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* Posts by the spectacularly refined chap

475 posts • joined 27 Dec 2008

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What should America turn to for web advice? That's right: GOV.UK – says ex-Obama IT guru

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: This is the example an "ex-Obama IT guru" recommends for the US?

Brilliant? She produced this – a genuine example to follow.?

legislation.gov.uk is certainly one of the more information-rich government sites but given it's importance I'd say it is still short of the context that could reasonably be expected of it. I appreciate that you do not want to surround official documents that have the force of law with too much editorialising, but if you ever try to refer to legislation for the kind of issue I raised above you quickly see the shortcomings.

Locating the primary legislation that introduces for example a given tax or benefit is generally easy enough - even if the tax or benefit is not mentioned in the title of the act determining the correct one is usually a matter of a quick Google or even looking at Wikipedia. However, the acts are generally very pithy and lacking in a lot of low level detail. Towards the end of each act you'll see a paragraph starting "Regulations may:" followed by a long list of things that can be set in secondary legislation. It's in those where a lot of the fine print actually resides. In some cases it might be a mundane matter such as specifying which form needs to be completed but in others it might set a rate or tax or set a income threshold that is described but not set in the primary legislation.

However, although regulations, statutory instruments and so on are also up on the site locating them is frequently difficult and simple title searches are often not revealing. Since any regulations will themselves detail which piece(s) of legislation they are enabled by it would be a fairly simple matter to add another index to the site so that for each act you see another section along the lines of "These are the regulations in force enabled by this act:... and these are the former regulations that have since been repealed:..."

That wouldn't be a huge amount of work but at a stroke it would make the site a lot more usable. This isn't just for resolving problems or dispute - I would argue that that site in particular needs to be easy to navigate given its importance for political debate, and indeed since ignorance of the law is no excuse everyone is effectively expected to be fully aware of it.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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"the message was so full of lengthy legalese that many people couldn't understand it and so were kicked off the program"

Which was probably the point.

Personally that's my main criticism of the gov.uk site - the detailed legalese isn't there, all you have is executive summaries that simply don't allow you to make any definite determinations of your own. Before they started to centralise everything if you had an issue with e.g. your tax you went to the HMRC site. There you could find the usual public information leaflets for the issue in question but critically they also linked directly to the appropriate legislation and regulations as well as the technical and procedural manuals used by the staff administering whatever it is.

If you had any kind of issue you could easily look up the exact rules, not just for the common stuff affecting most people but also the niche provisions covering particular circumstances or professions that affect tiny numbers of people. You could then see if it had been handled correctly or not and in the event of error you have some authoritative ammo to take to them to get the issue sorted out.

Gov.uk is completely hopeless for that kind of detailed study, so you either need to take what you are told at face value or you have a lot more work finding out what the precise rules are.

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Lights OUT for Philae BUT slumbering probot could phone home again as comet nears Sun

the spectacularly refined chap
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It's a shame it didn't have a small nuclear battery on board like the Mars rovers.

It's the perennial ignorant refrain whenever a probe like this dies. Philae has already done 80% of everything asked of it: it has to be considered a success. RTGs are are not magical silver bullets but bring their own issues. Do you really think no one on the project even briefly considered one before opting against it? Of course not, it's just they know enough to be able to properly evaluate the pros and cons:

RTGs kick out a lot of heat. Do you really want that heat constantly heating the same area of a body believed to be mostly ice?

RTGs are hugely expensive. If the budget had extended to including one then it would also have extended to including a second unmodified lander. Which would get more science done? If you evaluate the risks and determine that it can probably be powered by solar cells why go to that expense in the first place? The solar power gamble didn't pay off in this instance but that doesn't make it a bad decision.

Only a comparatively small number of isotopes are useful and they are all synthesised and in short supply. No one is making Pu-238, the isotope of choice, anymore and stockpiles of it are rapidly depleting. Even the US lacks all it needs for its Europa mission - they were hoping to source the extra from Russian stockpiles, but that is especially problematic now with the tensions over Ukraine.

Put it another way: which outer solar system mission would you rather was abandoned completely so that this mission might be able to get a small amount of additional science done? If you can't answer that the demand for an RTG is not based in reality.

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Samsung: Every breath you take, every step you make, we'll be watching

the spectacularly refined chap
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Go screw yourself

This is the company that made my "smart" TV that tries to call home at least once an hour even when used for broadcast TV or as a monitor and oddly enough is unable to access any website when access to Samsung is blocked. And indeed advertise their equipment as being DLNA conformant despite requiring their (Windows only) proprietrary server software. Why is that exactly, and why is it not fraud?

It's also the company who can retrieve images of the last few pages from your printer without you even knowing about it as reported a couple of years ago.

I'm sorry, Sammy, I don't trust you and I will always avoid your products in future because you refuse to recognise that I am the customer, once I've bought it it's mine and I decide what goes on with my equipment.

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Has Switzerland cracked the net neutrality riddle?

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: This seems as good an approach as any

First, people will abuse the system and, for example, disguise torrent traffic as video or SIP streams (or simply encrypt everything so you can't tell what's what)

That's trivially easy to guard against, indeed in many ways it's easier than deep packet inspection. You can get a very good idea of what protocol a given connection is using by simply looking at the size and frequency (both up and down) of the packets flowing back and forth. My employer pays for MPLS now but before that I was using Plusnet at home, and that used precisely this technique for traffic shaping purposes for this very goal - i.e. prioritise the real time stuff. Encryption doesn't alter that one jot - you can tell the difference between an SSH terminal connection and SSH tunneling a mile off, even though you have no idea what data is actually being transferred.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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This seems as good an approach as any

I'll admit I've never really jumped on the net neutrality bandwagon myself, it has always struck me as people wanting things for themselves with no thought to how it impacts the infrastructure. If net neutrality is applied exactly as many advocates have long pleaded you end up with one of either two scenarios - either you accept that applications with stringent real-time requirements (VoIP, gaming, even remote terminals) are not to work in an acceptable manner or the network is so massively over-engineered that everything works but you pay ten times your current tariff.

This does at least allow for traffic management based on sound engineering reasons - prioritise the real-time stuff and allow the bulk transfers going on in the background to proceed as capacity permits.

I still don't have a problem with no net neutrality if that is done in a responsible manner - after all, if you want a better service for some or all of your traffic and are willing to pay for it why shouldn't you be offered it - but I'll admit I can't see a neat dividing line between what you as a subscriber would wish to pay extra for and what may effectively be demanded of e.g. Netflix or another service potentially competing with the ISP's own offerings. So, no, it's not perfect, but it's probably the best of a bad job for the time being.

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ICANN creates 'UN Security Council for the internet', installs itself as a permanent member

the spectacularly refined chap
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Play with your own toys

"Everyone should listen what what this standards body says. It composed of me and my mates and you should do what we say."

As if the rest of the industry and the world at large are supposed to swallow that. The bodies themselves are not particularly relevant. From the technical arena, why ICANN and not the IETF or even W3C? From the business world I doubt the WEF would be in the top ten names I'd pick. As for CGI.br? Sorry, If I have to click through to find out who the hell you claim you are I'd say you lack the influence automatically.

This isn't an attempt to solve the world's or even the Internet's problems - it is a power grab. A genuine consortium begins with an open invite to discuss an issue, a remit and charter are agreed among the interested parties and then and only then are board members chosen by e.g. an elections process.

Instead this is released in one go - this is what we're doing, we are the Internet's new governors, you're welcome to join us provided we remain in charge even though none of us are the most appropriate body for each role.

But then again I suppose it is one way to get consensus quickly, a resounding, united "Fuck off".

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The late 2014 Apple Mac Mini: The best (and worst) of both worlds

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: To think Apple once marketed the Mini as a server machine (do they still do that)?

Your Mac Mini has a better GPU than the Pro?

Who gives a fuck? If it even has a screen attached that is generally an indication it isn't a true server but somebody's workstation with a few server apps on it.

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Trickle-down economics WORKS: SpaceShipTwo is a PRIME EXAMPLE

the spectacularly refined chap
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It's generally assumed the shuttlecock technology will never be any good for orbital flight where the energy levels are so much higher. For example simply lifting a 1 tonne mass to 100km requires (if I've got my sums right) giving it 1GJ of energy. To put it into orbit at that altitude requires moving it sideways at 7.8km/s. That means giving it another 61GJ.

Ooops, I forgot to halve that. The second figure is of course 30GJ. The point still stands, it's over an order of magnitude more energy.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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That shuttlecock tale may be the invention that makes this technology work. Although I don't know if it's good enough for orbital speeds, or if it's possible to carry enough fuel to slow down in orbit enough that you can drop into the atmosphere at safe speed. After all, aeorbraking requires a huge heavy coating of ceramic, to cope with re-entry heating. So it may turn out more efficient to carry a less heavy amount of fuel, and do without the heat shield.

It's generally assumed the shuttlecock technology will never be any good for orbital flight where the energy levels are so much higher. For example simply lifting a 1 tonne mass to 100km requires (if I've got my sums right) giving it 1GJ of energy. To put it into orbit at that altitude requires moving it sideways at 7.8km/s. That means giving it another 61GJ.

However, there are alternatives between the two, you don't need a Shuttle-style heat shield. Apollo or Soyuz style ablative heat shields are a lot simpler, cheaper and more robust but are essentially single use. A fully reusable heat shield a la the shuttle can still be a lot simpler and cheaper than that which was actually used: people were saying the design was madness even during development. That was because of the competing demands made of the shuttle, in particular the mix of manned spaceflight and heavy lift that in hindsight is utter folly. Remember just how heavy we are talking about for a moment - Hubble is the size of a double decker bus. That size and weight meant re-entry had to be slowed right down - from 2-3 minutes for Apollo to 10-15 for the shuttle. It was the need of a shield good for that greater duration that caused all the problems. In other words, the usual totally unrealistic constraint that design by committee imposes.

Returning to the wider point comparing the approaches of Musk and Branson you do need an entrepreneurial approach and yes businesses need to make money in order to survive long term, without which the undertaking lasts either as long as the eccentric or his money. Without long term plans that end with profitability you get another Blackburn Rovers. Just how many millions did Jack Walker squander? Sure, that money made a brief impact, but what good has it done in the long term? Money without a route to viability is just that: whatever money you put in. Money with a plan for long term profits can create something that lasts far longer than the original creator.

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Tinder swipes left on CEO Sean Rad, journalists swipe right

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: "... used his initials "B" and "D" to form the shape of a penis and balls."

I was wondering that. The only thing I could come up with is by switching to lowercase, i.e "db". I can't see any other way - you can't produce conventional ASCII art in a text message after all.

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Eye laser surgery campaigner burned by Facebook takedown

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Surprised nobody's mentioned

the fact that facebook is clearly saying that she's an IP thief. Now, I KNOW that it's not actually theft under UK law, BUT, surely given our very wide ranging and litigant friendly defamation laws, she could legitimately claim ZuckCo is tarring her with a very bad brush

Probably not. Even under our laws on defamation you need to show reputational damage. If I say to you "You are a murderer" you can't sue me. It is only when I tell someone else "Martin-73 is a murderer" you have any claim. Presumably her notification was sent to her personally rather than the world at large. If she then tells the world about it herself she is responsible for that damage rather than Facebook.

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Crypto collision used to hijack Windows Update goes mainstream

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Why not implement a dual-hash (or multiple-hash) system?

Already been done. For example from NetBSD's pkgsrc system for third party software:

SHA1 (postgresql-9.1.11.tar.bz2) = b9ee975498705647aae77dae91869bfc6bb079ff

RMD160 (postgresql-9.1.11.tar.bz2) = 2a3849a3e8b8f8fbbe2a35ee422a0be4a67e6dae

Size (postgresql-9.1.11.tar.bz2) = 15861805 bytes

(No MD5 there, but some of the packages use it). You've got three different metrics all of which have to match for the file to be validated. Even now MD5 + file size is still effectively secure since you'll need to add a few kilobytes but can't say in advance precisely how much. Two secure checksums and the size should be secure for the next few years at least.

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Watchdog bites hotel booking site: Over 3k card details slurped

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: SQL Injection!!!

The reason I thought it had to be really clever was because I just couldn't imagine that anybody would be stupid enough to take user entered data and make it part of a command that is sent to the server in textual form.

When you put it like that it sounds obvious and it's the kind of thing you would do automatically when programming in a mature, compiled language - validate and convert to internal form on input and do whatever conversions are necessary on output. However is gets a lot less clear with a lot of the web languages, which invariably seem to be designed to make it easy to cobble something together rather than aid solid, dependable coding. For example, user input is stashed in variables before your script even runs, variables are dynamically typed and you often need the same data in multiple formats. It is often less than clear what is potentially troublesome.

That alters the vulnerable area from something small and well-defined to something much larger and raggedy. Simple mantras such as "quote all strings, job done" don't cover all the bases. Other quantities such as integers may well need handling differently, however in a dynamically typed language what you just know is an int may well in fact be a crafted string unless safeguards are put in place to guard against that.

So the mantra becomes "quote all strings, half the job done". You've still got a lot of work to do the find and weed out the rest of the vulnerabilities. All of a sudden doing the job properly doesn't look quite so trivial.

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Apple Watch buyers will feel 'different' after being 'serviced' in spring 2015

the spectacularly refined chap
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If you look at the price of gold over the past three years you'll find it was over $1800 on this date 2011 which is more than 50% higher than today's $1167. That isn't to say it's going to drop under $700 in a few years time but it may since that's where it started before the "great recession".

I take it you missed the underlying causes of the financial crash then? That everyone had forgotten all about the risk side of the risk/rewards equation and were looking for much higher returns than you could get with boring old gold. That want caused the price to drop: it didn't work out too well in the end, did it?

On the contrary, fast forward a couple of years and gold has risen to record highs. Again, not because of a massive increase in underlying value, but simply because everyone was shitting themselves looking for safe places to invest. Over the long term the story of gold is a very consistent one - it keeps track of inflation but nothing more. There's short term volatility along the way but it always returns to trend. That isn't considering as far back as 2007, it's going back to Roman times.

So yes, it's always possible some short term spike could make the scrap value of the gold briefly worth more in real terms than the initial value of the gold, electronics, workmanship and profit factored into the price of a new watch but it will only ever be a highly unusual and short-term occurrence rather than long term trend. If you buy new shiny now on the basis you can used if for a few years and once it's broken it magically becomes an investment then you are a foolish rather than canny investor.

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FIFTEEN whole dollars on offer for cranky Pentium 4 buyers

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Stanford MIPS ???

That is, they ran slower.

Which confirms the original point - the design of the instruction set is not an abstract decision, it has real world consequences. That is true whether instruction decoding takes place in silicon or in software. It's better to eliminate that overhead with an ISA that doesn't require such complex decoding.

That is, they ran slower.

So, in illustration of your point you use the Intel processor that was slower than its predecessor on that same installed software base. Even the Pentium before it failed to shine on legacy code that was not Pentium-optimised because of earliest issues of that long pipeline, i.e. the ver issue raised in my initial post.

The simpified die design did not, at expected, allow the MIPS machine to clock faster than CISC machines

Clock speed was never a claimed improvement of RISC, rather the optimised metric was instructions per clock. Clock speed is only partly down to architectural design, a lot of it is the process used.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Stanford MIPS ???

"This design eliminated a number of useful instructions such as multiply and divide ... the chips could run at much higher clock rates."

Is Wikipedia the best you can quote? Especially when it is wrong? For reference I cite this instruction set summary, specifically page 59 (page 5 of the PDF). Do you notice how multiply instructions are included?

In practice, the advanced compiler design, much higher clock rates and cheaper silicon didn't translate into a fundamental advantage in end-user speed.

Err.. no. You have also bypassed the greatest single argument of the RISC/CISC debate: the argument for RISC isn't that compilers are smart, but that they are dumb, and indeed still are as the Niagara example demonstrated. Give me a single example of a C language statement that will be compiled down to an XLAT instruction. If you can't what is is still doing there except for backwards compatibility?

And yes it was that much faster in real world conditions. MIPS wasn't appreciably faster than 386 in terms of clock speed, the difference was a simple 1 clock/1 instruction rule as opposed to an average of 7 or 8 clocks per instruction on 386. The Programmer's Reference Manual is still out there if you want to look that up.

It turned out, firstly, that you could get the same clock speed on silicon that did include "multiply and divide"

Which MIPS did.

that you could implement in silicon the compiler techniques that Stanford MIPS pionered to work around the limitiations of their simplified-instruction, deeply-pipelined design.

Do you actually have any clue about what you are talking about here? MIPS was a five stage pipeline. How is that deeper than 20+ stages? You've used a clearly incorrect reference to "debunk" one example and in the process shown yourself to be pig-ignorant of the entire discipline.

Once again: reality does not change according to what you want to be true. Next time try coming up with some valid arguments.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Inefficient ???

Answer : because its NOT "exceedingly inefficient" by any reasonable measure.

No, the real answer is much simpler than that: Intel's chequebook. Look at how many companies adopt the latest generations of semiconductor fab - there used to be a dozen or more at the cutting edge, now it is essentially Intel and everyone else is at least a generation behind. No-one else can afford to roll out a number of $10 billion dollar plants. All that manufacturing tech is going on one thing: redressing the huge disadvantage that the x86 architecture brings.

This is old news: consider what is now almost 30 years ago, Stanford MIPS and the Intel 386 were released in the same year. On the one hand you had the dominant commercial player with the deepest pockets, on the other you had a small university research team. Guess which of them produced the processor ten times faster than the other? If x86 is so efficient how is that even possible?

Of course things have moved on since then, Intel have gone down the route of ever longer pipelines, ever smarter branch prediction and ever larger caches. A lot of that silicon area isn't being used in a particularly desirable way, it's simply engineering their way out of a corner. If you have a pipeline 20-odd stages long that isn't good, it's insanity - as the pipeline gets longer the number of difficult corner cases that need to be addressed (branch prediction misses, values of operands that are unknown etc) increases exponentially. Fixing them all requires yet more silicon and yet more engineering, resources that given a more efficient architecture could be used to greater effect elsewhere.

Again, that isn't news. Cast your mind back now only ten years. The engineers at Sun looked at how pipelines, branch prediction and caches were steadily becoming more and more complex and they asked themselves if that was really a sensible approach. They decided not and went for a much simpler design with a large number of threads and a large number of cores. At the time of its release the result, Niagara, was the world's fastest microprocessor bar none. Again, from a design team with a small fraction of Intel's resources. Why can't Intel tell a similar story?

Intel have some of the best VLSI engineers out there. Year after year they manage to make processors that perform reasonably well essentially by throwing money at the problem, both the design budget and investment in first-rate manufacturing facilities. That does not make the design itself efficient: give them a clean slate and the same level of resources and just imagine what they could come up with.

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ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Hey stupid.

Sad that it caused the delay. Scary that they're letting the same level of stupid that exists on our highways out on to the open ocean.

Or it could just be that a private company has unilaterally declared thousands of square miles of open ocean a no go zone. Captain of vessel in the area looks at said zone and observes that not crossing it will ruin his schedule. He realises that he has every right to be there so essentially says "Fuck you".

It is not stupid to refuse to completely alter your plans based on someone else's request. Companies have a tendency to dress up this kind of thing to make it appear that what is essentially a polite word has some kind of legal authority backing it up.

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Reg hacks see the woods or the trees In the Forest of the Night

the spectacularly refined chap
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We all know what caused Tunguska, and it wasn't a coronal mass ejection

Actually, that was fair enough. People who have actually studied it are not willing to say they know what it was, only offer a probable explanation.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: This is getting a bit samey now

There are plenty of us who think this series is by and large tedious, over-sentimental, and selling short the classic series we knew and loved.

You mean like it has been ever since the reboot? It's simply following the same trajectory established by Russell T Davies - a classic British sci fi show transformed into mumbo-jumbo space opera and lacking any logical consistency. That isn't news.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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This is getting a bit samey now

OK, so you three don't like the new Doctor Who. Boo hoo. You don't need to keep telling us about it every week.

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Chipmaker FTDI bricking counterfeit kit

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Pretty nasty

Firstly, I don't see how it is illegal to "white room" copy an existing part, like the very popular FTD232, if the chinese or whoever have replicated the function without copying the silicon, then, isn't that what AMD did to Intel, legitimately? This chip is the new "MAX232" - of course it will be replicated.

Reverse engineering is dicey but there's certainly no problem producing a compatible part which is what the MCU based part referenced above is. The difficulty is then claiming it to be an FTDI part. That is what you are doing if you program it with FTDI's VID.

I can understand they don't want their efforts in making and maintaining the drivers to benefit their competitors, but they're protecting a carcass, there's no more meat on the USB-UART thing, best move on, and btw everyone's coming round to this open-source thing these days.

This is nonsense and self-contradictory with the above - on the one hand you are claiming it is the new standard, on the other you are claiming it is obsolete and not worth defending. This is a large market - much larger than you probably appreciate. Discrete USB→RS232 adapters probably account for less than 10% of the total market, the rest is integrated.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending FTDI here, they seem to be on very shaky ground if it is in fact deliberate as everyone is assuming. However, it is worth remembering that there is no confirmation from FTDI anywhere I have seen and if this is an "inadvertent" side effect of operating their own chips they're on much more solid ground.

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Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'

the spectacularly refined chap
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Microsoft's new business plan:

It's their old business plan: leverage their dominant position from one generation of technology to ensure dominance of the next. In this case use a small chunk of that nice cash pile on infrastructure running bought in and cloned technologies, and flog the assembled stack for as much as they can get away with.

I don't think MS would give two hoots about Windows if they thought they could extract as much money with Linux, and without that pesky matter of development. This route is even more attractive: they even get to back both horses at minimal cost, and without needing to actually develop something that kind-of works.

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ISPs handbagged: BLOCK knock-off sites, rules beak

the spectacularly refined chap
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Still a little harsh

I'm not going to leap to the defence of the knock off sites but why on Earth should the ISPs get landed with the bill? They have no contractual relationship with the sites in question, the existence of these sites is not aided or abetted by them in any way, yet they have to stump up the costs of the blocking, an action initiated by the trademark holders for their own benefit.

Is this remotely scalable? If it is a question of a dozen or so sites you might argue it is simply an expense of being in the industry, but if every other trademark holder starts along this road, and hundreds of thousands of sites are blocked on equally valid grounds the collective burden becomes significant. The only rational way to proceed is surely that if you want the block for your benefit and you take it to court then you pay for it.

Or put another way, why should the ISP's customers in turn pay extra for having their Internet access diminished?

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Google AXES AndroidScript app used by 20,000 STEM coders WITHOUT WARNING

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Android named apps

There is a little more to it than that - the name "Androidscript" could easily create the impression that is is an officially supported Android component as opposed to a third party application. Protecting one's brand against that kind of confusion (deliberate or otherwise) is exactly what trademarks are for.

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Oracle to DBAs: your certification is about to become worthless paper

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Bah!

The reality is that both best practice and functionality have changed substantially in the last 10 years and someone trained in any 10 year old technology would almost certainly be giving the wrong advice in many cases.

These are not general certificates but ones for specific versions of specific software. As such you can't put them in the same basket as things like the Cisco certs that study a particular area as opposed to specific products, yet alone versions. In the former case yes, you can legitimately argue that knowledge has to evolve in order for expertise in that area to remain current. In the latter case the way the cert is tied to a specific product and release fundamentally makes it a fixed rather than moving target.

Put another way, what new developments have there been recently in Oracle 7, 8 or 9 that are significant enough to invalidate previous qualifications in them? What's happening with version 11 isn't relevant, it isn't what those certs measure.

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Air-slurping solar battery will slice energy costs – boffins

the spectacularly refined chap
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Where's the copy editor?

...due to light being converted to electrons inside the device...

Come on... yes, I know what you mean but couldn't you have found a way of saying that which doesn't induce wincing?

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What’s the KEYBOARD SHORTCUT for Delete?! Look in a contextual menu, fool!

the spectacularly refined chap
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Don't come telling me how "superior" command lines are - they aren't; what they are is "different".

But reality does not change to suit the preferences of the observer. Keyboard commands are demonstrably faster. Imagine that we are both typing away in a document and the time comes to save it. I go for Ctrl-S whereas you reach for the mouse to click the save button on the toolbar. I've issued my command and the document has been saved before your hand has come to rest on the mouse, yet alone you've steered the pointer to the correct button.

Sure, you don't need to know every command, but even the most frequent 5-10 save a lot of time by themselves - cut, copy, paste, save, close, print. Those tend to be the same across many applications. In any event the claims about the apps you run are clearly bull - you do have apps you used frequently. Is it less than six months since you last accessed a web site? If it is that claim is a lie - even if you used a different browser each time you would rapidly run out of web browsers within the once in a blue moon time frame.

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Ellison: Sparc M7 is Oracle's most important silicon EVER

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Boastful bravado

It has improved greatly since then but everything about it shouts "excessive yet deficient". 32 cores sharing 64 MB of L3 is just 2 MB of L3 per core. Appears to be at least a 3 Hop if not 4 Hop design from a core in Socket A to a core in Socket B. That results in NUMA behavior and latency. 2 TB Ram per socket which is 64 GB per core vs 170 GB per core on a 2 socket S824 - that's important when heavy virtualization is used.

You proceed from a false assumption - this isn't x86 commodity hardware. If you think about it in those terms you're going to come to completely inaccurate conclusions. Virtualisation? Diversified app loads? If that's the road you are taking you'd be a mug to take this when x86 can do the same thing for 20% of the cost. No, this is big iron for big jobs - centralised processing of things that can't be split over a number of machines, yet alone run on a small percentage of a machine in a VM.

In that context the cache is more than fine: the cores are going to be largely working from the same data set, but even if they are on different tasks a simple division of the cache among the cores is not enlightening given the law of diminishing returns and the radically different cache utilisation of a diversified load.

I did work at what was then Sun up until about six years ago, albeit on firmware, and I can tell you that those specs will not have been plucked from thin air. They do an awful lot of research when arriving at the headline features, not market research to keep the box tickers like you happy, but proper scrutiny of the loads their customers are actually placing on the hardware and where the real bottlenecks are. If you compare this to x86 running x86 style loads it'll work fine but lets face it, it's hardly going to be cost effective. Instead you specify something like this for loads that would bring x86 to its knees, in which case there is simply no comparison to be made.

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How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: "Everything between sample points is lost" (@the spectacularly refined chap)

I think he means to make the distinction between the time domain and the frequency domain. Assuming perfect instantaneous sampling then everything in between samples in the time domain is lost. But, frequency wise, there's no new information between samples to miss.

But that's the whole point - you have defined a frequency domain. A real life audio signal does not keep to neat boundaries so something like a clash of cymbals for instance will reach well into ultrasound territory. If you are sampling at 44.1kHz that is going to be lost. The fact you are defining a region of interest - presumably some "human hearing" range - is itself an acknowledgement of that. The data is lost regardless of whether you were interested in it or not.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: "Everything between sample points is lost"

Mmmm. Messrs Nyquist and Shannon might have a bit to say about this.

What, you mean to agree with him? There is no error there: it stands to reason that if you are ignoring the input at any given point what happens during that time cannot be passed through to the output.

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Troll hunter Rackspace turns Rotatable's bizarro patent to stone

the spectacularly refined chap
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The problem a challenger faces is they run the risk of CONFIRMING the patent rather than invalidate it. This not only makes the patent bulletproof but the troll can now turn around and sue for WILLFUL infringement seeing as you challenged rather than submitted.

No, for two reasons. Firstly, there is more than one ground to have an invalid patent scrubbed and an almost infinite amount of prior art to sift through - having one attempt to invalidate scrubbed does not "confirm" the patent in any way - the patent is already assumed to be valid by the very fact it has been issued. However, if one attempt to invalidate fails that does not preclude anyone re-trying on different grounds.

Secondly, for willful infringement the litigator has to establish that you were aware of a valid patent and essentially said "fuck it". If you are disputing its validity that can't be asserted if your claims have any merit at all.

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Man, its smartphones are SQUARE. But will BlackBerry make a comeback with them?

the spectacularly refined chap
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Does anyone want to buy a big square phone/pad thing?

Of course. All the other smartphones look much the same. This is sufficiently different to everything else that it instantly makes clear that

a) You're not a rich nob with an iPhone, and

b) You're not a poor nob who wanted an iPhone but couldn't afford one.

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Buying memory in an iPhone 6: Like wiping your bottom with dollar bills

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: If I may interject...

You're not buying memory. You're buying storage.

It's still memory - it seems these days there's a tendency to assume that typical usage in relation to conventional modern computers must be some kind of universal truth, so you end up with that kind of false distinction being made or even claims along the lines of "by definition, secondary storage is non-volatile..."

I recall at one employer they retained a machine from the 70s, mostly as a curiosity, which completely dispelled that myth. Main memory was non-volatile (plated wire memory) but the secondary store was an electrostatic drum store and yes, it was volatile. Showing that machine to some people was enough to make their heads spin.

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JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!

the spectacularly refined chap
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but since the spineless raving conliblab party started promising to take an even more disproportionate amount money from the rest of the uk and give it to salmond's whiners (promises that were in no manifesto at the last election and were never approved by parliament) i'm thinking 'yes'

The current proposals explicitly main the Barnett formula, the only change is giving the Scottish Parliament greater leeway in setting taxes. This was indeed mentioned at the last general election. I'll quote the Conservative's 2010 manifesto since they're the senior party in government:

The Scottish Parliament should have more responsibility for raising the money it spends.

It's not their problem if you didn't read it.

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OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: probably not enough

You don't think the super rich shove their millions under the mattress do you? If they buy shares or bonds the money is in circulation. If they stick it in the bank it gets lent out again, putting it into circulation.

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

the spectacularly refined chap
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Well, the non-smart meters last 20, 30 years or more.

They have to be replaced after 30 years - the leccy board came round my house earlier this year to replace ours telling us it was a mandatory legal requirement. With another old-style meter that will no doubt be replaced again in the next five years. So much for thinking ahead.

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Rack-mount 24TB RAID 5 disk array for $5,000. Let's just check the label here. Uh, it's TiVo

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: What a waste of money

TV tuners are useless for cable TV

That cuts both ways - the Tivi has to have compatible tuners as well. However I think you're out of date. The last couple of DVB-T (Freeview) TVs I've had have also supported DVB-C (cable) out of the box, albeit needing a CAM module for the scrambled channels. They're probably technically capable of DVB-S as well but that isn't enabled on British sets where Sky refuse to allow you to use anything other than their Sky box.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: needs more tuners

Might be nice if you a, er, "community based facility."

Let's calculate, $120/month foxtel x 5 users x 12 months and its more than paid for itself in one year. You'd need to add some fibre links and switches of course.

In which case the price is an irrelevance - you could probably buy ten of these before you've matched the cost of copyright licensing, yes, even for a non-profit. This is a high end unit but it's still firmly a domestic unit. Six tuners ought to be more than enough in that context, complaining it is insufficient is like those 8 year olds looking at the latest Ferrari or whatever and dismissing it "Oh, it's only 600 horses, that's not enough".

Think about it in a domestic setting - say four people. Each of them can watch what they like live. They can also record something whenever they like. Two of them can be watching something live and recording two something elses. They all have to be watching or recording different things before they hit that limit yet alone exceed it. Just how often is that going to happen?

The spec has to be put somewhere. They've clearly though about this and put it somewhere that it is simply not an issue for the intended user.

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OpenSSL promises devs advance notice of future bugs, slaps if they blab

the spectacularly refined chap
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Just hope it doesn't end up as lowest common denomiantor

I suspect most of the main Linux distros will apply any simple fixes - small patches that don't require e.g. any new APIs - within a 24-48 hour time span. Ditto the principal BSD forks - Free, Net, and Open. On the other hand I can see minority or niche Linux distros and the minor BSD sub-forks taking weeks or months to get around to pushing out a fix. I suspect it will be quite similar for many commercial platforms who will simply roll it into the monthly patches.

Co-ordinated roll out has its merits but not at any cost. Even if a fix is applied to the software I am using before the end of the embargo I'd be reluctant to apply it without at least some indication of what it addresses. It's difficult to evaluate its necessity or desirability without at least some background.

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Moto 360 wristputer batt boob, elderly internals revealed in teardown

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Is it just me?

Slap-dash PCB production much?

No, it's par for the course with SMD production - components can move around a little during soldering since they are briefly floating on liquid metal. The extent to which it is noticeable depends on the component and the geometry of both the pin and the pad. It's a feature of SMD manufacture generally, it just gets more noticeable when magnified several times.

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Mouse-slinger Logitech: Gloves are off, number probe over

the spectacularly refined chap
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if I was an investor I would worry more about the quite obvious drop in quality of Logitech products the last few years

You have to be fair though - they've moved downmarket. 18 months ago I finally had to replace my old Logitech Mouseman bought in January 96 and used continuously since then. That cost just under £40 at the time - if it had kept track with inflation that'd be at least £70 now, which by modern standards is a hell of a lot of money for a basic mouse, albeit one of very good quality. The cheapest Logitech mouse back then would have been the Pilot which went for around £25 if memory serves. Now you can get a perfectly serviceable Logitech mouse for under a fiver. Sure it doesn't feel as solid as the mice of old, but on the other hand it isn't some flimsy thing that will fall apart in twelve months either.

My point is that they've had to move with the market. Back when I bought that mouse the average cost of a new desktop PC was around £1000 so you can justify £50-80 on top quality input devices as part of that expenditure. These days it seems the average PC is around £400 - even neglecting inflation that doesn't allow the same sort of budget for your keyboard and mouse so no, you don't get that sort of top-quality design and manufacture.

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'I think photographers get TOO MUCH copyright for their work'

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: I'm already in range

Can you point me to any evidence that patents/copyright promotes invention/artistic achievement rather than stifling it.

Are you willing to invest £2 billion in the development of the next wonder drug when you won't get anything in return for that expenditure? Or $200 million on next summer's blockbuster film with no hope of ever even recouping that? Of course not: the various forms of IP protection make those kind of ventures viable. Even at the smaller scale end of things copyright is vital: it's even critical for open source to work.

I'm a commercial programmer (in part at least) and my livelihood depends of the results of my labours having commercial value. If they don't ultimately I don't get paid. I also have a smallish open source project I developed a few years back - perhaps 150K source code but still at least a thousand hours work. That's BSD licensed so it can be widely copied, put into commercial products etc and of course I don't get any money from it.

Copyright is still key - it is ultimately copyright that prevents my author attribution being removed, which is my real payback for the time I invested. That copyright notice bearing my name has real value when seeking new employment - it is an example of my work that is easy to cite to a prospective employer, and indeed has itself led to a couple of approaches regarding job opportunities. I don't get that without the protection copyright gives me.

Yes, you can argue about the details such as whether terms are too long and so on, but to seriously argue that the ability to profit from your work does not encourage that work to be done is economically incoherent.

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Alienware injects EVEN MORE ALIEN into redesigned Area-51 gaming PC

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Slanted hard disk bays???

It would seem that Alienware is sacrificing durability in exchange for prettiness.

That isn't unusual at all - it's been going on for years. Consider two examples that are endemic in the gaming market - clear side windows and polished chrome heatsinks. Perspex is not effective EMI/RFI screening and it's impossible to imagine a worse finish for something whose whole point is to radiate heat.

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Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: 23 Years

It's getting pretty hard to find a home without a Linux device _somewhere_. If not your phone, it's your router or access point, if not there it's your TV (even my old Pioneer plasma TV runs Linux). Hell, even many Windows based laptops has a quickboot that runs Linux... Not that I ever used mine, and they are probably disappearing now that SSDs made any OS boot quickly.

There's certainly some truth in that but it's also true that Linux isn't as frequently used as is often made out. I know at a previous employer we'd get occasional demands from customers along the lines "I see you're using Linux in your firmware so I want the source code." Those turned into tremendous times sinks since the response was simply a) you're not getting any code and b) you are wrong in any event because it isn't running Linux.

They'd then inevitably come back with the "evidence" which was usually along the lines that they'd found a Unix filesystem and a pared down set of files on it - in some cases simply the presence of /dev and /etc/init was all that the claim it ran Linux was based on. Most of our fully hosted stuff was NetBSD although some older products were Mach based. Neither gives source rights but for most of our appliance-style products we weren't really predisposed to talk about the internals of our firmware or what they were based on. We were far from alone - I looked at an old console server a few months back to see if it could be hacked for SSH and IPv6 support. That had a Unix filesystem on it too but a proper investigation showed it to be QNX based.

My point is that if even legal demands are being made on such sketchy and easily dismissed reasoning then more casual studies and/or assertions that "so and so is Linux based" are even less likely to be reliable.

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Cracking copyright law: How a simian selfie stunt could make a monkey out of Wikipedia

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Recent news on Page 2

So the rules have been set based on things that are easier to measure. Which ape pressed the button? Them's the rules.

Cite me this mystical rule.

If you had bothered to read the article you are commenting on you would have seen references to established case law showing that your interpretation is wrong.

Once again another Reg commentard who is completely unable to distinguish between what he wants to be the case and what really is the case.

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Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?

the spectacularly refined chap
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And, to be fair, the asteroid one (meteorite) possibly wasn't the most stupid question...

There's a difference between asking about legitimate contingency planning, the public interest of where taxpayers' money is being spent (i.e. the exorcisms etc) and the plain ridiculous. The problem is that they always get lumped together into one "crazy" category regardless of whether the individual questions belong there or not.

As for the asteroids, I see a direct correlation with a question I asked informally at a BBC local radio open day a few years back. I asked if the station and transmitter were EMP hardened against nuclear strike. It always used to be a cornerstone of civil defence planning during the cold war, but the response I got was simply a look of utter bewilderment, "as if that's going to happen".

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Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Why?

My Mini Cooper S has neither the 12volt adaptor mentioned in the article nor any visible connection to the car's electronics.

It's under the dash in the driver's footwell. Any new car sold in Europe for the last ten years is required to have one.

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Five Totally Believable Things Car Makers Must Do To Thwart Hackers

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: God luck hacking my wagon...

Bravery has nothing to do with it: It's instant revenge if some idiot is dumb enough to crash into it - they'll ALWAYS come off worse ;-)

Yup. Thin aluminium bodywork is renowned for its structural strength. Coupled with the high CofG, soft suspension and general propensity to roll over I'd feel safer in a Reliant Robin - that has the same basic characteristics but at least it is light enough that a passing pedestrian can upright the ruins and get you out.

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