* Posts by bazza

1384 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

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HPE promises users Itanium server refresh next year. In Dutch!

bazza
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HPUX and Itanium, the perfect illustration of how to spend a lot of money buying other companies and then cocking it up.

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New US spy satellite in orbit

bazza
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Nah, aliens have a sense of humour. They'd just jumble up all the satellite orbits, leaving us scratching our heads as to what'd gone wrong the Newtonian / Einsteinian mechanics all of a sudden. And they'd pose for the ultimate out-of-this-world selfies in front of the spy satellites and telescopes, just to show off.

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Tesla's splitting with sensor supplier

bazza
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Re: Getting Distracted

@JeffyPoooh

It's the refueling TIME. It's the remaining lack of locations to recharge. It's the advice to not use the full range of the cells.

Agreed, that's the real killer. Given that the recharging time is long the single charge range matters.

If they made the range really good (1000 miles), that would suit even me, even if it took all night to recharge.

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bazza
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Re: Missing the point

Whilst that may come into being, it misses out one of the key aspects of cars. They're personal spaces, with our stuff in them. We like our personal spaces.

As soon as they're shared they're only as nice as the worst person to have ridden in it since it was clean. That's one of the reasons why people bought cars - to get off the buses and trains and smelly taxi cabs.

It's also a model that may work in a city but doesn't work in the country side.

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bazza
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Re: Getting Distracted

That's a subjective point of view. For many people it's objectively a worse car. Making it so that it is objectively a better car for everyone should be their primary focus.

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bazza
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Re: Getting Distracted

@petur,

Why should one exclude the other?

I think all the extra's come from the fact that it can be done on the platform.

The point is that all the extras can be done on a car powered by any means, petrol, diesel, electric, hybrid. There's nothing about the automation and gadgetry that Tesla have that requires the car to be moved electrically, as Google, BMW, Volvo, etc have demonstrated with their petrol powered demonstrators.

Tesla's key selling point should be that it's electric. I think in practise that's diluted by the addition all the extras. Arguably the automation is a business risk (they might get sued big time if it goes really wrong), and reduces the effort they can put into making it a better electric car (ie more range).

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bazza
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Getting Distracted

“There’s nothing unexpected here from our standpoint … We’re committed to autonomy.

I think Tesla and everyone else is getting distracted by autonomous driving.

What, one wonders, is it that people think they're really buying when they buy a Tesla? Are they buying an electric car with moderately good usability characteristics which goes like stink (that just happens to have fancy cruise control)? Or are they buying a car with a ton of gadgets, a prototype autonomous mode, and a swish app (that just happens to be electric)?

For me, having been in a friend's Tesla, all that gadgetry, connectivity, remote data logging by Tesla, autonomous mode, is seriously off-putting. The entire car has been designed around having that enormous display in the centre console.

To me that demonstrates that Tesla are getting their priorities wrong. It shouldn't be all about what's shown on that screen, what data is collected and logged, what autonomy and gadgetry is made possible with all that on board compute power and all those sensors.

Instead it should be about making a car that goes well and is usable, despite being electric. Goes well? Check. Usable? Well that's still a big 'it depends'. And with drivers of upcoming models not being given the same level of access to Tesla charging points enjoyed by existing drivers, we have to conclude that usability is going to get worse.

My friend is certainly mixed up by it. He likes the gadgets, the app, the data, the autonomous mode and the especially the performance, hates the range anxiety, and in my opinion probably wouldn't have bought the car if it were gadget free. His enjoyment of the performance in it is limited by the fact that the range limitations means he can't go off somewhere to enjoy it. Instead he's limited to the commute, and gets stuck in the traffic just like the rest of us.

In that sense Tesla have got their priorities right - they're making sales that wouldn't have happened otherwise. But they're still not making a profit.

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Cortana expelled from Windows 10's new school editions

bazza
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Re: What about the rest of the telemetry?

Hell, if they remove the telemetry too they'd be making into an "operating system", instead of a data collection tool. Wouldn't that be a novelty!!!

If they did that I'd be queuing up to get hold of the academic version. I think we all would be.

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Tesla's Model S autonomous mode may have saved a life

bazza
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Re: PR stunt

@James Brown (no body),

So, the pedestrians are not walking to the conditions then?

No they're not walking to the conditions: Green Cross Code. Nor are cyclists: Cycling Proficiency Test. Still the owner of the shiny new Tesla is highly motivated to not crash into other road users, careless or not.

A lot of people (mostly townies) seem to get stuck on hazards being caused only by those pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders, farmers and drivers who are not following the rules. And of course to some extent they're right (though I've not once seen badly behaved horse rider).

However for drivers there's plenty of hazards not subject to the rules of the road to worry about. Trust me, wild life is far more prone to running out in front of you than any pedestrian. You don't want to hit a pheasant, fox or a badger, it'll cause a lot of damage. And you really, really don't want to hit a deer; one of those coming at your windscreen will really ruin your day, especially if it ends up inside. You especially don't want to hit a fallen tree - it's an easy way to be killed.

So even if every pedestrian and cyclist was the very model of the perfect road user, you'd still have to drive taking account of the unpredictable pheasants, foxes, badgers, deer and trees that will ruin your day anyway.

Wild Life and Self-Driving Cars

This is probably going to be a major problem for true self driving cars that require no passenger oversight. A deer jumping out in front of a speeding self driving car is a major health hazard to the car's occupants. The car manufacturer will have to take account of that in the software that will decide how quickly the car will drive itself down a country road. And a car is no more capable of seeing through hedges and undergrowth than a human driver.

So a self driving car almost certainly would drive itself far more slowly down that road than any human driver ever choose to. Reason: it'd be hard for a company like Tesla or Google to defend choosing a road speed of 60mph down a country lane if that has led to passengers being killed by a deer. No passenger oversight means the manufacturer is liable. They won't take the risk, whereas actual human drivers routinely do.

But if a self driving car ends up driving itself timidly down that road, it's going to be a very frustrating experience for the passengers. It's bad enough getting stuck behind the slowest car in the world when you're driving home from work, etc. Think how frustrating it'll be if the car has a mind of its own and refuses to put its foot down despite there being an empty road in front of it, just in case there is a deer lurking in the shadows.

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bazza
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Re: @Bazza: PR stunt

@Jay,

Ooi here (rural, middle of Devon), it is not unusual for dick head cyclists (dressed in black, no lights on) to ride down the middle of their lane, on a not terribly wide B road, so should my wife and I always drive at 20mph just in case one of these idiots is just in front of us around a blind bend?

It's up to you. If your willing to drive round a blind bend at 60mph and run into whatever happens to be there, you'll be hoping it's something soft and not a tractor. That'd be a bad day, mostly for you. All the crumple zones in the world won't help you if it's got its bale forks on the front.

Tip: us cyclists aren't soft at 60mph, and we're at a handy windscreen height and come with sharp bits of metal attached. Want one squashing the airbag back into your face as they come through the windscreen of your low slung Tesla/whatever? Drive carefully.

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bazza
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Re: PR stunt

I think the point is that this saved a life by acting when the human failed to do so.

Then by definition the driver was driving too fast for the conditions. I don't know about the US, but in the UK that's an offence and could be costly. Admitting as such in public would be asking for the police to start a prosecution, backed up by the very data that Tesla are collecting and publicising.

Data collection may be great for Tesla and data nerds, but it can also be used against drivers put up in front of a Judge on a charge.

Teslas are virtually silent when moving. A friend who has one has had to get used to pedestrians and cyclists not hearing him. Everyone is so used to hearing cars and lorries that a lot of people don't look before they walk. Pedestrians don't hear bicycles either, and they get hit by bicycle all the time... Perhaps in this case the pedestrian simply didn't hear the Tesla coming.

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Fear not, humanity – Saint Elon has finished part two of his world-saving 'master plan'

bazza
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Re: Tesla's answer to Uber

He maybe won't get that greedy, but it'll never happen anyway.

Whilst sharing one's car Uber style whilst one is at work, etc. sounds cool, there's a lot of problems. The owner of the car would be legally liable for its condition. There's no getting round that. If it crashes because some autopilot sensor hasn't been cleaned, the owner carries the can (not Tesla, not the passenger). In fact, any incident would probably descend into a dispute between Tesla and the owner, dirty sensors or not...

And the other issue is personal space; a car is a personal space. We all leave things lying around, sunglasses, maybe a bit of money, the camera in the glove box that we forgot to take out after the weekend, etc. What's to stop any of that getting pinched by passengers whilst the car is off on its own touting for custom?

It's a pipe dream. We're no where near having a fully autonomous and completely reliable self driving car. Musk is in dreamland if he thinks his engineers can actually deliver such a system any time soon. We can't make airliners that can fly themselves (arguably all we've achieved is to have raised a generation of pilots who can't fly either), UAVs crash all the time, etc. The only thing we do have is autonomous trains, which succeed solely because they run on rails and there's nothing to get in the way.

Besides, people will soon go off the idea of sharing their own car with someone else whilst they're not in it once a drunk has puked up in the back. Self cleaning car? I don't think so.

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If managing PCs is still hard, good luck patching 100,000 internet things

bazza
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Re: Oh for Goodness Sake

Absolutely.

I've tinkered with a few things. Nest thermostat is semi-useful. It's nice to get the house warmed up after a few weeks away by switching it back on whilst I'm still in the airport. The Yale burglar alarm is OK up to a point - clunky software but it works, but fundamentally does nothing more than an SMS capable alarm. The Belkin WeMo things suffer from unreliability (the Android app for it is particularly vile and unreliable) but coupled with IFTTT can be made to switch things off when you leave the house. Won't switch them back on though despite my best efforts with IFTTT rules. IOT lights are really annoying; a light switch is far quicker. And if the light switch is off, naturally you can't turn them back on with your mobile. Kettles? Fridges? Cookers? Can't see the point.

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Guilt by ASN: Compiler's bad memory bug could sting mobes, cell towers

bazza
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Re: wow

Hmm, I'm not sure that selection of Objective System's tools would count as going with the lowest bidder. Choosing one of the crummy toolsets for ASN.1 would be that.

Looking at the advisory reveals that the bug affects their C/C++ toolset. That'll be the one in mobile phones, etc. I've used that one quite extensively too, though not with my current employer, but generally found the experience to be good. I hope former chums are keeping their eyes peeled...

And whilst the advisory explores the behaviour of the code on Windows, that runtime compiles up from a common source code base for every platform. So the bug will likely be present on anything that uses C/C++. That area of the runtime is also very ancient now, so I expect it's affects far more than this single version of the code.

The one good thing is that that toolset has been very stable for a long time, In theory fixing affected products is simply a case of upgrading and recompiling. I'm not anticipating any remedial coding work being required by developers who have used it.

ASN.1 remains one of the most useful old technologies out there. It leaves Google Protocol Buffers standing (in fact GPB are slowly adopting most of the useful features found in ASN.1). The only other serialisation technologies that are roughly comparable are XSD (XML schemas) and JSON schemas. Why? These three are the only ones where it is possible to define size and value constraints on message fields.

If used, size and value constraints allow one to automatically defend oneself against buffer overruns, etc. Ironic, isn't it?

(ps. I don't work and haven't worked for Objective Systems).

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Brit chip biz ARM legs it to Softbank for $32bn

bazza
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"Not really - the shareholders have to decide in the end and could easily be open to a bigger offer. It's the board's job to get the best value for the owners."

I know I know. But Intel would have to react extremely quickly indeed, and make an immediate and unbelievably good offer. Big enough to encourage shareholders to run the gauntlet of a Competition Commission inquiry instead of walking away right now with an extra unexpected $10billion in their pockets.

Especially with a new PM just in post who has expressed a distaste for ownership of firms going abroad. There's no obvious anti-competitive concern with Softbank's acquisition, but there sure as hell would be if Intel tried to buy ARM. Softbank's offer looks like a dead-cert $10billion profit for shareholders. An Intel offer would be a risky-as-hell profit, and no one is likely to turn down Softbank's already very generous offer and risk losing out altogether.

Intel would have to offer something substantially above $32billion in cash, and that'd be a huge and risky proposition for Intel right now.

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bazza
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Re: Apple will never own ARM (again)

It's already fairly normal in big deals to have terms to cover situations like that. IPR matters to both sides in a licensing deal, and it's not unusual for IPR to be held in escrow in case the IPR owner vanishes off the face of the earth, etc.

The fact that ARM's board are recommending this deal to their shareholders suggests that whatever the licensing terms are, IPR transfer to licensees on takeover isn't in there. That would have made ARM very unattractive for a takeover, and it would have emerged during the due-diligence that's no doubt been going on in the recent past.

Oh, and I think Apple (and Qualcomm, Microsoft, Marvell and Texas Instruments) all have a "Foundry" license, which does allow them to make changes to the ARM architecture. It's the reason why Apple can put a separate security processor deep into the heart of their chips.

Of all of these, Microsoft are the ones that I think have wasted that investment. With the ability to tinker with the architecture at a very deep level one can define a complete ecosystem (boot, peripherals, buses, etc). Now whilst Microsoft have done that for mobiles they haven't done it for servers which is where the real money is likely to come from for them, and if they don't hurry up then Qualcomm and a bunch of others will leave them standing.

p.s. @DougS, not sure why anyone's downvoting you on that, it all certainly matters a great deal to Apple.

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bazza
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So if IoT and the ARM server market do take off, ARM could do very well out of that. It might simply be a case of Softbank seeing vast future profits ahead for ARM and fancy a piece of the action.

With ARM under Japanese control, it does give Japan an interesting strategic position. ARM could equally have been purchased by a Chinese manufacturer, and that wouldn't necessarily have been good news for Japanese chip designers and phone manufacturers. There's a lot of regional politics out in that part of the world... Access to ARM core designs arguably is very important to Japan, and there's nothing like owning the company to guarantee that. We'll get to see how important if the Chinese government starts complaining about the deal, or if Chinese manufacturers start fiddling the license fee payments.

Oh, and Fujitsu's next supercomputer might be a tiny bit cheaper if Softbank cut them a deal on the license fee...

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bazza
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Re: Do I get a vote?

With an offer of 50% premium on the closing share price? I think the Institutionals will agree with the deal. It's a lot of money right now, vs a slow-ish but steady income for the long run.

Plus depending on how Softbank do it, they might simply acquire enough shares to completely control the company (90%?), and any hold-outs will then find themselves being issued a compulsory purchase order, possibly at far less advantageous rates.

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bazza
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Re: Uh oh.

Who knows. Japanese companies can be very conservative in their approach to innovation, etc. ARM haven't exactly been idle on the innovation front, but they've also been very careful to stick to what they know - CPU design and licensing, and could also be considered a conservative company.

It might turn out to be a reasonably good fit, especially as it's clearly not a merger between two CPU design outfits (Softbank have nothing else like ARM in their portfolio). It might be that Softbank will simply leave ARM to get on with it.

What would be a problem is if Softbank have borrowed heavily to buy ARM, and then saddle ARM with that debt. That would be a bad thing.

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bazza
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I'm not sure that Softbank are really a direct competitor to Intel, so I don't see exactly what the difference is at the moment.

Sure, if Intel had any designs of their own on acquiring ARM, those plans have just become a lot harder. By the time Intel's bods wake up in America, the deal will likely be done here in the UK, so they'll miss out.

Not that anyone would have let Intel buy ARM. Nor Apple, Samsung, etc. That would have been too obviously anti-competitive, and not even the blindest of Competition Commissions would have let that one go past.

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bazza
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Dunno what the plan is. The guy who runs Softbank is no fool - bought a $20 million stake in Alibaba, which is know worth $65 billion. Lucky?!

Softbank runs a mobile network and, because of how the Japanese mobile market works, is therefore a major vendor of phones. Those phones will be marginally cheaper for Softbank as they can refund themselves the license fee for the ARM core that'll be inside. But not £24 billion cheaper.

The IOT thing sounds more like it. The Japanese love their gadgets, and if IOT is ever going to really take off anywhere it will be their.

Then there's the ARM server market - if that explodes (like it's threatening to do) then ARM could become really big indeed.

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Dear Tesla, stop calling it autopilot – and drivers are not your guinea pigs

bazza
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"We will continue to develop, validate, and release those enhancements as the technology grows. While we appreciate well-meaning advice from any individual or group, we make our decisions on the basis of real-world data, not speculation by media."

That's a brave statement considering that regulators are seemingly unimpressed by the performance of things like Autopilot. With statements like that it seems Tesla are wilfully ignoring the Human Factors aspects of such a thing.

What I don't get is why on earth Tesla are risking all with Autopilot. Their main thing is half-decent practical electric cars, yet they're willing to take a huge commercial risk on Autopilot, something that their main technology doesn't need or benefit from at all.

Google are nearly as bad, saved by the fact that they're not openly selling cars to the public. "Woohoo, self driving car" they say in demos, ads, papers, trials, and as much publicity as they can generate, yet in the small print they say "you have to be paying attention and will have to take control at short notice"... So not self driving at all then. Most people are believing and responding to the publicity, but have no idea about about actual constraints on the technology. If it wasn't for the strict rules imposed by the State of California (CA published the trials data) we'd not be told that actually it's pretty unreliable at the moment.

The only company doing it properly is Volvo, who at the outset of their development programme said Volvo is aiming for a system where Volvo have the liability, ie a true self driving car. Good for them.

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Salesforce bins all Android phones bar Nexii and Galaxies

bazza
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Re: This is probably about the OS

@Mark Dempster,

"I don't think there ever was a PC standard set;"

There was the PC System Design Guides, see this Wikipedia Article. PC98 set out a lot of the standard hardware, things like ACPI, how PXE boot should work, how plug'n'play worked, etc. The tables of contents at OpenLibrary is quite revealing. That lot coupled with a few chipsets from the likes of Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, etc. made PC hardware what it is today (basically it's all PC2001, just evolved a bit), whilst still allowing a diversity of devices. Pretty useful stuff, actually.

What makes Apple's machines different is that they don't really follow everyone else's common understanding of what makes a PC a PC.

If you think that remembering MCA shows your age, forgetting PC-98 shows worrying signs of a different sort...

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bazza
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Re: This is probably about the OS

This is Android fragmentation coming home to roost.

It certainly is. I'm faintly surprised they decided to support such a wide range of Samsung's devices...

It's a pity that Google didn't set an Android hardware standard, in the same way that the PC architecture is standard and MS phones are standard. A hardware standard would have enabled a sane update system. That's worked well in PCs benefiting both Windows and Linux, and (albeit within a tiny, tiny portion of the wider market) reasonably well on Windows phones.

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bazza
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And there was me thinking that Android was the same everywhere.

How much is this like Oracle stopping support for HP's Itanium? There's currently a big law suit between those two companies.

So does Google's T&Cs for the Play Store fail to oblige app developers to support all Android within a set range of versions? If it doesn't then HTC, Sony, etc can justifiably complain to Google (who they have to pay to get access to Play Services, etc) that Google aren't doing anything to ensure a level playing field for all members of the Android community.

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Facebook deleted my post and made me confirm pics of my kids weren't sexually explicit

bazza
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Re: It's not your platform and you are not a customer

I think you're missing the point. Facebook is gradually discovering that it has responsibility (like real, corporate and ultimately financial responsibility) for what is published on its website.

However, unlike a newspaper it has very poor editorial control, and its automated attempts to regulate content are unlikely to be 100% successful. The financial health of the company depends on them successfully limiting content without appearing (from the point of view of ordinary folk) to do so, otherwise people will simply stop using it.

So the real question is, is Facebook a company worth owning shares in? Probably not in the long run. Same with Google, Twitter and the other freeloaders. Privacy regulators and competition authorities will one day catch up and make it effectively impossible to run such services anonymously for free through data mining.

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Huge double boxset of Android patches lands after Qualcomm disk encryption blown open

bazza
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Re: Everything is just

You may decide to become a luddite, but unfortunately unless the entire rest of the world (your bank, the shops, the power company, etc) follow then you'd be just as vulnerable. And you'd only know about the End of Civilisation As We Know It after it's happened. At least the rest of us would get a Tweet or something to warn us...

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Linux letting go: 32-bit builds on the way out

bazza
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Most Linux distros went 64 bit many years ago. MS Windows is so far behind in this area because of third party software.

Huh, what? MS have done a good job of making the choice between 32 and 64 bit largely irrelevant. There's so much software that doesn't need to be 64 bit, so why bother compiling it for 64 bit? Especially as MS have made it painless for end users to mix both on their 64 bit PC.

The only performance advantage with 64 bit software is that the SSE part of Intel processors give you more floating point registers in a 64 bit process than a 32 bit process running on the same chip gets. This is probably an artificial constraint Intel designed in to make their early 64 bit CPUs look a lot faster than their 32 bit ones, a marketing drive to make 32 bit generally look obsolete and undesirable. And judging by your post, that marketing worked.

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Uber opens up on Oz deactivation policies, just a little

bazza
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Re: Is that a death knell?

Could be. Plus there's the problem that it makes Uber look less and less like a ride broker and more like an employer and a regular taxi firm.

In which case it will become harder for them to avoid all the regulatory overhead associated with normal taxi companies, the thing that they've been desperate to avoid.

That's the problem with the 'sharing' economy. As people start trying to earn a living from it the business starts looking like an exploitative employer, not a friendly broker.

Uber used to be about sharing your drive to work. Is it still possible to use it that way, or do they now expect you to be a full time driver for them?

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InfiniBand-on-die MIA in Oracle's new 'Sonoma' Sparc S7 processor

bazza
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Re: Meh.

SPARC is clearly still viable as a business proposition; Oracle must still be making money out of the range if they're willing to develop new variants. So, no demise in sight yet.

Wrt to Intel vs ARM; the fatal blow in that fight was struck by ARM a long time ago. That blow was ARM's launch of their licensing model for a cheap and effective low power 32 bit CPU core, and carrying that over to 64 bit designs suitable for use in server applications.

I say fatal; it's not killed Intel yet, but it's going to kill them one day and there's nothing they can do about it. They can survive by building their own Arm CPUs, but then ARM would have won.

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Looking good, Gnome: Digesting the Delhi in our belly

bazza
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Re: Dead Parrot

Almost the same here - I finally got pissed off when the calculator no longer had a memory function.

They decided that a calculator doesn't need a memory function? I'm astonished.

Whatever next? Perhaps they'll decide that no one needs to be able to copy/paste in a text editor, or use the letter Z anywhere.

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bazza
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Batch Renames?

From the article:

"Even more exciting, there's a plan in the works to add a batch renaming feature to Nautilus in GNOME 3.22. That's right, not an improved existing feature but an actual new feature. Grab your coats."

Those of us old enough to remember Xtree Gold and who are now probably using the excellent clone of it for modern Windows OSes Ztree Bold" look at Nautilus (and Windows Explorer and Finder and a whole load of others) with disdain. Batch renaming a new feature? My arse - we could do that all the way back in 1985, in DOS with XTree.

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PM resigns as Britain votes to leave EU

bazza
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@Fink-Nottle,

Been meaning to ask, how are the newts? I trust they're basking contentedly!

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US Senate strikes down open-access FBI hacking warrant by just one honest vote

bazza
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Re: So ...

Go the other way... they could still save a bundle by buying their data from Google. Maybe a merger?

The name could be Goofbigle.

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Fujitsu picks 64-bit ARM for Japan's monster 1,000-PFLOPS super

bazza
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Re: This is why AMD and NVidia are making ARM chips

Intel are a bit stuck with x86.

Itanium should have been successful, but some bunch of upstarts made an alternative product that appealed strongly to Intel's lazy customers who didn't want to go through a painful cycle of recompiling / testing their software. That was AMD with AMD64, which Intel ended up copying (oh the irony). And if Intel try again to renounce x86/64, AMD will still be there, and will probably be able to do an incrementally improved x64 design, and will again pinch a load of custom.

So Intel won't be able to ditch x86/64 until that architecture has been stretched to its absolute limit and cannot be improved upon any further by anyone.

The thing is that the ARM core, at only 48,000-ish (ignoring the caches, etc) transistors isn't actually very performant. It's simply a very efficient way of marshalling the operation of a bunch of specialised coprocessors (targeted at media coding / decoding, GPU, network I/O, etc) that do the actual heavy compute whilst the core still has enough general purpose compute to make an OS run well. I don't for one moment imagine that Fujitsu are contemplating using ARM cores for the actual compute effort, they'll be slapping some monster maths core down on the same piece of silicon.

BTW MS are in better shape to adapt than a lot of people give them credit for. They, just like Linux, can shift the entire Windows stack from Intel to, say, ARM; Windows has a hardware abstraction layer and can relatively easily be ported. That have in the past shown off Windows 7 running Office on and ARM board, which involved little more than a fresh HAL followed by recompiling everything.

Personally I think that their mobile ambitions were an unnecessary (and as it turns out unsuccessful) distraction from what should be their real task - building up an Windows/ARM server/desktop stack. The biggest barrier to that is the fragmented nature of the ARM market, making it hard to push out universal binaries. MS have previously been involved in defining hardware architectures (anyone remember PC'97, PC2000, etc?). With MS themselves having an ARM Foundry license they could have done the same thing in the ARM server world, removed the fragmentation and made themselves immune to the changes going on in the hardware world.

Had they done that it would have done us all a favour. Even Linux would have benefited from this - ARM fragmentation has made it hard for the Linux guys to support all ARMs too.

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Dad of student slain in Paris terror massacre sues Google, Twitter, Facebook for their 'material support' of ISIS

bazza
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Re: What a wanker

You're calling the recently bereaved father of a daughter most horribly murdered a wanker? You should go and look in the mirror and be ashamed at what you see.

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Non-US encryption is 'theoretical,' claims CIA chief in backdoor debate

bazza
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Re: Their Own President Doesn't Use US Encryption!

Sadly if seems he's now on a Samsung...

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Safari 10 dumps Flash, Java, Silverlight, QuickTime in the trash

bazza
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Satirical Observation

Web standards are terrific. Look at how un-fragmented they are, a boon to all mankind!

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Microsoft releases open source bug-bomb in the rambling house of C

bazza
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Re: ASN.1 and PADS

(I wonder how many of the security holes found in SSH over the years could actually have been found by an automated tool if you could have described the protocol to it.)

Well I guess in the perfect world, all holes would be found by such a tool :)

One barrier to improving the current situation is that there's loads of competing standards (gpb, thrift, asn1, xml, etc etc etc etc), all with their own qualities and purpose. None of them fit all needs.

It would be kinda nice if someone did one properly! In principle I like ASN.1 because at least it does do bounds and value checking, which is more than most of the others.

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bazza
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Re: ASN.1 and PADS

I don't really see a big difference between a bunch of automatically generated code shovelling bits and bytes around and a bunch of hand written code doing the same thing as prescribed by some RFCs.

I would contend that a "hand written" protocol may be fast but only because of it not doing value and bounds checking.

Having used a good commercial ASN.1 implementation with good support and looked at its generated parser code it can be pretty lean, especially considering that it also deals with all the problems of streaming connections too.

The operative word there is 'commercial'. People generally don't want to pay for good tools, and when they use an incomplete or buggy toolset (perhaps and open source one) ASN.1 in general gets a bad name.

I don't know about PADS - I keep meaning to try it - but it's probably worth a go.

I don't sell ASN.1 tools either!

Google Protocol Buffer

To be honest, if Google added streaming support and bounds / value checking to protocol buffers, that'd be a good candidate for wiping out ASN.1 completely. Every time Google update GPB it looks more and more like ASN.1...

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bazza
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ASN.1 and PADS

For network services written in C there's always been the risk of a buffer overrun and other problems when reading protocol data from a network connection. It's entirely avoidable, but avoiding it requires people to thoroughly review their work, etc. For various reasons that is never as exhaustive as it should be.

However there's things out there that, if used, help, I'm thinking of ASN.1, a serialisation standard that does bounds and value checking for you, in ordinary C (or whatever language you choose actually).

Its brilliant, with one caveat - when the tools are implemented properly...

Using that to define and implement a public interface is far better than how most network service protocols are specified. ASN.1 as a protocol specification and implementation tool makes the RFCs behind a lot of the Internet's protocols look like the work of school children.

It's madness to define a binary protocol in English (which is what most RFCs do) and expect implementers to read it and get it right in their coding. It takes a long time and is inevitably error prone.

But it's too late, the protocols exist and cannot be changed.

PADS

But there is one option. It's the PADS project, at http://www.padsproj.org. This allows you to specify any arbitrary binary data stream in a schema (just like ASN.1 does) and automatically generated C code to interpret and generate it (again, just like ASN.1).

Automatic generation = less review effort required. That's the benefit.

Thus you could specify, for example, the SSH protocol as a PADS schema and then automatically generate the protocol driver for SSH.

PADS would probably need a bunch of work done on it to make this complete (like adding streaming support and bounds and value checking if it hasn't already got it). But if done we could then ditch a lot of RFCs and replace them with formal schemas instead.

I'm not connected to the project, it just looks neat and would allow for protocol formalities to be automatic, not hand implemented

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Linux devs open up universal Ubuntu Snap packages to other distros

bazza
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Re: Interesting?

Surely you can't have missed the news about MS implementing a Linux system call subsystem for Windows 10 and bolting Ubuntu bash and apt on top?

Still work in progress, but looking pretty good...

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Google doesn’t care who makes Android phones. Or who it pisses off

bazza
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Re: Linux for Phones

@OldCoder, I'm talking about the PC design guides, which are more recent than the BIOS wars. See Wikipedia.

As far as I know every PC nowadays is basically a PC2001 on steroids...

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bazza
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Linux for Phones

To get the proper Linux for phones the hardware architecture and bootloader needs to be open.

This is what we have on PCs. Like them or loathe them, MS set a very useful PC hardware and architecture standard. Conform to that standard and you got a sticker for your PC saying that it'd run Windows. Linux benefits (even now with the optional Secure Boot) because there is a stable common hardware spec (albeit one with a wide range of possible peripherals and devices), so it's easier to make a One-Linux-Fits-All distribution.

MS tried the same thing with phones. Conform to their hardware standard, Windows Mobile will run. AFAIK it's not an open standard like a PC, so it's not reusable in the same way the PC standard is.

I think the best thing MS could do is to open up their phone standard. Dunno if it'll help, but they've nothing to lose by doing so. Google are heading towards a proprietary hardware standard, MS's open on might be more appealing for manufacturers.

That'll put the focus on Google's proprietary services being anticompetitive...

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Bin Apple's $500m patent judgment, US DoJ tells Supreme Court

bazza
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Re: Wow

Well, with most of Apple's money being held abroad, most of their manufacturing being done in China, most of their customers being non-US, and not really paying much tax in the US, just how 'American' is Apple anyway?

If an 'American' company wants the full protection given by Uncle Sam that comes with being head-quartered there, then playing nicely (pay tax, create jobs, be a decent corporate citizen) would make it easy. But if you go to excessive lengths to not pay tax and make it generally harder for law enforcement then you're clearly of less economic value and it's unsurprising that Uncle Sam may have less enthusiasm for your corporate well-being.

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Why does an Android keyboard need to see your camera and log files – and why does it phone home to China?

bazza
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Re: F-Droid only if you can

@King Jack,

@ bazza Please can we stop using that stupid argument

Ooo, touchy! Been stung by some Android malware recently?

As you blatantly ignored my innocent call for debate on my question, I'll kick it off.

So what's worse? An app whose permissions are blatantly and clearly more acquisitive than necessary?

Or Google's lengthy EULA which grants them far more rights, yet goes unread by and largely unexplained to end users?

Google are fundamentally no more or less trustworthy than any other US company. Arguably they're less trustworthy than a European company who operate in a much stronger data protection legal environment. Google operate in a data protection legal vacuum by comparison.

But they're just another company, and one who are on a mission to get more of your private data so as to screw more advertising revenue from that market. So far they have managed to be far more successful at it than most others so far.

Granting them special access to ones private data is fine if that's what one wants. But having done that it's inconsistent to then whinge about an app that quite openly and clearly (by means of its permissions) tries to do the same thing but on a more limited basis. Especially as it can be avoided entirely, simply by not installing it.

Sure, an app such as this keyboard seems particularly slimy (but then so is Google's EULA), and it is kinda crazy to install it. But millions of installers seem not too worried about the permissions that were put before their very eyes.

Difficult Challenge For Google

It might be that this kind of thing gets installed because people don't care, which in turn may be because they don't put anything they really care about on their phones.

Yet Google wants them to trust their entire lives to their mobile (so they can extract advertising cues from it). However if people are deliberately withholding data from them that's going to limit how much Google can grow their business.

And then there'll always be those people who find the whole Google-sees-everything nature of Android utterly repulsive. And given Apple's success, you have to conclude that there's a monied majority (majority as in Apple have made more money than Google) who'd rather not join Google's club. And then you get the BB10 users such as myself...

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bazza
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Re: F-Droid only if you can

Just for sake of debate, is this actually any worse than what Google themselves snaffle? Probably not.

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Microsoft has created its own FreeBSD image. Repeat. Microsoft has created its own FreeBSD image

bazza
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Re: Not sure if I should be happy

I'm fairly sure we can rely on the FreeBSD community to vet MS's contributions. And it sounds like MS are playing nicely anyway (for now at any rate). Amazing!

I wonder if any of that will filter through to OS X?

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Get ready for Google's proprietary Android. It's coming – analyst

bazza
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Re: They already have

They may continue to use AOSP, but it would take a phenomenal investment by someone to keep it anything like up to date. If Google remove themselves from the community there'd be an almighty development vacuum to be filled.

And I can't see the like of Samsung, etc stumping up the man hours. They don't have swathes of highly talented OS developers sitting around just in case. It's a vacuum that might not get filled.

Curve Ball

If a bunch of manufactures suddenly find themselves needing an OS, they could do worse than BB10. There's some good aspects:

1) it'll play with cars nicely. QNX is beginning to rule that market, and there'd be a lot in common between a BB10 phone and a QNX car

2) technically, under the hood, BB10 is very good

3) BlackBerry are almost certainly willing to license on favourable terms, and indeed are very purchasable.

4) whilst it isn't quite so flush with services as Google, there's a lot already there

5) it's Android runtime provides an app bridge

6) it doesn't data slurp

If all the likes of Samsung, HTC, Sony, Huawei, etc all decided to standardise on BB10, that'd save BlackBerry and there'd be an instant market for apps. That would make it viable for developers to write for it.

Though what I suspect will happen is that Samsung will try to do their own thing, fail, whilst everyone else whither and dies rather quicker.

Like him or loathe him, Jobs was right about one thing; software matters. The android crowd may find themselves with any software pretty quickly unless they take matters into their own hands.

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Digital ad biz is fraudulent by design, complain big brands

bazza
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An additional shabby side of the business is the publishers, and their ability to artificially expand the advertising market.

Ever Growing Vista

Physical advertising space (bill boards, magazines, etc) is limited. There's only so many places to print an advert.

These days, all Google (or whoever) have to do is invent some other "feature" for their websites, and it simply becomes another place in which advertisers have to place adverts for fear of "not being seen". Of course, getting your business advertised on a map, in search results, etc. all costs money, and a new digital advertising vista requires extra money.

And who pays for advertising? The consumer always pays for it. An advertiser's budget is drawn from the company revenues, which come from the goods sold in the shops/online/etc, bought by you an me.

How Much Does It Cost Me?

The UK digital advertising market is about £8billion a year. It's easy to calculate what share of that you're paying every year, regardless of what tech you own, use or see. Let me see, £8 billion, approx 40 million workers in the UK, = £200 per year.

Overall advertising has gone up £5billion in the last 10 years, and is about £425 per year for every worker.

Is it Really Worth it?

Given that the sole aim of a company like Google is to increase that number even more, how long before people start noticing? You spend a few hundred quid on a phone, and it then costs you (indirectly) another £200 a year. So if Google managed to increase that to £500/year, or £1000/year, would that be OK?

Is all this tech worth one, two month's mortgage payments? How long before digital advertising accounts for a significant proportion of a family's annual budget?

We're all spending a lot on adverts that we generally don't want to see, annoys us a lot when we see them, and costs us whether or not we use anything funded through ads.

Market Intervention

With a lot of that advertising revenue flowing out of the country to the US (well, Ireland where it's resting in an account, name of Criley), is there any macro-economic benefit from advertising at all? I don't know. But if a government decides that it's an economic menace they will have to step in and change the rules of the game. Unless the mobile network operators and ISP get really good at ad-blocking first.

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