* Posts by bazza

1052 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

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UH OH: Windows 10 will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends' friends

bazza
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Re: Oh that's just great.

It would be interesting for see it tested in court, though I would not want to the the one having to rely on it!

The courts in the UK are notoriously slow to pay heed to what actually happens in the world of science and technology. Overturning established precedence is very difficult, especially if it has already been relied on to convict a bunch of people whose cases would have to be reopened. They just hate acknowledging mistakes. There would be a single opportunity to do so in the first relevant court case after Windows 10 goes on sale, after which it would become very difficult. As things stand it will be extremely difficult to persuade a judge that Windows 10 is in any way different or relevant.

So a guest SSID it is, and the password will change after someone has visited.

Sane law enforcement is becoming increasingly difficult with the tech that is being developed. It is becoming increasingly difficult to have both technology freedom and stopping bad people exploiting it to help them harm others.

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bazza
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Oh that's just great.

In most countries in the world, the owner of a WiFi network is legally responsible for the traffic flowing through it. Someone downloads dodgy porn, it's the owner the police will prosecute.

So that's fine, you don't give out your WiFi password to all and sundry, least of all your kids.

With WiFi Sense, most people will lose control of who has their WiFi password. May as well just run an open network.

Sure, it's easy enough to stop it happening, but to do that first you have to know that it is happening and then take the necessary precautions. However most people will be utterly clueless about all of that, and most will be completely vulnerable to the inevitable consequences.

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KRAKKOOM! SpaceX Falcon supply mission to ISS EXPLODES minutes after launch

bazza
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Re: Physics Says...

"As pointed out above, it seems* more likely that the problem was a loss of pressure"

Elon Musk tweeted that, "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause".

I'm presuming that if there had been a puncture and loss of oxygen or something else that provided pressurised structural integrity he would have tweeted accordingly, but he didn't.

We'll see what the counterintuitive cause is thought to be sooner or later.

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bazza
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Re: Physics Says...

Sorry, should read:

An explosion would have destroyed everything, yet the first stage was clearly still operating after the upper stage had got into difficulties.

One day I shall try and learn English...

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bazza
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Physics Says...

...that the only way the pressure could rise in the oxygen tank is if

1) More oxygen were added

2) The oxygen warmed up

3) The tank got smaller

The first is not possible. The second seems unlikely; a fire near oxygen normally would result in some sort of explosion, not a gentle warming up. An explosion would have destroyed everything, yet the first stage was clearly still operating after the first stage had got into difficulties. So it might have to be the third.

That implies that there was a structural failure of the upper stage resulting in the oxygen tank crumpling up as the stage collapsed lengthwise.

If it is a structural collapse, that's pretty bad. That's the most basic and easiest part of rocket science. It would be most unfortunate if this were indeed the cause of the failure. Some panel falling off from higher up could result in a puncture, which I suppose might weaken the stage structure. There did appear to be quite a lot of gas streaming off the upper stages during the ascent.

As Mark85 quoted, "The rocket science is the easy part, the doing is the hard part.". A launch failure due to a structural failure obviously won't help convince any future astronaut that it has been built right, never mind designed right. Safe flight operations is largely about having the right process and sticking to it; SpaceX's process clearly still has some flaws which need to ironed out.

As the great Feynman said:

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."

I'm hoping that Elon Musk has that put up on a large poster opposite his desk in his office, and everyone else's too. NASA were serially guilty of putting PR first, and it cost Astronauts' lives.

Anyway, I'm sure they'll find the problem and get it ironed out. I hope so. If there's one good thing to come out of this, it should be the question, "What else have we missed?".

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Britain beats back Argies over Falklands online land grab

bazza
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"What the hell happens when there isn't the backstop of the US government and global political disputes are left in the hands of 20 nerds lined up in a long crescent?"

That's easy. They'll make a mess of it.

If control of domains starts being influenced by whatever is politically trendy at any given point in time then the whole organisation will be brought into disrepute.

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Give us your software BlackBerry, we love it. The phones? Meh

bazza
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Re: Great company, great products...

Completely agree with all that. The Z30 is the best phone I've used.

There's talk that they're going for run Android inside a hypervisor. Neat trick. Thing is that Hub, Balance, BES and everything else are also pretty neat, but that doesn't help significantly in the market. Why is that?

I reckon it's because most buyers don't go looking for anything better than what they know. And if they're coming from Android or iPhone, what they know is pretty basic. They have to put in effort to learn what the neat tricks are and how they can help them. Advertising doesn't do enough.

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WikiLeaks slips out YET MORE Sony SECRETS

bazza
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Joke

Vulture Memory Loss

"For the record, we've searched the trove for “The Register” and can find nothing incriminating."

Surely they've not forgotten this?

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Open-source Linux doesn't pay, said no one ever at Red Hat

bazza
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Re: Even if it doesn't pay.

Gnome for example is two years tops away from being unportable.

Well, no loss there then. They are seriously screwing up Gnome, and Nautilus is now useless as a file manager. Amongst other things, apparently they've decided that no one should ever need to know the time stamp of a file more than 24hrs in the past. They're rapidly coding their way towards irrelevance, whilst everyone else (esp Cinnamon) just gets better and better.

I have a thesis that's possibly worth exploring. Inside Redhat there are a bunch of programmers working on Gnome, and they've run out of ideas. If they stop doing stuff they'll get fired. So they make it up, say that everyone else is an idiot when the latest release is derided and hope that their boss never realises that he's been had.

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Apple CORED: Boffins reveal password-killer 0-days for iOS and OS X

bazza
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Whooooops!

That is all.

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Hacked US OPM boss: We'll fix our IT security – just give us $21 million

bazza
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Re: Given the way this works...

Got me coat, I'm going for a long walk and try to not get pissed that there's really no where in the world not run by idiots.

Well, we've got our own brand of idiots over here in the UK, but overall it's pretty good. Why don't you come and give it a go?

The beer is a lot better for a start, despite the impressive advances of the US micro breweries.

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Wikipedia to go all HTTPS, all the time

bazza
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Re: Playing to the gallery

Because privacy isn't only for the privileged.

Hmm, browsing Wikipedia isn't exactly on the same level as Internet banking... I can't see any MITM attacker being delighted to have discovered what embarrassing medical conditions someone has been reading about.

The only possible motivation is to allow, say, Chinese readers to safely read pages about democracy, etc. Now that really is a noble aim and one worth applauding.

Unfortunately it will probably backfire. China will simply block access and then everyone is worse off.

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BlackBerry on Android? It makes perfect sense

bazza
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Re: Agree with the title, but...

The problem with Blackphone is that it's just another non-mainstream platform. It may well have Android roots, but unless it hooks into Google Play Services and lets you run everything there is on the Google Store, people generally won't want it.

Mainstream sells. Non-mainstream does not. Unless the mainstream gets serious about security, nothing good will happen on a wide scale. Apple aren't too bad, but have their failings. Google seemingly hardly care at all about what happens on Android handsets people actually own. Neither have a commercial incentive to do anything about it. Nor do the app developers; it's hard enough supporting maybe both iOS and Android, but to pander to something like Blackphone too just costs time and effort for very little reward. That's exactly the problem Blackberry have; technically pretty good, know one cares.

I've said before that those whom really, really care about security (banks, governments, etc) have had a free ride on the Blackberry popularity wave. Now that Blackberry are less popular they're likely to discover that security costs. Without a mainstream consumer base to subsidise it that cost can become very high indeed. Like $billions.

With there being no one single completely compelling alternative out there no one really knows what to buy. There's solutions out there that have good security but effectively amount to locked down handsets where you cannot install anything personal or fun. Might as well carry a second phone then. There's solutions out there that are more permissive but consequently have more questionable security. There's clunky solutions that let you swap between a secure and a personal instance of the OS, but that's hardly the unified convenient solution that we need. Booking a meeting in a calendar then becomes a chore.

What everyone needs (even if they don't know it) is a proper, well developed multi-level security system in their mobile OS, not sticking plasters added on top. And there is one. It's called Blackberry Balance. But most IT people ignore that, probably because they don't know what a multi-level security system is or what it can do for them.

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bazza
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Re: relevant?

BlackBerry Balance has no equal anywhere else. There are approximations, but because they're not part of the OS (they're layered on top) they cannot hope to fully emulate or be as nicely integrated as Balance.

Of all the phones out there that claim to support Exchange, BB10 seems to be the most complete. iOS doesn't do To Dos, Android is pitifully (and deliberately) poor at talking to Exchange servers. AFAIK WinPhone barely talks to Exchange either, and that's coming from Microsoft...

Also Blackberry's hardware and boot loader is properly designed from a security point of view. Security starts with the hardware, moves on to the boot loader and only then is the OS and apps involved (similarly on PCs, which is what Microsoft's secure boot for Windows 8 is all about). Get that wrong and its difficult for the OS and applications to be sure that their environment isn't being manipulated / debugged externally leaving them vulnerable. Apply also try hard to stop that kind of thing going on in their handsets (it's difficult to jailbreak and root them), and for all I know they have a signed boot process too. I'm not sure that Android phones have the same level of assurance...

Blackberry Travel is brilliant, though Google are now seemingly going to try and copy it. No doubt they'll claim to have invented something marvellous, but only because they won't have bothered to take a look around to see what is already out there.

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Spaniard sues eBay over right to sell the Sun

bazza
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Re: Well, at least in the US...

No no, good things come to those who wait. One day the sun will swell to be a red giant, and may very well encompass the earth's orbit. So the sun will deliver itself, though it might be only a partial delivery.

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Busy BlackBerry wheels out BB10 and QNX updates

bazza
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Re: @ bazza: No.

I was assuming that the OP meant both dialling and keyboard sound feedback; the word 'keypress' was used. The setting I pointed at is indeed for the latter.

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bazza
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Re: Very confused.

The built in tutorial app is a good place to learn the various different swipe gestures.

Keyboard sounds are controlled in System Settings -> Language and Input -> Feedback.

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Japan, EU: we'll research 5G unicorns together

bazza
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Good idea

This is something to be glad about.

GSM, UMTS and LTE came about through cooperation, and they've worked out pretty well for everyone including the punters. Qualcom's CDMA and CDMA2000 didn't get much traction outside of the US, and even the US went for LTE; the price of trying to go it alone and corner the whole market to oneself...

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American Idle: Seacrest keyboard startup Typo goes nowhere after BlackBerry bust-up

bazza
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Re: Seriously?

Anyone know if the key shape thing is a design patent (like rounded corners is) which is a different class of patent than a normal one, or if it is a utility patent, implying that it improves the functionality over other potential key shapes as the previous poster said?

Apparently they're utility patents.

One of BlackBerry's biggest strengths is their patent list. Because they've been in the business so long they have developed a lot of good ideas long before everyone else.

I'm surprised that some one like Apple haven't bought them yet. It's easy to dismiss a shrinking company as valueless, but when you see exactly what they can do with antennas, enterprise back ends, battery life, etc. and keyboards, someone like Apple would probably buy them ASAP. My Z30 easily outstrips my wife's iPhone 5 for hanging onto a signal, lasts two days on a charge, etc. Mind you, since when did Apple ever think that any of those things mattered to anyone?!

BlackBerry have not disappeared as was widely predicted, and are almost making a profit again. If anyone was going to buy them, the cheapest price has probably already gone past.

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bazza
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Re: Seriously?

The fact that this victory happened in settlement talks before the cases went to trial suggests that the courts' opinions had little to do with it.

Oh I dunno, sounds more like the court's opinion was, figuratively, written in six inch high letters carved into the granite by the front door of the courthouse. The writing being so clearly on the wall probably had a lot to do with Typo going for a pre-trial settlement. No one sensible contests a trial knowing they're going to lose.

In previous trials the court had concluded that BlackBerry had been wronged. Presumably nothing substantive had changed.

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bazza
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Re: Seriously?

Er, no.

BlackBerry designed and patented a particular way of shaping the keys on a keyboard so that they can be used easily despite being sized to fit on a small handset. Typo copied that key shape without even thinking about it. They could have tried to license it, but didn't even bother doing that.

If you've never typed on a BlackBerry keyboard you really won't understand why they're good. One with featureless flat keys is a lot harder to type on it than a BlackBerry keyboard.

Whatever one thinks of such patents, it's certainly more valid than one involving round corners on a rectangular handheld device. The fact that BlackBerry seem to have scored a decisive victory suggests that the courts themselves consider the patent to be valid.

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Your CAR is the 'ultimate mobile device', reckons Apple COO

bazza
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Re: What?

It is a crazy idea. Imagine getting off a long haul flight and discovering that your watch had gone flat so you couldn't get in you car and drive home. The last thing you'd want after that flight is fight with everyone else who is trying to claim the mobile charging station...

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NEVER MIND the B*LLOCKS Osbo peddles, deficits don't really matter

bazza
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Re: Super!

"You're probably thinking of Operation Bernhard."

That's the one. Your Google-fu is superior to mine...

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bazza
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Deficits are like chocolate...

...nice to have now and then, but too much all at once will make you sick. Especially when you're young and small. It takes a real grown up economy to get away with binging on them

Plus they kill dogs.

(may have stretched the comparison too far there...)

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bazza
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Re: Super!

I vaguely remember a story about how the allies in WW2 planned on printing millions of forged Reichsmarks and distributing them from bombers, to upset the German economy. Or was it the other way around? Or both!

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Driverless cars deal DEATH to Detroit, says Barclays

bazza
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Misses the piint

This completely misses the key selling point of a car. People buy cars to have as their own, that's the whole point.

Everyone knows that there are plenty of people out there who'd have no respect for a shared facility. Who would want a shared driverless car if it turns up full of pewk, half eaten hamburgers, cigarette smoke, bogies, etc?

Having your own car is a guaranteed (unless they crash into you) way of insulating oneself from the careless and thoughtless behaviour of others, even if they are family. No one wants to lose that, automated or not.

Oh, and this rather presupposes that anyone can get a fully automated unsupervised vehicle driving on the road. I doubt that they'll ever manage that. Legally at the moment you have to be behind the wheel, sober and qualified and paying attention. Hardly seems worth it to me!

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Airbus warns of software bug in A400M transport planes

bazza
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Re: Under "wraps"? Seems odd....

Under the inquisitorial system of justice that they have in most of Europe it is up to the court to discover the facts. It is quite proper for the judge to keep the evidence confidential until the court is satisfied that it knows what the facts actually are. That means looking at all avenues of inquiry exhaustively prior to reaching an official conclusion.

You have to recognise that whatever the inquiry finds it is going to have a serious judicial impact on some individuals, if in fact there is anyone to blame. You cannot have half complete theories being espoused by the court because that would unfairly affect those who in the fullness of time would be shown to have no involvement.

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KA-BOOM! Russian rocket EXPLODES over Siberia minutes after lift-off

bazza
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Re: Tomorrow, tomorrow...

" One does wonder if Skylon is being developed by one old boy in his garden shed, who's funding it from his pension."

Well, perhaps you and maybe Elon Musk might count £60million from the UK gov to be "garden shed" levels of effort. But at the stage of proving the principals fo the propulsion system and design work, that sounds like a good level of funding.

Once the propulsion system is well understood the actual design and building of the whole aircraft should be a fairly low risk. It's not like there's any particular mystery about how to make a vehicle operate in space, and guidance and control systems for that kind of thing simply build on the many successful developments done previously all round the world over the past 6 decades.

Too Good to Pass Over?

Really the only question is will anyone stump up the money? There in lies an interesting question with a heavy dose of politics.

First, the Europeans backing Ariane have gone for an Ariane 6. They might not be too keen on funding a competing launcher that might show up their initial choice of Ariane 6 as having been a waste of money.

Second, the Americans sometimes suffer from bouts of "not invented here" syndrome, though they did buy up and get interested in Russian engines.

Third, the current wave of space-enthusiast private investors have all plumped for rockets, and even they might find it too difficult to toss all that away and buy into Skylon.

Fourth, the Russians simply haven't got the money.

Fifth, the Chinese like to be able to say that they did it all by themselves.

Sixth, British investors are often not ambitious enough for something like this.

Seventh, investors / backers / competitors all over are probably at this moment asking themselves whether they can afford to buy into the project.

Whatever. Given that it looks pretty certain that the propulsion system would work it is arguably simply a case of when, not if, it gets built. If it does get built and it works, whoever owns it will own the launcher market. The rocket guys would be instantly out of date, uncompetitve and doomed.

The first investor that asks themselves whether they can afford to not buy into it, that's the investor who might clean up.

It's not even as if the project could be bought, canned buried. UK gov has a stake in it, so the IPR is not wholly purchasable. And besides, ideas are difficult to bury forever. Once thought of, forever known.

(I have no connection whatsoever to REL, Skylon, etc).

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bazza
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Re: Just a reminder...

No they're not

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bazza
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Skylon has had backing from a variety of agencies, including the ESA and UK government.

It looks like the basic idea does work, and that the precooler (the most important part) is indeed a practical technology.

There's some really neat ideas in Skylon. For example the heated helium coolant from the precooler is used to drive the turbine pump that pressurises the hydrogen fuel. The cold fuel in turn is used to condense the coolant for re-use back in the cooler. They have turned the heat that normally limits high speed jet aircraft performance into a useful energy source.

And the whole precooler idea means they can run on atmospheric oxygen for more of the flight profile, which in turn brings about big savings. It really is a masterful collection of engineering ideas that complement each other to minimise the energy needed to get to orbit.

Skylon works in principal and if built would likely end up dominating the space launch industry. If someone really went for it, they would certainly become way cooler than Musk and his boring old rockets.

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Don't look now: Fujitsu ships new mobe with EYEBALL-scanning security

bazza
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Re: Standard biometric flaw

There were articles floating around here on El Reg a few years ago reporting exactly that. Iris scanners of the day could be fooled by taking a photo of someone with a modest camera, printing out their iris with a hole cut for the pupil and presenting that in place of the actual person.

Though to be fair this is meant to be for unlocking a mobile, not for safeguarding a nuclear bomb...

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BILLION YEAR SECRETS of baking hellworld Mercury UNLOCKED by NASA probe crash

bazza
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Pint

Yet another stunning achievement...

...from the clever chaps who build these things.

They regularly seem to be able to make these probes last far longer than envisaged. That's real value for money, especially when everywhere we send one of these things turns out to be far more interesting than anyone ever envisaged.

Example: Places in the solar system that do or might support life: when I was born, 1 (earth), today 3+ (Europa, Encheladus, maybe Ganymede...)

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Tesla's battery put in the shade by current and cheaper kit

bazza
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Crazy

Using expensive, fiddly, light weight lithium batteries in an application like this where weight just isn't an issue is nuts. It's the kind of thing you sell if you can get away with it, or if you have got too many lithium cells not being used in your original market.

Using cheap, simple, any size you like, well understood, easily serviced, easily charged and recyclable lead acids makes much more sense.

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Apple in rinky-dink ink stink wristjob admission: Watch IS affected by TATTOOS

bazza
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Re: To quote R. Reagan, "There you go again."

"Guys, guys, guys: at least get your interminable Apple-bashing synchronized, m'kay?"

I think you're missing the point...

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'Android on Windows': Microsoft tightens noose around neck, climbs on chair

bazza
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Re: Did you try it?

True multi-tasking? Large memory model? Object-centric UI paradigm? App persistence across reboots? Did you ever *use* OS/2 2.0 and Windows 3.0 on the same machine?

Yes, I most certainly did use it, coded for it, embedded it (which it was quite good for), used it as my desktop too, for the very same reasons you've stated.

You have to recall though that at the time no one generally knew or cared about the difference between MS's cooperative multitasking and IBM's true multitasking. They did care about the price; OS/2 was expensive. And whilst it had a 512MB virtual memory model, larger than Windows 3.0, Microsoft chose 2GB for 32bit Windows. That meant OS/2 was forever stuck emulating Windows 3.0, and couldn't accommodate any of the 32 bit Windows apps that were beginning to emerge. It very quickly stopped being "a better Windows than Windows". And with no killer application to offer (Lotus Improv was as close as they got) its irrelevance was assured. Technology-wise it was a mixture of good and bad; multitasking was good, UI was good (though if you look at it these days it feels terrible; no anti aliasing!), thunking for 16 bit code that seems to make up large chunks of the OS was bad, as was the lack of driver support, and it never quite shook off the consequences of being engineered for the 286 in its early days.

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bazza
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Re: OS/2 & Windows

Apparently so, or at least close enough to be bendable.

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bazza
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Re: its time for Google to lay the smack down...

Slight problem there. Apart from Google Play Services and Google's own proprietary blobs, most of Android is open source. It's not currently within Google's gift to smack down anyone.

Whereas iOS is entirely closed source. Much harder to pull off the same trick. It would be possible to reimplement the iOS APIs using publically available documentation but then you'd have to persuade all the app developers to recompile their code and risk the Wrath of Cook.

Is the iOS app developer's API documentation public? I dunno, but I wouldn't be surprised if access to iOS API documentation came with strings attached...

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bazza
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Re: That depends on how do you define obscure app

"The gap to QNX is much smaller than to Windows by the way. The graphics APIs there are very different."

That gap is certainly a yawning chasm for Microsoft. At least both QNX and Android / Linux are basically POSIX, so there's going to be a lot of similarities at the system call level.

I've tried a couple of Android 3D games on BlackBerry, seem to work quite well. I'm not really into games, so I haven't bothered taking it any further than that initial level of sating curiousity.

I'm not sure that in BlackBerry's case it's as strong a suicide pill as all that. They have a very strong business offering, and the Androidness is a nice (and fairly successful) thing on top. And actually there's a lot of good native apps for BlackBerry these days too. Whereas Microsoft have f**cked up the business side of WinPhone, so there's even less reason to have one than a BlackBerry.

On the other hand, if either of them could emulate Google Play Services (a large undertaking one imagines) they'd have the complete Android ecosystem in a Google-free environment. There's quite a lot of people who'd find that attractive all on its own...

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bazza
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It'll be interesting to see just how "dead" BlackBerry become. Comparing Android on BlackBerry to Windows on OS/2 is worthwhile, but there are some critical differences.

1) IBM basically didn't bother improving OS/2 in any significant way after 2.0. There were major architecural problems with it that they didn't do anything to resolve, and they didn't seek to improve the user experience in any way. It would have died anyway. Crucially, IBM as a whole didn't believe in OS/2; real IBMers did servers and mainframes and big database applications. Meanwhile BlackBerry are actively improving BB10 / QNX, and because it's central to their entire business offering (BES12+BB10+everything else) it gets a lot of attention from the whole company.

2) OS/2 didn't have any unique features at all compared to everything else, and had some real day-to-day disadvantages (e.g. driver support, and it was resource hungry). There were very few reasons to have OS/2 at all. In contrast, there's much functionality in BB10 that all the other mobile platforms just don't have (e.g. Hub). There's many reasons (admittedly quite a lot of them are work related) to have a BlackBerry, and Androidness is just an extra nice thing on top.

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bazza
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Re: Alternatively...

It doesn't work like that. As the article said, hosting some Android apps successfully means handling Linux system calls made by native libraries.

Intel has the same problem. Sure, there's Android for x86, but it's nigh on useless because all the Android apps that come with native libraries attached are supplying ARM native libraries, not x86 native libraries. For these to work on x86 Intel have to emulate the ARM instruction set! Not fast, not very energy efficient...

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bazza
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Bye bye battery...

...that's why!

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bazza
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OS/2 & Windows

"When the wrap-around OS/2 booted and found DOS and Windows were installed, it virtualised and hosted them. Sometimes the Windows apps ran even better inside their new host – but you could never be sure."

Windows 3 Recompile

When IBM licensed the Windows 3.0 / 3.1 source code, apparently the first thing they did was recompile it just to see if they'd got everything right. When they benchmarked it they were surprised to see that their compiled version ran a lot quicker than Microsoft's retail version.

The reason why? IBM had used the Watcom C compiler (which was pretty good), whereas MS had of course used their own C compiler (and it was pants in comparison)...

32bit Windows and OS/2

What really killed off Windows under OS/2 was that IBM couldn't accomodate 32bit Windows drivers and applications (which were just beginning to creep in at the time). OS/2 was architected around 512MB virtual memory per process, whereas Microsoft had gone for 2GB virtual memory per process. That made it impossible to emulate a Windows environment inside an OS/2 process.

I actually used OS/2 a lot back in the day, and I didn't move off it until Windows 2000 came along. Typical IBM - had a good idea, made it just good enough to be able to use as a tool to access IBM mainframes, otherwise they ignored it. When it was shiny new it was (for the time) fantastic, but they never bothered doing anything to it.

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PayPal adopts ARM servers, gets mightily dense

bazza
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Re: AMD likely to prevail

Maybe, but who knows. AMD don't have their own fabs anymore, so they have to queue up like any other designer. So they'd have to resort to cleverness to beat the rest of the ARM outfits, and there's a lot of clever people out there these days.

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Microsoft: It's TRUE, you'll get Android and iOS apps in WINDOWS

bazza
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It's ambitious...

...and will take a lot of effort to succeed.

BUT, if they manage it it could be interesting. One of the problems is that they'll have 3 API to maintain, not two (BlackBerry) or one (Google, Apple). That sounds line a lot of work... But once set up, why not?

Of course it does give them an opportunity to exploit Apple's bad habit of trashing its own API. Apple make another crazy and debilitating change to their API, MS say "your existing source code still works here, but the new API is here too".

Maybe MS can do a deal with BlackBerry. BlackBerry do Android, MS do iOS, they share the results, and Google and Apple look like die hard walled gardenists.

Interesting that they're not doing a binary shim like BlackBerry have done, they're simply making a recompile easy. That's less guaranteed; Intel can't persuade Android devs to recompile Android code for x86. With BlackBerry the devs don't even have to do that.

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US hospitals to treat medical device malware with AC power probes

bazza
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Re: " ineffective and misplaced regulatory oversight,"

"You may well be right. What would you prefer instead?"

I think we'd all prefer and benefit from effective and well focused regulatory oversight.

Part of the problem is that the regulators seem not to have a good feel for where the system boundary should be. In the case of medical devices it's clear that they don't consider the network to be part of the system, yet as any old IT bod knows the network most certainly does matter. We spend a lot of money in IT on network firewalls, network switches, virtualised networks, etc. It is never an afterthought that we throw together after we've put in a load of servers.

Fixed Configuration

With medical devices the regulations prevent you automatically apply OS updates, etc. The regulators approve a fixed hardware design with a fixed software payload; applying updates makes it a "different" device that has not been approved.

So if the 'fixed' nature of the software is so important, how come they're quite happy for these things to be connected to networks that evidently expose them to a grave and real risk of having their software altered by hackers remote installing malware? It's almost as is they're relying on a naive opinion that "no one would ever hack a hospital"... And as I implied in my comment above, if the network provides important functionality, how come the 'fixed' configuration philosophy doesn't extend to the network too?

Inconsistent Regulation

That is inconsistent, has been demonstrated to be ineffective and the regulations need to be updated. However connecting them up to the Internet has been allowed for so long that it is the de facto rule, and all hospital IT is now structured that way. Regulation that doesn't properly and rapidly account for changes in the world isn't worth having at all.

If they want to keep their "fixed configuration" philisophy then they're going to have to apply that to the network too. This realistically means a closed network not connected to the Internet where there are no USB ports or optical drives available on any machine on the network. I can't see that going down well...

"And when you've sorted medial equipment, avionics regulation is in need of a serious reconnection with reality."

Again the situation there is that the regulators have failed to set a clear system boundary within which their rules apply. They've incorrectly set the system boundary as being the whole aircraft, and regulated within that.

However Boeing and Airbus have both implemented a single aircraft-wide network that carries or is exposed to passenger devices. The FAA/EASA let that happen seemingly without once considering the possible consequences of connecting passenger devices. Connecting them makes them part of the system. Passenger devices cannot be regulated. Thus the system now comprises an approved subsystem (the aircraft) and many unapproved subsystems (the passengers' mobiles, etc). With wildcard devices being part of the system all that regulatory oversight now counts for nothing, for it is no longer the same system that the regulators approved.

Of course they have done testing of the separation of passenger and flight control network data, and they have probably been successful in achieving adequate separation. However, no one can be totally sure of that. In contrast a single successful hack would prove that adequate separation had not been achieved.

Penny Pinching, Pound Foolish

The reasons Boeing and Airbus have for doing that is to economise in off-aircraft communications channels. The flight control avionics, the airline's own systems and the in-flight entertainment need to provide off-aircraft communications for various reasons, and sharing a single sat comm terminal makes it "cheap".

Except it's not cheap. First it creates the situation we have now where no one is quite sure whether or not anyone with a mobile can hack and down an aircraft. That's going to be expensive to put right.

Setting that aside, sharing a sat comm terminal is an incredibly short sighted thing to do. Bandwidth upgrades are clearly going to be a major requirement of airlines competing to provide a better service to paying passengers. That means hardware upgrades.

Upgrading a Shared Sat Comm?

With a shared sat comm terminal that means getting a whole new and improved unit designed, tested, approved by the regulators as still allowing the aircraft to fly safely, and installed. That's an expensive process, largely because of the approvals that have to be gained first. That process has to consider (amongst other things) whether or not it still correctly separates passenger and avionics network data. That will have to be checked differently every time they add new features. Effectively they would be redesigning the approval tests every time the design changes, adding more time and cost.

As any IT bod knows, a system that's exensive and slow to upgrade isn't going to be very profitable.

Upgrading a Separate Sat Comm?

Now imagine if the IFE were a completely separate network (with a data diode connection from the flight control avionics to get data for the moving map display), and had it's own sat comm terminal. That could be upgraded at will with minimal regulatory oversight because it is never going to be critical to safety of flight (at least not once basic EMC and airworthiness approvals are in place). Meanwhile the sat comm terminal for the flight control avionics just sits there, never upgraded because it won't ever need it.

That would be a lot cheaper and quicker to do; across the whole life of the aircraft the airlines would be able to offer a premium service that's always the best, with upgrades being easy to role out. And an added benefit is that it avoids the whole mess we have now.

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bazza
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Really?

“We are thinking about those machines that are really hard to patch, really hard to upgrade, and really hard to get inside."

If they are so hard to get inside, how come they're running malware?!?! The problem is that they're too easy to get inside...

Like others on this forum I think it's ridiculous that such devices are connected to an Internet facing network in the first place. No doubt somewhere in the small print for these devices there's words suggesting the lack of wisdom in doing so.

Regulators

And actually, where are the regulators in all this? If a device like this is merely one component of a medical network, then why does the regulatory obligation seemingly stop at the Ethernet port? Shouldn't the entire network have to be developed to the same standards as the devices? After all the whole point of the Ethernet port is to provide functionality beyond the device, and presumably that functionality is seen as important otherwise no one would bother wiring it up. And if it is important then the network design and maintenance is as important as the device's design and maintenance.

Sounds like ineffective and misplaced regulatory oversight, and it's allowed a bad situation to develop that is going to be very expensive and difficult to rectify.

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NINETY PER CENT of Java black hats migrate to footling Flash

bazza
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Well that took a long time...

So the war against bad plug-ins might actually be being won? Well that's taken only 20 years to make plug in version checking commonplace and effective...

It shows the power of having software version checking and automatic update mechanisms. It's the only effective way to keep connected software and operating systems secure for at least some of the time.

With desktops and laptops of all types we are now in a position where the OSes, the browsers and the plug-ins are either updated or blocked automatically (just flash on Windows 7 left?). That's good.

IOT

It should be a lesson for eveyone else doing software driven Internet connected devices. I mean the IoT crowd. They just don't seem to realise what they're getting themselves into. Without a similar constant stream of updates and vigilance their products will become infested with malware, and their reputation will be wrecked. It's not far off that already.

Worse still a lot of things that are becoming Internet connected will require very long term support e.g. fridges; people will not be expecting to have to buy a new fridge after just a couple of years simply because the software in their old one is no longer supported. That's not how we buy fridges. Same with thermostats, aircon, etc. Cars might turn out to be slightly better, though given BMWs poor start perhaps they too won't ever be good enough.

Keeping software up to date for that length of time is very expensive, and a lot of the manufacturers just aren't set up to maintain old software.

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Google TUGS Nexus 7-INCHER from its online store

bazza
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Re: Already gone

Actually no. It was an Asus device in development that they bought naming rights for and sold dirt cheap.

What, and Asus didn't give them a full hardware specification? Did they somehow forget to reveal every technical detail to Google? Hmmmmm?

No. In any relevant sense this is a device Google own.

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bazza
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Re: Already gone

"Lollipop did indeed make a nexus 7 run like a dog. The update 5.1 has made things a bit better (really a better description is 'not as bloody awful'). I wish that they had left it alone..."

This a poor execution by Google. It is their own device, and they cannot make their own operating system run properly on it. Now I do not know whether Google ever claimed that Nexus 7 would be supported by Lollipop. If they did, then they have properly bollocksed it. If they did not (and the 7 is an oldish device now), then why is it seemingly available for download for the 7? Given that they've only just pulled it from sale one has to conclude that Google's official position was that it was a 'current' device; but not one they were able to support properly.

I used to think that were I ever to by an Android device it would have to be either a Samsung or a Nexus so as to stand a reasonable chance of getting a steady stream of updates. Now it seems that Nexus is not reliably updated either.

All that makes you wonder how mature Google's software dev team actually is. Failing to account for (i.e. either say it won't be supported, or support it) one of your models that are for sale when you're updating the OS is, well, an amateurish mistake. When done properly you plan your updates, you know your devices, you work out in advance what is going to work and what won't. It feels like Google haven't done that. It feels like Google have rather hacked Lollipop together without thinking too much about it. It makes one wonder what else they've screwed up.

For comparison both Microsoft and the Linux world have a pretty good history for not cocking up support for existing hardware, and that's in an arena where there is an unbelievable variety of hardware. Even Apple and BlackBerry aren't too bad at it in their closed ecosystems.

If Google cannot manage to get it right in their closed Nexus ecosystem then they've clearly got a lot to learn.

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FBI alert: Get these motherf'king hackers off this motherf'king plane

bazza
Silver badge

@JeffyPooh,

If you have an LED on one side, and a phototransistor on the other, with an air gap in between, then that in itself guarantees the 'diode' unidirectionality. Unless you think that phototransistors can emit light to be detected by the LED. So what's the fibre got to do with it?

Oh, the fibre doesn't of itself provide any one way-ness, it is as you say the lack of a light emitter at the other end that gives that.

Data diodes use a single fibre optic because that way you can get a high data rate too, and simply looking to see which end is emitting light is a convincing and unarguable test of the data diode-ness. There's also the point that you can easily implement it using standard-ish kit (eg fibre ethernet cards, or sFPDP) which is a lot cheaper than building your own through air high speed data link.

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