passcode which is (a) unbruteforceable and (b) resistant to errors by Apple and weaknesses in its hardware.

And Reg: FFS get a less hopelessly incompetent Captcha system.

13
10

US senators get digging to find out the truth about FCC DDoS attack

Milton
Silver badge

When it is a Net bad thing

Sorry for the pun, but this is a classic case of a solution to a problem that never existed: in fact the solution is causing problems. It was a terrible mistake to implement electronic voting, especially if it's done with no backup paper trail. It is even more asinine to make these things accessible via the internet—we are talking about mighty temptation put before bad actors with the resources of a nation state. It's a recipe for catastrophe, and that catastrophe may even have happened already—look at how a few delicately chosen small majorities gave Trump the presidency despite a shortfall of <3m votes.

Someone's already pointed out that a well-designed physical system can do the job securely and with admirable respectability, like that of Britain: with enough eyes seeing, literally watching what's happening, and people covering the chain of custody of ballot boxes, it is a traditional, old, antiquated and highly effective system. There is simply no good reason to add technology, especially when that clearly introduces a swarm of horrid vulnerabilities.

That the world's foremost and wealthiest power, which claims to be a democracy, cannot simply fix this, beggars belief.

1
0

Microsoft loves Linux so much its R Open install script rm'd /bin/sh

Milton
Silver badge

Re: EEE play

'Say no to monthly subscriptions, choose "old-school" pay once.'

AC is absolutely right about this. There's no customer benefit at all to the subscription model. Arguably, it's all downside. Your ownership of the software is in doubt; you end up excessively dependent on net connectivity; intrusive "upgrades", "updates" and "security fixes" disrupt your work and sometimes destroy it; features and UI elements change under your feet like quicksand; the model is often an excuse for unnecessary data slurping and invasion of privacy; you end up paying more in the long term; and sometimes you end up paying for something you never needed. Look at Photoshop: now that it's "affordable" monthly, eight of 10 users are people who would have balked at the licence price and discovered software that does everything they need for nothing—and are instead paying for a suite that has features they'll never even know about, much less use.

For the corporations, though, the marketurds propagandise illusory "benefits" while the entire operation is geared to entrapping customers into a state of dependence, helpless while their wallets gape. The likes of Microsoft and Adobe have taken the essential entrapment concept of the "free" model of Facebook, Google and other monsters, repackaged with subscriptions: you aren't a customer: you're prey.

Whenever you hear someone talking about this or that "ecosystem", think: pit of punji stakes.

36
2

This HTC U12+ review page is left intentionally blank

Milton
Silver badge

"unforced errors"

Can we stop bandying this phrase "unforced errors" around? It gets used more and more by people who think they're saying something uniquely perceptive—but almost always in the wrong context. It'll become as tediously witless as "brutal murder" soon. I i's quite ok simply to say "HTC made a mistake". They're not in combat, or even playing football right now.

0
0

Trump's ZTE deal challenged by Senate

Milton
Silver badge

Re: Where is Big John? Where is Bom.Bob?

The former was a bit over-excited and his carer doubled up on the 10mg "soothers", so he's out for the count, drooling in front of Fox&Friends on mute.

The latter is down for maintenance, as the host Artificial Idiot confused "chatbot" with "crackpot" and is now having its code refucktored.

More news soon. If you're unlucky.

3
0

Budget Surface 'spotted' in Microsoft's crystal ball

Milton
Silver badge

And another difference ...

... rumours suggest that the new, cheaper Surface will actually work for several days before having to be returned, and that the replacement will endure for as long as a month before also being sent back.

In the long run, though, the new model will reach the standards Microsoft set with the original Surface: no sane person will ever buy a second one, and even long-term Apple-sceptics will say, "Ok, that's it; the hardware's shit; the software's shit; Microsoft is shit" —and ruefully take their flexible friend to the iStore.

5
5

Trump kept ZTE alive as ‘personal favour’ to Chinese president Xi

Milton
Silver badge

"... thought his real family were from Raxacoricofallapatorius"

Don't be silly. They were Crotobaltislavonians¹*.

As for Trump, although I was a pessimist about the Singapore Summit—because after all, the man is beyond question an absolutely monumental jackass (I'd pay good money to see him trying to hold a conversation with anyone at his own intellectual level ... say, Iain Duncan Donuts; or my gerbil)—I am dumbfounded to see that he has had his trousers pulled down and been bent over the table by Kim even more thoroughly and boisterously²* than I could possibly have imagined. He has got absolutely nothing, nada, zilch except for his transparently meaningless fag-packet memo of "commitments", talks up Little Rocket Fella as a new BFF, and is even saying the US will stop its military drills.

I'm not sure what I'm looking forward to more, now. Angry Tache Bolton attempting to justify the memo as a victory for US belligerence? Or Dementia Giuliani incoherently trying to convince a nearby lectern that Trump is a stable genius, while his TV interviewer looks on in bemusement?

(Come to think of it, Bolton soon won't be able to resist saying something arrogantly stupid and threatening, contradicting the sweet nothings in Trump's fag-packet, and the Norks will throw their toys out of the pram and shout "See? See?? We did our best and already they're betraying us—like Iran, Paris accord, G7 etc etc" and no one who matters will bother much with sanctions again because dolt Trump and his claque of boneheads squandered all America's goodwill. Watch and weep.)

¹* Two bonus points for anyone who gets the reference.

²* Try not visualise this.

14
2

Which? calls for compensation for users hit by Windows 10 woes

Milton
Silver badge

"some people rely on their computers"

"MS should realise that some people rely on their computers for far more significant things than business"

Twenty years ago I used to say that if Bill Gates had to be in Intensive Care and rely—absolutely rely—upon a computer-controlled device to keep him alive, he'd shit himself if he thought its OS was any version of Windows.

And to anyone who's technically familiar with OSs and high-uptime servers, I'd ask the same thing today. If your life absolutely depended upon a given machine continuing to function and do its job—if it stopped working for more than 60 seconds, you would die—would you in all honesty trust a Windows OS or a *ix one?

It's my shrewd suspicion that whatever folks might say, there isn't a single techie working for Microsoft who, if their life really was the stake, would choose Windows over *ix.

24
5
Milton
Silver badge

"... lose a 500,000 word manuscript"

" ... OR an author to lose a 500,000 word manuscript that was due for publication"

So that's what happened to George Martin's next Thrones novel.

The rewritten version has an army of robotic, faceless, rapacious monsters that cannot be killed gradually being forced back beyond The Wall until they are returned to confinement in the Tomb of the Undead, in Redmond.

Windows is Coming

17
2
Milton
Silver badge

Re: If it was only security patches

"But why do you talk like a 6 year old? What's with all the school-yard style, silly little insults, random capitalisation and total lack of coherence?"

This is the bane of all grown-ups using the internet, and it's a similar feeling to the one you get after driving on the motorway for a while. "How can there possibly be so many adults who behave like abject morons?" you ask, with tears in your eyes.

Not that I'm alleging bombastic bob is a moron, mind you. He could easily be one of those Artificial Idiot chatbot thingies that "learns" from other users and can't help itself.

Someone ask him to open the pod bay doors and see what happens ...

52
3

US regains supercomputer crown from Chinese, for now

Milton
Silver badge

No, not 'edit'

StargateSg7: "They REALLY need to add a long-term "Edit My Post" button on these forums"

I think you mean "Delete", not "Edit".

7
0

In defence of online ads: The 'net ain't free and you ain't paying

Milton
Silver badge

Free IS the problem

Arguably, the "free" model is the absolute heart of the problem. Since "free" is actually impossible, it's the users who have to be "monetised"—by now a euphemism for the surveillance, invasion of privacy and manipulation that underpins Facebook, Google and all the unspeakably shitty adverts that befoul the internet.

The way to cut through all of this crap in one fell swoop is to prohibit the collection of all and any non-operationally-required personal data, and further prohibit any analysis or derivation therefrom.

Facebook, Google and the rest then have to turn into "proper" suppliers and charge you a fee. You return to being a customer with rights and dignity and privacy. Competitors will suddenly be able to try and break into the market. And adverts will have to improve their game immeasurably as the throw-shit-at-the-wall approach will become impossible.

It should always have been this way.

17
1

Descent of the Machines: Aussie firm boasts of underwater drone swarms

Milton
Silver badge

Bad news for boomers

Sea-drones will be bad news for ballistic missile subs. There will be three kinds at least, all of them shining a light, as it were, into the depths where boomers used to hide so well.

The first will be cheap-as-chips equivalents of sonobouys, doing little more than passively listening and reporting home to base. Mass produced by the millions, lurking both above and below the thermocline and drawing very little power. Research on self-sustaining energy for these things (floating a small solar mat for a trickle charge; using temperature gradients to make thermocouple-type electricity; both exploiting the need to surface an antenna) may see them functioning autonomously for months or even years.

More advanced will be the shorter-lived kind with a bit more Artificial Idiot, which use depth-keeping, currents and quiet propulsion to gradually creep into missions zones and hot spots, with the ability to punch out the occasional active pulse on instruction: area denial over potentially thousands of square miles.

The third will be more like a complete functioning HK sub (or perhaps it's better visualised as a highly automatic torpedo): no crew, but a single warhead. Given an acoustic signature library and approximate search area, it uses data aggregated from the first two to creep up to an idling boomer and go Bang! on the prop. Needing no crew and low power it can be all about sneaking around quietly at a few knots, waiting to burst the enemy's shaft seals. With IFF and mission-time limiting safeguards,a few hundred of these would create havoc for an enemy's fleet. An uncrewed drone the size of a motorcycle will make less noise than even the quietest submarines—and a single active ping is all it takes to bring the hounds running.

It's a classic example of the way in which many relatively simple devices can use swarming behaviour, cooperation and data integration as a force multiplier. Guided by good internal software and the occasinal nudge using LW encyrpted radio from HQ ... one drone by itself, pretty useless: but think how many you could afford for the price of a single ASW helicopter .... the possibilities are almost endless, and they spell bad times for ballistic missile submarines. (Imagine the old CAPTOR concept using modern tech.)

Pessimistic, perhaps, but I suspect the new Trident will be obsolete before it's launched.

0
0

IoT CloudPets in the doghouse after damning security audit: Now Amazon bans sales

Milton
Silver badge

'... where "Internet Connected" is a reason not to buy'

We really need to grow out of this pricelessly stupid spiral of so-called "innovation" which mostly is nothing of the kind, just connecting things to the internet for the sake of it and/or rebranding obvious and common concepts.

It's all part of a spectrum of deceit and greed where at one end you have internet-connected toasters, kettles, juicers and other b0ll0x and at the other an entire planet is hypnotised by "AI" which simply does not exist, while desperate to offload sensitive data and services to the equivalent of a mainframe (called "cloud" now) because "it'll save money" despite the fact that the phone in their pocket very often has enough CPU and storage to do the job in question (especially if the software they're using had been written efficiently in the first place: the amount of lazy, bloated garbage is astounding).

Yes, there are some devices that would benefit from being internet-connected, securely and reliably. Yes, there are some worthwhile and even excellent business cases for stuff like "cloud" and even the adaptive-machine-learning systems being propagandised as "AI"—but 95% of the use is at best pointless, frequently not at all cost-effective, and at worst actually introduces new and spectacular modes of failure and compromise.

We need to stop acting like gullible lemmings and see through the marketurds' endless torrents of shyte.

5
1

UK military may recruit wheezy, alcoholic keyboard warriors

Milton
Silver badge

Why, you utter barstewards

I knew it. I knew it, I knew it, I knew they'd find a way to drag me back. If antiquity, chronic lung disease (never smoked: I still suspect CR gas drills), and beer weren't good enough to keep me firmly out, the crafty buggers have ginned up a job description where the bugs are rewritten as features.

Seriously though, the obvious showstopper with this idea (at least if the brass are serious about allowing folks with drug and alcohol problems to work for them) is opsec: traditionally, those behaviours not only impair performance, they render one vulnerable to compromise. It's all very well re-employing ex-Major Curmudgeon at the age of 60 because he's been doing nifty IT stuff since he did his 12 years—but what happens if sultry Natasha Honeytrapova comes round to tempt him with a crate of vodka? Or a pound of best Crimean Weed?

No, I think some lack of fitness or ill health might be tolerated if you find great candidates, but substance abuse, seriously? I don't see it.

3
0

Microsoft sinks another data centre with Natick 2

Milton
Silver badge

Yeah ... international waters

A whole bunch of interesting questions—

As Steve Channell said, what are the legal implications if the datacentres are in international waters?

Do we move a step closer to a data haven?

Who polices the content and function of these systems?

How does Microsoft prevent literal piracy?

What happens if some mischievous Ocean's-11 of buccaneers hauls it off and claims salvage rights?

Given that any major war would now include various navies cutting undersea cables, will there be backup connection systems?

Which precipitates some musings:

A neat place for a data haven might be orbit, or even the Moon: a high spot near a lunar pole could probably get sunlight 100% of the time, for free energy with no pollution or waste heat issues at all.

The 3-sec roundtrip comm lag would be a pain for rapid-fire browsing but just fine if you were using your self-contained lunar datacentre pod just to store data out of the reach of scoundrels and incompetents (i.e. governments).

I can even imagine a necklace of relay satellites caching content as they move in and out of a browsing path ...

5
0

Australia wants tech companies to let cops 'n' snoops see messages without backdoors

Milton
Silver badge

Save us from uneducated politicians

I'm beginning to think that we should impose strict educational requirements and IQ tests on anyone standing for office. It's not just that we have some laughably, transparently stupid people in government—in this country we have blithering mouthbreathers like IDS, Leadsom and Paterson, with Gavin Williamson desperately trying to join the Dumb Kids crowd (he'll succeed if he keeps opening his mouth)—but that even the ones who do have some residual intelligence simply refuse to use it, often through wilful ignorance. As Home Secretary, Theresa May constantly repeated this ignorant bullshit about backdoors, showing that even a lukewarm IQ is no defence against knowing nothing while flapping your jaws.

The wilful ignorance and stupidity of "leaders" has risen in step with the infestation of career politicians, whose lack of experience in any other sphere stands out like a lighthouse of uselessness when they are required to think sensibly and actually know a few things about the world. Cultivated in the political hothouse of lies and spin, their failure to grasp both big picture and detail leaves them looking like abject fools. The problem in the US is arguably even worse, with a know-nothing, corrupt, hysterical, pathologically lying man-child as President. Trump manages to shame the USA even more than Boris Johnson shames Britain. It would be very funny if these imbecilic egotists were not so very dangerous.

To topic, all of this guff about encryption continues to miss the point. You all know this already, but who knows, maybe a curious lawmaker is passing by ...

1. Algorithms for extremely powerful encryption are published for anyone to read.

2. Any competent coder from among several tens of millions on Earth can cook up an app to perform essentially unbreakable encryption. (The key is The Key, not the method!)

3. Any somewhat superior coder from among the hundreds of thousands on Earth could additionally concoct some steganographic methods for not only encrypting data but also concealing the fact that it is there. (Think: petabytes of photos scattered like sand grains across an entire planet's worth of social media.)

3.a. In any case, many methods exist for ensuring plausible deniability, including the randomised disk partition approach, etc, etc ad nasueam

4. There are dozens of ways indviduals and groups can home-brew their own end-to-end encryption systems, adding steganography if they want to for extra safeguards. For one obvious example: use one device that doesn't store keys to encrypt your message and steg it into a photo; transfer that photo to your phone/PC/whatever and upload it as one of the billions on your crappy social media system of choice; whether your message was "I love you" or "How to plan our next atrocity", it is secure and, assuming you used a low encryption rate and a clever algo, not even recognisable as a message.

5. Most of us will never bother doing this: the people who will do it—and are undoubtedly doing it already—are the Black Hats. Darwinism is ensuring that the BH community is improving its sneakiness all the time, while countermeasures are falling behind (detecting the existence of steg'd data in photos was relatively easy ten years ago; now, against any adversary whos's been paying attention, it's hopeless).

In short, the genie is not just out of the bottle, it's everywhere, and there is not the slightest hope of putting it back. Even a drastic measure like trying to block all traffic that might contain encryption (e.g random strings; photos; music) is doomed unless governments want to stop all transactions and sensitive data on the internet.

Polticians and security agencies need to wean themselves from the always-fatally-flawed idea that they can use tech as an easy way to control populations and control crimes, including terrorism. They need to recgonise that old-fashioned law enforcement shoe leather, due process, hard evidence gathering, infiltration and humint are as necessary and effective now as they always were.

The lazy way does not, cannot work, so instead of childishly stamping feet and whining for what you cannot ever have, it's time to move on.

29
0

US govt mulls snatching back full control of the internet's domain name and IP address admin

Milton
Silver badge

"build out our international agenda"—FFS

"As we look to further build out our international agenda, we want to hear from stakeholders about the critical global policy areas we will face this year and beyond."

Ah, the steaming pile of words deployed, as a substitute for thought and communicatoin, by corporate morons and politicians (insofar as there is a distinction).

A literate adult human might have written—

"We'd like feedback from those affected by our policy decisions."

. . .

"build out our international agenda". What is wrong with these people?

16
0

Dual-screen laptops debut at Asus' Computex chat

Milton
Silver badge

Wrong product

How very strange that the dual-screen wheeze has arrived on laptops (which might have a niche, probaby business-oriented use case) but still stubbornly refuses to return to the smartphone, where it would be a winning innovation.

Is everyone absolutely hypnotised by lemming-like devotion to the Apple candy-bar of Breakable Everything Plus Stupid Notches? Won't at least one manufacturer go for a high-end hi-res clamshell dual screen design, with twice the screen estate, at last immune to pockets, handbags, keys, coins, falls ...?

2
0

UK's first transatlantic F-35 delivery flight delayed by weather

Milton
Silver badge

"It won't"

As I mentioned here t'other day, some Canadian political halfwit, challenged over F-35 performance and reliability as part of enquiries into that nation's scandalously mishandled acquisition process, when asked what would happen when the single engine failed somewhere over the Far North, notoriously said "It won't".

But of course, it will: because π doesn't equal 3.00, cryptographic back doors will always be compromised and mathematics will always leave stupid little politicians naked.

Even worse, our planes are the wretched F-35B, sacrificing over a third of fuel capacity to the Heath-Robinson lift fan, so you have a lot of refuelling for a plane whose operational range was already pitiful (on internal fuel an F-35 has even shorter range, believe it or not, than the old BAC Lightning F6, a lovable but notoriously short-endurance beast). Plus the lift fan, with its kludge of gearbox and transmission, places unprecedented stress on the one and only engine as well as representing useless dead weight.

So the RAF is right to be paranoidally cautious about ferrying the F-35Bs to Blighty, because it's a long way, there's a hell of a lot to go wrong, and the embarrassment will be crushing if one is lost.

Looking on the bright side, however, the SAR effort for the pilot need not be hasty: the ejector seat, combined with the weight of the fanastically expensive AR helmet which doesn't work, will have broken the poor bugger's neck anyway.

Heaven help anyone who will ever have to seriously rely on the F-35 in a real war. By Week Two, the desert-graveyard will be full of ANG reservists wiping Cosmoline off a bunch of teen-series planes.

32
6

Four hydrogen + eight caesium clocks = one almost-proven Einstein theory

Milton
Silver badge

Re: This is why science rocks

"If placebo works, homeopathy also works."

Placebo and homeopathy have a small overlap for conditions with significantly subjective symptoms, like mild pain, anxiety and so on. But placebo is given by a medical professional only after careful consideration of the considerable ethical condundra (thus, often occurring only during blind studies with informed consents signed), whereas homeopathy depends upon lies, pretensions, inventions and greed of the non-medical non-profesional peddling their particular and variously ignorant and/or deceitful nonsense.

For serious and objectively physiological conditions such as infections, cancer, significant injury and so on, placebo works as well as homeopathy, i.e. not at all. It doesn't matter what you tell someone about a little grey pill or a pint of water, if they've got syphilis then they'll need proper science and professional modern medicine.

So the difference between placebo and homeopathy is—

• Professional ethics vs lies and greed

and the similarity is—

• For significant, genuine, objectively phsyiological illness, both are rubbish.

Biofeedback mechanisms can work and do have a part to play. They've been around since Achilles was told to take some deep breaths before stomping out of his tent. But like placebo, they won't fix tuberculosis.

Science rocks because of provable, explicable, repeatable success. Mumbo-jumbo sinks for the lack of all those qualities, not to mention the addition of unscrupulous exploitation.

10
0

Uh oh! Here's yet more AI that creates creepy fake talking heads

Milton
Silver badge

Power in the hands of idiots or bastards

Some interesting comments here. I notice someone has resurrected the worry about what happens when gene-editing/-splicing becomes generally accessible. It's pertinent, because the fundamental question is "What happens when powerful tools fall into the hands of idiots or bastards?"

I suggest we're already seeing just how damaging and chaotic this can be.

Arguably the internet, social media specifically, has given a platform, with megaphone, to hordes of nasty, racist, misogynist, extremist shytebags and a zillion immature twits—many of them actively celebrating their ignorance and intolerance. The filter of newspapers' letters pages and mainstream TV channels has been replaced by a screaming mob. Reflection, consideration, respect for facts, rationality—it's all disappearing in a worldwide shouting match where the emptiest tins make the most noise.

This has already done massive damage. It may even come to be seen as fatal for western democracy. Look at what happened with Brexit. Look at the cretin infesting the White House. Look at the torrent of lies emerging daily in degraded political discourse in Washington and Westminster.

The only reason a bunch of cities have not become lakes of steaming glass since 1945 is that building a functional atomic warhead is exceedingly difficult: especially obtaining the fissile material. Else a great many loonies, terrorist and malcontents would by now have blown stuff up.

But other technologies, in their own way equally dangerous, will not be so restrictive. Letting ignorant wingnuts nucleate in their vile little racist conclaves has already done immense damage—what would you expect to happen when people like this can start fiddling with versions of the flu virus?

Considering this topic specifically, look at what's happened as computer malware has become prevalent, and increasingly accessible to non-specialists. We've seen huge attacks on specific companies, organisations and nation states. We've seen how quickly these things spread indiscriminately once they escape into the wild. The cost has been spectacular.

The motivation and desire among certain groups to do horrible things is undoubtedly present. Soon they may have the ability as well as the intention.

Who will be first to splice up a really horrid version of Ebola that targets people of a specific genetic type? China? Russia? The kind of people who believe the shit they inhale on Fox&Friends?

Be afraid.

13
1

Ex-US pres Bill Clinton has written a cyber-attack pulp thriller. With James Patterson. Really

Milton
Silver badge

Hope Clinton's doing the writing ...

Hope Clinton's doing the writing ... because Patterson is a truly awful writer. He'd even give Dan Brown a run for his money. Their stilted, cliched rubbish and "mysteries" that wouldn't befuddle a brain-damaged sheepdog are painful to read. (An unplanned transcontinental flight and too little time in an airport "book" shop cured me of any desire to pick up a Patterson ever again.)

Since bookshops group stuff by "5-12 Years", "Teen Fiction", "Young Adult" and so on, do you suppose they could helpfully section off a few shelves called, say "Trash for Mouthbreathers"?

7
0

Microsoft commits: We're buying GitHub for $7.5 beeeeeeellion

Milton
Silver badge

Re: How can it possibly be worth that much?

I rashly suggested most people weren't paying for GitHub (sorry) and your numbers astonish me. I don't doubt them, I'm just amazed. Why would anyone pay non-trivial sums for something they could set up and run themselves? Is it sheer laziness?

I'm beginning to think that the Age of Stupid will reach its asymptote of cretinism when the Internet of Shyte literally offers an app-gadget to wipe people's arses.

14
9
Milton
Silver badge

Re: How can it possibly be worth that much?

It isn't worth that much. But the ability to further manipulate you might be.

I think the real question is—

What is Microsoft's strategy to extract that much value from GitHub?

Pridefully foolish as Microsoft's strategic decisions so often are—El Reg readers can probably list half a dozen blatantly stupid screwups off the top of their heads, and not all of those are from the days of arrogantly halfwitted Ballmerups—the intention is to get surplus value from the money paid. Thus the horrible LinkedIn (it isn't 'necessary' at all, BTW: it's much nicer to get work by word of mouth) wasn't really about improving the value of the platform, it was about buying eyeballs and thereby entrapping yet more people into the MS 'ecosystem'. Thus the Skype experience: MS wanted the users, had no interest in improving the product for anyone, cares only about the captive userbase ... which is why it keeps getting worse.

So you must ask, how will MS try to extract that enormous value—not from expanding or improving GitHub—but from you, the users? You do not pay a fee for GitHub, do you? And you've no intention of ever paying. So that $7.5bn is coming out of your skin. MS is willing to bet that it knows how to squeeze the cash out of you.

That's the modern internet-giant business approach. Customers are now the product to be sold, rented, hired, wrung out and have their privacy prostituted at every turn, so the top priorities are—

• How do we catch them

• How can we rape their wallets

• How can we sell them

—and, super important—

• How do we trap them here?

Ecosystem = Punji-stake-pit

33
1

Visa Europe fscks up Friday night with other GDPR: 'God Dammit, Payment Refused'

Milton
Silver badge

Auguries of bad things

Does anyone here suppose that Vlad the Emailer and his little coterie of crooks does not have a three-ring binder contingency plan and gigbytes of code ready to wreak havoc in western banking systems if and when the urge takes them?

Try to imagine the disruption and chaos if all payment methods get screwed for say, just one week.

Then imagine that happpening in a cashless society.

Just because we can go cashless doesn't mean we should.

Yes, I know governments love the idea, because it gives them even more control and surveillance of citizens: but governments, I would remind you, are monumentally stupid and short-sighted and run by a self-selecting sample of the worst characters the country can spawn. Not a good place to look for your best interests.

14
2

Facebook stockholders tell Zuck to reform voting rules as data scandal branded 'human rights violation'

Milton
Silver badge

Greedy hypocrites

Wannabe shareholders were eager enough to overlook the democractic deficit when it suited them and they thought they could make scads of money doing not much.

They snivel now that the inevitable abuse has happened.

There is a strong ethical and governance argument that this kind of share setup should never be allowed: that your voting rights should be a direct reflection of your investment (stake as %age) in the company. Arrangements like this can create precisely the kind of unaccountability and fertile ground of abuse that we see here, as well as being unfair to entire classes of shareholders.

Now a bunch of heavily invested shareholders of a major company that's rapidly going bad cannot, in effect, choose how their money is spent, instead being ignored by a callow boy of no great integrity who once wrote some code. Reap, sow, etc.

17
3

Your F-35s need spare bits? Computer says we'll have you sorted in... a couple of years

Milton
Silver badge

Re: There's an old saying.....

If the engines are Pratt & Whitney the seat better be Martin Baker.

I wasn't aware of the saying, or the justification for it, if any: but the fact is, there's only one engine. ISTR some Candian idiot (=politician) being asked a few years back, during controversy over that country's deeply incompetent F-35 acquisition process, what he thought about an eyewateringly expensive single-engined fighter experiencing an engine failure in the far north—his response: "It won't." Facepalm, anyone?

I'd be particularly concerned about the F-35B, with its fearsomely complicated gearing and transmission for the lift fan (which is deadweight and wasted space for 99% of the mission), which has to reliably transfer enormous horsepower in the most testing conditions of temperature and stress at the most critical times (landing on a flight deck already a-gaggle with birds swilling with fuel and laden with ordnance).

Despite their (absurdly premature) declaration of initial operational status, the US Marine Corps may be the best hope for the RN not to have an early tragedy on one of its carriers: with luck, USMC will get the bad news before we do, and some kind of risk mitigation can be put in place. (Though what that will be, considering our government was too stupid to specify CATOBAR carriers, I just don't know.)

Either way, it would be embarrassing to put one of our carriers out of action even before it's seen the full 24 hours of life expectancy it can hope for in a war involving anyone who has subs and/or anti-ship missiles. (Lousy planes + too few escorts = carriers fit only for Third World ADPTO missions. There's nothing like a £275,000 strike resulting in the write-off of one rusty SUV and a cannabis-steeped goat-fondler.)

Yes, I accept that any procurement which results in an F-35 purchase must by definition be incompetent, but even so ...

Do try to keep up with the military terminology: ADPTO = Anti-Datsun-Pickup-Truck Operations. A very important component of the Global War on Terror™

19
3
Milton
Silver badge

Re: ILS 101

Please accept an Upvote for that nice line.

On the bright side, they're experts with Pivot Tables, which they feel qualifies them for a Fields Medal.

It could easily be used to describe a good-sized minority of corporate fauna throughout the world (and a solid majority of everything above middle management, especially in the truly woeful US and UK worlds of corporate imbecility): they fanny about with Excel, get some cells to go red and imagine they know all about IT. They'd be funny if they didn't do so much damage.

22
1

Foolish foodies duped into thinking Greggs salads are posh nosh

Milton
Silver badge

"explain rustlers microwave burgers?"

" ... how else does anyone explain rustlers microwave burgers?"

Well, think about that. You'd much sooner try to explain one than actually ... eat ... it.

My overriding curiosity is this, though: who on earth—really, who—actually buys that grotesque filth?

6
0

Internet engineers tear into United Nations' plan to move us all to IPv6

Milton
Silver badge

Re: 30 second ipv4 redesign?

In fairness it's actually a perfectly reasonable and obvious question, but in equal fairness it's already been well answered by at least two or three previous posts: routing.

Briefly: you could indeed prepend an extra byte and increase your address space nicely.

But soft! Consider ...

Obviously you'd need to upgrade a colossal swathe of networking soft- and hardware to make it work. At enormous expense. And a factor of 255 isn't much future-proofing: the Internet of Shyte, cars, phones, toasters and wearables, it's all going to gobble vast amounts of address space and, barring global catastrophe, at a non-linear growth rate. You certainly don't want to have to obsolesce all that new soft/hardware again in seven years' time.

So having considered just one prepended extra byte, you'd soon conclude that, since you're gonna have to upgrade a monstrous wodge of stuff, you might as well make the thing seriously future proof and, say, prepend four extra bytes. Really, there are endless reasons to do this, and not one good reason not to. An extant switch that can't handle an eight-byte address couldn't have handled a five-byte one any better.

Upon looking into how that IPv4 system works, though, you're reminded that none of these devices doing the work has a built-in register of the physical location, and how to reach it, of every address on Earth. That would be crazy, for reasons of scale, efficiency and the irritating fact that they change. (They'd spend longer constantly updating their staggeringly vast memories than actually passing traffic.) And those inescapably good reasons become all much more significant still, for tomorrow's almost unimaginably bigger world. You need to maintain a simple, efficient method that helps every device know where to send bytes without it having to stop and thumb through a dozen phone books.

Thus, routing: and the efficiency of sensible hierarchies. Having specified enough bytes for devices from here to Andromeda—which was, we now see, a sensible, inevitable choice—you realise that you can now afford to scatter those devices quite sparsely (which has no disadvantages) and that you can group, sub-group, and sub-sub-group them in ways which allow individual routing systems at almost any level in the routing hierarchy, given an IPv6 address, to know virtually instantly where next to steer a packet. A workable though imperfect analogy would be the STD phone network: seeing an 01623 code at the beginning of a number means you can immediately pass the call along to a "router" in Mansfield, rather than saying "Hmm, 01623123XXX", lemme go see whereabouts in the whole of Britain that might be ... this may take some time".

This is not the most efficient use of the size of IPv6 in terms of sheer numbers of practical addresses, but the beauty is that there are so many potential addresses that it doesn't matter. It is very efficient, though, in ensuring you can quickly, using minimal phone books, get through to the address you want.

The point of this is that taking your initial perfectly reasonable premise, and applying some cautious stepwise logic, you come right back to something that looks like IPv6 anyway. Hopefully it also explains why you absolutely must not 1:1 map legacy IPv4 to IPv6 addresses—because that undermines the absolutely essential principle of the new standard in being able to efficiently direct traffic.

When a political ignoramus at the UN says scornfully "How difficult can it be?" the answer is "The devil is, as always, in the detail."

Indeed, it doesn't matter whether the political imbeciles are talking half-baked crap about IP, backdoor encryption, badgers or jet fighters: the answer is always the same one—"The devil is in the detail."

13
2

Britain mulls 'complete shutdown' of 4G net for emergency services

Milton
Silver badge

Re: Still waiting

"Your only chance of making outsourcing work is when you have one person for every 5-10 people in the outsourcing company embedded in their team."—Christian Berger

No idea why you got a downvote, Mr Berger, because you are absolutely correct. We could perhaps debate the ideal ratio of salaried employees to outsourced workers, but my experience is that outsourcing rapidly turns to shyte unless the customer is willing, ready and able to manage the outsourcer strongly, fearlessly and competently.

The outsourcing pattern is sadly well known:

1. Outsourcer sends 'A' team of saleslizards to lie to gullible execs of potential customer, who want to hear how big their bonuses will be for the huge cost savings promised by aforementioned reptiles.

2. Agreement rushed without proper consideration, planning, contingency, contract penalties and attention to detail. Execs drool about bonuses; technical staff are one big facepalm.

3. Outsourcer sends 'B' team to begin work. Amazing amounts of money begin to flow in one direction. Technical staff desperately try to maintain standards, processes, QA but find that execs of their company listen to outsourcer's liaison suits, not their own staff.

4. Execs try to save even more cash by allowing outsourcer to manage itself. Outsourcer withdraws 'B' team and starts to infiltrate 'C' and 'D' personnel, still charging 'A' rates and training their own staff at your company's expense. Even a 'D' outsourcer employee knows how to invoice $21,644.32 for adding an extra comma to page 217 of a spec document.

5. Execs collect bonuses, burnish CVs, move on to next victim before disaster unfolds.

...

13. Company has long since lost most of its good, well-paid people who knew how its systems really worked. The company now exists as a life-support system for the outsourcer, which bleeds it white on a monthly basis. Periodic disasters unfold and they are always the fault of "that guy who just left".

The only chance you ever had of doing outsourcing right was to manage the process properly right from the beginning, writing a knowledgeable contract in blood, and then breathing down the outsourcer's neck for every second of every day, insisting on having the 'A' team, mandating your standards, never allowing them to hide behind their own BS bureaucracy, making them feel the pain every single time they try to play games with you. (And ensuring the outsourcer's salepeople have mysterious mishaps in the car park before they can reach your executives, thereafter to take over their tiny, naive, greedy minds and f**k everything up.)

If you cannot manage your company's IT department of dedicated well-paid professionals to do the necessary work, why in Offler's name do you imagine that you can do any better with a bunch of second-raters (if you're very lucky) whose only two interests are (a) how much they can rip you off, and (b) what excuses are you dumb enough to believe?

60
0

GCHQ bod tells privacy advocates: Most of our work is making sure we operate within the law

Milton
Silver badge

Yeah, riiight

I can fix the headline, anyway—

"Most of our work is making sure you never see most of our work"

1
0

US judge won't budge over Facebook's last-minute bid to 'derail' facial biometrics trial

Milton
Silver badge

There's a little bit of me ...

... having a daydream about a modified Econoline rolling up to the Dark Tower Facebook HQ, industrious dwarves (for it is they) leaping out and briskly mounting a piece of exotic-looking plumbing athwart the van's roof, and then unleashing a thunderbolt of awesome and richly deserved EMP into the place.

Regrettably, most of the good stuff is held far away, but for the sheer satisfaction of rough justice ... (and apologies to Neal Stephenson) ... ahhh.

11
0

Meet the real spin doctors: Scientists tell H2O to chill out so they can separate isomers

Milton
Silver badge

That photo ...

... of the oriental lady crossing a city bridge with water in the background: it was chosen automatically by software because of the keyword "water", correct?

And those awful puns (mostly thankfully missing from this article): for a while now I've been thinking that no self-respecting human could come up with such crap, and now it's clear—they are autogenerated by an AI (Artificial Idiot) as well, aren't they?

4
2

Beardy Branson: Wacky hyperloop tube maglev cheaper than railways

Milton
Silver badge

Usual Beardie/Virgin BS

It'll be crunch time for the Virgin Galactic nonsense soon. Even if the new Vomit Comet system was safe—and there are good reasons for suspecting it will be nowhere near as safe as routine airliner travel, so FAA certification may never be forthcoming—you have to ask how many rich idiots will be willing to cough up tens of thousands of dollars to spend several hours in a nasty metal tube that goes nowhere. Yes, the spaceship-which-isn't goes up for hours, and eventually reaches an altitude of 100km+, arbitrarily defined as space. Yes, the aforementioned idots can have a special plastic Astronaut merit badge to admire as they sink back to exactly the same place they came from. No, the spaceship-which-isn't never goes into orbit. It can't fly in space. It can't deliver stuff to the ISS, or bring stuff down. It is a "spaceship" in the same way that a rowboat is a transatlantic passenger vessel.

There are people doing fantastic work on real space travel, including SpaceX, Reaction Engines and Blue Origin. None of them are Branson. The whole Virgin Galactic thing is little better than an expensive, dangerous stunt. It has little to do with space travel and a lot to do with Beardie's love of superficial marketing bullcrap. (And I really hope he does not follow through on the idea of taking his kids up with him.)

As for the HyperLoop twaddle ... same problem. It all sounds wonderful, lots of sci-fi concepts (the idea has been around for at least 100 years after all), impressive statistics about journey time, wildly optimistic predictions. But the devil is always in the detail, and there's an awful lot of detail to worry about. For Branson to suggest tunnelling will cost less than surface transport is bonkers. Tunnelling is horribly expensive and slow. Unless he (and Elon, for that matter) have built a molecular disintegrator plus autocementing reintegrator, their guff about cheap quick tunnelling will remain just that: somewhat embarrassingly daft guff.

Which doesn't even begin to cover all the issues of permissions; surveying; geology; seismic analysis; proximity of fracking; environmental impact; safety of tunnels; risk sensor networking; escape routes (gonna evacuate a subterranean vacuum-train under the Pennines in 90 seconds, Beardie?); g-forces; emergency braking times; gradient and depth routing; turn radii; temperature and aircon management; routing, station and terminus decisions; maintenance intervals, rules, process, operational criteria and doctrine; pumping stations; power distribution and delivery; potential terrorism; signalling; software control systems; shall I go on and on, and talk about contingencies for fire, atmospheric contamination, power failure, structural distortion of train or tunnel; foreign object detection and mitigation, and on and on and yet on ...?

After these childishly unrealistic wheezes are sent embarrassed to bed in a year or two, i wonder if Beardie will pop up again, blethering about, I dunno, Virgin Moon, offering jaunts across lunar seas aboard Selene "within just a few years" ...? Perhaps he just doesn't bother to talk to engineers before flapping his fur. Or maybe it's all just his addiction to empty marketing shyte.

22
6

Smut site offers VPN so you don't bare all online

Milton
Silver badge

Oh the b100dy irony

Oh the b100dy irony ... that pornographers are doing more to resist invasions of privacy, and securing their viewers' rights as adults to read/view/hear what the heck they like, than the noble, pompous, self-righteous titans of the internet like Facebook and Google, who daily lie through their teeth to keep the addicts clicking away?

If you got a better service and more reliable product from your drug dealer than when buying alcohol legally in the supermarket, the parallels would be 100% complete.

We live in an increasingly crazy, sick world, and since neither politicians nor the corporations who own them have any incentive to rescue the internet-using punters, it's high time for adults to wake up and take some responsibility for themselves. Just as an alcoholic sooner or later reaches that point where they "stand at the edge of the abyss" and must decide, deeply and personally, to step back (or not), so it is for social media addicts: no one else will help you.

39
1

Cyber-stability wonks add election-ware to ‘civilised nations won’t hack this’ standard

Milton
Silver badge

The self-created problem, easily solved

"As more countries opt to digitise their election machinery, the risks and vulnerabilities associated with such infrastructure increase manifold, as does the prospect of a major, offensive cyber operation"

Which leaves the solution staring us in the face: do not allow e-voting for significant elections. Just because we can do this doesn't mean we should. It may ultimately be cheaper to move to e-voting; more convenient; give faster results; fill the pockets of the manufacturers of these machines: none of which is a good enough reason to have Vlad The Emailer install his preferred presidential candidate—or even simply to undermine confidence in the electoral system.

If the UK, a heavily populated country, can conduct a highly trusted paper-based ballot system resistant to interference, there is no reason whatever why other well-regulated nations cannot do so as well. The UK's postal voting system, for those unable to cast a personal vote on the day, works well enough, and the many independent eyes watching a physical count are a solid force for honesty. Even an MP's hundred-vote winning margin is accepted in this country, after a recount.

The problem with a goodwill-based approach as suggested in the article is that (a) politicians cannot be trusted to keep their word, ever, and (b) it isn't just politicians, their corrupt cronies, their armed forces or even their intelligence agencies who may interfere: it could almost as easily be the brilliant Fat Guy In Mom's Trailer in Louisiana; or the equivalent droog in Bumfuckgrad, Byelorussia.

The makers of voting machines have tirelessly and consistently told us their devices are 100% secure (well, they would saythat, wouldn't they?) and repeatedly been shown to be plain wrong. No knowledgeable person believes that any non-trivial computing device can be rendered perfectly secure.

Why take this enormous, literally critical risk with national security ... when we Just. Don't. Have. To?

9
0

Softbank's 'Pepper' robot is a security joke

Milton
Silver badge

There's a sketch ...

There's a sketch ... that someone must already have produced? A Sarah Connor lookalike is trapped with no way out, as a very large, imposing humanoid, somewhat the worse for wear with a few bits of metal shining through, and one red eye straing fixedly at her, stomps toward her cowering form. Ms Connor whips out her phone, fires up an SSH client and quickly runs through an assortment of login/password combos, hitting upon "illbeback" just as the machine reaches for ther throat. Perhaps the closing shot is our heroine and her new buddy skipping into the sunset.

If you think this is silly—which it really, really is—consider the folks who are building robots and drones and all sorts of automated physical devices, some able to harm people incidentally and others actually designed for it ... without thinking first, middle and last about security.

One of the things we've learned in the past 40 years is that there is always a way, sometimes unbelievably sneaky and subtle, cunning, complex and circuitous, to compromise a device. And as devices get more complicated, with parts and code sourced hither and yon, the problem multiplies. every time you go to great lengths to plug one leak, another springs open elsewhere.

You'd like to believe that the people coding and building drones (whether land, air or sea) to be armed with actual weapons like missiles and torpedoes, will ask themselves: what do we do if the adversary seizes control? What contingency have we built in? How do we override the protocols? How do we prevent the overrides being overridden? Will we even know before a Maverick comes through the roof of the bunker?

My suspicion is that while the techies will raise these issues, the politicians (who are mostly ignorant idiots) and the generals (who are soldiers, who for the whole of human military history have just wanted Stuff That Works Even After You've Dragged It Through A Swamp) will never take security quite seriously enough. Until, perhaps, the drone that's supposed to be protecting the White House instead puts a warhead through the window of the Oval Office. (This may not be a total tragedy, but the next president might not be a lunatic manchild.)

Quite aside from the ethics of the situation (to which politicians are immune anyway), I'd suggest that the overwhelming primary reason not to arm robots is that you cannot guarantee you won't be the target.

20
1

Trump’s new ZTE tweet trumps old ZTE tweets that trumped his first ZTE tweet

Milton
Silver badge

"Everyone is allowed to make a mistake"

45RPM: "I don’t have a problem with people who voted Trump. I can see that they might honestly have believed that Hillary represented a bigger threat to them - the Trump campaign beguiled them with a rush of endorphins and a boat full of lies. Everyone is allowed to make a mistake."

I think you write with good-willed sincerity. But I'm also afraid that you are wrong.

A great many people, including some sincere and moderate conservatives, figured out early on that Trump was a pathological liar, ignoramus, hypocrite, bully, misogynist and racist. Let's be honest: you didn't need to be particularly smart to realise this.

In fact, Trump's vile character and dishonesty would have been obvious to an awful lot of the people who did vote for him. His odious man-child nature wasn't concealed. Even the not-so-bright would have realised quite early on: 'Actually, this guy is a real scumbag'.

So why did so many vote for him? (Admittedly, 3m fewer than Hillary, but the ridiculous electoral college still gave him the Presidency). That is the question. Why? This ... man ... is an absolutely repugnant, stupid, know-nothing misogynist hypocrite and outright racist.

You see, I think the clue is in that last word. Trump's voters did see what he was. they saw something they actually rather liked. Someone who was like them.

90% of all of Trump's otherwise incomprehensibly lunatic behaviour as President has been about his visceral hatred for Obama. He is not the only Republican who cannot stomach the idea that a black man could be president (and he couldn't stomach the idea of a woman president, either, remember?). Almost everything Trump has said and done is about trying to undo Obama's achievements. The completely crazy and dysfunctional disavowal of trade partnerships, Iran deal, Obamacare—it's all about trying to erase Obama from history. Trump's racism, to put it bluntly, is visceral, personal and unhinged.

The problem we have is that we're mystified that so many voters could be "conned" by Trump: we cannot compute that millions couldn't see through this obviously putrid sack of racist shit. We can't fathom that Republicans tolerate his dragging their party through the sewer.

We won't allow ourselves to realise that actually, Trump voters and apologists do see something filthy ... but it's something that they like.

53
3

UK Home Office's £885m crim records digi effort: A 'masterclass in incompetence'

Milton
Silver badge

Totally Crap Service

Everything that hadn't been clear about this disaster became transparent when the letters "TCS" appeared. That company of buffoons has been infesting at least one major British airline of my acquaintance for many years now, and their performance is ... bad beyond belief.

Then again, if your client has the kind of imbecilic IT and general management that will actually pay £1m for a simple app—more than once!—perhaps it deserves everything it gets.

Ex-military types being an honorable exception, British corporate senior management is simply the utter pits. Give me a British ex-officer, or any German, any time.

7
0

As Tesla hits speed bump after speed bump, Elon Musk loses his mind in anti-media rant

Milton
Silver badge

Re: unexpected honesty

"Look at two examples in the UK, Daily Mail and Guardian. Two polar opposites in view but absolutely equivalent in their gutter level."

The tiny difference between the Mail and the Guardian—and before you panic, no, I don't actually expect you to understand this complex concept—is that the former publishes a great many provable lies and wild exaggerations, which are regularly, frequently and routinely fact-checked and debunked. The latter occasionally makes mistakes, which it publcily corrects. It does not, like the Mail, tell obvious, silly, childish lies to a mouth-breathing audience.

The other noticeable difference, which again you shouldn't trouble yourself considering, is that the Mail encourages hatred, racism, misogyny, intolerance and blame; whereas the Guardian speaks for inclusivity, freedom, equality, openness and understanding.

Those two insignificant details aside, you're right, they're just the same.

To an imbecile.

32
5

Microsoft gives users options for Office data slurpage – Basic or Full

Milton
Silver badge

It's a subtle plan

MS would find it too humiliating to ditch its core products and simply switch over to Linux and other FOSS, so it is instead getting us to do the dirty deed for them. They must have swung a long way from Ballmer's stupid tosh about destroying Linux.

Making Win10 (everything from W8 onwards) a steaming pile of manure was the start. But to make these OSs even more repugnant, spyware was included. Then, noticing that people were still stupid enough to pay money for Office, even the crippled mouthbreathing 365 version, they've had to poison those products as well, in a further bid to alienate customers. Perhaps if there are still holdouts next year the crappy Ribbon interface will swell to half the screen, or be rendered in bright purple ... anything to get rid of customers.

There are a few folks loitering here to downvote any post mentioning Linux and LibreOffice (I hope that's a remunerative activity) so please do so now, while I point out that the open-source combination—

• Has all the features the vast majority of people actually need and use

• Is free

• Doesn't contain uncheckable proprietary code

• Doesn't spy on you

• Doesn't require an internet connection

• Doesn't trash your system after ambushing it with a largely useless "update"

• Doesn't try to kidnap you into anyone's "ecosystem"

—and a no-brainer for anyone not trapped in the world of corporate idiocy.

Given the last decent (and in fact, pretty good) version of Windows was Win7, it'll be interesting to see, when support for that finally ceases in a couple of years, how many people will finally ditch MS and all its parasitic attempts to ensnare, trap and exploit customers. I don't underestimate the power of laziness, stupidity, complacency and wilful victimhood to keep people gormlessly pedalling the MS treadmill, but I'll be surprised if the end of Win7 doesn't cause a fairly spectacular spike in migration to Linux and FOSS.

Now, vote ↓ happily!

35
4

EmDrive? More like BS drive: Physics-defying space engine flunks out

Milton
Silver badge

tfb: Nice Summary

Good to see a tidily written and cogent post like this. Even when you think you know stuff, having someone else's knowledgeable précis can provide useful perspective. Thank you, tfb.

14
0

Page:

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