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Chromebook Gets "OK Google" and Intel's Easy Migration App

Sits "Google Now" and "OK Google" are different (35 comments)

If you have an appropriate Android device Google Now will (apparently) display information based on your current context (e.g. if your phone learns where work and home are it might display information about traffic jams on the route home around the time it believes you will be traveling). You need a logged in Google account to use this feature.

OK Google is a way of using your voice to interact with your device (or Chrome web browser). So if I have the appropriate phone and it's been set to listen I can say "OK Google" and it will activate an app/mode where it will accept further voice input. On the Android phone I saw (and in my Chrome web browser on OS X) I can then ask it "What's the weather like?" and it pops up some weather related information and speaks back "It's ten degrees in ". Sometimes when you ask it questions just does a web search other times (on the device) it would start applications (e.g. mail) and so on. You do not need to be logged into Google to use this feature.

about a month ago

Tetris Is Hard To Test

Sits It's possible to beat good testing... (169 comments)

...but not without a price. If you can mathematically construct your program then you can prove that it is free from defects providing enough assumptions hold (the specification is correct, the tools used to build it are correct, the proof of correctness is correct, you had enough money/time/skill to do the process etc). For the time being, it's not possible to formally most programs that have already been written in mainstream languages so other techniques like testing will remain useful tools.

about 3 months ago

Bash To Require Further Patching, As More Shellshock Holes Found

Sits ShellShock checker (329 comments)

From Eric Blake's bug-bash post

bash -c "export f=1 g='() {'; f() { echo 2;}; export -f f; bash -c 'echo \$f \$g; f; env | grep ^f='"

If you see anything like the following:

bash: g: line 1: syntax error: unexpected end of file
bash: error importing function definition for `g'
f=() { echo 2

you're still vulnerable. There may be other issues the above does not cover.

about 4 months ago

Project Zero Exploits 'Unexploitable' Glibc Bug

Sits Some C compilers already have bounds checking (98 comments)

You can already ask some compilers to do what you are asking - it's just often not on in shipped builds.

At compilation time warnings can be generated for out of bounds accesses that can be determined statically. Clang has -fsanitize=bounds, GCC has -Warray-bounds.

As an Anonymous Coward pointed out, it can be hard to detect runtime allocations overruns at compilation time. For these something like Clang's AddressSanitizer (GCC has added it too will help but at a cost of both time (slow down factor of 2) and space which is why you're unlikely to find it enabled on your precompiled SSH server binary. It's true there are cheaper checks (such as GCC's FORTIFY_SOURCE) that are less thorough/specialized that are often enabled by distros.

about 5 months ago

Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Sits Theory says it is possible (415 comments)

Any Turing complete language can mimic any other Turing complete language (but at a price) so if your language supports condition driven loops you effectively have GOTO and IF. However if we see GOTO as syntactic sugar (and thus an efficiency optimisation/control flow obfuscator) wouldn't the combination of continuations and exceptions get you what GOTO can achieve?

about 7 months ago

Are the Hard-to-Exploit Bugs In LZO Compression Algorithm Just Hype?

Sits If a tree falls in a forest... (65 comments)

Whether you consider this issue is hype depends on your answer to "if a tree falls in a forest and there's no one to observe it..." thought experiment.

The author of LZ4 has a summary with regards to LZ4 (both LZO and LZ4 are based on the LZ77 compression and both contained the same flaw) - that the issue has not been demonstrated as being exploitable in currently deployed programs due to their configuration (a rather angrier redacted original reply was originally posted). So at present this issue is severe but of low importance. If a way is found to exploit this problem on currently deployed popular programs without changing their configuration then this issue will also be of high importance but since this issue has now been patched hopefully newly deployed systems wouldn't be vulnerable.

about 7 months ago

Netflix Shutters Its Public API

Sits What will happen to Moreflicks? (59 comments)

Moreflicks lets you see what's available on multiple streaming services based on various "best of" lists (e.g. it's unlikely Netflix will ever tie in to the IMDB top 250 but Moreflicks does) and even has support for countries like the UK. It's sad to see an ecosystem like this being removed without replacement...

about 8 months ago

Mesa 10.2 Improves Linux's Open-Source Graphics Drivers

Sits Relevent unless you are using binary drivers (58 comments)

Unless your graphics driver provides a full 3D stack (userspace GL libraries down to kernel drivers) you will be using Mesa on Linux. You are probably thinking of Mesa as purely a software renderer whereas it is also used as a frontend to open source 3D drivers and uses DRI to provide access to the hardware's acceleration.

I've yet to see binary any drivers use Mesa.

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Should Every Programmer Read?

Sits Lists and links of top Programming Books (352 comments)

This is one of those questions that's going to keep being asked... Perhaps one day I'll be fast enough to get a first post on this that people actually read...

Link summary from last time:

General comments

  • A few people have volumes of Knuth's Art of Programming on their shelves (but it's harder to find people who have read all of them).
  • One of the consultants who taught at my University said that the Mythical Man Month and Peopleware were good. I've read these too and can also recommended them (although they are more about managing programmers rather than programming per se). The consultant also recommended Design Patterns (although he said not to read the book cover to cover but rather to just be aware of them so you could refer to them later).
  • I've heard the "Dragon Book" (Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools I think is the 2nd edition) being talked of favourably.
  • Many people seem to recommend reading Godel, Escher, Bach (I'd say it's about mathematical thinking)...

I've noticed which book answers tend to fall a bunch of categories:

  • Books that talk about software engineering/management/teams.
  • Books that talk about programming languages.
  • Books that talk about Computer Science.
  • Books that improve your mathematical thinking.
  • Books that programmers like but aren't programming/maths at all.

If you're going to ask someone "which book?" try limit the categories they should give you an answer for...

about 9 months ago

The Truth About OpenGL Driver Quality

Sits OpenGL drivers on other platforms (158 comments)

There's a comment at the bottom of the article by David Poole that links to a post talking about OpenGL driver quality on desktop Linux and mobile Linux. The summary from that blog post is:

  • Vendor N closed source desktop Windows/Linux - Excellent. Near perfect.
  • Vendor X open source desktop Linux - Good. Highly responsive to bug reports but updates get to users slowly.
  • Vendor I closed source desktop Windows - Good but lacking useful features.
  • Vendor A1 closed source desktop Windows/Linux - Mediocre. Unresponsive to bug reports.
  • Vendor A2 closed source mobile - Bad. Buggy, vendor knows there are issues but doesn't fix them, driver limits performance forcing others to implement workarounds.
  • Vendor Q closed source mobile - Bad. Buggy, vendor is unresponsive to bug reports.
  • Vendor P closed source mobile - Unknown. Driver does not publicly support high enough version of OpenGL ES.

about 9 months ago

The Truth About OpenGL Driver Quality

Sits OSX GPU drivers probably not written by Apple (158 comments)

NVIDIA definitely write their own OSX drivers. I'm pretty sure AMD/ATI and Intel write their own OSX drivers too but these days GPU drivers are usually delivered with operating system updates (in a similar way that you can get driver updates through Windows update). Given how squeezing out GPU hardware documentation for Linux has been tough I don't think NVIDIA/AMD would be keen to help someone else write drivers that unlocked full functionality...

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Preparing For Windows XP EOL?

Sits There HAVE been XP privilege escalations recently (423 comments)

It's not entirely clear what you mean when you say "root exploit" but one interpretation is an exploit that when run as a regular user gives you administrator/root permissions. There have definitely been recent XP privilege escalations exploits for XP recently (e.g. CVE-2013-5065 leverages a bug in NDProxy).

Perhaps you meant "remote exploit" but also last year there was CVE-2013-3175 malformed asynchronous RPC request so another machine can attack your XP machine over the network with no user intervention. See this table of 2013 Windows XP CVE entries for a list of what MS have been patching...

If you are no longer able to keep your OS regularly patched it's no longer safe and you are better off using something else for online activities. Save XP for those appliances that have to use it and can be stringently firewalled/quarantined.

about 10 months ago

Now On Video: GCHQ Destroying Laptop Full of Snowden Disclosures

Sits Electron microscopes not enough (237 comments)

The "Can you recover overwritten data?" question was answered a few years ago in the paper Overwriting Hard Drive Data: The Great Wiping Controversy. The conclusion was with an electron microscope you could get 1 bit back but the chance of recovering more than that is negligible (and that is in the new barely used drive scenario).

about a year ago

Google Ports Capsicum To Linux, and Other End-of-Year Capsicum News

Sits Re: Answered Capsicum questions (71 comments)

The last question was basically "Can I use Capsicum to create a program that in turn isolates other arbitrary programs in a meaningful way (e.g. in the style of sandboxie)"?

1 year,13 days

Google Ports Capsicum To Linux, and Other End-of-Year Capsicum News

Sits Re: Answered Capsicum questions (71 comments)

Hey TR, thanks for the comprehensive replies (to be honest I thought I'd asked so late no one would see them) - you elaborated on things that I did not glean from the presentation. Well done for splitting secomp and secomp-bpf up too. I have a few more questions:

  • Does Capsicum only work at the process level? I can't have a more privileged thread that is still uncontained (i.e. still able to perform a blocked syscall) while other threads are contained?
  • How do you envision codebases supporting Capsicum in a way that they leaves them still portable to platforms where Capsicum is not available? Is it going to be a case of #ifdefs all the way down?
  • Would it be possible to make a sandbox program that uses Capsicum to in turn sandbox another (Capsicum-unaware) program that it goes on to run or is it likely going to be too restrictive for the second program?

1 year,16 days

Google Ports Capsicum To Linux, and Other End-of-Year Capsicum News

Sits Looks interesting - I have a few questions (71 comments)

  • How does this compare to existing (coarse grained) Linux capabilities?
  • How does this compare to SELinux?
  • Does this complement things like Linux's seccomp?
  • What's the overhead compared to the above?
  • Will FreeBSD ship a policy for a ssh/sshd?

1 year,22 days



UK banks push Rapport security software

Sits Sits writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Sits (117492) writes "UK banks have started urging their customers to install the Rapport security software but unlike previous efforts Rapport installs kernel hooks to encrypt key strokes, thawt screengrabbers and send off monitoring information for some Windows and OSX web browsers. Should banks be pushing such software and are OS/browser vendors be doing more to prevent another antivirus/anti-spyware market being required?"

Sits Sits writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Sits writes "While talking about the Red Hat summit Chris Blizzard mentions how an ATI marketing spokesman was on stage. The spokesman said ATI knows it has a problem with open source and is committed to fixing it. Does this mean ATI will finally resolve alleged agpgart misappropriation, fast track the release of open source 2D drivers on its latest cards while releasing specifications for its mid-range cards or is ATI only concerned with fixes to its binary driver to maintain feature parity with competitors?"



Sits Sits writes  |  more than 13 years ago What happened to my first entry in my journal? It seems like /. has chomped it up...

Well today I continued work on trying to make updates to my site that bit easier. While it may not end up with the features and quality of something like Manilla it should hopefully make my life easier and encourage me to update my diary a bit more often.

Boy am I glad that I checked that Manilla link before posting this - Manilla.com was not the site I had in mind :)

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