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* Posts by bazza

918 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

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'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'

bazza
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Marmite

"There are also many things, everyday products in the West that are simply not available in Armenia at any price, like peanut butter and Marmite."

No Marmite? Well, that's it then.

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Apple's new iPADS have begun the WAR that will OVERTURN the NETWORK WORLD

bazza
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Re: Very worrying!

Very worrying. Bye bye consumer choice. You can choose a network so long as it's one Apple will let you use. You cannot "change SIM" unless Apple let you do it. Rubbish idea.

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Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE

bazza
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Misleading Language

"This should be an academic curiosity because SSL 3.0 was deprecated very nearly 15 years ago"

Seems that the word 'deprecated' has been widely misunderstood by browser and server writers for 15 years. How much other stuff has been 'deprecated' that is actually still out there, still in use, still burnt in to code and still vulnerable? My guess: **** loads.

Even though trivial routines such as sprintf() have been advised against for eternity (snprintf() being the advised, improved alternative), there must be tons of software out there that uses the older version. Ok, so that's fine if it works, but's it also means that it's potentually vulnerable to, for example, a buffer overflow problem.

And no-one is looking at the software's source code because it's old, established (and therefore boring) and blessed with an aura of correctness gained through age and not through analysis and testing.

So isn't it about time that things that have been deprecated actually got removed? If OSes actually got rid of the dangerous old shit like the SSL run time libraries and the dodgy old functions like sprintf() then after a period of chaos we would all be better off.

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

bazza
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Re: Maybe not quite as pointless as it seems...

Nope, it's not going to happen.

It costs vast amounts of money to develop a chip set for anything these days. Samsung et al would take a look at the BBC's proposal, then:

* work out how many $billion it'll cost to do a spin of their chipset just for the UK,

* work out the likely returns on their investment from the market (60million people at most),

* work out the market detriment in the rest of the world (more expensive silicon, pointless power consumption where DAB isn't supported, etc).

Then they'll tell the BBC to bugger off.

Not even Apple did an iPhone for a specific country (I'm thinking of the CDMA2000 variant iPhones for the USA) until a long time after they had established the market. No one is going to do bespoke hardware of such high cost for a market as piddly as the UK especially when the tech is not exactly very popular in the UK anyway.

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Android's Cyanogenmod open to MitM attacks

bazza
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Re: Another week...

"...another epic fail by the amateurs in F/OSS-land. When will people learn?"

Copying dodgy code isn't restricted just to F/OSS-land. There's lazy programmers all over who are on a time and money budget.

Cyanogenmod (and any other similarly maintained community backed equivalent) is probably the best model for Android. There is at least a good prospect of a bug like this being fixed and made widely deployable. Unlike most of the manufacturers' own spins of Android.

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Rebellion sees Chromium reverse plans to dump EXT filesystem

bazza
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@Dan55,

"Actually it is. Try using a Mac with FAT..."

Actually, trying to use a Mac with its own native HFS seems to require the occassional miracle to get it to boot. They seem to be quite capable of trashing their own filesystem without any external assistance whatsoever...

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bazza
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Re: Why on earth is this news?

"Why would an OS designed to work on devices with presumably USB connections or similar to external devices really need EXTx support? You generally don't use EXTn on them anyway."

Indeed, and it's worth asking why no one does. A USB drive is expected to be a universal, plug it in anywhere and it works type of thing. The reason why an ext formatted USB drive breaks that is because the Linux/Android/*nix community hasn't really ever got round to doing a proper driver for ext (or whatever) for Windows.

Oh I know there's a selection of them out there, commercial and open source. The open source ones all seem to be version 0.5, with no word as to whether one should ever dare use them in read/write mode. Clearly if that doesn't work properly then promoting it seems hardly worthwhile.

The community should get serious about ext file system drivers for Windows (i.e. finished them to the point where they were acceptably trustworthy). The community (well, Google, Redhat and the other big players) could then promote them so that in the conciousness of all "Android/Linux = Oh yeah, I Have To Install That". Then they could ditch FAT altogether and save a bunch patent royalty cash owed to MS. At least one of those big players is a major online advertising outfit that regularly seeks to influence and inform the public.

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Vulture takes BlackBerry's Passport through customs

bazza
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Yes, it was a good review. Orlowski has clearly actually spent some time actually using it.

To contrast read the review of the Passport on The Inquirer, particularly the bit where they mark it down merely because the "software still feels unfamilar". Well duh, if it's different it will be unfamiliar, but that does not make it worse.

A reviewer does actually have to become familiar with a device before they can pronounce upon it's worth. And so thanks go to Orlowski for taking the time.

Oddly enough the review makes me more inclined to upgrade to a Z30 (got a Z10 at the mo), but I am torn between the two. Ultimately I don't suppose BB care which one I go for, just so long as it's one of the two.

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First gigabit-over-COPPER chipset lands

bazza
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Re: Wrong solution?

@DougS,

"Presumably the telco either provides power along with the fiber cable to the DPU (similar to how cable companies supply power along with their fiber) or utility power is used. I don't see why power should present a problem."

I was speaking to some telco guys here in the UK recently, and it seems power is a minor problem with FTTC.

Whilst there is indeed a fibre running from the exchange to the cabinet and the VDSL runs over the last few meters of copper to the house, the plain old telephone system still goes via copper all the way from the exchange to the house. The reason being that the telco has to provide an emergency phone service.

To do that with the POTS also going over fibre to the exchange the cabinet would have to have a reliable emergency power supply. Apparently they don't get because they're plumbed into the mains locally.

However with the POTS being copper all the way it is powered in the normal way, i.e. powered entirely from the exchange. The idea is that if the mains goes off the cabinet shuts down but the POTS still runs. A side effect is that BT cannot rip out all that copper cabling from under the streets and sell it on as scrap.

So it would seem probable that in the UK at least that the DPUs would be in the FTTC cabinet powered by a local grid connection rather than by a power connection run from the exchange.

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bazza
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Re: Wrong solution?

@P. Lee,

"If they could do it over telephone wire then great, but if you're going to lay new cables, why not fibre? Are you going to put in new node kit and not go fibre?"

Ah, it doesn't mean replacing any existing cabling if a network like Fibre-To-The-Cabinet (FTTC) has already been rolled out. With FTTC there's a fibre laid from the exchange to a cabinet at the end of a street of houses, with the existing copper used for the last few yards to the houses.

BT are rolling out FTTC in quite a large way in the UK. This new technology would allow them to upgrade from, say 40Mbps to 1Gbps by doing nothing more than changing the equipment in the cabinets and homes. That's a relatively cheap thing to do. It would be on a par with FTTH's performance but at a fraction of the installation costs.

And yes, if there's not even FTTC in the area then the economics are different, but it's still cheaper to go the FTTC route than the full FTTH. It's easier to lay a single fibre to a cabinet than to lay one into every subsciber's home; much less manpower required.

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BlackBerry slowly pulls out of power dive into toilet

bazza
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Re: 10 million iPhone 6s sold and counting...

@psychonat,

" doesnt work with hosted exchange until recently, still a pain in the arse with exchange, maybe thats changed"

I use a Z10 with a rented Exchange server, works like a dream. Seems to get notifications quicker than Outlook connected to the same server.

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Ello, 'ello, what's all this then? We take a spin on the new social network driving everyone loopy

bazza
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Re: @beep54 So What?

@Hud Dunlap,

"Facebook wasn't VC funded"

Er, then who were Accel Partners?

Everyone investing in a start up is looking for an exit at some point, even the original founders. VCs are just another source of money and expertise, both useful things to a wannabe Zuck.

For what it's worth, a subscription based social network has a great deal of potential to be ad free because there's an actual revenue stream. Increased subscriptions is an easier way to drive profits. A free-to-use social network is inevitably going to be stuffed full of ads: someone has got to pay for the electricity bill.

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Good grief! Have you SEEN BlackBerry's SQUARE smartphone?

bazza
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Re: Well I WANT ONE

Yes, it does. The article states as much.

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bazza
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Re: "keyboard doubles as a capacitive multitouch trackpad"

It's a real physical keyboard, with proper shaped, physical keys that move just as they should when you press them. Just like BlackBerry are famed for.

It also a touch pad. And for a mobile device it's large. I'm assuming the screen is also touch enabled just like their other devices.

That's probably counts as being clever, or possibly cunning. It's also an improvement on the little track button that old blackberries used to have.

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Netscape plugins about to stop working in Chrome for Mac

bazza
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Presumably on Mac Chrome does the same thing with plugins as it does on Windows. That is the plugins are run in a separate process to the main browser and communicates via Inter Process Comms.

In which case the browser could be 64bit and the plugins could remain as 32 bit (IPC really doesn't care about it at all AFAIK). The plugins wrapper and the browser are merely sharing data through shared memory, pipes, semaphores, etc. So long as the 64bit browser and 32bit plugin wrapper have the same understanding of the data conveyed between them (which should be very easy) then it would all work just fine.

So killing off '32 bit plugins' is more of a political statement than a technological necessity. Except that on Windows (and I presume Macs also) the plugins wrapper is merely the chrome executable itself spawned with appropriate command line options. They'd have to calve off the plugin wrapper portion of their code into a separate executable to pull the trick I've outlined. It's that extra work that is what they've judged is probably not worth their while doing.

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That 8TB Seagate MONSTER? It's HERE... (You'll have to squint, 'cos there are no specs)

bazza
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Re: Now you can lose 8TB of data in one shot instead of just 4!

I've had nothing but grief with WD drives over the past few years, with several drives dying within 12 months. Currently with Seagates, nothing gone wrong as yet.

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Galileo can't do the fandango: Two Euro GPS nav sats sent into WRONG ORBIT

bazza
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Re: So they are rushing the schedule?

They've booked some Ariane 5s to launch lots of the remaining satellites each time. Ariane 5's reliability is very good so they're not going to be taking too much of a risk of launch wastage.

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Five Totally Believable Things Car Makers Must Do To Thwart Hackers

bazza
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Accident investigation

Understanding why an accident has occurred is going to become a whole lot more difficult. The police and their expert investigators are pretty good at diagnosing mechanical causes of accidents. They're not going to stand a chance when it comes to investigating a hack attack on a car. A good hack attack would leave no log entries anyway.

The manufacturers aren't going to want accidents investigated properly in case they are held liable for a poor design that is easy to hack in the first place. They're not interested now, and I doubt their attitude will change. [true example: A friend's car set off its own airbags whilst driving down the motorway. Despite that she was able to keep control and get off the road. Complaints to the manufacturer went utterly unanswered. Had she lost control and been killed, consider the scene that the police would find: a crashed car, airbags deployed, and a corpse. Nothing would have pointed to the true timeline of events, and it would likely have been blamed on driver error. No one knows how many times this has happened]

Which all means that drivers are going to find it very difficult to persuade either the authorities or the manufacturers or the insurers that the cause of a crash was some external hack. The driver will likely get the blame, especially if they are killed in the accident. The only way to get something done would be if hack attacks happen too many times to be ignored. By which time it will be too late for a lot of people.

Laughable Features

On the whole I think we'd be better off without such levels of comms and automation in cars. The one that makes me laugh the most is "remote shutdown and tracking of a stolen vehicle". It's going to be easier to nick the cars in the first place via the inevitable flaws in the software. And all the thief needs is a 3G jammer to stop you tracking and stopping the car.

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Facebook wants Linux networking as good as FreeBSD

bazza
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Re: Simpler Solution?

@Nextweek,

"Perhaps its from a philosophical point of view, that the GPL is their preferred license."

Perhaps, perhaps not. They are a money making profit machine, so they'd be quite motivated to use whatever it takes to maximise that. However they have open sourced quite a lot of the things they've done, which is certainly to their credit, so who knows!

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bazza
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Re: Simpler Solution?

@John Robson,

"maybe if they used BSD then the memory *would* be a bottleneck, and a slower one than the linux networking bottleneck."

All right, suppose that BSD was crap at things like memory, scheduling, I/O, etc. If so, how does it manage to overcome all that to deliver better network performance than Linux? A network stack is a pretty thorough work out for pretty much everything the OS has to offer.

Short answer - FreeBSD is not slow at those other things.

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bazza
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Re: Simpler Solution?

@DougS,

"FreeBSD may have superior network performance, but Linux has superior performance in most other metrics that matter for a kernel."

Maybe, but they've seemingly identified network performance as their bottleneck. Hence their saying they want to improve on that. Other kernel performance metrics (memory allocation, context switch times, etc, etc) are clearly irrelevant to their system performance, so FreeBSD as-is would bring them a performance benefit (assuming they've not got dependencies on the specifics of Linux).

It's not surprising that their bottleneck is network performance. As soon as you start handling vast amounts of data the system I/O performance is king and almost nothing else matters in comparison.

For instance one of the biggest problems GPUs have in super computers is that they're not directly addressable node to node. To get data from one GPU to another in a different node it has to go via a PCIe bus to a CPU/memory, back across the PCIe bus to some sort of NIC, across some sort of interconnect (Myrinet, whatever), from the destination NIC across another PCIe bus into another CPU/memory and finally across that PCIe bus again one last time to the destination GPU. Great compute performance, terrible I/O, resulting in sustained performance not being anything like as good as peak performance (though of course that's very application dependent).

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Multifunction printer p0wnage just getting worse, researcher finds

bazza
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Pint

Very good indeed.

As per title!

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NASA tests crazytech flying saucer thruster, could reach Mars in days

bazza
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You need to read more Feynman. If a theory / law / hypothesis doesn't fit correctly measured physical results then it doesn't matter how complete or satisfying that theory is, it's wrong.

NASA's chaps would be well aware of the career limiting ridicule that would ensue if they reported a result as unexpected and 'ridiculous' as this without very careful checking. They've already done a control experiment and got another unexpected result. The very fact that they've published this at all implies that an awful lot of work has gone into checking their experimental set up, and they still can't explain it away.

And anyway, measuring force is such a trivial thing to do with very good accuracy there's hardly anything to check.

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bazza
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Re: I'm wainting with baited breath...

@Dave 126

""We did X and observed Y. We were surprised by Y. Can anyone help us confirm that we didn't overlook unknown factor(s) Z? Thank you!"

Indeed, and in fact it's pretty rare that a theoretician has successfully predicted a result that has been confirmed experimentally. In particle physics it's happened, I think, only twice. Normally an experimenter demonstrates beyond doubt that something weird is happening, and the theoreticians spend the next few years thinking up an explanation and then even longer dreaming up reasons why they hadn't thought of it first.

For entertainment go and ask a theoretical physicist to explain the Mpemba Effect, and don't let them bluff their way out of the challenge.

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bazza
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Re: Brass?

Yep, it's a steam punk star drive alright.

Plus if they do actually do a superconducting version there ought to be a lot of mist floating around as well. That'd drive the SPF (Steam Punk Factor) off the top of the scale.

If they are going to super cool it they might as well just add a few steam nozzles and noise valves just to convince everyone that something is causing it to work. As humans we're just not ready to believe that something can sit there working without flame / smoke / ear splitting noise / deep visceral rumbling / significant humming / a lot of sparks and stuff. Ion drives (which we all know do actually work) produce nothing more convincing than a slight blue glow, which is barely enough to believe in at all.

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Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins

bazza
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Re: And have you met Mr XTP?

@Harry Kiri,

"FEC is a waste of time, bw and cost if you have a great SNR.

FEC can be a waste of time and doesnt fix things if the SNR is higher than expected."

I suggest you learn something about communications theory. You can never, ever, eliminate noise generated bit errors in a system by increasing SNR. And that clever chap Mandlebrot showed us that it doesn't really make sense to talk about an average bit error rate either.

No matter how good your SNR is you have to have a way of dealing with error. Parity checking with retransmission is one way, FEC is another, etc. Even then you're only improving the chances of correct operation, not guaranteeing it.

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Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source

bazza
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Re: Compiler and runtime(s) also guaranteed defect free?

They could use Greenhill's compiler, that's very good and is formally developed. It's the foundation of their INTEGRITY operating system (see this Wikipedia entry, which as a customer I think is also very good. Not cheap, but is value for money, if you see what I mean.

I suppose this new microkernel is a direct competitor to the kernel inside INTEGRITY, though of course there's more to a complete and usable OS than just the kernel.

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SHOCK and AWS: The fall of Amazon's deflationary cloud

bazza
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”All of this misses one point, the decision of who to use is not just a price based one. As far as features are concerned, AWS is a still light years ahead of the others. ”

However one of the most fundamental points of marketing is that cleverness and 'quality' doesn't sell. Look at iPhone; didn't have multi tasking, didn't even have copy and paste, fairly rubbish power hungry OS, put it in a nice case with a large screen and sell by the millions. Android is still a pretty low quality piece of software with many disastrous flaws, sells by the bucket load. BlackBerry's BB10 is a fantastic OS, well thought out design that actually allows you to do many things easily, quite complicated ideas, no one bought it. VHS vs Betamax; VHS won because it was cheap and no one cared for Betamax's quality. Itanium was quite a good chip, no one cared.

History shows us that if your customers need to be geniuses to see why your offering is better than anyone else's then you customer base is at best 5% of the overall market. The other 95% are either too lazy or stupid to work out what the best solution is for themselves and will resort to judgements on price and trivial differentials such as looks, feel, etc. AWS may well be light years ahead of anyone else's cloud, most of the market won't care or understand why.

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bazza
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Re: Fundamental limits

”There is room for differentiation. There are workloads that benefit from different types of computing, (e.g. search and FPGA's), that the cloud providers could offer.”

Not really. Someone somewhere else will be offering the same blend of chips (FPGA, GPU, CPU). If a cloud provider is buying the 'best' chips in the open market then the others can also buy the very same ones.

The only way to truly differentiate is to make their own chips and be better at that than anyone else. It's the only way to get exclusivity. But getting into the chip design business is a huge challenge and fraught with pitfalls. Being 'compatible' means a struggle to be better than the original. Being incompatible means no one will have any software or firmware to run on your cloud and any efficiencies you managed to achieve don't count for anything.

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bazza
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Fundamental limits

The fundamental limit on the costs of running a cloud are hardware, bandwidth and engergy. Once they've all thinned down to those costs alone then there's not going to be much to choose between them. Energy ain't getting any cheaper... Are we going to see Google Nuclear before too long? Amazon Atomics anyone?

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Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes

bazza
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He kinda has to

"Nadella is banging the "cloud" drum as loud as he can..."

He's basically obliged to do that. The term 'cloud' has become a buzzword that the majority really believe in, including MS's investors. If he doesn't bang the "cloud" drum as loud as he can then in the eye of MS's investors he's letting them down. And in the USA that's a sure way to get sued to smitereens.

"If, however, I'm not completely batshit bananas here then many - if not most - businesses agree with me that we have yet to be convinced that this is the future we want to buy into. "

I'm sensing only sanity in your entire comment. No bananas in sight.

Being a buzzword doesn't mean that "cloud" is right. Like you I know that it's a terrible solution for a very large proportion of business users out there.

I also think that it will prove to be a bad thing for consumers too. Data sovereignty and law matter just as much to individuals as to businesses. Who is to say whether pictures or comments that are perfectly normal and acceptable in, say, a European culture won't fall foul of law now or in the future in, for example, the USA? There's already problems with companies like Facebook imposing American prudishness on its European users.

Putting one's pics and stuff into someone else's cloud means that you're dependent on that country's politicians not passing draconian laws to your detriment. Ok so that might not ever become a problem, but uploading a picture today means taking a lifelong bet. Even trivial Tweets can come back to haunt you. That sort of thing can be career limiting.

And who is to say that clouds won't evaporate? There's no guarantee of one's personal data being permanently stored by cloud. If you'd got your lifetime's collection of photos on MS's cloud and MS suddenly and gratuitously go bankrupt, where's your photos now? Most consumers won't have a clue about that possibility and will actually believe the advertising.

"They are betting on the cloud - and mobile - to the point that they are willing to simply throw away all previous segments and businesses, and along with it any hope of being viewed by the general public, sysadmins, or people who sign the cheques as different (let alone better) than Oracle."

Unfortunately Apple has shown the market that business customers don't generate as much profit as the consumer market. MS have to follow suit. Investor pressure again, they want a piece of that action. In MS's investor's eyes business customers can go hang if the consumer market is going to deliver 10 times as much profit.

As it happens I don't think that MS are capable of generating a consumer market like Apple have. They're just not that sort of company. If sales figures are anything to go by Windows 7 and XP (i.e. old stuff) is what you use at work whilst Android & iOS (i.e. not Windows) is what you actually buy for yourself as a consumer. MS's investors can't see that and even if they did they probably wouldn't care. Investors aren't into keeping shares long term, all they want is for the price to rise in the short term so they can make a quick buck.

If taken to the extremes this strategy will drive business computing users increasingly towards Linux. I like and use Linux professionally. It's so close, but unfortunately I don't think it is yet the universal business tool that many would like it to be.

A Windows Domain is a very good way of controlling a business's desktops. Linux can use a domain for authentication and other services and can indeed serve it (Samba 4), but it's pretty hopeless in comparison to Windows when it comes to controlling what desktop users can and cannot do.

In a business setting you quite often need the level of control that Windows gives you. Total user freedom is sometimes something you have to take away so that your business can be seen to be complying with the various laws that control different business sectors.

If Linux did get (free?) management tools akin to a Windows Domain then I think that it would be game over for MS. Even if they did reverse their strategy and try to keep their traditional markets as a plan A.5 I think that the business sector would tell them to get stuffed.

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FRIKKIN' LASERS could REPLACE fibre-optic comms cables

bazza
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"The American military has previously shown interest in sending messages over the air, using "mobile optical links" which are "imperative for secure quantum communications capabilities"."

Maybe I've not quite got the hang of this, but I'd have thought that putting enough laser power into the atmosphere to ionize it and create a plasma channel would in itself cause a fairly bright flash of light. Presumably that would be fairly easily seen or detected from a long way away.

I don't suppose that would be entirely popular with soldiers, sailors or airmen; secure communications that cannot be intercepted that none the less gives your position away with a big bright flash to everyone within your field of view...

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Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS

bazza
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Re: It does affect OSX

"Correlation != causation"

Indeed not, though given that the code base is (presumably) quite similar for the OS X variant there's a good chance that it is the same issue.

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LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs

bazza
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"Not sure what you're really referring too but I had to make a guess I would think this is about Android and vendors not shipping updates?"

Yep, that's the one.

"OS level updates can't be pushed out via Play."

And that doesn't look like a very clever idea now, does it. Come to think of it, Google must have looked at Linux, OS X and Windows (to name but a few) with their auto updating mechanisms and decided that pushable updates were a bad idea. What on earth made them think they would never have to do the same.

"The Android system partition is read only for a good reason."

And what is that reason? Judging by the amount of malware in the Android ecosystem it's certainly nothing to do with stopping bad things running on a handset.

"I guess what Google needs to do is either get more vendors shipping vanilla builds that Google will manage the over the air updates for or split the system partition up a bit so that vendors can add their junk in there but google can offer partial OTA updates for vital security updates. Kernel updates will be tricky as usually SoC vendors are very lazy. They'll get some old crap version of Linux working, release that as a BSP and forget about it. So if fixes for major issues are pushed to the Linux mainline it may take forever for those fixes to actually appear in the kernels for all of the devices out there."

Or you could do it properly, which is what Microsoft have tried (and mostly succeeded) to do. Which is, define a hardware architecture to which manufacturers must comply, and then MS can push out updates as and when necessary. Just like they do on PCs.

The Internet of Things is going to suffer quite badly too unless some major players take control and set up a reasonable hardware standard to which everyone can comply.

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bazza
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Well, at least we seem to have a code base where bugs can be found, located and fixed fairly quickly. So much better than OpenSSL; the 'fixing' part was not achievable.

The most important feature that anything secure must have is the ability to rapidly update and deploy in the face of bugs. Kudos to the LibreSSL guys for bringing that back. Now, if only Google can learn that lesson too...

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Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases

bazza
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Re: Can anyone explain? I'm genuinely curious.

"As much as it's clearly to everyone's benefit to have a competitor to x86, I don't understand what the business case is for investing in SPARC equipment. Wouldn't x86 be faster, cheaper and better supported for any sort of workload at this point?"

Power Consumption

As Keith21 said, it depends on your tasks. For some really, really big tasks, 'cheaper' means cutting the power bill and forget everything else. And if your enormous task requires a lot of one sort of operation to be performed it's worth optimising that in silicon because you can slash the power bill. On a really big setup power is lots of $millions a year, so a few expensive boxes that can halve that are worthwhile.

I don't know much about databases, but I know a little about IBM's POWER. They added a decimal maths co-processor, i.e. a core extension that does maths much as you would do it on paper. This is very different the traditional floating point unit in that it has (so I understand) arbitrary precision. What's the point?

Well, when you're doing calculations for international finance you're basically doing currency conversions, which are floating point math. And if you're dealing in $Billions, conventional floating point arithmetic isn't accurate enough; you can be a few cents out. That's unacceptable. So the software has to do the math long hand.

Doing that on x86 takes forever (= a lot of power used), whereas on POWER there's a co-processor that does it far quicker. And if you're building the foreign exchange system for an entire country that's a big enough system for you to be worried primarily about power consumption as your major cost. And having the system scalability as Keith21 explained means that you can do the whole job in one machine at high efficiency.

And guess what; one of IBM's big markets is banking. Oracle's big market is databases. They're both doing elaborate things in their silicon to target very specific markets.

What is Memory?

It's quite interesting to examine what 'memory' is nowadays. Although we talk about 32TB of RAM in some sort of SMP configuration, actually it's synthesised from high speed internal networks (not Ethernet, at least, not yet) between processor nodes and memory controllers. This sort of architecture has percolated down to x86; Intel has QPI and AMD uses Hypertransport. These are similar in concept to current mainframe architectures, it's just that they don't scale up to thousands of cores.

If you ever start hanging round the HPC world you quickly realise that most of it is all about I/O speed, not CPU speed, provided the CPU is basically 'right' (and Oracle's announcement is basically about getting the CPU right; they did the I/O ages ago). Get the I/O right and you can pile up the CPUs until you have the necessary performance. Get the I/O wrong and you cannot do that. This was the reason why AMD briefly had the upperhand over Intel when Opteron first came out; Hypertransport was way better. For a good example of getting the I/O right take a look at the K computer and its six dimension hypertoroidal interconnect, and note how power efficient it is.

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bazza
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Good to see SPARC being updated still; I hope it does well.

Making SPARC good for their database is a natural thing for them to do. IBM do the same for their POWER processors, which have features that are good for international financial applications. For really big systems that sort of thing can make a significant difference to the power bill.

HP aren't able to do the same anymore; Intel must surely be super reluctant to do anything to Itanium. I notice that most of the op codes that gave some sort of benefit to Itanium have now found their way into Xeon, I expect Itanium to go no further, and HP will become just another x86 box shifter with a crummy line in 19" rack rails.

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ALIEN BODY FOUND ON MARS: Curiosity rover snaps extraterrestrial

bazza
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Re: Point of Order

It is extraterrestrial from your average Martian's point of view. 'Extraterrestrial' is merely an incomplete translation resulting from The Register's shameless use of Google Translate in ripping of the Martian Times' article about the rock.

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Whoah! How many Google Play apps want to read your texts?

bazza
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"Yes this sucks but its the app writers fault not google, they request ludicrous permissions for their apps."

It's not ludicrous from their commercial point of view. If they can make more money by doing so then they will. They have to make a living after all, and Android is a crummy platform to try and sell software on given that piracy is appallingly easy.

Google have a slight problem. If they improve the end users control of permissions then the free apps will disappear because the app writers will lose their profit making model. And without major changes to Android it will remain ludicrously trivial to pirate paid-for apps. In short, Google have carelessly pushed out an underdeveloped, badly thought out mobile ecosystem that will one day cause catastrophic damage to their reputation, and it's too well entrenched now for them to make the necessary changes.

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SpaceX FINALLY lobs six sats into orbit (don't mention the landing)

bazza
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In the words of Top Gear's Richard Hammond, "How are we going to use it again?" (@09:30)

Seriously though I hope they learn enough from their telemetry to identify and fix the problem.

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bazza
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Re: "lost hull integrity"

"Why not just say 'it sunk'?"

Or why not just say "it went kaboom"? Oh, wait...

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Linux turns the crank on code for cars

bazza
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Re: Huh? Ransomware?

"Tesla have been doing this for a while now so linux in a car is hardly earth-shattering news.

And I won't mention Apple CarPlay."

There's nothing wrong with Linux as such, just like there's nothing wrong with QNX (which is what Apple Airplay runs on). They're OSes much like any other OS; they're pretty good.

The trouble starts when you put a network connection in and run a bunch of poorly written and oh so very exploitable apps on top. Then you need an automatic update system, staff to look for and fix problems across all versions of the software, and so on. That's a very expensive thing to do.

Plus it's not like the mobile industry where you can get away with dropping support for year old models. People will be expecting the support to last as long as it does for the rest of the car. That's really expensive.

The economic impact is potentially quite high. Say some script kiddie found a way to stop all Fords working and actually did so. In a country like the USA that means half the work force aren't going to work that day. That kind of thing shows up in GDP figures really quickly.

"The beardy types will be spluttering their coffee all over their terminals at the thought of ransomware on linux."

Well, there is already ransomware for Android, and that's Linux isn't it?!

"From what I can make out though, the plan is for linux to control the non-essential stuff like nav, climate control, bluetooth - not the stuff that's critical to making a car move. Unless I read TFA wrong I don't see any mention of a car's ECU running linux?"

Well, if the infotainment system is displaying data like fuel economy that has to come from the ECU. Which means there's a data connection between the two. That may be a path for an attack on the ECU.

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bazza
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Re: Tizen

"Nope. We'll probably just reinstall the code."

Yeah right, like a busy parent is going to be happy doing that instead of taking the kids to school. Plus their paired mobile gets a good going over too.

Regardless of whether or not an infotainment hack could get as far as the engine management doesn't really matter, it's still going to really piss off people.

There's also a worrying clue in its name: INFOtainment. These things display information like fuel economy and so forth which they're getting from the engine management. Which means that there's a data connection from the engine management to the infotainment system. And that too can be hacked (unless it's a one way link). So a hacked infotainment system could easily be a hackers gateway to the engine management.

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bazza
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Tizen

It's basically Samsung's Tizen. And we all know how popular that is...

I can't help but feel that we're sleepwalking into another bunch of unnecessary security woes, just like has happened with the Internet of Things. Nor is that thought aimed solely at automotive grade linux.

The last thing any of us want is a flat battery caused by some bitcoin mining malware that's found its way onto the infotainment system in our cars. It's happening to our thermostats, smartTVs, set top boxes, fridges, etc. Why would our cars be immune?

Also a car system would be a rich target for cryptolocker type malware; "You wanna drive this car then you're gonna have to pay". That kind of threat doesn't work so well for, say, a set top box; we'd just throw it away. But we won't throw away our car just like that.

So if the car industry wants to pick up this then they're going to have to get smart with continual updates, software security expertise, all the expensive things necessary to keep an Internet connected system safe these days. They're not used to providing that level of support for software.

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MIT and CERN's secure webmail plan stumped by PayPal freeze

bazza
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Re: Re no one can pay for anything without Uncle Sam says OK

Er, cash? Cheque? EBanking? Direct Debit?

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SPACE: The FINAL FRONTIER. These are the TEN-YEAR images of star probe Cassini

bazza
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Yet another stunning success for NASA, ESA and ASI. The pictures from the surface of Titan were particularly impressive.

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Google kills its successful social network. Yes, we mean Orkut

bazza
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This doesn't instil a reputation for permanence for anything Google-ish. Why would anyone choose to use their services and apps for business use when there's no guarantee that it will be available in six months time?

At least with software running on your own hardware you're more in control of its demise...

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China's world-beating Tianhe-2 super has brawn, not brains

bazza
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It's all about the software. It doesn't matter if it's a mobile phone, desktop, server, mainframe or supercomputer, the software is always King.

The Japanese K machine, 4th on the list, is the highest placed pure CPU computer. I know it uses a bespoke interconnect but there's probably a ton of software for it, or at least lots of source code that can be easily adapted. That might make it the 'quickest' computer out there because no one is wasting time writing software...

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GAME ON: NVIDIA brings GPUs to 64-bit ARM servers

bazza
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That barrier is now gone and NVIDIA says three vendors have products ready to roll that bring GPU-assisisted co-processing to market. The three are: .....

and

Separately but at the same event, AppliedMicro also announced that its ARM-based X-Gene “Server on a Chip” is now in a state of “readiness” and that “ … development kits [are] available immediately, and production [will be] silicon available imminently.”

Hmm, if that little collection of news doesn't get Intel quaking in their boots then I don't know what will.

Thing is there's not a lot Intel can do. They could buy (for example) AppliedMicro and shut it down, but that would merely encourage all the others. It would mean that an ARM based server is viable in Intel's eyes. Alternatively they could buy them and keep ARM going, but that would say the same thing too about ARM.

And where would their "x86 can do anything including low power" stance be then? Intel aren't going to change their development direction so far as I can see, but it is surely a risky strategy. What if ARM really does turn out to be a better server chip than Intel?

Thing is, if Intel did make ARMs they'd be the best in the world. Intel are very good at silicon manufacturing, and it would give them a tremendous advantage in the ARM market.

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