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* Posts by Christian Berger

2670 posts • joined 9 Mar 2007

MasterCard adds fingerprint scanner to credit cards for spending sans the PIN

Christian Berger
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Well luckily for everyone's fingers...

You can:

a) copy fingerprints from just about any smooth surface... just as the credit card itself.

b) probably just circumvent the fingerprint reader as it's most likely a dedicated chip just sending a logic signal to the actual chip.

Biometry for authentication is a bad idea for so many reasons. It always was and it will ever be. It's a convenience feature at best.

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SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?

Christian Berger
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It's a buzzword...

nothing more nothing less, just like all those SD* TLAs before, and, in a larger perspective, just the same as the many "shiny things" Microsoft promised in the early 1990s, like object oriented file systems, or Visual Basic for Applications which can incorporate your VBX (or later OCX) objects. Lots of shiny things we all stood in front of looking amazed. Today we start to see VBA as a pile of toxic waste and even Office warns of them by default. The object oriented file system was constantly promised for the version after the next version, and eventually got abandoned.

So in all seriousness, this doesn't seem like anything that's worth looking into. And even if parts of it turn out to be worthwhile, those should be easy enough to learn. After all all great things in IT are simply. Simplicity is necessary for something to really succeed and become a truly useful tool, instead of just a weight to keep you down.

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Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS

Christian Berger
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Re: This _is_ designed to make carrier switching harder

Let me tell you something. When I was a child, in Germany, the penalty for extending your phone line used to be higher than for accidentally causing a nuclear explosion.

Laws can be wrong. Eventually people will realize that those laws are wrong and they will be changed in a democratic matter. In this case we essentially have an old law which prevents people from becoming targets of terrorism. After all terrorists could now easily build IMEI triggered bombs. So in the name of counter terrorism, this law has to go. (change that argument to anti surveillance state for the other political direction)

Maybe one should build an IMEI triggered light and publicly demonstrate it saying it's trivial to add a bomb, urging policy makers to root for a "right to change and randomize" your IMEI.

BTW this law is rather curious as in 2002 there was no possibility to gain anything from reprogramming your phone in that matter. You couldn't defraud your carrier that way. However in the US AMPS having telephones which change their identity was an easy way to defraud your carrier... I wonder if that law is just a late copy of the same law in the US.

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Christian Berger
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This _is_ designed to make carrier switching harder

After all you now have one more company in the loop and this is probably how this is sold to the carriers.

However this could potentially bring positive possibilities. Jailbroken devices could allow you to swap your IMSI on the fly by accessing a large pool of virtual SIMs. If you could also change your IMEI you could effectively restore privacy to mobile phones.

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NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden

Christian Berger
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Re: Cheyenne ArcServe.

Hey, it was the 1990s, everything running on PCs was highly unreliable. Even Sun workstations crashed from time to time.

Netware only gained such a good reputation as it didn't crash every couple of months.

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Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author

Christian Berger
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He did what he was supposed to do...

It wasn't in the interest of Nokia, but in the interest of Microsoft. He lowered the stock value of the company to sell it to Microsoft. This what he was supposed to do, and this is what he managed to do.

And seriously, Nokia could have aced the Android market. Just think of an Android powered Communicator. They could have slowly phased out Symbian instead of this abrupt end. Most people don't care what OS is running on their devices and Nokia was known for very decent hardware.

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Radiohead(ache): BBC wants dead duck tech in sexy new mobes

Christian Berger
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Re: Broadcast vs. Mobile network.

I have, so far, in my whole life, been on one internet subnet which supported multicast from the Internet. And that was at an university.

IP multicast doesn't work in the real life. The best you can get is carrier local multicasting where they feed in some channels into their network. Even if this is efficiently done via broadcasting in LTE it would take up considerable amounts of bandwidth. Mobile networks, even LTE, aren't designed to handle that sort of bandwidth.

Plus there's always the expectation that you should "log" into mobile networks, which means that the carriers and therefore lots of shady institutions will have precise lists of the locations of every "radio".

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Son of Hudl: Tesco flogs new Atom-powered 8.3-inch Android tablet

Christian Berger
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Re: Other OSes

Because Windows 8 is not a desktop OS, it's Microsoft's attempt at an Android/iOS clone.

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Something ate Google's 8.8.8.8 at about eight in Asia's evening

Christian Berger
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Never trust in centralized services

Sure 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 are nice stopgap solutions when you don't have the address of a proper DNS server, however you should never rely on under normal circumstances. After all Google may have technical problems, choose to terminate the service or just go bankrupt at pretty much any moment.

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Heistmeisters crack cost of safecrackers with $150 widget

Christian Berger
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Those systems exist for decades

They can simply do brute force attacks on safes. After all people do lock themselves out of their safes.

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FACEPALM! HP cert used to sign malware

Christian Berger
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And now consider that this is what is supposed to make "Secure" Boot secure

Even if EFI wouldn't be a mess of complexity far bigger than the BIOS could have ever been, it's only claimed security feature is bogus. Companies will loose their secret keys, and people will use them to sign malware.

Code signing is no security feature as such.

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Look ma, no hands! The machines are speaking our language

Christian Berger
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There's a dark side to it

One important thing you need for voice recognition is a large data set to do statistics on. The more data you have the better your recognition will be. Therefore cloud based services will tend to have better recognition rates, and the ones that do record and archive every one of your utterances for eternity will even have better rates.

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Was Nokia's Elop history's worst CEO?

Christian Berger
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Re: The proof is the axing of Maemo/Meego

Well there is a point about not explaining things with malice which could be explained by incompetence... however in this case we cannot discount the "mole" hypothesis. The deal probably was very lucrative for Microsoft and certainly more so after Elop went on board.

If Elop was just incompetent, he would have done a few things right by pure luck. However what he did was to precisely kill off any future Nokia had. I mean what are the chances of killing off 2 lines of successful operating system (Symbian, Maemo) while choosing probably the worst external system (Windows Phone). If he wanted to save the company, he'd at least have gone for several alternatives, and those would have included Android. After all, we'd all kill for a modern day Nokia Communicator running Android or Maemo.

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Christian Berger
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The proof is the axing of Maemo/Meego

I mean if you ignore Maemo/Meego it looks like Elop did his best to save Nokia. After all Symbian wasn't really competitive.

However Nokia had Maemo/Meego, based on Debian and still something many Android users want to have instead of Android. Heck you could even run Abiword on it if you wanted. It was the closest thing to an actual useful mobile computer we had so far.

Elop axing Maemo/Meego was proof that he didn't intend to save the company. If he wanted to do that he'd have brought out the same handsets for Symbian and Maemo/Meego, perhaps if he really saw Windows Phone as a potential alternative, he could have brought out the same hardware with Windows, too. That would have been possible at next to no cost overhead.

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Intel, Cisco and co reveal PLANS to keep tabs on WORLD'S MACHINES

Christian Berger
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Intel, Cisco and industrial automation people

That doesn't seem like a combo that has any experience regarding security. Cisco is famous for not having "protected mode" memory in their operating system, even on hardware that would support it. Intel thought it would be a good idea to buy McAffee. And GE probably is in the same industrial automation mess all the other companies are in, too. Ever heard of OPC? That's OLE for Process Control, and a way of getting data out of industrial systems Poettering might have been proud of.

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US astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson: US is losing science race

Christian Berger
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Well I don't know what the best way of teaching math is, and I don't know if that "new" way is any better than the old way, but having quickly glanced over one article about it, I do understand it.

Just claiming that something is bad, just because you don't understand it is stupid.

It does make sense to not just show children how to calculate, but show them why they do it, which seems to be the whole idea about it. Maybe it would be a good idea to teach children in multiple ways, but that would require time and money.

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Christian Berger
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The sad thing is, it's a global phenomenon

It seems like people just stopped caring about what they do when it comes to science and technology. What we currently have in the mobile world even makes it worse. A typical "smart"-phone does not just offer you to ignore the underlying technology, it often actively shields you from it. You need to jailbreak devices to get root on them.

Windows, with its many questionable design decisions, has even created a whole generation of software engineers who have never seen the many possibilities of software design. The result is that they use the wrong design pattern for the job, causing the complexity of the system to explode.

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Apple KILLS SUPER MARIO. And Zelda. And Sonic

Christian Berger
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What did people expect?

I mean it's a walled garden, you don't get to decide its rules. And those rules are made by the owner, Apple. If you don't like that, don't buy Apple, and buy devices with unlocked/easy to unlock boot loaders, and publicise the fact as the top reason why you bought that particular device.

The mobile world really needs more FOSS. Just look at what it did on the desktop and the server. It even scared Microsoft into looking at security.

And no, Android is not really Free and Open Source Software. Yes you can download the source code and compile it yourself, but it's to complex to do any meaningful changes, and even if you can make any changes, many devices will have locked boot loaders or require binary blobs to work.

So in short, if you don't like the proprietary game, either play it by the rules of the owner, in this case Apple, or don't play it at all. In this case the "no emulator" rule was kinda predictable as they already had a "no interpreter" rule.

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Linux systemd dev says open source is 'SICK', kernel community 'awful'

Christian Berger
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The problem is how people get judged in this society

in the FOSS community people get judged by what they do, not where they come from or what race or gender they are.

Poetterling may be a decent programmer, the Systemd code I've seen at least looks OK at a first glance, however he has no idea about software design... which you can see by Systemd having around 250k lines of code! (only counting C-Files, no headers)

People still wouldn't mind him, if he was just trying to do his own thing and leave the rest of the people alone. However he is trying to shoehorn his "grand technology" into Linux distributions, by combining them with everything he can find. Then when people refuse to comply with his grand plan of the future he gets angry. This is a very non-free way of thinking about software. What made UNIX great is that you could just swap components. If you wanted different logging, just replace the logging daemon. If you wanted a different init just do so.

I'm not surprised people get angry at him. Maybe he should just leave the FOSS community and go to Microsoft or Google or something.

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Christian Berger
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Re: Oh please...

Actually as far as I know, he already has a fixed opinion about the UNIX philosophy. Apparently he thinks it's bollocks.

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Steve Jobs makes world a better place FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

Christian Berger
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Re: Yeah, right.

I'm not sure if there are now more fiascos than there were back when evil Steve was at the helm. Just think of the iBook Logic Board fiasco, or the fiasco when bits of plastic were left in during manufacturing and obstructed the airflow. There even were times when OSX had remote code execution bugs exploitable via Bluetooth.

It just seems like evil Steve had a hand for lowering expectations so people tended to accept that more easily. It's something also known as the "reality distortion field".

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Doctor Who becomes an illogical, unscientific, silly soap opera in Kill The Moon

Christian Berger
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One should note that the BBC is not known for accurate reports

It may have been fairly different from what we see on the screen. After all the BBC is not known for accurately reporting facts as they happen.

For example I'm rather sure the British moon mission in the 1980s was not conducted with a space ship made out of wood... yet the depiction of it shown on BBC HD some years ago clearly claimed that:

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

So as usual, take it with a grain of salt, and compare it to other reports, for example from Russian Today or Al Jazeera. Every station has it's own areas where you cannot trust them.

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French prez mulls mobe, fondleslab tax for telly

Christian Berger
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It's just part of the insanity

For example if I buy a BluRay, I need to pay for the DRM the issuer puts on, plus I need to pay to get the DRM off that copy so I can watch it... and even that's no more legal than just torrenting it.

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FLASH drive ... Ah-aaaaaah! BadUSB no saviour to plug and play Universe

Christian Berger
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Maybe we should see USB as an internal bus

After all it's electrical characteristics are barely suitable for any external wiring. It's not even completely symmetrical, and every bit flip causes the bus to reset.

Maybe we should come back to some simpler interface to talk to HIDs and memory devices. USB already is a convoluted mess with compatibility layer upon compatibility layer. A simple protocol without compound interfaces and with clearly defined independent device protocols would be a way forward. Why is it allowed that a device can claim it's a keyboard and a CD-Rom drive? And why does the CD-Rom have to speak SCSI over USB?

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Apple blacklists tech journo following explicit BENDY iPhone vid

Christian Berger
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@theReg

Bild does not employ journalists, they simply don't. They papers and magazines have about as much to do with journalism as oil companies have to do with sustainability.

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Proprietary OS source code LEAKED to web – from 40 years ago

Christian Berger
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Re: Now compare that to modern mobile OSes

Actually there is a standard for desktop PCs and laptops. It used to be called the "IBM-PC" and has now evolved into something, that's honestly a big mess, but it means you easily get any operating system to run on every PC. At least basic things like hard disk access, USB, hardware enumeration, keyboard, display and mouse work out of the box, on any PC.

Also what is the amount of features you actually need on a mobile OS? You need primitive multitasking (cooperative multitasking would be enough), you need a TCP/IP stack and a web browser, the later being probably the most complex part of it. Ideally you also have a file system. The rest is overhead because of bad software design.

https://thenewcircle.com/s/post/1057/MarakanaAndroidServicesBlackMagic.pdf

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Christian Berger
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Now compare that to modern mobile OSes

Porting Android to another mobile device is rather hard. There is no BIOS or anything like it. Even different displays on an otherwise identical system mean completely new system images.

This is why, once the manufacturer stops supporting the system, you won't get any updates.

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Internet of Things? Hold my beer, I got this: ARM crafts OS to rule them all

Christian Berger
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Hmm, there is a market for that

Most operating systems do need far to much RAM to work on those systems... however offering a C++ API will attract many people who don't know C++ enough to write embedded applications for it. C++ has a few odd features like implicit object copies which make using it on embedded systems rather hard.

Also if you want an embedded operating system, particularly a closed source one, code quality is _much_ more important than features and claimed support, as you'll be spending much of your time debugging the operating system, not your actual application.

If you want an embedded operating system in that area, I can recommend you FreeRTOS/OpenRTOS. It's a small code base of very decent code quality and very easy to work with.

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DARPA joins math-secured microkernel race

Christian Berger
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There are a lot of such projects

Probably the most promising ones try to make proving code easier. Essentially you have your code as well as abstract conditions next to it. You can have conditions like "integer power of 2" and the compiler will make sure they are satisfied. This can detect certain classes of bugs and therefore potentially eliminate them. Essentially it would mean you'd have to program around additional compiler errors which would make your code more secure.

However we are talking about military projects here. Those are closed source projects often written in C++. Considering there are perhaps 20 people out there who actually fully understand C++, and C++ is a minefield of complexity, this is perhaps not the best language to write secure systems in.

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New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality

Christian Berger
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Competence is not the point here

The EU is, at least by Germany, largely seen as a way to protect German interests from the rest of the EU, and to prevent a strong opponent to the US which might "damage the good relationships".

People who are competent make that harder, what you need is marionettes wearing suits. If Oettinger would understand what he's supposed to do he would realize that strengthening copyright, for example, is not a good idea. He would probably come to the conclusion that to re-establish the balance between rights owners, creators, and the public there must be a ban on digital restriction systems. He would understand that regional national broadcasts licenses are not in the spirit of a united Europe, but counteract it.

In short he'd understand that he'll probably hurt both Europe and its people. Someone with even a scrap of brain left could simply do the right thing. This is a risk Merkel and Co cannot take, so here we have Oettinger.

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What's a Chromebook good for? How about running PHOTOSHOP?

Christian Berger
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You know, people have done this for decades now

First with X11 where you were you could log into any computer on your network with your terminal, then Windows got Remote Desktop which allowed 30+ people to log into a fairly small Windows "server". Of course there were also lots of different solutions in between from VNC to Sun Rays.

Thin Clients are nothing new, and today Internet access slowly reaches the quality of 1980s LAN installations.

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Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights

Christian Berger
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Re: Well we'd need a more refined bill of rights

Actually it's not "my choice" to accept DRM or not. Companies are forcing me into accepting it, it's not a free choice I can make. I cannot go to a store and buy a copy of a movie with or without DRM. I can only buy it with DRM, and have to remove the DRM later. Unfortunately because of really broken laws that would be just as illegal as getting a copy I don't pay for at all.

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Christian Berger
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Well we'd need a more refined bill of rights

It would start with things like telephone privacy adapted to the Internet, so governments and companies are not allowed to store your traffic or meta-data easily.

But in the end it would also have to include the right to decide what software runs on your devices, so closed down boot loaders and DRM-systems would be illegal.

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U-blox Internet of Things radio okayed by AT&T

Christian Berger
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Such devices are on the market for years

In all areas of functionality. It's just that 3G ones aren't very popular as they cost much much more than 2G ones and require specialized board to board connectors which are really hard to get onto your PCB.

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Out of stealth, Saisei pitches IP flow controller

Christian Berger
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This will only delay investments into the network

As I mentioned before. TCP/IP never was meant to run over saturated links. And it doesn't need to as usually it's easy to get fast links on an ISP level. This is just a small part of the total costs of running an ISP.

If you need traffic shaping on a gigabit level, you are clearly doing something wrong and you should have upgraded your capacity years ago. And if you are in a country where high speed links are expensive, consider copying the "Internet Exchange" concept from other countries, where you have a non-profit company owned by the members of the club of users providing all the equipment and space you need to internetwork with your peers or upstream providers.

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Troll hunter Rackspace turns Rotatable's bizarro patent to stone

Christian Berger
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Re: Another feature I could live without...

Well the Nokia Communicator solved the display issue with a second outward facing one... which is ingenious as it makes it behave like 2 devices which are interconnected. You can use the computer part independently of the phone part. You can even turn off the phone. Plus flipping shut the computer part causes it to turn to "suspend to RAM". If you should get mosh for it, it would be a kick ass device.

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Christian Berger
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Another feature I could live without...

...just make a form factor like the Nokia Communicator and you won't even need that feature.

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Man, its smartphones are SQUARE. But will BlackBerry make a comeback with them?

Christian Berger
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A typical MBA decision

They see that their device is used for one thing, e-mail, and they see their market threatened by touchscreen phones. Therefore they build a touch screen phone... which doesn't sell well... then they add a keyboard... which sells a little bit better... then they make it square so you can actually read something on it without ditching the touch screen phone form factor.

This won't stop the squeeze from other touch screen phone manufacturers. What Blackberry could do would be to find new markets. For example if they had a decent keyboard (with CTRL, ALT and ESC keys) they could become immensely popular with technical users. If they would open the protocol or allow secure sessions they could get secure alternatives to the BES.

There's a lot of space left in the mobile world, but you need to stop going where it's crowded.

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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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