* Posts by bazza

976 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

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ZTE's stealthy Nubia: China-made Google-free Android mobe

bazza
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Hmm, I'm not sure about this. Sure, almost anyone can make a nice piece of hardware these days, all the bits and pieces are available on the open market.

What matters most of all is the software.

[Yeah I knows Jobs said something like that, I don't like Apple at all, I doubt he was the first to say so, but he was right]

It matters most of all when you're talking about software that interacts with someone else's software, like Skype, Facetime, messaging apps, games, etc.

Basing these alternative handsets on Android is about the only way to go to solve that problem. But it's still not plain sailing.

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Did we just wake up in an alternate universe? BlackBerry turns a profit

bazza
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Re: The Ed Miliband of smartphones

The problem is the hardware. The Passport is clever but gimmicky, the new Bold-a-like with the forgettable name is too big for what it does. Now a Sony Xperia Z3 Compact with OX 10.3.1...I'd buy that. But BlackBerry doesn't have the scale or the money to produce cutting edge hardware.

The Z30 is fabulous.

BlackBerry got slagged off a lot when it first came out, far too big everyone said. Now look at all the phablets everyone else is doing.

Runs a lot of Android apps. Plus a solid 2 day battery life.

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GitHub ordered to hand over access logs to Uber

bazza
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It might be a typical American company with an American attitude towards its corporate responsibilities, but its offices abroad have to play by the local laws. They have an office in Amsterdam which can probably be sued by any EU citizen.

It is amazing how the USA doesn't have any useful data protection laws. Presumably businesses over there lobby against such things. Doing so is self defeating in the long run. Sure, they don't want to have to do 'data protection' because it is a cost item on their balance sheet, which harms their profit margin. But that's nothing compared to being wiped out as a company because your clients have got fed up with doing business with you.

If there was a law saying that you had to bear data protection costs as a normal part of your business then so would your competitors. Then you would be less likely to lose the faith of your clients and would not be disadvantaged by your competitors. That's a far safer business proposition than saying "meh, we'll take the chance". Which is what Uber have done to date and are now suffering the consequences.

They are going to have to do something about their poor reputation sooner rather later. Taking short cuts on safety, privacy and licensing will ultimately wipe them out. There's a reason why countries have cab licensing laws; they are for the protection of the public and the cab company.

Hypothetical scenario: Cab driver commits a string of hideous crimes, victims cannot sue his licensed employer because being licensed means they take all reasonable precautions. But victims could sue an unlicensed employer like Uber because by definition they are not taking all reasonable precautions. Uber's business model is the latter, and they're taking a bet that all of their drivers will never be serial rapists, etc.

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bazza
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Re: What If...

What if we're one of Uncle Sam's numerous intel agencies?!

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Wind turbine blown away by control system vulnerability

bazza
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Re: Oh Good Grief

Well, in this case I'd expect a malicious hacker would be content to override the governor limits, thus letting the windmill thrash itself to pieces in the next windstorm. Just for kicks.

Just for kicks indeed, and still dangerous. I would like to be confident that important things like governors and interlocks weren't alterable through a Web interface, but who knows.

Exposing critical control features to abuse in this sort of way (if they've actually gone and been and done it) is inviting corporate extinction. One script kiddie does as you suggested for the laugh and the entire lot gets wiped out. It's pretty hard for a company to survive a total loss, and that's bad for pension, stock holdings, salary, etc.

I would like to think that the manufacturer was cognisant of that enormous risk to its profitability, and has not exposed critical controls through a feeble Web interface. However, I'm not 100% confident. From what I've seen companies are generally pretty bad at assessing or even acknowledging their exposure to "that would never happen" risks that would wipe them out. It's a kind of blind spot. Ask TEPCO at Fukushima...

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bazza
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Oh Good Grief

How many times has this got to happen before it gets taken seriously?

Either don't connect it to the Internet, or do it properly. Laziness of this sort is a stain on the entire industry. What is it about a major piece of generating equipment that suggested to the idiot who's fault this is that security didn't matter? It's a major piece of equipment that has to be properly controlled otherwise someone somewhere could get hurt. This is dereliction of duty, leaving it as wide open as that.

The muppet developer who wrote this should be found and made to program in gwbasic for 10 years as punishment for giving the rest of us a bad reputation, with another 10 added on top for not caring about the consequences of their laziness. Just because they managed to fool their boss into thinking that they'd done a good job doesn't mean that they won't get found out later.

Safety interlocks

It would be fascinating to know what safety interlocks there are on these turbines to allow a maintenance engineering team to work on them and be sure that it won't start up whilst some poor engineer is, says working on a blade. That blade moves, that engineer could easily be killed.

If the only thing stopping it moving is a setting in that Web interface, then that's a truly safety critical piece of software.

If this is indeed the case, having a flaw as feeble as that is really, really appalling. And in this day and age developers could go to jail if there was a death.

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Google Glass NOT DEAD. We're just making it 'ready' says chief

bazza
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Re: The media had it all wrong

And the device sucks compared to HoloLens.

Yep, I'd agree with that. I gave a Glass a go (borrowed a pair) and couldn't see the point of it. Hololens looks like it might actually be able to do something useful. MS have maybe solved the motion sickness problem too; it is translucent so a wearer is less likely to get so disorientated.

Also it's not trying to be just a pair of spectacles, it is very obviously a Hololens, and you'd likely not be wearing it out and about; it's not going to raise the same social issues as Glass did.

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AUTOPILOT: Musk promises Tesla owners a HANDS-OFF hands-on

bazza
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Re: They'll get burned by these updates eventually

Quite right. Tesla and the entire auto industry is seemingly sleep walking into a situation that is very dangerous for their future profitability.

As soon as a car becomes the end point of a network then there is a risk that someone somewhere will get inside that network and hold you to ransome. Something like pay us $10,000,000 or every Tesla will fail to boot in the morning.

All these companies are the same, BMW, Audi, etc. They're going for the blingy connected car thing because they think it will sell. Meantime they're blindly taking on a huge corporate risk. In fact calling it a risk is stupid. If the history of IT security is anything to go by someone somewhere will one day succeed in doing something like that. After all, no matter how good your technology is, there is no defence against a disloyal or blackmailed sysadmin. Far from being a risk it is practically guaranteed; it's simply a matter of when.

Even if the car companies have private networks they are at risk. One defence is to simply shut down the network in response to a threat. However that doesn't account for the possibility of a malware payload already being in place. Shut down the network and the malware payload goes active at a given time; attack not thwarted. All a blackmailer needs to do is make a phone call and say that that is what they've done. How are the company going to prove that they're lying before sunrise? Not easily.

I'm surprised that governments aren't more worried about this. If everyone had a connected car then the entire nation is vulnerable. If an entire population wakes up in the morning and cannot get to work because their cars have been hacked, that's pretty much an entire day's GDP lost. That's a huge sum of money, and knocks 0.3% of the economy straight away (which is why keeping the roads clear in winter is so important).

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Zuck: Get your FULLY EXPOSED BUTTOCKS off my Facebook

bazza
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Facepalm

Sumo wrestling; cultural norm (120 million Japanese people), or bad (Mark Z)?

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OpenSSL preps fix for mystery high severity hole

bazza
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Conspiracy of Optimism

These things happen only because almost everyone is quite prepared to believe that a piece of software must be ok if everyone else is using it too. Almost everyone is too busy/lazy/ill equipped to actually check code they're borrowing.

That places a heavy burden on the designers and implementers of software. There are things out there that can help.

For instance there have been decent schema languages for defining interfaces since the early 1990s, e.g. ASN.1 schemas, and now JSON schemas. With the right tools it is very easy to define and implement an interface whilst making that interface very resilient to abuse. Any residual problems tend to be in the schema tools and libraries, which at least are a fix-once-fix-everywhere thing. How many buffer overrun bugs have we had? Lots. Yet they would not have happened at all had a schema and tools been used instead of hand written code.

In case anyone is interested my view on a reliable schema language is that it must be:

1) Typed. Messages define what message type they are

2) Size constrained. Arrays limited in length, checking enforced

3) Value constrained. Variables limited in value to a defined range, checked.

4) Extendible. Allow old code to handle newer versions of a message.

5) Choice of binary and text wire formats. Supports all needs

6) Support many languages (C, C++, Java, etc). It's a multi platform world.

ASN.1 and the associated tools does all of this, JSON Schema does all of them too I think (BSON comes to the rescue for 5?). Google Protocol Buffers does only 4 and 6, does 1 badly, same for Thrift I think.

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Musk: 'Tesla's electric Model S cars will be less crap soon. I PROMISE'

bazza
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"While there's nothing that can be done right now to make long-distance travel _as fast as_ in a petrol/diesel car, more accurate energy-use prediction can help reduce average travel time. Since BEVs' ability to be refueled at home make everyday driving _more_ convenient, so the more you narrow the gap on longer trips, the more the overall balance of convenience shifts to plug-ins."

Right, but if you ever need to do a long journey you'll be taking a different car. No one is going to do a 500 mile journey in a vehicle if it means stopping for a few hours every 150 - 200 miles. For most people that means owning another car. And if you have a 'spare' car that you're not using every day then there's not much point, environmentally speaking, in having the battery powered car.

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bazza
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"Interestingly, electric cars become more efficient the slower you drive. Extra traffic would actually extend your range...."

Not if you have the air conditioning switched on...

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bazza
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Hmmm, seems difficult to think what could be done. If they make the range indicator more 'reassuring', isn't that just going to result in people actually getting stuck in the middle of nowhere?

Fundamentally Tesla cannot address the real concern for anyone thinking of taking on a longish journey in their car. With a petrol or diesel, you just fill up in moments almost anywhere you like. It takes real talent to stop by the side of the road having run out. But with an electric car you cannot fill up; you have to get to your destination and wait several hours for the car to recharge. If that destination is a long way away you have no margin for error. Extra traffic, a diversion, all sorts of unexpected eventualities that you cannot control can change your electricity usage. There's not many who would relish the hassle of dealing with the consequences.

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Blackberry touts UNCERTIFIED 'secure' slab in hunt for public sector biz

bazza
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Re: Lots of claims ..

"Having said that, QNX has potential, but that was until Blackberry decided to allow Android apps."

Er, you clearly don't know how BlackBerry have gone about it. BlackBerry separates personal apps / data from Enterprise apps / data using an AES256 encrypted filesystem (lookup BlackBerry Balance). You can put anything you like, including Android apps, on the personal side of the phone without running a risk of it seeing any Enterprise data. In that sense an Android app is no more or less dangerous than a native QNX app.

Most of Android's problems are related to the OS's inability to guarantee separation of data and enforcement of permissions. BB10 is far, better at this. Arguably it's a much better place to run Android apps than Android is.

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Droidberry dangles: Why the BlackBerry-Samsung alliance is big potatoes

bazza
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Re: Failings and hope

"As for the BlackBerry Samsung partnership, I hope that it at least results in the availability of a new, decently specced Android device with a hardware QWERTY keyboard."

Well, current BlackBerry mobiles seem to do a pretty good job of running Android apps. Amazon App Store is an official part of the BB10 OF these days, and a lot of people use the unofficial Snap app to get access to the Google Play Store.

What most people don't realise is the BlackBerry have thought long and hard about making all of that coexist nicely and safely with Enterprise data. Read up on BlackBerry Balance. It gives you an AES256 encryption layer between all that fun and all the enterprise parts of a phone, a strong and very comforting feature for a company.

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US military SATELLITE suddenly BLOWS UP: 'Temperature spike' blamed

bazza
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"so who lasered it?"

Dunno, but I expect Sean Connery is rushing to get his tux back from the dry cleaners even as we speak. Secret satellite-blasting laser bases in Antarctica are no doubt run by villainous cat fanciers, and it's just the sort of thing to tempt Connery out of retirement. Lets hope the evening wear still fits. And just by luck his replacement is preoccupied with some sort of caper in the Alps at the moment.

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Elon Musk plans to plonk urban Hyperloop subsonic tube on California

bazza
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Re: Let's see how testing goes before coming to any conclusions

"I gave you an (the?) upvote, you make some good points."

Why, thank you!

"A large contingent of reg. commentards automatically downvote any question re. Musk Enterprises."

Perhaps. Personally I'm neutral on the guy and his ambitions; I don't actually care whether or not Hyperloop gets built, but no one should ever see it as being a useful or profitable transport solution. If it gets in the way of something more societally beneficial (like a proper high speed train link) then perhaps it shouldn't be allowed.

If it does get built, I'd definitely like to go on it!

I think that a lot of his projects are commercially crazy and full of contradictions. For example, SpaceX set out to make a disposable rocket extremely cheap (at the cost of performance). Now they're trying to do a reusable rocket the really hard way. Did they discover that rocket science is actually unavoidably expensive?

Tesla cars are also a contradiction. Great yeah, an electric car, but everyone knows that they're flawed as a mode of transportation and hardly anyone asks where the electricity comes from in the first place. They're a long way from being a universal motoring solution. Everyone who's bought one almost certainly has another vehicle too, and environmentally speaking that's a hell of a lot worse than owning just one single vehicle.

None of that really matters, it's his money. If he wanted to maximise his return on investment he'd concentrate on just battery research and not bother with the car, solar panels and rockets. Admittedly that'd much more dull. Clearly he's not doing these things to make the largest possible profit, and to his credit that is refreshing.

However he did crash and destroy a McLaren F1 (according to Wikipedia). He has a lot to answer for in my view.

"Went to see both it and the Tu-144 as a tiny thing, before the latter had a brief career of limited flights, and the Concorde was restricted to N.Y. as a destination."

Concorde was the Hyperloop of the 1960s. An aeronautical dream that was sold to the politicians who were to pay for as as being a solution to increasing the capacity of air travel. Oh how the engineers must have laughed! We did end up with a very seriously cool aircraft. But air travel is now beginning to be limited by the number of landing and take-off slots available at the airports. Fast planes don't help solve that. Big planes do. The A380 is about the only answer to that problem.

"I love the bullet trains, but they wreak havoc on local services. Unless someone else is paying, too expensive to ride in general, but of course, the company is paying for most of the regulars, particularly on the Tokaido."

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "wreeks havoc on local services". The Shinkansen integrates very well with local trains, as does TGV in France and the ICE trains in Germany. It's not dirt cheap, but even at £100ish for a single from Tokyo to Osaka it's just about cheaper than the overall whole-life cost per mile of driving the same distance in a car. The car wins if you put 2 people in it, but it's a hell of a lot slower.

"Also, they are too fast to enjoy any scenery."

I've got a series of photos of Mt Fuji that I took from the bullet train. All but one of them had something like a telegraph pole, house, bridge etc. spoiling the view. Clear gaps just didn't last long enough!

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bazza
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Re: Let's see how testing goes before coming to any conclusions

Um, I think you're missing the point.

"Theme parks manage to process thousands of people on rides with more stringent passenger safety measures than this shuttle is likely to require."

"So I don't see it follows that it's going to be slower"

So a 10 car roller coaster with 4 people to a car running once every 2.5 minutes sounds like a reasonable throughput for a roller coaster. That might on a good day amount to 8,000 people per day.

In comparison a train system like the Shinkansen can do that in just half an hour.

If you want to move 100,000 each day you need to move them by hundreds (aircraft) and thousands (trains) at a time. A small pod carrying 20 - 40 people at a time isn't going to work.

"particularly since they could scale with parallel tracks"

The costs would scale upwards too.

"and scheduling to put people with the same destination on the same shuttle."

Er, what? With any form of transport you're going to get to where ever it stops. You're not going to change shuttles midway unless it stops to let you do that. If you get on the wrong one you'll be going the wrong way...

"They could even scale the service according to demand, adding more shuttles in at peak periods. It's like one glorified bin pack - it could designed to ensure an efficient throughput according to the expected demands on the system."

You're missing the point. Unless a shuttle can carry 1000+ people at a time then you cannot beat the throughput of a train. So far the Hyperloop guys are talking about single shuttle carrying 28 people leaving once every 30 seconds (which seems optimistic), and they say that the system could transport 7 million people per year per tube. That's barely 10% of what a single train track can carry.

The 30 seconds separation sounds very optimistic; in an emergency situation you'd have to be able to stop in much less than 30 seconds. It's about 3G for 10 seconds, which is a hell of a lot of braking for a vehicle that'd have to achieve that with nothing but linear motors for traction, and especially when whatever the emergency is has probably badly compromised the system anyway. A 30 second separation sounds like a good way of making an accident a whole lot worse than it already is.

"A hyperloop could potentially deliver people to or close to the actual centre of a city. Look at the Eurostar as an example of this - the train is slower than a plane but it actually to where people want to go and so is faster and more convenient than a plane."

Er, train stations have generally been in town centres for 160 years. This is not a new idea. Hyperloop is a worse idea because it cannot move as many people.

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bazza
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Re: Let's see how testing goes before coming to any conclusions

Indeed we do have to wait and see how this works out, but there's some things that can be thought about ahead of time. The article quoted:

"It will be instrumental in optimising passenger system needs – such as loading, departure and safety considerations"

Let's think about loading. With hyperloop the passengers will have to strap in, so that takes, what, ten minutes at least? Think how long it takes to load a 737... So that's one departure every ten minutes at best. I think they're planning something like 20 passengers per vehicle, so it's 120 people per hour.

Compare that to the N700 bullet train in Japan. There's a departure every 5 minutes from Shinagawa to Osaka and it carries 1,300 people. That's 15,600 people per hour.

So as a mass transit system hyperloop seems to have considerable problems.

So say they solve the loading problem, what then would the limit be? Consider the minimum separation to allow for emergency situations. I can't see that being any better than 1 per minute. Which still gives woefully low capacity.

To be worth investing in a transit system has to have good capacity or high ticket prices. I can't see hyperloop's capacity ever being that high; it would need a lot of tubes in parallel to achieve that, or they could string a load of pods together to make a train. Those are much bigger engineering challenges. So I suspect the price would have to be high.

That can work; Concorde was very expensive, but because BA whisked you through dedicated check in, boarding, immigration and arrival channels and flew you at Mach 2 across the Atlantic you saved about 6 hours on the whole journey. That was worth it to a lot of business people.

So if hyperloop ever happens it's at best going to be a pricey, premium service.

Or just a terrific joy ride; I'd be tempted!

State Concerns

If hyperloop ever got built between LA and SF it would take up a route that might otherwise have been high speed train. If the state ever wanted high speed rail between those cities it might not be wise to let hyperloop be built first; it could get in the way.

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Spotty Ceres baffles boffins with bright patches

bazza
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Re: Any...

Yes.

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Wake up! BlackBerry QUIETLY updates BB10

bazza
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Re: Any updates on this?

"Q10 and Z10 got the 10.2.x update, not the 10.3.1 update which is the focus of this article."

Z10 on Three UK got 10.3.1 over the weekend. 10.2.x was a long time ago...

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Samsung in second SSD slowdown SNAFU

bazza
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Re: Can we just lose FLASH already?

Memristor doesn't have a wear life problem like FLASH does. And it's apparently a whole lot quicker too.

If HP ever bring memristor to market then we can kiss FLASH and all the irritating attendant complexities goodbye. And good riddance too.

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bazza
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Can we just lose FLASH already?

It's about time some of the promised replacements actually made it from the lab to the market.

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BlackBerry's money-making QNX unit touts virty dual-OS devices

bazza
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Real time is also general purpose

There's no reason why you can't use a real time OS to host general purpose, UI focused apps.

You can relatively easily run Linux with a CONFIG_PREEMPT_RT kernel, and it's not really any different from a user experience point of view to a stock Linux. With it you can reliably run time critical tasks alongside UI tasks (so long as the task priorities are set correctly), something not always achievable without the real time scheduler.

Moreover if you take a CPU and partition in two with a hypervisor and give each 50% of the CPU time, then no task in the system can ever have more than half the runtime. That's OK if there's enough going on in the time-critical partition to keep it fully occupied but if there isn't then it's effectively wasted.

It does allow you to accommodate an OS/app set that doesn't pay any heed to the needs of real time tasks. Though ultimately that's not as good as getting the apps right in the first place.

However, security-wise its a very good idea. With something like this you could have a partition running a mobile baseband and the other running the OS/app stack. You could comfortably let the end user play around inside the latter without unduly risking the integrity of the former, and there wouldn't be a need for physically separate processors; that's a hardware saving.

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Boffins grasp Big Knob, get ready to go ALL THE WAY at the LHC proton-punisher

bazza
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Re: Glad to see that...

Not looked at the website, but I reckon it's worth having ping running against it permanently. Would need to get worried if the pings stop being returned, but at least I'd have some warning that the world is ending...

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Jaguar F-Type: A beautiful British thoroughbred

bazza
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Re: We need more aluminium cars

Jag have been particularly clever with aluminium construction.

They have a technique that allows them to press complex curves out of it. Aluminium has a tendancy to spring out of shape after pressing, unlike steel. So getting it right is difficult. Takes a lot of skill with the metalurgy to get the alloy just right.

They join aluminium body components together with a combination of glue and something like a self drilling barbed rivet. Very strong, and I'm guess quite quick to assemble.

The result is that they can make an alumimium monocoque chassis very easily and quickly. That makes it cheaper. It's also a lot lighter than hanging aluminimum panels off a welded tubular frame (which is how some other aluminium cars are made).

I read somewhere a while back that an aluminimum Jag was 200kg lighter than the competing aluminium Audi; quite a feat of engineering. That degree of weight saving is multiplied by not needing such a big engine (so that's lighter too) for a given amount of performance, and the handling is significantly improved too.

Clever chaps.

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Linux kernel set to get live patching in release 3.20

bazza
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Re: Very clever stuff

It's not matter of worrying about it, it's about making further economies. Whilst it's true that a system might need to be resilient to one of its servers going away, there's almost always an incentive to keep as many of them up and running as possible. If you size the system to provide the required level of service despite a worst case rate of equipment failure, power cuts, patching reboots, upgrades, etc, then eliminating patching reboots means you need less hardware.

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UK air traffic mega cockup: BOTH server channels failed - report

bazza
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Re: I wonder if

"Only the part in living in Britain, were it a requirement, would give me pause."

Booo!

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bazza
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Re: I wonder if

"Nope, not any more. There aint no one gonna pay me NEAR enough to go back there."

Just out of interest, just how much would it take? $1000 per day/hour/minute? First born child? Fifteen glamorous assistants whose only job is to make your life pleasurable in every possible way to offset the hell that is OS390?

I ask purely because your answer will help those of us not initiated into the ways of OS390 understand exactly how ghastly it is...

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Linux 3.19 released for your computing pleasure

bazza
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Re: I miss the old days

I think that the PREEMPT_RT patch set should be folded in to the mainstream kernel. That'd be worthy of a 4.0 version number.

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Hacker hijack 'threat': Your car's security is Adobe Flash-grade BAD

bazza
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Anyone else get the feeling...

...that this could all boil over into a mega privacy/security omni-shambles for the car industry?

We all think that <insert desktop OS name that suits your personal allegiance> is pretty crummy security-wise, but cars sounds heaps worse than any of them.

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RIP Windows RT: Microsoft murders ARM Surface, Nokia tablets

bazza
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Re: If I could have loaded my must-have x86 progys...

A long time ago when MS first started thinking about ARM, they showed off Windows 7 and Office running on an ARM dev board. All they had done was written the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) for the Windows kernel, recompiled the OS and Office plus an Epson printer driver for ARM, and lo and behold; full desktop Windows 7 running on ARM.

This was hugely encouraging at the time. What they were hinting at was the prospect of a developer being able to compile their software for both Intel and ARM from exactly the same source code. Bit like the fat binaries that Mac OS X apps used to have to run on both PowerPC and Intel Macs.

Forget tablets, the prospect of being able to get the whole Windows ecosystem onto ARM desktops, ARM laptops with no more effort than making Visual Studio build fat binaries (or at least an Intel and also an ARM binary in the same build step) by default was hugely promising.

So, what did MS do? Fuck it up. They completely ignored the one and only wise thing that Steve Jobs had ever said: "It's the software that matters most of all" (or words to that effect).

They produced Windows RT for ARM, and Windows 8 for Intel. Their APIs were different, there was no easy way to produce an application for both platforms. You couldn't simply recompile your source code for each. Instead the devs had to choose whether they were going to target Windows 8 or Windows RT.

The result? The few devs that bothered chose Windows 8, and most devs stuck to producing standard desktop applications for Windows 8 instead of Metro touch apps. Win RT didn't have a chance.

There's word that MS have learned this lesson and are seeking to revert to type. ARM is too important, and they should not ignore ARM now. The hard part (getting the HAL and build tools together) is already done and can be re-used going in to the future. They just need to produce a consistent API so that developers' source code can be re-used with no effort required.

That quote of Steve Jobs is highly applicable almost anywhere. It doesn't matter how nice your hardware offering is, if there's no software available for it then you might as well not bother.

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Can't afford a BMW or Roller? Just HACK its doors open!

bazza
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Re: Lunacy

@chris 17,

"security by obscurity is no defence & no substitute for doing security properly in the first place."

That's certainly true. But I don't believe the car industry has been very guilty of that up until now. By and large the car industry has got it right in the recent past. The only data interface to the car was the CAN bus, and that's not available outside the vehicle. You have to be physically in the vehicle already to be able to plug into it. So, as long as the blipper/keyless entry system was up to snuff (and generally they've been good enough at those), theft of a car mostly required breaking a window or somehow opening a door at least.

So their security model was pretty easy to get right. Make sure the CAN bus is physically inaccessible, and use a simple yet effective remote key fob system. Get just those two simple things right, and the car is acceptably secure.

Now they're beginning to put a publicly accessible wireless network interface on board there's a much larger threat to the car. There's so many more things they've got to get right in order to achieve the same level of security. No one has ever managed to fully secure any internet connected server; Windows, Linux, Mac OS X; they've all had their moments of weakness. What makes the car industry think they can do it any better than the software industry?

And it doesn't matter if they think that they're OK by having a closed, non-internet connected wireless network. By having a standardised wireless network interface they're vulnerable to someone else using standardised wireless networking equipment to connect to it one way or another. I mean, how hard is it to get a pseudo cell base station these days?

The OS vendors/creators are at least pretty good at publishing updates for the various versions of their products. I don't think the car industry quite realises the huge software maintenance burden they're bringing on themselves if they're to uphold reputations for long lived and reliable cars. Are they going to maintain software and fix bugs on 10 year old cars? I doubt it.

From the owners point of view Connected Cars could be a disaster waiting to happen. Once an unpatched flaw is published for any particular car then every owner of that car will probably find it impossible to get car insurance.

I can also see the insurance industry adding general exclusions to policies concerning car theft after a bug has been disclosed. Owning an older, no-more-updates car could become a real liability.

It does certainly sounds like BMW have counted on obscurity for security in this new system of theirs. Here begins their lesson.

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bazza
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Lunacy

And so the lunacy of make cars "connected" begins. Adding a huge amount of standard networking technology is simply asking for trouble. There's loads of people out there who have made criminal livings out of hacking all these technologies, and they're very good at it. Using these technologies on a high value asset such as a car simply means exposing the car to a far larger level of threat.

BMW and all the other manufacturers heading down this route are simply not going to be able to keep the determined hacker out.

Upgrading to use https? What century is this? That shows a truly worrying level of naivety. Who in their right mind would have chosen http in the first place?

At least with older cars someone had to smash a window, etc. to get in.

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Tesla bumps up Model S P85D acceleration – with software update

bazza
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Long Journeys in one of these

Looking at Tesla's page on Superchargers, it takes at least 30 minutes to get another 170 miles in the batteries, or 75 minutes for a full charge.

That's a long time to be stuck at, say, Northampton Services on the M1.

Service Station Economics: Pile it High, Sell it Expensive, Make it Quick

There's a limit to how much money anyone is going to spend in a motorway services, no matter how rich they are. Motorway services are, by definition, the very last place on earth that anyone wants to be. So the fuel, food, everything is quite expensive, and they don't bother trying to do anything to make you stay. They know you're not going to stop there for a three course meal, so they don't bother offering one. Everything they do is about getting as many cars parked as quickly as possible, toiletted, watered, snacked and fuelled as quickly as possible.

Car Charging Isn't Quick

But if everyone starts turning up in electric cars and plugging them in for 30 - 75 minutes, that's going to hog a lot of car parking spots, but I can't see what the Services can do to induce people to spend enough money to offset the reduction in the total number of people that can pass through.

Sure, if everyone had an electric car then everyone would be stopping for a long time, so opening up a decent restaurant and serving nice three course dinners would make sense. But in meantime the Service station operators are not going to want to lose too many parking spots to low revenue earning electric car charging points.

So there won't be that many points available at any of them.

From the Driver's Point of View

And can you imagine anything worse on a journey than arriving at the Northampton Services and discovering that you're going to have to wait 75 minutes for a charging point to become free before you can plug in yourself? Can you imagine what 2.5 hours there would be like?

From the Electrical Engineer's Point of View

A Tesla Supercharger runs at 120kW. That's a lot. If there were, say, 100, charging points in use simultaneously that'd be 12MW. Somewhere like Exeter Services seems to have around about 300 parking spots, so about 36MW.

I seriously doubt that any service station has a mains electricity cable fat enough to carry anything like that much power. Laying one in would be an enormously expensive proposition. To provide fast charging points for every parking spot in a large motorways services they're going to have to do something radical to its electricity supply.

Doesn't Make Much Sense

To give you an idea of how much electricity that is, Dungeness B nuclear power station is 1230MW. On its own it could run around about 30 service stations each with 300 Supercharger points, but that's still only 9000 vehicle being charged at any one time. That's a pitifully small number of cars.

If Tesla expect a mass market for people going some place, probably all at the same popular time of day, plugging their car in whilst they pee, eat, shop or otherwise entertain themselves, then they're going to have to do something radical about the number of power stations in the country and the capacity of the electricity grid to deliver large amounts of power in a short period of time. There seems little prospect to me of that scale of engineering problem being tackled anytime soon.

Charging up at home

The only way electric cars can even begin to start making any sense at all at the moment is if they're charged up slowly overnight and never charged during the day. That's much easier for a National Grid to cope with.

Marketing Gimick?

Claiming full UK coverage for charging points is fairly misleading. If the smallest charging location has, say, 10 outlets, then there is full UK coverage for only 10 Tesla drivers at any one time. If an 11th Tesla turns up, they're gonna have to wait. And as we've seen in California, people inconvenienced by a lack of an available outlet at a charging station seem to behave quite badly.

That's understandable; if I arrived at Northampton services on the last whisps of electricity in the batteries and discovered I was going to be stuck there for several hours whilst some other drivers took on a full charge, I'd be tempted unplug them and sneak a few minutes of charging just to get out of there.

And that's before the kids on a school excursion unplug all the cars at the motorway services for a laugh.

Saying that there's "Full Uk coverage" is just a way of persuading the mugs who don't actually have to get places to buy Tesla cars.

Knowing that most of the UK public are far from stupid and are perfectly capable of foreseeing the horrors of being stuck at a motorway services, I fully expect to see these supercharger stations getting very little use.

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bazza
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Over The Air Upgrade? Is this Wise?

If Tesla are going to get into the habit of increasing the performance of cars they've sold in this way, I hope they talk to the owners' insurance companies first.

This is analogous to chipping your diesel or petrol car, which counts as an engine modification. Normally your insurance company requires you to clear such a modification with them first, otherwise they won't cover you. If you upgrade it without talking to the insurers first and then have an accident, you can find yourself without insurance cover. Bad news.

Yet here we have a manufacturer doing just that, probably without the owner having any control over whether it happens or not, and probably without any significant prior notification. OK, so 0.1 sec is probably neither here nor there. But a more significant change in performance would likely irritate an insurance company no end.

Anyway, the chances of being able to travel far enough to actually have an accident are remote...

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Privacy alert: Outlook for iOS does security STUPIDLY, says dev

bazza
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Re: It's madness I tell thee

There's nothing particularly new here.

Before BB10, BlackBerries bought as personal phones would be plumbed into RIM's BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS). This did something very similar; it would retrieve email from your email provider on your behalf, and send a push notification out to your phone when something turned up. It was reliable, saved a ton of battery power (your phone didn't have to do anything for itself), and it was very fast too.

Differences? Well, it was BlackBerry's own servers doing it (not someone else's), I don't recall there ever being any problem with BIS retaining credentials beyond my expectations, and BlackBerry seem not to want to trawl through all your stuff looking for advertising data (which I considered to be a very appealing aspect of that service).

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'Super-secure' BlackPhone pwned by super-silly txt msg bug

bazza
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Whoops!

Looking at JSON schemas it seems that it is quite possible to be strict with the definition of messages (i.e. constrain values to permitted ranges, constrain array sizes, mandate the presence of various fields, etc). Get that kind of thing right and it can be very difficult to mis-process incoming data, well formatted or not. Though that does depend on getting the schema right, and having the right tools and libraries to turn that into reliable and robust code.

I wonder if they used one of those?

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Uber isn't limited by the taxi market: It's limited by the Electronic Thumb market

bazza
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A lot of the world economic problems are because too many people and countries have made promises they can't keep... The economic downturn is just a complicated monetary way for one bunch of guys to tell another bunch of guys, "I don't believe you anymore". Quantative Easing, aka printing money, is just a way of conning the few remaining believers but that's not going to work forever. It all gets counted up eventually, and for a lot of places the number starts of with a minus sign.

As for Uber? Well, they're quite good at creaming off the top whilst encouraging it's drivers to play fast and loose with local licensing laws, insurance, etc and not reminding it's users why cab licensing was brought in in the first place.

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bazza
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Re: Economy

@Ossi,

"This is found simply by multiplying the number of people by how much each person produces..."

What each person "produces" is the difference between what they add and how much of that which is thrown away never to be used again. If they're digging stuff up out of the ground or growing it, they're maybe a net producer. I say maybe; you can't eat gold or diamonds, they're just pretty.

Everyone else is a net consumer. For example, the car factory worker consumes iron ore, oil, copper, crops, etc. in order to make a car. The manufacturer's accountant measures how "productive" the worker has been, but then again he's not counting what happens after the car leaves the factory gates. When that car is disposed of that worker's productivity doesn't (from a civilisational point of view) count for anything.

"Those resources you're worried about are not leaving the planet. They're still here. We're using up the energy, sure, but we already have replacements for that."

They're not leaving the planet but the laws of entropy mean that there has to be an energy input to get them back into a usable condition.

Energy is everything. We are using up the energy, but we merely have ideas as to how to replace the supply. We haven't actually built the 10s of thousands of nuclear reactors or developed the fusion reactors that are actually needed to allow the world economy to survive as is (never mind grow) when the last drop of oil is used up.

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bazza
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Economy

"But economics is not a zero sum game, the economy is not limited as to size in any fixed sense."

If we're talking fundamentals, the size of the world economy is the difference between all the stuff we've ever mined, harvested or extracted and all the stuff we've thrown away, burnt, lost, worn out, rusted, blown up or eaten. Even a good old fashioned honest hard day's work requires a food input (though some of us, me included, have a few of those stored up around our waistlines).

Everything else such as money (and printing more or less of it), growth, profit and loss are simply humanity's way of divvying that up among ourselves.

And forget environmentalism. Unnecessary consumption/disposal/wastage is simply a good way of making us all poorer. The trouble being that that is apparent only in macro economics. It's not something that many people think about when they're chucking something out.

So you're nearly right. The economy is limited by the resources available to us on this planet. One day, no matter how careful we are here with our resources on earth, we'll have to go off and mine some asteroids, etc.

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Samsung's first Tizen smartphone is HERE ... by which we mean India

bazza
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Re: Tizen's dead...

@Dave 126,

"Thing is, Blackberry's QNX is a better fit for devices like smartwatches and wirelessly-controlled light bulbs. Android or Tizen could run a car's 'Infotainment Centre', but is reliable enough to run the car itself. Samsung, with their diverse product portfolio, could get more use out of QNX than BB have."

Hmm, well one surmises that you don't work in the auto industry. Whilst Android or Tizen might be capable of running an infotainment centre, what the auto industry is actually choosing is BlackBerry's QNX instead. Even Apple's CarPlay is nothing but an app that runs on top of QNX.

@Andy Prough,

"Yeah, cause who wouldn't want a TV and a washer-dryer running BB10?? Can you imagine all the thumb-swipe options Blackberry can pack into a freezer or a toaster-oven?"

Perhaps not on a fridge, but perhaps on a phone. Samsung are clearly looking for a new phone OS. BB10 is pretty good, you should give it a try sometime. Anyway, if you were a far east Asian Android phone manufacturer getting stiffed by both Google and the cheap Chinese outfits and you were looking for a way out that retained backward compatibility, acquiring BB10 is about the only bet out there.

Anyway, it seems that BlackBerry are denying rumours of take over negotiations, so perhaps it's not going to happen. But here's a list of some of the things they'd be getting if they did buy BlackBerry:

1) An OS to call their own

2) Paratek antennas; signal reception on Z30 and Passport is way better than anything else

3) Best available mobile security

4) The leading mobile device management system

5) A hundred million BBM users

6) Strangely good loudspeakers

7) A strong foothold in the auto industry

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bazza
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Tizen's dead...

...looks like Samsung are going to buy BlackBerry.

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Amazon's new EC2 compute instances run on SECRET INTEL CHIPS

bazza
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Re: Pedant Alert

It's not so bad from an operating system point of view. These sorts of instructions are of little use to the OS. All it needs to do really is to include whatever extra registers there are in the context switching.

Applications aren't too bad either; AVX is best used with something like Intel's IPP/MKL libraries; the right sort of auto update will install the relevant dlls, etc. Intel write those libraries specifically so that app developers don't have to think too hard about the problem. Ok, so the libraries aren't free, but using them in one's app allows you to get the maximum performance with the minimum fuss; a good way of standing out from the crowd. And if one is dead set on writing ones own routines from scratch, using Intel's compilers is a good way of getting compiler support as soon as the silicon goes on sale.

Chip manufacturers generally are well aware that if they don't provide good software support for their new silicon they'd lose out in the market place. It's up to software devs to make early use of that support to maximise the value of their own products.

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bazza
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Pedant Alert

AVX2 is 256 bits wide, not 256 bytes.

That is unless Intel have done something amazingly customised for Amazon, but they'd have had to charge $quillions for it.

AVX2 actually pretty good. It finally has an instruction set on a par with (though still not quite as good as) Altivec found in the sort of PowerPC processor in an iMac G4. It illustrates just how much Intel have depended on ramping core speed and memory subsystem performance. That takes 100s of millions of transistors for all those caches, decoders and pipelines; expensive. They've neglected the more elegant but easier side of CPU design - the instruction set.

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BLAST-OFF! BOAT FREE launch at last. Orion heads for SPAAAAACE

bazza
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Happy

Re: Shortly after takeoff

"But they're still waiting for the small lemon-soaked paper napkins"

So whilst we're on that topic, just why was this particular universe created?!

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Google Chrome on Windows 'completely unusable', gripe users

bazza
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Re: discontinuing certain compilation optimisations and heartbleed

SSE3 is pretty old hat now, you'd have to have a PC about 10 years old to be lacking it. And even then a CPU core is still a pretty mighty computational beast. I shouldn't think that running SSL/TLS algorithms with only x86/x87 op codes isn't going to be as slow as Chrome appears to be for various users.

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bazza
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Re: @bazza Irony

Perhaps, but that real work doesn't seem to involve making Android work properly, or ensuring that one of the most important tools (Chrome) used to entice punters to their ad display stream (imaginatively called Google's "Services") works on one of the most common platforms out there.

Without those basics in place and working properly, what other real work is there in Google?!

It's almost as if they're becoming a bit Apple-esque; there's no point making things properly anymore, punters will just use it or buy it anyway. Why waste the money getting rid of the bugs that clearly aren't putting off the billions of people who give them money (even if only indirectly) every single day of the year?

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bazza
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Thumb Up

Re: Heading to Firefox territory...

"Only takes so long before X browser ( indeed any type of app ) has more and more bolt ons made and the original source tree is expanded and expanded with stuff is was never originally designed to have attached. The compiled software just gets slower and more bogged down. Witness Firefox, lightning fast and the best browser when it first arrived, these days it's tired and need to go on a serious diet.

I still prefer Chrome over the others, never had an serious problems and indeed found it to be to usually the best browser for getting nasty bloated web apps working properly, where IE or FF would collapse. I think Google need to stop tinkering and leave it alone."

I think you've hit several nails well and truly on the head there. The effort to turn a browser into an app execution environment is really screwing up the whole basic idea of a browser. At the same time the user experience of web apps is awful; they're the worst ever for stupid things (unmovable 'dialog' boxes, no such thing as two apps in view at the same time, etc), and they're slow and often buggy as hell.

Windows 8's Metro environment is arguably akin to a polished up web app look and feel (one app in view at any one time, big clunky unmoveable things, a restricted GUI widget set, etc). That's not done so great. What makes anyone think that a web apps are ever going to be as good as that, let alone better? One of the better web apps I've seen it the web view dished up by modern Exchange servers. It's OK at best, but it's certainly no where near as nice to use as Outlook.

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bazza
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FAIL

Irony

"It is well known that Google makes little use of Windows internally. In 2010 it was reported that Google was forbidding internal use of Windows. “We’re not doing any more Windows. It is a security effort,” said an unnamed employee."

Yeah, because Android is well known to be the most secure OS. Ever.

Bollocks.

It's a slightly crazy notion. For better or worse a very large fraction of Google's customers use Windows one way or another. Google not using the Windows means that there's a good chance they'll screw up and not notice before they annoy a large number of customers. Their own staff are a valuable beta testing resource, yet they're not using them for this purpose on one of the largest platforms out there.

Oh, it seems that that's just happened.

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