* Posts by Charles

268 posts • joined 30 May 2008

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WD drops 4TB whopper

Charles
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Re: Re: Format to Windows? Chris Harris

FAT32 is impractical for large hard drives due to the huge allocation block sizes and has a limit of about 2TB. Big drives are almost always formatted with a more modern filesystem--either HFS+ for MacOS or NTFS for Windows. NTFS support is not as widespread as that for FAT, so NTFS is not as well suited as a universal format. As for the 2TB limit, that's a limitation of the Master Boot Record system, not XP. If you switch to a GPT-based system, the limit is lifted.

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Mitsubishi finalises mass-market e-car production plans

Charles
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@Robert Moore

Took a close look. But the thing at the end of the thing looks more like a PLUG than a pump handle. Pretty sure it's meant to be a battery meter.

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Charles
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Close...

...but not worthy of that cigar yet. It certainly won't travel far in North America except in highly urban areas--the range just isn't there. And there's the matter of that price tag. Efficiency is good, yes, but not at exorbitant prices.

So forget a better mousetrap. How about a better battery?

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'Breathalyser for the hands' fights hospital superbugs

Charles
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@Mad Hacker

Even trained professionals can slip up. Long shifts, stressed schedules, life-altering experiences, or other things can cause even the most seasoned professionals to forget things or go into a brief fit of absent-mindedness. Problem is, when it comes to superbugs, they only need to be lucky ONCE. And a normally-vigilant-but-tired doctor or nurse would probably appreciate the gentle vibration and subtle reminder that they forgot to make that trip to the sink. Much better that than getting the finger pointed at you for patient complications (and all the flak that entails--short and long-term).

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US Federal Trade Commission shuts down ISP

Charles
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@Hud Dunlap

So how does a search and seizure get done against a person known to have a court mole? If the mole gets wind of this, the suspect can cut bait and run, defeating the search order. And they can't go after the mole because that is itself a warning to the suspect.

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Scientists design picture projection specs

Charles
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@Jimmy Floyd

I think in the F1 case, a HUD interfered with a driver's field of view, which in this case is more important than knowing the particulars of the car, which are probably somewhat memorized through practice and experience. Anyway, in F1, if anything really did throw the driver's rhythms off, odds are they won't have a good shot of finishing the race in good position anyway.

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40,000 sites hit by PC-pwning hack attack

Charles
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@Chris C

They said there was little in the way of a common link. Think of it this way.

What if most of those 40K+ websites each used a different web provider? Most of the sites are owned by someone not in connection to any of the others?

So how do you suppose 40K+ websites, each owned by someone else and hosted by different companies on different servers (supposedly all using different server software) all got compromised in such a short period, each in a seemingly different way? Either it's "typing monkeys" or someone has found a "magic bullet" zero-day vulnerability.

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US firm says handheld puke ray is ready to go

Charles
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@Lionel Baden

If the device is anything like previous generations of dazzlers, they work upon green wavelengths (because human eyes are particularly perceptive to them) and probably of enough intensity that they can at least be noticeable even with eyelids shut (much like staring into the sun with eyes shut).

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SATA Revision 3.0 released

Charles
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@Simon B

So when someone mentions SATA3, do they mean SATA revision 3 or SATA @ 3Gb/sec? That's why SATA-IO wanted to make that abundantly clear. Perhaps they're trying to get people to think of SATA versions in terms of their speed, say SATA1.5, SATA3, and SATA6, much as ATA specs were mentioned in the old days. Were you confused about ATA66, ATA100, and so on? As long as there's a consensus, there should be little to complain about.

As for the need for 6Gb/sec, SSDs have already been mentioned. In particular, RAM-based drives could easily fill the bus speed. Another possibility is port splitting, two or more drives taking up the same channel (we moved away from that with the initial SATA jump, but extra bandwidth reopens the possibility for particular instances).

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Getting real about Linux on the desktop

Charles
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@Steve Taylor

Photoshop is a flagship for an application that will never come to Linux--Adobe has made that abundantly clear. Another potential sticking point is Microsoft Office. Now, simple documents, spreadsheets, etc. can be ported over to OpenOffice with little trouble (I've done it for many documents in a relatively short period of time). The trouble is when you get to complex files filled with VBA code or custom screen templates. This is simple fact, but MSO and OOo use two entirely different programming systems (the former is based on Visual Basic, the latter on ECMAScript IIRC), so porting the scripts is no easy task.

Another potential problem for migration is critical custom applications that have been in existence for a long time, cost a lot to acquire, and more than likely come from a company no longer in business. They're too expensive to replace, too critical to live without, and too touchy to move. So many companies have no choice but to "live with it".

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Ocarina makes waves with lossless image compression

Charles
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To add on to the debate...

Can Ocarina provide performance figures for image formats that started out losslessly-compressed themselves, in particular PNG files (which use decently-robust Deflation as the algorithm of choice).

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DARPA at work on 'Transformer TX', a proper flying car

Charles
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Quiet?

No offense meant, but wouldn't the necessary thrust of air ducts needed to get a one-tonne device off the ground necessarily be noisy JUST from pure wind noise? Take a helicopter. Helicopters near ground level make noise, yes, but they also generate lots of wind which is itself noisy. I frankly can't see how one can mitigate wind noise and yet make the vehicle both air- and roadworthy. There seem to be too many problems physics-wise (which thus cannot be mitigated) for the concept to be practical anymore. And there's always the inevitable question of safety--not just above the ground, but consider above another vehicle.

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Inside USB 3.0

Charles
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@Lionel Baden

That's exactly the reason for the setups. USB3 devices can (and by spec must, just as with USB2 with USB1 busses) be hooked up with legacy cables. They won't go at SuperSpeed, but they'll work nonetheless. It's something USB users come to expect after the USB1->USB2 transition. USB strives to make as many things work on as many busses as possible. It's just that, this time, they had to make some compromises. As for optical, that may be a future step, but consider your average TOSLink cable--not very thin and not very flexible, whereas HDMI seems to work just peachy on just copper.

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Charles
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@Inachu

Video physics is already being migrated to the video card (which is still away from the CPU), negating the need for physics accelerators. As for Network and Sound overhead, those come from using cheap chips (common on the consumer end where a lot of CPU time is idle). If you want on-device load handling, you need to step up to more sophisticated (and more expensive) dedicated network and sound cards.

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Scientists: Tasers work, but we don't know how

Charles
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@dodge

Electricity has other uses, too. After all, there's the power grid and batteries. As for electroshocks being of benefit, low-current electric shocks (say, under 5mA) aren't that dangerous and can even be used in muscle therapy. It's sometimes used in conjunction with acupuncture therapy for pain relief.

As for its classification, it's considered "less-lethal" because under normal use it is highly likely to not result in death (now exceptions can occur, such as those with unique sensitivities or those who thrash themselves into lethal injuries, but such should be exceedingly rare). The intention for less-lethal weapons is to have a middle ground of coercion between words and lethal force, particularly if a subject is too agitated or aggressive to approach in person (think a big drunken bloke at 3AM). If they don't respond to words and it's unsafe to approach (say, you risk getting a haymaker for your troubles), then you'd appreciate something that just subdues the bloke temporarily so you can get the cuffs on him. Now, like anything, it can be abused and overdone, but I for one would prefer police trend towards less-lethal sidearms. I look at it from the receiving end--which would you rather have, a bullet in your gut or a pepper spray in your face?

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If they can break the law, why can't we?

Charles
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@Lee, AC

There IS something police DO fear: like anyone, they don't like someone else digging into their affairs. In the US, three letters can probably make any cop think twice: FBI. They have a history of investigating corrupt police, so if I'm being held against my will without arrest, I could make it a subtle point that perhaps the FBI needs to look into possible corruption in the force. And knowing that, they'd be hard pressed to fabricate a charge against me, since arresting me affords me the RIGHT to a phone call...a call that would most likely result in the presence of not just my lawyer...but perhaps also the Feds.

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Charles
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@Dave

Better still, both in the UK and elsewhere, a means for the people to directly tell their elected representative or whatever, "You're incompetent in performing your job of representing the people--you're fired!". Sort of a "vote of no confidence" for representatives. I may find myself with crow in my mouth for this at a later date, but I think it's better than the status quo, plus it shoots down the whip system--a dreary job is almost always better than NO job.

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Charles
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Happy

A novel form of protest?

Now, correct me if the laws say otherwise, but as I understand it, one is not required to answer police questions unless under arrest, and even then you may claim a protection against self-incrimination (depending on where you are situated). If stopped on the street, unless being arrested, one is not required to even give a name (providing automotive documentation--licenses, registrations, etc.--may be required if you're in a vehicle), and passengers are not obligated to give anything. I wonder if the next time a policeman wishes this kind of non-obligatory information from me, if it would be legal for me to CHARGE them for that information, claiming for example, "That kind of information is very private and very valuable to me. You must pay me (insert certain amount--fair or ridiculous, your call) before I will provide the answer." Call it what you will--insurance against identity theft due to public disclosure of private information, simply recognition of the value of your personal information, or something else.

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Governator revives anti-violent video game crusade

Charles
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Evidence for harm through violence.

The state could counter-counterargue that if violence regulation requires evidence of its deliterious effects or that it's "patently obscene", then so must pornography and any other speech that is denied First Amendment protection. It'll create a Pandora's Box "all or nothing" case unless they have the evidence at hand, which (like violence) may be tricky--there's Europe and Japan, after all, where attitudes toward sexuality have historically been looser than in America with no patently deleterious effects to show as a result.

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'Air fuelled' battery tech invented in Scotland

Charles
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@Mike Richards

Diesel-electrics are great for sprints, but they're terrible at marathons. Plus they gotta surface every so often. Nuclear subs can go months at a time (completely underwater, even) without stopping (and the limiting factor tends to be supplies, not fuel).

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Unsafe at any speed: Memcpy() banished in Redmond

Charles
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Re: The gcc/glibc/linux solution

That warning only works if the arrays have constant parameters, enabling the compiler to know what size they would be ahead of time. If, OTOH, you're just given a source and destination pointer as the inputs to a function, with no knowledge of what's in them or even their size, you've essentially got a code bomb on your hands that not even the compiler would pick up. Same goes for data buffers for reading from files (since C doesn't know at open time how big the file is--you need to employ the file I/O functions creatively to figure it out).

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Charles
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IT Angle

If tracking the size of buffers is such an issue...

...then why hasn't there been mandated the used of a structured data type where data size is self-managed alongside the data itself (by using C++ classes or functions that modify a struct properly). That way the size of the buffer is not up to the programmer (who may not even know what's supposed to be coming in). If memory problems are the result of the language being too loose, perhaps it is time to tighten it up and force sanity checking.

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D-Link exposes WiFi routers with new 'security feature'

Charles
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Stop

Re: "Notoriously insecure hash"

But you CAN defeat a hash by finding an input that gives you the same hash as output. It's a known problem known as Hash Collision. MD5 has been discovered to be weak against hash collisions--given a known hash, a laptop could product a hash collision within hours. That IS a problem AND a weakness. That's why Certificate Authorities don't use MD5 anymore. In contrast, no one's been able to get an SHA collision for any given hash in any reasonable length of time with user-level hardware.

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Raygun 747 to fight 'one-off' tag with twin '09 missile fryings

Charles
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Unhappy

@NogginTheNog

Unless, as some MAD critics have pointed out, the aggressor in question doesn't care for the welfare of his/her country. Indeed, a very bad scenario would be a leader who feels it's better for the world to burn than to lose (victory or armageddon).

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Charles
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Re: Magic mirror on the SRBM

FTR, no mirror is perfect, and with a laser powerful enough, even a minor imperfection is sufficient to heat the surface enough to distort it and break the mirroring effect. After that, it's business as usual.

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London cab & bus trials for satnav speed-governor kit

Charles
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@Bassey

You could be driving legally and have the road say one thing and the device think another (think the TomTom cases). What about intersections of two roads with different speed limits? How about two closely-aligned roads with differing speed limits? A recent issue with my GPS unit on divided motorways is that it thinks I'm on the opposite side of the road and notes me going in the opposite direction (GPS accuracy can vary). It also gives me trouble on reversible carriageways.

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RFID goes Underground

Charles
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@Peter White

Simply painting the step is insufficient since EACH step must be recorded. And these serial numbers MUST be placed away from the general public (lest they be tampered). So the only solution is to put the numbers on the UNDERSIDES where only techs can reach. What RFID allows is for the tech to read the serial number of the thing without having to physically pick up the thing and turn it over, again and again. And data leakage is a non-issue--who's going to care about the unique serial number of the step one is standing upon?

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Windows 7 promises better SSD-ing performance than Vista

Charles
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@Psymon

They're in use in hard drives. Giant Magnetoresistance and Spin Valves are how their densities keep growing (that and charges are now stored perpendicular to the platter rather than parallel). I assume you're talking about MRAM. Quite simply, it doesn't shrink well.

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Win 7 RC fails to thwart well-known hacker risk

Charles
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@Greg Fleming

At the same time, there are files that may look similar to each other internally but are actually used very differently practically. Consider that a program trying to inspect a CBZ (Comic Book Archive), an XPI (Firefox extension), and a JAR (Java Archive) could easily mistake each of them for a ZIP. Little surprise--all three are themselves ZIP archives with particular files within them.

How about this for a proposal: Since icons and names can't be trusted (since people may delete exposed extensions AND be suckered by hidden ones--no win here), how about color-coding the name of the program. IIRC, compressed files and folders in XP and up are shown in blue text. How about make all executable programs show up in red text, to indicate that they're executable? Now, even with extensions hidden, they're clearly visible, and the malware can't change the color of the text (since it's not subject to the program itself).

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Apple bans Page 3 from iPhone app

Charles
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@Jimmy Floyd

When it comes to children, decency around children, and especially obscenity (not implying Page 3 is obscene, more the former), free speech/press runs into problems. It's the same reason bookstores are allowed to decide not to allow Playboy and the like in their stores and not be railed for free press issues.

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Obama declares war on Ireland over tech tax avoidance

Charles
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@nicolas

Because Delaware is still within the United States. While it may possess various tax benefits on the state level, any company in Delaware must still submit to *federal* tax rules which remain unaffected whether you're in Delaware, Florida, or California.

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Videogame history project successfully emulates CRT on LCD

Charles
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Unhappy

Re: Hmmm I don't think so

Flat-screen CRTs can only be so thick because it's hard to squash a picture tube--electrons traveling at or near the speed of light can only be redirected so much by a magnet.

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Hire your very own Fred the Shred

Charles
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Go

@EnricoSuarve

Both firms are WEEE-compliant, which means they minimize the disposal of their end result and maximize their reuse, recycling, recovery, etc.

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T-Mobile lays ground for embedded SIMs

Charles
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@Max Miller

I see both sides of the argument here

But now the question I ask: why T-Mobile USA? The USA is, frankly, a few steps back in general cell phone usage (part of it's coverage issues and attitude), though you can find ways if you know where to look (I have a vanilla N95 8GB--through Amazon, no less, and it was on sale). And I don't recall GSM operators having a lot of truck with virtual network operations (the Kindle's Whispernet is a virtual network run through Sprint's EVDO, for example; Virgin Mobile USA is another popular virtual network). Does T-Mobile intend to go into the virtual network arena to provide firms with virtual networks (like Whispernet) for these kinds of operations?

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After mass security lapse, RBS Worldpay gets IRS contract

Charles
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Happy

At least the IRS contract has caveats.

When I first read the article, I was thinking "WTFH?!" Then I read at the end that the IRS is conditioning the contract on RBS Worldpay coming clean. This might be a good thing after all--now they have two big incentives to clean up their act--those convenience fees and the fact the US government will stick it where they don't want it, if you get my drift, if they screw up again.

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MS opens kimono on Windows 7 security features

Charles
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@AC

Their non-flagship operating systems are the backend OS's: the Windows Server line. Either that, or it's flagship in that Windows is Microsoft's cash cow compared to other products like Office.

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Hefty IT prof develops robot to check that robots are safe

Charles
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IT Angle

Re:Adjust Height!

And if it's not possible to change altitude because of crowded airspace where there are aircraft known to be flying above and/or below the flight levels of the two planes and in the general vicinity?

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New non-volatile memory promises 'instant-on' computing

Charles
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@YARR

Which is probably why they went to mostly Flash storage for PalmOS 5 models like my T|X. A little more expensive, but at least it keeps data even when the battery runs down or loses charge. But flash as an all-in-one is impractical for anything beyond PDAs and embedded systems at this point--beyond a certain capacity, the costs get too exorbitant. Plus there's the issue of some apps needing fast memory (flash is notoriously slow as a memory medium).

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Charles
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Unhappy

Haven't we heard all this before with...

MRAM, PRAM, NRAM, RRAM, and more RAMs than I have time to list? Call me when one of these nonvolatile fast-as-DRAM RAMs actually becomes COMMERCIALLY viable?

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FBI docs out home-brewed spyware probes

Charles
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Well, at least the FBI isn't in cahoots with the NSA.

I will credit the FBI with having the train of thought that forces them to keep thinking about their use of surveillance technology and limiting it as needed. I also credit them with only using it once approved by the courts (as it should be done).

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'Vista Capable' judge tosses class-action status - again

Charles
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The tag is "Vista Preferred"

Thing is, when you buy something that says it's capable, common sense dictates you should be able to use it fully (it's not just Aero that's as issue but also DirectX 10 and other key multimedia features). It's like buying a "road-worthy" car only to learn it's not allowed on motorways. Now, if the tag had said "Vista Limited", that would be truth enough to leave the user high and dry.

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Businesses will postpone Windows 7 rollouts

Charles
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@Shane Menshik

But what if your workstation has local hardware, such as scanners or 3D graphics such as for CAD? Those don't virtualize well. Also, virtualization servers are themselves an outlay that businesses may wish to avoid.

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Google throws secret auto-updater to open sorcerers

Charles
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Re: Ctrl + Alt + Delete

You must have an OLD machine to be able to reboot from two straight three-fingered salutes. That sequence pretty much went dead with Windows 2000 (which, based on NT, doesn't allow for rebooting that way). In 2000, the three-fingered salute takes you to a special dialog. In XP and up, it brings up the Task Manager. And GoogleUpdater employs the Scheduler to reactivate itself should you shut it down.

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Charles
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@Caytie

Windows Firewall only blocks incoming stuff. You need something like Zone Alarm (which I hate--resource hog) to block the outgoing traffic coming from GoogleUpdater.

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Charles
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IT Angle

I must be an oddball case.

I'll be honest with you. I took a look at my Processes list, and I don't see GoogleUpdater anywhere on my system. And I have Google Earth installed. Perhaps it's because I haven't used the thing since I last booted my system.

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JavaScript battle enters final round

Charles
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Unhappy

Oh great...

Even more ways to get "pwned". I'm frankly getting a little tired about this push for all these systems to have more and more functions. How about knuckling down and making the ones you already have battle-hardened for the hostile Internet first?

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Cable-cutting vandals disconnect Silicon Valley

Charles
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@Iam Me

Redundancy won't work against a planned attack, either. It may take more effort, but you can be sure anyone intending to cut off emergency services will simply make the effort to cut off ALL redundancies. Note that this one incident had five separate cable cuts. Those five cuts could've easily been done to address any known redundancies. As for using different technologies for the redundancies, each one has weak points that could still be simultaneously struck.

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Microsoft conjures imaginary 'Apple Tax'

Charles
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@tom

But to be fair, tight control of hard is EXACTLY what makes Macs "just work". Since Apple controls the acceptable hardware, they can actually test for every possibility. Not line in the PC world where no one has real control over anything and anyONE can do just about anyTHING. It's the classic tradeoff of the walled garden or the badlands.

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PETA pitches for Pet Shop Animal Shelter Boys

Charles
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Joke

What about the plants?

Plants are living and growing beings, just like animals. But who gives a fat **** about THEIR feelings. The next time PETA sets up one of their insane stunts, perhaps a new organization should set up a counter stunt across the street. Call themselves PETPV-People for the Ethical Treatment of Plants and Vegetation. Every time PETA holds up "Save a cow! Live longer!" or the like, PETPV can counter with something like "Save the grass! Have more oxygen to breathe!" Perhaps PETA won't find their stunts to pleasing when they are themselves stunted on.

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EC blasts mobile masts away from schools and hospitals

Charles
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@H. Kaker

The thing is that most towers are elevated to provide sufficient coverage area. So although you've got lots of signals near a cell tower, it's all over your head. And since signal strength (and thus its effect on you) fades drastically over distance (inverse square ratio to distance, IIRC), they should be even less of a problem than the one unit you put right up against your skull.

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