* Posts by Christian Berger

2932 posts • joined 9 Mar 2007

CONFIRMED: Tiny Windows Server is on the way

Christian Berger
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Re: What's tiny?

You have heard of the original MSN, haven't you?

It sent a list of all your directories to Microsoft. If it wasn't for the FOSS-movement and the Internet, we'd now be stuck with Microsoft provided set top boxes which would provide us with "interactive television" instead of the Internet.

In fact now Microsoft actually _fixes_ bugs. This would have been unheard of before Linux became popular. They even did internal code reviews.

We do have it better now than in the 1990s. Most hardware now supports Linux or some BSD. We do have so much FOSS that some developers are already looking at wasting their time and efforts for pointless projects. Even the most complex pieces of software, browsers, are now mostly open source.

Yes there's still a lot to be done in mobile devices, but even there you can get rid of Google or Apple and run at least quite a bit of FOSS by installing ReplicantDroid.

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Christian Berger
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What's tiny?

Considering you can still get tmsrtbt a Linux distribution which is great for imaging hard disks, which boots of a single floppy disk, or you can get a small version of MS-Dos 6.22 and Windows 3.x onto a floppy disk, what does Microsoft consider tiny?

Also the Register should make an article about all those broken promises from Microsoft. Anybody remember Windows 95? That was supposed to be and even marketed as having no more MS-Dos below.

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Cisco offers carriers adware-as-a-service for fun and profit

Christian Berger
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This shouldn't be legal

If this is legal, we urgently need to change our laws.

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Nokia boss smashes net neutrality activists

Christian Berger
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If a packet gets delayed or dropped because of congestion...

... the ISP didn't do their job. I pay my ISP so that their network won't be utilized more than about 50%. That's what I'm paying my ISP for. If they cannot guarantee that, they should stop making overinflated claims about their bandwidth.

ISPs aren't soup kitchens, I pay them for a service and they are supposed to provide that service.

After all there are standards on how high the percentage of phone calls going through a phone network have to be.

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$250K: That's what Lenovo earned to RAT YOU OUT with Superfish

Christian Berger
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Re: Just goes to show....

I recently also had that kind of moment when I realized some Apple Laptops support Coreboot, but then again Apple hardware doesn't last long enough to get infected by malware. ;)

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Christian Berger
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The problem is that Lenovo kinda was one of the last remaining "professional" laptop manufacturers. And they are working hard on stopping that.

Another example is them using TPM to rid you of the possibility to replace their UEFI crap with Coreboot:

http://patrick.georgi-clan.de/2015/02/17/intel-boot-guard/

That effectively means you cannot get rid of potential UEFI malware.

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Telly behemoths: Does size matter?

Christian Berger
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Hiding your TV in the cabinet...

... is still common in Germany where we had such cabinets:

http://youtu.be/IIljr5qbwrI?t=2m19s

The cabinets are still there though the TVs are now more modern.

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Google open-sources HTTP/2-based RPC framework

Christian Berger
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I don't quite see where the improvement is supposed to be

I mean we already have HTTP as a stateless "get your objects" protocol. Just remove the bugs like cookies and wrap it in TLS or its successor.

For web applications we already have Websocket which provides authentication and session handling. You have a consistent connection which is hard to break into even when not encrypted.

Where is the advantage of switching to an, apparently, much more complex protocol? HTTP already achieves very well performance. And in situations where HTTP performs badly, at least the SPDY I've heard of performed even worse. (low latency, high packet loss, 100 second round trip times are not uncommon on German mobile networks)

The disadvantages are clear. A more complex protocol needs more complex code which contains more bugs. Also a more complex protocol might have protocol bugs hidden inside, bugs you cannot fix in your implementation and you will need to support for ever and ever.

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Make room, Wi-Fi, Qualcomm wants to run LTE on your 5GHz band

Christian Berger
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Re: Well...

"I'd be interested to see how 5ghz LTE holds up against 802.11n or 802.11ac in terms of performance (especially under load.)"

Well that's actually rather predictable. LTE requires cooperation of all base-stations using the same band. So LTE in a scenario like Wifi would grind to a halt.

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Paranoid Android Kaymera smartmobe takes on Blackphone

Christian Berger
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Re: they just don't get it

Well you cannot secure Android as it's just _far_ to complex to be secured.

Even little things like a proprietary closed source audio codec driver are large enough to hide malware.

If you actually want to have something secure, you'd have to go through another route. You'd need to make the system _much_ simpler and open. Plus you'd need to use hardware separation for different tasks. On some modern "smart"-phones your GSM baseband can access the memory of your application processor. Since the GSM baseband runs very complex very closed source software, it's likely to be very buggy or even contain malware. If it can access the memory of your application processor there is no way it can guarantee security. However if, on the other side, you have a separate processor just to deal with the GSM, and it only talks via very simple protocols with the rest of the device, chances are much lower that a network side attack is possible.

So if I'd be building such a device, it would just be a bunch of simple micro-controllers, each one having a single fixed task. There would, ideally, be no local storage and the software would be simple enough you could just put epoxy on the programming ports since there wouldn't be a need for updates. It would just be a simple (graphical) terminal. Application software would be run on a server belonging to the user and stored in a safe place. Phone calls would also be routed through it.

Of course that won't save you from being tracked, but for some people that's not an issue.

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Don't pay for the BBC? Then no Doctor Who for you, I'm afraid

Christian Berger
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That would mean DRM

Essentially you'd no longer be allowed to record TV or watch it on devices other than your vendor approved ones. Essentially this will open the door to your TV spying on. There will be databases on what you watch.

Plus this will bring no additional revenues, cost quite a lot of money (in part for the station, in part for the viewer) and will drive more people into piracy. In short it's possibly the worst thing they can do. It's a perversion of the idea of television.

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MELTDOWN: Samsung, Sony not-so-smart TVs go titsup for TWO days

Christian Berger
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Re: John Tserkezis

If this was a site for professional techies, there wouldn't be a guide to fix this, as professional techies only connect their TVs to the Internet for security research.

(other than that this site seems to be more aimed at professional salespeople than techies)

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Christian Berger
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Why would you even fix this?

Seriously is there any reason why you would want your TV-set to phone home? It sounds like a terrible idea to me.

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XenData’s storage Jurassic Park: PC tape backup is BAAAAACK

Christian Berger
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Re: Great product, sort of a shame about the price

Well those 6 terabytes assume some insanely high compression ratio you might reach on databases but certainly not with video.

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Christian Berger
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I wonder how that works from a technical standpoint

I mean tape drives need a continuous stream of data since they write it to tape while they get it. Those drives were not meant to be a block storage medium.

Now with USB bus resets are very common and in such a case you have multiple seconds of no data. Assuming the software can cope with this, how does the data deal with it. Will you have large chunk of unused tape? Will it rewind and try to "edit in" from the position it left of like a VTR?

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SIM hack scandal biz Gemalto: Everything's fine ... Security industry: No, it's really not

Christian Berger
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Of course they need to say that...

Just imagine Gemalto admitting to their keys being stolen, whenever my mobile phone company sends me a bill I could always say, "It wasn't me who did those phone calls, it was the person Gemalto gave the key to".

And that's what the security of GSM tries to protect. Making it a bit harder to eavesdrop on calls is just a side effect, the real problem it tries to solve is that people just clone other peoples SIM cards to make calls they don't pay for.

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Behind every great tech boss there’s ... who exactly?

Christian Berger
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Re: I think Seymour Cray kinda summed it up

"Guess that is ok for a startup maybe but good luck getting HR to approve the salaries in any decent size corporation. Skunkworks perhaps."

I don't think there is a strong correlation between salaries and actual qualifications, particularly since there are lots of idiots earning lots of money. You can't buy the people you should be looking for with money. You can buy them with decent working conditions, by keeping them in a "herd of smart people". In a way that's what companies used to do till the 1970s and 1980s, back when you had people with an engineering background, or who at least listened to engineers, on top of your company.

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Christian Berger
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I think Seymour Cray kinda summed it up

This is a talk he held at the introduction of the Cray 1.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtOA1vuoDgQ

Essentially his trick was to reduce the complexity of the problem, and then solve that, now much easier problem, better. This also allows you to work with as few people as possible, each one an expert on their field. This way you can solve the communication problem as you waste less time on needless communication.

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W3C recommends Pointer Events standard – but it's a touchy subject. Right, Apple?

Christian Berger
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There's one problem with the W3C

And that it's a standards organization. There are people who get money for writing page after page of standard. Now standards are nothing bad, in fact standards are the backbone of every technology.

Now the problem with standards is when they get to large and to complex or there are to many of them. Browsers are now incredibly complex, they are already among the most complex pieces of software.

In my opinion it would make more sense to slim down the standards. For example this could be done by splitting up the web into 2 different standards, one simple "hypertext" markup language, perhaps with something like CSS, and one "web application" standard, which essentially defines a terminal with very limited or no local processing.

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How good a techie are you? Objective about yourself and your skills?

Christian Berger
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I have no idea what qualification Trevor is aiming for

I mean from what I have read Mr Pott doesn't seem to know a lot of IT. He gets into problems normal people are wise enough to avoid. From what we are reading from his articles, his main aim seems to be to be well at shopping, a task he so often fails at by buying sub standard solutions at a premium price just because he was naive enough to follow a sales droid.

To judge him, we'd need to know his standards. I can only judge myself by my standards.

For me the most important skill is to have a certain "know how". It's important to know how to attack problems, how to get down to the core of a problem, then solve that and then add all the little details afterwards. It's important not to get messed up in all those little details to early. Avoid doing the same thing twice, except to replace the old version when you have learned how to do it better. Be not afraid to re-do something you now know how to make better.

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Why IP telephony is about more than just saving money

Christian Berger
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Re: VoIP is fine...

"For home users, Fritzbox looks cool. I've no idea if its any good, but ADSL, DECT and VoIP in one box? How good is that!"

Those seriously are the best consumer routers you can get. And unlike some others AVM actually writes their own firmware. They just work and do what they are supposed to do. Certainly a far cry from those "lets skin an old version of the firmware we got from the chipset manufacturer 2 years ago" companies out there.

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Christian Berger
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Re: VoIP is fine...

"Yes an ISDN30 old and expensive, but its pretty much bombproof."

Well you are lucky, in Germany the first carriers are letting their ISDN equipment rot. So it's not uncommon to have frequent line breakdowns... or even occasional crosstalk between channels. (How is that even possible on ISDN? And no, I can rule out analogue crosstalk as the A/D-conversion happened in a controlled place far away from any analogue phone line or people speaking.)

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Christian Berger
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Well VoIP companies are a kind of federation service

The PSTN will, at least in Germany, be turned off by 2018, in fact some phone companies already route much of their internal traffic through VoIP. You can tell with the companies that do it badly (e.g. Vodafone Germany).

I wouldn't go to Lync or Skype since that's going from one walled garden to another one... with the exception that the one you are leaving is at least a bit regulated.

What I envision for the future is that future IP-PBXes send some form of alternative contact hidden in their voice frames. That way when you make the first phone call from A to B via your VoIP provider, you will be able to skip it and call directly the next time. After all, after 2018 all fixed line phones will be VoIP and the carriers already occasionally transmit the original IP-Address on their inter carrier connects.

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Christian Berger
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Voice quality actually isn't much of an issue

I work at a VoIP company and I have to say the vast majority of the phone calls are excellent, even when people use LTE as their Internet uplink. Of course there are the occasional "bad connections" particularly with some participants, but over all that's a complete non issue. Calls are as good as ISDN.

What's more of a problem is bad CPE, some customers use really bad soft switches.

As a rule of thumb, if your equipment does not have the manual on the vendors web site, don't buy it. Chances are the vendor wants you to get it configured by a "certified partner"... which means it'll be configured by a sales droid with no technical understanding.

The minimum when buying a softswitch should be a trial offer of the software. So you can try it out before actually buying it. Most vendors do this. Also get the cheapest offer from your VoIP company, those are often free, or just an Euro a month, but run of the same equipment the big ones do. That way you can set up a complete test installation.

In any case install a mirror port between your softswitch and the Internet. That's important so you can provide pcaps to your VoIP company in case of any problems.

That's particularly important if you use exotic/crap devices from certain vendors also mentioned in this article.

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A billion things are already on the IoT: Verizon

Christian Berger
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Re: And furthermore...

Well plus there are certain hard to overcome limits. For example you may not have the resources to have full blown TLS connections, either because your microcontroller is to limited or because your company has chosen to use a system like Nucleus which takes 90% of your RAM for itself.

Combine that with the average qualification of a programmer and the fact that some of those companies are designed to scare away their most qualified staff, and you will see why this will be a disaster.

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(Re)touching on a quarter-century of Adobe Photoshop

Christian Berger
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Re: Let's not foget the Quantel Photobox

"If I remember, it was about as affordable as a Maserati."

To be honest, everything in television is "as affordable as a Maserati". A typical "decent" HD-camera used for expensive live programmes is about 100kUSD plus another 100k for the lens.

Back then frame stores were hugely expensive. After all a frame store required three quarters of a whole megaword of memory (using 7-10 bit words). The BBC actually went through the trouble of building their own frame store out of shift register chips. It needed several amps of current for the clock signal (per board) and took several kilowatts of power. MTBF was around 100 hours.

There was one noteworthy application for the Paintbox. It was used to generate the graphics for the "Computer Originated World", probably the coolest video device ever made.

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Linux clockpocalypse in 2038 is looming and there's no 'serious plan'

Christian Berger
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OpenBSD

I think OpenBSD is rather far with it, they kinda follow a "nudging" policy. They just implement the necessary changes in their operating system, and then file bugs to the other projects. After all usually it's just very small changes you need to make.

So yes, it can be a bit of a problem, but unlike such deadlines in the Windows world you have the source so you can change it.

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Man the HARPOONS: YOU can EASILY SLAY ad-scumware Superfish

Christian Berger
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Well don't worry

as secure boot is there to make sure you won't be able to run a different install image than the one mandated by your hardware vendor. After all when secure boot will turn out not to help against bootsector malware (as it'll simply add its key to the firmware before infection) Microsoft will mandate stricter control on the keys.

Or malware will just hide in the huge mess we call EFI.

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Christian Berger
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Re: Ain't that a kick in the head

"Well... NSA won't serve you ads. IGMC...."

I wouldn't be surprised if the NSA hasn't tried to set up its own ad broker in order to spy on you while serving you ads. Setting up companies is an old trick in the book of secret services.

So it is actually likely that Superfish is in fact owned/controlled by the Mossad.

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Did NSA, GCHQ steal the secret key in YOUR phone SIM? It's LIKELY

Christian Berger
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"I'm on the train, it's running a bit late."

What a perfect phrase to calibrate your voice recognition and find out how the local variations of speech in a particular area are.

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Have YOU got Equation NSAware in your drives? Meh, not really our concern, says EU

Christian Berger
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Re: Encryption? Heard of it?

Well that wouldn't help as the boot loader will always be read unencrypted. You could simply load your malware from there and then hand over control to the real boot loader.

And since modern x86 CPUs are so mind bogglingly complex they have lots of ways to hide.

What we'd need are simpler systems with less spaces to hide.

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Christian Berger
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I'm not sure if laws could do anything against that...

...since laws often leave gaps for secret services, or secret services simply ignore those gaps.

Same goes for technologies like "Secure Boot" which centralize control over your hardware in a way hardware vendors can easily (be made to) cooperate with secret services against the interests of the users.

What we need to do is to abolish secret services and to actually actively help people against foreign secret services.

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iBank: RBS, NatWest first UK banks to allow Apple Touch ID logins

Christian Berger
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Re: "Fingerprints are usernames..."

"Not quite: fingerprints are full canonical credentials containing both the identity of the user and their 'secret'."

How exactly do you keep your finger prints a secret? I mean particulary the iPhone doesn't work well with gloves.

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Superfish: Lenovo ditches adware, but that doesn't fix SSL megavuln – researcher

Christian Berger
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Re: Superfish comes with Lenovo consumer products only

And even if it was on their business products, 99% of those get re-installed with Linux anyhow before they see a day of productive use.

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This one weird script continually crashes Android email

Christian Berger
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It's what happens if you add more and more code...

...before making sure your existing one works.

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HTTP/2 spec gets green light: Faster web or needless complexity?

Christian Berger
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Re: What Kamp?

"IOW, you'd rather we move all web apps into a dedicated protocol, sort of like a graphical terminal: VNC or something of the like."

That would in deed be a very sensible thing to do, as it would also create a boundary between authentication, session handling and the rest of the application. Plus you could do amazing stuff with a minimal amount of code, and since "remote frame buffer" is a fairly well defined set of requirements, we could even support multiple protocols rather easily.

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Christian Berger
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Re: What Kamp?

Well one could argue that HTTP should have never allowed header additions like cookies, and no, controlling cookies on the client side by the user doesn't work as it's hard to do by the end user.

Plus cookies have proven to be a bad way to introduce state to HTTP. It seems like most web developers get it wrong when they try.

And that's one of the main problems with HTTP.

One the one hand, we want it as a stateless "document browsing" protocol, where each web page load is separate and has nothing in common with the other ones.

One the other hand we want web-applications where we want to keep a state persistent over a user session.

Those are completely different use cases and I'd personally prefer if we split HTTP into 2 protocols, one for "object retrieval" and one for "web applications". Each one perhaps even with a different set of protocols on top of it. Websocket actually is a nice idea in that regard.

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Christian Berger
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"From the donkey's mouth: https://www.varnish-cache.org/docs/trunk/phk/ssl.html"

Well actually what he was saying there in 2011 is that TLS libraries are in a really bad state. Heartbeat has shown to the world that this is actually the case. TLS libraries _are_ in fact in a very sorry state. So at least in this case he said something relatively insightful.

Of course that doesn't say anything about his opinion on HTTP/2. You may not agree with it, but if HTTP/2 is in deed more complex than HTTP, then I have to agree with him, as complexity is a _serious_ problem in IT, and it _must_ be avoided wherever possible.

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Christian Berger
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Complexity leads to bugs which lead to security problems

Seriously, we already had HTTP related bugs in both clients and servers which were security critical. And I'm not talking about PHP bugs or cross site scripting or anything application layer, actual HTTP bugs in software like curl.

We live in an age where our computers rival living beings in complexity. We need to finally stop adding more and more complexity, particulary here where we replace a decent and already to complex protocol with one that's even more complex... for no sensible reason.

I wonder if they at least fixed the problem of high latency connections hurting performance. That's a serious issue for the future. While we may get Gigabit connections to our homes, the world isn't going to shrink below 62 ms... even if packets would go the most direct surface route.

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Qualcomm, ARM: We thought we had such HOT MODELS...

Christian Berger
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There could be some dangers to ARM

Just imagine someone brings out a rather powerful, but open platform which can be integrated into a chip. A platform which includes everything you need in a standard way. A platform which can be produced royalty free by everyone.

Some governments are currently throwing research money at such things. After all you do want to have your own computing systems free from potential backdoors installed by foreign countries.

The problem with ARM is that it's not a common hardware platform. SoC manufacturers love to customize their chips to provide a vendor lock in. Hardware manufacturers using those SoCs however hate that. It means that going from one SoC to another is near impossible, and you never get true second sources.

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Are you ready to ditch the switchboard and move to IP telephony?

Christian Berger
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Actually don't use proprietary phones

Seriously, you'll most likely end up with inferior and more expensive ones than you get on the open market. Instead look at phones which can be provisioned by your IP-PBX. The Starface can provision quite a few different models, for example. You'll get all the features you'd get from a proprietary phone, but you can simply re-flash them to the old firmware.

Other than that, VoIP is ideally done on dedicated lines so your last mile won't clash with your Internet. Ohh and please include some way to sniff the packets between your IP-PBX and the provider. It _really_ helps with debugging, particularly when nothing works at all.

Fax is virtually no problem at all if you have decent analogue adapters, T.38 has little support, but I've recently sent 100 10 page faxes without a single failure.

Modem is a bit of a problem, but it should work for short calls if your line is good. Some SIP Providers support "Clearmode" which allows for transparent 64k ISDN channels. You can run X.75 on those for example. However you need to patch Asterisk-based IP-PBXes unless you run it directly to your ISDN adapter.

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Dutch DPA says government's data retention plans still illegal

Christian Berger
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The Dutch had a special problem with storing data

Back, just before WWII they had a census. It already was on punch cards and included one, back then harmless, question: "Religion".

When the Germans marched in, all they had to do was to throw the punch cards into a sorter and sort out all Jews. With a collator they were able to get all the addresses which they could also print out easily.

Even data which may seem harmless at the moment can be abused in horrible ways as long as it exists.

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Your hard drives were RIDDLED with NSA SPYWARE for YEARS

Christian Berger
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And of course

Secure boot would probably not help against that as the NSA will surely cooperate with the companies providing the code for secure boot so their malware will not be detected.

It's time for some _really_ open source computers.

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Hacker catches Apple's Lightning in a jailbroken bottle

Christian Berger
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Re: I wonder why Apple customers don't sue for such things

"Because the bulk of their users value "easy" over "flexible" any day."

No they don't. When the "bendy" iPhone came out, lots of people complained.

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Christian Berger
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I wonder why Apple customers don't sue for such things

I mean when you buy something, it's your right to use it in any way you want. The things you do with it may be illegal, but just because you install an alternative firmware it doesn't mean you are going to do illegal things.

Particularly in times like these where mobile phones track you and TV-sets track you and play adds to you, it is important to take your right to "integrity and secrecy of information processing equipment" and demand free (as in speech) firmware.

Apple consumers sue or petition Apple for such much, like their favourite app not making it, or the antenna being badly designed, why don't they do it for the important stuff?

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Telco heavyweights pass packets in NFV demo

Christian Berger
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Amazing how much money they spend...

...into things we all just bypass by using a VPN tunnel so we won't get any "Supercookies".

Dear telcos. We don't want you messing around with your packets, just like we don't want our mail companies messing around with our letters. We are paying you to keep network utilisation (under normal circumstances) below 50%. If you do that, even traffic shaping becomes irrelevant.

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Vint Cerf: Everything we do will be ERASED! You can't even find last 2 times I said this

Christian Berger
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Re: Long term survival

Well any long term approach will be diverse. While for public data like movies and film, a good approach would be to store them in long term readable DRM-free data. Essentially your Bluray rip with the DRM removed will be playable ad infinitum since all codecs are well defined.

For data you cannot easily distribute that way because they are private, or if you want to consider a "collapse of the civilisation" scenario, you probably go fairly well with microfilm with multiple copies. For documents you'd ideally store both an image of the page and the text it contains in an easy to OCR font.

In any case remember that the simpler the better. Someone might have to build a device or program some software for your files, make it as easy as possible.

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Christian Berger
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Well luckily we are better off now than in the 1990s

Today proprietary binary-only file formats are rather rare. We can now store data with millions of points as text files and the overhead of size and processing time is acceptable. Today databases are backed up to text files which, with some limitations, could be restored into any other SQL database system.

Also we no longer store data on disks or optical drives since we ave learned that reading those is a very slow and therefore expensive process.

Just compare the process of copying over a 1 hour video file from one harddisk to another to the elaborate task of playing a Quadruplex video tape (most common type of video tape till the 1980s).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHDU1wXw1sU

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BLAME ENGINEERS: Workstation sales soar by 8.9 per cent a year

Christian Berger
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Well "workstation" is a very fuzzy word. Back in the 1980s and 1990s it mostly meant "yet another UNIX workstation". Back then that implied more RAM and and CPU power than your typical "MS-DOS"-PC.

Today, thanks to gamers, virus scanners, Windows and the Freedesktop people, your typical PC is really fast. In fact it's already hard to get a $10k PC. In any case you now can run either the current spiritual successor of MS-DOS or UNIX on your computer.

So while the industry which already started to brand 486s running Windows 3.1 as "workstations" has it's own definition, I personally see it differently. For me a "workstation" is mostly defined as a computer running an unixoid operating system, since that's the key to a powerful system. CPU power is mostly irrelevant in many tasks. It doesn't matter if your calculation takes 0.1 or 10 seconds, if you need a minute to enter the command for your calculation. That's where unixoid systems shine, they have powerful command processors which enable you to express your intention in very little code. To me this is what makes a workstation.

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Watch: China has made an internet censorship THEME SONG

Christian Berger
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Reminds me of Surfen Multimedia

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

Surf surf surf surf surf surf surf surf

Surfing surfing through the world with multi-media.

Surfing surfing day and night on the data-Autobahn.

Surfing surfing through the world with multi-media.

Surfing surfing day and night on the data-Autobahn.

Come tonight into the Internet, I'm already waiting for you.

Man be a user, go online, in e-mail you will meet me.

....

And if you are missing some megabytes, you'll find them with me.

No matter if interface or cyberspace, I like to share with you.

...

With bits and bytes with mouse and click, we're going on a tour.

Today in the world-wide-web we'll follow every hot track.

...

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