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Top E-commerce Sites Fail To Protect Users From Stupid Passwords

andrewbaldwin Not only e-commerce sites (162 comments)

I went into my bank recently and got the hard sell about switching to internet banking.

This is something I've resisted, but I was told it was "quite safe" and "millions of people do it".

They had a so-called free cash-back offer on the debit card. I looked at the sign-up process and was told by the counter staff it needed a password of 6-8 characters - case insensitive and letters/numbers only.

For some reason they were surprised when I informed them that this was incredibly weak password scheme and that I wanted nothing to do with it.

Needless to say, I'm still refusing to sign up for any internet based banking and automated money transfers.

about 5 months ago
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Fake Pub Studies Drinking Habits

andrewbaldwin Re:What temperature? (118 comments)

It's because British beer [ie bitter, stout, ale] has some flavour.

Drinking liquids ice cold reduces your sense of taste so you don't realise it's just yellow water.

about 5 months ago
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UK Benefits System In Deeper Trouble?

andrewbaldwin Re:Really??? (266 comments)

"People should have to work....." many of them DO.

A large proportion (possibly the majority - I don't have the stats to hand -- of those claiming benefits are in work but in low paid jobs.

Someone on minimum wage (or just over) cannot afford to live in large parts of the country. I know of a head chef who works 60 - 70 hours a week yet has no prospect of affording to rent [let alone buy] a small flat where I live -- and that even without food, heating, lighting..... Before we get the "free market will fix this, go and live elsewhere" arguments, without people doing jobs such as cleaning, catering... society would collapse.

Effectively the benefits system is subsidising those employers who pay low wages. However this argument is drowned out in the "reckless, lazy wilfully unemployed" messages put out (especially by some newspapers who could give lessons in propaganda techniques).

about 7 months ago
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TorrentFreak Blocked By British ISP Sky's Porn Filter

andrewbaldwin Re:One answer (171 comments)

The politicians would probably not care.

Voter apathy is at an all time high in the UK. This can be read in many ways ('they are all the same', 'a pox on both your houses', 'they only care about getting re-elected and their cronies - not about us'...) but the net result of a lack of political party output would probably be welcomed by all sides:

  1. for the people at large, it's a pause from hearing someone spouting forth about how they'll promise a wonderful future [right up until 24 hours after the results are declared when promises spontaneously evaporate]
  2. for the politicians, less kept on public accessible records the better - they can then bury history and past broken promises [as the Tories did in taking their past web history off-line recently] - al less well informed populace is easier to bamboozle and less likely to think critically
  3. for the news media [who are pushing for this -- those most vocal are also those who delight in publishing the very stuff they'd like to see banned] it's less competition for eyeballs

If this seems cynical - it probably is: there is precious little to choose between the parties nowadays. After the expenses scandal (thankfully we don't have quite the scale of campaign contribution corruption over here [yet]) politicians in general are not highly regarded by many and a period of quiet while some other group gets bad publicity would be welcomed by them -- is this the hidden agenda behind this? ;-)

about 7 months ago
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CES: Laser Headlights Edge Closer To Real-World Highways

andrewbaldwin Re:Awesome (295 comments)

I know I'm never likely to do it but as a thought experiment...

Install a small photocell linked to a servo motor (via an Arduino/Raspberry Pi if you want to get into fine tuning).

Have the servo flip a mirror (nothing fancy, just plain glass -- could be coloured red for the rear facing one) which is sited by the windscreen and back window. Think of a SLR camera mechanism but larger.

Then when the antisocial idiot doesn't dip head lights (oncoming) or tailgates on full beam (behind) the mirror would flip up and give 'instant feedback' * allowing them to modify their behaviour.

The simpler implementation of a hinge on the dash/parcel shelf plus mirror plus piece of string to pull would be too obvious if stopped by police or your vehicle was examined after an accident.

* OK I know it's not truly instant, but close enough when considering human perception/reaction times

about 7 months ago
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NASA's Next Frontier: Growing Plants On the Moon

andrewbaldwin Re:Awesome (193 comments)

What about the phone sanitisers?

(http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Golgafrincham)

about 8 months ago
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Tesco To Use Face Detection Technology For In-Store Advertising

andrewbaldwin Re:sensationalism (212 comments)

There is a huge gap between being identified as "Joe Klovance" and "middle aged white male"... yes ... right up until they tie in the date/time on the video with the swiping of your loyalty and/or credit card at the till. And glasses, masks... won't be much help there.

Besides which, isn't it a bit presumptious, not to say patronising, to think that all people of a given age/gender/ethnicity will like a specific set of products? If we were that predictable why bother with adverts in the first place? -- just give the checkout staff an upsell cheatsheet.

about 9 months ago
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Microsoft Will Have To Rename SkyDrive

andrewbaldwin Shame the decision was made (274 comments)

Microsoft vs Murdoch

One of those court cases you'd like both to lose - and one where you don't mind the lawyers leeching off their funds.

Now if only it had dragged on longer we may have seen both sides suffering from, and distracted by, the case.

about a year ago
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Data Storage That Could Outlast the Human Race

andrewbaldwin Re:Ah, the scratch... (231 comments)

The points you raise are absolutely correct. When I first read about it [wish I could remember where], it was very much a Gedankenexperiment and was quoted in the form of a very long metal bar in deep space (so no oxidation, constant temperature...) with the sum of human knowledge in one scratch

Even so, as X becomes larger, the scratch gets closer and closer to the end, so that the loss or movement of individual atoms would significantly alter the value.

Actually measuring it, without introducing energy (and thus heat, and thus expansion and/or evaporation effects) is left as an exercise for the reader.

Knowing how to decode the bit string is yet another puzzle.

The transposition to rocks (and consequent introduction of further real-life error sources) was entirely my own fault ;-)

1 year,18 days
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Data Storage That Could Outlast the Human Race

andrewbaldwin Re:Storing bits and ways to read them (231 comments)

I cannot recall where I read about this approach so apologies to the originator for not granting credit where it is due.

A long piece of rock (or other material) can be used to encode a huge amount of data with just one mark.

You need a long flat rock and the means of measuring length very accurately. **

First, encode data as a string of bits.
Then take that enormous binary string and treat it as a really big number X and put the mark to divide the length of the rock into the ratio 1:X

The accuracy limits will be governed by the size of the rock, thermal and other causes for expansion/contraction and deformation and (depending on how accurately you make the cut / how much compression you want to achieve) quantum effects on the fine grained positioning.

Multiple marks on the same rock provide extra "layers" of recording.

Just imagine - the whole of Slashdot's debates reduced to a single scratch ;-)

** Actually you need a means of defining what you mean by length first - take into account surface irregularities... [cf lengths of coastlines - thanks Mandelbrot!!]

1 year,18 days
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Terrorist Murder In London Could Revive Snooper's Charter

andrewbaldwin Re:How about... (307 comments)

That only works if you have people who care about living. Some of these attacks are by those who seek to become 'martyrs'. Indeed reports stated that the attackers ran to the police armed response unit brandishing weapons alnd almost wanting to be shot.

I'm glad to live in a civilised society without guns and the risk of injuries from crossfire. At least here we don't have over 80 deaths per day from guns -- even scaling for relative population size the death toll is a high price to pay for "freedom" to carry devices with no use other than to inflict suffering and death.

about a year ago
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Google Gets Consumer Service Ultimatum From German Consumer Groups

andrewbaldwin Re:Anything that states it has to be free? (351 comments)

The annoying entitled freeloaders are simply asking for what they are entitled to under local laws.

If Google (or anyone else) doesn't like it they're free to stop doing business in that locality; it is their choice to weigh up the benefits and costs of operating there but if they do choose to do so then they must abide by local laws.

Are you saying to take into account the costs is not a valid thought process?

I suspect that a company as big and successful as Google is well aware of the costs of doing business and, as they are continuing to operate there, have assessed them as being worth bearing.

In a nutshell, if you work in country X you must obey the laws there - no matter how big or self important you see yourself; the cultural imperialism of your home country's attitudes to laws and business are quite frankly irrelevant. If I set up a business in the US deliberately flouting the laws (e.g. selling Cuban cigars) I'd expect to get some trouble from the law, even if my main offices were located in a separate country.

about a year ago
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Passthoughts, Not Passwords: Authentication Via Brainwaves

andrewbaldwin Re:Escalator to hell (104 comments)

It would be very difficult to hack a brainwave interface with a brain dead head.

perfect!
... keeps your system safe from managers :-)

about a year ago
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Google Doodle Celebrates Birthday of Douglas Adams

andrewbaldwin Re:Dirk Gently! Yeah! (104 comments)

There was a version of Dirk Gently made for BBC quite recently - followed up by a series 'inspired by' the books. As stand alone items they were (in my view) pretty good and worth watching, but not at all faithful to the original text. The radio drama series (on BBC Radio 4) was much closer to the originals.

As for Stainless Steel Rat -- totally agree and way overdue !! (Bill the Galactic Hero would be good as well)

about a year ago
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Reasons You're Not Getting Interviews; Plus Some Crazy Real Resume Mistakes

andrewbaldwin Re:University of Nix (246 comments)

I recall a story going round my employer in the early 90s that someone had turned up for an interview claiming all sorts of expertise and detailed knowledge of UN-Nine.

The HR interviewer was clearly intending to hire - fortunately the technical interview came afterwards.

It all sounded impressive until the penny dropped and it was clear they thought UNIX came after UNVIII

about a year and a half ago
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Researchers Mine Old News To Predict Future Events

andrewbaldwin Re:That's why we study history (or used to) (99 comments)

this baby boomer asks why do so few gen X and Ys show any interest in history?

...probably because there are few jobs where history is of direct relevance and practical usage.

If you're investing a considerable sum in money and precious years of your youth then getting a real payback is a valid target; not everyone is rich enough to be able to dedicate resources to indulge in "intellectual masturbation".

This isn't to decry history, or to deny that many find it interesting - just one potential explanation on the basis of pragmatic rationalism / utilitarianism.

about a year and a half ago
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DARPA Seeks To Secure Data With Electronics That Dissolve On Command

andrewbaldwin Re:That's all we need.. (163 comments)

Reminds me of a comment I heard a few years back to the effect that the "millennium bug" [remember that?] would make things MORE reliable as the calculation to find the end of warranty period would roll over and thus the device/package/unit wouldn't know when to start failing.

Back to the original topic, remote destruction isn't new - dissolving may be a new twist though.

about a year ago
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The Mathematics of the Lifespan of Species

andrewbaldwin Re:Relax (158 comments)

recalls my Dad's advice to me...

You'll die if you worry but you'll die if you don't - so why worry? enjoy yourself while you can

about a year and a half ago
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UK ISPs Respond To the Dangers of Using Carrier Grade NAT Instead of IPv6

andrewbaldwin Re:I can predict the future (165 comments)

Are Internet-users in the UK actually limited to one ISP per area?

I'm not sure, but if the UK is anything like the US, I wouldn't be surprised if customers had no choice in the end.

Actually the UK is very lucky in this regard. I use the word lucky as I seriously doubt it was ever planned this way - that would be too much to expect.

We are generally fortunate in having multiple ISPs all across the country. Apart from the 'big boys' (BT, Virgin, Sky, Talk Talk) there are a number of smaller ones - both independents and virtual ISPs reselling services provided by others [actually Virgin is Talk Talk underneath].

The big companies grab the lions share - mainly catering to the fit and forget "I don't want to understand the technology" user base.

I personally use a smaller supplier which gives me fast and reliable connections, a static IP (v4, v6 planned for this year), genuinely unlimited downloads at a price comparable with the big companies [once their headline grabbing first x months special deals wear off].

about a year and a half ago
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How Much Beef Is In Your Burger?

andrewbaldwin OK let's get the comments out of the way (709 comments)

"What do you put on your burger?" -- "A fiver each way at Aintree!"

Why do they use horse meat? to save mon-neigh!

So you got a burger - why the long face?

I opened the fridge to check the burgers -- and they're off ! (said in the voice of a racing commentator)

"These must be Viking burgers" -- "why?" --"because they look like a Norse" ...

What I found amazing is how quickly these spread after the news broke -- I'd heard the first two within 45 minutes of the radio news.

about a year and a half ago

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