Patently Silly Claim – XML

If it wasn’t bad enough that Microsoft had a patent granted on Apple’s wheel thingy on the iPod after the iPod was on the market now a company in the US is claiming to have patents that cover XML for the transfer of “data in neutral forms”.

The ray of light is that there is a good chance that the patent could be ruled unenforceable in a court of law, as the report points out:

Patent lawyer Bruce Sunstein, a co-founder of Boston-based Bromberg & Sunstein, viewed Scientigo’s patents and concluded that the company will have difficulty in enforcing claims over XML.

Sunstein noted that XML is derived from SGML, which dates back to the 1980s. SGML, in turn, is based on computing concepts from the 1960s. If Scientigo’s claims were ever litigated, the company would have to address all the prior work on data formats.

Update: Groklaw now has a report on these patent claims.

UK Bank Cash Machine Insecurities

I’d heard vague stories about this when I was still in the UK, but the full story of the insecurities of the British bank system is pretty staggering.

Professor Ross Anderson, a cryptography and security expert who was an expert consultant to Kelman on the case, explains: “Stone had been working with building access systems using cards with magnetic stripes, and one day he thought he’d see what it could read of his ATM card. Then he tried it with his wife’s.” Stone figured that the stream of digits was probably an encrypted PIN.

“Then, because you can change the content of the magnetic strip, he wondered what would happen if he changed the number on his card to match his wife’s. He found he could get money out using his old PIN.” The high street bank Stone used (The Register knows which one) had not used the account number to encrypt the PIN on the card – meaning that any card for that bank could be changed and used to make withdrawals on any other account in it, providing you knew the right details (such as branch sort code and account number. The name of the card holder of course was unimportant, because it was not on the stripe.)

Detectors Think Bananas are Bombs

New Scientist has an article on thework underway to build better radiation detectors for use in cargo scanning – and here’s why:

Firstly, they wrongly flag around 2 per cent of all containers as suspect, mainly because they cannot distinguish between a plutonium bomb and the radioactive potassium-40 found in bananas. More importantly, they fail to detect the most dangerous nuclear material of all: highly enriched uranium (HEU).

"D’oh!" springs to mind..

User Registrations Finally Fixed!

OK – now this time I really think I’ve fixed it! 🙂

The problem appears to be that I had turned on caching in Xanthia which meant that the PHP that does the creation and emailing of the password to you wasn’t getting executed!

So after turning that off and creating and deleting some test users I’m pretty sure it’s working now.

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Memory Usage

Stewart, I feel your pain. This is what it’s like with KDE’s Kmail (part of Kontact):

10134 csamuel   16   0  337m 236m  28m S  0.0 23.3   2:32.73 kontact

That’s for a 685MB mail directory..

On a slightly related tangent, you may be amused by Alec’s splashscreen rant which makes a lot of sense. I guess they’re there because of the novice users who assume because they don’t see anything instantly then they should start the program again… and again… and again.. and then wonder why their machine has turned into a thrashing writhing wreck and 52 different windows are appearing very, very, slowly…

Ubuntu I2O Bug Work Around

The sequence to get a work around (whilst waiting for a response from Ubuntu) was:

  1. Try and strip out the I2O subsytem from the initrd created by initramfs and then find it fails to load the dpt_i2o driver at all.
  2. Use mkinitrd not mkinitramfs as that has enough sense not to include the I2O subsystem.
  3. Find that the machine then crashes after your disks are mounted because hotplug tries to load I2O when it begins during the init scripts.
  4. Remove or move somewhere innocuous the /lib/modules/2.6.12-9-686-smp/kernel/drivers/message/i2o directory and reboot.
  5. Update the bug report in the hope you won’t have to go through it again!

Finally my machine boots…