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* Posts by Adam Azarchs

129 posts • joined 28 Jul 2006

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NIST denies it weakened its encryption standard to please the NSA

Adam Azarchs
Stop

Lying is still not always legal

Just because you can't tell the truth doesn't mean you're allowed to lie. If, for example, you are an executive at a corporation, making statements about company activities which are later shown to be objectively false is actually illegal under SEC regulations, and you can end up in prison for that (though more slowly than you might for telling the truth). The only thing that you can do with impunity is refuse to comment.

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Adam Azarchs
WTF?

Does not follow

I don't understand what the big deal is for people here. Yes, they consulted with the NSA. The NSA also contributed code the the linux kernel. Not everything the NSA does is evil (just most of it). Furthermore, it's simply bad to confuse technical issues with personal attacks - in this case, the technical question of whether a crypto standard is secure has nothing directly to do with the provenance of the math. The crypto standard process was still open and public, and the NSA was one of several contributors.

The analogy to MS/ISO is false. There was clear evidence that the ISO was not taking its job of managing the standards process seriously, instead just rubber-stamping something from MS.

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Swiss space plane to launch robotic orbital debris destroyer

Adam Azarchs

The best long-term solution

In the long term, it's been proposed that the best solution would be to have people who launch into orbit post a bond for $X which they get back if and when their satellite deorbits successfully. It's far cheaper to reserve a small amount of extra fuel for a final deorbit maneuver than it is to send up a second rocket to do it for you, but right now there's little incentive to do that. If you make $X be the amount it costs to remove space junk by other means, then that encourages "insurance companies" to develop cheaper methods to deorbit misbehaving satellites.

Of course, that doesn't help for all the junk that's already up there. That is what we call a Hard Problem.

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Facebook's Sean Parker fined $2.5m for tasteless eco-trashing wedding

Adam Azarchs

Re: Endor

Looks like because Endor was filmed just up the coast in very similar habitat.

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Google shakes up US utility with green power tariff

Adam Azarchs
Boffin

Re: Waste of Energy

That isn't how thermodynamics works. Modern coal plants get almost as close to the carnot efficiency as our metallurgical limits allow us to get.

"Heat" is energy, it's true, but to be useful it has to be at a temperature sufficiently above the ambient. Once the temperature of the exhaust gases are close enough to ambient, the efficiency with which work can be extracted becomes so low that the returns of adding additional steps to try to capture it become prohibitively expensive. Coal is expensive enough to make that point very late in the game, but pretty much the only thing you can do with the remaining waste heat from a coal plant is heat an apartment building... and who wants to live that close to a coal-fired power plant?

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Net neutrality? We've heard of it, says Ofcom

Adam Azarchs
Happy

As long as they are advertising 'almost internet'they can do whatever they want.

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Here's the $4.99 utility that might just have saved Windows 8

Adam Azarchs
Boffin

Re: My cost effective solution that costs $0.00

The SxS folder is almost entirely made up of redundant hard links. While these confuse file size counters, they don't actually take up that much space. In reality deleting the SxS folder would only free up a couple of gigs, not 20+.

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Adobe's revenge on Steve Jobs: HTML5

Adam Azarchs
FAIL

Re: Oh no!

"If portable is your aim then Java is best."

Except we're talking about the mobile market, where iOS has nearly half the market and doesn't allow java to run. So that's a very strange definition of portable.

The prohibition against interpreted code on iOS limits things to platforms which can be AOT compiled, such as .NET (see http://www.mono-project.com/Mono:OSX). Ironic, that.

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New Tosh drive can wipe out 4TB 'near instantaneously'

Adam Azarchs
Boffin

Re: Giant degausser

Modern drive heads don't actually read absolute magnetization. Instead, they read relative magnetization from one sector to the next. Those sectors are very, very close together so any macroscopic magnet is going to hit all of the neighboring sectors almost as hard as the target sector, meaning no change in relative magnetization. Once you hit saturation, you can start breaking data, but experiment shows that the fields needed to get to that point are sufficient to physically rip the platter apart. Your best bet by far is the sector-local fields you can generate with the write head of an operating drive, even compared to physical destruction.

This is not to say that magnets are harmless to hard drives - they can cause head crashes in a running drive. But if you're worried about NSA-level data recovery efforts, a giant degausser will do nearly nothing to corrupt the data.

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Boffins biff over ‘twisted radio’

Adam Azarchs
Boffin

Photons are spin-1 particles

Spin-1 particles have 3 spin states, only two of which are observable along the axis (right-handed or left-handed, or horizontal or vertical, depending on how you build your detector). While you can vary the mixture of photons in your signal, you don't get extra multiplexing out of that because within each channel you'll still get the same old interference. Doubling your bandwidth is nice, but I don't see how you can get more than that without violating quantum theory.

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Oracle, Google limber up for round two in their Android Java bout

Adam Azarchs
Meh

If not Google...

then who, exactly? Outside of academia, you've got IBM's WebSphere toolchain, and you've got Google's Web Toolkit and Android. I can't think of any other major players building platforms on Java, and let's be honest: a language without a platform isn't useful.

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Crazed Microsoft robot accuses BBC kids' channel of Win8 piracy

Adam Azarchs
FAIL

Not exactly Microsoft

The requests came from contractors working for Microsoft, not Microsoft itself. Some of the takedown requests targetted Bing.com and other Microsoft domains, even.

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Google launches Octane JavaScript benchmark suite

Adam Azarchs
Meh

What I'd like to see

is more innovation on the html rendering front. For most of the pages I go to, much more time is spent rendering html than compiling/running javascript. I know chrome's javascript engine is important to Google's "reduce the OS to a device driver layer" strategy of taking over the world, but there is an awful lot of time spent drawing static content, and that is getting little or no attention.

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What happens when Facebook follows MySpace?

Adam Azarchs
Thumb Up

Re: Roll your own

I did that back in college. Still use it. Open sourced it even. Really, for storing "precious memories" there's no excuse for not just getting a NAS and taking responsibility for the primary storage (and using the cloud as backup). Though I prefer to avoid solutions which require running a webserver or anything else which might be difficult to pick apart how it works 20 years from now - I went with straight mostly-human-readable XML metadata, with javascript/xsl in the browser to render it. And an embarrassingly hacked-together .net application to generate the xml file.

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Adam Azarchs

I faced this problem

I faced the problem of wanting a way to store my photos, with metadata, in a form I had personal control over and wouldn't just disappear. I decided the best solution is one which stored everything on a local filesystem (but could be put on the web) with metadata in semi-human-readible format (eg some forms of XML) with a web browser front end for display, and wouldn't depend on too much infrastructure to view (eg no web server required). So I wrote a solution. And I put it on sourceforge. And I won't link it because 7 years later I look at that code and I'm just embarrassed. By now there are probably lots of other solutions out there, too.

The point is, if you want to keep that stuff, buy a NAS and manage the data yourself. It's the only way to be sure.

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Let’s send 3D printers TO THE MOON

Adam Azarchs
Alien

Re: Cold water alert

Wait, better off sending it to Mars? Mars is a complete waste of time and effort. While we could plausibly establish a long-term manned presence on the moon in the foreseeable future, a trip to Mars would be purely for show. If we want to look for life on other plants, Mars is still a waste of time compared to Europa and Ganymede (you know, places where some of the water might still be liquid?).

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Software functionality not subject to copyright: EU court

Adam Azarchs

Re: oh if only...

The key here is that this was a ruling about copyright. Patents can protect ideas. Copyrights cannot. On the other hand, patents have a far shorter duration.

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Google founders, James Cameron, go asteroid mining

Adam Azarchs

Re: James Cameron on board, hmmm?

Pretty sure Futurama already did that plot.

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Facebook accused of 'wanton' use of Canadian woman's pics

Adam Azarchs

Privacy settings

There are privacy settings where you can explicitly enable to disable facebook doing that with your photo. I have it disabled. She didn't. You can debate over the relative merits of opt in versus opt out, but the fact is the option is there.

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The best April 1 gags … or were they?

Adam Azarchs

Toshiba's

Toshiba's seems to preempt the Apple patent issue.

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Blogger freaks after airport lackey fondles checked-in vibrator

Adam Azarchs
Joke

Impressive

"...passengers who try to sneak shooters and shanks onto planes hidden in their nuts."

Fitting a plane in there would be a trick for most of us.

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Adam Azarchs
Stop

What do you have against bloggers?

Or is it lawyers, or New Yorkers, who you automatically lump into the pile of people you can't have sympathy for, no matter the situation? Not all lawyers are amoral bloodsuckers. Not all New Yorkers are (also possibly bloodsucking) investment bankers. Not all bloggers are vacuous.

Please, provide an explanation of your standards for who deserves sympathy for government invasion of privacy.

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Batman: Arkham City

Adam Azarchs
Flame

I'd probably buy it if it didn't use SecuROM.

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Microsoft bans all plugins from touchable IE10

Adam Azarchs
Meh

Meh

I don't use IE anyway (except to access my company's Sharepoint site, which doesn't play nice with other browsers... maybe MS should fix that first?), and I don't see that changing when I make the upgrade. I'd love to see Flash die, but I'd rather it wasn't this way.

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Ubisoft insists DRM 'a success'

Adam Azarchs

I'm annoyed

Ubisoft has been making some really interesting-looking games lately, and here I am forced to boycott them.

As a software developer myself, I certainly understand the desire to be paid for your work. I don't pirate software. But neither to I buy software with intrusive measures of the type Ubisoft pursues. They're just insulting.

That, and they never seem to patch the many, many bugs in their games.

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Microsoft breaks own world record for IE nonsense

Adam Azarchs
Gates Halo

I don't really see the contradiction

My reading of their statement is that IE was not designed as a cross-platform browser, and thus by implication is more optimized for Windows in terms of speed (even if that's not true based on benchmarks). This says nothing about the *content* being displayed as being not cross-platform. That HTML 5 is platform and browser agnostic doesn't mean that the browser needs to be platform agnostic.

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Oracle to webify mobile Java against Android

Adam Azarchs

Ironic

So now Java is going to get DirectX support, shortly after .NET lost it?

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Mozilla sics sea monster on SunSpider and Google V8

Adam Azarchs
FAIL

IE 8 Fail

IE 8 can't even run this benchmark without stopping every 3 seconds to tell you that it's running very slowly and are you sure you want to let it run to completion?

Interesting how this benchmark shows FF4 faster than chrome 6, whereas a third-party benchmark like Peacekeeper shows the opposite.

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Lindsay Lohan released from screaming lesbian ordeal

Adam Azarchs
FAIL

California is broke

Thus our judicial system is broken. We couldn't raise the tax revenues to keep her locked up even if we wanted to.

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Stealth fighter in Canadian Wikipedia brouhaha

Adam Azarchs
Thumb Up

Catapults are a good idea

Even if you're getting the STOVL planes, catapults mean they can, with the same short runway, take off with a heavier load, or consuming less fuel in the take-off process, thus extending their range. Arrestor cables are a tricker proposition, as you need more deck length and pilot training to make good use of them, not to mention the extra wear and tear on the landing gear. Leaving out the F35/F18 issue (the main feature difference being stealth) I'd expect catapults would be a good investment.

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EU boffins aim to reinvent the hard disk

Adam Azarchs

They're not the only ones

Carnegie Mellon Univeristy in the united states has pursuing similar technology for years now: http://nano.phys.cmu.edu/

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Woman sues Google after highway knockdown

Adam Azarchs
Boffin

Not puzzling at all

As their case states, google took reasonable measures to provide a safe route. That means in legal speak that they're not liable for punitive damages. Maybe they figure that by not going "over the top" they're more likely to get something. It's an uncommon strategy for a reason, though.

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.NET for iPad stretches to Google's Android

Adam Azarchs
Grenade

Irrelevance?

.Net is one of the most popular languages in the buisness world. There were more job postings looking for c# developers than for Java developers last year. If any language should fade away into irrelevance, it should be the designed-by-committee one.

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UK pol touts canine chip implants

Adam Azarchs
Unhappy

Ok on the chips, but...

Here in the states, most responsible pet owners get the chips, because collars can slip off and we don't want our escaped pets ending up euthanised in a shelter because they can't figure out who is the guardian for the dog. Insurance, however, is just asking responsible pet owners to subsidize the irresponsible ones.

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UK.gov IT minister makes open source gaffe over browsers

Adam Azarchs
Joke

Don't see the problem

Microsoft is the only maker of closed-source technology, right?

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Why you subsidize Google's Soviet-style Net

Adam Azarchs
Stop

What's the problem here?

Google provides a service "free" to customers. End-users running searches and watching YouTube videos are customers. Websites wanting to be indexed by Google also count as customers. Yes, being a customer means paying for the bandwidth. This doesn't mean you're subsidizing Google. If anything, it's the other way around - they pay for their own bandwidth, which they use to serve you, the customer, free of charge (from them). Networks might complain that their customers use a lot of bandwidth because of Google, but it's not a legitimate complaint at all - if Google wasn't doing what it did, their customers wouldn't be willing to pay as much for access to a less-useful internet.

Calling those datacenters inefficient because they're located far away is also more than a little disingenuous. While there are costs to distance, they are fairly small compared to the economies of scale that large datacenters get. Otherwise google wouldn't do it. Google owns and operates a pretty significant private backbone network, after all.

If I set up a tourist attraction on an island with a toll bridge you owned, would I be asked to pay a share of the toll for every person using that bridge to come see what I'm showing? Don't be ridiculous. You should be thanking me for getting you more customers. If all that extra traffic generates more costs than it brings in with more tolls, your tolls need to be higher - simple as that.

Networks are trying to have it both ways. They want to charge their customers for the privilege of accessing google, and then they want to charge google for encouraging so many demands from their customers. If networks don't have enough bandwidth availible, we should all just go back to paying per gigabyte of bandwidth. The only reason the network cares where that bandwidth is coming from is because it's coming from someone they realize has deep pockets. Not a good excuse.

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Schmidt denies Google wants 'dumb pipe' carriers

Adam Azarchs
FAIL

Sure, Eric. Whatever you say.

I don't believe it for a minute. Of course google wants the networks to just be infrastructure. Sure, there's plenty of room for innovation in infrastructure, but it's invisible to most people, and therefore not particularly profitable. I don't for a moment think that's an excuse for operators to artificially inflate the importance of the network so they can charge more.

It takes a much smaller investment to make a flashier innovation on the user-facing side, and that draws customers' dollars much more quickly, compared to network infrastructure improvements. Unfortunately for the operators, google is better than they are at coming up with impressive new user-facing innovations, and customers are difficult to court on the technical merits of the network's backbone infrastructure. If people suddenly started consuming and order of magnitude or two more data, then networks which had invested in more innovative infrastructure could charge a price premium. So someone will make the necessary infrastructure innovations. It just might go more slowly if it has to be driven by demand exterior, rather than internal strategy.

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Microsoft tests show no Win 7 battery flaw

Adam Azarchs
Stop

Not a general Windows 7 flaw, either

Lots of changes were made to the kernel and services in windows 7 which significantly improved battery life for most people. A few people might have config problems, but I'd put good money on most people who report these problems finding their battery life in windows 7 much better than in XP or Vista, if they dual-boot.

Certainly in XP at least I've found most of the batteries sold with big-name laptops die after a year or two. Certainly no more than that. Some of them (a four-letter word starting with D) even put re-certified batteries in new laptops, and then have their 3 or 4-year warranty only cover the battery for one year in the fine print.

As far as Microsoft's involvement, I'd say don't shoot the messenger, until you're sure the messenger is actually at fault.

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Swiss computing lab offers free bug-immunity tool

Adam Azarchs
Gates Halo

This sounds familiar

Windows 7 has a "shim" system for preventing recurrence of certain kinds of bugs in user software. It's not a very new idea, but it needs to be handled very carefully, and as everyone has been pointing out, because of the halting problem it can only ever work on specifically limited classes of bugs.

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iSlate? I spy more control from Cupertino

Adam Azarchs
Gates Halo

Those who would give up Essential Liberty

to purchase a little Temporary Safety for their iCrap deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

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Vatican awards self 'unique copyright' on Pope

Adam Azarchs

I still have a problem with that

Crimes committed by atheists are not automatically crimes committed in the name of (or because of) atheism, any more than crimes committed by catholics can automatically be blamed on Catholicism. While some crimes certainly are committed in the name of religions (or lacks thereof) that doesn't mean all are.

Besides, soviet communism was as much of a religion as anything that called itself as such by the time Stalin got done with it.

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DARPA scientists demand lightning on tap

Adam Azarchs
Boffin

The tech exists

Physicists have been triggering lightning strikes for years as a way to study them. They do, unfortunately, still need a thundercloud, but by firing a rocket trailing a thin wire, then can cause a lightening strike to come down at a pre-determined location, which is critical for planning useful instrumentation. Now, being able to do it without a cloud would be a neat trick. But considerably more energy-intensive.

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Microsoft delays Visual Studio 2010 launch

Adam Azarchs
Thumb Down

Disappointing

Our team was really looking to switching over soon, to take advantage of some of the new features (parallel programming in particular). Plus, from what we've seen of beta 2, it's already way faster than 2008...

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SC09: Mineral oil computing - The coming wave?

Adam Azarchs

Sounds messy

If they're literally submerging motherboards in oil, I don't want to be the one who has to swap out a bad DIMM.

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Fibreless fibre optics developed by US Air Force

Adam Azarchs

Freespace optical interconnecct

A the risk of restating what others have already stated, free-space optical interconnect has been around for a long time now (like ClearMesh). It failed commercially because about the same time it became technologically viable, 802.11b took its market away. Militarily, while less susceptible to traditional jamming technology, it's more susceptible to stuff like, say, smoke. Of which there tends to be a lot of around a war zone as soon as things get interesting. So basically, move along, nothing to see here.

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Did the FCC bribe US carriers on net neutrality?

Adam Azarchs
Flame

This attitude upsets me.

The attitude that net neutrality means no prioritization and low-bandwidth users subsidizing high-bandwidth users is just plain wrong. Nothing in the basic tenants of net neutrality says you can't charge by the megabyte, nor does it say you can't pay more for higher priority megabytes. It just says that the carrier can't charge based on the kind of traffic. If I for some silly reason want my http traffic to be high priority, I can pay for it to be high priority. If I don't care about a bad voip connection, I can refuse to pay for higher priority for it. If I want to download huge amounts of... something, I should be willing to pay for the bandwidth, but carriers shouldn't be allowed to care about what exactly it is I'm downloading. That's my business.

My vision of net neutrality is: get rid of flat-rate plans entirely. They just result in a tragedy of the commons scenario. Pay entirely by the byte, with different rates for different priority levels. Let each carrier publish those rates and see what happens. The vast majority of customers win, honest carriers (if there is such a thing) win, and no one stops anyone from developing new and innovative web services and protocols.

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US commission urges broadband socialism

Adam Azarchs
Thumb Up

I like that analogy at the end

Comparing broadband to the interstate highway system is an excellent point. Of course, people only appreciate government services which they personally use (everything else is socialism) so it will never work.

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Mozilla unveils cure for Web 2.0 world run amok

Adam Azarchs
Stop

Great!

Let's invent even more non-standard tags and fragment the browser design space further! This is exactly what the world needs now!

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Newegg hatches IPO

Adam Azarchs
Thumb Up

I spend so much with them

Maybe soon I can get some back as dividends...

Seriously, they've done a very good job of encouraging customer loyalty amongst knowledgeable buyers. And they have a good selection and a well-designed website. They never lost focus the way Amazon did.

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Two jailed for online racism after US turned down asylum bid

Adam Azarchs

Free speech

In america what they did would be completely legal. That doesn't mean it wouldn't upset a lot of people. Speech which doesn't offend anyone doesn't need to be protected, but our first amendment protects all speech (though not all contexts for speech, like the classic shouting fire in a crowded theater and so on). However, it certainly doesn't mean we have to protect people who did it in a country where it isn't legal.

Now why it isn't legal in Britain is another story. Not being British I'm going to avoid conjecture.

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