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Thomas C Greene

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The terrorists I party with

Part 3 It was a "fuel-air bomb" that would create "a superhot fireball". Anyone care to guess what I'm referring to here? A diabolical new weapon from some DoD skunkworks, perhaps? A metaphorical description of the space shuttle Challenger exploding, maybe? Actually, that was how ABC News's The Blotter with Brian Ross described the …
Thomas C Greene, 27 Jul 2007
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Can Osama keep Bush afloat?

Part 2 As we discussed in part one, terrorism in general, and al Qaeda in particular, are again dominating the news. It's now just about impossible to find a report of any terrorist act (or quasi-terrorist act, like the recent failed car bombings in London), without reference to Osama bin Laden or his famous franchise. Interestingly, …
Thomas C Greene, 25 Jul 2007
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Breakfast with bin Laden

Part 1 I shot Lennon; I shot the Pope. I shot the devil; now you got no hope. -- Suicidal Tendencies It's been an interesting month: I've been breakfasting with Osama bin Laden rather often lately. I can hardly open my morning paper nowadays without reading about al Qaeda. Apparently, there are al Qaeda cells all over London, al …
Thomas C Greene, 24 Jul 2007
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Beavis and Butthead in London jihad

Police and securocrats know that there aren't enough real terrorists in the world, which is why they have to keep manufacturing them. This is because citizens tire of being watched by cameras, frisked and x-rayed, having their belongings searched, giving fingerprints to so-called friendly nations on entry, contemplating the …
Thomas C Greene, 29 Jun 2007
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Winning the (propaganda) war on cancer

A couple of years ago, the American Cancer Society gaily reported that cancer survival rates have been improving dramatically and steadily. A few weeks ago, Cancer Research UK announced a similarly sunny prognosis for the public at large: UK survival rates have doubled in 30 years. Yes, we are all "surviving" longer with cancer …
Thomas C Greene, 15 Jun 2007

Don't let Windows Indexing Service know too much

Privacy workshop The Windows Indexing Service catalogues the contents of your hard disk, and even the contents of files, to make local searching faster. This service creates and later consults a number of small databases containing data about your disk's contents, including the actual contents of files, which can undermine the practice of good …
Thomas C Greene, 10 May 2007

Clearing swap and hibernation files properly

Privacy workshop Most privacy-conscious users are familiar with deleting files securely, that is, destructively with overwriting and with wiping free space on their disks. But two items that often get overlooked are the swap file (or swap partition), and the hibernation file. Let's start with the swap file. This is an area of your hard disk …
Thomas C Greene, 05 May 2007

How to enjoy media in any region

Cheap airfares and the so-called "global economy" have got us all travelling internationally like never before, both for business and pleasure. And whatever the purpose of one's trip, two great joys for the traveller are eating and shopping in foreign places. Most of us eagerly bring home merchandise not available locally. As …
Thomas C Greene, 28 Apr 2007
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MPAA veteran Jack Valenti dead at 85

Former Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Chairman Jack Valenti is dead following complications of a stroke suffered in March. The voice of the MPAA for nearly 40 years, Valenti's public career began during the Johnson administration, when he served as an advisor and confidant to the late President. Valenti is best …
Thomas C Greene, 27 Apr 2007
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Reg called more balanced than Wired

Letter Our recent story on government data mining in Singapore drew a letter form Dave Snowden, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge, which is involved in the project. Says Dave: I have just been passed your article in The Register on Singapore's RAHS project, which is slightly more balanced that the Wired article, …
Thomas C Greene, 06 Apr 2007

Why I won't buy a Dell next time

Comment I recently bought a "Vista capable" desktop PC from Dell. It was a good opportunity to play the secret shopper and report the experience as an ordinary consumer, instead of reporting as a tech journo reviewing hardware supplied by the maker and tweaked to perfection before delivery. I had bought a PC from Dell years ago and had …
Thomas C Greene, 04 Apr 2007
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Singapore invests in TIA snake oil

Comment Retired US Admiral and convicted felon John Poindexter has been a busy man since Congress scrapped his Total Information Awareness (TIA) system and punctured his Orwellian dream of linking every government database imaginable in pursuit of evildoers, as Wired News reports. Indeed, the Iran-Contra scandal alum has got a seat on …
Thomas C Greene, 29 Mar 2007
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Vista security overview: too little too late

Review Microsoft has gone out on a limb to promote Vista not merely as "the most secure version of Windows ever" (every recent version is marketed with that tired slogan), but for the first time as an adequately secure version of Windows. "We've got the message and we've done our homework", the company says. So let's see if the reality …
Thomas C Greene, 20 Feb 2007
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Vista first look: Bugs and confusion

Review The most prominent feature of Windows Vista is its cost. So, before we get into the nuts and bolts of how it behaves, let's talk about value for money. Because at these prices, it had better be good. The stand-alone version of Vista Ultimate retails for €600, or $780 here in Ireland. is selling this $780 version to …
Thomas C Greene, 14 Feb 2007
fingers pointing at man

How to install a Vista upgrade on any PC

Microsoft is running an unadvertised sale on Windows Vista. For the price of an upgrade edition requiring an existing copy of Windows, anyone can have a stand-alone version of Vista that will run on any PC. Indeed, the upgrade editions are full versions, simply waiting to be told to install themselves regardless of what OS is …
Thomas C Greene, 12 Feb 2007
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US preps vast DNA dragnet

In a move reminiscent of Nazi Germany and 21st-Century Britain, the US federal government is about to implement rules requiring routine DNA collection from suspected illegal immigrants and anyone arrested by federal authorities, regardless of whether they are ever convicted of a crime. DNA collection will be performed in any …
Thomas C Greene, 06 Feb 2007
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Florida chucks touch-screen balloting

Florida, the epicentre of hopelessly confused US elections, is chucking touch-screen ballot machines in favour of optical scanners, the Associated Press reports. Governor Charlie Crist (Republican) announced the new initiative on Thursday, and called on the legislature to authorise the needed $32m in extra funds that the …
Thomas C Greene, 02 Feb 2007

Firefox 2.0: happier browsing, but secure?

Review It's long past time to bother telling anyone how much better than IE Firefox is. Faster, smaller, more responsive, with tabbed browsing and useful extensions galore. It's also lot more secure than IE, partly because it's open source, and particularly because it's not integrated with the underlying OS. Firefox's security bugs …
Thomas C Greene, 30 Jan 2007
For Sale sign detail

Is Windows Vista ready for you?

Because I'll soon have the pleasure of evaluating Windows Vista forThe Register in a series of articles concerned with the user experience, administration tools, and security features, I wanted to be certain that this new OS is compatible with my hardware. Fortunately, Microsoft has a website devoted to answering these …
Thomas C Greene, 29 Jan 2007
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Flying wang survivor threatens DMCA action

Comment Has Linden Labs gone mad and started attacking the very journos who satisfy its dependence on hype? A couple of recent headlines would suggest so, but readers needn't be alarmed. The ZDNet headline got it a bit wrong: "Virtual land owner challenges press freedom in Second Life", suggesting that freedom of the press to operate …
Thomas C Greene, 08 Jan 2007
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E-vote systems certifier de-certified

The leading certifier of US electronic voting systems, Colorado outfit Ciber, Inc., is no longer permitted to issue certifications, after federal investigators discovered appallingly haphazard testing regimes, the New York Times reports. Ciber, which certifies the majority of US election devices, was unable to document how it …
Thomas C Greene, 05 Jan 2007
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Teen shot dead by police over stolen PS3

An 18-year-old North Carolina man, suspected of stealing two PlayStation 3 consoles, was shot dead by police executing a search warrant at his residence. Peyton Strickland was gunned down in his house by deputies as he answered the door, the Wilmington Star News reports. . He was unarmed, according to witnesses. University of …
Thomas C Greene, 05 Dec 2006
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Feds implement mass passenger data trawl

Whenever the US government runs afoul of public opinion with some data-mining scheme threatening to invade the privacy of millions, it changes the name and then goes ahead as planned. We had the "Total Information Awareness" (TIA) federal scheme to mine official and commercial databases, which morphed into the MATRIX, an …
Thomas C Greene, 01 Dec 2006
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DoJ to review domestic surveillance

Comment With January approaching, bringing foul weather and a Democratic majority to Capitol Hill, the President has abandoned one of his cute little dodges that had shut down Congressional inquiries into the NSA's mass wiretap scandal. The Department of Justice (DoJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will now conduct a review of …
Thomas C Greene, 29 Nov 2006

Fake boarding pass brouhaha settled amicably

The FBI has let Indiana University graduate student Christopher Soghoian off the hook for having posted a fake boarding pass generator on his website. Soghoian had intended to illustrate the ease with which a person on the no-fly lists could gain access to secure areas of an airport, although it is unlikely that anyone could …
Thomas C Greene, 29 Nov 2006
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Supremes skeptical toward trivial patents

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of KSR International v. Teleflex, in which the limits of combination patents and so-called obvious patents are being considered. According to several wire reports, KSR argued that its design for adjustable vehicle accelerator pedals does not violate a patent held by Teleflex …
Thomas C Greene, 29 Nov 2006
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Mom cooks baby in microwave oven - police

Police have charged an Ohio woman in the death, by microwave oven, of her one-month-old daughter, the Associated Press reports. Mom China Arnold, 26, stands accused of aggravated murder after bringing her dead infant daughter, Paris, to a hospital, with a "high body temperature". The woman was arrested, and later released. "We …
Thomas C Greene, 28 Nov 2006
For Sale sign detail

Xandros Linux conquers a hostile Sony laptop

OS Review I have an impressive talent for buying laptop computers hostile to Linux. Right now I'm using a Sony Vaio VGN-FS840/W, with more proprietary drivers than you can shake a stick at. It's so bad that even a retail edition of Windows XP won't run on it; you need the OEM Windows (and sure enough, Sony is too cheap to include the CD …
Thomas C Greene, 27 Nov 2006
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Websites not liable for third party posts - court

The California Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling on Monday stating that websites can't be sued over third-party content, the Associated Press reports. The court found that, according to the Communications Decency Act of 1996, only the person responsible for creating libellous content can be pursued. At issue was a San …
Thomas C Greene, 21 Nov 2006
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Bushies push NSA wiretap extravaganza

Comment True freedom is protecting Americans by letting the NSA monitor their email and phone calls by the millions without a warrant, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales explained to Air Force Academy cadets in a speech last week. It's a mistake to regard such Gestapo tactics as compromising freedom, he told the young officers in …
Thomas C Greene, 20 Nov 2006
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Bush taps ex-CIA man to head DoD

Analysis "It was a thumpin'," President George W Bush said of the mid-term elections, as he made Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld his first burnt offering to a Democratic Congress. Rumsfeld had served as a lightning rod for criticism of the war in Iraq, and Bush no doubt believes that chucking him will be seen on the Hill as a positive …
Thomas C Greene, 10 Nov 2006
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Democrats win majority in US Senate

Analysis It was only by a whisker, but Democrats managed to pull off a clean sweep of Congress in the midterm election. Two exceptionally tight Senate races, in Montana and in Virginia, ended yesterday with the Republican candidates conceding. Democrats now enjoy a razor-thin majority in the Senate, and a substantial one in the House. …
Thomas C Greene, 10 Nov 2006
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US govt may appeal in AT&T wiretap case

The US government and AT&T have been granted an opportunity to argue for dismissal of their case concerning the mass wiretapping of phone and email traffic, Reuters reports. The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that the defendants' motion for dismissal, originally rejected by US District Court Judge Vaughn …
Thomas C Greene, 09 Nov 2006
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Piracy losses fabricated - Aussie study

A draft study commissioned by the Australian Attorney General's office finds that the music and software industries attributes sales losses to piracy without any evidence to back their claims, The Australian reports. According to a draft report by the Australian Institute of Criminology, the music industry can't explain how it …
Thomas C Greene, 09 Nov 2006
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Americans choose Democrats

Americans have chosen to send Democrats to Capitol Hill in hopes that they will restrain the the bumbling and imperious Bush administration and correct its many blunders. According to exit polls, nearly 40 per cent of voters said they were consciously voting against the President and his numerous failed policies and national …
Thomas C Greene, 08 Nov 2006
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USA to ground all travellers until 'cleared'

No one will be permitted to board an aircraft or a marine vessel leaving or bound for the United States until cleared by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), under proposed regulations. Under current regs, the US requires airlines to transmit their manifests no later than …
Thomas C Greene, 06 Nov 2006
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Republicans post nuke cookbook on line

The persistent delusions of senior Republicans in Congress and the President have led to the leaking of sensitive documents on nuclear weapons via the Web, the New York Times reports. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (Republican, Michigan), and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (Republican, …
Thomas C Greene, 03 Nov 2006
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Stupid aul' Reg hack has tin ear

Correction In a recent article about electronic voting in Ireland, I claimed that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had been misquoted in a Sunday Times article by Mark Tighe on the same topic. Speaking in the Dáil, Bertie had advocated resurrecting Ireland's electronic voting terminals whilst decrying the insult to Irish sophistication implied by …
Thomas C Greene, 01 Nov 2006
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Florida ballot terminals favor Republicans

Florida voters using electronic ballot machines are having persistent problems choosing Democrats in early elections, the Miami Herald reports. The touch-screen gizmos seem strangely attracted to Republican candidates. One voter needed assistance from an election official, and even then, needed three tries to convince the …
Thomas C Greene, 31 Oct 2006
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Airline security critic raided by Feds

Indiana University graduate student Christopher Soghoian pointed out a flaw in airline security by posting a fake boarding pass generator online, and was rewarded with a visit from FBI agents with a search warrant. The FBI raided his residence on Saturday, only days after the student posted a PHP script enabling anyone to print …
Thomas C Greene, 31 Oct 2006
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Italian spy chief eyes jail over CIA abduction

Comment There's nothing new about governments exploiting the 9/11 atrocities for such purposes as passing draconian laws at home, or pleasing the USA enough to feast on some of its rich security pork. But there is something new about a country's top-ranked security official facing criminal charges for trying to please the Bush …
Thomas C Greene, 30 Oct 2006
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Los Alamos docs turn up in meth lab bust

A search of a suspected meth lab turned up classified documents from Los Alamos National Laboratory, where, among other things, nuclear weapons research is conducted. According to the Associated Press, a researcher at the lab was under investigation for methamphetamine related offences, and the documents were discovered when …
Thomas C Greene, 25 Oct 2006
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Irish e-voting emerges from the crypt

After spending €52m on a computerised voting scheme that doesn't work reliably, and warehousing the kit at a cost of about €800,000 per year, the Irish government would like to revive the technology so that the country's reputation doesn't suffer. Ireland will be embarrassed without computerised balloting, Taoiseach Bertie …
Thomas C Greene, 24 Oct 2006
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Irish passports go RFID, and naked

Analysis The Irish government has begun issuing RFID passports with biometric data that can be read at a distance to comply with US regulations for its visa waiver programme. But unlike the RFID passports the USA is now issuing, the Irish ones lack a security feature preventing them from being skimmed, or read surreptitiously. The US …
Thomas C Greene, 23 Oct 2006

Venturing online in Ireland

Comment I'm flattered by the number of Reg readers who have spotted the change in my byline and taken the time to ask if I've moved permanently. And for the record, yes; I and my lovely wife and dear little boy have emigrated from the USA. And yes, we're very much pleased to be here. Naturally, for someone in my line of work, a …
Thomas C Greene, 20 Oct 2006
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EFF to probe FBI's new monster database

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is suing the US Department of Justice to learn more about the FBI's new monster database, called the Investigative Data Warehouse, or IDW. The Bureau has been eager to showcase its new counterterrorist gimmick, after expensive and largely humiliating efforts to launch its Trilogy and …
Thomas C Greene, 18 Oct 2006
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Welcome to the Fourth Reich

Comment "It is a rare occasion when a President can sign a bill that he knows will save American lives; I have that privilege this morning," US President George W Bush trilled as he consigned 200 years of judicial oversight to the scrap heap of history. For the bill that he signed with such evident satisfaction has relieved the federal …
Thomas C Greene, 18 Oct 2006
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TV causes autism - study

Researchers at Cornell University and Purdue University have claim to have found a link between childhood TV watching and autism, confirming what everyone had already surmised. The study, by Michael Waldman, Sean Nicholson and Nodir Adilov, is based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey, which …
Thomas C Greene, 17 Oct 2006

NK nukes: We're all (not) going to die

Analysis Just when we all got comfortable with the idea of Islamofascists bringing down the curtain on humanity's dominion over the Earth, those wacky North Koreans come along and put everyone's pet Apocalyptic theories into disarray. And boy, is it getting complicated: we've got people trying to blow up airplanes with KY jelly and …
Thomas C Greene, 16 Oct 2006

MS fits Messenger with sex police panic button

Microsoft has been persuaded to install a panic button in UK editions of Messenger, enabling every crackpot and prankster to distract police with claims that online sexual predators are pursuing them. A mere mouse click will alert the authorities that an online sex offender has been discovered. Child-protective hysterics from …
Thomas C Greene, 24 Aug 2006