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* Posts by Christian Berger

2632 posts • joined 9 Mar 2007

Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group

Christian Berger
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I wonder if that housed the evil or the good parts of "Trustworthy Computing"

I mean Microsoft had multiple approaches. One was the "We only execute signed code" idea which they still try to push through with secure boot. (though you can still turn it off at the moment to avoid potential legal problems)

The other part was more profound, they started to actually fix bugs in response to Linux. Suddenly a Word file crashing Word was a big issue as it might be used as an exploit.

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Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables

Christian Berger
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ULF data rate

"Data rate of ULF to slurp data.... ~300baud, not really that useful..."

ULF is actually more like <<1 baud, and probably wouldn't even work down to the ground. What you do there is communicating via sound... which might get you something like 30 baud which may be enough to set a packet filter or to tell the harddisk to float up to the surface.

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Christian Berger
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No need to splice fibres to evesdrop

Splicing fibres would be far to easy to detect. What you do instead is bend the fibre to tap it. Or you can just tap a splice... which is probably much less protected. You could probably even do it on a well monitored cable if you do it slowly enough. It's probably much simpler than splicing, too.

So yes, there would probably be a lot more easy ways to get to the data, but tapping undersea cables isn't infeasible, the technology has been done for cable on land, and undersea copper connections have been eavesdropped on before.

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Big Data's being held back by little talent, says Huawei head techie

Christian Berger
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I guess one factor is ethics

Smart people tend to act a bit more ethical as they can foresee the consequences of their actions. Therefore those people will understand that storing large amount of data about people is bad as it _will_ be abused eventually.

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US boffins demo 'twisted radio' mux

Christian Berger
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Re: I'd still say it's MIMO

Actually crosses Yagis are, if they have independent outputs, MIMO capable. In fact MIMO for LTE uses just such constructions. You have multiple antennas or antennas which have 2 outputs one for each polarisation.

MIMO just means Multiple Input Multiple Output. It has little to do with what sort of antenna you use.

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Christian Berger
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I'd still say it's MIMO

Just because you combine multiple antennas into one, doesn't mean you can't have different channels.

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Oi! You noisy servers! Talk among yourselves and stop bothering that poor router!

Christian Berger
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Two observations

a) DMA over Ethernet sounds like a security problem about to happen.

b) Has anybody ever noticed that all those TCP offloading or TCP bypassing technologies are always aimed at Windows? I mean seriously it would only be of benefit if you have a highly inefficient TCP stack. I mean Linux, for example, can do "zero copy server" for about 10 years now. If you have a decent network card, you can have the DMA of your harddisk read the data into RAM, and the DMA of your network card will push it onto the network, all the CPU needs to do is to generate headers without checksums, as even cheap network controllers will do checksums by themselves.

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Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales

Christian Berger
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Re: It could have been comparatively easy

It probably wouldn't have been battery hungry. I mean most Win32 applications were GUI based so they were mostly waiting for input. Plus Win32 derives from Win16 where everything was event driven. Any Win32 applications don't even use the new features like threads. Using a second of CPU time meant having your application hang for that second. So I wouldn't be surprised if an emulated Win32 application would take even less power than an Android re-implementation.

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Christian Berger
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It could have been comparatively easy

They could have just made the Windows Phone API close enough to the Win32 API that you could just re-compile. Plus they could have added an emulator so you could (kinda) use x86-Win32 applications on your mobile phone. That would have given them a market. Suddenly people would have been able to use all their legacy stuff on their mobile phones. While this has limited use for GUI applications, things like VPNs would just run. And even GUI applications could be changed to have GUIs usable on mobile devices.

Microsoft is a company deeply rooted in their Win32 past. Since then they haven't been able to establish any new platform. Even ".net" is a joke as Microsoft doesn't use it for their own products. (or have I missed Office for .net?)

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Cable internet won't need dose of fibre to stop feeling bloated

Christian Berger
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No, it's a stopgap

The problem is that certain ISPs just stop investing in their network infrastructure causing more and more congestion, despite still charging their customers.

Instead of just steadily upgrading their network with a constant stream of investments, they invest in technologies which mess with customer data, creating the illusion of a semi-usable network despite congestion. While this may be acceptable in case of emergencies (i.e. half of your equipment being on fire), it must not be the norm.

We must finally mandate certain qualities of service for commercial ISPs. If you want to charge money for what you do, you must keep the network utilisation on every link in your network below x% in 90% of the time, below y% in 99% of the time and below z% in 99.9% of the time.

TCP/IP was not made for saturated links, but it shouldn't need to be. Network links are rather cheap in industrial countries, and even the backbone fibre we have now will last for the next couple of decades.

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Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM

Christian Berger
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Re: The problem is that it doesn't require any physical presence

Exactly, it may even be somewhere inside where service personel can get to. There's plenty of ways to do it. Heck even popping up a message on the screen would have solved the issue completely.

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Christian Berger
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The problem is that it doesn't require any physical presence

Changing the firmware on a device you own is a very sensible feature. This opens the road to alternative firmware images with new features. Or image that remove misfeatures like yellow dots with the serial number printed on every sheet. (some printers do that)

Maybe in the future printer manufacturers decide to print ads on their consumer printers, just like we have mobile phones displaying ads today. (maybe this will be sold as a feature against dried in print heads)

The big point is, you don't own hardware you cannot decide what software runs on it. Installing different firmware is no bug, it's a feature. And with technology becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives, it becomes more and more important.

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General Motors issues STOP DELIVERY for 2,800 corvettes over defects in 2015 model

Christian Berger
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Well quality in that area is rather bad

After all you have people developing with insane methodologies like the V or W model, plus outsourcing to the lowest bidder or people who care even less about the project than you do.

It's not uncommon for conceptual bugs to go all the way down to implementation, because nobody in the chain had the guts to report that bug. This is why certain German cars have bugs in their targeting systems causing the brakes to malfunction and stop you car when you target someone.

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New Snowden leak: US and Brit spooks 'tap into German telco networks to map end devices'

Christian Berger
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Re: With 20:20 hindsight ...

Well Snowden delivered proof of this. Now it's not just allegations, but actual proof... particularly since the US essentially acknowledged it by going after Snowden and the journalists surrounding him.

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New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone

Christian Berger
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Well yes...

HTTP via SMS is actually old, back in the short period in the 1990s when SMS was free in Germany, there were projects to do that. The big problem of course is that SMS is horribly expensive in most countries.

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Italy's High Court orders HP to refund punter for putting Windows on PC

Christian Berger
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We would need something like that more desperately in the mobile world

Currently the mobile world is in something I'd call the CP/M stage. We do have a common API for application software, but we do not have a common hardware platform. CP/M had to be ported to every new model of computer, despite it being near identical in functionality to the next one. Actually CP/M even had to be ported for different amounts of RAM. Android or any other operating system faces the same problem, that's why projects like Cyanogenmod spend most of their efforts just to get the basic system running. That's terribly inefficient and a waste of programmer time.

On CP/M there was at least the concept of a "BIOS", a basic system held in a ROM which gave you basic access to your hardware. Mobile devices don't have that.

What we would really desperately need in the mobile world is a common hardware platform. Or at least a basic platform where things like displays in framebuffer mode (without acceleration), touchscreens, keyboards, hardware enumeration, storage and USB work out of the box. Manufacturers could still add their features, but a non ported system would just work.

It would be worth for everyone. Just look at what Microsoft did when Linux became a thread in the late 1990s early 2000s. Microsoft actually started to care about _quality_. They actually fixed bugs, they added a primitive automatic update system, they even have security teams looking into claimed security holes and trying to fix them before shipping the product. Without the thread of Linux they _never_ would have done that, and we'd still be at 1990s levels of software quality.

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Christian Berger
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Re: OEM Pricing?

Or since we live in the 21th century, you could just have a little removable flash chip with the operating system on it. If you don't want it, just return the chip. If your harddisk breaks, just replace it, your OS will still be there. If you want to upgrade your OS, just swap the chip.

This could be done easily, and in case of Windows you could even have a Ramdisk holding it. Microsoft would even have a competitive advantage. Since Windows is so small, last time I checked you could fit it onto a single bootable diskette, the flash chip would cost virtually nothing, and it would be loaded into RAM in milliseconds. Your typical Linux distribution would still occupy a couple of Gigabytes and therefore take longer to boot and need more memory.

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Would Apple godhead Steve Jobs have HATED the Watch?

Christian Berger
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According to German news reports...

It can cause orgasms, throw thunder bolts and, most crucially, cure cancer!

http://www.der-postillon.com/2014/09/hype-gerechtfertigt-apple-watch-heilt.html

So I guess he might have liked it.

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Toshiba plans chippery with mere 0.5V power slurp by 2017

Christian Berger
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Re: Quantum mechanics?

Well actually every transistor is designed taking quantum physics into consideration. It's the best description we have for such systems and without it we couldn't explain them.

It's not spooky science, but a mathematical tool but a precise mathematical tool to describe and predict certain aspects of the world around us.

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BBC Trust candidate defends licence fee, says evaders are CRIMINALS

Christian Berger
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To those who think the BBC is bad...

... I dare you watch German TV. German TV mostly consists of dumb people shouting at you, and talk show where industry and political leaders get to spread their propaganda.

There's even something called "scripted reality" shows, where ordinary people are filmed in a way making them appear like filthy scum.

It just seems like German TV saw "The Year of the Sex Olympics" as a manual.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9NP5F9X2F8

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Christian Berger
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I'd gladly pay for the BBC...

.... but they won't let me. The only thing I can get is hugely overpriced BluRays from BBC video.

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Whopping 10TB disks spin out of HGST – plus 3.2TB flash slabs

Christian Berger
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That's logical

The drowned factory of WD left the industry with some breathing space of not having to bring out new products immediately. So they could invest more in research... which now shows fruits.

Other than that, we're seeing incremental progress, not particularly exciting, but it'll be done.

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Comcast using JavaScript to inject advertising from Wi-Fi hotspots

Christian Berger
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If you actually want to do something against that...

... join the Freifunk movement. The goal is to have a network as independent as possible of commercial companies. This works via a meshed network over Wifi as well as VPN or microwave links. Current devices open both a managed and an ad hoc network, so even mobile phones can join easily. Due to the meshed structure it's rather resilient to outages. And with modern protocols like B.A.T.M.A.N. Advanced you can even run all nodes with exactly the same configuration.

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Christian Berger
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That should be illegal

After all it's manipulating other people's data intentionally. It should be just as badly punished as if I was to go to my bank and add some additional digits to my bank account.

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General Motors to intro HANDS-FREE DRIVING tech by 2016

Christian Berger
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Are you sure this is not an old article?

I mean this sounds more like something from the 1960s:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=vUpeAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3WANAAAAIBAJ&pg=6885,3667738

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DEATH TO TCP/IP cry Cisco, Intel, US gov and boffins galore

Christian Berger
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Re: With incredible uptake of IPv6

Well as usual here, those vitriolic comments come from people who don't understand IP and think NA(P)T is a security feature, just ignore them. Yes IPv6 will have it's initial problems, but it's far from the hell hole IPv4 with carrier grade NAT or NDN will be.

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Christian Berger
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Re: At least they have given it the right name

"idea which stands no chance of being delivered."

I wouldn't be so positive about that. The advantages for governments and media companies as well as router manufacturers are just to big.

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Christian Berger
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So far, any attempt at such an "intelligent network" have failed

I mean just look at ATM, X25 and ISDN. All of those networks could in principle do everything we ever wanted, but at a much higher cost. IP took off, because it's so incredibly cheap and easy to implement.

It also took off since there is no difference between different services. If I wanted to transmit smells, I wouldn't have to go through 10 years of standardisation, I could just transmit the data. And if I do want to have a standard, I just publish my protocols.

Also there is no concept of "Client" or "Server" in IP. It's in TCP instead. Therefore there is no difference between client and server connections to the Internet, every connection is the same. This is what enabled rapid growth and a vibrant culture.

An "intelligent network" would turn back the clock to online services like Compuserve or AOL, where you have more or less walled gardens.

The only problem facing IP(v6) is ISPs which put their customers money into ad campaigns instead of just upgrading their network as they are paid to do. This is why some ISPs have congestion, and this is why we now have widespread outages. The Internet is to important to be left to companies that need to gain the highest profit by law.

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Blighty's mighty tech skills shortage drives best job growth in years

Christian Berger
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The UK simply is not attractive for foreign well educated people

I mean let's ignore the prejudices about the weather and the food, because frankly nobody cares if it's raining all day long, in fact that actually reduces the glare from the window on the screen. ;)

The UK is a country where you can end up in prison for not giving your password when _you_ are accused of having done something wrong. The UK even has key escrow. The UK has the highest number of surveillance cameras in the world per capita. The UK has ISPs which have ctively messed around with everyone's internet data. (BT and Phorm!)

Sure compared to the US the UK probably still is great, just think of the medical care system which is worthy of an industrial country, and yes, the UK has the BBC and Channel 4, but on an international scale that doesn't quite make it.

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Heads up, Chromebook: Here come the sub-$200 Windows 8.1 portables

Christian Berger
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Re: But how do they connect?

As far as I know, Windows now ships with a TCP/IP stack in all versions. In newer versions it's even partially IPv6 capable. Plus you can get putty for Win32 so you should be set.

Plus newer versions even support USB Ethernet adapters.

Both factors combined should make it theoretically possible to connect this machine to the Internet. For mobile use, I'd recommend one of the USB-sticks which emulate a network card. Since they are automatically configuring, you should be set.

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Christian Berger
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In an ideal world, we'd have laws against "secure" boot, since it effectively shortens the lifespan of a device artificially, creating incredible amounts of waste. After all the whole point about it is to prevent the second part of it's lifetime when people buy those devices used and install a different operating system on them. So instead of just installing a modern Linux on your laptop instead of the unsupported 5 year old Version of Windows, your only option is to stop using it at all.

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Video: Dyson unveils ROBOTIC TANK that hoovers while you're out

Christian Berger
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To contrast that...

The Cray 1 only had a single patent.

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Windows 7 settles as Windows XP use finally starts to slip … a bit

Christian Berger
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Does this include noscript/Adblock users?

One would think that would heavily skew the results. People who care about their computers might have such addons installed just as they have certain operating systems. They would then not be counted.

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BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV

Christian Berger
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Re: I'm all for teaching children how to program...

"Not it isn't, anymore than understanding how a steam engine worked was an essential part of being a member of victorian society."

Actually if people in a victorian society understood as little about steam engines as people understand today about computers, it would have been a problem.

I mean there are people out there who know so little about computers they believe voting computers can somehow be made to conform with democratic standards. There are people out there who believe that computer can somehow prevent unauthorized copying of data they show to the user. The problem is that such insane ideas get put into laws and contracts... with lots of negative side effects for all of us.

Today more than ever we actually cut of children from the ability to learn about computing. If you bought a computer in the 1980s, chances were that it booted up with a BASIC interpreter... today you need to root most mobile phones to even get to the shell.

The smallest of the issues arising from that will be a certain "brain drain", you will get less and less people who get into IT and understand what they are doing. This will, on the long term, mean worse and worse IT.

If we don't start educating young people now, there will be no one left to design, build and maintain the exoskeleton you need to get around when you are old. We already have one lost generation.

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Christian Berger
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I'm all for teaching children how to program...

it's an essential part of being a politically mature member of society as more and more issues are related to data processing....

... but please don't torture kids with C++

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Apple to devs: NO slurping users' HEALTH for sale to Dark Powers

Christian Berger
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That's essentially pointless...

... but a nice marketing coup. It's not like Apple could do anything against it without giving up basic principles.

It'll just change the business model of those companies slightly.

Instead of creating a hype to be bought by some larger company of insane amounts of money, startups now hope to be bought by an insurance company for insane amounts of money because that way the data will be bought with them.

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Steelie Neelie: Enjoy your EXCLUSIVE UHF spectrum in 2020, mobile operators

Christian Berger
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And that...

...in probably the only European country where terrestrial television actually works as a whole.

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Broadcom reveals $20 'Pi in the sky' IoT development widget

Christian Berger
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Uhm, not really

There are now cheap ESP8266 based WIFI boards around which cost around 5 Euros a piece and have a nice serial port. They contain a minimal TCP/IP stack and can be easily controlled from just about any microcontroller you want. Plus there's a fairly obscure SDK available which should allow you to actually do everything on the board itself.

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Gamma's not a goner! UK ISP sorts out major outage

Christian Berger
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Re: When I am King

I wonder how much cheaper that would be than what we currently pay for cables in the ground.

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EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday

Christian Berger
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The Internet was meant to survive a nuclear war...

... but nobody back then has thought of MBAs.

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Alienware injects EVEN MORE ALIEN into redesigned Area-51 gaming PC

Christian Berger
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How reliable are those systems?

I mean those systems are probably cheaper than actual workstations and the operating system could probably easily be replaced by something more suited for professional use (like some Linux or Windows Server instead of Windows 8 or whatever they are shipping this with).

How reliable are those systems? Is this typical "if it left the shop it's already half broken" quality, or is this something decent?

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Siri: Helpful personal assistant or SERIAL APP KILLER?

Christian Berger
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Re: Most Apps are pointless

Well those are shortcomings of current browsers. Browsers have become a gigantic mess. However let's imagine for a moment we'd have something much more simpler than a browser bringing you the same functionality. Essentially a simple protocol to let your mobile device be a client to a server you choose.

BTW access to cameras and local storage is something Javascript has on modern browsers. :)

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Christian Berger
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Re: Most Apps are pointless

Well it's just like with "multimedia CD-Roms" back in the 1990s. You bought an "Online Encyclopedia" which had a couple of thousands of articles of dubious quality. Or you bought image archives where you got someone's holiday snapshots and povray experments.

This has passed with fast Internet. And as soon as decent mobile Internet is available it'll pass in the mobile world, too. Now what Siri has introduced is something very much like a command line. You literally say your computer what you want, and it'll obey your command. Maybe one day there will be a simple voice terminal, encoding what you say into the 4800bit/sec stream used by such services, and giving you back the results in a form that can be said and shown.

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Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can

Christian Berger
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Re: 23 Years

"But Dell offered Linux (do they still?) as an option so I'd have expected more consumer penetration by now."

Yes they offer it for the intersection of their models that are neither suited for Linux (as they use overly exotic hardware) or are utterly undesirable (as they have shiny displays, non-replacable batteries and/or no Ethernet).

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Trundle, trundle, FLEEEP: iPhone 6 production grinds to halt

Christian Berger
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Making products for the lowest denominator

Companies used to make products for specialist markets. For example a home computer required you to actually learn about how it works to some degree. Of course there were devices for people who didn't want to do that, those were games consoles or television sets.

Today it costs more and more to develop and build a "smart"phone. So much that companies increasingly won't dare to experiment. Apple has brought out a "device" which was rather bad by the standards back then. Since Apple has developed a cult following with their iPod and since it didn't require you to think, it was successful. Being the only such device from Apple in a market where companies like Nokia had hundreds of models, also makes it look good on the sales rankings. Most of the competition being utter shit probably also helped.

What companies don't do any more is to experiment and take bets. Nokia did that with their "Maemo" series. Despite of not being advertised and not having any GSM connectivity, those devices were very popular.

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ISIS terror fanatics invade Diaspora after Twitter blockade

Christian Berger
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Come on that series cannot be _that_ bad, can it?

I mean surely this seems very dated now, but calling it "Medieval terror bastards" seems harsh. It can't be worth than "Saphire and Steel". What does that even mean in the context of a 1970s children's TV series?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYmbt2RVqCg

Ohh you mean that organisation in Iraq? That's named "IS" not "ISIS", they had a rebrand recently.

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Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico

Christian Berger
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The goal has already been reached years ago

The goal was to have independent systems apart from GPS. Because of political problems, Galileo will never operate without the consent of the US. That's why Galileo cannot do this directly...

However the announcement of Galileo has prompted other countries to start their own, truly independent, systems. Glonass is just one example. In fact many "smart" phones already have combined GPS Glonass receivers.

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TV transport tech, part 2: From sofa to server at the touch of a button

Christian Berger
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It's depressing to see how much effort they put into DRM...

... and how much effort it takes to remove that DRM again on the customer side. All of that would be so much simpler if it wasn't for idiotic DRM which neither protects content nor helps anybody in any way.

If you want to see what's streaming without such idiocy, look at the streaming at the Chaos Communication Congress in late December. There they have a fairly well scaling streaming infrastructure which is simpler and works more reliable... unless the network there fails.

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Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you

Christian Berger
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Even if you are not paranoid

You will know that you will have to do harm the people around you and all over the world. You will be responsible for opposition forces in some country being tracked to kill them because your prime minister likes the dictator in their country. You will have to find security holes and are not allowed to get them fixed. If you take such a job, you will make the world a worse place... and if you want to quit they have more than enough information on you to blackmail you into staying.

If secret services would act for the common good, they would do so publicly, or at least disclose what they did after a sensible amount of time. What we see instead are secret services fighting of every little bit of democratic oversight they have. The sensible thing would be to close them down, and maybe, if we kind parts of them useful, to recreate those parts.

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Brother, can you spare a DIME for holy grail of secure webmail?

Christian Berger
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That's not much saver than what we have now

Today most mail servers already use TLS for all their connections, so only the involved servers see the headers. Of course those are self-signed certificates... but for governmental attackers that's no less of a problem than actual ones. In both cases you need to do an active attack which is potentially visible.

Same goes for any sort of "encrypted webmail service". Even if the browser was a secure environment, once you can break TLS you can send any Javascript you want over that connection.

So what shall we do? I believe we should make GPG more user friendly while keeping it compatible with what he have. For example the default configuration of Enigmail could always attach the current active key for the sending address, plus it could automatically store public keys it got from e-mails that were signed. In the default setting it would then try to make smart decisions on which keys to use when. So if it recently got a signed e-mail from someone you'd send back an encrypted one to that address.

Of course you should still be able to do everything manually, if you choose to do so. Also for mobile devices you could do key exchange via QR-codes.

The point is, we already have good infrastructure, which was not designed by idiots. Redoing it now again risks that it'll be done by the current flood of idiots who think that earning their money in writing shitty apps for mobile devices and reading a the Wikipedia page on Cryptography makes them suitable for designing systems that should protect peoples lives.

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