* Posts by Henry Wertz 1

1881 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

Nutanix 'working on a homebrew hypervisor', sources tell El Reg

Henry Wertz 1
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Risky...

Risky.

The upside: Hypervisor software is relatively small. This isn't like writing an entire OS, or an office suite, or a web browser. Also,if your business is based on "cloud" or "convergence" or whatever (i.e. hypervisors), then rolling your own DEFINITELY lets you differentiate your software and services from the other providers in the market. As AC says, being able to spin up both VMWare and Hyper-V VMs is pretty unique already. This is really a rather immature market, and there's no real guarantee that any of the existing hypervisors are particularly close to an "ideal design" yet, they may be able to come up with a noteably better design.

The downside: The software, although small, is highly technical. It could be entirely possible to have development hit a snag, or end up with a hypervisor where the major bugs aren't quite worked out (which of course makes it quite the non-starter for the types of uses hypervisors are used for.) It's possible for you to think some features are important, but find the customers don't think so. Finally, it's possible to come out with some new features but have the other vendors replicate them.

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US threatened Berlin with intel blackout over Snowden asylum: report

Henry Wertz 1
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Don't come back!

Snowden, I really do urge you to not come back.

Zero'th, I doubt it given the publicity, but there is the chance if you came to the US you'd simply disappear or not make it to trial.

First, there are police agencies in the US that view their goal as picking up the "perp" by any means necessary (viewing things such as warrants and properly collecting evidence as nuisances to be worked around), and courts that view their goal as getting the "perp" in jail rather than giving them a fair trial. If you deal with these types, you could probably get whatever assurances you want (even in writing) and they would really not amount to jack, you would not get a fair trial in any way.

Second.... even with a fair trial... although I think this document release was important, it was quite illegal, and I fully expect even given a fully fair trial that you're seriously going to have the book thrown at you. I guess you'd have a sense of catharsis at his point, but I seriously doubt it's worth it.

Finally... Those naysayers who have naysayed just based on your releasing documents then leaving the country... I've always assumed his was a diversionary tactic of sorts on their part (avoiding dealing with the actual content of these documents) and I don't expect these people to suddenly focus on the documents instead just because you return to be put on trial.

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Henry Wertz 1
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whistleblowing and 2 party system

"There are legally approved procedures for whistle blowers."

These procedures were used in 2002 to document the NSA's illegal and unconstitutional activities. This included specific documentation of an NSA facility within a specific AT&T long distance phone center, and documentation suggesting a similar setup was in several other AT&T long-lines facilities. This was in the New York Times. This seemed to be picked up online, but not more widely by the old media (TV news, other newspapers, etc.) Do you remember hearing about this? Most don't, it was really kept on the down low. The EFF (Electronic Freedom Foundation) also received a copy of these documents. Absurdly, when they attempted to use some of these documents they received in a trial against the illegal wiretapping, they were told they were secret and therefore inelligible for use at trial. When they tried to use the New York Times articles, they were told THOSE nationally published news articles were also secret and inelligibile for use at trial!

"While those available to Snowden were more limited than those available to civilian and military employees, there is no evidence that he tried to use them beyond his claim"

Per the above, he probably did just as he claimed, and due to practice from 2002, they got his whistle blowing "disappeared" before it got into the papers this time around. A standard, documented, procedure for dealing with those these types of agencies don't care for is to discredit them, so I'm not surprised they would be "unable to find" any evidence he attempted to use proper whistleblower procedures.

", which might reasonably be discounted somewhat based on the dishonesty of some of his other actions."

Nonsense sentence fragment. You see his behavior as dishonest, I see him doing what any patriot should have done in the face of widespread illegal and unconstitutional activities by a government agency.

"Beyond that, a number of senators and representatives probably would have been open to information about infringement on US civil rights and liberties and interested in initiating legislation to curb NSA excesses."

You'd think so wouldn't you? Patriotic senators and representatives like Rand Paul and Ron Paul have spoken vehemently against the NSA's actions. But, others at the time (2002) either dismissed the claims, went on and on about "balancing" (meaning "taking away") people's rights and privacy in the interest of security, or thought other topics are more important than people's civil rights, ignoring their oaths to defend the constitution. Just as they continue to do now.

Since the US has a broken 2-party system (where the two parties would probably be a single party in most countries where there are like 2 or 3 larger parties and several smaller ones), there has been no chance for a party to champion reducing the NSA's unbridled power; and there have not been enough individuals running for office making this an issue for the populace to be able to really have any say in the issue whatsoever by voting people into or out of office.

(Side bar -- I think the source of the 2-party system's lock on the elections is the polls. I have gotten two political poll calls asking what party or who I was voting for -- the 1st only had 2 choices of course from the 2 main parties, without even a 3rd choice of "none of the above" or "someone else." The second poll *did* have a choice of "push 9 for someone else", then said "Your choice is invalid" and obviously didn't record my selection! Even when a 3rd party candidate has gotten 10% of the vote, or in a few cases even won an election, the polls will indicate the 2 main parties getting 100% support due to invalid poll design. Too many voters are a tad sheep-like, and consider it "throwing away their vote" (not my term!) to vote for someone they actually want in office if they don't think they will get much of the vote, so these polls really do effect the election much more than they should. Don't get me wrong, I don't think fixing the polls to acknowledge the existence of 3rd parties would radically change the political landscape in the next like 4 or 8 years, but long term I think it'd make the political landscape here much healthier than it is now, there'd at least be the threat that if these two parties become *TOO* ineffective (as some complain off-and-on is happening) they'd have the risk of both parties being voted out of office.)

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Microsoft sniffs around Xiaomi Mi 4 smarties with Windows 10

Henry Wertz 1
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Seems reasonable...

This phone presumably meets Windows 10's system requirements, and has an unlocked bootloader; apparently you can get stock Android builds for it (along with various other ROMs) so it doesn't have any unusual hardware that would give Microsoft trouble supporting (in particular, some phones where the bootloader locks have been defeated still don't get aftermarket ROMs other than minor tweaks because of radio support.)

It seems like a good way to have people that after all already have suitable hardware in the wild do some beta testing.

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Noobs can pwn world's most popular BIOSes in two minutes

Henry Wertz 1
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"The endgame, decades from now, is 100% open hardware *and* software that's simple enough to give end users real control. If anybody ever cares about that..."

There are VLSI designs online for open hardware components like VGA controller, ethernet, USB, flash controllers, IDE, SATA, etc. I think some wifi bluetooth etc.,stuff and some CPU designs. When I looked into it a while ago, it appeared these components usually use a standard on-chip bus, and some commercial ARM etc. designs were also compatible with this. Apparently there were enough suitable components to boot up to an X desktop (I think the open VGA core may have just been a framebuffer with no acceleration though. One unconventional accel solution is to put a general DMA core on there and have it do the framebuffer bitblts as well as wherever else it's useful to copy chunks of memory around.)

I'm not sure if it's particularly active or not.

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Henry Wertz 1
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"Why would physical access be required to flash the BIOS? Any PC that supports flashing the BIOS with a Windows app (i.e., probably all of them made for the last decade at least) can be flashed with malware that can be made to run on that PC. That malware can be delivered via an email from China, no physical access required."

This is true, I wouldn't think physical access would be required. But therein lies the solution.

I did have have one or two socket 7-era boards (one with a K5 and later one with a K6) where the motherboard had a BIOS write protect jumper. This was shipped to disable writes, so to update you were supposed to enable writes, boot up, do your update, then shut it down and turn it back to disabled (although I would guess some people just left it enabled.) Flash updateable BIOSes were pretty recent then, I think they may have been concerned about accidental corruption more than maliciousness, but it works just as well for that.

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Cortana on Windows 10 is all talk, no apps shun, says Microsoft

Henry Wertz 1
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Certainly possible

"A Cortana app may also come to iOS and Android, though not necessarily with the same level of integration and extensibility."

The level of integration in Android *could* be pretty high; it could register as a speech-recognition engine and whatever apps already support voice recognition would use it (although this wouldn't include much in terms of actual integration, just an alternate voice recognition engine).

Android also supports having your app check for the existence of, say, microsoft.cortana.register, if it exists calling it to register either a callback or a interprocess communications ID number. (Either so you can use Cortana in your app, or if your app handles appointments or something, to tell Cortana this.) Then (if you want to use Cortana in your app), when someone pushes "the cortana button" in your app, you could call (say) microsoft.cortana.process and have cortana get the result to you by either calling your callback code or sending an interprocess communications message to your process. Some Android apps are pretty monolithic, but Android fully supports calling bits and bobs of your app from another app (with the option of the programmer disabling this availability if your app wasn't designed with this in mind, to avoid security or reliability issues.)

Don't get me wrong, I can't speculate if Microsoft will make a fully-integrated Cortana for Android or not; but the Android design makes it relatively easy to do if they wish.

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$30 Landfill Android mobes are proof that capitalism ROCKS

Henry Wertz 1
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Yes...

Yes, Android is bloated compared to Symbian. I don't know if the experience on these $30 phones will be that bad though... the way chip prices have dropped, a 1ghz dual core ARM costs like $1 (I'm assuming they'll cut cost by using a dual instead of a quad.) A single-core ARM'd be good enough for that matter. 1GB of RAM at the speed these phones use just doesn't cost that much either. That'll run Android fine.

That said... the thing holding smartphones (and IPhone) back in the US is the ridiculous phone plans. The cell cos here make sure you have to buy the $40 or so unlimited voice and text *before* you get a crack at buying any data; then you'll be paying like $15/GB, with a $30 or so minimum for the data on top of that. (You can't just buy 1GB, usually the $10-15 addon is something stupid like 250MB). Oh, you want to SHARE the data? They'll double-dip by charging you a little extra for the "shareable" data AND a per-line fee to "access" the data you're already paying per-GB for.

T-Mo at least throttles when you hit your cap instead of charging cash overages, as well as allowing data-only plans. Too bad they don't have service anywhere in my state 8-).

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FCC to Verizon: Blocking 911 calls? That's a $3.4m paddlin'

Henry Wertz 1
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Seems harsh

I hope most of the penalty was for not reporting the outage in the time required to the FCC, and not for the failure itself.

Don't get me wrong, I'm playing the world's smallest violin for Verizon (since that money is barely pocket change for them) but it still seems like a harsh penalty for a 6 hour outage.

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Hackers prove security still a myth on Windows PCs, bag $320,000

Henry Wertz 1
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Madness

" Linux for instance still runs all drivers as part of the kernel. With Windows at least you have the choice not to."

There are things like FUSE, and interfaces for block devices, network devices, and so on, in user mode. libusb allows interfacing with usb devices without a kernel driver. Printer drivers in Windows usually run in kernel-mode (although they can run in either mode), in Linux they are always user-mode.

The video driver thing; just as with Windows NT, old enough versions of XFree86 (and then XOrg) did in fact run the X Server as root; the X Server (after telling the kernel to quit trying to show a text console) would directly access the video card RAM and I/O ports, driving the video card completely from user mode. But the thing is, when they switched to kernel mode video drivers, they kept security in mind (although not enough, they did add more sanity checks later) and only put the ACTUAL video driver in kernel mode, not the entire video stack.

Windows? Font handling's in the kernel. It decodes BMP (windows bitmap) and WMF (windows metafile) graphics files in the kernel. The exploit last month shows it draws THE SCROLL BARS are drawn entirely in kernel mode. That's just plain bizarre to me. All sorts of stuff.

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Fanbois: We paid $2000 for full satisfaction but now we have SPREADING STAINS

Henry Wertz 1
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Feh...

You know what I'd get for $2000? A computer and $1600 in my pocket. It's not the 1980s, I simply cannot imagine paying over $2000 for a personal computer these days.

(I specify "personal computer" because I know you can reasonably get a server that expensive if you get one with enough high availability bits and bobs (management interfaces, multiple power supplies, etc.), lots of CPUs, lots of RAM, multiple high-speed busses, etc.)

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Microsoft announces Windows 10 and Azure for humanity's implacable IoT foes

Henry Wertz 1
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More security problems in 3...2...1...

"Microsoft is marrying up the operating system to the cloud"

Ahh, "cloud integration". The source of what I'm sure will be a nice slew of interesting new security flaws.

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Facebook wants Linux networking as good as FreeBSD

Henry Wertz 1
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Why not use FreeBSD? Well

... actually I have no comment on that.

But, the fact of the matter is that it's informative when one implementation is faster than another, to see if the two have totally different designs (and one design is simply faster), if there's just numerous intangible tweaks, if there's a few adjustments that are the difference (probably not tunables or Facebook would have found "the magic tune for our workloads" and been done with it?) or what.

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Gamers! Ransomware will scramble your save files unless you cough up $1,000

Henry Wertz 1
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That's pretty nasty.

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Studying humans for science? Wrap your eyeballs around our fine print, says Apple

Henry Wertz 1
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Withn the US...

Within the US, human research protocols for studies already require this type of informed consent. I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't required in Europe as well (due to privacy laws, I'm sure at least you'd have to be told the info is collected.)

There are a few exemptions -- primarily for psych experiments, where giving away the true nature of the experiment ahead of time could invalidate the results. (For example, the Milgram experiment -- which researched how much a person would harm another if someone in authority tells them to do so -- wouldn't have provided valid results if you were told ahead of time "Each time you are told the person on the other side got an answer wrong, you will turn up this knob a bit and push this button, and we'll play a recording of someone pretending to get increasingly severe shocks.")

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Should online pirates get the same sentences as offline ones?

Henry Wertz 1
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Ridiculousness

Obviously this is ridiculous. Physical pirates are offering up DVDs and CDs of pirated content for sale for their own personal profit. Online? These are people exchanging files. You might think "Well, the 10 years is for the worst offenders", but see how the Recording Industry Ass. of America and MPAA have already behaved. You know damned well one of their affiliated groups would decide to try to give someone 10 years for like 1 song "to make an example of them". Just saying, IF you decide to do this, you'd better have HARD AND FAST rules about what criteria must be met for various amounts of time -- and do make sure to exclude the little fantasy that a bittorrent counts as sharing a file with like 1000 people or whatever.

As for someone's music sales dropping 75% since 2000 --- umm, maybe you're just not as popular as you once were? I've heard this excuse again and again from artists whos popularity has plateaued, that the levelling off and drop MUST be due to piracy. This ignores two big factors: 1) The industry as a whole has not seen this massive drop, and in fact last I heard was having record sales. 2) There's (surprisingly enough) a "Nielsen ratings" for pirated movies and music, and these artists that see dropoffs of sales usually see dropoffs in these ratings too.

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Nothing says 'Taliban' quite like net neutrality, eh, EU Digi Commish?

Henry Wertz 1
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What a bunch of idiots

What a bunch of idiots -- youtube or games interfering with traffic safety?

a) Surely they don't think that anybody will be willing to use up their expensive cellular-based per-MB data allowance on feeding information to their car? I sure as hell wouldn't. I would assume if any of these systems are ever built, they would use the large amount of spectrum that have already been set aside for vague future car systems usage. Sonny can pull all the youtube he wants without affecting this. And I'd assume any outside connection this system would need, the highway administration would be competent enough to buy a business-class connection, which (every ISP I've seen) already gives it guaranteed throughput by giving it priority over the home-class connection.

b) Wouldn't the bigger concern be, what system would be so incompetently designed that a delay of data would lead to some kind of crash? I would hope a system like this would be found to be flawed and never implemented to begin with.

"Funny that last week the Nokia CEO was claiming the exact same reasons for not wanting net neutrality. Makes you wonder if their cue cards are coming from the same group?"

Oh I'd say it's quite likely they are. Next they'll try claiming net neutrality helps terrorists (check -- he's already alluded to this by comparing net neutrality advocates to the Taliban); and try to come up with a "please think of the children" argument like claiming that netflix will clog things up enough to prevent them from getting an online education or some faff like that.

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A gold MacBook with just ONE USB port? Apple, you're DRUNK

Henry Wertz 1
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No kidding

"However, this smacks of design for the sake of it."

Well, it's an Apple so yeah.

I just find it hard to deal with this pretending Apple started every design change in the PC and phone markets, ignoring that technological advantages would have made most of these changes virtually inevitable. Then (not saying that all Apple products are silly) deciding that one more silly Apple product is going too far.

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Ouch! Google crocks capacitors and deviates DRAM to root Linux

Henry Wertz 1
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"It's a hardware level exploit, targeting a feature of the x86 architecture (page tables). "

Well, yes, they did rewrite the page table. But ultimately the cause of the exploit was finding that laptop DDR3 controllers are unstable. In no way should repetitively writing memory addresses cause the memory "one row over" to become corrupted, but this is what has happened here. It makes me glad my computers are antiquated and still have DDR2 8-)

ECC might mask this, but my guess is simply the desktops either keep the RAM cooler, run slightly higher voltage to the RAM (perhaps the laptops lower it to save power)? or simply there are some flaws in laptop DRAM controllers that the desktop ones do not have. Anyway, what a mess. Kudos to Google for finding such a creative zero-day.

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Ping-pong sueballs: Bankruptcy dogs LightSquared's chances

Henry Wertz 1
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"Lightsquared and GPS use different frequencies - but they are close to each other. GPS receivers should filter out frequencies not used for GPS, and be immune to Lightsquared's transmissions. In real life, GPS manufacturers used cheap filters that let enough of Lightsquared's signals through to cause confusion."

That's part of the issue, the 2nd part is what BristolBachelor pointed out -- the GPS filtering (even on the cheap ones) works fine if LightSquared intended to use these frequencies licenses for satellite communications to communicate with satellites; but they intended to use the very same frequencies with high-powered ground stations.

Anyway... even before this issue popped up, LightSquared's plans seemed a bit umm... "Up in the air". 2004-era plan was for a primarily satellite system with some ground stations (XM/Sirius also do this... for most people it's 100% satellite, but "urban canyons" like New York City will have a few ground stations due to the skyscrapers causing widespread blockage of any view of the sky to see the satellites.) As far as I know, no satellite has been launched. By 2011 they received a waiver to launch products that did not even support satellite, and intended to use this satellite spectrum strictly via a large (40,000 planned) number of ground stations. That is where they ran into trouble regarding possible GPS interference. But, I think they would have found rolling out *40,000* sites to be quite a bit more expensive than they planned anyway.

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Bank of America wants to shove its IT into an OpenCompute cloud. What could go wrong?

Henry Wertz 1
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Yes, people can read. "off-premises data center" doesn't mean "Amazon" or "some random cloud provider." It could still be their very own privately purchased systems and their own private LAN, just off-site.

If they plan to use some cloud service provider, I do think they may be in for a rude surprise. I would not want my banking info just floating around somewhere. On the other hand, it sounds like they *may* just be planning to buy their own hardware -- with the bits they DON'T need removed to save cost per machine -- installing the stuff in a secure facility, and relying on "cloud" style software. This is reasonable now -- why invest on an expensive SAN, deduplication, backup hardware, and so on, when the "cloud" software will ensure at least triple-redundancy, recovery of "deleted" and overwritten files, and so on, all on it's own? (And they can still back up to an external backup system if needed.)?

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Grab your pitchforks: Ubuntu to switch to systemd on Monday

Henry Wertz 1
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Sign of trouble right there!

Ubuntu Touch won't switch because of the "ancient" kernel it uses? Well, there's a problem right there... pray tell, what special kernel services should you possibly need to start up various processes and daemons, resulting in a booted up system? This isn't a trick question, the answer should be "none".

To be honest, I'm not ready to flip out over systemd. The descriptions of it really do sound like it has significant boneheaded design decisions that directly contravene doing things "the UNIX way". The thing is though, if systemd performs well, and doesn't have loads of crippling bugs (which are usually misrepresented by proponents as "it's fine, you just have to set it up JUST SO for it to work"), then I guess it's not a big deal to me. The reports I've heard of it did not sound particularly positive in this regards; however, pulseaudio went from being effectively a steaming pile to being reasonably useable though, so I suppose systemd can get there too if it's not already there.

Edit: Binary config file? BURN IT, BURN IT WITH FIRE!!!

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If 4G isn’t working, why stick to the same approach for 5G?

Henry Wertz 1
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US does have LTE-A to some extent actually.

Anyway, I can tell ya why the might Verizon Wireless is not gaining revenue -- overcharging! If you look at the coverage map for 4G, you'll be quite enraged compared to UK coverage, they have essentially 100% of their network 4G and a very large fraction of the country covered. But... They had a nice $30 unlimited data plan, which was a great bargain. Now? They want $10+ per GB for data ($15/GB for lower plans) -- but, you can't JUST buy data, it's bundled up with a $40+ voice/text plan. And it's not just $10 per GB, it's like these "packages" of data so you cant' get anything below like $30 (which is for just 2GB), in other words over $70 due to the forced bundling with a voice plan. You CAN get data without voice for aircards or mifis, but they then make sure it costs at least $50 for those same 2GB anyway. You want something more reasonable like 5 or 10GB? Well that's going to be like $100-150, enjoy. Oh, with $10-$20/GB overage rates, no option to just buy a package and not worry about it because you'll just be throttled. Oh, and they have shared data plans, but (even though you are ALREADY paying for each and every GB of data) they then double-dip by deciding that *shared* data should somehow cost more than it would cost otherwise, AND triple-dip by charging a per-line fee to "access" the data you're already paying more for. Well, it genuinely did come as a surprise to them when people were unwilling to pay this much, but it shouldn't have.

The competition has lower per-GB rates, unlimited plans (albeit like $70-100 unlike the $30 it used to cost), and on limited T-Mo has throttle overages rather than cash overages. And STILL better 4G coverage than the UK carriers 8-). So no kidding VZW's sales are slagging.

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ZTE ups 5G investment

Henry Wertz 1
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Not feasible

These so-called "5G" standards might be *technically* feasible. But they aren't realistically feasible providing the stated benefits, because if you look, that so-called 1000x speedup is like virtually the same spectral efficiency as current LTE (since it is after all pretty close to state-of-the-art, and approaching Shannon's limit to how many bits per second per hz can actually be transmitted), just assuming people will be willing to let the telcos grab up ghz of extra spectrum. The thing is, there's not that much of the "high quality" (below 2 or 3ghz or so) spectrum available, and the higher-frequency spectrum does not penetrate walls or buildings or trees or any of that stuff you'd like to penetrate for a viable phone network.

And "IoT" == "hype". The main issue with large numbers of bursty devices is the control channel. Besides initiating phone calls (both incoming and outgoing), texts, and initiating picture or video messages (although the actual picture or video is sent via a data channel), the control channel is also used to initiate data channels, close data channels, and put the data channel in a power-saving "idle" state to save battery power (effectively closing the data channel but not ditching the IP address), as well as kicking the idle channel back into active state. Apple's were causing severe problems years ago because of being far to agressive using this idle mode, clogging the control channel. Nevertheless, LTE has support for large numbers of bursty data devices, and 3G and even 2G do to with proper tuning (adjusting the "idle" timing and adding control channel capacity -- which can be done on existing systems without having to add more of the other channels, if the data capacity is otherwise adequate.)

When it gets away from the "1000x speedup!" hype to real info on capacity improvement, number of channels that can be bonded (whether it's realistic or not), and so on, then things will be interesting. Don't get me wrong, some 5G standard will come out eventually.

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Telstra takes lead in 5G, just like everybody else

Henry Wertz 1
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Upgraded 4G is not 5G

Upgraded 4G is not 5g, just as the upgraded 3G systems have not ever been a 4G system. (Despite T-Mobile and AT&T's advertising their 21mbps HSPA+... then saying "screw it" and advertising even 7.2mbps HSPA systems as "4G", it simply is not the case.) As much as the marketing guys might want it to be.

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US watchdog: Anthem snubbed our security audits before and after enormous hack attack

Henry Wertz 1
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Yeah...

Yeah... saying they don't allow required federal security audits for security reasons seems pretty ludicrous. I am curious about the state of IT there... obviously flawed given these hacks, but was it fairly close to compliant (or even compliant to the extent that it'd pass the audit tests), or was it a real disaster area? (Or somewhere in between?)

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We don't need no steenkin' cabinet: Ericsson hangs base stations off masts

Henry Wertz 1
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Weight?

You should see these multiband 700/850/1900/AWS antennas. They're pretty big. (AWS uses a subset of the Band 1 2100mhz for the downlink, and 1700mhz band for uplink (the 1900mhz band used by Band 1 is already used for PCS 1900mhz service here.) I think you could stick those racks behind it.

I wonder about the total weight being loaded onto these if all the carriers start getting these huge antennas and racks of hardware on the tower though.

As for cooling... well, the traditional setups do burn lots of power. But, if you keep the actual RF hardware cool enough (hopefully it has a hefty heatsink), the elements that toss data around and do the processing? You've got these CPUs now pushing past 50gflops per watt, the power use (and heat production) of the rest of the system can be fairly insignificant. If worst comes to worst, and you've got to run the stuff in a cabinet... well, it should at least fit in more snugly with the generator and battery backup I guess and need less cooling.

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'Hi, I'm from Microsoft and I am GOING TO KILL YOU'

Henry Wertz 1
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"spent 20 minutes on the phone being instructed on how to download teamviewer and activate it BEFORE teling the spammer that the machine was a MacBook Air!!!!! ;)))))"

That's what I did too! You know, even if I had been using Windows they were using the wrong terminology sometimes. But they wanted me to install TeamViewer. I said I was unpacking the archive and they were like "Huh?" but went along with it. When it got to where I was going to read them some number, then I was like "Oh I forgot I'm not even running Windows, I'm running Ubuntu Linux. Bye." They called right back but I ignored them. I tied them up about 20 minutes.

They called some other time and I strung them several minutes "Oh that's funny that you'd find problems "with my Windows" because I keep Windows the hell off my computers, I'm running Linux." 8-) They tried to say I must be mistaken and I had to point out "I think I know what software my computers are running." 8-)

The worst are the one I call "card fucker" though. This is "Rachel from Account Services" and associated scammers. The fuckers called 6 times yesterday before I even woke up! I have filed over 284 FCC complaints against them for violating the Do Not Call list, illegal robocalls, and line seizure (they sometimes call twice or 3 times in a row, so if I tried to make an emergency outgoing call they'd have the line tied up.) US law allows me to personally collect fines for each incident (probably most people can't because they don't bother to file complaints.) When the Do Not Call laws were passed they realized the FCC and FTC would not be able or willing to collect all fines, thus the clause allowing private citizens to do it. These fines would come to $284,000 if I collect the minimum amount. (Once they are informed the calls are illegal, which I've done on record several times, I could collect double or triple.)

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Super SSD tech: Fancy a bonkers 8TB all-flash PC?

Henry Wertz 1
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"Assuming pricing were affordable, such SSDs could basically kill the PC and notebook disk drive market in a couple of years. ®"

Yup. SSD could almost completely wipe out HDs right now if they were affordable. I'm still clinging to HDs so far though... I'll see the price on a 64GB or 128GB SSD, think "Hmm, that's not too bad!".... then see that I could get like a a 2TB HD for that kind of money.

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Storm in a K-Cup: My SHAME over the eco-monster I created, says coffee pod inventor

Henry Wertz 1
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Not hipsters

Anyway... somoene asked what the point of this is? I'm not 100% sure. Basically, you put in a pod, I guess some water (I assume it's not plumbed in), hit the button and you've got a $1-$2 cup of coffee. Personally, I just make instant; probably even faster than faffing about with a "pod", just as caffeinated, and tolerable flavor. I can also just buy a cup of coffee and have it still cost less than these pods do.

Hipsters? Nope! Hipsters (at least here in the US) don't have the kind of cash anymore it takes to buy and operate one of these machines, wage stagnation combined with inflation has taken care of that! The people I've seen with these were doctors -- so enough loads of cash they don't seem to care how expensive these pods are, and they get the impression they're more convenient than making coffee the "old fashioned" way (even if that's not the case.)

Re:"Anyone pitching K cups or blaming Keurig for something that was resolved by the aftermarket half a decade ago, is either trying to pitch a new product or trying to feel better about themselves by kvetching about others."

People are *100%* justified in kvetching! You overlooked the bit about newer Keurigs REFUSING to operate with the aftermarket pods you say are the solution, because they now (just like HP printers with their ink cartridges) look for a chip on the pod, "use up" the chip when the pod is used, and WILL NOT OPERATE without a fresh chip!

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Here's what keeps VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger awake at night

Henry Wertz 1
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EMC?

I didn't realize EMC owned VMWare, but they bought them up in 2004. Huh.

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Make room, Wi-Fi, Qualcomm wants to run LTE on your 5GHz band

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Well...

On the one hand, I'm not a fan of having cell cos use an unlicensed band, potentially crapping it up for other uses, to provide LTE at the high per-GB rates they charge. On the other hand, I suppose where these would be located, well, a warehouse or something that may run 5ghz wifi just wouldn't have an LTE cell in it too, and it's not too likely you'd end up with one outside your place interfering with home use.

I *would* be interested in the possibility of using LTE on 5ghz to just provide data service in general (i.e. like an "LTE access point" instead of wifi), I'd be interested to see how 5ghz LTE holds up against 802.11n or 802.11ac in terms of performance (especially under load.)

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FCC says cities should be free to run decent ISPs. And Republicans can't stand it

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Yep deregulation

Yep this is a move towards deregulation. ISP prices are quite higher than they should or could be, I'm all for it being a totally competitive market.

These municipalities are providing service at a profit? Well, then they are being competitive in the market, the cable and phone companies will just have to compete versus the relatively uncompetitive duopoly we have now in some locations. (Cable co and DSL co.... the cable companies don't share their cable infrastructure at all, your ISP is the cable company. Some phone companies have to allow 3rd-party DSL service on their lines... CenturyLink does not, and AT&T and Verizon don't where they've replaced the copper with fiber. )

(1) Under the telecom act of 1996, phone cos had the option to either A) open up their lines to competition, but be able to compete outside the markets they hold physical copper and fiber to provide nationwide service. or B) Maintain their monopoly but not compete outside their home markets. Qwest was the only telecom I know of who chose option B instead of option A (Qwest is now Centurylink.)

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Lenovo: We SWEAR we're done with bloatware, adware and scumware

Henry Wertz 1
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So Lenovo doesn't want to sell in the indeterminate future?

So Lenovo doesn't want to sell any computers in the indeterminate future? Nobody in their right mind would possibly buy a Windows 8/Windows 8.1 Lenovo, when Lenovo is only claiming they'll clean up their Windows 10 systems. And Windows 10 is after all vaporware (there's no even vague determination of when it's going to be released after all.)

Also, what are "Lenovo applications"? Could be bloatware by another name.

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Iran hacks America where it hurts: Las Vegas casinos

Henry Wertz 1
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Finally some sanity

Finally some sanity and a reasonable assessment of what the real risks are from hacking. I got absolutely sick of hearing all these ridiculous obviously non-technical DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) talking heads implying how some hacker or hackers could make water mains explode, back up the sewers, blow out the power grid (usually not just implying blackouts but implying they'd burn out all the lines and transformers), you know, the kind of crap they'd put in a bad low-budget movie.

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Thousands of UK drivers' details leaked through hole in parking ticket website

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Re: Yet another reason..

"And if its a parking ticket that goes to the "wrong address" you start to rack up penalty charges, fees from recovery companies and one day you'll drive past a police ANPR point and you'll be flagged down and someone from a debt recovery firm will ask for several £100 if not £1000 pounds on the spot or they'll take the car and you'll be walking home!"

Well, probably not. They can ask for all the bonus charges and penalties they want -- but you can't be flagged down for a private debt, which is what this is.

We have a similar issue popping up here in the US -- some cities have these speed cameras that they operate themselves. If you get popped you get mailed a photo ticket, and are probably obligated to pay it. OTHER cities (like Cedar Rapids, Iowa - who is greasy enough to have been told their camera installations are ILLEGAL under state law because of the positioning of the cameras and "there's cameras ahead" signs and basically said "Fuck you, we're running them this way anyway and not cancelling any tickets") have Gatso own and operating the cameras. Well, guess what? Gatso is a private company, not a city, county, state, or federal agency. They could mail me a ticket, but I'm not obligated to pay anything because it's not a city, county, or state agency of any type, and I haven't requested any goods or services from them. They can demand payment all they want but there's still no obligations. If they try to put it on my credit report, I can tell the credit agency I didn't order any goods or services from Gatso and the agency is legally obligated (by the Fair Credit Reporting Act) to remove any adverse notes.

That said -- don't be a jerk about it please! I'm not speeding like a crazy person just because the speed cameras are invalid, and I wouldn't intentionally park without feeding the meter or paying the lot fee or whatever just because private property parking (not)-fines are not enforceable.

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Microsoft man: Internet Explorer had to go because it's garbage

Henry Wertz 1
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The more the merrier

The argument that Microsoft could make a browser totally from scratch faster than just basing one on WebKit? I think this is probably nonsense. HOWEVER:

"Moreover, he said, Redmond is concerned that other browser makers' reliance on WebKit is creating a "monoculture on the web" – something that today's Microsoft is apparently against."

This is 100% true; with Chrome and Opera using Blink (WebKit-derived) and Apple & KDE using WebKit, you're down to like WebKit, Blink and Firefox engines dominating the browser market share. It is "healthier" and overall better to have more independent HTML implementations than fewer.

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Don't pay for the BBC? Then no Doctor Who for you, I'm afraid

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Devices indeed

The problem isn't paying for a CA card to be active versus not. The problem is having DVB TVs that become useless, DVRs that become useless, set top boxes that become useless, DVB cards for computers that become useless.

I've put off switching from OTA (over the air) plus about 20 channels from (very cheap) analog cable to DirecTV or digital cable for just this reason -- I have a MythTV DVR, and I don't want to set up a clunky set top box + IR blaster arrangement, and none of the vendors (DirecTV, DIsh Network, or any cable company with CableCard) has any viable arrangement to just pop that access card into a USB, PCI, or PCIe device and get video into the DVR.

(I think with CableCard there's like 1 super-clunky setup, that requires buying an ENTIRE pre-built Windows PC. The card is not sold seperately due to some assinine idea that rights restrictions systems work if the video card and PC are tied together.)

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Net neutrality victory: FCC approves 'open internet' rules in 3-2 vote

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Good

You should have heard Mark Cuban on BBC a day or two ago... he argued against Net Neutrality, with arguments like "Things like Virtual Reality will need more speed, and those companies should pay for it." His argument was he (running a streaming audio service 15 or 20 years ago) paid some ISPs to implement multicast, so... well he kind of just trailed off there, since people now would be paying something for nothing basically (since they are just getting some prioritization, not use of a CDN or anything). He also said the FCC responding to the overwhelming response in favor of net neutrality was a bad thing (like 800,000 comments in favor versus 1,000 opposed). The BBC person said "isn't that democracy in action?" Cuban said yes and concluded that the democratic process is bad since he disagreed with the conclusion. Classy! Anyway...

A) VR actually doesn't need that much speed or bandwidth -- games aren't necessarily good examples since the content is pre-loaded. But Second Life doesn't use that much bandwidth either. That's kind of beside the point though, his main point was "some future high-bandwidth service" and VR was just an example that seems like it should use a lot.

B) Netflix, Linden Labs (Second Life owner), Microsoft (Xbox Live etc.), Google (Youtube), etc., they all pay BIG BUCKS for multiple gigabit or 10gigabit ports at various peering points. THEY ARE PAYING FOR THEIR USAGE ALREADY.

C) The customer already pays for their connection, and ISPs like Comcast already charge (quite high!) for various speeds AND impose a GB cap. THE CUSTOMER IS ALREADY PAYING FOR THEIR USAGE. These greedy iSPs wanted to double-dip by charging Netflix etc. for the usage the customer is ALREADY paying for.

Therefore, I'm glad net neutrality was enforced.

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For pity's sake, you FOOL! DON'T UPGRADE it will make it WORSE

Henry Wertz 1
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Sounds like incompetent deisgn...

I can't imagine why anyone would roll out a new document management system that requires a .NET client to be installed. Server-side? Do whatever you want, if you want to use ASP and .NET type stuff knock yourself out. Client-side? Sounds like the kind of thing that (if they really aren't going to just exchange Word files any more) should be done in-browser.

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Man the HARPOONS: YOU can EASILY SLAY ad-scumware Superfish

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Why do they keep arguing?

So, the CTO of Lenovo doesn't want to argue with the security guys, merely to contradict everything they are saying about the safety of the software Lenovo forced on their customers. You know, if they had said (to paraphrase) "It seemed like a good idea at the time, we realize it really wasn't now, sorry about that", it may have minimized the repercussions. All this "Well, it's not that bad is it?" type waffling is making damn sure I never buy a Lenovo.

(Note, I take it as a bad sign when a company starts referring to customers as "consumers". "Consumer" is a macroeconomic term to differentiate between the general public that buys and "consumes" resources, goods and services, from those who provide and produce resources, goods and services. For example the term "consumer price index". I have no idea why companies, starting 10 or 15 years ago, thought it was remotely a good idea to start referring to their customers as "consumers". But I think it shows a general contempt for their customers, and indicates the company no longer views their customers as customers but as an aggregate lump that is bound by the laws of economics to buy ("consume") their products. They then act all surprised when it turns out the customers can turn away and buy someone else's products.)

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Lenovo shipped lappies with man-in-the-middle ad/mal/bloatware

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Umm... Temporarily removed?

""Due to some issues (browser pop up behavior for example), with the Superfish Visual Discovery browser add-on, we have temporarily removed Superfish from our consumer systems until such time as Superfish is able to provide a software build that addresses these issues," Hopkins said.

Umm, temporarily? Nobody wants adware installed on a computer, period. The certificate attack is possibly illegal, but that's not actually the main issue here, it is the installing adware on there to begin with. A few vendors have done this on and off in the past (briefly, due to the customer backlash!) Now that you've been caugh red-handed, you must commit to not installing this software any more or your sales will absolutely tank.

edit: Are you guys saying it's actually typical for Windows PCs to come with various adware and spyware installed now, as opposed to just some random "bundled apps"? It makes me particularly glad I don't use Windows on my systems 8-)

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HTTP/2 spec gets green light: Faster web or needless complexity?

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No reason for policy changes.

I have to disagree with Poul-Henning Kamp to some extent. I can't argue with his statements about HTTP/2 breaking layering and so on -- I don't know if it does or not. I would think it'd certainly be harder to accelerate HTTP/2 than HTTP/1.1 due to the multiplexing and all that.

But, as HTTP is a *transport* protocol, I think it is quite out of scope for HTTP/2 to require encryption, and also out of scope for it to drop support for cookies in favor of something else. I do favor increase in use of encryption, but as a updated transport protocol i simply don't see it as HTTP/2's place to force policy changes, and if it had I think it would have limited it's adoption considerably (after all, who want so to rewrite some third-party code that uses a cookie or two?)

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Inside GOV.UK: 'CHAOS' and 'NIGHTMARE' as trendy Cabinet Office wrecked govt websites

Henry Wertz 1
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I should note healthcare.gov is just as bad

I should note healthcare.gov is (I think) just as bad. I never did get it to work. now I'm going to (when I have time!) call them to get my account deleted, since I assume it's also insecure.

So, it went around in a loop over and over, while I tried to sign up. It would not format my street address properly, and each time it implied I could continue, it'd loop to the beginning of the sign up. Each time, it forgot about 1/3rd of the answers for various questions, while remembering the rest. It does that trendy one huge question on the screen, then "unhiding" the next (even though it's basically 10 or 15 questions in a web form on each page), so you can't just tab through like you're supposed to be able to do if they hadn't decided to make it al "trendy" looking. It has a "step bar" showing steps 1 through 6 on the left but you can't click on it to go forward or back.

It was unable to verify my identity, the phone number it gave could not verify my identity, the phone number THEY gave could not verify my identity but apparently unlocked my account anyway (this of course makes it pointless to have them verify your identity if someone on the phone is just going to override the security, I should note without even asking any of the security questions I had supplied answers to.) It then decided the ~$32/month insurance was going to cost like $225 a month. I tried to go back to withdraw my application since I'm not about to pay that for insurance. It then decided again it could verify my identity, and eventually flashed up a window, closed it, then said they would review the 0 documents I had sent (this was apparently supposed to let me submit a scan of a drivers license or other ID). It then would not allow me to do ANYTHING else while they "review" this non-existant document I didn't send (no option to re-send it or continue.) Part of the site claims they will still send me that $225 bill, the other part implies they won't (I'm not paying a penny if I get it, since I cancelled it.)

Oh and they think I'm going to pay a "not a tax" tax penalty for not signing up through this crap! All I can say, I've never signed up for any monetary assistance before.. but if the feds are going to go beyond taxation and try to tell me what to do with my own money, I'm signing up for as many assistance programs as possible, so they can just be telling me how to spend *their* money instead.

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Henry Wertz 1
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"The disclosures paint a picture that contradicts the public image of supremely confident digital gurus modernising the British government's many websites, and making them more efficient."

I don't think it does contradict it. These digital (not really) gurus WERE supremely confident -- but confidence doesn't mean competence, it doesn't mean they know what they are doing! That is in fact the cause of so much problems, they were so confident they didn't need to know what the sites actually need to DO, just how they should look.

It reminds me of what Microsoft did with 1) Office ribbon UI and 2) Windows 8, where they just did not listen to customers, due to being ever so confident that they know what they are doing and people will just have to get used to whatever they implement.

Actually, nematoad sums it up well enough I'll quote him:

"To me it looks like the GDS have recruited people with the same mind-set as those who developed, if that is the term, MS's Metro and Canonical's Unity. They seem to be arrogant know-it-alls who are so in love with their "vision" that practicality and the the needs of the clients is ignored in pursuit of showing off their so-called design skills. Remember form follows function. A pickaxe with a nice bendy handle might look different but probably won't do the job it was supposed to do."

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Smartphone NOT INCLUDED: Google plays with Mattel – plugs VR into retro toy

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Not to be a stick in the mud...

Not to be a stick in the mud... but, if this already requires Google Cardboard (the cardobard holder to put the phone in), and the phone, isn't this just a viewmaster-looking piece of plastic then? So, why would I buy it when I could just use the Google Cardboard directly? Will it even accept Viewsmaster disks? (It'd be.. .well.. something at least if it accepted both cardboard and the disks.)

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Over 50? Out of work? Watch out because IT is about to EAT ITSELF

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"That’s amazing enough -- but what happens when someone gets the crazy idea to let Watson read all of Stack Overflow and O’Reilly and Slashdot and Google Groups and GitHub and all of the other things everywhere that we in IT use as resources to help us do our jobs?"

I don't know but I don't think it'd be good. Really, I've found answers to problems on Stackoverflow (for instance) but also many WRONG answers, poor code samples, and so on. I don't know that an AI could sort it out.

Will AI take out IT work? I'll believe it when I see it. Maybe they will, AI systems are better now than they used to be. But I should note, there was a move in the 1980s towards "4GL" (4th generation languages), which people selling them claimed would allow non-programmers to specify in more-or-less plain English what they wanted the computer to do, making programmers obsolete. Didn't work out. I kind of see "AI replacing IT workers" as analogous to this; the AI will not replace your faulty hardware, physically install new PCs, printers, etc., do any networking, optimize anything for you workload, make sure your licenses are in order (if you have to worry about this), and probably will not be particularly flexible in what configuations it supports. It could be useful as an "expert system" of sorts to help the IT people search for solutions though.

That said, due to being in a college town, it seems here 35 is already old enough around here to have problems finding IT work. The businesses here would rather hire people directly out of college than someone with 30 years or so experience with computers (starting with 8-bit systems, 20 years UNIX experience, CS degree in 2000, and having kept up to date, C, Java including Java EE, Python, a little assembly language, networking (wired and wireless) and having refurbished literally 1000s of PCs working at a computer surplus.)

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Accused Goldman Sachs code pilferer sues FBI for 'wrongful arrest'

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Sounds trumped up to me

This sounds trumped up to me too -- you know, the modern day "lets find the most impressive-sounding charge, and if that doesn't work firehose on more charges" approach. I don't support ripping off code, even from Goldman Sachs, but I do think when a judge sees treatment like this they should simply drop all charges and chastize the prosecutors for this behavior. Unlawful use of scientific material? Sounds like a crock of shit to me. If they had filed a more normal charge than an "economic espionage act" charge, and followed proper procedure handling the evidence, I bet it would have stuck.

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Gleeful Apple and Microsoft bathe in bathfuls of debt

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"Isn't that one of the things the banks did that lead to the 2008 collapse?"

No. What they were doing is loaning out too large of loans to people, expecting payments said people could not make. They then divided up these loans into "mortgage backed securities", and invested improperly in these. They were FLAT OUT TOLD by the developer of these securities that 1% annual default rate over the course of 100 years DOES NOT MEAN 1% will default each year, it means almost 0 will default usually, then a few years out of those 100 years quite a few will default. Then they acted ALL SHOCKED when (after making money hand-over-fist for 5 or 10 years) the high default rate happened EXACTLY as they were told it would. Instead of letting them go out of business, various governments then bailed out these incompetent firms, and indeed they are now investing again in mortgage backed securities.

This is simply Microsoft and Apple (in effect) hedging that these interest rates are so low that they are below the rate of inflation. Since they already have cash to pay off these loans it's risk-free, and effectively they come out ahead.

As for those putting out loans at such low interest rates -- I do think this low a rate is rather unhealthy, but I think it's a symptom of poor economic health rather than a cause. This is a complicated matter to untangle though, particularly since economics is more a "whose opinions do you follow" than any sort of a hard science.

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FCC sexes up, er, sextuples 'broadband' speed to 25Mbps in US

Henry Wertz 1
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How about working on prices?

How about working on prices? We have a duopoly locally (Mediacom cable or CenturyLink DSL), both have like ~$30 a month or so introductory prices -- but then prices go up substantially, closer to $40-50 a month just for 1.5mbps DSL or 3mbps cable, and $60-120 a month for anything faster. I'm in the ridiculous situation where with two landline sources of internet, satellite costs substantially less -- I can get 12mbps down/3mbps up for $45, this'd cost me about $70 via these other jokers.

Just saying, I don't need higher speeds, I want lower prices for the lower speeds!

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