Russian Jesus gives up food to meditate on how he can improve crypto messenger Telegram

Pavel Durov heads into the desert of his soul for inspiration


It's coming up to 1pm, you haven't eaten a morsel in seven hours, and you've been smashing your head against the same work problem for the last two. What do you do?

If you answered "go and get some lunch", you're an idiot.

The titans of tech didn't get where they are today by fulfilling every basic human desire, did they?

Dead Steve Jobs, peace be upon him, had a bunch of hangups about food.

He flirted with fruitarianism, which is like Veganism Pro – fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and grains only. But he also made fasting fashionable for Silicon Valley in pursuit of "euphoria and ecstasy", a symptom known to the medical community as ketosis – when the body produces ketones in the absence of glucose.

Obviously I might lose some muscle mass as a result, but I believe that if I manage to come up with new great ideas for Telegram during the fast, it will be beneficial for all of the millions of Telegram users

It's not healthy, nor did it spare him the ravages of pancreatic cancer.

But the young bucks of the Valley and beyond are even more hardcore (read: insane). "It's not dieting, it's biohacking," HVMN (pronounced "human") CEO Geoffrey Woo told The Guardian in 2017. Because everything's a "hack" now, isn't it? From wiping one's bath down with half a grapefruit to starving oneself.

"Ketones [there's that word again] are a super-fuel for the brain [they aren't]," said the ever so aptly named Woo. "So a lot of the subjective benefits to fasting, including mental clarity, are down to the rise in ketones in the system."

And this is from a man who sells "nootropics" (cognitive enhancers).

But these supposed benefits of falling into a near-starvation state haven't been lost on Russian Jesus, aka Pavel Durov, founder of Russosphere social network VK and encrypted messenger Telegram.

His straightedge lifestyle is well known – no caffeine, meat, drugs, alcohol or fast food have passed his lips for the last 15 years. Or so he says.

Yet Durov, who exiled himself after Russian authorities demanded the keys to his users' private data, is still stumped as to how he can improve Telegram, according to The Independent, and yesterday he told the service that he was quitting food on a quest for inspiration.

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The news site quoted his Telegram post as saying: "This month I'm trying something more radical, with consuming no food at all.

"I've been on a water fast for the last six days and am feeling great so far. Since zero food consumption improves clarity of thought [citation needed; not Woo please], I also got many things done on the product-management side.

"Obviously I might lose some muscle mass as a result, but I believe that if I manage to come up with new great ideas for Telegram during the fast, it will be beneficial for all of the millions of Telegram users.

"And making the lives of our users more enjoyable has been and will be my number one priority."

A whole month is just about doable. The ex-paper cited survivalists' "rule of three" – three minutes without oxygen, three days without water and three weeks without food before the sweet embrace of death. A spoonful of Ben & Jerry's should nudge Durov over the threshold. Or cause fits of diarrhoea – it's not clear.

The whole thing, as these things tend to, reeks of pretentious vision quest. Heck, The Independent even used a picture of a ripped Russian Jesus in the desert, where the satanic call of a Big Mac will surely tempt him.

Anyway best of luck, Pavel. We hope you have a safe word. Whether anything comes of this communion with his inner Christ remains to be seen, but if we don't hear from Durov come July, fear not.

After all, what is the body but a cage for the transcendental? ®


Linus Torvalds issues early Linux Kernel update to fix swapfile SNAFU

‘Subtle and very nasty bug’ meant 5.12 rc1 could trash entire filesystems

Linux overlord Linus Torvalds has rushed out a new release candidate of Linux 5.12 after the first in the new series was found to include a ‘subtle and very nasty bug’ that was so serious he marked rc1 as unsuitable for use.

“We had a very innocuous code cleanup and simplification that raised no red flags at all, but had a subtle and very nasty bug in it: swap files stopped working right. And they stopped working in a particularly bad way: the offset of the start of the swap file was lost,” Torvalds wrote in a March 3rd post to the Linux Kernel Mailing List.

“Swapping still happened, but it happened to the wrong part of the filesystem, with the obvious catastrophic end results.”

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Just when you thought it was safe to enjoy a beer: Beware the downloaded patch applied in haste

Let us tell you a tale of the Mailman's Apprentice

Who, Me? The weekend is over and Monday is here. Celebrate your IT prowess with another there-but-for-the-grace confession from the Who, Me? archives.

Our tale, from a reader the Regomiser has elected to dub "Simon", takes us back to the early part of this century and to an anonymous antipodean institution of learning.

Simon was working at the local Student Union (or "guild" as the locals called it), which was having problems with uppity education staff censoring the emissions of students. Simon was therefore commissioned to set up a fully independent newsletter.

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Remember that day in March 2020 when you were asked to get the business working from home – tomorrow, if possible? Here's how that worked out

IT pros from orgs large and small tell The Reg the tech delivered, mostly, but couriers and home Wi-Fi suddenly became your problem

Covid Logfile Brianna Haley was given one day to be ready to roll out Zoom for 13,000 users at over 1,000 sites.

Haley* is a project analyst for a large healthcare provider that, as COVID-19 marched across the world in March 2020, realised imminent lockdowns meant it would soon be unable to consult with patients.

And no consultations meant no revenue.

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The torture garden of Microsoft Exchange: Grant us the serenity to accept what they cannot EOL

Time to fix those legacy evils, though.... right?

Column It is the monster which corrupts all it touches. It is an energy-sucking vampire that thrives on the pain it promotes. It cannot be killed, but grows afresh as each manifestation outdoes the last in awfulness and horror. It is Microsoft Exchange and its drooling minion, Outlook.

Let us start with the most numerous of its victims, the end users. Chances are, you are one. You may be numbed by lifelong exposure, your pain receptors and critical faculties burned out though years of corrosion. You might be like me, an habitual avoider whose work requirements periodically force its tentacles back in through the orifices.

I have recently started to use it through its web interface, where it doesn’t update the unread flags, hides attachments, multiplies browser instances, leaves temp files all over my download directory, tangles threads, botches searchers and so on.

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Delayed, overbudget and broken. Of course Microsoft's finest would be found in NASA's Orion

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (as Windows crashes again)

BORK!BORK!BORK! Getting astronauts to the Moon or Mars is the least of NASA's problems. Persuading Microsoft Windows not to fall over along the way is apparently a far greater challenge.

Spotted by Register reader Scott during a visit to the otherwise excellent Space Center Houston, there is something all too real lurking within the mock-up of the Orion capsule in which NASA hopes to send its astronauts for jaunts beyond low Earth orbit.

Clutched in the hand of a mannequin posed in the capsule's hatch is a reminder of both how old space tech tends to be and a warning for space-farers intending to take Microsoft's finest out for a spin.

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Name True, iCloud access false: Exceptional problem locks online storage account, stumps Apple customer service

You're naming yourself wrong?

An iCloud customer says she spent more than six hours on the phone to Apple after being locked out of the service because her name is apparently incompatible with the application code.

"Actor, author, artist" Rachel True posted on Twitter about an error with the iCloud application, an unhandled exception with "Type error: cannot set value `true` to property `lastName`."

It seems that her name was interpreted as a Boolean value instead of a string, a common programming problem especially in dynamic languages which are more flexible about variable types.

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Intel CPU interconnects can be exploited by malware to leak encryption keys and other info, academic study finds

Side-channel ring race 'hard to mitigate with existing defenses'

Chip-busting boffins in America have devised yet another way to filch sensitive data by exploiting Intel's processor design choices.

Doctoral student Riccardo Paccagnella, master's student Licheng Luo, and assistant professor Christopher Fletcher, all from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, delved into the way CPU ring interconnects work, and found they can be abused for side-channel attacks. The upshot is that one application can infer another application's private memory and snoop on the user's key presses.

"It is the first attack to exploit contention on the cross-core interconnect of Intel CPUs," Paccagnella told The Register. "The attack does not rely on sharing memory, cache sets, core-private resources or any specific uncore structures. As a consequence, it is hard to mitigate with existing side channel defenses."

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NASA shows Mars that humans can drive a remote control space tank at .01 km/h

Perseverance takes first drive around landing spot named in honor of seminal sci-fi author Octavia E. Butler

NASA’s Perseverance rover trekked across Mars for the first time last Thursday, March 4, 2021.

The vehicle went four whole meters forward, turned 150 degrees to the left, then moved another two-and-a-half meters. The entire drive covered a whopping 6.5 m (21.3 feet) across Martian terrain. The journey took about 33 minutes.

The Register ran that through a calculator and deduces the nuclear powered laser-equipped space tank, aka Perseverance, sped along at the astounding velocity of .01km/h, quite a comedown from the 19,310 km/h at which it entered the red planet’s atmosphere.

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Google's ex-boss tells the US it's time to take the gloves off on autonomous weapons

Plus: AI Index 2021 report takeaways, Chocolate Factory banished from top ethics conference, and more

In brief US government should avoid hastily banning AI-powered autonomous weapons and instead step up its efforts in developing such systems to keep up with foreign enemies, according to the National Security Commission on AI.

The independent group headed by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and funded by the Department of Defense has published its final report advising the White House on how best to advance AI and machine learning to stay ahead of its competitors.

Stretching over 750 pages, the report covers a lot of areas, including retaining talent, the future of warfare, protecting IP, and US semiconductor supply chains.

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Keeping up the PECR: ICO fines two marketing text pests £330k for sending 2.6 million messages

Leads Work Ltd and Valca Vehicle and Life Cover Agency tried to exploit household finance fears in lockdown, says data watchdog

Two businesses that dispatched more than 2.6 million nuisance text messages seeking to exploit lower household incomes during Britain’s first lockdown are nursing a combined financial penalty of £330,000 from the UK’s data watchdog.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it had received 10,000 official moans against West Sussex-based Leads Work Ltd [PDF], which sent more than 2.6 million lead generation texts between 16 May and 26 June 2020.

The texts were sent under the brand of Avon - yes, the direct sales biz that flogs cosmetics and perfumes. Any leads generated would then passed to independent Avon sales reps.

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