Friday Squid Blogging: More Squids

This research paper shows that the number of squids, and the number of cephalopods in general, has been steadily increasing over the past 60 years:

Our analyses revealed that cephalopod abundance has increased over the last six decades, a result consistently replicated across three distinct life history groups: demersal, benthopelagic, and pelagic… This is remarkable given the enormous life-history diversity exhibited across these groups, which were represented in this study by 35 species/genera and six families. Demersal species, for instance, have low dispersal capacity (tens of km) and occupy shelf waters. Benthopelagic species also occupy shelf waters, but have moderate dispersal capacity (hundreds of km) largely facilitated by a paralarval phase. Pelagic species inhabit open oceanic waters and have high dispersal capacity (thousands of km) facilitated by both a paralarval phase and a mobile adult phase.

News articles.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

Posted on May 27, 2016 at 4:28 PM160 Comments


Vatos May 27, 2016 5:32 PM

Do people here think that there needs to be a change in US law so that smartphones have their vulnerabilities patched?

dead android May 27, 2016 5:41 PM

We need to make our own smartphone model, not patching sinking boat.

MarkH May 27, 2016 5:41 PM

Officials want to subjugate the entire Russian Internet article in Russian

According to several industry sources, the Ministry of Communications of the Russian Federation is preparing legislative amendments which would give the Russian government authority to comprehensively control the Russian internet.

The scope of control would include:

• all critical infrastructure of the Russian internet
• communication networks owned by legal entities and individuals
• traffic with foreign networks
• IP assignment, including government registration of the entity assigned each IP
• traffic monitoring

ianf May 27, 2016 6:19 PM

               this rise in cephalopod numbers is probably cyclic, recent El Niño churning up the waters etc. Intelligent critters that they undeniably are, they don’t yet seem to have gotten that they don’t stand a chance to rule the world unless and until they leave the drink and conquer the land. We may admire blue whales for their majestic grace, but they, too, ended up in an evolutionary cul-de-sac. Squid should know better than that, but do ever we see any signs of that? NOT… they seem content with being the happy campers of the Deep.

@ Vatos,
               compelling cellphone makers via legislation to patch up vulnerabilities in their products is a can of worms and a non-starter. Even were it to work, who would decide what is a (school-bus-sized) rear entry and what is a feature? In theory, acc. to economy laissez-fairians, the mythical “market” ought to weed out substandard products by the process of consumers’ attrition. In practice, however, shoddy schlock of one brand gets replaced by an equal or worse garbage of another. And there is no escape from this with less than total devotion to all the tech that one is supposed to be merely a consumer of, not a master over AND a slave to.

r May 27, 2016 6:20 PM

Three day weakened!

Who wants an AiO for 20$
Interdiction free… I do!

Is there a randomized touch screen decryptor for grub, linux-cryptsetp?

Tax Payer May 27, 2016 9:04 PM

Did you notice that, after an “internal review” having nothing to do with criticism from this blog, the irs is switching FATCA submissions to CBC mode.

Thoth May 28, 2016 3:51 AM

– Oracle’s psy-ops shills have crept into and taken over Ars-Technica.
– Trump knows very well how to make a fool of himself.
– BIPA law amendments to weaken biometric privacy is coming. Always shun any biometric authentication as much as possible as these stuff are highly invasive and doesn’t deliver the security and privacy it promises.
– FBI arrests security researcher… it seems life of a security researcher or anyone working in the security field is getting worse by the day.


Spooky May 28, 2016 5:30 AM

@Johnathan Wilson,

Indeed, it was nice to see that unpleasant business temporarily tabled; as you say, the supporters of this legislation will invariably return (and in greater numbers, ha). I do find myself worrying that post-election, we’ll end up seeing something far worse eventually shawshanking its way through the ol’ congressional balloon knot…


“…and there is no escape from this with less than total devotion to all the tech that one is supposed to be merely a consumer of, not a master over AND a slave to…”

I think the amount of devotion required is starting to rapidly exceed my own energy reserves; with the recent exponential uptick in Windows X infections, I’m starting to understand the ideological basis for Frank Herbert’s Butlerian Jihad…

ianf May 28, 2016 7:06 AM

OT: Finally, THE ANSWERS on Islamist threat/ Radical Islam that we’ve all been waiting for from no less an EXPERT on the above than drrrrrrrumrrrrrrroll: Tony Blair.

Turn to This Week’s World on the BBC World News cable channel today, Saturday @ 16:20 CET or GMT+0200 (Continental Europe); presumably concurrently with UK BBC1 @ 17:20 BST (16:20 GMT)

Repeats on Sunday 00:20 and 14:20 – both GMT+0200

Billed as:

    With much of the Middle East in violent conflict, This Week’s World explores whether radical Islamist ideology can be confronted by the power of argument. Former British Prime Minister and Middle East Peace Envoy Tony Blair speaks to Emily Maitlis about new ideas to face down so-called Islamic State. We’re joined by Muslim thinkers and former jihadis and report from Iraq on the consequences of Western policy and the rise of extremism.

Consider yourselves informed/ warned.

Clive Robinson May 28, 2016 7:50 AM

@ Thoth,

The Oracle -v- Google case has always been one of “being burnt by the devil -v- drowed by the deep blue sea”. That is it did notmatter which side won the result over all would be bad, thus the question of the lesser two evils arose yet again with the attempted balkanisation of software stacks.

You should note that ARS clearly say that the opinions in the Op-Ed were not their’s but that of a Legal Mouth Piece of the unvictorious plaintive Oracle. So there is a degree of sangfroid from her as she can see a likely internal political backlash in Oracle with potentialy her position at stake.

Oracle were upto a quite underhand trick, reminiscent of Microsoft’s attack on FOSS by encoraging SCO to falsely claim infringment by Linux against SCO’s version of Unix derived via Microsoft licencing from Xenix and AT&T’s divested Unix System’s Laboratory which had been bought by Novell and inturn divested to Ray Norder’s Caldera Systems.

As we now know for all MS’s claims of FOSS being “communist” “cancer” they have now to a certain extent embraced it. Thus the question of MS intentions arises, in the past they have “embraced the free and proprietaly extended it” to force market splitting (funniley against Sun’s Java).

Thus Oracle’s manovering with Java has backfired against Google, where as Sun succeeded against Microsoft. Which kind of ask’s question’s of Oracle’s legal staff’s competance…

The simple answer about the case is not only is the deciding line wavey on this issue, there is a pendulum of opinion swinging too and fro as well making the whole thing into a crap shoot. Which we have seen play out in other areas such as the shape of the Apple iPhone and many other features used by market heavy weights to manipulate the market in their favour when faced with more agile competition entrants.

Whilst I would not try to predict how this plays out, the odds are it will not become a black swan issue and will just play out with minor issues down the line. Issues that in all probability will actualy give more conservative behaviour, which in turn will improve the quality of work by making bounderies more distinct and thus less fragile. For example any one else remember Win3 MfC and the hidden calls “competative advantage” tricks, traps and pitfalls and the detrimental behaviour it had on programmers, by making the secretive and generaly bad news to their peers?

ianf May 28, 2016 9:10 AM

@ Ergo Sum: “You find unsecured patient data on the FTP server and notify the company owning the server. […] Your better option is to sell the data on the TOR network.

So essentially you propose to exploit the discovered breach of security for personal gain (never mind that it’s most assuredly illegal).

Ever thought of notifying the affected (named/ identifiable) patients – if in anonymous fashion, so they can take this up with the Health Management Organization that’s at fault? That HMO will hardly call FBI to raid their homes.

Or, if such a direct notification route is too bothersome to consider, how about writing it up in a few paras, and “dumping” the story onto some news-hungry media that always are on the prowl for local management malfeasance?

Ergo Sum May 28, 2016 9:13 AM

Oops, ninjad by Thoth, sorry about that…


– Trump knows very well how to make a fool of himself.

It’s not like electing the president, foolish or not, makes much of the difference in the US:

To those who have tried to relate theory to practice, capitalist democracy is neither capitalist nor democratic. Ironically, in the modern era it was Bill Clinton who used this paradox to (his own) best affect by joining politics with economics through ‘micro’ choice in the context of a fixed system of political economy. People are given a choice between capitalist products— Bank of America or Wells Fargo, Coke or Pepsi, and a choice between political products— Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump; Democrats or Republicans. This strategy serves to define the realm of choice in terms beneficial to the providers of these products as well as to give ‘democratic’ credence through the fact of choice, no matter how implausible it may be.


The only fools are the ones, who’ll actually vote for either of the candidates this November…

Ergo Sum May 28, 2016 9:27 AM


So essentially you propose to exploit the discovered breach of security for personal gain (never mind that it’s most assuredly illegal).

Based on the available news articles, was this really a security breach? Sounds more like a misconfiguration on the FTP server and/or the company’s software. Unauthorized access claim by the company doesn’t hold water in my view, when the system authorized the access to the data in question, seemingly for anyone.

And you are correct, two wrongs don’t make a right. The FBI had been wrong raiding the house and so was I suggesting to sell the data. Just my knee-jerk reaction…

Dan3264 May 28, 2016 10:26 AM

How well would Chua’s circuit work as a random number generator? It appears that it would be horribly biased, but according to wikipedia it never repeats. I assume that it would be helpful to stick in a few electric noise sources(possibly connected to the circuit through a high-valued resistor) to change the state over time.

albert May 28, 2016 11:24 AM

“…In April 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order 13694 declaring a national emergency to deal with the threat of hostile cyber activity against the United States….” – Steven Aftergood, FAS

“…“the President may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens. [However], Congress may modify, rescind, or render dormant such delegated emergency authority.”…” – Harold C. Relyea (CRS, at time of writing)


NOTE: The order is intended for activities performed by persons or groups -outside- the US.

. .. . .. — ….

The Head of Flinders Petrie May 28, 2016 11:54 AM

@ergo sum
RE Security research could result in an early morning wake call…

An idiot is sitting on the sidewalk tapping a rusty grenade with a hammer. The appropriate response is not to sit there “reasoning” with him, but to get as far away from him as quickly and as quietly as you can. If you stay, the BEST possible scenario is that you are blown to bits, thus at least relieving your blood-boiling stress at having to constantly deal with the terminally stupid products of our “education” system. If the grenade DOESN’T go off, and you stood there shouting at others to get to safety, you not only will NOT be hailed as a hero, you’ll be charged with “attempting to incite a panic”. (Not to mention being “in possession” of an explosive device — after all, you WERE standing on the VERY SAME sidewalk!) And don’t forget that you actually tried to TALK to the idiot so, hey, let’s pile on a “conspiracy” charge or two!

This poor well-intentioned bastard obviously forgot Barnum’s First Rule of Security: “Never smarten up a chump.”

Some Guy May 28, 2016 12:14 PM

…FBI raids security researcher home

If the data was unprotected, then the access was not authorized. It was provided on a public forum with no security restrictions.

Is there civil liability for filing a false police report? If so, then the dental software company should be saddled with all of the damages. If not, there should be.

Nick P May 28, 2016 1:09 PM

@ Ergo Sum

It’s why I tell people to only submit those anonymously following established practices in responsible disclosure. Has to be anonymous as there’s too much corruption in our system protecting incompetent corporations and punishing those whistleblowers who reveal their incompetence/corruption. The U.S. particularly is strongly against any form of whistleblower from corporate to government issues. So, one should either not do it at all, do it untraceably, or do it directly or via proxy in country that won’t extradite or recognize the crime.

r May 28, 2016 2:07 PM


The proxy recommendation should be clarified as not meaning merely a socks/HTTPS proxy in a non-extradition state but a partner (person-proxy) in such a venue.

And such data should have zero references to yourself a la confidential source/informant.

I hope that’s what you meant.

One’s proxy in all likelyhood probably shouldn’t even know who the discoverer/researcher is.

r May 28, 2016 2:10 PM

@Mr. Flinders,

Wow, no ‘good Samaritan’ laws where you live?

Thanks for pointing that line of thinking out.

Clive Robinson May 28, 2016 2:36 PM

@ Ergo Sum,

The only fools are the ones, who’ll actually vote for either of the candidates this November…

I’ve already mentioned Douglas Adams once today, I might as well go for a double up…

Look up what Ford Prefect told Arthur dent about “the wrong lizard”, it might make you smile.

Clive Robinson May 28, 2016 4:05 PM

@ Dan3264,

How well would Chua’s circuit work as a random number generator?

Depends on your definition of “random”. As for “according to wikipedia it never repeates” That is probably not true again depending on what they mean by “never” and “repeats”.

When you measure the voltage at any point in a circuit you have to remember that your instrument has resolution limits and all “real” circuit components contain a resistive component that generates noise. The result is you end up not with an infinitely variable vector but a granular one. Thus the vector is effectivly bound to one of a limited number of amplitudes at any point in direction, and the difference between the previous current and next measurments are likewise granular and limited in the rate of change due to the maximum frequency of the effective oscillator. But even at no change of the vector there will be a noise component added to the oscilator output. In theory –but not of necessity practice– this noise signal will be uncorrelated to the oscilator signal as it’s thermal noise (KTBR noise). However the negative resistance in the circuit that keeps it oscillating is based on semiconductors and these have the effect of being very susceptable to the thermal noise and thus the output signal is not the addition of the two signals but their multiple, which means the oscillator frequency gets changed by the noise in the form of phase advancing and retarding.

The upshot of all this is in practice it does not matter if the circuit does produce a chaotic oscillator with infinitely variable output or not, the multiplication by the KTBR noise will ensure it is. The thing is unlike an ordinary oscillator that tends to either stability or rail smashing with the noise having a very minor effect (except at startup). A chaotic oscillator sufferes from “the butterfly’s wings issue” in that it’s output is very sensitive to the input so it is very sensitive to the KTBR noise.

Which brings us back to the “what you mean by random” issue. The output from the circuit is quite predictable over a short period of time (as are most attractors or chaotic circuits). It’s only after several cycles that it’s sensitivity to initial conditions etc makes it difficult to predict it’s output.

Unfortunately it’s this sensitivity that will enable it to lock to very small signals, thus removing the bulk of what you would consider random… So from that point of view it’s not going to make a very good random source by most definitions.

But there is another issue, “synchronicity”. Put simply if you start two similar pendulums they tend to not swing at their natural frequencies but fall into lockstep at a frequency inbetween. It is very likely that if you built two such circuits and ran them with a common ground or powersupply or within each others effective coupling fields that they would exhibit some form of correlation at their outputs.

I hope that gives you some things to consider before building / relying on such circuits.

Dan3264 May 28, 2016 5:00 PM

@Nick P,
I do not plan on building anything anytime soon. I like overthinking things without any plan of action(It’s no fun to only think about practical things). Thank you for your detailed explanation of why it is a bad idea to use it(at least without including some sort of randomness extractor after the circuit). If I ever actually do something I will keep that in mind.

Grauhut May 28, 2016 5:18 PM

@Thoth: “FBI arrests security researcher…”

Security researchers are whistleblowers = cyber terrorists… 🙂

@nick, r: Use a fresh android vm and a burner usb wifi stick passed to it on your notebook in a coffeeshop with wifi, sideload the data to it, create a burner gmail account on it there (easyest on android), push the stuff to the corporate marketing department (the PR geeks that would have to do the crisis PR job), the FTC and cc the local sheriffs office at the corp headquarters address. Give the vm the kiss of ddeath and throw away the wifi stick (dont try to play with mac addrs, if something goes wrong youd have to throw away the notebook :). Job done. 100%. The PR guys hate crisis work, the sheriff hates the feds (if your lucky) and the FTC is used as some kind of afterburner for the corps c’s. And some poor admin has to eat it then! 🙂

Grauhut May 28, 2016 6:51 PM

Hmmm, btw ot @Bruce: If John the jungle runner can, why not Bruce?

Bruce for Prez would make the USA not just great, you could make it awsome!

And i am quite sure many of us here know some /btards that could bring you into the mainstream media… Even twice, the second time would be them interviewing you how your grassroot fans managed to do that! 🙂

Maybe lizards can (pay others to) hack voting machines, a Bruce meme cult could (and would) hack this planet for you… For the lulz.

Dan3264 May 28, 2016 8:00 PM

I personally would want someone like Edward Snowden to be President. I know that is unrealistic considering that the government wants to arrest him, but I am sure that there are at least a handful of other people who would clash with the NSA and FBI in a big way (I am too lazy to look up the names of the other whistleblowers at the moment). Whistleblowers would be a good choice for this because it would be obvious to the public that there would be extreme conflict between them and the more shady parts of the U.S. Government. That would probably be enough to get the support of some of the approximately 40% of the eligible voters who don’t vote(see the comment by “Ergo Sum” for details).

Grauhut May 28, 2016 8:31 PM

@Dan3264: “Proditionem amo, sed proditores non laudo.” (Gaius Iulius Caesar)

Würde nicht funktionieren.

Grauhut May 28, 2016 8:42 PM

Sorry, subconscious language mix up. I am hacking a little on a firewall in parallel. 🙂

Würde nicht funktionieren = Wouldn’t work

r May 28, 2016 8:48 PM


Actually, it’s funny you should mention an Android vm because [redacted] and [redacted]… But yeah, not what I’d considered using it for but what the hell… You’re right about that aspect of that being a work around.


ianf May 28, 2016 8:53 PM

Dan3264would want someone like Edward Snowden to be President

Assassinated the first day on the campaign trail by a Patriotic American to the applause of suddenly ecstatic Silent Majority.

r May 28, 2016 8:56 PM


While I’m flattered you’d mention both Nick P. and myself in the same sentence… He is waaaay out of my league.

r May 28, 2016 9:14 PM


Voting for snowden would be taking a romantic view on yet another candidate we know relatively little about. My opinion? We need ‘no confidence’ votes across the board: Senate, Congress and the Executive branch.

Dan3264 May 28, 2016 9:26 PM

@grauhut, @ianf,
What I suggested is 100% wishful thinking. It certainly would not work(in more ways than one). I suppose It is a bad idea to praise the traitors. It creates the wrong incentives(thank you google translate. I couldn’t have understood that without you).

rrrrrrr May 28, 2016 9:33 PM

@Nick P.

Oh! I almost forgot, I wanted to ask you about the proper channels of anonymously reporting private and medical data leaks…

Is the BBB a good candidate of do you have another idea as per responsibility?

chris l May 28, 2016 9:34 PM

Found this Reuters article on the Apple/FBI showdown linked on another forum.

Apparently the FBI quietly admitted that there was nothing useful on the phone. The press ignored that part.

The quote from about halfway down the article is:
“The court showdown ended with a whimper when the FBI said it had found a way to get into the phone, and subsequently conceded privately it had found nothing of value.”

V May 28, 2016 10:07 PM

@Dan3264, @r

Ed Snowden can’t be elected president this November; the Constitution says he’s too young. Feel free to write him in next time around… assuming we are still having something so quaint as ‘elections’ in 4 years.

ianf May 28, 2016 10:17 PM

@ Chris I: [the FBI] “subsequently conceded privately it had found nothing of value

If you say so. Maybe we should call this very moment The Birth of Privately Relayed Governmental Edicts, communicated on a need-to-concede basis.

@ Dan3264 “bad idea to praise the traitors

Being called a traitor by some is not the same as being a traitor. Exactly whom did Edward Snowden betray when he disclosed the illegal doings of his own government against the very constituency that called it into being (and theoretically could recall it)?

tyr May 29, 2016 2:29 AM

@ianf et al,

How about putting Joan Baez on the ticket with Ed
Snowden ? I’m sure the nanny state lovers would
be thrilled by her prison reform ideas (tear them
all down). We’ve had far too many lockstep nitwits
in politics let’s try a few radical ideas for a
change. The only one who has made any sense in a
long time is Larry Lessig and because what he has
to say makes sense he has no charismatic plan to
fence and bomb and rob which would get votes.

Clive Robinson May 29, 2016 2:51 AM

@ Grauht,

Sorry, subconscious language mix up. I am hacking a little on a firewall in parallel.

You may be aware that there is a problem with spotting deep cover longterm infiltrators from other countries.

Well a Russian KGB Colonel had a theory that there was a way with women, he believed –rightly or wrongly– that the process of giving birth would cause a woman to scream out in her first language at puberty.

It’s apparently the reason why the CCCP trained some such “illegals” from childhood to speak only the language of the country they were destined for, right down to being fed recordings of regional accents (often Canadian) to “get the twang”.

Clive Robinson May 29, 2016 4:17 AM

A Primer on Internet Structure

A nice little primer on the hidden “in the physical layer” structure of the internet,

Importantly from a High Level / State surveillance perspective it shows where the “physical” choke points are where the likes of the FiveEyes+ etc add their data taps. And consiquently why the likes of TOR do not work as well as people think they should.

It also shows you where some nations have probably “mined” cables, such they can easily cut them in times of conflict (see what attacking the South China Seas, Western English Channel and West US seaboard nodes would effect).

Who? May 29, 2016 6:03 AM

@ Vatos

Do people here think that there needs to be a change in US law so that smartphones have their vulnerabilities patched?

Sure. Not only a change in U.S. law so smartphones[*] have their vulnerabilities patched but a change in law to have all vulnerabilities patched. I trust on operating systems like FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD, they are doing a fine job. Even if OpenBSD only patches the two more recent releases and -current, anyone can easily upgrade. We have a choice and, hopefully, operating systems that will allow us to get our systems up to date.

This change in law is critical for parts that are not under our control, like firmware. It is sad to see that, let us say, the ThinkPad X201 AMT is vulnerable to POODLE and will never be fixed because it is an old computer.

A lot of pre-Sandy Bridge computers manufactured between 1997 and 2010 are vulnerable to the memory sinkhole design flaw and that this bug will not be fixed even when most of these computers have upgradeable processor microcode.

Not to say Google’s Nexus 7 (model from 2012) that is vulnerable to stagefright, and will be never fixed, because this vulnerability (possibly the greatest vulnerability in Android history) was announced two weeks after ending support for this device. Even Microsoft published a fix to a zero-day exploit for Windows XP a month after officially finishing support to this operating system!

I am not asking for perpetual support to firmware, but at least security fixed should be backported on a reasonable amount of time. Anyone can do a choice about the operating system his computer runs, however we usually do not have a choice about firmware our devices run.

[*] I agree, however, with “dead android” and ianf. Perhaps we need no patches for Android/iOS/Windows Phone but new, security targeted, operating systems for phones. On the other hand, who wants a secure operating system for a device whose communication protocols and dependency on carriers infrastructure are inherently unsecure?

Clive Robinson May 29, 2016 6:21 AM

@ Who?,

This change in law is critical for parts that are not under our control, like firmware.

In Europe and other parts of the world there is already legislation that could be used to do this.

Take a close look at the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directives. There are parts of it consumer electronics manufacturers (especially phones) are either ignoring or quite deliberatly avoiding. It would only take one well aimed court case to bring the mobile phone market to a massive grinding halt, followed by a significant re-evaluation and re-orientation. It’s the sort of shake up everyone –except a tiny few technologists- does not want to happen, thus their fingers are crossed and they look in other directions.

Who? May 29, 2016 6:41 AM

@ Clive Robinson

I am european citizen, so I would be glad seeing this legislation being applied.

However I do not trust at all on our courts. Look at privacy violations against european citizens by Google. Our courts are nearly apologizing Google each time this serious issue is managed in the European Union. It happened quite a few times in the last years. European citizens are not the owners of their own personal information, do not own their privacy that has been sell for nothing to U.S. based corporations, and Google knows it. Google not only denies our right to remove this information from its servers (only removing it from the European ones) and even makes an announcement to the publishers (let us say, a newspaper) so information can be easily indexed again.

I fear that TTIP will finally break any opportunity to do the right thing.

The only choice is enabling a law on the country where the manufacturer resides to make fixing software a requirement.

U.S. based corporations sniff at constitutional rights of people not living in the United States, as the U.S. government itself does. Sadly, the only way to get this fixed is through U.S. laws.

Only if U.S. government understands that a law like this one will be useful to fix their own equipment too…

Grauhut May 29, 2016 9:56 AM

@Clive: “And consiquently why the likes of TOR do not work as well as people think they should.”

Its even stranger, at least here in Germany.

Here in Germany things become really funny if you compare the thought to be known physical structure of the internet to the structure of the TOR network! They simply dont match. 🙂

Have a look at this screenshot from Torflow (

The undisputed TOR network central in Germany is located between Marburg and Kassel in the middle of rural mountain nowhere, if one trusts in Torflow data. To be exact, here: (Google Maps)

The only super dark fiber i could imagine to exist in that area would be in Frankenberg (Eder). 😉

JonKnowsNothing May 29, 2016 10:14 AM

Reported on

Less that 10% of the BND German spy agency selectors are used to target terrorist/activities. The rest is economic espionage.

… a presentation from Konstantin von Notz, one of the Bundestag members who is investigating Germany’s SIGINT spying in the wake of the Snowden leaks.

He made a comment that was really telling. They asked the BND (their NSA) to reveal how many of the selectors being targeted are terrorist targets. It’s less than 10% of the selectors.

Tatütata May 29, 2016 10:23 AM

Even Microsoft published a fix to a zero-day exploit for Windows XP a month after officially finishing support to this operating system!

How about releasing source code for no-longer supported OSes?

From a user perspective, XP is a rather decent OS, especially when you compare it to the MS latest offerings. I’m sure there would a few people ready to fix and improve an orphaned system.

I know, the concept sounds [and probably is] impractical and/or undesirable, but then there is a community working with woolly mammoths such as MVS running in emulators.

[BTW, I’m writing on an old XP laptop]

Gerard van Vooren May 29, 2016 10:40 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing

“Less that 10% of the BND German spy agency selectors are used to target terrorist/activities.”

Good! At least the BND has got their priorities straight.

“The rest is economic espionage.”

Those are your words. There is so much more to spy. For instance real national security threats. But … you are probably right.

r May 29, 2016 10:48 AM


On the topic of releasing vacated projects/os’s as open source I am with you for educational institutions.

Other reasonings I’m uncertain of, but for educational reasons I believe less money should be wasted on the cadence of upgrade upgrade upgrade than the teachers… The books… Or the students.

It’s insane how much money is blown on things that two years from now will be deprecated, if that isn’t an argument against closed source environments I don’t know what is.

Who? May 29, 2016 10:58 AM

@ Grauhut

Nine hundred sixteen Tor relays at a single location in Germany? It must be a joke. The Tor network may be slightly compromised. 🙂

Grauhut May 29, 2016 11:24 AM

@Who?: Great stuff, isn’t it? 🙂

Even if those 916 relays were a geoip database problem, it would mean they all run on non-locatable IP addresses. I know the free versions of some geoip dbs quite well, that rate seems much too high, if it were errors.

XP May 29, 2016 12:05 PM


I’m sure there would a few people ready to fix and improve an orphaned system.

More than a few. People are still updating Amigas and making new NES games, after all. If there are enough coders in the world to keep niche retro stuff like that alive, then finding enough people to maintain a widely-used OS like XP should be no problem. In fact, I bet they would do a better job than Microsoft ever did.

Nonce only once May 29, 2016 12:18 PM

The gist of it is that a) too many people reuse nonces, and b) pseudo-random nonces can be forced to repeat themselves under some circumstances, given enough trials. My question, then, is what is the correct generation method for a nonce if pseudo-randomness is insufficient? Combine randomness with a timestamp? Wikipedia’s nonce article mentions a need to synchronize the clock across an organization to make this work. Can someone clarify this?

Clive Robinson May 29, 2016 12:56 PM

@ Grahut,

Marbugh, has a rather interesting University, the oldest in the Western World.

Whilst it is well known for science, it also has a strong “social sciences” repitation as well. Less well known is it’s closely affiliated maths and computer science departments. It also has a curious political dept involved with “middle east” studies.

Could be total coincidence, but then again not. I suspect that quite a few comp sci bods see “easy money” for communications research that is discrete to the point of secret. Especially when it comes to “well healed” government agencies.

As we now know in the US the FBI amongst others were quite happy to throw several million USD at Uni research that was kept oh so discrete…

Nick P May 29, 2016 1:40 PM

@ Clive

That was actually one of the best, least-biased analyses I’ve seen of both Left and Right ideas on privilege plus their history. That was great! The reference to story with rich living in paradise for disease treament while crazy stuff happens all around them is apparently a timeless one. It applies to most wealthy, from Wall St to Silicon Valley. Just in different ways.

The one thing I disagree with is the conclusion where he shapes it as a battle between elites and wage class with both sides knowing everything is about to end or something. That’s unsupported. Instead, from my vantage point in America, it looks like a variation of the same model where various elites put on a show to let people think they’re being represented. Hillary is showing value to both voters and sponsors. Trump is doing the same. Sanders is doing the same. Their election isn’t likely to change trends author describes that are created by legislators and businesses. Those types of people will continue to get elected, hired, whatever to do what benefits them. The media, whose role is critical, continues to focus each demographic on its assigned opponents while ignoring the key issues that would change our system. I listed a few examples here.

Note: I also wonder if it was my Tupac comment on HN that inspired you to share this one. Interesting coincidence. 😉

@ r

“The proxy recommendation should be clarified as not meaning merely a socks/HTTPS proxy in a non-extradition state but a partner (person-proxy) in such a venue.”

Ideally but you have to get information to them. So, there needs to be covert communication mechanism to do that. A strong cryptosystem that poses as vanilla HTTPS to a site plenty of people connect to is best way to blend in. Alternatively, you use Tor, wifi hotspots outside camera range, meteor burst for important data pieces, or even postal system with magazines inside surrounding storage device. Just important that there’s no traceability to you while data is moving.

“Oh! I almost forgot, I wanted to ask you about the proper channels of anonymously reporting private and medical data leaks…”

I’ve been away from that topic for too long to be helpful. I’d say just make sure whoever you leak to doesn’t work for an organization that has conflict of interest that would lead to censorship. They need to have done similar exposes in the past. It can help to use foreign outlets if the issue is local where the foreign outlet publishes it followed by locals forced to report on it. The best I can do is give you this nice write-up by The Intercept on proper leaking. Others here might have saved other good write-ups they can post.

@ Grauhut

Sounds nice but three jumped out at me.

  1. Use Android VM. That’s a surveillance platform, although hardening guides exist, which is targeted by blackhats and governments all over. What are your specific reasons for recommending it instead of a disposable netbook or iPhone on wifi?
  2. “the FTC and cc the local sheriffs office at the corp headquarters address.” In the U.S., there’s strong cooperation by many local sherifs with the federal government in things like fusion centers. They also fight for hand-me-downs in form of money and equipment. One can’t rely on non-cooperation.
  3. “dont try to play with mac addrs” Do play with mac addrs. Specifically, sniff out what MAC addrs are in use in the area you use for WiFi connections. Make a list of them. Then, whenever you show up, use a mac addrs from the list that isn’t currently in use. If any mac logging happens, there will be some confusion as to who to target later. This can clue you into people on your trail as well given folks start acting weird after LEO’s harass them.

@ Dan3264

re FPGA’s

“I do not plan on building anything anytime soon. I like overthinking things without any plan of action(It’s no fun to only think about practical things). Thank you for your detailed explanation of why it is a bad idea to use it(at least without including some sort of randomness extractor after the circuit). If I ever actually do something I will keep that in mind.”

Lol. Alright, alright. I’m not saying your scheme of using FPGA’s has no benefit. FPGA’s and obfuscations are among my short-term solutions until the ASIC’s come out. I’m just saying you have to remember that chip-level subversion can hit you hard regardless. You’re lowering risk of an unquantifiable risk. Meaning you’ll have to come up with some mitigation that assumes your chips will be hit. A transactional approach with multiple implementations from different countries/companies with verifiable, voter logic is Clive and I’s common approach. Not sure how I’m going to make that responsive on FPGA’s haha.

re Snowden for President

Terrible idea, homie. Let me tell you why, fan or opponent, that Snowden should never run a country. Here’s a few.

  1. He doesn’t understand most Americans. Number 1 skill candidates have is knowing people and how they’ll react to things. Helps them manage them plus get them to march in one direction. Plus gets the votes despite everyone disagreeing with stuff. Also, side effect, they use media to their advantage to make stuff happen. Snowden thought leaking all domestic and foreign secrets he had would result in worldwide coverage, including U.S. media, that would lead to Americans changing everything. He obviously lived in an echo chamber that had no clue about what the right-wingers and some moderates thought about things. He also didn’t understand the media’s goals or responses to such things whereas I clearly predicted what would happen. You can bet his Presidential run would similarly be ineffective.
  2. Building on 1, he has no feedback loop or willingness to adjust strategy to changing conditions on battlefield of minds. The Oliver interview shocked even me when Snowden said he thought everyone was talking about his leaks, debating surveillance states, and fighting with government for changes. Whereas, over here, nobody talks about that stuff or even cares outside a tiny segment of people. What the hell was he reading? Any politican or even business executive needs to be reading both friends and opponents’ statements… studying each… with a clear view of how successful or ineffective results they’re getting from any given thing. Snowden doesn’t have that despite it being really easy to get: read a few news papers with diametrically-opposite opinions. Shows he either has no access to Internet or is unwilling to study opponents. Bad sign.

  3. He’s an idealist. Successful Presidents have to be pragmatists. They have to carefully consider effects of what they’re going to do. At the least, they have to be sure they’ll get away wit hit. At other end, they might have to craft strategy that has compromises that appeal to most parties at least a little. True in Congress especially. Snowden is more like Ron Paul: so totally committed to his pure ideology that a lack of compromise potential will keep him out of White House and with small effect in Congress. All this especially becomes more obvious if we thought of how Snowden might approach international treaty negotiations for globalization issues. He’d cringe every second as no approach would be acceptable to him plus not devastate whole countries or sectors of our economy.

So, what could he be good for? Well, sys admin obviously. I’d consider him for an analyst in an organization like GAO. That he’ll leak everything means he can’t be trusted for job like holding military-industrial complex accountable. So, GAO might not even be good. I’d put his ass on something like the Tor project or NIST cryptographic/IT standards where he doesn’t have access to national secrets but idealistic nature could protect civil liberties and American businesses. Foreign, too, given those both benefit foreign businesses and citizens when done right. That’s my take.

Nick P May 29, 2016 1:46 PM

@ Tatutata

You mean the Hercules emulator for IBM mainframes? It’s apparently pretty good given one business got shutdown by IBM’s legal team for spinning it into a product that replaced mainframes with PC’s. Far as going through trouble, I think retro B5500 takes the prize for running a Burroughs mainframe in a browser. Lol…

Grauhut May 29, 2016 2:25 PM

@Nick: “Use Android VM. That’s a surveillance platform … instead of a disposable netbook or iPhone on wifi?”

A one time android vm is great for this kind of job just because its an trusted surveillance platform! 🙂

  • A lot cheaper than burner phones / notebooks

  • You can open a fresh google account with it without being asked for other credentials on first use

  • The resulting email account is trusted by mail server operators

  • If there is a surveillance cam in the coffee shop, fine, you are using a notebook, not a phone (-> use an android arm kvm, have a local document with fitting timestamp metadata on the host os)

  • You can dispose it properly (secure erase the vm first and then the whole drive, put a prepared windows image on it, you should always have some kind of TSA safe border crossing image for your notebook anyway)

  • Even if someone checks your notebook, the mac address does not match to what the android vm and the access point saw (throw away that passtru 5 bucks china crap usb wifi stick asap;)

Clive Robinson May 29, 2016 2:47 PM

@ Nonce only once,

My question, then, is what is the correct generation method for a nonce if pseudo-randomness is insufficient?

There is no “correct generation method” as they all have failings one way or another.

The solution is to find a method that best meets your requirments.

There is nothing particularly wrong with pseudo-randomness providing you issolate it sufficiently such that it is for all practical purposes non determanistic and unique.

A simple way to do this is with a weak PRBG behind a strong crypto algorithm. In fact you can replace the PRBG with a counter which gives you the counter mode for a block cipher such as AES-CTR.

However you have to excercise care, because you have moved the problem “up the chain” to keeping two secret numbers, the AES key and the current value of the counter. Importantly not only has the counter to be incremented for every nonce generated, it must not get reset back to an old value across a reset / power fail / etc / etc.

Another perhaps easier method is on reset increment the key value and immediately save it to disk, then randomly select a start value for the counter. However this does not guarentee that all nonces will be unique.

Other systems use the idea of taking the current supposadly unique time and adding it to a secret value and then encrypting the result. Whilst this does remove the requirment for having to update the storage of the secret value and key it does have other disadvantages in that “time moves slowly” for large communications networks where you might have a need for hundreds of thousands or tens of millions of nonces a second.

True random number generators are problematic in that you can not guarentee “uniquness” in their output because they realy are “non determanistic” as well as glacialy slow in most cases when compared to CS-DRNGs. Thus you get into the problem of either taking a risk or storing each nonce in a DB and then checking each new number against it.

Thus you are probably best to use a CS-DRNG such as AES-CTR or other crypto stream generator and putting the required effort into securing both the AES key and current counter value.

The problem with TLS is that it uses AES-GCM which is like AES-CTR in effect a stream cipher, thus the uniquness of the IV in the counter is very important especially if shorter tags are used (see appx C in NIST doc). There are known attacks against GCM even though it is NIST approved, Ferguson and Saarinen described how an attacker can perform optimal attacks against GCM authentication, and Saarinen went on to describe a series of “weak keys” the description of which highlight the inner workings / failings of GCM.

Clive Robinson May 29, 2016 4:26 PM

@ Nick P,

The one thing I disagree with is the conclusion where he shapes it as a battle between elites and wage class with both sides knowing everything is about to end or something.

His point in this area is that there are four basic classes,

1, Those without assets or work income.
2, Wage slaves / surfs.
3, Salaried rent seekers.
4, Asset (land) wealthy investors.

And that we are beyond a resource tipping point and have no sensible stratagem to deal with it currently (and head in sand bum in air is not a helpful posture).

He has written several books on the “peek foissil fuel” issue and has the quite reasonable view that like Nero US politico’s are fiddling whilst US society burns non renewable resources at an ever increasing rate.

Thus in the near future the energy that is the real driver behind the economy (remember my past comments about energy as currancy/wealth) will become to scarce thus expensive and thus the economy will fold back and society with it.

Thus the US and other Western Empires heavily dependent on cheap energy will suffer badly, and in many respects collapse in on it’s self (we have seen a tiny taste of this with the likes of Greece and the Euro Zone collapse).

History shows that what will follow will not be good, think 1930’s Europe or much earlier French Revolution followed by Napoleon.

Without cheap/plentiful energy Western especialy US life styles will not be possible and it will take only a generation or three to effectively slide back into feudalism of one sort or another depending on who “owns” what assets, and what others decide to do about it.

Thus there are several posabilities,

1, Colapse of Western society.
2, Mass reduction of energy usage.
3, Mass reduction of mankind.
4, Mankind finds new energy resources.

If mankind remains earth bound option four is not realisticaly going to happen. Currently mankind appears to be uninterested in reducing energy usage, especially in the West. Thus the collapse of Western Society appears likely. Which will as history shows with the likes of “water wars” end up with option three the reduction of mankind.

The west is particularly vulnerable to this because of a high population density compared to natural resources. Our western cities only work because energy brings in food water etc from afar, and takes out the garbage and sewage. Thus with lack of land the ability to grow enough food is at best a remote possibility. Worse most cities are designed on the principle of powered transportation thus shops in most places are not a short walk away as they were pre WWII.

Thus as I’ve noted a few times befor mankind needs to get out of the earths gravity well and exploit space whilst we still have the spare resources to do so. It might not have the sexiness of visiting Mars but getting up and running in near earth orbit and the moon are not something we can avoid doing if mankind wishes to expand or stay the same size. Rather than the otherwise inevitable and catastrophicaly colapse back to late 18th Century numbers and existance.

All the “Green Initiatives” are either fraud or delusional, we are consuming something like four times the amount of energy that gets to the earths surface, that can not go on, the maths will not alow it nor will physics, irrespective of what any political numpty might say otherwise…

Dan3264 May 29, 2016 4:34 PM

@Nick P,
Sorry, I meant to address that comment to Clive Robinson. I guess I wasn’t paying attention to who had replied to me.

CarpetCat May 29, 2016 5:12 PM

@Clive Robinson,

Rather than the otherwise inevitable and catastrophicaly colapse back to late 18th Century numbers and existance

Ballpark it for me, what are we talking about? An immediate reduction of people of roughly 5 billion, just to start? This brings us back to roughly 1975 numbers.

I’ve read recently, and in main stream sources sadly, that we may have hit peak oil- just like the so called loonies said. Now I wonder, especially with posts like yours, if the second half of what the peak oil crazys was saying was true as well: Namely, we’re doomed.

Seeing what was called crazy repeated in respectable print, almost down to the day/year, coupled with the commentary of those I respect here, and I’m afraid I’ve had quite the shock. A few economics experts are talking about transitioning away from an economy of oil, predicted 2020-2025 for the end of oil.

With that timeline, I don’t think we’re leaving planet Earth, and I don’t think there’s anything that can be done. Assuming everyone is correct that is.

I don’t know what’s more upsetting. The fact that we’re all gonna die, or the fact that some secret society of oligarchs will try to ‘control’ the collapse of western civilization. Only one way to tell, we’ll either run out of food one day, or see nukes/global virus first…

Dirk Praet May 29, 2016 7:25 PM

@ Clive

Well a Russian KGB Colonel had a theory that there was a way with women, he believed –rightly or wrongly– that the process of giving birth would cause a woman to scream out in her first language at puberty.

Probably a fan of Herodotus. In Histories 2.2, he describes an experiment by pharaoh Psamtik I to establish the world’s original language. Which turned out to be Phrygian.

3. Mass reduction of mankind.

I take it you have already watched episode 6 of X-Files Season 10? The Cigarette Smoking Man is way ahead of you 😎

@ Anon10

Whatever money you might save switching to a Linux variant, a company or government would probably lose to increased tech support costs while trying to retrain their non-tech savvy user base to a new OS.

Not really. Switching from XP/Vista/Windows7 to a contemporary Windows-themed Gnome/KDE desktop for the average user is probably less of a change than a transition to Windows 8 or 10. The real issue is in retraining technical staff and porting/emulating specific applications for which no native Linux versions are available.

Leon Wolfeson May 29, 2016 8:41 PM

@Thoth – Oh come now, that’s hyperbolic about Ars – as Clive said it’s an opinion piece they’ve solicited, that’s all. Their own coverage of the trial has been solidly pro-Google.

(The writers I considered a problem at Ars have, thankfully, moved on)

What bothers me, frankly, is Florian Muller’s biased coverage (FOSSPatents), as he keeps saying he’s out of the legal game and making apps, but honestly he’s writing like an in-house Oracle writer, and even beyond…

Nonce only once May 29, 2016 9:24 PM


Thank you for illuminating nonce practices for me. I must say I really enjoy reading your contributions to this site.


I doubt a secret cabal would survive any truly apocalyptic turn of events. I imagine the pressures of power and fear would cause reality to resemble a Game of Thrones episode more so than any illuminati-style conspiracy.

r May 29, 2016 9:51 PM


We’re not all going to die. That’s just your food insecurity and consumerism talking.

It’s almost about the locust and the ant, which one are you grasshopper?

Clive Robinson May 29, 2016 11:22 PM

@ CarpetCat,

Ballpark it for me, what are we talking about? An immediate reduction of people of roughly 5 billion, just to start? This brings us back to roughly 1975 numbers.

No it’s more complicated than world population alone, as some countries will actually improve, whilst Wstern WASP type nations will suffer.

The first UK census in 1801 showed thr population of the UK as ~10.5million, the current prediction is a little under 6times that, with net migration actually increasing (the brighter rats are already leaving).

Back in 1801 the UK had food imports but mainly of luxury items, and natural spices/preservatives and the all important tea and sugar.

In the census of 1911 it was 41million and a few short years later in WWI the new U-Boat threat was having significant effects on food imports. Historians have indicated that the UK population limit without food imports is around 30million which is around 1880’s levels.

However back in the 1880’s the diet in the UK was low in meat and dairy products and there were still the likes of tenant farmers living on diets based mainly on potatoes grown in small areas of land under 1000sqM. I know a thousand square meters of land sounds large to people who have only a few square feet of window box space, but it’s about the smallest area of land required to reliably feed a family in UK Midlands climate on a mainly root vegtable diet (potatoes being the only “whole food” that grows well in the UK). Which trust me is not a diet you want to live on, even before you consider what happened with the Irish Potato famine, and what nearly happened a few years later with the Scotish Potato famine. But depending on who you listen to less than one tenth of the UK land mass is suitable for farming potatoes and we no longer have plentiful fish stocks in UK territorial waters and aquaculture so far (salmon farming) is realy a disaster area environmentally and not possible without plentiful cheap fossil fuel supplies.

Contrary to what many people think the worlds highest population densities are in European cities. With the last time I looked Brussels having 6.5K/sqKM, in no way are these population densities sustainable. Likewise most European urban population densities without significant health risks.

Europe would be looking at halving it’s population and the US well some people think that it could squease by at 300 million but only with subsistance level living. Other countries in some parts of the far east etc could actually increase their populations a little, back to their fairly recent pre-industrialised levels.

And the honest answer is we have no real idea, there is a lot we don’t know. For instance omega three levels continue to fall in our current food production techniques, so we are obviously doing something wrong there that we need to address. But also we already have considerable technological advances, that we don’t need to invent so our energy utilisation in some areas is vastly improved over that of only a quater of a century ago. Further it takes a lot less energy to recycle metals etc than it does to mine&refine them to start off with. East Germany actually had some of the best recycling rates in the world –out of need– whilst also having some of the most poluting energy production. Likewise in more human terms whilst living standards were not that great in the old Eastern Europe during the later stages of the cold war they were far better than 19th Century London…

One thing that is clear is that our attempts at renewable energy are actually quite dire for various reasons Germany for instance is not the best place in the world for uninterupted sun light, thus we may actually have a larger total carbon foot print using solar energy there than burning coal in modern high efficiency power plants. Likewise burning bio-mass has a much higher carbon foot print due to it’s dirty nature and transportation.

But there are things we don’t know, like will large solar arrays in deserts actually cause localised climate change due to taking the energy out and thus moving the atmospheric heating effect to another part of the world? For instance 9/11 caused aircraft to cease flying for three or four days, and there were marked climate effects noted due to a drop in atmospheric particulates that reflect sunlight back away from the earths surface… So we realy do not know what is good or bad overall…

Gerard van Vooren May 30, 2016 12:19 AM

@ Clive Robinson,

Have you read Collapse from Jared Diamond? In there he mentions 12 points that have collapsed societies and will collapse current societies within a time frame of approx 50 years (the book is from 2005 so let’s make it 40 years). The problem is that each of these points intervene which makes it complex and also that if you solve a couple of these points for a society there are still plenty of points that need to be solved. The funny part (it’s actually very sad) is that I don’t hear “our politicians” talking about any of these points (except Al Gore), so when the shit hits the fan it’s gonna be a mess.

sidd May 30, 2016 12:23 AM

” … we are consuming something like four times the amount of energy that gets to the earths surface … ”

This is wildly incorrect. Solar input at surface worldwide is about 84 terawatt, while world energy consumption is less than twenty.

Drone May 30, 2016 12:41 AM

@John Connett,

“As with Climategate the media focus is on the content of the leak rather than how it happened.”

It’s not that the media isn’t interested in the leaker. In reality the opposite should be true; the media should want their sources to be credible. The likely reason there’s no focus on the leaker, is to protect the source.

@Ergo Sum,

“FBI raids security researcher home”

Sounds like a Honeypot. As for the FBI, the thinking goes like this: So this guy must be guilty of something, otherwise why would he be be vuln-probing a health care site in the first place. Let’s go over there at the break of dawn and teach him a lesson or two.

Confused May 30, 2016 12:54 AM

@Clive Robinson

For instance 9/11 caused aircraft to cease flying for three or four days, and there were marked climate effects noted due to a drop in atmospheric particulates that reflect sunlight back away from the earths surface… So we realy do not know what is good or bad overall…

While the CO2 expenditures and the ablative effects of upper-stratospheric clouds seem obvious, isn’t there also a greenhouse effect caused by increased moisture in the air via thermodynamics?

I don’t have any idea about the intricacies of the economics/mathematics behind this anomaly, but that’s what it seems like: an anomalous event… Perhaps certain volcanic eruptions and flight groundings could add more data and insight?

tyr May 30, 2016 2:21 AM


McKenna said if the women in the western world adopted
a single child birth each the drain on resources can
reduce since each of their children uses 800 times as
much as a Bangladeshi child over their lifetime.

The problem with that as a beginning solution is that
no old white guys are in the decision loop. Women can
do this and save us all from our stupidity but no one
even talks about it as a solution, not even radical
feminists. The general ideas you see proposed involve
business as usual behaviors (war, murder, destruction of
someone elses infrastructures). The idea something
without the ridiculous mobocracy is possible doen’t
seem to get into the level where things are decided by
primate me first posturings.

If you start talking about planetary engineering and
sensible population control behaviors most people are
inclined to think you just grew two more heads. That
means that the real obstacles are cultural baggage
that will doom most of us just like it did the Greenland
Vikings. With the cultural baggage around your neck
like the Albatross of the Ancient Mariner you better
hope some survivor of an ancient culture is around to
tell you which weeds and seeds are edible or become
Cambodian style bones. Those should make you aware of
how fragile the average city dweller is without the
massive social infrastructure that surrounds us.

I had some climate expert tell me that the sun has
nothing to do with climate change. There’s no cure for
that level of stupidity. We could quite easily float
a mylar shade into orbit and block incoming sunlight.
Couple that with planting a few more trees each and
suddenly temperature drops and CO2 levels drop. What
are we doing instead, arguing whether it’s real and
mulching the tropical forests into cardboard boxes
to sell crap in. I see some Brit General nitwit has
decided the Russians are going to roll through the
Fulda gap next year and attack NATO. No one says it
but with all of the IC spy capability I’d expect to
see a few satellite photos of troops in motion by now.
Granddad taught me to recognize bullshit early on in
life and that smells pretty bad.

I don’t think “nuclear winter” is the right model for
climate engineering unless you’re a moron.

Wesley Parish May 30, 2016 6:02 AM

@Clive Robinson

It also shows you where some nations have probably “mined” cables, such they can easily cut them in times of conflict (see what attacking the South China Seas, Western English Channel and West US seaboard nodes would effect).

which would be pure guiness, wouldn’t it? Pure Genius!

I can imagine how the world stock markets might react to suddenly losing access to timely information. Or rather, I don’t need to imagine – 2008 was all about the trading banks suddenly realizing they had no confidence in other trading banks’ statements of liquidity. No confidence whatsobloodyever.

That would a clear case of biting one’s nose off to spite one’s face.


I wholeheartedly back all calls for Microsoft to open the source of its unsupported OSes and applications – though I generally take into consideration the need of said company to remain solvent and generally think that it should be two releases gone before the source gets released under a suitable Free and Open Source license.

In the case of the Microsoft Windows NT source trees, there’s a slight hitch in that it is the development of two prior and separate source trees, IBM/MS OS/2 1.x and 2.x and DEC VAX VMS. It’s a long story.

But I’ve been wanting Microsoft, IBM, and HP (the inheritors of DEC via Compaq) to do a joint release of the said source trees DEC VAX VMS, IBM?MS OS/2 1.x and 2.x, and MS Windows NT 3.x and 4.x – though now that MS Windows is now at least two iterations away from the NT 5.x releases, I could gleefully throw those in as well.

It’s part of computer history that should not only be studied, but also played around with, and releasing it under a decidedly software-patent-unfriendly license such as the FSF GPL v3 should go a long way to relieving fears of Yet Another Round of The SCO Group Legal Infection.

My 0.02c

Wael May 30, 2016 6:04 AM

@Clive Robinson,

There is nothing particularly wrong with pseudo-randomness…

“Nothing” is a not so simple word. Don’t waste two hours listening to nothing as I did. Maybe of interest to you and others. OT, though… But funny to watch some “scientists” call each other names. Total waste of time.

Comrade Major May 30, 2016 6:09 AM

Well a Russian KGB Colonel had a theory that there was a way with women, he believed –rightly or wrongly– that the process of giving birth would cause a woman to scream out in her first language at puberty.
Семнадцать мгновений весны (Seventeen Moments of Spring)?

Anselm Lingnau May 30, 2016 6:19 AM

I wholeheartedly back all calls for Microsoft to open the source of its unsupported OSes and applications – though I generally take into consideration the need of said company to remain solvent and generally think that it should be two releases gone before the source gets released under a suitable Free and Open Source license.

The very last thing on Earth Microsoft wants is for anyone to take over maintenance of Windows XP
(or for that matter XP-vintage versions of Office) under an open-source license. They have enough trouble getting people to move to the current incarnations of Windows (and Office) as it is – to a point where they’re giving Windows 10 away for free now and, judging from the slew of “How can I stop my machine from upgrading” articles I see in computer magazines, many people still don’t seem to want it.

Clive Robinson May 30, 2016 6:29 AM

@ Confused,

I don’t have any idea about the intricacies of the economics/mathematics behind this anomaly, but that’s what it seems like: an anomalous event…

I’m not sure anyone has a good grip on the mathmatics of climate dynamics. However it was if you want to call it an anomaly regionaly localised in an area with low population but high overhead flight traffic. The argument was that the contrails of the aircraft caused energy to be reflected back into space and thus not reach the earths surface below (clouds have a similar effect). It’s been part of the argument about engineering solutions to global warming.

A paper[1] published in the Journal Nature by David Travis and his team at the University of Wisconsin made the necessary measurements, crunched the data for a nine day period of the three days befor the groundings, the three days of the groundings and the three days after the groundings.

You can read a more ordinary human friendly piece on the contrail effect,


Dirk Praet May 30, 2016 6:54 AM

@ tyr, @ Clive

McKenna said if the women in the western world adopted a single child birth each the drain on resources can reduce since each of their children uses 800 times as much as a Bangladeshi child over their lifetime.

The problem with such statements is that they are purely academic. Given half a choice, Bangladeshi children (and their parents) would happily move to the West in a jiffy and/or adopt the same resource consumption patterns if such resources were available and affordable. We’re already seeing that happen with emerging middle classes in countries like India and China.

I don’t think “nuclear winter” is the right model for climate engineering unless you’re a moron.

For the power and resource hungry elites of this planet, it doesn’t really matter what the right model is as long as they get to profit from a model that works for them. Violence hardly ever is the right solution either, but history has shown us that it will generally be applied by those who think or know can prevail through it.

Clive Robinson May 30, 2016 7:10 AM

@ Sidd,

The figures for the solar energy reaching the earths surface are disputed in many ways.

Whilst we know fairly accurately how much energy from the sun hits the face of the earth facing the sun it’s disputed as to how much of it in a usable form actually gets to the surface and not reflected by water vapour, stored and reradiated at a different frequency a short time later etc. Further the energy usage figures are a bit of a fudge as well as they largely do not include bio-mass consumption that would in time become new foissil fuels due to incineration of waste from food production etc, etc.

Which is why one measure of energy consumption is by changes in green house gasses ratios such as water, carbon dioxide methane etc.

It’s these changes that indicate the excess usage of foissil fuel and bio-mass energy, and why we are consuming it at a rate of around four times greater than the earth is locking it up to become new foissil fuels.

But the real issue is how do we get usable solar energy. less than one percent of the energy from the sun can be captured in a useful form to replace foissil fuel usage. It is either to diffuse or of the wrong wavelength for the likes of PV collection and we can only devote a small area of land away from it’s other uses such as for food production. Which is the problem we need high energy density at the point of collection/convertion to make it viable and we don’t get that with solar energy.

Whilst plants are more effective at utilizing solar energy have a look at what percentage of the worlds usable farm land would be needed to create bio-fuel just to run US SUV’s for a year, then do the math for the rest of the US energy consumption.

But there is another problem and that is losses due to energy transmission. It does not matter how you do it moving energy is very inefficient overall and where solar energy would be exploitable is vast distances from where it would be consumed and depending on how you mrasure it anything upto 50% of the collected/converted energy would be lost to transmission over it’s usable life time. It’s why Chinese made PV pannel usage in germany shows a greater carbon footprint overall than burning coal dug out of the ground in Germany and used in high efficiency CHP systems…

Nick P May 30, 2016 7:16 AM

@ Wesley

What evidence do you have that Windows contained source code of VMS? I know it combined code of OS/2 and prior Windows/DOS code. It also had kernel design inspired by VMS due to same author. Never heard about source being in it.

JG4 May 30, 2016 7:18 AM

Many people continue to claim that cheap energy is a requirement for an economy and that the end of cheap oil more or less means the end of civilization as we know it. There also seems to be some confusion that any economy requires growth to sustain debt, and growth requires cheap energy. The Archdruid, Kunstler, Nature Bats Last and others are squarely in that camp. While I see collapse as a likely outcome of the current trajectory, it is not the only possibility. Most of the debt associated with fracking will not survive 2017, but that is just a modest slice of the bigger picture and backwards to the premise that cheap fossil fuels are required to sustain debt. Thanks for mentioning JMG. I often forget to read his fascinating blog. Just for the record, my favorite Kunstler column, thus far, is “Two Peckerheads.” He only rarely achieves that level of snap, crackle and pop. JMG is invariably thought-provoking. I would have no problem with any of the collapsitarians, even if they were wrong, because they bring additional viewpoints to the discussion.

Clearly cheap energy is a requirement for the Western lifestyle as it is practiced today, but cheap energy is not a requirement for having an economy. All that is required to have an economy is two people with the inclination to barter. The transition from an economy powered by cheap fossil fuels to any sustainable economy will not be particularly smooth, and economic collapse is a reasonable description of the end of empire. If transportation networks and/or industrial agriculture fail, population densities in urban areas will be reduced very quickly by one to two orders of magnitude. When the going gets tough, the tough start eating other people. BTW, brains are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is why owls eat only the brains when they are otherwise saturated on mice.

I’m not sure that collapse is the only way forward, but the problem isn’t with availability of alternative energy. There is more than enough sunlight falling on the earth for everyone to have and maintain a Western lifestyle until the sun goes dim. Hubbert’s point that there are sufficient nuclear fuel reserves for tens of thousands of years of Western lifestyle for everyone on the planet should not be overlooked, though I am not sure that your species has the intellectual capacity to safely manage nuclear power. We could hope that fourth generation nuclear power is safe, compatible with other renewable energy sources and helpful in making a smooth transition.

If collapse is the only path to the future, the root causes are a collective inability to recognize cause and effect, lack of scalability of trust, the continuing collapse of trust as it becomes clear how corrupt all or almost all governments are, a general inability to construct governments that are not crippled by conflicts of interest and a collective failure of imagination. In short, the real problems are not technological, they are social.


There is another data point on the potato genocide, which is the fact that Ireland went from being the most densely populated country in Europe to the least densely populated in the space of ten years. I’m not trying to incite debate by calling it genocide. It isn’t like the Irish didn’t kidnap slaves from England for thousands of years. Given a different trajectory of money and power, the Irish would have been only too happy to visit genocide on the English, much as the war criminals in the US have visited genocide on people around the world. One man’s economic opportunity is another man’s genocide. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

Clive Robinson May 30, 2016 8:10 AM

@ Wesley Parish,

That would a clear case of biting one’s nose off to spite one’s face.

Only for some nations, primarily those WASP nations where the internet is now a major transportation / infrastructure component of their way of life.

A large part of fighting a war these days is “force multipliers” WASP nations have high tech smart weapons and delivery systems. Which work realy well if you are fighting another similar technological nation, but don’t work well against a nation who’s principle internal economic activity is goay hearding, and extetnal economic activity is growing opiates for the relife of various malidies those living in WASP nations appear to develop as part of their life style.

Thus “asymetric warefare” works on many levels, you don’t need a nuclear arsenal to bring the US to it’s knees just a credible way to destroy it’s economy whilst not effecting your own.

It’s why the idea of NOBUS is such a joke because it’s a two way exchange. The bugs in security for NOBUS only work against those of a similar capability as yourself which of course includes you… But don’t work against people who have different capabilities. They however then can chearfully exploit NOBUS against you as it has no effect on them…

We have seen this before with the likes of steam battle ships. Whilst they had incredible advantages over sail they had an Achilles heal of needing coal in very large quantities. Thus had not only a limited range compared to sail, they also had vast areas of the globe that were “nogo” places as there was no coal there… We saw the same again as coal transitioned to oil, but to a lesser extent as oil is effectivly more energy dense and usable than coal.

Oh and back in the 80’s and 90’s due to the masive hike in oil prices –from five to fourty five USD a barrel–, for a while we saw a prototype, partial transition back to sail to reduce the use of oil for any given journey…

The problem we have with warfare these days is that most of it does not happen on battle fields in the middle of nowhere, it happens in banking houses and the homes of the poor, and the later are realising it’s in their interest to “kill the bankers and their friends and families via any vulnerable route”. The one think 9/11 should have taught us but appears to have been missed by most, is it is when the technology we depend on is weaponised by others and turned against us we are at our most vulnerable… and oh boy in WASP nations do we have a load of very vulnerable technology to ruin our lives, as even the occasional gopher proves by nibbling through a data cable etc.

An idea for you to turn into a story. As you know High Frequency Trading has an issue with the speed of light, it’s just to darned slow, so the traders pay for tunnels to be cut in mountains so that a few micro seconds advantage can be gained by reducing path length and the latency caused by repeaters etc. Think on how information unstable such an arangment is due to feed back/forwards effects. Imagine if you will a mouse or rat nibbling through a cable and causing the world HFT markets to go into destructive self oscillation with each swing vastly increasing transaction value thus paper profits as a percentage there of, but in reality causing massive losses due to confusion and confidence loss. So like 2008 but a thousand times worse.

r May 30, 2016 8:32 AM

Don’t worry about preserving your lifestyle if you’re worried about some sort of collapse, worry about adapting your lifestyle and preserving your life.

Guns, the equipment to service/maintain them and produce you own ammo, Wells/Water and the equipment to service/maintain them, Food to a lesser extent?… You should be off to a good start.

After the housing ‘crash’ only an idiot would need to make $100k a year to survive unless the collapse is a long inflationary drain and you’re not a producer of some sort.

Sensors and some way to generate an arbitrary amount of power for your well[s]. this is in line with guns as a defense, think ahead don’t worry yourself to death and you won’t have to worry so much about a stroke/coronary.

Just being able to repack ammunition of every conceivable kind is in line with being a producer as it’s worth it’s weight in gold easily.

I feel bad for people in cities, I have enough walnut trees and squirrels in my back yard to keep me occupied for a while.

Clive Robinson May 30, 2016 8:34 AM

@ JG4,

All that is required to have an economy is two people with the inclination to barter.

But that is the wrong sort of economy, there is no space to either take a percentage as a middleman or in otherways “rent seek” a large slice off the top for no better reason than you can make it that way.

The primary reason for replacing bartering with currency transactions is as Jesus put it to “render unto Ceaser what is Ceaser’s”. We call it seniorage, but it also makes “tax taking” for the king more accountable thus less likely to make wealthy those who could become enemies seeking to take the,”top job”.

For all it’s bad money has advantages in that in the past it helped reduce price variation and a significant amount of work you would otherwise have to do to off loading the cabbages you had grown then trade several times in order to find something the thatcher would accept in return for fixing your roof.

However over time another evil of currancy arose. Originaly currancy had real value being made of precious metals thus it maintained it’s apparant value with respect to other assets like land. Eventually some realised that seperating the currancy from the value of the precious metal had advantages, because it alowed inflation, which beggers the asset poor whilst at the same time enriching the asset rich. You only have to look at the graph of the monetary value of London Houses over the past eight years to see this.

CallMeLateForSupper May 30, 2016 8:39 AM

Throw technology at the problem; that always goes well.

“An Israeli start-up says it can take one look at a person’s face and realize character traits that are undetectable to the human eye.

Faception said it’s already signed a contract with a homeland security agency to help identify terrorists. The company said its technology also can be used to identify everything from great poker players to extroverts, pedophiles, geniuses and white collar-criminals.

“’We understand the human much better than other humans understand each other,’ said Faception chief executive Shai Gilboa. ‘Our personality is determined by our DNA and reflected in our face. It’s a kind of signal.’”

Personality is determined by DNA? I think not. Gilboa is just re-surfacing the very old nurture/nature discussion.

“Faception has built 15 different classifiers, which Gilboa said evaluate with 80 percent accuracy certain traits. The start-up is pushing forward, seeing tremendous power in a machine’s ability to analyze images.”

80% accuracy, and only on certain unspecified “traits”. Wow. I am underwhelmed!

I laughed (in derision) at “seeing tremendous power in a machine’s ability to analyze images”. (Anyone who doesn’t understand why would not understand an explanation.)

r May 30, 2016 8:50 AM

Clive mentions paying the Thatcher… I’ve seen video on PBS about thatch roofs… Can you say labor intensive?

Clay tile is something that is readily manufacturable and far less labor intensive in a shovel+foot sense.

ianf May 30, 2016 9:37 AM

[Apology for late replies, but you guys are soooo fast typists, I can barely keep up with reading new posts, let alone respond to selected of these your Avalanches of Deep Thoughts Worthy of Dilbert-ation.]

@ Spooky thinks that “the amount of devotion required [to master all the tech that one simply would like to be a consumer of] is starting to rapidly exceed his energy reserves

I long for the days of early “word-processing” when there were essentially single-function hardcoded tabletop electronic typewriters with displays – pricy, but leaving one in no doubt as to what they were for, and maximum capable of. I never got one because of the cost, but also because I expected luggable laptops to arrive any day soon, such that could be connected to any Xerox machine to dump the copy with laser printer quality (which basically never happened, except for one Hitachi copier line in late 1990s).

@ tyr, regarding a Joan Baez—Ed Snowden ticket
         what has Joan Baez done to you lately, that you’d be willing to spoil her golden years? On second thoughts: don’t tell me.

Later, tyr declares a winner in the No Revolution Without Poetry contest, and concludes by trusting that it clears up misunderstanding of the interNet for the new spooky boy.

Actually, I wasn’t aware of there being such a (annual? permanent?) revolutionary poetry contest, but, anyway, reading the linked intel preceded by your elucidation only confused me more… so, thanks but no thanks.

@ Clive Robinson dips his writing toe—that’s a metaphor!—in the murky waters of Russian-spy-themed urban legends (lake): a Russian KGB Colonel had a theory that… giving birth would cause a female spy to scream out in her родной язык (=thus potentially destroying the cover by giving away her true origin).

A Colonel, you say—I presume one familiar with the procedure, of the opposite sex and contradictory gender. TELL US NOW ALL YOU KNOW about the lengths that the KGB would(n’t) go to to train future femme illegals in the art of Linguistically Appropriate Birthing Yelps (I’m all ears!)

Later on, by Clive recommended “Primer on Internet Structure”… (showing where the physical surveillance undersea cable choke points are) evokes a memory of this tale of Mother of All Data Traffic Cock-ups by no less an Internet giant than Eric Thomas of the ListServ fame.

I no longer recall the year, nor the exact traffic volumes, but it happened before the global (=US/Europe) academic Internet came into being, so around 1988-1989. At that time there were no non-commercial undersea cables, so all acad 9600baud IP traffic was piggybacked in between, within strict agreed time-slot limits. The sole such link to Europe was between CUNY in NYC, and some university in coastal northern France. Mail and Usenet traffic volumes between them weren’t huge, on the order of low tens of MB/day. There was some reception glitch at the French side (funding has run out or something), which prevented offloading (“ACK-ing”) the accumulating US data. After 2 weeks or so of that, the Americans did the only sober thing, moved the not-transmitted hoard onto a couple of IBM tapes, and air-freighted them over to France. Except that the French powers that be were right then at each others’ throats over fund allocation, demarcation lines, assignment of blame past and future, etc., – so they sent the tapes right back to NYC (claiming being unable to read them into the same IBM mainframes that they all used). The Yanks were non-plussed, but what could they do? When the traffic flows finally were reestablished, it took them several months to clear up the backlog. End of this Mother…

@ XP […] “finding enough people to maintain a widely-used OS like XP should be no problem. In fact, I bet they would do a better job than Microsoft ever did.” (cc: Tatütata)

Yes, because volunteers do such a stellar job of maintaining umpteen forks of Linux and whatnot.

Marcos Malo May 30, 2016 10:02 AM

The way to do it would be to make the providers financially liable for not patching within a reasonable time frame.

The issue seems to be that handset manufacturers are taking too long to implement patches provided by Google (or not implementing at all on older phones, some of which they still sell). Let’s be clear that the mfgrs do need sufficient time to implement and test.

When it starts costing the mfgrs real money (and remember that the Android phone business is extremely low margin), they will take steps to streamline their process. They might hire more engineers with security backgrounds. They might engineer the hardware for more uniformity to make testing easier. And finally, they might pressure Google to write a more secure Android and/or an Android that is easier to patch.

twelve thirty four May 30, 2016 12:15 PM

on the se asia hackin… i think nk is seizing the moment w se asia vs cn tensions, and taking what they can while they can. A billion is a fat portion of their yearly national revenue.

This shows illumination in just how much they regard cn as critical protector.

Problem is, how can they stop? Tensions between se asian countries and cn wont stop soon.

Cant arrest a country. And can’t invade.

Took years for us and cn to stop economic hacking wars, now this starts up.

r May 30, 2016 12:31 PM

@twelve thirty four,

Can’t invade my ass, we just missed a premiere opportunity to showcase any number of high accuracy low[er] collateral damage weapons during that last ‘party’ they had.

Somebody dropped the ball there.

ianf May 30, 2016 12:33 PM

@ rrrrrrbuy a wood stove.

Better still, learn how to transform large metal (paint, etc) cans, steel buckets and other household objects into usable wood stoves for cooking and heating using but hand tools (also recycle no longer viable electric & gas ditto).

Buy (and hide from covetous eyes!) a few Biolite Campstoves with 2W USB charging, and some solar-powered LED, hand-cranked radio with a lamp and a few Gravity Lights (when they make it to the market), and you should be set for life for the rest of the nuclear winter in your well-camouflaged cave in the boondocks.

@ 12 30 4 thank you for not employing the upper case of the alphabet which made your text so much less distinctive more tedious at a glance that it directly told me not to attempt to read closely and translate it into understandable language next time do away with interpunction who needs it way to go

Gerard van Vooren May 30, 2016 1:21 PM

@ JG4,

“While I see collapse as a likely outcome of the current trajectory, it is not the only possibility.”

I agree. It’s undeniable that we are gonna face some serious problems in the near future. The question is how these problems are gonna land, is that hard or soft? The way we are operating today it’s obvious gonna be hard. I mean just look at the financial crisis. If we want a soft landing the problems need to be on the agenda.

“We could hope that fourth generation nuclear power is safe, compatible with other renewable energy sources and helpful in making a smooth transition.”

The problem is that each new technology brings side effects that are easy overlooked at the beginning, then the side effects turn out to be nasty and in the end the side effects are worse than the technology in the first place. But hope in future technology is also a very good distractor for the problems we are facing. For instance, the hope for the hydrogen car killed the electric car (on purpose?). Or future batteries have a better lifespan and capacity. It’s rubbish of course. If we simply accepted that electronic cars have worse performance than gasoline cars but overall they are better for the environment, then the electronic car would have won by now.

So I am not really fond for new technologies that could expand the lifestyle we have today. We better start to discuss the problems we are facing and make a plan of action if we want to have soft landings. The fact that we are looking away an masse for the problems doesn’t make me feel that we are “on top” of these.

Dirk Praet May 30, 2016 6:29 PM

@ CallMeLateForSupper

An Israeli start-up says it can take one look at a person’s face and realize character traits that are undetectable to the human eye.

I thought phrenology and the like had been debunked as pseudo-science as early as the mid nineteenth century. As far as I know, the last people to take it serious were some lunatic Belgian and the nazis.

XP May 30, 2016 7:04 PM

@ianf “Yes, because volunteers do such a stellar job of maintaining umpteen forks of Linux and whatnot.”

How many XP forks do you think there would be? I can’t see more than two or three being actively developed.

“Better still, learn how to transform large metal (paint, etc) cans, steel buckets and other household objects into usable wood stoves for cooking and heating using but hand tools (also recycle no longer viable electric & gas ditto).”

Good advice, and it wouldn’t take long to learn such skills. Here’s an impressive example, the “Ranger Stove” built from three tin cans and a single screw:

Nick P May 30, 2016 7:32 PM

@ Grauhut

HOLY SHIT! Thanks for the link. I knew VMS team’s experience inspired WinNT design. I had no idea they were basically the same OS! That’s just crazy. Brilliantly done by Microsoft, though. I recall a parody written a while back making fun of idea of someone using an OpenVMS desktop. Joke is on them given another OpenVMS desktop has been dominating their UNIX boxes for some time. Gonna have to counter that with this link next time I see it. 😉 Few comments follow.

“Microsoft renamed OS/2 NT as Windows NT”

Kills rumor of VMS -> WNT letters. Just a coincidence given it wasn’t called Windows at the time.

” From 1990 to NT’s public release in August 1993, Cutler’s team was in a mad dash to complete NT, and the project grew to involve more than 200 engineers and testers.”

One commenter asked what I was going to ask: where’s the stability of VMS in all the shit they cloned? Most likely this line explains it where they were all time to market on new hardware. Plus, integrating legacy OS’s and third-party code drove complexity up. Building something huge, kind of unknown, and in a hurry led to the metric ton of vulnerabilities that follow. Makes sense even though I think they could’ve done better QA. They delayed it given they wanted market immediately for First Mover advantage. They’re at least pretty honest about it here.

“This native API is mostly undocumented, because applications are supposed to speak Win32, DOS, OS/2, POSIX, or Win16, and these respective OS environments interact with the kernel on the application’s behalf.”

This is worth remembering when people talk about how special WINE is. I remember being amazed it could run API’s of several OS’s at once without using full virtualization. It already existed on mainframes but those were PC’s.

“you can read sections of VAX/VMS Internals and Data Structures (Digital Press) as an accurate description of NT internals simply by translating VMS terms to NT terms. ”

That’s amazing. Anyone with the author’s book on Windows Internals can put this to the test using bitsaver’s free copy of VMS Internals. I also found Prism here. It’s forward-thinking stuff that was basically a 64-bit, RISC-based, vector-enabled NUMA machine with enhanced, parallel VMS on it. Aside from RISC & VMS, that’s what enterprise servers running both Windows and UNIX looked like over time. DEC shouldn’t have cancelled Prism. Further, look at page 14 of PDF reader if you have any doubt that DEC funded R&D for Microsoft and pre-empted cloud VMM’s. 🙂

“Digital cut a deal with Microsoft. In the summer of 1995, Digital announced Affinity for OpenVMS, a program that required Microsoft to help train Digital NT technicians, help promote NT and Open-VMS as two pieces of a three-tiered client/server networking solution, and promise to maintain NT support for the Alpha processor. Microsoft also paid Digital between 65 million and 100 million dollars.”

More like they gave Microsoft a deal! That’s the most ridiculous terms I could think of. They should’ve pushed on with that lawsuit citing Microsoft’s market cap in damages. Maybe a two-digit percentage. Instead, these fools negotiate to offer themselves up to support Microsoft tech and ask that they nicely put it on a processor that was in decline. They also settled for under $100 million on a year when Microsoft’s theft of their market plus old customers made them $3.5 billion in profit. Numbers like these illustrate why the Russian model involved spies and R&D centers for Western companies in their own country. Cheaper R&D. 🙂

Great comment on the site showing how ridiculous the support part was: “One part of the deal included MS subsiding the creation of Digital’s MS Services practice and the training of DEC’s personnel. But this was a move MS was going to make anyway in order to create a global enterprise-class support org such that MS could claim as many MCSE’s were certified on NT and there were Unix support professionals in the market. Thus MS could be positioned as enterprise-ready and as supportable as Unix. Secondly, MS guaranteed they’d outsource a large % of their helpdesk calls to Digital call centers. Again, this was MS’s model anyway. In that time period when you made a call to the MS helpdesk, and the person on the other end answerered “Hello. This is Microsoft, can I help you?” you were actaully talking to a Digital, NCR, HP, or Vanstar employee in their respective call centers. And even this arrangement was a joke because MS paid so little to DEC and other support partners on a per-incident basis (I recall the math was $25 per call which meant over 10-15 min’s in length and you lost money on that particular call), and MS required so much reporting infrastructure and annual training hours, that the support vendors were left with no margin. In the end most of the big vendors finally got out of the MS desktop support business because it was a money loser. All of this came out of the theft of VMS! Even when they get caught they win.”

So, they negiated to provide low-margin support of Microsoft’s profits while absorbing the costs of doing so and letting Microsoft dictate it. I knew DEC’s management got bad but that’s horrible.

“Now that Compaq has acquired Digital, will VMS continue to evolve, or will NT seal the fate of its predecessor?”

Such a question might have sounded more hopeful if I didn’t already know the answer. Fun read, though. Shows what 200 FOSS engineers reading VMS Internals, stripping and updating where possible, could accomplish in a desktop OS. Also, given they’re internally similar, shows us what would likely happen to OpenVMS if a Windows-like amount of attention from black hats hit it. At least, it still has it’s reliability claims haha.

tyr May 30, 2016 7:39 PM

@Clive. et al

I saw a lab solar cell with 34.5 efficiency so the
tech is solved if it can go mass production (or
show us how to make them with common materials).

The real problem is that the infrastructure folk
want to hang onto the useless archaism called a
power grid for the residential captive audience.
You will see the so called third world bloom as
they did with telephone because instead of stringing
multiple copper lines to get it working they just
put up a few towers. Anyone who has done utility
trenching in urban areas knows there is a nest
of interlocked snakes buried under the street.
Much of it obselete and the rest busy deteriorating.

If you get the predicted sea level rises one nice
niche occupation would be underwater copper mining
in abandoned cities. Point of usage generation is
a lot more sensible but most governments and utility
companies insist you hook up to their useless ancient
grid so it still has a reason to be. It like the Net
grew like mopsy and topsy with no clear idea of what
was intended for the future. Clive and others here
know that the future is already here but most haven’t
a clew what the hel to do about it.

As for the third world all wanting to become Park Ave
or London debs, I find the evidence of my own senses
doesn’t support that view. Most humans are content to
stay about ten miles from their birthplace. Bombing
and nasty local governments are usually what forces
any movements.

So here we are floating in an endless sea of energy,
with an entire planet broken into convenient chunks
near enough to reach and a few other made of hydro-
carbons almost in reach and we want to go down as
the lamest excuse for an intelligent species that can
be imagined because we can’t overcome the inertia of
doing things the same old way until it kills us off.

Maybe if we start giving IQ tests to people who want
to be leaders it would help. That’s one Snowden has
over and above any of the other candidates for POTUS.

Guessing May 31, 2016 12:21 AM

@Clive Robinson

I do consider myself familiar enough with the 9/11 data you referenced. It makes a certain amount of sense to me, but I still have difficulties reconciling that with other research… I.E.:
Clouds and Climate Change: The Thick and Thin of It

Since the changes in low- and high-level clouds mostly cancelled each other out, the net global effect of the clouds did not differ very much in the warmer climate scenario from that in today’s climate. This scenario differs considerably from what many climate scientists had been assuming in the 1990s. It had been thought that brighter clouds would partly “save” us from significant global warming, by reflecting more energy into space. Instead, these results suggest that clouds are not necessarily the white knight that will rescue us from climate change. Therefore, our society should seriously consider reasonable steps to limit future emissions of greenhouse gases and soot aerosols as part of an overall strategy to reduce air pollution.

I suppose there’s probably an inflection point somewhere, where a certain limit of air-traffic turns the seasonal weather from cooler to warmer. I have absolutely no clue where that point lies though.

Clive Robinson May 31, 2016 3:48 AM

@ Guessing,

It makes a certain amount of sense to me, but I still have difficulties reconciling that with other research…

From my perspective, the best solution is to stop producing the green house gasses in the quantities we are. And if possible look at natural solutions to resolve the current excess as quickly as we can.

However there is a thorn in the issue not just of what “natural” may be but what other effects it might actually have. Part of the problem is people not differentiating between “Global Warming” and “Climate Change”. The latter is what will kill us, the former is just one of many ways our early demise might happen.

The next issue is one of time and tipping points. As the climate changes, species of flora and fauna migrate, and those that can not migrate in time or at all either die out or mutate. Thus at some point you can not go back to what you had before, you have crossed a tipping point, whether that is good or bad is something of a viewpoint, personally I’m siding with bad. The secondary issue is that there are very many species that are intetconnected and they all have different tipping points, which will not show up immediately that they have been crossed.

It’s why some people talk about “climate engineering” and as far as I’m aware the first example of this was “cloud seeding” to promote rain fall. Whilst it can drop rain where there are clouds, it does have a “Robbing Peter to pay Paul” effect which means it can be used as a denial device on others. Thus you have an extention to “water rights” which historically have been responsible for bitter and bloody conflict and genocide. Thus climate engineering can be weaponised to effect entire countries. At the very least robbing Peter gives Peter cause for complaint if not litigate because it is nolonger “An act of God” but man.

So Climate Engineering of which aircraft contrails could be considered part of, is both contentious in it’s primary goal and has unknown side effects both directly and indirectly.

But as others have indicated the industrialized nations appear addicted to cheap energy and certain types of “Keeping up with the Jones’s” life styles. Life styles that certainly can not be supported long term not even for a few percent of the worlds population. Part of this problem is the ethos of “ownership” over “stewardship” that of “personal good” over “societal good” which boils down to the ideas of the need in some to convey to others in a very visable way what they believe is their “status” in life. Even when it’s not those who consider themselves prejudiced against will see it that way, such is the human condition in some (consider it a variation of Dunning-Krugger effect).

We see this already with the political brinkmanship of “development” where some nations demand the right to pollute, because others have done so before and gained an advantage by it. Thus they want parrity of pollution on a historic past, even knowing now what was not back then the harm it does.

Personaly, I do not think we will resolve any issues politically and I’m not in favour of the various types of colapse. The notion of imposing a “one child” policy has significant consequences in that as life expectancy increases you have only one child supporting two parents and four grandparents, which is what they are seeing in China. And it’s not supportable either by individuals or the state. Some argue that it’s not possible to support even a steady state of the same number of births as deaths, due to not just increasing life expectancy but also education. That is the gain from extended education does not counter over a shoryened working life the loss in economically productive activity in the majority of people. Thus the only solution is to exyend the working life, but that does not work either as the nature of work has changed and manual, unskilled and semi skilled work is rapidly depreciating as technology improves, and the economists golden rule of “increased productivity” is mindlessly chased.

Thus we appear stuck with an insoluable problem of an increasing population, limited resources and polution that is killing us via it’s environmental and climate impact. Historically we know what is going to happen in the broad brush strokes history teaches, we’ve seen it in Europe for centuries, and it’s a stark choice between endless wars or expansionism into unpopulated resource rich environments… But It only works when there is somewhere to move to and some way of getting there, whilst you still have the excess capacity to do it rather than go for the genocide by war crime route.

Which in the mean time leaves us with the “what to do here” issue, unfortunately politicians always want big dramatic and frankly not going to work or have worse downstream problems methods as they can be seen to be doing rather than actually doing. They have been encoraged in this sort of stupidity by the likes of the World Bank, because they see developed nations winning twice. That is a poor nation borrows from the World Bank to give the money to first world companies, the poor nation then has to pay the bank interest etc, so they end up getting poorer whilst the first world gets richer high fives all around in the first world…

But… there is a problem as the first world creates these problems in the third world those problems come back to bite the first world via climate change, giving rise to new diseases etc and the side effects of the induced climate change. That is we can not keep throwing our rubbish over the fence into our neighbours garden and not expect trouble one way or another. Thus we need to sort out our own mess and then help the neighbours so they don’t make the same mistake.

Which is the polar opposite of what American Exceptionalism is all about, and the earlier machinations of European nations we call Conquest and Empire…

Thus when you hear about “climate engineering” lift the curtain and see what the technology is, how it’s to be paid for and importantly what other environment and climate effects it will have directly or indirectly.

And as far as technology is concerned you can not beat entropy, you can not solve a heat polution problem by burning more energy…

CallMeLateForSupper May 31, 2016 8:44 AM

@Dirk Praet
“I thought phrenology and the like had been debunked as pseudo-science […]”

Exactly. LOL. Phrenology is what came to my mind too.

While it is laughable, it is also scary, because it is the very sort of product that governments and LEAs fall over each other to purchase – at eye-watering cost – and use in secret to harass/threaten/coerce/marginalize/prosecute.

tyr May 31, 2016 7:05 PM


I have always advocated a survival based morality
which extends from the individual level all the
way up to the entirety of the human community.

I consider anything that does not fall within
that ethical basis as immoral and anti survival.

This cuts away a lot of the underbrush in thinking
about what I see in society. Obfuscation, framings,
and sidetrackings have served the venal, immoral,
and unethical well up til now. It isn’t too clear
what will occur once we are up against the knife
edge. The historical record of a single volcano
taking down entire civilizations with ease and a
gap in the records of centuries is something that
I think deserves some attention.

There are folks in the biological community who are
not happy about the idea of temperature raising to
the point it starts interfering with life processes.
It could very well turn out to be like the oxygen
generation extinction event. Some portion of the
gene swarm will get through the bottleneck but it
won’t be any of those who have tried to ignore the
magnitude of the real problems.

To sum it up, I survive so I can help you survive
and we survive to help the rest of the tribe survive.
Once you decide to limit the extent that applies you
become anti survival and morally expendable. You can
see how the attempts to get individuals to extend the
range of this behavior have been the major theme in
history. The idea of the rugged individual going it
alone is bullshit. Without the support network of the
others no human would make it past the first week of
their life. No urban human similarly will last a week
if the invisible infrastructure around them fails.

You don’t support the old from namby pamby love for
the granny, you do it because they are a source of the
wisdom and knowledge you might need when the shit hits
the fan. The dumbest folk on earth are those who think
they know enough to cover all the possibilities alone.

Look at Google, what possible good is it to search for
things you don’t know about. How can it work at all if
you don’t even know what to type into the search bar ?
Without discernment a million search hits will not
increase your understanding of anything. There’s a
reason to hang out with Bruce because the network of
wisdom helps cut through the noise levels of modern
data barrage.

You might even learn how to fix a toe…: ^ )

Joseph June 1, 2016 2:56 AM

@ Clive Robinson, “Thus in the near future the energy that is the real driver behind the economy (remember my past comments about energy as currancy/wealth) will become to scarce thus expensive and thus the economy will fold back and society with it. ”

Lest not forget everything of vital essential in our society is heavily “hedged” thru the use of vehicles and metrics. Thus, as wealth can be hedged so does energy resources and other vitals, the hedge itself becomes a prime wealth generator. This has something to do with fractional reserve mint of our monies and such as itself is hedged thru our national I.O.U., another vital.

The system is complex to speak the least, and most of it exists in abstract.

“His point in this area is that there are four basic classes,
1, Those without assets or work income.
2, Wage slaves / surfs.
3, Salaried rent seekers.
4, Asset (land) wealthy investors.”

Thus, this was a superficial view at best.

Clive Robinson June 1, 2016 4:11 AM

@ tyr,

You might even learn how to fix a toe…: ^ )

Befor or after they have taken target practice at it 😉

As the old saying has it “What aint broke don’t need fixing, so learning not to break it comes before learning how to fix it”.

The problem as was once described as “Only rental cars do sixty in second gear” and is down to the difference between ownership and stewardship outlook on life by the driver. If your ethos in life is ownership, then you will drive a rental badly as you don’t own it, thus it’s somebody elses problem to fix when you break it. If your ethos in life is stewardship, you don’t drive a rental badly because you know if you do one way or another you are going to pay for any breakage you make.

It’s that ability to see beyond the immediate cost that is important, that is that dodging an upfront cost does not mean it does not have to be paid. It only moves the cost in time where it rapidly becomes more expensive, either to you, your descendants or society.

Either not having or not wanting to have the ability to see beyond the immediate cost is what gives some people the notion of “cut and run” and other “short term thinking” behaviours –which are so very bad for society in general– are exceptable.

Worse as I’ve pointed out in the past, is it encorages ever more wastefull behaviour and can give rise to “bubbles”. The trick is simple, when you get the power to initiate a project, you make it grandiose. All projects will succeed in their early stages with little knowledge or effort. Thus you cut and run at the end of that point and leave the project in other peoples hands (to sort out the mess you have created). If the project succeeds, you then claim it was through your vision and ground work, if the project fails it’s due to the incompetance of those that took over from you… this means you never have blaim to your name and your CV will shine… If you can also sell the grandiose reasoning more widely and get “buy in” from others you become a consultant or worse a guru and so an incredibly wasteful bubble forms… Thus you can work your way up well past your Peter Principle limit[1] where any Dunning-Kruger[2] problems you have would normaly have been apparent to others and thus stopped you don’t get recognised. It also enables you to avoid the Dilbert Principle[3] thus you continue to be a significant and increasing societal problem as the bubble expands.

[1] Peter Principle from the early 1970’s :- A person rises in a hierarchy to their point of incompetence.

[2] Dunning-Kruger effect from 1999 :- a cognitive bias in a person where either a relatively unskilled person suffers an illusory superiority, or where a relatively skilled person depreciates their own abilities in comparison to others.

[3] Dilbert Principle from 1995 :- Scott Adams cartoon character Dogbert observes “leadership is nature’s way of removing morons from the productive flow”[4].

[4] The Dilbert Principle is a rework of the old saw of “Those who can do, those who can’t lead”, which occasional has the humourous adjoiner of “those who can’t do or lead, teach badly”.

Clive Robinson June 1, 2016 10:10 AM

@ Nick P,

You’ve often thought US Bankers were the biggest crooks in the world…

Well it looks like those in London are, but best of all New Zealand is planning to enter the corruption game at the highest levels as well,

I can not say I’m surprised London used to be the terrorist cross roads of the world in the 1980s and 90s, then 9/11 caused them to move on. Then the UK Gov had this wonderful idea to give the big accountanting firms their number one xmas wish, of what are now called Limited Liability Partnerships… which have been shifting more money in and out of slush and bribery funds than just about any other financial instruments.

Nick P June 1, 2016 1:31 PM

@ All

Into the depths of C: Elaborating on De Facto Standards

Great piece of work that looks at all the ways implementations are handling the C standard in terms of things like memory, pointers, and arithmetic. They describe the issues and effects. They also build formal model that allows analysis of that. They test the models against GCC and such. This paper might be helpful for people trying to see C’s dark corners to learn to avoid or handle them. It’s also another good piece of the foundation for formally verifying C programs despite effects of undefined behavior and optimization.

ianf June 1, 2016 3:46 PM

[…] “The real problem is that the infrastructure folk want to hang onto the useless archaism called a power grid for the residential captive audience.

All dandy, tyr, except it’s a two-way, n-dimensional street, and those infrastructure folks are us. The audience goes where the grid is, the grid appears where the audience is headed to. Much as we’d like to, we can’t all be living in off-the-grid solar- and wood stove-heated Winnebagos. And that’d be even less of an option during a nuclear winter.

Let us not forget that all advanced civilizations essentially begun as a quest to deliver potable water, and (though much later) build conduits for sewage disposal from human agglomerations: civilization equals aqueduct and sanitation networks. For those reasons alone, the cities—noisy, congested, dirty and plenty dangerous though they are—represent the pinnacle of human communal evolution, with cultural and survival advantages that far outstrip their disadvantages.

[…] “instead of stringing multiple copper lines to get [telephone networks] going [the third worlders] just put up a few towers.

A very “simplicosophisticaté” description of conditions in the 3rd World, and, besides, you can not compare setting up packet telecoms (radio data towers) with high wattage-bearing power lines, which can but be done in the traditional hardware cable fashion. Even were it possible to set up huge solar energy farms in the outback, etc., to serve large local communities, they’d still require wired distribution networks, meaning your hated geo-loc-enslaving grid.
        I’ve seen projections of landmasses needed for such solar farms, their footprint no more than stamps on a table-sized world map. On the other hand it is often claimed that the entire present solar cell industry makes but 5-15% of what would be required for the task. Clearly, then, we’re not ready for deployment of that wonderfully clean, inexhaustible, silent (and, in the deserts, badly needed shade-inducing!) energy source for the developing, much less the developed world.

[…] “we are floating in an endless sea of energy, with an entire planet broken into convenient chunks [… and …] we can’t overcome the inertia of doing things the same old way until it kills us off.

Well…, yes. You just correctly diagnosed that collectively we can’t get past our own thoughts’ escape velocity, yet you expect us to break free of that comfy envelope and speed-evolve(?) never the less.

    From a pure philosophical point of view, if we—the humans—prove unable to keep the Earth in ecological balance, and add to/ if not outright engineer/ our own destruction, then we’re obviously an evolutionary dead end, and deserve to become extinct. Then other species can fill the master of the enviro niche… and perhaps, in time, they too will evolve brains large enough to write such piffle as this here. And if they surpass us in the intellectual sense, perhaps they’ll even manage to decipher The Message of The Monolith® that the Jewish Cabal of Hollywood™ has placed on the Moon in order to confuse the bejesus out of future caretaker civilizations that might succeed us. It all dovetails quite nicely, no?

[Don’t forget to tune in to next week’s lecture on “Dust mites – are they for real or what,” free on iTunesU and elsewhere.]

tyr June 1, 2016 7:29 PM


A few quibbles.

No one has demonstrated that nomads are inferior
to walling everyone up in cities. The entire set
of urban structures are a VR (ideas framed into
the available matter, usually badly but that’s an
art critique). There is no such thing as balance
or ecology in the world of living things that’s
an paradigmatic illusion projected onto a barely
understood mystery world by our own umwelt. The
language we use carries enormous baggage of old
and obselete ideas along which contort most of
our thoughts and not always for the best.

I think William Gibson had it right when he said
it’s an urban experiment run by a mad social
researcher with his thumb permanently on the fast
forward button. Don’t like what you see just wait
a week and you’ll like that even less.


I knew there was a reason for the Perfidious Albion
nickname. To say that the history of London and its
far flung swindling has a few dark spots is to call
yourself an innocent. Fleecing widows and orpans is
a time honored profession.

r June 1, 2016 7:45 PM


going “off the grid”, is a decentralization solution.

think of it as “security”.

they may not be good answers respectively or technologically, but keeping a couple slabs of aluminum around for inclusion in a salt water bath might help you and others someday.

Dirk Praet June 1, 2016 7:47 PM

@ Bruce

A tip for next Friday’s Squid post: The Gyrating Giant Mechanical Squid

@ Clive

You’ve often thought US Bankers were the biggest crooks in the world…

Ken Livingston was right all along. I hope Sadiq Khan takes a similar disposition toward the City’s banksters. Then when Jeremy becomes the new PM, he can issue an edict declaring them all gay and ban them to Dubai.

And we talked about keyboard drivers and spell checkers…

Yet another reason to stay clear of the cloud. Jeez …

Figureitout June 1, 2016 10:32 PM

Random Technical Question (highly doubt anyone knows lol)
–Has anyone flashed a TP link MR3420 router (not MR3220) w/ dd-wrt or open-wrt via webflash? F*ckers got a little something compiled in their .bin (which I didn’t look at b/c I can’t disassemble binaries) that’s authenticating or something. Tried the usual trick of renaming the file to the firmware that would reflash, cracks me up when that works. Wanted to try the “wireless adapter” feature that isn’t in proprietary firmwares b/c they suck (and my high gain antennas b/c I bought this cheap crap router exclusively b/c of external antenna connectors b/c I can’t solder them). Spent a couple hours on it and failed and kinda pissed now. Want to avoid jtag’ing in and the other weird method if possible b/c of time limits. Probably going to get into the router scene in the next few years a little more though.

Clive Robinson
–Figured I’d bug you a little (can you imagine if you were in my family or something like that? I’d bug the hell outta you, wouldn’t care if you’re moaning on a hospital bed :p).

Pet project question. I’m mulling taking out a channel changing feature b/c my algorithm/implementation is too weak or prone to fail…

Haven’t done any field testing yet, just on my bench. But basically I’m just using all channels right now (couldn’t get my handpicked channels to work only, will try again probably), starting both RX and TX at 0, going up to 125, and all over again. If TX fails, then I decrement by one (since I increment every activation), so TX will stay on that channel and not get the channels out of wack between RX and TX. I’m mulling also writing that failure to the TX node eeprom even though it’d be very exposed to erasing the evidence.

I also used “goto” since I want just a pure branch if equal/not equal or jsr or jump instruction in C, know that’s unsafe or whatever but it’s not that bad how I’m using it.

Unplugging RX, letting the TX fail for awhile not getting an ack from RX (cycling thru channels), then plugging back in, they didn’t re-sync to the right channel. This is what’s scaring me the most (I have a weird hunch that serial monitor stuff in Arduino is affecting this…that would be weird).

Any simple algorithms to keep 1 TX and 1 RX node synced reliably while changing channels continuously (incrementing by 1)? The algorithm used at my work to find the channel used is kinda smushed inbetween layers of the protocol and application code…

Always funny how things change from what you want initially to how things will shape up in the end lol. I’m thinking of just using multiple rounds of XTEA instead of AES for encryption since I don’t think that can be cracked in a timely manner (just want to use all 32 bytes in the packet and encrypt it well, now I’m only using 8 bytes), attacker has to be close and have the proper receiver, and get the right channel and addresses…there’d have to be a backdoor.

Clive Robinson June 1, 2016 11:58 PM

@ r,

It’s not just Jeff bezos, it’s Elon Musk and quite a few others including a large chunk of NASA, and that’s just inside the US.

The problem in doing it currentlt is Earth’s gravity well, it costs to much to build rockets as “one offs”. Ultimately the solution will be something along the lines of Arthur C. Clark’s “Space Elevator” –see his book “Fountain’s of Paradise”– but it’s a chicken and egg issue. We will not get cheap space transport, untill there is a good reason to have people go into space other than for science and tourism, the WASP politicians see little vote earning potential in it and most commercial organisations with share holders don’t see the profit in it. Both are very short term views, that neither Russia or China share currently.

The way forward is to bring the cost of launches down. Oddly perhaps the first step is not having humans and their life support systems on board, secondly to make rockets re-usable, then use hybrid flight systems. But it also means making payloads lighter and more efficient as well, which means we need new engineering solutions. But those payloads also need to ultimately be part of “self replicating” systems which means the “robots” need to be small and simple and near universal in nature.

Lot’s of people are working the individual parts of the problem but you rarely get to hear about it.

Elon Musk, knows full well that his re-usable rockets are a short term soloution to the problem, His ideas on re-working manufacturing/production will knock a hugh chunk of costs not just out of car production but rocket and aircraft production. Richard Branson likewise knows that his particular hybrid launch system is not realy of much use other than to get people a glimpse into space, but not orbit. But what both Elon and Richard know, is that their solutions are pragmatic stepping stones to make profit to re-invest into the next step. Because they realise what the politico’s don’t which is neither the chicken or the egg came first, they evolved from something else through lots of little changes.

But if you wan’t a glimpse of where the technology will go next have a look at the likes of Skylon. One view of it, is it beats the likes of Concord into the ground in terms of fast transport. It could get you from New Mexico to Australia in less than a couple of hours, and that is something people would be more than prepared to pay for. It would also be as near fully reusable as current large jet aircraft are. Making changes to it to get payloads up into very low orbit would not be difficult.

But there is a problem, which is we have “craped on the door step”, there is so much man made junk up in space, we first need to send in a clean up squad. The question thus arises of how to do it either economically or at a profit. The answer may well be micro sats with ion motors and electrical pendulums to lift the junk into higher orbits where it can be either recycled in some way or pushed into a safe place etc.

Thus we could have low earth orbit in use sufficiently profitably within the next five years that getting to the astroids or moon in a similar profitable way could be a decade or two away.

The one thing that is certain is that putting a man somewhere as a “political stunt” can be counter productive to doing it as a “profitable venture”. And whilst the former is glamorous and inspires youth, it’s the latter that makes it happen for all mankind.

But a thought for you, NASA is looking very seriously into the space elevator business for entirely pragmatic reasons. One asspect of which is high efficiency high density energy storage systems. Because whilst it takes a lot of energy to get up Earth’s gravity well the opposite is also true, you get a lot of that energy back coming down. Thus you could have the space elevator run almost like a pendulum. The sort of batteries you would want for this would also be rather usefull for running homes “off grid” in many parts of the world. It is thus a piece of “space science” that will get a lot of “spin off” before it even leaves the ground. Oh and you can bet “dollars to doughnuts” Elon Musk has got his eye very much on that one as well. But again that is a pragmatic step to more efficient energy transmission, electrified railway systems are more efficient than carrying fuel, engines, generators and motors, even though getting the power to them by third rail or overhead cantenary is quite inefficient due to IR losses. It would make the elevators into space a lot more efficient. But oddly enough people are already looking to use any such more efficient energy transmission for inclined railway systems for fast energy generation. Imagine a long incline with a very large mass train on it the potential energy is likewise large, converting that to kinetic energy is easy you take the break off, converting that to high voltage electrical energy is again well understood and developed technology. And trial energy storage systems based on this are already being built as prototypes. If the energy transmission can be made very efficient then such systems could be built into tall buildings to deal with energy surges etc. Oh and a similar mechanical battery is one that is being looked at for “hundred year storage” for security locks on nuclear waste storage facilities. So what other odd applications can you think of?

not_convinced June 2, 2016 12:21 AM

@Clive Robinson

I have no doubts about the launch costs and what utopia could happen by reducing those (OK some doubts)

I don’t think agree with your views on the populational energy carrrying capacity of the Earth.

What’s to stop us from slowly growing upwards besides today’s popular politicos?

Wael June 2, 2016 1:27 AM

@not_convinced, @Clive Robinson,

What’s to stop us from slowly growing upwards besides today’s popular politicos?

Have you ever spent time in a high-rise, son? Ever stood in a balcony area? Ever put your life in another man’s hands, ask him to put his life in yours? We follow the laws of physics, son. We follow gravity or people die. It’s that simple. Are we clear?

Clive Robinson June 2, 2016 2:54 AM

@ Figureitout,

Synchronizing channel changing with unreliable communications paths is a hard but solvable problem for just a pair of devices but very hard for multiple devices bordering on impossible in mesh systems of any size (think solving four colour map problem).

The way it is done in cellular systems is to turn the problem around and solve the map problem before deployment, then program control nodes with their own “colours” of non interfering channel plans and use multiple beacon signals. Then cross your fingers that you don’t have to upgrade things beyond that which you invisaged at the original planning time.

I had to design a solution for the French Cordless phone market a number of years ago (quite a while befor DECT). The problem they had was that the base to handset frequencies were quite different to the handset to base frequencies and Spanish fishermen used very high power CB systems that interfered with the base to handset frequencies. There was also a requirment that handsets start ringing within four seconds of a valid ring signal ariving at the base. You were not alowed to have a beacon system or data transmission outside of a valid call or intercom usage either as that would create interferance to other manufactures systems so was marked as a no-no in the regulations. The other problem was that the base also work as a PABX to upto four handsets.

Ignoring the PABX issue other than it defined the base as the master unit, have a think about how you would solve the issue of the base transmitting to the handsets when a Spanish fisherman is having an intermittent rag-chew with another fisherman. Obviously a handset on or very close to the base unit will work over the fisherman, but more distant handsets will not, and the base will have no idea if there is a Spanish fisherman interfering or if the handsets are out of range etc etc.

But there were a number of other issues due to hardware. Firstly only one transmitter and receiver in each unit, the synthesizers were very slow –20mS chan to chan, 75mS for the 80chan step from band bottom to band top– and only one byte of flash ROM available due to storage of ten dialing memories plus last number redial and five bytes for random base ID and handset numbers. Oh and handsets needed a two day battery life so the handset needed a ten to one duty cycle of 100mS on and 900mS of during “standby usage”.

So que “Mission Impossible” theme tune.

The technique I thought up whilst not perfect worked sufficiently well to be acceptable. I broke the eighty channels up into eight sub groups of ten channels spread in a weighted manner across the band based on nominal control channel in the sub group. When first powered up the base randomly selected the sub group and channel number. During the handset to base programing phase –done with intercom– the group and channel is transfered from the base to handset.

Unless problems occure the base and handset(s) will keep the sub group and control channel the same. If the base receives a ring or the intercom button is pressed it sends out a signal out it’s ID and either a rng0 or intN command for a second and a quater, if it does not receive an ackN from any of the handsets it swiches to the second channel in the group, and sends for one and a quater seconds then the third then back to the primary channel and so on whilst there is a valid ring/intercom. The handsets power up once a second and listen on the control channel, then alternately on either the second or third channel before going back to sleep, unless it receives what looks like valid data, in which case it dwells for half a second to verify.

If the base receives an ackN from any handset it stays on channel untill either a handset sends a ansN signal or the ring or intercom signal stops.

What all receivers do is keep an average of the last ten seconds of RSSI levels on the three channels which are used to decide if there is interefence or other users on the channels, they send this back to the base unit as part of the ackN signal. The base uses this along with it’s own RSSI readings to decide what channel to move to if a channel change is needed.

The problem is trying to decide when to signal a channel change to the handsets. It uses a certain number of “no acks” from all receivers to decide a channel change is due. But will only change when it gets a response from all handsets, or the user specificaly requests a channel change.

The channel it changes to is the one with the lowest RSSI score at the base, unless that channel has a high RSSI score from the handsets, in which case it’s the next lowest base RSSI score channel.

The base will work it’s way through only the sub group channel numbers automatically, unless it finds no base channels with low RSSI or the handsets have no low RSSI channels. It will change the sub group if the user requests a second channel change within approximately a day.

There are other rules but it worked reasonably well on the customers simulation tests, and they approved it.

The main take away is that you have to come up with a model of why things are going wrong, then come up with a rule set within the hardware capabilities then test it. It’s not a particularly fast process and it will probably never work 100% automaticaly if you cannot have guarenteed clear beacon channels as the cellular people do. Thus you have to have a manual overide system built in.

Clive Robinson June 2, 2016 3:22 AM

@ not_convinced,

I don’t think agree with your views on the populational energy carrrying capacity of the Earth.

OK but in what way do you not agree with them and why?

Oh and remember, people seldom do what is good for them longterm, you can see that from the top four causes of premature death. Politico’s get told how to remedy those top four yet the fail to take any action repeatedly, so you have to ask yourself why they don’t.

Probably the most good for themselves and others people could take is to use their legs more. That is “take the stairs”, “walk / cycle 40mins or more a day” and don’t take the car within a mile of where you go shopping.

Whilst it sounds easy, and mostly is, it’s not convenient, even when you show people they could save upto 20% of their take home pay, and increase their life expectancy by more than ten years, they still go for convenience 90% of the time.

Their choice, but unfortunately it’s not just their loss.

Petter June 2, 2016 7:01 AM

Palantir have received a $200M contract with US SOCOM to develop intelligence software.

Palantir vill provide licenses and support for All Source Information Fusion (ASIF) software.

Yes it’s “that” Palintir – it’s one of the involved companies in the HBGary/Anonymous mess – which together with a couple of others planned and offered illegal cyberattacks and calculated misinformation against WikiLeaks and its supporters.

Nick P June 2, 2016 10:19 AM

@ r

Their alter ego is “idlewords,” aka Maciej Ceglowski. Here’s a great presentation that covers ad industry, surveillance, VC bullshit, SF bullshit, and trolls the technocrats all at once. He’s always mocking Silicon Valley saying things like how he wouldn’t make it there because Pinboard stays profitable. YC, parent of Hacker News, even cheated him out of $20,000 he won in a vote with a last-minute rule change or something. When they caved, he had them donate it to an organization that helps the homeless of SF in an epic move of trolling. 😉

His company backstory is interesting with some great trolling of Yahoo. Twitter feed here with his rants. I occasionally look at his stuff for the entertainment. Might try the actual service eventually haha.

Recent: “Verge’s Apple watch review summarized in tweet format: this pointless device is shiny and expensive. Now let’s watch you fuckers try to scroll.” Lol…

not_convinced June 2, 2016 10:34 AM

@Clive Robinson

OK but in what way do you not agree with them and why?

A couple of pictures are probably worth almost 500 words 😉

I will concede that it’s possible we’ll have to mine space for the required resources. I haven’t finished working out the math yet. Of course, I think the political long-term thinking problem is our greatest obstacle, and collapse does seem to be the most likely result… Yet, our society has already endured this process many, many times.


We follow gravity or people die.

OK, how about we build more downwards and save the surface for solar collection?

Wael June 2, 2016 12:19 PM


OK, how about we build more downwards and save the surface for solar collection?

That makes more sense. Earth’s final frontier is under water. This documentary covers the idea.

Nick P June 2, 2016 4:49 PM

@ Clive

It was too well-written to get a smile out of me. More like a grimace. 😉

r June 2, 2016 6:38 PM


while our waters are most definately the final earthbound frontier, space is limitless? and conquering it is the only route for permanent expansion.

Dirk Praet June 2, 2016 6:48 PM

@ Clive, @ Nick P

This might raise a wry smile

I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse. I have come to believe that a liberal democracy can only prevail in societies with a thriving middle class. Erosion or even downright desintegration of the middle class caused by unbridled capitalism and economic decline leads to oligarchic domination, populism and all kinds of extremist thinking both political and religious. And that’s exactly what we are seeing happening pretty much all over the place today.

On the upside, I have just improved my personal records push press and deadlift to 203 and 430 lbs. (92.5/195 kg.) respectively. Yay myself!

Wael June 2, 2016 7:14 PM


space is limitless?

Relatively speaking, yes. Limitless in the absolute? Inconclusive. Terraforming planets is an interesting topic, though! Venus, The moon, … Speaking of terraforming the moon, don’t look at the URL, close your eyes and listen to the soundtrack, can you guess what show this is?. It used to be one of my favorite shows: complete series. I even had toy “Eagles” and a couple of pajamas that looked like their uniforms 🙂

and conquering it is the only route for permanent expansion.

Naturally! “Conquering” isn’t the right word, though 😉

r June 2, 2016 8:47 PM

@wael, clive

I wonder if the statement made about going underground is related to being an introvert?

I can readily see extrovert’s heading for space and introverts going underwater/underground.

r June 2, 2016 8:49 PM


I don’t think ‘conquering’ is incompatible with ‘permanent’.

Mastering in the form unrelated to creating may be compatible with ‘permanent’ too.

r June 2, 2016 9:04 PM


My much more significant other and I are now having the discussion you initiated as per ‘conquering’ and ‘permanent route of expansion’. She is on your side and I am trying to understand how it’s a bad word to use in this instance irrespective of any significant bias implied by [conquer/master/subjugate].

I posit that: It’s okay to fail @ conquering.

Care to elaborate?
I am at an empasse here.

Wael June 2, 2016 9:32 PM


understand how it’s a bad word to use in this instance …

It’s, imho, not the most appropriate word for different reasons. I wasn’t necessarily correlating “conquer” to “permanent”. To “conquer” implies an adversary position. Hostile as outer space is, “taming” or “colonizing” sounds more descriptive, I would think.

“Conquering” isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not the word I would use.

Wael June 2, 2016 9:52 PM


I wonder if the statement made about going underground is related to being an introvert? I can readily see extrovert’s heading for space and introverts going underwater/underground.

Introvert: Acrophobic…
Extrovert: Hydrophobic / Aqua-phobic and sometimes cluster-phobic / taphephobic 🙂

r June 2, 2016 10:03 PM


thanks for expanding on the intro/extro thingie.

and… ‘taming’ may be as disfunctional as ‘conquer/subjugate’ ???

also, colonizing is but a small part of what is going to be happening in space.

I really don’t think space will solve any of the problems we have here on earth, if we don’t learn to get along space most certainly won’t be any less hostile. Somebody wants to suck all the methane/hydrocarbons from venus? or water from europa/ganymede??? I am willing to bet it could get ugly if someone tries to corner a ‘market’.

r June 2, 2016 10:05 PM

AND using the moon as an intermediary base for escaping earth orbit could alter it’s orbit/mass over time?

Wael June 2, 2016 10:33 PM


‘taming’ may be as disfunctional as ‘conquer/subjugate’ ???

True. These were “hints”. The words I would have used are: migrate, inhabit, settle, populate,

Thesaurus is your friend!

AND using the moon as an intermediary base for escaping earth orbit could alter it’s orbit/mass over time?

That’s already happening with or without slingshots. It’s also a matter of 4 billion years before our galaxy, Ms. Milky Way, gets a plastic surgery makeover by Dr. Andromeda…

Gerard van Vooren June 2, 2016 11:24 PM

@ Clive, Dirk,

About the new dictators, I agree that it’s not going in the right direction. The only part the author didn’t touch is (US) self reflection. I am still baffled that Bush and all his mates (all of them!) got away with invading Iraq (weapons of mass distraction wasn’t it?) and the financial crisis. I mean, he raised the bar.

Figureitout June 3, 2016 12:00 AM

Clive Robinson
–I believe I can have 5 other “RX” devices that only talk to that TX, can see the code for that pretty much. I just don’t want to spend $$ on getting more right now. That’d be a partial solution. Bigger/better antenna, another partial solution. I want an authentication chip in there eventually for either the logs or authenticating the nodes, shouldn’t be too hard to do what I’m thinking but never used them before.

Can kinda follow your Dect story, huh ok.

Getting a signal strength value is pretty handy.

Alright back to work.

Thoth June 3, 2016 6:49 AM

A Short Rant On: Idealism vs. Realism.

We all want our software to be open source and our hardware to be open hardware as well. We want our chips to be verifiable, secure, honest without backdoors and have the designs freely open.

We want too much of these idealism yet reality is far from what we wish. There are limitations to idealism and there should be a healthy check on expectations.

Neither Intel, AMD nor ARM would be giving away their secret sauce anytime soon and RISC-V specifications are simply just specifications with the implementors doing their own things (which means they can choose to close source or semi-open their designs). The wish of having such a verifiable and open hardware have not delivered itself despite many anticipations, roadmaps and conference talks.

The Big Boys that rule the semi-conductor industry may not be very forgiving to new players that are deem a risk to their secretive business models either (and who knows what they might react).

The bulk of the hardware (especially security hardware) are closed source with NDAs. We, as security engineers, have to figure how to implement our solutions in an environment such as this by combining the most suitable hardware and tactics to ensure some levels of honesty and trust (dynamic whitebox and dynamically generated obfuscated logic) and at the same time delivering tangible and humanly usable security solutions in a graduated manner without being blinded by idealistic dreams and designs.

If we are consistently bugged by idealism, we wouldn’t move even a single inch and without even the slightest progress, the wishes to increase security is nothing but a bunch of theories.

To put it simply, stop dreaming, start designing usable security solutions and manifest it.

Clive Robinson June 3, 2016 8:03 AM

@ Dirk Praet,

On the upside, I have just improved my personal records…

Carefull at this rate, your shoulders and arms will have so much muscle, that lifting your arms to type at a keyboard will be difficult, and your keypresses dangerously close to punching holes in the PCB 😉

Therefore I recomend you invest in either a KSR or ASR terminal 🙂

Clive Robinson June 3, 2016 8:30 AM

@ r,

I can readily see extrovert’s heading for space and introverts going underwater/underground.

It’s not a question of introvert / extrovert at the end of the day.

It would appear that for various reasons a stable human population is not possible at anything above a subsistance level farm based society…

A physicaly infirm population can not survive independently in such a society. Thus like children they become dependent on the physicaly able approximately in the teen to middle age range.

Nor for that mater can the science based industry that makes the likes of medicine possible. So this would bring life expectancy down to early seventies at best, about half the age potentialy we might otherwise reach in the next hundred years.

Further we are effectivly “resource bound” in that we have effectivly recovered from the earths crust what we can without increasing levels of technology, but that will only give us a couple of decades or so.

So the answer at the end of the day is to get resources from else where, and the sooner we start the better.

For obvious reasons “green” energy is all derived from “solar” energy, the atmosphere vegitation etc effectivly disapates this energy thus makes it very much less than it could otherwise be. Out in space solar energy is much more coherent and as such easy to gather in usefull forms. Thus setting up base industry in space makes a lot more sense than trying to set it up on earth.

There is very little argument from those aquainted with the human need for resources on this score. It’s others who would rather continue riding a failing system down in flames that make most of the counter usually very short term argument.

As for visiting the stars, that is currently well well beyond our capabilities, even visiting the outer parts of the solar system is extreamly difficult, getting to stay at say pluto is currently beyond our capabilities and likely to remain so unless we put in the effort whilst we still have the spare resources to do so.

tyr June 3, 2016 11:36 AM


When I was in the L-5 Society, the real plan was
to build the habitat module in the L5 Lagrange
point. Once it was proved to be long term viable
the only thing needed was an engine system and
we’re off to the near stars. We couldn’t get an
interest level in the politicians for even a
meagre funding. Building the starship is the easy
part, dragging the luddites out of the dark ages
is the hard part.
There seems to be some disconnect between the art
of long term planning and the short attention span
of ordinary folk.

But they shouldn’t worry even though the longterm
thinkers have all read The Marching Morons they
are not going to force luddites into outer space.

Nick P June 4, 2016 3:31 PM

@ Grauhut

The book was mostly a summary of ideas floating around in there. So-so on that. However, the gold in there for me was the optical interconnect section for components on PCB’s. I did read about optocouplers before. I even knew they were working on all optical interconnects back when I studied Lenslet’s Enlight. They mentioned it as a goal in one article on an already badass design. I now recognize it was an analog computer using optics instead of electrical circuits given primitives directly implemented mathematical functions.

The interesting thing is that they note advantages of using optical links in PCB. There is apparently less energy, less heat, and less EMI. The latter is especially interesting as it might be useful in EMSEC work along lines of TEMPEST shielding. It would be interesting to know if tiny optocouplers between key chips would reduce amount of emanations. Maybe Wael or Clive chime in here. I know that ASIC’s on modern nodes are already very, low power compared to whatever is on a PCB. Intercepting signals at the boundary then directly converting them into focused, directed light may be a way to reduce emissions. Throw in Silicon-on-Insulator if possible due to its natural advantages in this domain.

So, for optical PCB’s, interesting find. I didn’t know they exists. Any reader here seen a product with optical PCB’s outside one-off uses of octocouplers? I’m talking most of circuits connected optically.

Note: A quick Google found an IBM paper showing how to design and manufacture them. Very interesting stuff. Another is a company that seems to specialize in building them plus show the kind of equipment used.

ianf June 15, 2016 6:38 AM

@ tyr has “a few quibbles: No one has demonstrated that nomads are inferior to walling everyone up in cities.

Are you talking of indigenous folks’ nomadic life styles, or of modern-day occasional/ temporary tech-nomads, pretty elitist and snobby types all? I read your anti-grid salvo more as poetry, than as a “tear down those grids, Mr. Legacy Infrastructure Owner” type of plea.

My knowledge of nomadism may be (=is) limited, but I have this for you: as soon as nomads get tired of this, they start to flock together, and there the grids (of various kinds) reappear. Most often that comes down to someone living in a VW van on long-term campings (the rich retirees in latest model Winnebagos etc). Modern nomadic lifestyle is just a transient condition on the road from temporary N to permanent Z. This is as true of by-definition short lived stays at the “Bohemian” Grove and annual high-tech hedonism festival Burning Man; as of the allegedly permanent off-the-grid Slab City, though that in reality closer to a rent-free human refuse heap in the desert.

Simply put, human tendency to flock together for companionship, mutual support and defense is among the oldest Sapiens instincts, or we wouldn’t be uncovering traces of all these lost cities. Even in a region where native nomadic lifestyle has survived to present day, there exists a sun-dried mud brick Manhattan, the 1400-to-500yo Shibam in the Yemeni desert.

    The notion of a noble lone-wolf content with the solitude, subsiding on summer pickings and hoarded winter vegetables in a shack at the periphery of society, is a pipe-dream… the last known such being Ted Kaczynski who couldn’t wait to have his voice echo all over the world.

BTW. Re: “To say that the history of London and its far flung swindling has a few dark spots is to call oneself an innocent. Fleecing widows and orpans is a time honored profession.

I share the sentiment exactly, even though I have no idea which expression of which previous Clive Robinson’s post about London (by you by default not linked to) this might’ve been about. Of course I do not expect Londoner Clive to fault/foul his own, if only historical(?), nest, but then there are limits to degrees of acceptable obfuscation, and beyond that there are other LIMITS. Besides, history teaches as that, warts et al, robber barons are often the accelerating agents of (if heavily lopsided) progress of sorts, be it at the cost of considerable regress elsewhere.

@ rrrrrrrr

I know what going off the grid stands for, but have read tyr’s post as a diatribe against the enslaving (captive, though hardly captivating ;-)) existence of power/ comms grids as such, not as a prospect of some virtue. Besides, there are other meanings of “the grid,” than the one you supplied.

think of it as “security”

Security against what exactly? The only guaranteed such in off-the-gridess of a type that you envision, is near-assurance of dying of exposure to “the elements” all alone, and being ecologically recycled at the leisure of lower biological order fauna and flora. This takes quite a resolve… easier to give out the last breath within boundaries of some Neon Wilderness, as there will be designated others there to process the former you into oblivion.

[…] “keeping a couple slabs of aluminum around for inclusion in a salt water bath might help you and others someday.

How big the slabs…? I should perhaps consult some preppers, if only the ones that I’ve seen on TV weren’t such an unappetizing deranged lot[*]. As for Alu… there should be plenty of abandoned vehicles around, with parts to scavenge, so learning to discern usable alloys etc might be the better advice. Because what says that when The Day comes, you’d still be near these hoarded slabs?

    Maybe there is a philosophical yet practically minded book on the subject, feel free to recommend—but NO might-makes-right survivalist stuff—I’d rather die then (I have not looked for any such yet, don’t want to give Amazon etc ideas on which targeted IMPORTANT MESSAGES! I should be inundated with next).

[^*] One plumpy woman hoarded a large Tupperware container’s worth of condoms, because such would be hard to come by. Apart from rubber’s natural detoriation (she’d need a condom humidor to preserve them), I suppose she never watched that post-apocalyptical instructional video, much less pondered on the fact that, all things considered, children are a replenishable protein resource. You want to survive, you eat Baby now!

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