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* Posts by Alan Brown

2858 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

NASA's MAVEN enters Mars orbit to sniff its gas

Alan Brown
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Re: Fantastic stuff

s/through/amongst/ and I'd be a lot happier (and somewhat less crispy).

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Ten years on, TEN PER CENT of retailers aren't obeying CAN-SPAM

Alan Brown
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Re: So...

" I don't have a f*cking LinkedIn account, and I sure as hell aren't creating one just to stop receiving your bloody sign up requests. Cnuts."

In order to test things, I went through their signup process and oprted out of everything.

They still kept spamming that account and have done to this day.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Who does the law protect?

"At least in the US, no one. Spammers operate with near total impunity"

CAN-SPAM was drafted and passed amazingly quickly, in order to defang California's restrictive antispam legislation which was about to pass into effect.

It's known in the spamfighter circles as "You CAN-SPAM" - it's still possible to breach it (forgery, spamming from an ISP with an antispam AUP, etc), but the only entities which can take action are ISPs/ESPs, or the FTC.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Links

"This does catch us out now and again, as one company recently started inspecting links in emails at gateway via trend micro, and as a result the last mailshot we sent out unsubbed everyone in that domain."

This same Trend Micro habit also _CONFIRMS_ mailing list signup requests, which in turn has led to numerous false positives on the MAPS DNSBL (Trend own MAPS and have done for a while)

I wouldn't have too much sympathy for those behind Trend Micro filters. Any damage they get is self inflicted.

(After trying to get this policy altered, JaNet (The UK academic network) dropped MAPS at the start of August (all zones were emptied at the start of September). There were at least 1500 institutions using MAPS via JaNet, so that has to be one of the largest "no confidence" votes I've seen in recent history. Spamhaus and several other DNSBLs continue to be usable by UK academia via JaNet agreements)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Jurisdiction?

"Could it be, perhaps, that some of these retailers are based outside the US and therefore not subject to US law?"

Long-arm statutes - if they do business in the USA (or with USA residents, as far as deliberately doing business with them), then they come under the law.

The FCC went after a British spam fax operation some years ago and collected quite a but of money. That pretty much put the idea of offshore spam fax (covered by TCPA) to bed.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Links

it you subscribed - it's safe (usually)

If you didn't - Don't.

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SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD – courting speed freaks and gamers

Alan Brown
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Re: An important question : SSD failure modes?

> Apocryphally (or perhaps related to early products) SSDs turn into bricks "just like thatApocryphally (or perhaps related to early products) SSDs turn into bricks "just like that"

I have several consumer-grade SSDs which like to lockup for no apparent reason (they come back when power cycled)

> Still, it would be nice if some review site could embark on a useful long-term endurance test.

Oddly enough, Anandtech and a couple of others have been doing exactly that for the last couple of years.

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Alan Brown
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"In the early 1990s a PC 500MB disk would cost about £175."

In 1991 a 200Mb drive cost me US$1200

In 1993 the same money got 1Gb

in 1995, 4Gb and 7200rpm (barracudas, which ran so hot that forced cooling was required to keep the warranrty intact)

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Alan Brown
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write latency scatter?

As important as write speeds, is write latency. It's no good having high throughput if the drive hiccups occasionally.

Sandisk have a paper up about this at http://www.sandisk.com/assets/docs/performance_consistency_final_08_26_13.pdf

Several websites started looking at this seriously when intel pointed it out as part of their datacentre range release - and sure enough a lot of consumer-grade drives sometimes take tens or hundreds of milliseconds to complete a random write or read. This has a huge impact on overall performance.

A good example of the differences between drives is shown in the charts at http://www.storagereview.com/intel_ssd_dc_s3700_series_enterprise_ssd_review

It'd be extremely interesting to see the scatter plots for the 850pro and the Extreme Pro - this is the kind of thing which makes the difference between "fast" and "not as good as it should be"

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EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass

Alan Brown
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Re: Gorgonzolagate

That would be cartel behaviour, which is illegal.

The hard part is proving it, so best make sure there's no audit trail.

Golf course conversations and handshakes on the green it is....

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Alan Brown
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Re: Decline of the high street

"...is partly our fault "

For not putting up with stupid parking restrictions and fees, voting with our wallets instead.

The stupid ones are the high street retailers, not us.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Smash and grab

"the point was the better customer service, independent advise, exclusive deals and prices and ACTUALLY HAVING COMPETITION."

Except the customer service wasn't better, the advice wasn't independent, the prices weren't spectacular and the competition was in name only.

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Dotcom owns up: my name was 'poison'

Alan Brown
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Kiwi complacency

"there are a lot of "average" New Zealanders who weren't aware of the pervasiveness of the surveillance going on and the corruption of our elected officials."

The NZ govt and police have been using high levels of surveillance on "certain elements" for years.

The NZ Police openly describe various activists as "subversives" - which says a lot more about the police than it does about the people they're watching.

It also says a lot about New Zealand media that the police can do this on national television without being hauled up on it by interviewers or commentators.

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Oz carrier Tiger Air takes terror alerts to new heights

Alan Brown
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"but ordering three times as many F-35s (if they ever work)."

There's no real doubt the F35A and C will work (but just not very well and they're vastly overpriced)

It's the F35B which is under a cloud.

The F111B used to be known as the Aardvark because of its nose.

I nominate the F35 (all versions) for the title of "Potbellied Pig" for obvious reasons (although "pregnant whale" might be more appropriate, given its handling characteristics)

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THE DEATH OF ECONOMICS: Aircraft design vs flat-lining financial models

Alan Brown
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Re: The Mission of Banks is to Cause Debt!

"They should not be loaning money to people who haven't a prayer of paying it back, but they do."

When that madness started I was convinced for months that it was an elaborate hoax dreamed up by spammers to separate fools from their money.

It was, but not dreamed up by spammers.

By the way, USA mortgage law is different to UK law.

If the mortgaged house is handed over to the bank in the USA, that is the end of the debt. If the house sells for less than the debt, the bank gets to carry the loss.

In the UK, if the house sells for less than the debt, you're still in the hole for the remainder.

This means that in the USA, the SENSIBLE approach to negative equity is to walk away, quickly, whilst in the UK, people hold on in the forlorn hope they might make their money back before they die.

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Alan Brown
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Re: trains and planes ...

"Would have to a very complex system. If they have level crossings on the runways in your part of the world."

http://www.amusingplanet.com/2013/08/gisborne-airport-runway-with-railway.html

I've landed on that runway a few times (takeoffs on another one)

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Alan Brown
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Re: The BBC told me it was fixed?

"In 2007 there seemed to be endless TV programs talking up house prices and encouraging people to move. That was a warning sign that things were out of control. "

And the cycle is starting up again.

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'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator

Alan Brown
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Re: Cable taps.

"All undersea cables have an amplifier attached to them at some point."

Just to clarify this: Not all, not even most these days. Just the really long ones. Anything shorter than 450km doesn't need repeaters and some systems can go 1500km without repeaters (there's a speed/distance tradeoff involved)

Optical amplifiers are simple affairs owing more to old-fashioned travelling wave tube amplifiers than anything else (TWTs are still the most common form of repeater used on geostationary satellites). They don't regenerate the signal and in general regenerators aren't needed on underwater links.

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Alan Brown
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Re: operation ivy Bells ?

"tap at the repeater, where things have to go back to electrical, not optical."

That hasn't been the case for over a decade. optical repeaters stay optical these days.

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Alan Brown
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"THIS IS BLOODY DIFFICULT, it would be easier to 'encourage' the backhaul provider to make space for a special box in their data centre."

ObXKCD: http://xkcd.com/538/

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Alan Brown
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Re: Easy

"Afaik the US has a specially converted submarine they have been using since the 80's to tap into such cables... they used it extensively in the cold war."

Probably more than one, given NR-1 is supposedly retired

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_submarine_NR-1

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Alan Brown
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Re: OH RLY?

"So, even if it was spliced"

It doesn't need to be to install a snoop tap. Just bend the fibres tightly enough and you can sniff the light leakage.

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Poverty? Pah. That doesn't REALLY exist any more

Alan Brown
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Re: "you've got that $1.25 a day at US prices to play with...

"Or, as we might say, what in buggery is wrong with charity?"

In principle, nothing.

In practice, a hell of a lot - many charities are simply scams setup to maximise income for those who run the charity (I'm looking at you, speed camera partnerships), whilst performing the minimum necessary work to retain charitable status.

Charity generally falls down once it becomes organised and hauls in a "business manager" - eventually one of the sociopaths previously mentioned charms his/her way in and rearranges things to suit his own best interests, not those the charity is supposed to be helping.

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Alan Brown
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Re: But is a fluid definition a bad thing?

"The solution to absolute poverty is free markets, trade and capitalism. so let's have those until absolute poverty is gone and then we can think again about relative poverty."

Absolute free markets, trade and capitalism is what led to american railroad robber barons, unfettered monopolies and various social issues. The number of Henry Fords amongst industrialists is negligable.

Without choking the life out of things, there is a need for regulation to prevent child labour, rapacious monopolies, large scale pollution/environmental damage and ensure fair competition in the marketplaces.

Checks and safeguards against such things have been systematically removed in the west for some time (especially in the USA).

One of the 19th century economists (Can't remember if it was Smith or another one) pointed out that there's no such thing as unlimited growth, but our markets are predicated on such things, which is why "corrections" seem to happen regularly (but irregularly enough to be unpredictable). Even 3% growth is unsustainable over a few centuries (the whole limits to growth thing).

The problem is that once you're in a mindset that constant growth is required you'll do anything to maintain that fiction, including short term stuff (such as sacrificing workers and driving the remainder beyond long-term limits) to keep it going when those very actions destroy long-term viability. (Those responsible for the destruction are usually spared from the effects of their actions and skip merrily between companies whilst making out like bandits).

The other problem to keep in mind is intelligent sociopaths - given positions of power they are extremely dangerous individuals, far more so that a sociopathic murderer may be. Under current western company laws (maximise profit for the shareholders unless directed otherwise), companies are legally required to behave in a sociopathic manner. In such an environment sociopathic individuals are able to rise to senior positions and in their quest for more personal power/wealth, inflict major damage on the structures around them. Psychological evaluation of leaders who award themselves increasing pay/bonuses whilst decreasing worker pay and/or having the company spiralling the drain would be "rather interesting".

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ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee

Alan Brown
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Deliberately congested interconnects

"Major ISPs ordered their intermediary to not upgrade these connections, though said intermediary was going crazy trying to get them to do so. "

This particular point has been missed by a significant number of "reporters" and "commentards" alike.

There are about a dozen transit/peering points which have remained overloaded for more than a couple of months.

All of them are in North America

All of them are with major ISPs who have effective monopolies in their service areas

All those ISPs operate their own content delivery services.

NONE of the interconnects belonging to those ISPs at peering points outside North America are congested.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140718/06533327927/level3-proves-that-verizon-is-absolutely-to-blame-netflix-congestion-using-verizons-own-data.shtml

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4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch

Alan Brown
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Re: ...and then you show them

It's not just that. As another poster has pointed out, frame rate matters too.

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Alan Brown
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Re: ...and then you show them

"However the thing holding me back (aside from sensibly waiting for prices to fall a little), is that I've heard old SD content on a 4K display looks awful. "

Wouldn't it be nice to ask for a demonstration in the shop and actually see?

(the ones with usb ports could probably be easily tested...)

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SpaceX blasts a mischief of mice, a 3D printer and a cuddly toy* into SPAAAACE

Alan Brown
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Re: re: mouse organ

The other 14 are driving the wheel, seeing as hamsters aren't space-rated.

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Aggressive HGST hurls flashy humdingers at online archiving

Alan Brown
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even microseconds are too large.

More like nano seconds.

FWIW the access time of the best DRAM is still in the 60ns range - and hasn't really changed for 20 years. Other ram technologies have far lower latency (ZRAM is 2-4ns for example) but cost more or aren't yet commercially viable.(*)

_worst_ case latency of PCIe 1.0 is 21ns, PCIe 2.0 is usually less than 10ns

NAND read latency is variable, but even 70us would be inordinately long.

(*) HP has been sampling memristors for a while. At 5-10ns latency I'd take 2Gb DIMMS _NOW_, given how much they'd speed up computational work needed here (the processors spend more time waiting for memory than they do crunching)

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PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away

Alan Brown
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Black holes are messy eaters

Only about 3% of the material in an accretion disk goes over the event horizon. the rest is blasted off as jets.

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Bank IT bod accused of stealing $40 MEEELLION from employer

Alan Brown
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Nigerian gangs don't just do this in Nigeria

They own a few employees in banks ion other countries too. Comes in handy for money laundering.

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Massachusetts shoots down car dealers' Tesla-busting sueball

Alan Brown
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Re: serious tax implications

"If sales tax goes down they're going to come after the residents to make up the gap."

In other parts of the world, there's no municipal sales tax.

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Alan Brown
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Re: The question is...

"The rules Tesla was accused of breaking was to stop a manufacturer letting a local dealer invest and build up a market, get a good reputation for service for the brand and then have the manufacturer move into the town and undercut them."

Which is exactly the kind of thing which is happening on the mobile phone front, with phones4u (UK side) and Radio Shack (Stateside) having their oxygen cut off by the telcos setting up thei rown network of stores and then cutting off handset supply contracts.

The fact that this anti-franchising activity has been happening in other business arenas within various states is probably what's going to cause the law to be eventually struck down entirely.

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Seagate's triple-headed Cerberus could SAVE the DISK WORLD

Alan Brown
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hard drive analogies

Back in the days of Bigfoots, a 1Gb HDD was likened to a 747 flying at mach 2, 6 inches off the ground and counting every blade of grass it went over.

The speed and height haven't changed but now it's counting the ants between the blades.

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Alan Brown
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"Spinning rust's days are very close to being over, apart from a few niche applications such as high volume cold data."

By way of confirmation of impending doom[tm]:

1Tb Samsung 850Pro drives are about ukp500, 1Tb Seacrate SSHDs are about $60-70 (desktop vs laptop)

The price of "big" SSDs just keeps on falling.

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Drones CAN'T deliver goods ... oh. Air traffic control system backed by NASA, you say?

Alan Brown
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Re: bit skeptical

Avoidance is a 3d issue. 2 devices can be at the same X,Y coordinates at time T, as long as coordinate Z is different.

The aircraft standard is that different levels are (supposed to be) used for different flight directions, normally at 500 foot levels. This means you only have to look for stuff crossing your path, instead of closing at high speed.

There are also more prosaic rules, like giving way to the right and conventions about going down/up if paths are crossing, dependent on which direction one is travelling in.

Humans are bad at dealing with more than 3-4 objects moving around at once, as anyone playing Galaxians will attest. Machines should be able to do much better, more quickly, because they don't get distracted and because they should be able to chatter amongst themselves both to agree on directions and warn of uncontrolled objects (such as those pesky birds)

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In a spin: Samsung accuses LG exec of washing machine SABOTAGE

Alan Brown
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Re: and that other German brand who's name escapes me

Brushes?

Stepper motors don't _have_ brushes - and large enough ones can direct-drive so there's no belt to worry about either.

Electronic commutation is the way to go.

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spɹɐʍʞɔɐB writing is spammers' new mail filter avoidance trick

Alan Brown
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"Virus scanners detect the first bytes of a file and, when this contains MZ (amongst others, MZ means executable), will block the attachment ... regardless of the extension."

Which is why many malware payloads are .zips - and because zips are now widely scanned they've recently resorted to ARJ archives (presumably they'll move to other ancient compression formats later)

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Intellifridge terror: Internet of Stuff kit must fend off hackers of the FU-TURE-TURE-TURE

Alan Brown
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obligatory cartoon

http://www.ibiblio.org/Dave/Dr-Fun/df200306/df20030604.jpg

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Sun's MASSIVE solar storm belch to light up Earth's skies

Alan Brown
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Re: [It] would likely destroy the US electrical grid

"The solution is to ensure that no long distance loops are connected for the duration of the particle shower."

Which more or less means "shut the grid down"

Slightly different transformer layouts are immune to this effect but cost more to implement. Sadly, noone's even started working on mitigation measures for a X10 direct hit and likely won't unless ordered by govts in the interests of national security.

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FTC: We didn't robocall you and thousands of others asking for bank details. IT'S A TRAP!

Alan Brown
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Re: FTC can't find its fanny in a phone booth

Caller ID can be spoofed easily.

Spoofing the ANI (or equivalent) is a _lot_ harder.

The data is there, if there's a will to collect it (having a number like 1571 to report "the last call was scam/nusiance" and collating the data from those would be relatively cheap to implement and provide enough data to nail these outfits quickly)

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Smart meters in UK homes will only save folks a lousy £26 a year

Alan Brown
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Cost

"£215 over 5 years to pay for them?"

That's 5 for the meter, 50 for the installer and 165 "internal administration charges"

http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/DD862-Type-single-phase-active-watt_1465261195.html

http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/DDS5558-electric-smart-meter_1535421756.html

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Alan Brown
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Re: It'll save money ...

From time to time is relative.

I didn't see one for 5 years then he showed up 3 months running.

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Whopping 10TB disks spin out of HGST – plus 3.2TB flash slabs

Alan Brown
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Shingles is a nasty painful disease

And I predict that shingled drives will be similarly painful.

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Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms

Alan Brown
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Re: Been There Done That.

"Is lacking voice and video but could easily encompass it."

US MURS rules specifically prohibit use for phone calls.

The whole steaming pile of global frequency allocations is becoming more and more a house of cards, with devices freely roaming into different regulatory domains. I'd suggest better international cooperation but with all the vested interests, established uses and political agendas involved it would be easier to herd cats.

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'Software-defined' IS just a passing fad: HP techie Fink Tank lays down law

Alan Brown
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Re: About time, too...

"Given that memristor is apparently faster than SDRAM I wonder if anyone will stick them on DDR4 modules?"

Hopefully. The latency of DRAM hasn't changed significantly for 15 years (it's gone from 70ns down to ~50 at best) and substantially altering that would effectively turbocharge most computing applications.

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NASA said a 60ft space alien menacing Earth wouldn't harm us: Tell THAT to Nicaragua

Alan Brown
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Meteorites

Are generally cold. The streak of light happens very high up, not at ground level (if it did there would've been a mushroom cloud from the impact energies vaporising the bolide.)

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3D scanning made easy: Reg man ponders terrifying Xmas pressie

Alan Brown
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Re: There's going to be a lot of landfill

"made from corn starch so both compostible and sustainable"

If you've seen how much USA farming subsidy (and oil) goes into growing corn you might rethink the latter part of that statement.

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Alan Brown
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Re: There's going to be a lot of landfill

The next must-have christmas present will be a plastic chipper and filiament extruder

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