Jonathan Wilson January 31, 2020 5:40 PM

Yet another attack on end-to-end encryption:

Personally if it comes down to a choice between weaker security for everyone or letting bad guys go free (be they someone who wants to rob the local liquor store and steal a few bucks and a bottle of Jack Daniels, someone who wants to shoot up the local church because the church doesn’t believe in the right god, someone who jacks off to photos of 5 year old kids or someone who wants to fly a plane full of people into the side of a building, I will take the strong security over catching the bad guys.

Even more so in the cases where the bad guy is already in jail or dead and they have enough evidence to send them to death row and yet they still insist that they somehow need to get into the the bad guy’s devices (when they have zero need to do that in order to successfully win in court on the multiple murder charges they would be able to bring against these kinds of people).

Why should a guy who shoots up a church because that church doesn’t believe in the right god be treated any different to a guy who shoots up the same church because the priest slept with his wife? Its still x number of counts of murder and still going to put the guy in the electric chair or in front of the firing squad or killed via whatever method of execution applies in that particular jurisdiction.

Gordon January 31, 2020 6:08 PM

Please no posts re Brexit. We know that Gladhemeer is guilty. Congrats anyway, Bongs. Well done!

Clive Robinson February 1, 2020 3:03 AM

@ Jonathan Wilson,

Why should a guy who shoots up a church because that church doesn’t believe in the right god be treated any different to a guy who shoots up the same church because the priest slept with his wife?

The answer if you listen closely to the Government rhetoric is about “18 U.S. Code §371” or,

    Conspiracy to XXX

It does not matter what XXX is if they can claim you were in the same room when the gunman thought / talked about / did smething related to XXX then the can argue that you are guilty of “conspiracy”…

It’s not something you can defend against, people say and do things others treat as jokes or letting off steam etc and think no further of it. But admitting to hearing that joke etc makes you a conspiritor.

Even an ambiguous text message to the gunman could (and has) been argued was a coded message to do some step YYY towards XXX.

It’s another one of these “lying to Federal Officers” pieces of legislation the difference is conspiracy is worse because its “past tense”. That is you can not “not say” what you have said or written in the past, but you do have a choice about lying if you know before you say anything they are federal officers.

The thing you have to remember with prosecutors is it’s not what people get convicted for it’s the number of convictions they get, or get people to plea deal accept.

A lone loony who is dead at the scene is a waste of time as far as the investigators and prosecuters are concerned there are no “promotion points” as there are no convictions. Thus searching around to find a conspirator or two turns it into a potential “promotion points” situation especially if you can make it a “hot button” crime like “terrorism” or “computer crime” etc.

And before anyone says that investigators and prosecutors don’t behave that way, go take a serious look at the way they actually behave.

It’s why everybody “near” a crime in someway is on the suspect list untill they can take themselves off. Investigators don’t as a rule take you off even if you have a solid alibi, only if they know it can not be challenged. Few of us in our daily lives ever have unchallengable alibis… The thing about “conspiracy to…” is that there is no alibi for it when you think about it.

[1] 18 US Code,§ 371, is the “universal catchall” of conspiracy legislation, there are many others that are specific or have different tariffs. Federal prosecuters effectively have a rubber stamp for §371 as, they tack it on every prosecution they can. The actual legislative text is quite short,

Note the lack of definition of what is required to conspire, and what has been accepted in the past is very broad in interpretation.

Alejandro February 1, 2020 4:33 AM

Face masks to fend off Wuhan Flu must be creating havoc with the facial ID system. Some folks in China are cutting off the bottom of a 5 gallon water jug and wearing it like a helmet. Maybe masks and helmets will become a new fashion (and personal privacy/security) statement.

IsSiteStillUp February 1, 2020 7:12 AM

FYI. Comprehensive list of the dangers and defenses for public Wi-Fi networks is at

@Michael – are you sure the site is up?

When I try the URL as given I get a “This page can’t be displayed”. When I try using HTTP instead of HTTPS it redirects to which indeed has a section

Obviously I can’t vouch for the safety of that page.

I can’t

dbCooper February 1, 2020 10:52 AM

@Clive Robinson:

As regards your valid points on conspiracy charges, current events in the USA seem to indicate it is beneficial to have your “jury” composed of your co-conspirators.

Michael February 1, 2020 12:30 PM

My apologies for the bad link. The real site name is

the other domain, is an alias (shorter)

I did not realize that the alias only works via HTTP, not also via HTTPS. Not sure why.

Site is not a commercial thing. No ads, no tracking, no affiliate links, not even images (by default).

Ismar February 1, 2020 2:39 PM

These look more fashionable
Hiding in plain sight: activists don camouflage to beat Met surveillance

Clive Robinson February 1, 2020 2:52 PM

@ dbCooper,

current events in the USA seem to indicate

For some reason the gravely voice of Joe Cocker, is going by in my head singing,

    Yes, You get by, with a little help from your friends

Clive Robinson February 1, 2020 3:14 PM

@ Scott,

    “but instead from public panic and panicked government responses”

Also certain comments such as China and the United States “are on top of things”, when clearly they are not in either case…

The thing is so far there have been far less deaths from this virus than the US experiences with the flu virus most years.

However that is going to change. The reasons are firstly there are now something like 10,000 known cases in China and the disease mapping people at Imperial College London sugest it’s probably between 40,000 and 100,000. That is they are either not symptomatic yet or only mildly so and have not yet got on the radar.

Secondly the known number who have recovered is about the same number as have died. So the “known outcome” in patients is around 5% therefor in 95% of medically known infections the outcome is still very much unknown.

Which also suggests that the time from initial infection through to recovery is a month or more. Most “colds” (which are cornavirus varients themselves) are dun and dusted in 6 to 10 days….

Not much more is realy known yet even though it has been genesequenced already and there are now known testing protocols from the likes of the CDC.

Clive Robinson February 1, 2020 3:21 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

Do not read this link.

I’ve actually been looking forward to seeing them in the flesh as it were (some are actually on vellum).

Yes, I have my own very very small collection of maps and charts, some of WWI sea battles. My son also has shown an interest in all sorts of maps including “railway maps”.

vas pup February 1, 2020 3:31 PM

Weapon-spotting tech tested by Las Vegas casino:

“Technology which can detect if someone is openly carrying or hiding a weapon is being tested by a Las Vegas casino.

Unlike a metal detector, the sensors can be placed discreetly into areas such a turnstile or building’s entrance creating an invisible fence.

BBC Click speaks to Patriot One, who is behind the technology, to find out more.”

Very good video inside as well!!!

vas pup February 1, 2020 3:54 PM

@Bruce: I know subject is very interesting for you

People may lie to appear honest
Efforts to avoid appearing dishonest may actually lead to lying

“”Many people care greatly about their reputation and how they will be judged by others, and a concern about appearing honest may outweigh our desire to actually be honest, even in situations where it will cost us money to lie,” said lead researcher Shoham Choshen-Hillel, PhD, a senior lecturer at the School of Business Administration and Center for the Study of Rationality at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Our findings suggest that when people obtain extremely favorable outcomes, they anticipate other people’s suspicious reactions and prefer lying and appearing honest over telling the truth and appearing as selfish liars.”

The study found similar findings about lying to appear honest in a series of experiments conducted with lawyers and college students in Israel, as well as online participants in the United States and United Kingdom. The research was published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.”

SpaceLifeForm February 1, 2020 4:51 PM


Ryan admitted he was surprised by the speed with which the outbreak has taken off. China alerted the WHO to the fact that it believed a new virus was causing pneumonia in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Dec. 31.

[IIRC, the first report was on 2019-12-12. Which says that China did not know what they were dealing with immediately]

“For me it’s been unusual to see a new disease emerge and, on the face of it, move so quickly,” he said. If the scientists studying the genetic sequences of the viruses are right and the outbreak began sometime in late November or early December, “then this is a very rapid emergence and very rapid infection of a lot of people.”

[the long incubation time (7 days) is a problem]

[And, now a France health care worker apparently has been infected from two patients]

maqp February 1, 2020 9:42 PM

TFC 1.20.02 is now released.

There’s two major updates in this release

  1. A new PCB-based data diode. The instructions provide gerber files for ordering PCBs, plus stereolithography files that allow anyone to 3D-print a case for the data diode. Both the data diode and the case are designs by cxcorp; kudos to him. The Data diode has an optional PCB-board for LEDs that display through the case when data transmission takes place.
  2. Public key diff guides that allow the Relay Program on the Networked Computer to show the user where they made typos when entering a TFC account or an X448 public key. The wiki article has a much more in-depth explanation

The TFC signing key expired in January. The SHA256 fingerprint for the file containing the new public RSA-key is 33ddcdda770e080f9a511884a3c18c138cc9b5fbb2dac1d64c6e3a36599bac69. This is the same fingerprint as the one used in the installer one-liner.

There’s new screenshots and 3D-renderings, and many of the wiki articles have been expanded.

Finally, I undid the “black” code formatting as it hurt readability of code, messed up test vector arrays etc.

Wesley Parish February 1, 2020 11:08 PM


It’s why everybody “near” a crime in someway is on the suspect list untill they can take themselves off. Investigators don’t as a rule take you off even if you have a solid alibi, only if they know it can not be challenged. Few of us in our daily lives ever have unchallengable alibis… The thing about “conspiracy to…” is that there is no alibi for it when you think about it.

I think you can find that particular set of symptoms described in most books dealing with clinical psychosis. Paranoia is a psychological disorder that can get one committed in many a jurisdiction. That the person is paranoid due to policy and empolyment and not due to a “chemical imbalance in the brain” is no excuse – it is still enough to get one committed to a psychiatric institution – a high-security one if said official is permitted firearms in their normal duties.

Thoth February 2, 2020 4:42 AM

@Clive Robinson

This time its Malaysia’s turn to execute its own anti-fake news laws against alternative source of information regarding the Wuhan virus.

Very convenient for dictators to exercise absolute control via national emergency provisions to silence anyone and everyone.

Doctors and health researchers are widely targetted globally if they dare to reveal more information on their work and situation than the Governments approve (a.k.a alternative news).


Clive Robinson February 2, 2020 9:57 AM

@ Wesley Parish,

That the person is paranoid due to policy and empolyment and not due to a “chemical imbalance in the brain” is no excuse

Which as, you note is rather conveniant for some. It’s a kind of circular argument you see out of various “authority figures”. If they persecute you and you complain “you are paranoid” if you don’t complain then you must have some other mental illness… Either way “The victim is blaimed”.

The thing about “mental illness” is it’s highly stigmatized and people imagine some danger of someone being an axe or gun wielding “psycho-killer”. The reality is that more than a quater of the Western population and rising, get some form of mental illness at some point in their lives[1]. So once they have you on “Mentally ill” they can use it as an excuse to lock you up indefinitely “for your own safety”, or “the safety of others”.

In Russia for instance a standard tactic is to “bug the house” of a political suspect and “like Alexa” record everything that’s said. They also hide CCTV cameras in the bedroom. Then, when they pull the suspect in, they make them go through every conversation every video from the bedroom over and over in out of time sequence. They scream things at some suspects claim they have said things differently and basically drive the person into a confused or deranged state. The authorities do this just because they have “the lawfull authority” to do so…

As I said earlier you don’t have to believe me, just look at what goes on and examine what you find. And if not convinced there is a real issue, go and have a look at what the Chicargo PD did with their illegal detention center at Homan Square[2]. Then look into what “Special Administrative Measures” realy means, the UN lists many of the techniques as various forms of tourture.

But if you look at the dictionary discription of “paranoia” you usually find the word “unreasonable” or “delusional” in there,

Cambridge :- an extreme and unreasonable feeling that other people do not like you or are going to harm or criticize you.

Merriam-Webster :- characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur usually without hallucinations.

Thus the problem is who is to say what is “unreasonable” or “delusional”. There are many reasons why someone might have trust issues, having been bullied through school and adolescence is one reason, being involved in a number of abusive or controling relationships is another. After all not everyone has a robust personality, but even so we do all have breaking points…

As a friend who works in the profession pointed out to me, in effect,

    We all have worries and fears, some come from early events in our lives or are built in such as fear of spiders or the dark, and we can learn to overcome them. However anyone who knows what they are can do the opposit, and use them to make someone much more fearfull more anxious and thus look like they are unreasonably fearfull or delusional, to the point an untrained observer will believe the person is paranoid.

More interestingly they went on to describe that we realy do not know the mechanisms of actual clinical paranoia and why some people are more susceptable. Also that it may be linked to the mechanisms that give rise to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and certain avoidance disorders (like fobias etc).

The real point though is that humans are nearly all delusional and take an unreasonable view on life… This is because on mass we dare not face reality, we trust incorrectly, are overly optomistic and just simoly ignore inconveniant reality by victim blaiming and live more or less in the moment to get through life. Thus it does not matter how many facts and figures you present to the average person they will ignore it. In the modern era people are getting money and other things stolen via “Identity Theft” the victimes are almost always blaimed by just about every one. The organisations that gave credit where they should not or banking facilities, the organisations that just hand out things like utility bills without question, the authorities who should investigate and even the courts. They all blaim the victim and look the other way. The only reason there is not more identity theft and online financial crime is the lack of criminals.

But this sort of thing has been going on for centuries. The clasic example that most have heard and even still believe, was the faux news[3] of,

    Let them eat cake

The reason it was and still is believable though false is that it demonstrates how,

    The “commoners” incorrectly believe that the “aristocracy” are shielded from the “real life” commoners live.

But most people fail to realise it applies to all of us, we are all shielded in some way.

Just yesterday I was walking through London with my son and taking a short cut from Oxford St to Foyles book shop in the Charing Cross road. Due to Cross-Rail extentions, lots of places in that area are closed off. Thus forced into taking a detour down an alley beside a luxuary hotel, we saw a tent a group of people around it we had to walk around. I knew at a glance, at the things that were visable and the piles of vomit, that the people were not just homeless, or drunks but actual hard drug addicts and from eastern Europe. Having passed by unscathed –as is usually the case– I asked my son what he thought. He got homeless and drunk, but did not realise drug addicts or the types of drugs or where they were from. As the little encampment was clearly visable from the hotel entrance, the thought occured to me, “What do the guests think, if they even notice?”

The simple fact is most live in “bubbles of existance” and few ever go outside of their bubble or “tribe”. Thus their view of the world is almost entirely different from someone else less than a hundred feet away. So it’s very easy to manipulate the view points of people who have no idea or appreciation of the world outside their bubble. But be assured of one thing, there are many who chearfully exploit those existance bubbles to their own advantage, enjoyment or both, faux news and Internet “echo chambers” are just the latest ways.

[1] Various arguments have been put forward for the rise. One is, it is related to “anonymous high density environments”, that is living and working in cities where we are effectively alone is bad for us. Another is the stress of not being incontrol in our various lives. Others have suggested the trend towards 24hour living may play a part as there is no clear day/night barriers thus needed regular sleep cycles, which is backed up by medical evidence of stress related illnesses and higher incidence of addiction and suicide (it’s amazing why employeers are still alowed to use shift working “rotation” the way they do).



MarkH February 2, 2020 2:28 PM


I’ve read a fair number of your soliloquies over the years; your writing above about mental illness and the status of the lowly is trenchant and heartfelt.

Victim blaming is the special hobby for Americans of a certain ideological inclination, under the rubric of “personal responsibility.” Its application — in places where this ideology dominates — is Dickensian (or perhaps better, à la Victor Hugo) in its cruelty.

For example, when poor people have even the most minor conflicts with the law, they may accumulate snowballing fines and fees which vastly exceed their ability to pay. When they are jailed for failure to pay a fine timely, they are billed for the cost of their jail time …

In such regions, it is now fashionable to have fire services “by subscription.” If you don’t pay the substantial annual fee, and your home catches fire, they will come out, check whether any person is trapped inside, and then passively watch your house burn to the ground.

I often think of a line from American crime fiction, in which a character predicts that one of the murderers will (as a preliminary) “beat my teeth out and then kick me in the stomach for mumbling.”

And from Anatole France:

La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.

In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.

America prides itself on “economic mobility,” which is rather less than most Americans like to imagine. But it’s a two-way street, and social scientists have found that a surprising fraction of America’s poor were quite affluent at one time … a fine opportunity, for the study of majestic equality.

SpaceLifeForm February 2, 2020 4:11 PM

@ z, it’s dead jim

Consider the roots of TOR.

Where it started.

How many TOR users disable Javascript?

Grima February 2, 2020 4:22 PM

Alejandro & Ismar, re: masks & FR – Beat me to it, darn it. Surgical masks are designed to be worn by operating theatre health care practitioners to avoid contaminating a patient on the table with water-droplet-borne disease organisms. They are almost certainly extremely ineffective it shielding the wearer from novel coronavirus. But when I saw a video of some febrile CNN panic monger wearing one the other day, it occurred to me that it might be a great way to defeat most commonly deployed facial recognition tech. Another potential advantage is that (at least currently) I believe it is not likely to be questioned. In the event that it is questioned, I’m reasonably certain that mumbling something about being highly contagious and your MD prescribing mask wear whenever you are out in public, possibly accompanied by some strategic coughing and wheezing, should probably induce the questioner to beat a hasty retreat 🙂

Clive Robinson February 2, 2020 7:54 PM

@ Grima, Alejandro, Ismar,

Whilst the masks people are wearing might hide some featurs that facial recognition, they don’t hide all.

@ ALL,

Even the face masks senior Chinese officials are wearing are not sufficient for RNA virus infections…

The photograps shown so far sow them wearing poorly fitted N95 masks that in atleast one case is the wrong size for the persons face[1]. Most of these “dust” or “particulate” masks come in five diferent “face fittings” and you have to wear the right one otherwise leakage is going to happen.

Hospital and surgical masks are mainly designed for the protection of the patient not the doctor or nurse treating them. Further they are generally designed to stop droplets not air bourn individual virus strands (virons).

Your best bet is “issolation” that is keep away from other people as best you can. In the past it’s bern argued that sealing all doors and windows on the ground floors and ventilating from “the top floor” will help, but I’ve not seen any supporting evidence. However the use of disinfectants and bleaches with known bacteria killing and virus destroying capabilities for most surfaces that people touch there is plenty of evidence for. Diluting bleaches down to just a few drops per quat/ltr can be safely used to wash your body[2] and clothes along with ordinary “hard soaps” and detergents. Avoid the use of skin salves/lotions or fabric softeners.

According to The Guardian news paper’s rolling coverage[3], a couple of hours ago,

    With the death toll climbing to 360, it has passed the fatalities recorded in China for the Sars epidemic (349).

Whilst the R0 (R-nought) “basic reproduction rate” or average number of people infected from one infected idividual for SARS was around 2.5-10 the figure for nCov is apparently less at 1.4-2.5, but high compared to about 1.3 for most annual flu outbreaks… Which makes the rising death rate more worrying, as is the low symptomatic indicators, which for some are apparently less than an ordinary cold that is prevelant at this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere.

[1] An N95 raiting is that it will keep 95% of dry usually PM2.5 particulates out. N100 rating is 99.97% of again dry usually PM2.5 particulates out. Those rated as P95 and P100 are designed for “petroleum volatile products” as well. Those masks with a C have activated carbon for certain chemicals and those with a V have outlet valves that help prevent the build up of moisture which renders the mask difficult to breath through thus more likely to have leakage around the sides. The US EPA has three basic Particulate Matter sizes 10 microns PM10, 2.5 microns PM2.5 and 1 micron PM1. A micron (µm) is a thousand nanometers (nm), unfortunately virions –single virus particles– are 20-250 nanometers in diameter, so you see the problem…

[2] However even though we are talking about the bleach content being the same or less than with swiming pool water, it’s always advisable to avoid the eyes, nose, ears, mouth and certain other sensitive areas when such chemicals are in use.


Neha Sharma February 3, 2020 12:35 AM

KSAC is one of the most trusted multi-specialty Ayurvedic hospitals in India. For over two decades, we provides 100% Evidence based Treatments for diseases, Naturally.

Jossef A. February 3, 2020 4:52 AM

Maybe you would be interested in this news:

The people behind it are respectable cryptographers and yet it doesn’t sound right to me… but since I’me far from been an expert (of any kind…) I’me pretty much curious to hear your opinions…

MarkH February 3, 2020 9:11 AM


Respectable cryptographers?

Maybe … they’re all new names to me, but that doesn’t mean much. If somebody presents their concept without all of the breathless sales talk, someone here might take a look at it.

JonKnowsNothing February 3, 2020 9:16 AM


re: done surveillance and coronavirus

Some news reports indicate the use of drones by police to track, follow, talk to people who are outdoors. There are several MSM articles on the use of drones by police.

Points of Interest:

  • Hover altitude is low enough to see close detail
  • Drone visibly following the target
  • Operator has loud speaker-bullhorn RT voice talk to target
  • Operator can tell when someone is looking at the drone.
  • Drone operated within a city or urban district. This indicates ability to avoid aerial and other hazards like trees, phone lines.
  • Flight range and duration


A drone hovers in the distance and a voice calls out: “Uncle, why are you still going out without a face mask? Don’t laugh. Hurry up and get in your car and go home.” … As the man drives away, glancing back, the drone follows him and the voice warns: “Don’t come outside if you don’t have to. Rest at home … What are you looking at? Go!”

Drones have been used to supervise residents disobeying health advice in other parts of China. …. the machine over surprised residents. To one group she says: “Hey you pretty girls eating food and walking, please put on your masks. You can eat when you get home.”

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V February 3, 2020 9:32 AM

FiveThrityEight posits that caucuses – where the lack of secrecy is a feature – may be a valid use for online voting.
(fractured URL)
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SpaceLifeForm February 3, 2020 12:38 PM

R-nought will vary.

I suspect it was definitely over 4 early, especially in China, but will decline slowly over next months because of the precautions being taken.

But, even China scientists came up with 4.

Higher than SARS 3.

One of the problems here with the statistical models so far, is that there are so many patients to test in China, and there are only so many tests that can be run everyday.

The scientists, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Automation and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, both in in Beijing, calculated an R0 of 4.08 for the current outbreak, meaning a person infected with 2019-nCoV could infect more than four susceptible people.

This figure is higher than the World Health Organization’s estimate of 1.4 to 2.5 and a recent model that showed an R0 between 3.6 and 4.

SpaceLifeForm February 3, 2020 1:19 PM

@ Grima

Tails does not force the user to disable Javascript.

Let me know when you get it working on your phone.

Orbot is not trustable, because it trusts the underlying platform.

Onion Browser is not trustable, because it trusts the underlying platform.

Clive Robinson February 3, 2020 3:58 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

One of the problems here with the statistical models so far, is that there are so many patients to test in China, and there are only so many tests that can be run everyday.

Actually some in Australia think it’s much closer to 10.

The reason is there are a large group of potential patients missing. One major disease vector is “children” it is usually they from mixing with other children at school bring air bourn infections back home, infect their parents who then pass it onto their co-workers.

Both children and young adults are conspicuous by their absence in the “known” reported cases.

Thus the reasoning is that it is very mild in the young little more than a cold, thus they are under reported or not reported at all.

The Imperial College London figures say there should be around 60,000 infected people by now not the 12-15 thousand.

The UK’s “GSK” one of the largest vacine producers in the world are currently trying to find a variation on their “adjuvant” technology to make any vacine not just more effective against a single strain but a broader base caused by the natural mutation process in the hosts.

GSK, and CEPI research funded Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Moderna, and the University of Queensland, are hoping to having a viable vaccine in production within 16 weeks…

However testing for safety and efficacy in humans will take much longer if normal procedures are followed. But in the past various Government agebcies have alowed the use of partially or not even tested drugs, vaccines etc on the “dire need” principle. Which boils down to a significant risk of death in a patiant -v- unknown but probably lesser risk from the drug / vaccine…

In the past this has lead to IIRC “snake byte” victims being given “vodka” intraveniously (continuous infusion of 1-2 mL/Kg per hour of 10% ethanol) and other apparently very strange medications, such as “coconut water”…

Sancho_P February 3, 2020 4:11 PM

@maqp re TFC update data diode:

Nice board, well done, kudos! Clearly better than perfboard.
Case: I love the transparent LED cover window!
I’ll send you an email with some comments.

SpaceLifeForm February 3, 2020 4:31 PM

@ Clive

“Actually some in Australia think it’s much closer to 10.”

Such is the problem when angle of insolation varies over the months.

It may get to 10 in a few months in Southern Hemisphere, and drop to 1.25 in same timeframe in Northern Hemisphere.

The virus just lying on around on surfaces does not survive in heat. This is why flu and colds are more common during winter.

JonKnowsNothing February 3, 2020 7:37 PM

@All @Clive

re: dead sheep on a capsized ship

In Mid-November 2019 a livestock transport ship sailed the ocean blue and sank near port with 14,000 sheep drowning and floating about. 254 sheep were rescued with 180 survivor sheep.

It’s rather mind boggling that anyone would cram 14,000 sheep on a boat but an update to the story is even more boggling.

It turns out the ship had extra undocumented decks with an unknown number of dead sheep decomposing on them since November 2019.

It was discovered because the salvage company did actual MATHS and calculated

ship size + ship weight + water weight = load weight

They used a crane appropriate to the weight to upright it, except the cables broke. They found the true calc is:

ship size + ship weight + water weight + lots more dead sheep = dead-load weight

So I have a couple of questions about this ship and event

1. How could they add extra floors/decks without anyone noticing?

I’ve known people that work on big boats (shipping, navy, cruise) and you cannot make changes to a big ship like this in your back yard. There are also inspectors that are supposed to look around and the materials are not found at your local DIY center.

2. Are dead sheep heavier than live sheep?

An official from the Romanian national veterinary and food safety authority … said the vessel was heavier because “dead sheep do not have the same weight as the live ones”.

iirc The answer to: “What weights more a ton of lead or a ton of feathers” hasn’t changed. One might think that decomposition would make it lighter, but its only 2-3 months so other than massive stink maybe sheep’s wool gets waterlogged that increases the weight.

Requesting @Clive to give one of his lectures on the topic.

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Clive Robinson February 3, 2020 8:07 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

… there are probably over one million people that could be infected that are *NOT* in China at this time.

It’s quite a bit higher than a number of estimates, but not impossible. The real question is if the number is that high where are they.

The three most critical countries in that region as far as the world economy is concerned are China, India and Russia. Whilst Russia in that region is fairly low density population wise, China is quite high and India even higher.

Russia is “resource rich” but not a major producer of finished goods or services, whilst China has a near monopoly on some resources it is a major producer of goods and financing. India is a major supplier of services as well as goods.

Which means if China and India loose the wrong people the world economy will get a bath it does bot want.

Clive Robinson February 3, 2020 8:24 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

How could they add extra floors/decks without anyone noticing?

The first of your questions I can answer with relative ease.

There are various places where they cut up old but still seaworthy ships in Asia.

Thus the tools and metal are fairly easy to come by. If you are not ovrly fussed by your marine stability criteria adding extra decks is actually not that much of a problem.

Generaly the peoblem with livestock is not their weight vut the fact that unless properly penned in, they will move causing further instability.

As for your second question I don’t know the answer to that. Simple logic says with nothing going into the creatures they can not be any heavier than when they died.

However if they “wet drowned then sea water might well fill the lungs and other internal cavities that were formerly empty space such as the lungs etc. But this does not sound like what is being talked about. Also simply compressing the carcasses would increase their density but not their weight.

JonKnowsNothing February 3, 2020 9:26 PM


Thank you for the info.

I recall reading that there are secret illegal marine salvage operations going on in maritime battle grave yards. Entire military navies sunk during battle have disappeared. It seems that steel from that period (WW2) is better than modern steel and there is a big demand for it.

It’s jolting to think they would grave rob for steel, but there is plenty of other grave robbing going on in the name of culture, art, and national museums. All rather sticky messes. So if we are able to rob graves to display “grave goods” I suppose there’s no moral difference to robbing ship graves for the steel in the hull.

It they can pull up entire boats without anyone noticing, I guess they can add decks and such the same way.

myliit February 4, 2020 12:29 AM

Regarding delayed reporting for Democratic presidential candidates in Iowa or in the fog of election

“Christopher C. Krebs, the director of the Homeland Security Department’s cybersecurity agency, said late Monday evening that the mobile app had not been vetted or evaluated by the agency.

Cybersecurity experts also said that the app had not been properly tested at scale, and that it was hastily put together over the past two months. Iowa Democratic Party officials only decided to use the mobile app to report results after a previous party reporting proposal — which entailed having caucus participants call in their votes over the phone — was scrapped, on the advice of Democratic National Committee officials.

J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, and David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said Monday night that they had warned state officials that the mobile reporting app was vulnerable to what is known as a “denial of service attack,” in which hackers flood the central servers used to power the app with traffic, stalling them or knocking them offline.

“This app has never been used in any real election or tested at a statewide scale and it’s only been contemplated for use for two months now,” said Mr. Jefferson, who also serves on the board of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election integrity organization.

“This is an embarrassment but it shouldn’t shake people’s confidence in the results,” Mr. Halderman said. “If this had been an election conducted by phone, or online, that would have been a major disaster. We might never know the results and would have had to re-run the entire contest.”

“This is an urgent reminder,” Mr. Halderman said, “of why online voting is not ready for prime time.”
Mr. Jefferson warned that Nevada is also currently slated to use a similar mobile app to report its caucus results in a few weeks.

In 2016, Iowa state officials used a Microsoft app to report results. A Microsoft spokesman said the company’s involvement in 2016 was a one-off and that it had no involvement in the caucus this year.

The secrecy around the app used this year came from the Iowa Democratic Party, which asked that even its name be withheld from the public. According to a person familiar with the app, its creators had repeatedly questioned the need to keep it secret, especially from the Iowa precincts where it would be used.

That person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he had agreed not to discuss details of the app, said that there were concerns that the app would malfunction in areas with poor connectivity, or because of high bandwidth use, such as when many people tried to use it at the same time.

Matt Blaze, a professor of computer science and law at Georgetown, said that introducing apps in the midst of an election posed many problems. Any type of app or program that relied on using a cellphone network to deliver results was vulnerable to problems both on the app and on the phones being used to run it, he said.

“The consensus of all experts who have been thinking about this is unequivocal. Internet and mobile voting should not be used at this time in civil elections,” Mr. Blaze said. Any technology, he added, should be tested and retested by the broader cybersecurity community before being publicly introduced, to test for anything ranging from a small bug to a major vulnerability. “I think the most important rule of thumb in introducing technology into voting is be extremely conservative.”

Earlier on Monday, reports that Iowa precinct chairs were struggling to use the app fueled conspiracy theories on social media and raised questions about how smoothly the high-stakes nominating contest would unfold.
Hours before the beginning of the contest, the headquarters of the Iowa Democratic Party received multiple calls from precinct chairs around the state reporting problems with the app.

The state party said at the time that nearly all of the calls were related to user-error problems, such as precincts in areas with bad cellphone service having problems downloading or logging into the app, or others simply asking about the app’s functionality. The party said then that it would not ultimately affect the reporting of results.

But Jerry Depew, the Democratic county chair from Pocahontas County, said that the report line and the help line were the same phone number.

“I had not expected it to be busy at 8 p.m.,” he said, when he tried to call in results from his precinct. “But if caucus chairs were calling for help at the same time that easy caucuses were trying to report results, the phones could have been overloaded.””

Tatütata February 4, 2020 2:35 AM

Re: 99 phones on a red cart

Many years ago Gurgl maps began showing certain streets for Berlin like they called before 1945, with the names of certain people currently in hell boiling in vats of sulphur for eternity squared.

I never saw an explanation as to how this could even be technically possible. Other streets received the names of stores that bordered them. So their stuff isn’t really that robust.

A high point of the annual bike demos in Berlin is to take over stretches of freeways. The mass of cyclists travelling at 15km/h invariably fool the traffic jam detectors…

Pokémon Go (has it gone with the fidget spinner?) was plagued by GPS spoofing. Maybe you needn’t pull a trolley with 99 phones (99 luftballons?), and just spoof coordinates and possibly cell ids?

Re: It’s rather mind boggling that anyone would cram 14,000 sheep on a boat

There is a large international trade in live cattle to satisfy religious traditions, with regularly recurring scandals. (I suspect that long distance road transportation of animals in Europe also results in large aggregate attrition).

Tatütata February 4, 2020 3:04 AM

It seems that steel from that period (WW2) is better than modern steel and there is a big demand for it.

Pre-Hiroshima steel isn’t contaminated with isotopes that perturb certain sensitive nuclear measurements. You might still be able to blast steel with oxygen derived from the electrolysis of fossil ground water, but that would be an expensive proposition.

Regarding the live animal trade, the demand is for millions which must be delivered in a short time window. Capital invested in ships would be underused for the rest of the year, so the pressure would be strong to maintain a fleet of floating rust buckets.

V February 4, 2020 4:41 AM

Re Iowa caucus reporting: Telling precinct captains in areas with poor cell reception to rely on a reporting app should not be called “user-error problems”.

Clive Robinson February 4, 2020 5:34 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing,


blockquote>It seems that steel from that period (WW2) is better than modern steel and there is a big demand for it.

This actually highlights the problems in “security trade offs” or “security choices” where there are unknowns that become both significant and potentially very long term[1].

The reason the old ship steel is better is not the mechanical or corrosion properties of the steel it’s self, it realy is not any better in that respect. What it is, however is “uncontaminated” by radio active fall out from nuclear weapons. Thus suitable for use in various medical and similar high sensitivity imaging scanners which modern steels are not[2]…

Retrieving such rare metals is actually a highly skilled business (legaly or otherwise) unlike the beach based “chop shops”, which have been known in the past to employ very cheap child labour to “scavenge out” various more expensive metals such as brass, copper etc and remove the likes of asbestos insulation and PCBs and other critical contaminates that then got irresponsibly dumped into the environment.

Some of these “chop shops” have been forced to move from beaches to docks for various reasons, not least of which is commercial satellite surveillance.

However back in Nov 2018 Greenpeace was horified to find out what had become of their old vessel “Rainbow Warrier II”, seen as nolonger fit for Greenpeace’s purposes a decade earlier it was eventually given to a Bangladeshi Charity to be refitted and used as a hospital ship. Part of that was having a say in how the ship would be scrapped.

It’s not clear exactly what went on with the charity but they ended up selling the ship to a Bangladeshi “Beach Scrapper” in Chittagong beach in eastern Bangladesh. When Greenpeace tried to buy back the ship the beach “chop shop” owners tried to extort $10million, out of Greenpeace, some fourty times the ships actual value.

Whilst Greenpeace did release a press statment most MSM did not pick up the story, until German De Spiegel did. Interestingly however if you now do an “Internet search” the search engines predominantly turn up “Right wing” “rant rags”[3] rather than MSM stories.

This makes getting more indepth and balanced information on exactly what happened and why difficult. Obviously I’m not going to put up a link to “rant rag” sites, or those from the ship breaking organisations that claimed that Greenpeace had certified such “Chop Shop” operations as “OK”. But whilst the wikipedia page on the ship avoides any direct refrence to what happened it did have a link to the Greenpeace “mea culpa”,

Which indirectly raises the real problem that was the underlying cause. Which is actually the same “Security Choice” issue yet again.

When Greenpeace handed over the vessel to the Bangladeshi charity, it got “re-registered” to the charity as a Bangladeshi owned vessal. Part of which was that it was not registered as a “sea going vessel” but only “river and coastal”, this would probably have been a condition of it’s continued use. But in hindsight we can see that the process legaly tied the vessel to Banglidesh in a way that would have made getting it scrapped elsewhere difficult at best. Thus at the end of the day it was Bangladesh’s lack of viable alternatives for safe scrappage methods a decade later that was the real problem that sealed the ships fate.

[1] I’ve mentioned this “security unforseen consequences” issue in the past with “space junk” having a very nonlinear response, causing a “cascade failure” process that could very easily close space off to mankind for several centuries if not millennia, that would in turn have a significant effect on mankind potentially crossing a tipping point where it’s not some “hyped existential threat” but a very real end of society as we know it problem.

[2] Most steel is actually recycled these days from scrap and there are two basic ways this can be done, one is with an open refactory/reducing furnace such as a carbon arc furnace. The other is with an induction furnace. Whilst it is in theory possible to make an induction furnace sealed against contaminates, it’s not something you would want to do on a suitable scale. As other types of furnace reduce various types of contaminate by turning them into gases etc by the introduction of other substances, they can not stop other contaminates getting into the process, thus that pre Trinity test steel is very much a finite and quickly vanishing resource, with the basic economic rule of supply&demand setting pricing.

[3] The predominance in minority “rant rags” comming up top or with no alternatives in search engines is becoming a bit of an issue currently, as we go into another US Presidential election.

Irritated Voter February 4, 2020 6:34 AM

Well, so far I’ve gotten cellphone text messages from “unpaid volunteers” from two different political campaigns so far saying “Hey, so-and-so political figure will be in this place at this time” and they’ve gotten my first name correct. So apparently someone is selling my cell number, or it’s in a cell phone directory that someone is querying.

Clive Robinson February 4, 2020 8:12 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

You might find this John Hopkins GIS dashboard about nCov interesting,

h ttps://

(yeah sorry it’s a short version it’s why I broke it, but when you see the full link you will see why I used a shortend version).

When I looked at it a few minutes ago (13:40 GMT) it had,

Confirmed : 20,680
Sucumbed : 427
Recovered : 723

Confirmed : 20,486

The good news is that the number of those who have now recovered is ~1.7 times the number who have sucumbed and died of 2019-nCoV, where as just a few days ago they were about the same.

The other good thing is the rate of reported cases in China is starting to level off

Even though the recovered is just a small fraction ~3.5% it now gives us a beter idea of treatments, duration, and that the death rate in the at risk catagory is likely to stay in the low single digit percentages (~2% currently).

If you go to the pull down hamburger you will see a 2019-nCoV modeling section. They used an RO of 2 and think the actual infection started in Nov and that the actual cases in China are ~5 times the recorded figures. The difference they suggest is in small part delays in reporting, but mainly due to asymptomatic or mild symptoms not requiring medical attention. If correct it suggests a 20% at risk group size, which I suspect will drop further over the next week, and we should have a beter idea of where the figures are heading.

SpaceLifeForm February 4, 2020 2:54 PM


@ Clive

Until the human movement settles down (probably 2-3 more weeks due to delays), I doubt the numbers will stabilise until then.

Which means the statistical models are still a guess today. They may be close, but it is
still not confirmed today.

Need better numbers.

New Delhi has cancelled all visas issued to Chinese nationals and foreigners who have visited China after January 15. Those who have already entered India using those visas have been told to contact a government hotline.

myliit February 4, 2020 4:01 PM

Iowa election results, again- Below is an article, from last month, about the app being widely discussed today.

“ As opposed to a primary in which voters cast ballots in the same way they would for a general election, Iowa’s caucuses are social affairs; caucusgoers gather in person and pledge their support for a candidate by physically “standing in their corner” in designated parts of a room.”

SpaceLifeForm February 4, 2020 4:08 PM


Useful to follow. Seriously.

Looking forward to his new report in next hours.

Anecdotal says death rate higher than reported because they are overwhelmed in Wuhan.

Wenzhou locked down.

Virus mutating.

Graph comparing to SARS.

Just go thru past 24-48 hours.

Can not trust the numbers yet.

SpaceLifeForm February 4, 2020 4:37 PM

@ Irritated Voter

Probably just robo-dialing based upon collected data from telcos, FB, etc.

Did you answer with ‘hello’ twice?

Answer ‘hello’ once, then wait. If nothing, hang up.

Another strategy. Confuse robocallers. Answer ‘hello’ in another language.

Usually, instant disconnect.

SpaceLifeForm February 4, 2020 5:17 PM


A perfect example of why ‘doing nothing’ and denial is the problem.

I’m sick of seeing news articles, over and over, in denial. The writers are just worried about their stock portfolio, and thus they spin.

Here, we have China govermnment trying to cover up the problem, instead of addressing it head-on.

I’m not trying to specifically call out China government, they are not alone.

But they could have actually taken a true leadership position.

Especially, being at the epicentre.

But, there are many emperors that have no clothes.

This Chinese doctor tried to save lives, but was silenced. Now he has coronavirus

His diagnosis has sparked outrage across China, where a backlash is growing against state censorship around the illness and an initial delay in warning the public about the deadly virus.

SpaceLifeForm February 4, 2020 5:31 PM

@ Irritated Voter

Sorry, misread ‘text’ for ‘call’.

Still same issue. Your info is being sold.

I would not reply to the SMS because that just confirms they found a ‘live one’.

Though, maybe replying with a link to FBI website could help. Not sure.

Clive Robinson February 4, 2020 11:22 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, Irritated Voter,

Your info is being sold.

And your telco service provider knows exactly to whom. Because they can see the network originator ID’s not the phoney caller ID you get to see. They can block that originator ID and thus save hundreds if not hundreds of thousands of people the pain of seeing those messages etc.

But it’s profitable for your service provider one way or another so they will not provide you with the details for you to find out, and take action against the originator, nor will they block the originator ID calls either.

However if the FBI or even LEO’s come along to your Telco supplier with the right piece of paper then they would hand your details and call records over in a heart beat.

So for both the telco provider and the FBI and LEO’s there is a significant asymetric relationship between you and the originators of those calls. Much to the call originators advantage.

Put simply you have no power and the telco will hand of all your details over to the FBI or LEO’s without question. However with the call originator even when committing a clear crime the telco will not hand over the details to you so you can persue legal action, nor if you aproach the FBI or LEOs will the FBI or LEO’s do anything to stop the originator of those calls…

Clive Robinson February 5, 2020 1:45 AM

@ Bruce, SpaceLifeForm, ALL,

2016-nCoV bites the tech industry.

Every year in Spain for quite some time now the GSM Association (GSMA) holds it’s “Mobile World Conference” which is where just about every one with an interest in Mobile Phones and connected Smart Devices and even IoT get together to anounce new products and make deals that will effect consumers for the next two to three years if not more.

All the big players are usually there with premium rate stands and all the usual razzmatazz… Only not this year it would appear. LG have already anounced they are going to be a “no show” due to coronovirus and others manufacturers especially those from the Far East are likely to be the same…

To be honest I can not say I blaim them with reports being made of vigilanty and other abusive behaviour against orientals from around the world[1], they have to think not just of the health issues involved but the potential violence against their staff, even though they may be comming from European HQ’s not the Far East.

But with recent anouncements about flights being cancelled and suspended, with incidents of people put in quarantin on the rise there are other risks. Staff might arive and even if allowed through the airport might find hotels refusing to accommodate them.

Thus the economic damage has already started and is set to get worse and it’s the FMCE and white good markets that are likely to get hit first followed by the Consumer IT and Mobile equipment markets, which will roll backwards into the consumer software and other secondary markets.

[1] Who gets attacked where and in what way is somewhat telling. Reports from China where people can tell what province or even city within a province you are from by your accent, way of speaking or even the way you dress, indicate those from Wuhan are getting attacked and local law enforcment are apparently looking the other way. People are even being attacked for not wearing masks, even though masks are already in short supply. Even doctors and nurses are getting abused. There have been other reports of violence or racial abuse rising in other parts of the world including Europe. But it’s not just violence and abuse it’s also people avoiding businesses and areas. Spring festival / Chinese New Year is usually a time when there are lots of people about shopping and the like. London’s China town would normally be very crowded and pressed full of people. but although busy is only around 10-20% of the numbers you would normally expect, and less than you would see on an ordinary weekend. In my own home town which has many korean owned shops and restaurants they looked almost deserted last weekend and the high St in the early evening felt like a ghost town, at a time it would normally be busy.

Thomas_H February 5, 2020 2:10 AM

@ Clive and others:

May I suggest that you do not travel to the Netherlands if you have frail health?

Our wonderful authorities have decided that testing the people repatriated from China on the Coronavirus is not necessary, instead they are relying on the results of questionnaires. Furthermore, they have been quarantined at home, together with their family who, however, may go on with their business outside home.

This gets explained away by claiming that conditions in the Netherlands are different from anywhere else in the world – Dutch exceptionalism at work, which probably is going to bite us in the arse in the near future. Christ.

myliit February 5, 2020 9:26 AM

@gordo, V, Iowa exams

From gordo’s link above, regarding the Iowa Democratic caucus app:

“ The data input appears to have worked correctly (although some managers complained that they couldn’t get it to do the maths) but it appears as though it was only partially outputting the results, causing massive tabulation errors. Oh, and the app crashed for lots of people, requiring them to shut it down and log back in again.

It actually gets worse than that: for the first time, the caucuses were reporting three sets of numbers rather than one. That’s thanks to the extremely tight results in 2016 when Hillary Clinton very narrowly beat out Bernie Sanders, Sanders’ team successfully argued that there needed to be results recorded throughout the somewhat convoluted multi-stage voting process that Iowa uses, rather than just the end result.

So all the volunteers were not only required to do their job differently to before – providing three sets of figures instead of one – but they were also expected to do so through an entirely new system that hadn’t been properly bug-tested.”

Apparently “user resistance”, too, had not been adequately managed or planned for.

JonKnowsNothing February 5, 2020 10:55 AM

@Clive Robinson @ SpaceLifeForm, Irritated Voter,


if the FBI or even LEO’s come along to your Telco supplier with the right piece of paper then they would hand your details and call records over in a heart beat.

During the ES-Years there were reports of another method of obtaining details besides from the company records.

Some pen-register-traps are physically installed by “authorized” telco installers. They take the black box out to one of the central connection sites and install it in the teleco’s switch. Normally the warrant is for n-time-period and the black box would be removed at the expiration.

This may or may not happen.

Sometimes the box is “forgotten” and not removed. While the data harvested past the “known” time might not be use directly in court, there are parallel investigation paths available to by pass this small detail. The value of a “forgotten” device continuing to collect data is far more than a small detail of “legality”.

The vanguard of “authorized” telco installers includes masquerades of government employees, corporate employees and independent installers.

ht tps://

A pen register, or dialed number recorder (DNR), is an electronic device that records all numbers called from a particular telephone line. The term has come to include any device or program that performs similar functions to an original pen register, including programs monitoring Internet communications

the Supreme Court held that a pen register is not a search because the “petitioner voluntarily conveyed numerical information to the telephone company.” Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 744 (1979).

On September 1, 2013, the DEA’s Hemisphere Project was revealed to the public by The New York Times. In a series of PowerPoint slides acquired through a lawsuit, AT&T is revealed to be operating a call database going back to 1987 which the DEA has warrantless access to with no judicial oversight under “administrative subpoenas” originated by the DEA. The DEA pays AT&T to maintain employees throughout the country devoted to investigating call records through this database for the DEA. The database grows by 4 billion records per day, and presumably covers all traffic that crosses AT&T’s network

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

JonKnowsNothing February 5, 2020 11:08 AM

re: Iowa Democratic caucus app

One news report claimed the app flopped because “the users were too old”. Nothing like elder-bashing to distract from crap-ware.

The guy in Berlin at least figured out to buy 99 second hand phones to bork Google Maps.

Too bad the Politicos didn’t figure out to PRE-LOAD the software onto @1300-1500 pre-paid disposable burner phones.

ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Grima February 5, 2020 11:59 AM

@ vas pup re: “Patriot 1 Tech” The video looked rather amateurish to me (“One company have been working to develop technology…”) The web site is here:
The grammar is better, but frankly, I’m not very impressed. I see a lot of fact-free buzzwords and marketing malarkey, little more. Looks rather like a sales droid’s slide deck for C-suite presentation. What few aspects they do spell out to any extent look to me to be fairly easily defeated.

SpaceLifeForm February 5, 2020 4:45 PM

Iowa, Acronym, Shadow

The app.

There is major dark money involved that want the dems to lose.

Dark money. NY money. DINO money.

In particular, a recent entrant.

Sorry, but I have some links.

h tt ps://

[That one shows the coverup in place, where Acronym tries to hide that they started Shadow]


[Links to Facebook]



SpaceLifeForm February 5, 2020 5:05 PM

Coordinated Action.

Oh yeah, it’s coordinated alright.

But not for the benefit of the public.

Unless you want to believe that FCC, DOJ, and FTC really care about robocalls.

No way.


Clive Robinson February 5, 2020 7:15 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

So far, the data sucks.

It’s to be expected.

Oh there is other bad news sort of comming through… Usually when you get a coronavirus infection (ie the common cold), you don’t become particularly infectious to just befor the “chills” stage when you are already symptomatic (aches chills fever lethargy etc). Because it’s the chills that –if it were not for the trapings of modern life,– would cause you to seek out other warm bodies to huddle up against. After the chills you are generaly nolonger infectious as the cold runs it’s course…

2019-nCoV novel coronavirus is apparently novel for various reasons… In that it has a different infectious period that is much longer. From what is being said you get infected and a few days later you become infectious without knowing it. Then you might or might not become symptomatic upto a week later, and you remain infectious through what would be the symptomatic period. Possibly still being infectious as your symptoms have effectively subsided… Further if you graph three curves of “notified”, “sucumbed” and “recovered” you can see in this “at risk group” they are ill for quite some time of two to three weeks rather than less than a week.

But as I’ve said befor with both the succumbed figures and recovered figures being in single digit percentages we know we have a long way to go before the data we are getting becomes meaningful.

The figures at 23:59GMT,

Confirmed : 27,705
Sucumbed : 563 ~2%
Recovered : 1,128 ~4%

The death rate appears to be holding at ~2% whilst the recovered or survival rate at ~4% is going up. Unfortunately the new confirmed infected number is up by over 7,000 or ~34% since the figures I gave above.

Clive Robinson February 6, 2020 2:11 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

At this point, we are getting highly suspect numbers, especially from China.

The numbers probably are correct for what they are, but as I’ve said they are only based on those who have made it to be “confirmed”. We know from other information that these confirmed cases are those that are so ill they are virtually dead anyway.

How do we know this, well the lack of testing kits for one thing. The Dr’s are having to triage the patients they see to decide who gets tested or not. The Dr’s and nurses are a finite resource and critically overstretched. Thus the Dr’s are going to only test those that they already know are going into ITU/ICU care with respiritory failure anyway.

The reality of this means the reported “confirmed” cases is actually a “bottleneck” figure and that only a (small?) percentage of those presenting with symptoms to hospital are getting tested. We also know from the types of confirmed cases it’s almost certainly an underreported or subset of the “at risk groups”.

Thus the question arises as to what percentage this subset is not just of the “at risk group” but more importantly the population group as a whole?

We also know that the Chinese Government are aware of this. The emergency construction of hospitals for very significant numbers tels you this. It also tells you something else, the majority of the people who will be working there will not be Dr’s or Nurses, China like most countries does not have an excess of skilled care workers. In effect the Chinese are building modern day leper colonies to give palliative care untill,

1, The disease burns out.
2, The at risk groups die out.
3, Effective therapy is found.
4, An effective treatment is found.
5, An effective vaccine is found.

We know that “The search for a vaccine for the common cold” is now more than half a century old. The common cold is a coronovirus, so don’t think it’s just going to be a mater of throwing money and science at the problem, we may get lucky, but history is not setting good odds on that.

Yes we have antiviral medication but publically we have zero information on if they will work or not. The problem is they have a very limited time window in which they are effective. This requires the viral disease to have certain characteristics, from what I remember and from what I’ve heard so far nCoV and antivirals don’t appear to be a good fit. With other viral infections examining patient outcome data has shown that medications used for other purposes can sometimes help. For instance “Metformin” which is a drug normally taken by those with type II diabetes has been flagged up in other respiritory infections. All current drugs have side effects, we normally assume they are “bad” but sometimes they are good or sufficient to make a drug “dual use”. What is called “sildenafil citrate” is one such, it’s original intended use is not what it got marketed as. Thus there are two trade names “Viagra” which is the “side effect” and “Revatio” which is what the drug was originally developed for (there are stories it may also be used as part of a designer “brain drug” to increase cognative ability).

Our best bet at this moment is for an effective therapy to be found to support the body whilst the disease runs it’s course. The fact that the recorded cases all appear to be from “at risk groups” suggests that this will be the way we go in the short term.

Untill one of the above comes into play then realistically we are looking at palliative care for the at risk groups. Which may or may not become terminal care.

It may be as with the first pandemic flu of the twentieth century, we just have to wait the disease out. From what I remember of it, it went around the world three or four times before it effectively disappeared due to various reasons.

Which brings me back to the article you link to and the author saying,

    I feel a bit strange. I’m (almost) alone against ‘the authority’. Main subjects of the latest WHO press conference was misinformation. And I believe that it’s WHO started a campaign of misinformation when they voiced this 2% figure…

He’s not alone it’s why I keep saying that as long as the percentage that succumb (die) to the disease and those that survive both remain in the single digit range the figures are meaningless.

They only except is as trend indicators when you know what the times are from infection to symptomatic to confirmed to survived are, which publically we don’t yet know.

It’s why people should realy keep their eye on the survived figures rate of change now it has started to go up.

However there are other things people should also note. Quarantine comes in various types.

The first is that used to wait and see if you have become infected. This is the shortest of all the quarantine times. At the moment that is two weeks. If you are infected then the next level of quarantine comes into play and that is how long you are infectious for and thus a risk to others. We don’t publicly know what that is yet, but roughly extrapolating from the figures we have it’s going to be three to four weeks from becoming symptomatic. Finally there is the quarantine period to stop the spread of the infection. This is the longest of all and as a rough idea based on histor it is going to be between two and five times the sum of the other two quarantine periods. This is thus 12-30 weeks. The actual period of this is unknown, but realistically it will be atleast the first quarantine period of two weeks, after the last confirmed patient has entered the second level of quarantine.

Which raises the question of “food, water and energy”. 30 weeks is 210 days, for which each person will need a minimum of 1kg of food and 2kg of potable water to drink, plus any more water for cooking and washing taking it up another 2kg as a minimum. You will then need further potable or grey water for the removal of human waste which is around another 45kg of water a day of normal WC usage. For potable water to reach your tap requires workers at the water utility premises and likewise at the sewerage premises and distribution network maintainence staff to keep it running. But both are in turn dependent on energy and chemicals that require workers and maintenance staff, and delivery workers. But the energy source has to come from somewhere which is often a fossil fuel such as gas, oil, or coal which have to be transported. Also they all need effective communications to be in place… So the chances are if a pandemic does happen water and energy will fail as the staff and workers along the supply chain either become sick or are put in quarantine. Oh and of course the awkward question of “What do we do about nuclear power plants?” i’ll leave as an excercise for the reader…

myliit February 6, 2020 9:03 AM

“Fear Is the Democracy Killer, Not Hackers”

“LEE FANG: Well, look, I don’t have all the answers to this. There’s been a lot of reporting on the interactions between the app and the party. I expect in the next few days there’s going to be a lot more answers trickling out. Why this was not better vetted is still not clear. We do know that the Bernie Sanders campaign expected these types of problems and actually trained and created their own kind of digital platform to report the results on their own, expecting this type of failure. So, you know, at least some of these insiders, some of the presidential campaigns were aware of some potential problems. But why there was so much trust in this Democratic consulting firm that had just launched a few years ago, this company that just launched one year ago, that had a small developer team, and why there was so much secrecy really isn’t clear yet.”

MarkH February 6, 2020 9:37 AM

Re 2019-nCoV:

Thanks to SpaceLifeForm for the link to the blog post by Andrzej Leszkiewicz. Andrzej makes his point well, and I’m persuaded of its validity.

Perhaps WHO shouldn’t be calling attention to this ratio, but it’s not a trivial question. When a scare is propagating about an emergent disease, people will naturally go to the WHO for information. I don’t know that their mission requires that they provide public information, but if they don’t, somebody else will, and that could have serious negative consequences.

Hopefully, they will have some analysis in their governance about how to best handle dissemination of information about epidemics. Maybe they already have, and concluded that publishing the raw data is better than any alternative they could find …

I want to suggest some cautions about going to worst-case thinking:

  1. In Andrzej’s curves, the gross CFR (CFR = Case Fatality Rate, gross meaning not compensated for rate-of-change effects) showed a pretty steep upward slope toward its eventual asymptote, within a few weeks of the epidemic being recognized as such.

To put it another way, the longer gross CFR hovers around 2 percent, the more likely it is that the asymptotic CFR is not very far from 2 percent.

  1. If the true CFR is much higher, then the accumulation of deaths in China will be very great by the end of this month. If this were to happen, it would likely become public knowledge soon, even if the PRC government wished to suppress it.
  2. The origin of an epidemic is in a uniquely bad position: when it started, nobody knew what it was, nor had any opportunity to prepare in advance, nor had a diagnostic test, nor any opportunity to evaluate methods of treatment.

And of course, mortality in China is very likely to be aggravated by its modest economic level compared to Western countries, and even more by overload of medical resources.

Accordingly, other countries might well combat this disease much better than China, IF they have the resources available.

  1. We’ll soon have more data to work with. 2019-nCoV has shown up in several countries. We’ll be able to see how it spreads, the severity of symptoms, and rates of mortality in contexts where the health systems are not (or at least, not yet) overwhelmed by massive numbers.

The first (and perhaps most important) numbers will probably come from Viet Nam and the Phillipines, which have quite large numbers of people traveling to and from China, and are relatively poor.

How 2019-nCoV progresses in those countries will be very informative.

  1. If 2019-nCoV causes relatively mild symptoms in a large percentage of patients, then the reported case numbers may be considerably too small. If so, projections from gross CFR might overstate the mortality curve.
  2. CFR is not an independent variable. It may depend on the underlying health of victims, their medical histories, access to ordinary self-care, and the quality of medical interventions.

According to information from China, most deaths are among the elderly. I don’t mean to dismiss their value; I’m a senior citizen myself. But a disease that kills the most fragile is one that is likely to respond the most to intensive medical response.

  1. 2019-nCoV isn’t some magical agent that can leap tall buildings at a single bound. An analysis (necessarily preliminary, early days yet) by CDC of transmission in long airline flights estimates (in a 2-5-2 widebody seating pattern) that if a sick person is sitting in center seat, then the risk of infection is low for people across the aisles in nearby rows, and near zero for people seated three or more rows away.
  2. It’s probably a little early to visualize apocalyptic scenarios. Estimates of the 1918 H1N1 pandemic (Spanish flu) are that between 30% and 95%+ of the human population was infected. Somehow, civilization kept going.

Some of the plagues inflicted extreme death rates, but left large numbers of people alive and able to function at some level.

All that being said, if the 2019-nCoV CFR is anything like 2 percent — or even higher — then the total mortality could be really extreme.

It might prove to be uncontrollable, in the sense that it could eventually have a very wide geographic spread like many flu strains. Even at 2% CFR, the total deaths could number in the tens of millions.

Chris February 6, 2020 10:14 AM

Found this intresting, its about reverse engineering Firmwares

Clive Robinson February 6, 2020 12:23 PM

@ MarkH,

To put it another way, the longer gross CFR hovers around 2 percent, the more likely it is that the asymptotic CFR is not very far from 2 percent.

That’s only part of the story. It also depends on the time from becoming symptomatic to succumbing to the disease, the longer this period is the lower the CFR will be.

It’s why you have to watch the recovery rate percentage as well.

With both still in the low single digit percentages we know that the mean survial time has still not been reached for the cases reported.

Without the actual patient by patient data for symptomatic recognition time to either death or recovery ou can of course only make a very rough estimate which is add the succumbed and recovered figures together and then look back to when the reported cases was aproximately the same. Draw this up as a graph on a day by day basis. It only realy has some validility if the succumbed and recovered percentages follow the infection rate figures.

As the recovery figures are rising, but the succumbed are not this tends to suggest there are patient treatments that are becoming more effective.

As I’ve noted before the issue is complex and rather more data is needed publically to make any headway on analysing it.

The figures when I looked at 18:00GMT,

Confirmed : 28,353
Sucumbed : 565 ~2%
Recovered : 1,382 ~4.9%

With the confirmed increase being ~23.4% but that is not for the full 24hrs yet, the graphs still suggest expenential growth so there could be another 6-8 thousand reported in the next six hours.

MarkH February 6, 2020 1:26 PM


It also depends on the time from becoming symptomatic to succumbing to the disease

True. But as far as I’m aware, people who die from pulmonary effects of viruses usually do so within a couple of weeks. Lingering deaths from infectious diseases are usually either bacterial, or from viruses that attack other organs (not lungs/airway).

It appears to me that SARS, a cousin to this new virus, killed within a few weeks.

Deaths will occur all the sooner under the conditions now prevailing in Wuhan …

2019-nCoV might work much slower.
But if it doesn’t, and Andrzej’s simulations and historical data are indicative, then gross CFR either must rise steeply soon, or is not far from the true CFR.

PS In the U.S., as of this morning, the very few confirmed cases are all doing fine. It may take a while to see the first fatality here and to have the opportunity to study its course.

vas pup February 6, 2020 3:16 PM

@Clive, MarkH and other interested bloggers

Portable lab you plug into your phone can diagnose illnesses like coronavirus

“Engineers have created a tiny portable lab that plugs into your phone, connecting it automatically to your doctor through a custom app. The lab the size of a credit card can diagnose infectious diseases such as coronavirus, malaria, HIV or Lyme disease or countless other health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The lab the size of a credit card can diagnose infectious diseases such as coronavirus, malaria, HIV or Lyme disease or countless other health conditions like depression and anxiety.

The patient simply puts a single-use plastic lab chip into his or her mouth then plugs that into a slot in the box to test the saliva.

The device automatically transmits results to the patient’s doctor through a custom app UC created for nearly instant results.

His research team created a novel lab chip that uses natural capillary action, the tendency for a liquid to adhere to a surface, to draw a sample down two channels called a “microchannel capillary flow assay.” One channel mixes the sample with freeze-dried detection antibodies. The other contains a freeze-dried luminescent material to read the results when the split samples combine again on three sensors.

Ahn said the device is accurate, simple to use and inexpensive.”

My take: made in US, Cincinnati. The concern is could not be so inexpensive for patients – end users when on each step of implementation each stake holders add own financial interest.

vas pup February 6, 2020 4:17 PM

Coronavirus? How to tell it’s not cold or flu

“Symptoms atypical for coronavirus:

— Runny nose
— Sore throat

A runny nose and a sore throat are typical signs of upper respiratory infection. Therefore, those who have bouts of sneezing or get the sniffles likely have the flu or a common cold.

As the new coronavirus generally affects the lower respiratory tract, most of those infected exhibit a dry cough, shortness of breath or pneumonia, but not a sore throat.

Do respiratory masks help?

Not really.
===>Viruses are not airborne, and the current coronavirus is transmitted as a droplet or smear infection. Therefore, it is better to keep a safe distance from those who are or may be infected. A key preventative measure is to thoroughly and regularly wash one’s hands with soap and hot water. It is also best to use disposable towels when drying one’s hands afterward.

Flu or cold? Here are the little differences

With a cold, most people get a scratchy throat, then a runny nose and eventually develop a cough. Those symptoms, as well as fever and headache, can plague a person for days, making them feel listless.

By comparison, the flu hits you all at once: A flu patient’s head and limbs ache, a dry cough begins, one’s voice becomes hoarse, painful throat aches occur and a high fever (up to 41°C / 105°F), often accompanied by chills, can knock you out in short order. One just wants to stay in bed, feels exhausted, has no appetite and can sleep for hours on end.

A common cold typically passes within a few days and most symptoms go away after about a week. A flu is more tedious, keeping a person bedridden for at least a week, in some cases requiring several weeks before a person truly feels healthy again.

When should antibiotics be used?

Most colds and flus are caused by viruses, against which antibiotics are useless.

Antibiotics strengthen the body’s defenses by killing or hindering the growth of bacteria, but they also attack the cell walls or metabolic processes of micro-organisms. Penicillin, for instance, destroys the cell wall synthesis of bacteria. Porous cell walls make it impossible for pathogens to survive, literally causing them to burst. But this only works on bacteria not viruses.

Antibiotics do, however, make sense in instances in which bacteria enter the body via a weakened immune system and begin to multiply. That process can lead to infection, sometimes permanently damaging the body’s organs. Pneumonia, tonsillitis, cystitis or meningitis are most often caused by bacteria — thus, it makes sense to fight them with antibiotics.”

SpaceLifeForm February 6, 2020 5:11 PM


Check out the latest number crunching @2020WriteIn

As I said, the official numbers are suspect.

But, if the leaked numbers (via blockchain) are more accurate, then, it’s not good.

That is not to say the leaked numbers are trustable either. But if someone is willing to take the time to leak over a blockchain…

I have a crazy theory.

SARS broke out in China 17 years ago.

2019-nCoV apparently is basically just SARS mutated. IIRC, 98% same genome.

Mostly, Chinese Males impacted. Females less.

So, it may be that Chinese Males most impacted. See #ACE2.

My theory: Those infected now, in one way or another, somehow never got exposed to the SARS virus.

So, they had no antibodies.

SpaceLifeForm February 6, 2020 5:37 PM

@ MarkH, Clive

“2019-nCoV isn’t some magical agent that can leap tall buildings at a single bound.”

Well, video from China says they are worried about that.

You don’t drive large trucks thru a city spraying antiseptic into air for no reason.

When the streets are empty. The sidewalks empty. And it is not Wuhan.

SpaceLifeForm February 6, 2020 6:00 PM

@ myliit

I don’t know if you read the links I provided or not, but there are issues.

Hardcoded key in the app.

App goes thru a google cloud site, THEN feeds to IDP.

Numbers via app do NOT match on-ground paper.

No surprise that the app (read op) is DOA.

Clive Robinson February 6, 2020 8:22 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

Check out the latest number crunching @2020WriteIn

Sorry that’s lost in translation…


2019-nCoV apparently is basically just SARS mutated. IIRC, 98% same genome.

The same is said about chimpanzees and humans. Only we get to walk upright with ease, we also get oposable thumbs making tool using so much eaaier, and differences in our vocal tracts that alow us to talk. And appart from a few, most of us are not covered in a thick mat of hair, with it’s own flora… Or as far as I’m aware a strong desire to hurl our solid bodily waste down on the heads of those who have irritated us in some way (mind you there are a few politicians that would make tempting targets 😉

As for SARS and 2019-nCoV from what has been said they are both very close to the “common cold” which basicaly gets us over a few days to a week.

2019-nCoV appears to be taking three weeks to a month from what you can get from the public figures. Which is way longer than most people have with the normal annual flu.

The sad news about Dr Li Wenliang tends to confirm this three to four weeks. But he was young and as far as I’m aware a healthy individual not in the “at risk group” as currently described.

I guess one can only hope that the police officers involved are now reflecting on the fact they could be likewise infected and could suffer the same fate.

@ vas pup,

Do respiratory masks help? Not really.

It’s a point I’ve been making. Also remember that for those “dust masks” every one is being sold are N95 PM2.5 without valves or charcoal. The 95 means they are only good for stopping 95% of PM2.5 which is particulate matter greater than 2.5 microns in diameter. Individual virons are down between 20-250 nanometers in diameter 1/125th and 1/10th the diameter of the smallest partical size those dust masks will stop.

The only thing they will stop is droplets, that as you breath in will effectively dry the droplets reducing them to free virons which you then breath in. If you want protection you need an anti-viral mask with inner charcoal (C) layer and exhale valves (V) and they should be “full head” or “full face” resperators not half or less masks that will leak around the edges.

A key preventative measure is to thoroughly and regularly wash one’s hands with soap and hot water.

It’s something else I’ve mentioned, most alcohol hand gels are aimed more at bacteria than they are at viruses. Traditional hard soap actually binds chemically to viral material and will break it up.

It’s funny but the medical profession or atleast surgeons are aware of this and have a very particular way to wash their hands –with “Hibiscrub” (chlorhexidine) or similar– which is actually the otherway around to the way most people wash their hands (surgeons work from the finger tips towards the elbow, most people start below the wrist and work down to the finger tips). If the water you use is seperate to the normal supply adding one or two drops of bleach[1] / liter and let it stand for a half hour before heating or washing your hands will significantly reduce infection risk.

[1] If you don’t have bleach you can make the near equivalent by adding salt to the water then passing a DC current through it (producing a solution of hypochlorous acid and sodium hydroxide). The small bubles comming of the negative terminal are hydrogen so do it in a well ventilated place. You will need to look up the exact quantities but if memory serves it’s two table spoons of salt to a half cup of water and run 12V DC through it for a half hour or so, with the electrodes sufficiently far appart that only the negative / cathode bubbles, if you have a PH meter[2] or indicator then you are looking for the water at the positive / anode to be acidic with a PH between 6.0 and 5.5.

The figures when I looked at 02:00 GMT just now are,

Confirmed : 31,377
Sucumbed : 638 ~2%
Recovered : 1,541 ~5%

With the confirmed cases only up by 13.25% since yesterday that’s a significant change…

[2] You can make a crude PH testing solution by boiling up red cabage and use the resulting purple water. The more pink it is the nore acidic the more purple the more alkaline it is.

myliit February 6, 2020 10:18 PM

@SpaceLifeForm – regarding Iowa election

“I don’t know if you read the links I provided or not, but there are issues.”

I assume you are referring to this post, with four links, and a lot of information I haven’t seen before.

“ Hardcoded key in the app.

App goes thru a google cloud site, THEN feeds to IDP.

Numbers via app do NOT match on-ground paper.

No surprise that the app (read op) is DOA.”

Fascinating. Don’t feel qualified to comment here beyond: Feeling like I’m in ‘fog of election’

“For the record, the full conspiracy theory goes like this: with Sanders surging in the Iowa polls, the Democratic Party, or cronies thereof, contracted with an unaccountable, nefariously named company to fix the election, either by stealing it outright or by muddying the waters. To be clear, there is no evidence that the vote tally was altered in any way—each caucus site preserves its paper ballots, which are now in the process of being counted—and, although the muddying-the-waters hypothesis is harder to disprove, the simplest explanation, as usual, is incompetence, not coördinated treachery. Still, it is possible that the confusion on Monday night hurt Sanders’s campaign, intentionally or not. (It seems to have helped Biden’s campaign, by distracting attention from his disappointing finish.) We will soon find out if Sanders won the first alignment of the caucus vote; if he did, and if that fact had been reported cleanly, Sanders might have claimed at least a symbolic victory, which could have led to an influx of donations. Instead, Buttigieg took advantage of the information vacuum, delivering what amounted to an Obamaesque victory speech. As of this writing, with the final result still unknown, the lead article on Slate is headlined “How Pete Won.”

I find it hard to believe that Shadow would intentionally botch such a high-visibility project, perhaps permanently damaging several of its employees’ reputations in the process. But the appearance of impropriety is all that’s needed, especially on the Internet, for many people to take refuge in the shadows of distrust; and widespread trust in the basic mechanisms of our democracy, insofar as this trust still exists, is one of the few forces holding the country together. In the past, McGowan’s critics have accused her of employing underhanded tactics, or of being “no better than” her most dastardly political opponents, but the equivalence doesn’t tend to hold up. Courier Newsroom, to take one example, is a partisan media company, but it isn’t fake news. McGowan doesn’t seem reckless or sinister enough to intentionally rig an election. Rather, she seems like a starry-eyed techno-utopian, prone to believing that a wide array of societal ills can be cured by another innovation, another round of investment, or another app.”

MarkH February 6, 2020 10:24 PM


It’s what I’ve been saying: better data will come from outside of China, where medical systems are not in overload.

The cruise ships will serve as informative (but miserable) “lab experiments.”

I just learned an interesting tidbit from 30 January: as of that date, China was using its limited nCoV test capacity only on those who had already developed pneumonia.

If that was (and continues to be) true, then the explosive growth is in severe cases.

While this is obviously horrible, it has two important consequences for measurement:

  1. Reported gross CFR is based only on severe cases
  2. Numbers of milder cases are not tallied

Are 90% of cases severe? Or perhaps 70%, or 50%, or 10%? Current data from China can’t answer that.

True CFR might be significantly higher — or lower! — than apparent from the simple arithmetic.

Data from outside China will provide much greater clarity, very likely within 4 weeks.

myliit February 6, 2020 11:17 PM

about Broken url links or autorun prevention

What is the rationale for breaking url links?

Is the easiest, best, fastest way to deal with broken url links to just drop the broken link into your favorite search engine when browsing from a phone or tablet? Versus copying, editing, and pasting again the corrected link.

From a readers, or clickers, perspective, to break a perfectly good link might not be necessary if the reader, or clicker, reads what they are about to click on.

JonKnowsNothing February 7, 2020 1:53 AM


re: What is the rationale for breaking url links?

Because you do not know where the link is actually going when you click a link. The text may indicated one place and the click goes to another. MITM or Spoofed address used for phishing attacks.

If I give you a broken link, removing the space is all it takes to mend it. This way you can verify where the link goes.

Links that use shortened URLs or obfuscated non-text ones are not safe to click. Not even if it purports to be a YouTube one.

A link redirection can still happen even so.

Additionally, browsers have various (sometime nefarious) methods of “pre-fetch” and “history” harvesting. Browsers can look for and scan at any link on a page even if you do not click on it. When you look at social media, all those links are going into a metadata harvest about you. That pre-fetch can masquerade as a “click” for the ad industry and with some algorithms can make it appear you actually clicked it when it’s a background process in the browser.

myliit February 7, 2020 5:16 AM


Thanks for the response. This appears complicated and I guess I’ll have to learn to live with extra processing on my part.

“ Because you do not know where the link is actually going when you click a link. The text may indicated one place and the click goes to another. MITM or Spoofed address used for phishing attacks.”

Assuming the original site is https and not impersonating another site, are MITM attacks still possible without compromised browser certficates, or something, at a wholesale level, as opposed to a person of interest or targeted level, assuming use of a relatively bug free device.

In other words, does anybody know how little should one trust long hand (not shortened, spoofed or obfuscated) https links?

Finally, with iOS devices and no external keyboard, does anybody know how to get to the start of the url to edit a pasted now highlighted broken link (probably using safari). Without using an app preferred.

Clive Robinson February 7, 2020 6:23 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, MarkH,

No way the China numbers are real.

They are in respect of the way it’s being “measured”.

As I said some days ago they are being triaged. Or in more depth,

1, testing kits are a limited resource.
2, Thus the use is being triaged.
3, Thus only used on the seriously ill.
4, Thus they are not used as a diagnostic tool.
5, They are used as a confirmtion tool.
6, we are only seeing the confirmed numbers.

Therefore I expect the numbers to be in part based on the availability and use of test kits.

I’ve also explained why we are realy only seeing the “at risk group” which is those over 45 with compromised immune systems and predominantly male (they are the ones being sent to hospital with severe respitory issues like having pneumonia).

Hence the “iceberg effect” applies as well. This is what you would expect to see no mater where the disease started (though Africa and Asia,are the two most likely regions for pandemics to originate).

BUT REMEMBER, when it comes to “what we expect to see”, we are about three months in since probable first case in mid November, from what we know of another coronovirus “the common cold” it’s likely to mutate once or posibly twice in “a season” thus we are probably over due a mutation (if it’s not already happened into a milder form).

Further as I predicted it looks like North West Europe would be the place outside of Asia where potentially infected people would run for in the early stages after a quarantine started based on health care provision. Germany has the majority, then France with others with smaller numbers.

But yes that “cruise ship” should be a bit of a micro-cosom kettle to brew things up. I feel sorry for the ships medical staff as many cruises are “second honeymoons” or “Retirment holidays”, therefor the “at risk group” on board is going to be rather larger than normal.

Which brings us back to how long should the three basic types of quarantine go on for…

Two weeks is begining to look a bit short for the incubation period time. Thus 21days may become the minimum for the first level of asymptomatic clearence quarantine. Likewise the disease appears to be taking more than a month to clear from a person, and they remain infectious for longer than expected. Thus that could be a five to six week period. Which has a knock on effect for a general population quarantine or “lock down”, the period could be eighteen to twenty one weeks so 120-150 day period after the major outbreak has subsided. Which is not realy economically viable… Thus I suspect China may implement “work quarantines” for what they see as “critical to national security” occupations[1].

But the underlying issue behind many of the near calls on pandemics we’ve had in the past third of a century or so remains, and is the reason Africa and Asia are the two world regions pandemics are most likely to start in. The underlying issue is the subject of “bush meat” and for farmed animals, high intensity farming of “hog and fowel meat” in close pressence of humans.

[1] Which gives rise to the vexed question of “Supply Chain Security”. That is how long could the virus remain infectious on Fast Moving Consumer Electronics that have been packaged and put in the supply chain world wide…

MarkH February 7, 2020 7:48 AM

Clive has put his finger on the most important potential response: prevention of animal-to-human (zoonotic) transmission.

Many of the most terrible epidemics for more than a century have been either zoonoses (like H1N1) or zoonotic diseases which evolved to a specific form for human hosts (like HIV strains).

Most such zoonotic epidemics originate either in African regions not far from the equator, or in China.

In Africa, very extreme poverty is a difficult aggravating factor. But industrializing China has no excuse: it’s surely within the power of its Orwellian regime to regulate livestock practices so as to greatly reduce the likelihood of such zoonotic emergence.

This outbreak should make clear that a ghastly epidemic costs far more than agricultural regulation.

Probably the greatest obstacle is the attachment of some cultures of southeastern Asia to traditional practices and notions (as witness the assault on rhino populations).

JonKnowsNothing February 7, 2020 9:30 AM

@Clive Robinson @MarkH


But the underlying issue behind many of the near calls on pandemics we’ve had in the past third of a century or so remains, and is the reason Africa and Asia are the two world regions pandemics are most likely to start in. The underlying issue is the subject of “bush meat” and for farmed animals, high intensity farming of “hog and fowel meat” in close pressence of humans.


Clive has put his finger on the most important potential response: prevention of animal-to-human (zoonotic) transmission.

In addition, the size of massive factory farms in the USA and our notorious poor animal waste hygiene practices (huge lakes of raw hog pee and poo), the rate of transmission within a farm facility is not trivial.

The African swine fever (not African swine flu) is fatal for pigs and there is a current outbreak that hopscotches around the planet. One might infer from the hopscotch how easily it is to evade quarantines and other “safety” measures when Serious Money is at risk.

Massive extermination programs of animals in infected farms is the common practice for containment. Reports on the effect of the current outbreaks estimated that a huge percentage of pigs globally will need to be killed and disposed of along with the huge lakes of swine excrement.

Even when a illness doesn’t cross the human-animal boundary, the loss of a food source to millions of people is a serious problem including but not limited to: additional illness in both human and animal populations, opportunistic secondary illnesses and death from starvation.

It may seem to the US Trade folks that chlorinated chicken heading towards the NewK is a done deal, but there are other risks involved besides what’s for Sunday Dinner.

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JonKnowsNothing February 7, 2020 9:43 AM



“Too bad the Politicos didn’t figure out to PRE-LOAD the software onto @1300-1500 pre-paid disposable burner phones.”

Might pre-paid ###### burner phones buy additional security, hypothetically

Pre-loading the phone would at least have highlighted that some phones could not load the app at all.

If in addition to providing all the groups with a pre-loaded phone they had actually regression tested the app, they might have had a better chance of getting it to work.

It would do nothing for the app itself, nor the security or non-security of the app or the phones, or the over the air phone systems, nor prevent 3d party interference with the device, the phone systems, or altering, harvesting data and information via other apps on the phones or via other people’s phones.

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(url fractured to prevent autorun)

EvilKiru February 7, 2020 11:22 AM

@myliit: You could copy-paste only the part of the URL that’s after the breaking space and then use the on-screen keyboard in combination with cursor positioning to fix up the start of the URL in the Safari address bar.

Clive Robinson February 7, 2020 12:03 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

It may seem to the US Trade folks that chlorinated chicken heading towards the NewK is a done deal, but there are other risks involved besides what’s for Sunday Dinner.

Food Security is a very significant part of UK National Security as it is for many Nations where things are a little to the left of Atilla the Hun (ie much of Continental Europe, which the UK is not part of).

But yes from memory the UK has had several major food safety issues of it’s own Government’s making and they were all down to “Big-Aggra” effectively bribing the Minustry of Agriculture and Fisheries and what it morphed into over the years due to revolving door employment etc.

We could start with the root of the problem, which was post war food shortages (the UK nearly starved and it was only thanks to food parcells from individual American donors that stopped it, both my parents were helped by this kindness and they were always grateful).

Science started “strange brew” experiments, some of which involved feeding live animals not just parts of dead animals but their waste products as well. I’ve mentioned before one of the least discusting sounding, the use of chemically altered hair and feathers used in bread making (Chorely Wood Process). Therecwere others such as including egg shells and chicken waste into chicken feed… As for pig urine, it’s best not to ask… But another asspect was feeding dead sheep that were past the age of interest to eat by humans to first other sheep and then later cattle. Basically everything but the hide was ground up and powedered and added to ruminant feed and this included the brain and bones which included the spine. This also included some carcuses of sheep with “scapie”. Britain got so good at this “strange brew” science we became a net exporter of both sheep and cattle, and politicians were getting concerned at the Food Mountains and Milk, Wine and similar lakes caused by over production gratis of EU policy called the Common Agrecultural Policy (CAP) which the UK was a major contributor to but received little in return for. In fact it was looked on by some as “de Gaulle’s Revenge” and they hated it. Which is one reason “Made Maggie” Thatcher declared war on it.

Which brings us to “Mad Cow Disease” or Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). 30 years ago this year under Selwyn Gummer[1] was a compleat and unmitigated disaster from beining to… well today I guess as it’s still ongoing and may do for the next twenty to eighty years. The UK still claim BSE was an “animal feed contamination” though other evidence suggests it’s actually the use of organo-phosphates for tick etc control in “sheep-dip” and the like, that are effectively varient “nerve-agents”. As we know now OP’s are killing bees, though the chemical industry is fighting tooth and nail to stop that becoming recognised (the reason for ignoring the OP issue is probably because the Ministry ordered it’s use…).

Speaking of cows, there were the funeral pyres and pits for “Foot and Mouth” probably released from a UK Germwarefare lab and spread rapidly by having live animals transported hundreds if not thousands of miles to slaughter to please the meat production industry that found huge abattoirs with just one ministary vet in residence much cheaper to run than local small abattoirs with a £25 / carcus inspection fee. This came about because the Ministry decided to save money and it’s Euro-fobic viewpoint[2] to implement EU legislation in a way extrodinarily prejudicial to UK small abattoirs, where as the EU counterparts implemented the rules in a small abattoir friendly or neutral way.

The thing about foot and mouth is that there is a vacine, and there was at the time just as there is with Bovine TB. But as major meat producers are mainly exporters and not home market their business would have been hit for six months to a year. So the UK under Toney Blair did the worst thing possible, they went for slaughter and compensation. Well it went wrong, those doing the slaughtering were on big money… So unsurprisingly parts of infected cattle started turning up on farms where there had been no infection… Many small farmers with rare breed hurds got wiped out financially as did the rare breeds…

As a side result the UK whigh was a net exporter of beef in tonnage became a net importer of beef in tonnage, from abattoirs in the far East of Europe. Because of Ministery cut backs food import inspection of EU food stuffs became near non existent. The result amongst others UK horses were taken to Ireland, transported across Europe turned into meat that is fit for human consumption but quite a bit cheaper than beef, that the got used in EU processed food production and then got re-imported into Britain as “Beef Burgers” and “Beef Pies” and other processed foods with beef mince in, but no mention of “neddy”. Now whilst I’m not averse to “Neddy-burgers” (horse meat is healthier to eat than old dairy beef) it’s the fact that it had been shall we say “mislabled” for so long and to such profit that is of concern. Basically the Ministry “cut backs” had so imperiled UK food safety that people in Europe were vastly profiting by, and were never going to be prosecuted.

As you probably know I could go on and on with GM, bees bovine TB and much else but I’ll stop there.


[2] The reason the Ministry is Euro-fobic is that it in part it was due to “Mad Maggie” Thatchers attack on the Common Agrecultural Policy the French so love and need due to the great number of “pocket hankerchief farmers” whose farms are little bigger than a couple of large gardens (due to French inheritance laws). Which caused all sorts of tricks to be pulled by the EU admin making all sorts of money available to UK farmers that count against Maggie’s rebate. The UK ministry, had to find ways of stopping farmers claiming the money whilst not getting penalised in one way or another. Because the Ministry is fairly incompetent it’s actions have resulted in huge fines by the EU rightly so. Whilst CAP was and still is wrong, the way Maggie webt about dealing with it was wrong, and has cost the UK Treasury big over the years, which might account for some of the faux figures used to argue for Brexit.

myliit February 7, 2020 1:10 PM


Regarding fractured urls:

“You could copy-paste only the part of the URL that’s after the breaking space and then use the on-screen keyboard in combination with cursor positioning to fix up the start of the URL in the Safari address bar.

Oh, Du Wah? Thank you. May try later.

SpaceLifeForm February 7, 2020 3:25 PM

@ Chris

WRT to embeddedbits, good article.

TP-Link not trustable. Consider the source.

Before one buys TP-Link, make sure there is a supported open source firmware that will work on the particular chipsets.

Do the research. Otherwise, do not buy.

I have an *EXTREMELY SUSPECT MODEM/ROUTER” that has never been powered up, from a different vendor.

I did my research. Concluded, not happening.

I will gladly donate to a researcher, but there is no way I would ever use.

Read what @JonKnowsNothing wrote way above.

It’s not necessary that a black box is ‘accidently’ left at a telco CO.

When the telco just gives you, as the customer, the magic black box.

Ask yourself, why have they been pushing VOIP?

Why is VOIP so much cheaper than POTS?

Maybe, because you are the product.

And the data about the customer is valuable.

So much so, that VOIP is half price.

And the ‘MODEM/ROUTER’ is fully backdoored, in a similar fashion as the ‘accidently left’ black box at the telco CO.

JonKnowsNothing February 7, 2020 10:12 PM



Why is VOIP so much cheaper than POTS?

There are several reasons why VOIP is cheaper than POTS. Actually a lot of them in the USA. Some of them don’t make sense anymore but here are a few aspects.

If you remember Network Neutrality…

Long time ago in the USA, there was one telephone provider called ATT or Ma Bell. Ma Bell held all the cards and all the phones and all the money.

In the USA we have an organization called the FCC Federal Communications Commission which back in those days was setup to watch over Ma Bell.

There were problems, issues and a whole pile of oligarch-wannabes who wanted to feed at the same trough.

There are 2 separate divisions created for transferring stuff across wires: One for POTS and one for Data.

POTS lines because of their age, have many tag along taxes, and fees. If you are in the USA you can see a good lot of them on your phone bill. It’s similar to fuel taxes. They have been there a long time, lots of fingers in the pots (ahem) and like the cost of fuel, the actual service is a fraction of the amount you pay to the carrier or at the pump. Telecommunications taxes are on par.

Data however because it’s newer and got more pass overs, has fewer taxes and stuff lumped on. In most cases: none.

When voice became digitalized data some smart now-oligarchs figured out if they sent voice over internet as “data” they would pay no tax on it and get to pocket all the loots. Voice over Internet Protocol: VOIP.

Of course, things rapidly accelerated in the field. From a time when no business would even give you 5 minutes to explain about VOIP and VOIP phones or Softphones to currently any business that has a phone system running in a closet is now using VOIP protocols.

The split between Voice and Data doesn’t make a lot of sense any more but (and there is always one or more) between then and now a lot of legislation, tariffs, taxes, law suits, supreme court finding have passed under the digital bridge. All of these were meant to protect the Old Ma Bell. It’s not so easy getting rid of what you fought tooth and nail to get but now you changed your mind because you can make more money by forgetting all about it.

The current ATT may seem a lot like the old Ma Bell, but isn’t. The old Ma Bell was nicer…

ht tps://
ht tps://
ht tps://
ht tps://
ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Clive Robinson February 8, 2020 3:11 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, MarkH,

It’s literally bat[redacted] scary.

And maybe less so…

The figures given on the Johns Hopkins site indicate the growth in confirmed cases has gone from exponential to nearer linear in China.

There are number of possible explanations for this, but broadly the two catagories are,

1, They have reached capacity on their confirmation process.

2, The disease spread in Hubei Mainland China has started to reduce or has reached saturation in the quarantine regions.

If it’s in the first catagory this may indicate a breakdown due to a lack of human resources (ie frontline medical staff). However the survived figures are still being reported, which tends to negate that argument.

Thus it’s more likely the second group, the simplest being the radius of the spread (r^2) has reached a limit and thus the figures are from saturation in the area as people become symptomatic (a more time based process so more linear).

The survival rate figures are also increasing, which could be due to infection time or improved treatment. If the latter then this might also account for the change of confirmation rate from exponential to linear.

To be honest I don’t feel like “graphing things out” any longer as it’s all rather depressing.

Oh one thing to note is the lack of either deaths or survivors reported in North West Europe compared to other parts of the globe. This tends to suggest a more cautious and more effective medical approach, of a system both forewarned and not yet under strain.

Clive Robinson February 8, 2020 5:55 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, MarkH,

Firstly a couple of things that might be of interest, courtesy of someone I know who does YouTube and passed me the links.

First there were stories leaking out about these new 1000+ bed Chinese hospitals being like prisons…

Well now there is video footage that appears to confirm it,

The modular design and rapidness with which they have been produced, suggests very strongly that China has got designs for both prisons and hospitals on a common basic design “on file, ready to go”[1] from previous builds. And that some of the units were partially or fully constructed some time ago and kept in storage awaiting use. Which makes you wonder what other Super-Powers or nations have tucked away for such eventualities…

Secondly it appears that whilst I’m giving up on graphing the nCoV data, there is a Canadian Medical teaching site that is doing Monday to Friday analysises,

But speaking of epademics and pandemics.

But in more general, it appears China and more broadly Asia are having a tough time on the food animal epidemic/pandemic front. With not just African Swine Feaver but a major resurgence of H5N1 avian bird flu. Which almost certainly means there are going to be food shortages world wide in the comming months, so sling some meat in the freezer or “can-it” whilst it’s still at moderate prices.

But also North America is suffering from the outbreak of this years seasonal flu, which is taking it’s toll. With ~180K hospitalisations and ~10K deaths so far, and expected to get three to five times worse as the season progresses.

Oh and as you mentioned the cruise ships, apparently the British couple on the Diamond Princess cruise ship are still putting out their stuff on social media. With twenty passangers now confirmed via test kit of having nCoV having been taken off ship in Japan. But remember as I’ve said before Crusie ships have a much larger “at risk group” than normal society[2] due to second honeymoons and retirment holidays etc.

It’s all kind of depressing realy when you take a moment to look up from the science and maths to see the human asspect of these diseases.

[1] There are stories going around that these “prison hospitals” were already built and were to be used as part of “medical experiments” or “Organ harvesting” of the Uighur Muslims. Possibly to support the in excess of $1billon/year organ export trade China is involved in,

[2] Remember that both China and Japan have aging populations a trend that is now apparent in communities in North America and Western Europe. In China’s case it’s also unbalanced towards men. This was due to the “One Child” policy, and a cultural prefrence for male heirs (giving rise to illigal abortions of female foetuses).

SpaceLIfeForm February 8, 2020 11:37 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing

Sorry, it was a rhetorical question.

That said, it is appreciated that you took the time to expound, and provide links, that may help others learn.

MarkH February 8, 2020 1:42 PM


A friend who lived in Beijing more than a dozen years ago told me that it was a completely normal experience to travel to a favorite restaurant, only to discover that the building had been razed and a new high-rise already under construction, in the space of not many days …

China’s enormous economic expansion has necessarily been accompanied by a vast construction boom, and it would seem that contractors there can erect buildings at a speed undreamed of in the West.

If indeed China does have prisons warehoused in kit form, it’s yet another sad tribute to the loathsome repressive dictatorship under which about one fifth of humanity now lives.

The Beijing government lives in constant terror of mass uprisings; perhaps they have contingency plans for jailing vast numbers (perhaps in the millions) should the need arise.

MarkH February 8, 2020 2:21 PM


I don’t know that we can learn anything useful from the outdoor broadcast spraying of disinfectants. I might be wrong, but it seems to me that there’s no situation in which such spraying would help in any way to contain an epidemic. [There are also reports that “drones” are being used for such spraying.]

In an analogy to Bruce’s “security theater,” I think it most likely that such spraying is “public health theater.” When the mental fixation is “Something must be done!” then the temptation is to take some step, whether it makes sense or not. After the unthinking reaction, one can say “There, something was done!”

It’s like the popularity of face masks in China. Although it makes some sense for sick people to wear surgical masks, the efficacy of those not sick using these masks as prophylaxis is probably near zero.

Reportedly, cloth masks are popular in China (perhaps because they can be reused), and medical opinion seems to be that cloth masks are worse for health than wearing nothing.

Frightened people look for psychological comfort, much more than objectively effective solutions (e.g., the U.S. “border wall”).

The question of bats is a rather complicated one. First, when a zoonotic epidemic arises, figuring out where animal-to-human transmission occurred (or even identifying the non-human species) is very difficult and requires a lot of guesswork.

Apparently, the virus DNA suggests that it came from bats, though there’s reason to believe that transmission was via pangolins, rather than direct bat-to-human transmission.

Some zoonotic diseases are virtually never transmitted between people (like rabies); for such disease, each case corresponds to an animal-to-human transmission.

At the other extreme, it is believed (if I understand correctly) of the viruses in the Ebola family that each epidemic probably starts with a single animal-to-human transmission, and that human-to-human transmission is responsible for the explosive growth in case counts.

The present epidemic might be due to only one, or to a very small number, of animal-to-human transmissions.

If bats are suspected, then I suggest that the ways to catch a virus from a bat include:

• getting bitten by a bat
• eating bat meat
• holding a bat in one’s hands
• coming into contact with droppings

As far as I know, just having bats in the neighborhood isn’t dangerous, even when they harbor deadly microbes.

Even if Chinese health officials are focused on bats — whether for good reason, or merely to be extremely cautious — killing the bat population would be the effective response.

I just can’t imagine how spraying disinfectant would make any difference at all.

What would make sense, is getting bats the hell out of public markets. I think that for at least a generation, any epidemiologist could have told you (for free!) that selling live bats or bat meat is an atrocious practice, and should be absolutely and ruthlessly prohibited. Bats are well known to be frequent reservoirs of very deadly microbes for humans.

One might as well go to hospital, empty all of “Bio Hazard” waste containers into a bucket, and stab yourself with every needle you can dig out.

SpaceLifeForm February 8, 2020 2:50 PM

@ MarkH, Clive

“I might be wrong, but it seems to me that there’s no situation in which such spraying would help in any way to contain an epidemic.”

No, you are not wrong.

I have not followed the WX in CN recently,
but if there is a lot of bat[redacted] on the tops of buildings, and WX conditions are dry, then, you know, stuff will blow around.

It is theatre.

I was incorrect on the mutation rate, btw.

I said SARS virus compared to 2019-nCoV was 98% mutated.

More accurate is that it is 96.2%

It has mutated fast in 17 years.

I suspect that Air Polution is the factor.

When bats fly at night.

gordo February 8, 2020 3:00 PM


If you want to understand what happened with Shadow and the failure of its IowaReporterApp you have to understand how electoral campaign tech work is done and funded. Let me tell you a story to make sense of it.

[ . . . ]

What should have been done? The app shouldn’t have been built. This didn’t require an app (see Zeynep Tufekci’s explanation if you want more details). There are lots of ways to submit and verify vote counts without needing a custom app. At least they kept the paper backup. The sexy desire to have an app is something we should avoid.

Focus on the problem, not the solution of an app which sounds cool. The Iowa Democratic Party shouldn’t have asked for an app. The media shouldn’t have hailed it as futuristic, we shouldn’t demand immediate electoral results, and Shadow shouldn’t have tried to build it. A system with Google docs and having multiple people send in pictures of the tallies at each polling place would have sufficed. Or any number of other solutions which require less software. There’s a whole field of lean startups dedicated to solving the problem with less code. On top of that, folks like Matt Blaze and Ed Felten and many others have documented why digital voting systems are a broken concept. There is no way to do digital voting securely. Instead, we should use paper, use people, verify, audit, and make it transparent to all the campaigns. And yes, force the media to wait for results. We need an app for that.

Clive Robinson February 8, 2020 4:55 PM

@ MarkH, SpaceLifeForm,

I don’t know that we can learn anything useful from the outdoor broadcast spraying of disinfectants. I might be wrong, but it seems to me that there’s no situation in which such spraying would help in any way to contain an epidemic.

It might not be “bat do dos” that they are after.

There are three serious viral problems China has at the moment,

1, 2019-nCoV.
2, African Swine Feaver.
3, H5N1 avian flu.

The last one on the list might be the reason.

Whilst H5N1 has not yet realy crossed over to humans in a serious way, we know it has the potential to do so. But some think the time it is most likely to mutate is in someone who’s immune system is compromised…

Therefore the Chinese authorities may think that way as well, and any place nCoV is, immune systems are going to be compromised. Thus doing a bit of preemptive work on bird poop and roosting birds on buildings.

Curious February 11, 2020 7:24 AM

Someone on twitter linked to a Washington Post article, but it behind a paywall, so I can’t even read the full headline. I would guess that the article is recent, but I don’t really know.

(“The CIA secretly bought a company that sold encryption devices across the world.”) (Presumably the headline, unsure if complete.) (url found on Reddit, presumably the same article)

The little I can read off twitter is the following:
“U.S. and German intelligence agencies partnered on a scheme to dupe dozens of nations into buying rigged encryption systems — taking their money and stealing (…)”

Apparently this is wholly or in part about Crypto AG (That iirc Swiss company that is believed to have sold US backdoored crypto stuff to the world).

Clive Robinson February 11, 2020 1:49 PM

@ Curious,

Crypto AG (That iirc Swiss company that is believed to have sold US backdoored crypto stuff to the world).

Crypto AG[0] was headquatered in Zug Switzerland, you can read part of their history in various articles.

One of which relates the fact that even before the NSA existed there was a relationship through William F. Friedman[1] of the “Riverbank publications”[2]. Friedman cultivated “a special relationship” with Crypto AG founder Boris Haglin, which resulted in Crypto AG being just about the only commercial crypto equipment supplier in the world.

It’s known that Crypto AG had three levels of equipment that they sold. The first tier was to third world dictators and the like who it was assumed did not have any ability to undetstand even the Ceaser Cipher let alone the security of a crypto machine. Thus this equipment was less secure than the known to be backdoored US armed forces field cipher machines[3]. The second tier was for untrusted alies or those countries that knew something a little more about cipher mqchines. They were initially comparable to US Field cipher machines and later German enigmas, again tricks were implemented such that they would be compatible at some level with the low end WWII German Enigmas and US field Cipher systems still in use during the Korean Penisular war in 1950. The third tier were for US alies that the US gave the apperance of trusting (but spyed on anyway) the defects in these machines were not cryptographic as such, but more Physical, you can read about this in Peter Wrights “Spy Catcher” though he does not say who made the equipment[4]. But it was not just sound it was what we now call Pasive TEMPEST / EmSec attacks on telegraphy lines[5]. Crypto AG could supply the fully crypto secure algorithm electromechanics to customers, but leave off some or all of the filtering or reclocking circuits that stopped “side channel” based key leakage to the telegraph lines and other still classified tecniques not to disimilar to the “infinity device”[5].

But Crypto AG got caught out, and one of their sales people Hans Buehler got nabbed as a spy by the Itanians, who interogated him for nine months. But as Crypto AG’s unknown owners had not told senior managment or others in Crypto AG poor Hans knew nothing. Crypto AG paid the $1million bail and got Hans back to Switzerland, where they then sacked him and had him federaly prosecuted as well as persuing civil action against him for the $1million. Effectively the typical US IC community thinking to shut inconvenient people up. However it “blew back” and the press it created brought Crypto AG out of the shadows along with some of it’s lies.

But this did not stop the apparent aliance of Crypto AG with the NSA, GCHQ and the BND… And guess what Crypto AG were caught out again with “economic spying” issues in the EU that used Crypto AG encrypting fax machines.

Each time Crypto AG get caught out they came out with some story about that was all in the past but their machines were backdoor free etc these days… But then they’ve sung that song so many times before and it was shown never to be true…

You also realy need to note that not even Crypto AG’s senior managment has ever known who actually owns the company… This is because ownership is held through “barer bonds” which have no sale or exchange records. So much beloved by Criminals and others who do not want their activities revealed like spys and intelligence agencies like the CIA (remember the Olly North and Fawn Hall show? That showed lots of US dirty hands dealing).

So yes Crypto AG have been dirty one way or another more or less since the begining when Boris Haglin did his deal with William F. Friedman, that he would be able to prosper unopposed in return for backdooring all their equipment for the NSA… Part of this agrement was that the US would “kill off any competition” to Crypto AG. As Crypto AG have been repeatedly been found to be “dirty”, under the old “A leopard never changes it’s spots” saying I have long assumed and indicated as above that they are still dirty and won’t change. Thus have nothing to do with them or anyone daft enough to use their equipment.

But the real point people need to understand is, it realy is over for Crypto AG and has been since the likes of the NIST AES competition and the NSA’s decision to “salt the ground” of software encryption via competition implementation code that had time based covert side channels in it that leaked KeyMat. The likes of the US and Five Eyes SigInt agencies had learnt the lesson of DES and changed tack. But some realised with the AES competition the NSA was into “Standards, Protocol and Implementation” back dooring. Eventually the Dual Elliptic Curve Digital Random Bit Generator (D-EC-DRBG) fiasco opened just about everybodies eyes to what the NSA etc were upto (confirming what I had been warning about for years).

So since 2010-15 the days you needed Crypto AG equipment were long gone (like the –leased Office Photocopier racket). You can build as good for a lot lot less money using off the shelf PC equipment, Open Source Software and a little knowledge of how to set up scanners, printers, and other I/O devices to get “files” onto disk etc. You can then encrypt those files etc using script files and FOSS. So basically for a decade or more people have had no reason other than “legacy” to use Crypto AG’s services and if thinking rationaly would have phased the legacy stuff out in a couple of years. Which might explain what happened in 2018.

But untill today the not so little pecadillos of Crypto AG had been “an in trade joke”, but has now changed. Because German TV station ZDF and the WashPo have “blown the gaff” as it were and have revealed Crypto AG was, in actuallity, entirely controlled and later owned by the CIA and the BND from the end of WWII untill around a year or two ago. Via Project THESAURUS and more recently Project RUBICON.

So by by Crypto AG… But the story does not die with them…

Which is where we get into the even stranger stories about the German SigInt agency effectively owning German electronics company Siemens and their telephone and other comms chip sets, and the similar tie up between the Dutch SigInt agency and Philips Electronics in Eindhoven (and indirectly getting a part of a premier European soccer team PSV Eindhoven that they’ve been known to exploite one way or another). But you can look those stories up for yourself.




[3] The backdoors were simple enough, the machines had strong keys and weak keys and a range in between. The US used a central key issuing authority, thus the US forces were only ever issued the strong keys as “Schedualed KeyMat”. Crypto AG also had KeyMat generating examples and systems and these are known to have been biased towards generating weak keys. The reason for the strong and weak key design was originally to protect against the case of field ciphers being captured and thus reused or used as the base design for enemy crypto equipment. Part of this is down to the German Enigma and British Typex essentially being the same basic design. Whilst it is known that the Typex was modified and used at Bletchly to decode Enigma messages, it’s more or less always been claimed that the Typex remained unbroken by the Axis Forces during WWII.

[4] This kind of worked like the acient Chinese “nightingale traps” where floor boards etc were designed to groan or squeak in a recognisable way so that you could tell where an intruder was without being able to see them. In Peter Wrights book he tells of ” Operation ENGULF” which was the bugging of the “crypto cell” of Egyptian Embassy through the “infinity device”[6] they had put on the phone line leading into the “crypto cell” phone. This enabled them to hear the crypto machines in operation, and due to defects in the mechanics from wear and slop and where they moving parts were mounted on the subframe it was possible to determin by sound which “wheels” were stepping and by how much etc and importantly the likes of the turnover points… Thus much of the hard cryptanalysis work was significantly obviated. The same attack method worked against later equipment that used mechanical relays to do “one time tape” encryption thus striping of link based super encipherment[5].

[5] Whilst technically TEMPEST or Passive EmSec attacks, such issues were very difficult to deal with and accounts in some cases for the apparent odd placment of sound absorbing materials in some electromechanical cipher machines. Also because the relay pull in and release times were impossible to control sufficiently well that artifacts did not show up on the telegraph wires thus alowing super encipherment to be stripped, another set of relays or in more secure equipment two aditional sets of relays were setup like a “shift register” to “reclock” the data lines thus removing the OTP encryption relay artifacts from the line.

[6] The “Infinity Device” –not infinity bug which is a whole different animal– uses the basic laws of physics to do the seamingly impossible. Which is jump switch and other “open” contacts like those in relays and mechanical to electrical transducers where you test meter shows “Open Circuit” of ten megohms or more. If you think about it an open switch contact is in essentially “two metal plates seperated by an air dielectric”, which is the same description of a two plate capacitor. Thus an open switch is a capacitor, and as most students of physics know that whilst the DC resistance (R) of such a capacitor is effectively very very high as the test meter attests to, the AC impedence (Z) however can be a lot lot lower and is defined by

Z = 1 / (2pi f c)

Where “c” is the capacitance of the open contacts and “f” is the AC signal frequency. So a phone “hook switch” can in effect be jumped by an RF carrier as low as 200kHz. Now what many people do not realise is that you can have two AC signals travel down a wire pair in opposit directions without interfering with each other. Thus you can seperate them via a three port device called a “circulator” or other similar device like a two to four wire hybrid. So if you break the telephone transmission line and insert a circulator, you can send an AC signal down to a phone, where it will “jump” the hook switch and complete the circuit through the microphone, that then modulates the AC signal that returns back down the line to the circulator where it comes out of the RX port and into a demodulator circuit to recover the audio in the room. Or to jump a single set of relay contacts to see the timing of the relay contacts behind it which performs the XOR function “imperfectly” thus alow you to get the timing information to strip off the One Time Tape super encryption “addative”.

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