* Posts by bazza

961 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

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US Navy satellite EXPLODES, scattering debris

bazza
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"so who lasered it?"

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

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Elon Musk plans to plonk urban Hyperloop subsonic tube on California

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

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

Why, thank you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Um, I think you're missing the point.

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

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

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

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

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

"particularly since they could scale with parallel tracks"

The costs would scale upwards too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Concerns

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

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Spotty Ceres baffles boffins with bright patches

bazza
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Re: Any...

Yes.

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Wake up! BlackBerry QUIETLY updates BB10

bazza
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Re: Any updates on this?

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

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

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Samsung in second SSD slowdown SNAFU

bazza
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Re: Can we just lose FLASH already?

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

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

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bazza
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Can we just lose FLASH already?

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

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

bazza
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Real time is also general purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

bazza
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Re: Glad to see that...

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

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Jaguar F-Type: A beautiful British thoroughbred

bazza
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Re: We need more aluminium cars

Jag have been particularly clever with aluminium construction.

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

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

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

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

Clever chaps.

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Linux kernel set to get live patching in release 3.20

bazza
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Re: Very clever stuff

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

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

bazza
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Re: I wonder if

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

Booo!

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bazza
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Re: I wonder if

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

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

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

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Linux 3.19 released for your computing pleasure

bazza
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Re: I miss the old days

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

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

bazza
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Anyone else get the feeling...

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

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

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RIP Windows RT: Microsoft murders ARM Surface, Nokia tablets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bazza
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Re: Lunacy

@chris 17,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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bazza
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Lunacy

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

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

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

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

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Tesla bumps up Model S P85D acceleration – with software update

bazza
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Long Journeys in one of these

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

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

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

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

Car Charging Isn't Quick

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

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

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

From the Driver's Point of View

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

From the Electrical Engineer's Point of View

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

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

Doesn't Make Much Sense

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

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

Charging up at home

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

Marketing Gimick?

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

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

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

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

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

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bazza
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Over The Air Upgrade? Is this Wise?

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

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

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

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

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

bazza
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Re: It's madness I tell thee

There's nothing particularly new here.

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

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

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

bazza
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Whoops!

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

I wonder if they used one of those?

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

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

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

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bazza
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Re: Economy

@Ossi,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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bazza
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Economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

bazza
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Re: Tizen's dead...

@Dave 126,

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

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

@Andy Prough,

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

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

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

1) An OS to call their own

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

3) Best available mobile security

4) The leading mobile device management system

5) A hundred million BBM users

6) Strangely good loudspeakers

7) A strong foothold in the auto industry

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bazza
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Tizen's dead...

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

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

bazza
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Re: Pedant Alert

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

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

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

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bazza
Silver badge

Pedant Alert

AVX2 is 256 bits wide, not 256 bytes.

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

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

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

bazza
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Shortly after takeoff

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

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

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Google Chrome on Windows 'completely unusable', gripe users

bazza
Silver badge

Re: discontinuing certain compilation optimisations and heartbleed

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

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bazza
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Re: @bazza Irony

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

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

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

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bazza
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Thumb Up

Re: Heading to Firefox territory...

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

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

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

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

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bazza
Silver badge
FAIL

Irony

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

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

Bollocks.

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

Oh, it seems that that's just happened.

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EVERYTHING needs crypto says Internet Architecture Board

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Encryption is not the whole answer

DO NOT USE ASN.1 for new protocols please, unless you are having a competition to see how many CVE's you can get for your software ("look Ma, we beat LDAP... !" :-).

Hmmm, I think the LDAP guys screwed up by inventing their own encoding format (Generic String Encoding Rules) instead of using the existing ITU standard encoding rules. If there's been problems, well perhaps that's not surprising.

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This 125mph train is fitted with LASERS. Sadly no sharks, though

bazza
Silver badge

Yellow's just the thing

The equivalent for the bullet train tracks in Japan is also painted yellow.

It has a nickname "Doctor Shinkansen", which or more explanatory than NMT... They run it over the entire bullet train network every day.

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Apple on the art of the deal: 'Put on your big boy pants and accept the agreement'

bazza
Silver badge

Sapphire will happen

Sapphire-screened mobiles will happen sooner or later. Apple has gone about it in a way where the risk wasn't entirely theirs, tried to do it on the cheap as usual, and has ended up setting back the whole idea by many years. Some one else will likely get there first now.

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Google gives Microsoft office an awkward hug with new plugin

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Integrated Desktop and the Cloud? Oooh!

File server is indeed what they mean. Not such a revolutionary idea. But never under estimate the power of new jargon to 'invent' new technology...

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The Imitation Game: Bringing Alan Turing's classified life to light

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Really?

Please at least read something (perhaps the Wikipedia article) on the matter before commenting.

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Forget eyeballs and radar! Brits tackle GPS JAMMERS with WWII technology

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Backup? We don't need no steenkin' backup!

@Gray,

Quite right.

WW2 Technology? Bloody Lazy Journalists (inc The Register)

I'm slightly irritated by the description as being "WW 2 Technology" that seems to have attached itself to eLORAN. It's anything but WW2 technology. Such a description is similar to saying that digital TV is based on the technology of Logie Baird.

If it comes to that, GPS can also be described as having been based on WW2 technology; it's just yet another way of determining position by measuring distances USING A RADIO SIGNAL from transmitters whose positions are known. That's a perfect description of eLORAN, LORAN-C, GEE, X-GERAT, Y-GERAT, OBOE, JAY, or any other radio based navigation system. With GPS the only conceptual difference is that the transmitters are in space. Even the idea of putting up a satellite to broadcast a radio signal also originated in WW2 in the mind of an RAF officer call Arthur C. Clarke. [Okay, so he thought about geo-stationary satellites, but he set the theme for all the ideas that followed.]

Drop the Bias, El Reg, and Think

The Register, no doubt spurred on by that retired and possibly out-of-date navigator Lewis Page, seems to be biased against eLORAN. That may be because LP thinks that it is inaccuracte.

However it seems to have had no difficulty in achieving 5m accuracy in limited trials (see this). Without differential corrections it seems to get to 6.8m (see this presentation, page 37. Also the nature of eLORAN is such that the more tranmitters you build the more accurate it becomes (unlike LORAN-C), lessening the need for differential eLORAN. A widespread deployment would be useful for almost all purposes, with differential eLORAN put in only where it mattered.

Incidently, LORAN-C is almost certainly something that Lewis Page has used and been irritated by. It would certainly irritate me. However I wonder if he's ever actually ever used an eLORAN receiver? By all accounts it's no different to using plain old vanilla GPS. In fact the whole essence of eLORAN is to make it as simple to use as GPS.

I find that lack of imagination inside El Reg surprising. As Gray says above it is cheap and effective, and it uses is a digital radio system (for its data channel) of a sort that normally gets a bunch of technologists like The Register excited. They like GPS, WiFi, Freeview, DVB-S, Bluetooth: what's not to like about eLORAN?

(They'd also like Digital Radio Mondiale [DRM - an unfortunate acronym] too if they'd ever heard of it. DRM is what DAB should have been).

I think the reason why they don't like it is because they have no imagination as to what eLORAN could become. So how about they try this on for size? It would be pretty simple to build a chip scale eLORAN receiver in the same way we currently build chip scale GPS receivers. If we had one of those, you could put on in every mobile phone, sat nav, train, mobile phone base station. That is, everything that uses GPS could be capable of also using eLORAN with a minimum of additional hardware. Also a chip scale eLORAN receiver would probably use a lot less power than a GPS receiver (there's less maths to do). Surely that's something to like?

Come on El Reg, Give it Some Backing

I think that it's quite interesting that it's the authorities in the maritime world that are pushing eLORAN. No doubt that's why Lewis Page gets hot under the collar about it. However the likes of the GLA, US Coast Guard, Trinity House, etc. all have centuries long cultures of ensuring that the navigational aids they provide to mariners are there, are working, and are working well. It's no surprise that they feel that GPS dependency is a dangerous thing.

I'm sure that Lewis Page (I don't know him) was an able and dutiful navigator, but that's a rarity in the maritime world these days; some ships can't even miss a wreck despite radio warning, guard ships, bouys and lights. If the commercial maritime world is hell bent on being automated all the way to the harbour entrance then the maritime authorities will ineviablty make sure that the technology behind it is backed up.

However there's plenty of other users of GPS who would be mortified if their GPS stopped working, not least every single smartphone user. The Register should be expressing an air of gratitude towards the likes of the GLA for giving us all the prospect of a decent backup that we could all use in a way wholly compatible with today's technology.

Disclaimer: I have no connection to any organisation with an interest in eLORAN or navigation.

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bazza
Silver badge

Re: Sextant

"A lot of WW-II bombers had a special dome on top so the navigator could take sextant sightings. B-17, B24, Lancaster, etc. Sextants do work in aircraft."

They do work, just not very well. Y-Gerat, X-Gerat, OBOE, GEE, LORAN all got developed by both sides in WW2 because it was realised that navigating by the stars was a sure way to missing a bombing target.

The Germans knew this from the outset, and it took a long time for R.V. Jones (one of the best brains Britain had in WW2) to be given the resources to find out how the Germans were doing it. Typically the RAF insisted that its crews could achieve good accuracy by navigating by the stars, and it took them a long time to acknowledge that they were missing their targets by many, many miles.

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bazza
Silver badge

Re: Sextant

LORAN's predecessor was originally designed for use by aircraft.

The difficult thing for aircraft is knowing their 2D position. The last dimension, height, they already knew from the altimeter.

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

bazza
Silver badge

Marmite

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

No Marmite? Well, that's it then.

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

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Very worrying!

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

13
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Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE

bazza
Silver badge

Misleading Language

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

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

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

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

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

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

bazza
Silver badge

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

Nope, it's not going to happen.

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

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

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

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

Then they'll tell the BBC to bugger off.

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

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Android's Cyanogenmod open to MitM attacks

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Another week...

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

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

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

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Rebellion sees Chromium reverse plans to dump EXT filesystem

bazza
Silver badge

@Dan55,

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

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

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bazza
Silver badge

Re: Why on earth is this news?

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

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

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

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

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