* Posts by Henry Wertz 1

2072 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

Microsoft admits critical .NET Framework 4.6 bug, issues workaround

Henry Wertz 1
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Optimization error

"Take any medium size (or larger) application written in C/C++ and compile it with gcc -o3. Result: Broken application.

.NET has a *far* better history, even including this bug, of having a functional optimising compiler."

This is a ad hominem. You compare .NET's default, out-of-the-box behavior with a compiler option that is generally not recommended (I actually can't find this recommendation any more, but it used to be -O2 was the highest recommended, with -O3 being a "it'll be faster but make sure it actually works" optimization.) That said, .NET does have a pretty good track record regarding compiler errors and such. This does point to the big concern of Windows 10 autoupdates... you could read about a broken update, decide "Well, good thing I read about it, I'll not install that one", then realize "Whoops, I have no way to disable automatic updates!". Nice.

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Don't touch this! Seven types of open source to dance away from

Henry Wertz 1
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Criteria

When I start using a project, I will also simply look to see if it's been out for a while, and appears to be well developed. I look to see if the docs are good enough to figure out how to use it, and try it to see if it does what I want it to do. Some projects are pretty inactive because they are mature -- look at some of the GNU utils, they are simple, focused utilities that already do everything they claim to do, and have had the bugs worked out for years. Of course, if you are planning to use these utilities online (like to provide some service to the internet at large), you better make sure that project is active enough so if security holes pop up they are dealt with.

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The Lazarus Effect: Saved by Linux and Cash Converters

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" spec-for-spec pricing higher than new (if such low spec is even possible to buy any more)"

Well, yeah. The machine usually gets down to like $400 and just disappears off the market, even though one with 1/4 the spec or less is perfectly usable. So, to get 1/4 the spec for 1/4 the cost, you have to buy used.

Kali? Interesting choice. I just played with it recently, and although it's an unusual choice as a general-purpose distro (since it's a security/hacking distro), it *is* Debian-based so you can install any normal apps that it's missing out of the box.

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How to waste two years and lose $415m: Cisco's now-dead Whiptail deal

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Hardware problems

Two points... first, hardware. It sounds like Cisco's biggest problem here was the "you must use this NetApp off-the-shelf" mentality. If the engineers say "the hardware is inadequate", and after a month or so (to come up with creative solutions to cut resource requirements) they *still* say "the hardware is inadequate", then guess what? The hardware is inadequate. Maybe they would have run into problems anyway, but it certainly helps to have a system that you think will actually run your software adequately.

Second point... re "..the names alone tell everything." The names alone tell nothing. Management problems apply to all nationalities.

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AT&T swallows DirecTV in $50 BEELLION biz gulp – moments after FCC OK

Henry Wertz 1
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Not gonna do it.

"I see nothing about them not being allowed to kill off the satellite business end. Where a lot of Direct TV's customers are (same for Dish TV) the cable/broadband service is crap if it's even available."

I can't see them doing this though. AT&T's working for AT&T's interests, not the entire cable industry. AT&T cable does not cover a large portion of the US, while DirecTV covers the whole thing. They'd gain a few AT&T cable customers while losing many more customers who have no AT&T services (except maybe wireless) available.

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Want longer battery life? Avoid the New York Times and The Grauniad

Henry Wertz 1
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Bad javascript

Yeah, I have not run powertop to measure my actual power use, but I will go to some sites and firefox and Xorg are just chugging CPU time with nothing visible happening onscreen. I speculate some banner ads may have horribly written Javascript that (despite no actual animation) redraw the banner either as fast as possible or at some high frame rate. I'm interested into looking into if firefox has any options to throttle this naught javascript.

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All wristjobs are as insecure as $#@%, reveals unsurprising research

Henry Wertz 1
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Yes.

"They don't report on which devices they tested. They also don't even say if they tested the iWatch, just that they tested "10 of the top smartwatches" not the top 10 smartwatches. Did they test the Pebble? Did they test any of the Swiss Chronograph with smart functionality?"

How many "smartwatches" are on the market anyway? I would assume "Did they test xyz?" the answer would be yes, just because I didn't think there'd even be mroe than 10 models.... That said this whole "responsible disclosure" thing of not even naming and shaming vendors is crap IMHO.

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Dough! Dominos didn't register dominos.pizza – and now it's pizz'd off

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"At the same time, however, the new gTLDs risk becoming permanently associated with risk and cybersquatting in the corporate business mindset: something that no one in the domain name industry wants."

I don't know about that, they of course would say this. But, on the other hand, the few ads I've seen for any new domain are like "Register your name now so someone else doesn't beat you too it!" (with the clear implication being a squatter getting the domain, not a competing business.)

Anyway, my guess would be they were just not aware of the .pizza domain? I don't know. I didn't know there was a .pizza domain. The silliness of Dominos pretending they aren't a pizza place is true, so that's also a possibility I guess, although in that case there'd be no reason for them to seek it out now either.

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Disaster-gawping cam drones to be blasted out of the sky in California

Henry Wertz 1
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Cause and effect

"They already do this with cars. An old friend of mine who's a firefighter has plenty of stories about people who park their cars in front of fire hydrants. Firefighters will ram them out of the way with their trucks"...

That's what I wondered.... fire trucks are permitted to ram cars out of the way that are illegally parked or blocking the intersection, so why wouldn't the feel free to drop that water right on the drones? Well, anyway, if they (for whatever reason) don't, this will make it clear it's permitted.

Re: "Just Paint it Black (Liar and Racist!)"

First, I do think it's just a tad tasteless to suggest painting the drones black. I have to admit to having a "bad pun" kind of groan when I saw it though 8-)

All joking aside, I'm white and I've personally black people pulled over quite disproportionately. In addition, I've noticed when someone white is pulled over (even if the car is full of people), single police car as is usual for a traffic stop. Someone black pulled over (even if they're in the car by itself), the 2nd and 3rd police cars usually show up before the first policeman's possibly had any chance to even glance in the car and determine there's anything worth calling backup for.

And, no, people who loots, riots, etc. should not be shot... they should be arrested. Resisting arrest *IS* stupid but does not warrant getting shot (unless the person resists arrest by going for their own gun). The police have tazers to take care of anyone that is too "lively" to arrest otherwise.

For you guys in UK who wonder where these police problems in the US have come from., it's from people like this guy who think "criminals should be shot", combined with people who (while *usually* claiming to not be racist) would think one person is rioting, while another person performing exactly the same actions is protesting. (There's also some degree of hype and hyperbole... a few people have been shot while pulling out their handgun to fire at the police, and if they are black it's rolled out as some example of racism... in those cases, it's definitely not.)

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The US taxman thinks Microsoft owes billions. Prove it, says Microsoft

Henry Wertz 1
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Common law

"I saw a documentary recently, the main proposition of which was that there is no actual written US law or statute that compels US citizens to pay "income tax" i.e. a tax levvied by a government on the exchange of their personal labour, for reward; and that the only tax that was legally required to be paid on "labour exchange" was corporation tax?"

The 16th ammendment allows the feds to collect income tax. I have no idea if there's any specific law authorizing the IRS etc to actually do so. If not, what can I say? The US doesn't usually use common law, but this is a case where the IRS will come down hard if you don't pay taxes you owe, and judges go along with it, so it's safe to say it's common law anyway if there's no specific statue to point to.

The practical matter is, employers withold money and give it to the tax man, so in many cases if someone doesn't file, the IRS will be perfectly happy with that, because you'd either owe 0 or the IRS would actually owe you a refund anyway.

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Henry Wertz 1
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Can't have it both ways

Regarding corporations as people, there's two problems here...

First, in the US, corporations indeed are considered people. From Wikipedia:

"This rule of construction is specified in 1 U.S.C. §1 (United States Code),[15] which states:

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise--

the words "person" and "whoever" include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;"

Second, the economic point (that it's being double taxed)... actually, this is a good point, for companies that are paying out a large amount of ther income as wages, salaries and other services that are already taxed, taxing it at a similar rate would amount to double taxation. The problem, though, is the likes of Microsoft and Apple avoiding paying tax on money that is pure profit, simply being banked away and not spent on any salaries, wages, or goods and services whatsoever.

As for the 15% flat tax (except your pet exemption of mortgages)... well, one of the games corporations play *now* is to shuffle around profits, losses, and where income goes. They would simply make sure their income comes in overseas, and you'd get 15% of jack.

As for Microsoft's situation, they used some kind of tax shelter or other that the IRS then decided was invalid. I would suppose both Microsoft is probably being difficult with the IRS, and the IRS are probably being jerks about it. The IRS do tend to be jerks if you are "difficult" with them.

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Dumb MongoDB admins spew 600 TERABYTES of unauthenticated data

Henry Wertz 1
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Check your access!

I don't care if you're using MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, or SQL Server (Well, don't actually use this please)... check your access! Can you connect to it from the outside? Then you have a problem!

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America's tweaks to weapons trade pact 'will make web less secure'

Henry Wertz 1
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I doubt it's accidental

I seriously doubt it was "loosely written" or accidental in any way. The US gov't right now is back on that "Oh, privacy is so inconvenient, the public doesn't need crypto" kick. They attempted in the 1990s to use export regulations as a club and to force crypto that was uselessly weak on the public. So, they've already forgotten how thoroughly this failed (the Clipper chip crypto was broken before it even shipped, and was a bad joke; and the export restrictions just made it so companies that were interested in crypto moved their offices overseas since it could be *imported* into the US, just not exported.)

So, so far the gov't has "nicely asked" Google etc. to quit using ubiquitous encryption (they've said the feds can go f' themselves), are whining about crypto preventing various spying on the public (well good!). So, some technically inept bureaucrat now thinks that if they can hobble security research via export restrictions, that it'll somehow... well, I don't even know what the logic is, I suppose they are unaware that blackhats even exist.

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Dead device walking: Apple iPod Touch 6th generation

Henry Wertz 1
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Most powerful pocket computer

" most powerful and flexible pocket computer you can buy."

That would be one of the Android phones or tablets, particularly one with a Broadcom wifi chip. No inflexible locked down Apple store limiting what apps you can get, and with the Broadcom wifi chip, it'll even do raw packet capture and packet injection for all that fun wifi hacking.

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Ashley Madison invites red-faced cheats to bolt stable door for free

Henry Wertz 1
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Wreckless

"This isn't a Hollywood movie and most people aren't cosy with Mafia types, so that's all rather a bit far fetched don't you think?"

Very few know gangsters. But, with 37 million customers, it's statistically likely that a few do. Not farfetched at all. And honestly, I think these particular hackers may have it coming to them. Don't get me wrong, it's greasy to use a site like Ashley Madison, but the blackmail these hackers are perpetrating is rather wreckless.

On a side note... 37 million? Really? That seems like rather a lot.

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Reg top tip: Don't have the same name as someone else if you use Facebook's Instagram

Henry Wertz 1
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They can damn well answer

"This is undoubtedly true, but of course responding personally, to every single request for help, would cost an absolute fortune."

Yes, because most requests for help are probably pointless and stupid, like "Hey Instagram help me get viruses off my computer" or whatever.. No, I would not respond to those.

But, if they have enough manpower to decide legitimate accounts are "imposters", they can damn well have enough manpower to respond to requests *from the very accounts they disabled*, saying "Hey, I'm a real person."

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Americans find fantastic new use for drones – interfering with firefighting

Henry Wertz 1
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"they should have dumped the water anyway...drones be damned."

Agreed 100%. The problem they run into, is they are following FAA rules written assuming any flying vehicle is manned, so they must avoid damage to other vehicles at all costs. You know what, if you're flying a drone over a fire? Fuck it, dump the water on it, wreck that drone. I would also have no objection to them having nets (or some kind of drone tazers or something) or sharpshooters take care of the drones.

It sounds like it's time to bring radio direction finding equipment to these, along with possibly jammers. I'm assuming the owners were not caught but with RDF they'd be caught, and with a jammer the drones would go out of control and crash (there's already a fire there so no harm done I guess), freeing up the airspace within a minute or so.

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Reg reader casts call centre spell with a SECRET WORD

Henry Wertz 1
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Yep

Yep, Sprint is a distant last place in customer service still in the US. They are well known for having account problems. Sometimes it's in your favor -- you get a service you're not billed for. Sometimes, it's like in the article, they cut off a service. EITHER WAY, it's apparently like pulling teeth to get it fixed (I'm sure very few have tried to get charged extra to pay for services, but apparently the few who have tried have found it just as difficult as getting services turned on after they've been mistakenly turned off.)

GTE doesn't exist any more (part of Verizon). But, a few telcos used to "take over" exchanges from each other back in the day... GTE was apparently so bad, when they would take over a market in California, the tech companies would MOVE to avoid having to deal with GTE!

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Ashley Madison hack: Site for people who can't be trusted can't be trusted

Henry Wertz 1
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I doubt they'll see a revenue increase

"The hack may lead to a significant revenue increase. Expect and stampede to pay the fee to remove profiles."

A) The hackers presumably already have the data.

B) Per the article, the $19 apparently pays for nothing, they take the $19 then don't do jack to actually remove the data. Which is apparently what went the hacker go ballistic to begin with?

C) This is well past the point where I would expect them to remove information FOR FREE, if they want the SLIGHTEST chance of not having every single customer take them on for a nice big lawsuit. Don't get me wrong, they WILL be sued, but the $19 fee could be "the last straw" for some people (who may not have that much juicy info on there anyway), who would just remove their account to instead join a lawsuit.

On a side note, I agree that the misuse of the word "terrorism" is a travesty (I don't think it was used in the article, but in the comments). Firstly, it minimizes true terrorist acts. Secondly, it's dangerous. The US and UK both have rather poorly written anti-terrorism laws... and the danger is by getting the public used to abusing the term "terrorism" for virtually any crime big or small, investigating speech some politician doesn't agree with, even (in the case of UK) not picking up your dog shit*, that these laws become quite overbearing and fascist when they can just be applied to all and sundry.

*The dog case, I read it in the register several years ago... one of the UK's anti-terrorism laws was used to be able to DNA analyze these dog dukes, get samples from neighborhood dogs, and figure out the responsible party. I assume the dog and owner were then sent to some kind of British Gitmo for terrorism... no, actually, they were fined or whatever for not picking up after their dog. In this case the anti-terrorism law was abused to spend way more money solving this case then they would have been allowed to otherwise.

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Ant-Man: Big ideas, small payoff

Henry Wertz 1
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Two points

1) As has been pointed out, chriswakey, superhero movies are not sci-fi. I like a good sci-fi movie (*good*, mind...) but superhero movies, I could take it or leave it.

2) I figure liking these movies or not is based on taste (to clarify, I don't mean "bad taste" versus "good taste"). I have a friend who is absolutely obsessed with Avengers movies, and Marvel movies in general. I'm sure he would say Ant-Man is the pinnacle of cinema as every Marvel movie has been. I find the plots to be rather formulaic (some baddies show up, there's lots of fighting and explosions, the bad guys are defeated, usually after wrecking half the city.) So I can't get overly excited about the prospect of another one. I'm not going to go out of my way to see one (i.e. spend any money) but if one's on I won't object.

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Feel like you're being herded onto Windows 10? Well, you should

Henry Wertz 1
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Automatic updates would be a deal breaker for me

The forced automatic updates would be a deal breaker for me. I know there's too many people who just turn them off then NEVER update... but...

Linux (Ubuntu, and when I ran gentoo, that too), I go ahead and install the updates... but I don't want the system to just install them whenever. Windows, there's been enough updates that just plain break something or other that I don't like the idea of forced updates at all. (Remember, Windows does not have proper package management, you'd have to "roll back" the whole system, you can't just install the non-updated version of some package that has a broken update...) Of course, with Win10, if you had a broken update and roll back, it'll just re-install the same broken update whenever it feels like it.

I also get the distinct impression (from using it in a VM as well as reading about it) that Win10 is being seriously rushed out, and that they may not even see this as a problem. As many bugs as some Windows versions have had on release, it looks like now their attitude is to rush the software out then just dump on tons of patches... giving me the distinct impression that Win10 will be far buggier on release... and if you want something resembling stability (in both senses of the word... lack of crashes etc., and stability in terms of not having things move around and behaviors change...) you are expected to buy some corporate version. Makes me glad I don't use Windows!

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Surviving Hurricane Katrina: A sysadmin's epic DR (as in Didn't Realise) odyssey

Henry Wertz 1
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A real disaster

Other than the "have offsite backups, have a backup data center", I think almost all disaster recovery plans are more a matter of trying to keep a data center running in the face of, perhaps an ice storm or wind storm knocking power out for a while. More serious issues than this are simply not usually planned for, and may be impossible to properly plan for (for instance, who would really expect ALL phones *from* an area to fail when you are completely out of the area?)

"his is why all my tech guys have laptops, mobiles with modem tethering, remote access from the laptop, with citrix access from any PC to a remote support VMs as back up."

Wouldn't have worked in this case, 1) The cell sites in the wide area were all down. 2) The device wouldn't have worked anyway. When you got somewhere with a functional cellular network and tried to make a call or data session, the cellular network would check with(I think) the HLR (Home Location Register) from your area to make sure your device is valid and paid up -- and get no reply because the HLR would have been under water by then. Most likely, calls and data sessions would have been physically routed through the switch for your home area, which also was underwater.

" In addition we run dual data centres with key infrastructure duplicated and replicated between sites. "

This would be the key, as long as both data centers weren't in the same city.

"Multiple ISPs and telcos used for network resilience."

Wouldn't have helped in this case. All ISPs and telcos failed.

" Huge UPS with massive generator backup to survive power outages. Every single bit is backed up to tape cross site.'

In this case, sites with generators were unable to get fuel, so it helped them run longer, although if their internet providers had already failed it was a moot point. Backing everything up is of course key to recovery.

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OCP supporters hit back over testing claims – but there's dissent in the ranks

Henry Wertz 1
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Agree with both

I agree with both... I agree with Cole Crawford's quote (you'll see in the recent article about the OCP testing that I said almost the same thing), that the OCP hardware is designed for clusters or "clouds" where you want to get hardware at the best possible cost, without extra faff that is unnecessary for that kind of cluster... whereas for systems that demand hardware fault tolerance, the "extra faff" provides this and you'll want to pay for it.

On the other hand, I also agree with Barbara Aichinger, even if the base OCP certification does not have her recommendations, perhaps there should be a higher OCP certification available that does. The tests she recommends do sound like a good idea.

I do think characterizing this as an "attack" on OCP or whatever is hyperbole though.

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Oxford Uni unearths 800-year-old document to seize domain names

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Rather entertaining

If the site is down by the time you go to look at it, www.royalcollegeireland.co.uk seems to have nearly identical content. (Which, of course, is probably appropriating a real Royal College's name...)

Vincent Ballard (a few posts above) is right, this site is ridiculous. The "Oxford College graduates" starts listing a few graduates and their degrees, then after several graduates, will have like 20 pages of text between each one.. I don't know if it's supposed to be that graduates dissertation or what.

The course descriptions are ridiculous --- one will have a list of courses or general description that looks vaguely like a syllabus... the astrophysics (as Ballard says) just has photos... one with some nonsensical diagram about "white energy" and dark matter, one showing aliens of Mars, Saturn, and Pluto with like owls and monkeys along with greys and such. The hand-drawn electronic diagram was odd to say the least, and didn't seem to have enough components to actually do anything (resistors, 27V worth of 9V batteries, an op amp, a "lamp" and an LED, and a male headphone jack labelled "for colloidal silver"?) The page on "human and poisonous food" is just an anti-meat rant, no description of courses whatsoever. Some pages are a mix, like half the page will resemble what you'd expect from, if not a college then at least a diploma mill, then like mid-page it's like whoever was typing it out lost their train of thought and decided to start talking about something else.

It's really rather nonsensical and mildly entertaining... they don't even seem to be trying to sell anything, insofar as I didn't see anywhere on there to actually sign up for anything or buy anything.

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Ditch crappy landlines and start reading Twitter, 999 call centres told

Henry Wertz 1
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Done and done.

"Mobile - triangulated - within 500m. With GPS - 10m. Trouble is, no-one thought to put any technology in place to easily send the GPS coords to the emergency centre."

They've done that in the US since the late 1990s. For 911 calls. It relies on some phone firmware (with emergency numbers hard-coded in AFAIK) so it won't do it for texts though.

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Henry Wertz 1
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The've got this in Iowa

They've got this in Iowa, at one 911 call center (that's 999 equivalent in the US.) I don't know how much it's been used, but I can see the use of it. Expecting it to REPLACE landlines is stupid, but as a supplement? Sure.

First, people have listed how much trouble there'd be with non-understandable texts. True, I have a physical keyboard on my phone, but the onscreen ones are (IMHO) utter crap. BUT, you ignore the problem of noise. Three examples that immediately come to mind -- Along the highway, if you crashed or some other emergency arose, it's generally far too noisy to make a voice call (especially with the semis -- lorries -- going along). Second, fire alarm -- I have not seen a single fire alarm where there'd be any chance of being able to get a single word through on a call. Third, parties -- I don't know if people passing out at raves or concerts is really that common, but it'd be easier to text about it than to call.

Of course, people apparently make prank calls to 911 too. They are harshly penalized. So, just make it clear texting 911 as a prank will be penalized and I don't think people will go around doing it just because it's a text or tweet.

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Smartphones are ludicrously under-used, so steal their brains

Henry Wertz 1
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Good article

I was afraid it was going to suggest making the phone do, like, seti@home or something while I carry it around (which obviously would kill the battery life.) Luckily, not the case. I have to agree with others, though, I'm not going to plug my phone into the washing machine and oven -- they don't need the processing power, and I'd rather keep the phone with me.

But, I in fact (as a test) ran a full Linux desktop -- including OpenOffice -- off a Motorola Droid 2 Global a few years back. I used the remote capability of X over the wifi, since there's no HDMI port on there. This model had a single 1ghz ARM, not the dual or quad >1ghz processors like you'd have now. Nevertheless, not only did it work it was actually snappy! These phones really do have loads of processing power.

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Facebook casts a hex with self-referential IPv6

Henry Wertz 1
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I'd like some dead beef

I'd put some dead beef in my address, personally. Or c0ffee.

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Linux on the desktop is so hot there's now a fight over it

Henry Wertz 1
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Inevitable? No.

"Actually you've highlighted the problem yourself. There are a myriad of Linux distros and on top of this a myriad of desktops. Imagine the following scenario, Bob is talking to Fred in the pub who is having an issue and he doesn't understand how to change his screen resolution for the new monitor he's purchased. Bob says don't worry mate I'll pop over and show you how. The trouble is Bob is running Ubuntu and Fred is running Mint. (Try not to be a pedant and point out that Mint runs on Ubuntu.)"

OK, Bob then come's over to "WindowsFred's" house, and says "Sure I know how to change your screen resolution." But he's done it in Windows 7, and "WindowsFred" is running 8, 8.1, 10, XP, or some version of Windows Server, all of which have put this in slightly different places. Just saying, when it comes to an OS debate, people will point out the different Linux distros as a negative, then conveniently pretend all Windows installs are identical.

I really don't know if Linux will become big on the desktop or not, but it seems like sooner or later Microsoft will make enough mis-steps that things will change; I guess we'll see how Windows 10 does.

Before you think it's inevitable that things will never change, take a look at the early 1980s -- you had CP/M systems for businesses and home PCs (Apple II, Atari, etc.). CP/M-86 (a port of CP/M from the Zilog Z80 CPU to Intel 8088/8086) was out, and there was no reason to think it wouldn't dominate on Intel-based systems. The very issue of Byte that reviewed the IBM PC had a Digital Research CP/M-86 ad with a guy in a bad leisure suit pointing to a chart showing the millions of units they'd ship over the next several years. Well, those millions of sales never happened, since IBM went with IBM PC-DOS/MS-DOS.

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Open Compute Project testing is a 'complete and total joke'

Henry Wertz 1
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I question...

I'm not sure what Goldman Sachs etc. need. I would HOPE they would value full reliability... BUT, I remember hearing years ago about the high frequency trading systems they employ beginning to use significantly overclocked CPUs -- the goal seemed to simply be raw speed, to be faster than the other HFT competitors, rather than any view toward reliability. (After all, when these systems HAVE malfunctioned and lost them money, for no reason I can determine the stock exchange has obligingly rolled back their trades for them.)

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Henry Wertz 1
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I don't think these guys understand...

I don't think these guys understand what this cert is for. If your "cloud" is servers running VMs, you would likely want enterprise reliability. If you are running software that cannot be checkpointed well (so failure is serious, rather than just resuming off some checkpoint), you'd want reliability.

This is not for that kind of software. This is for the Google and Facebook type of "cloud", which assumes failures WILL happen -- the software performs data integrity checks are performed, data is stored at least in duplicate, and it tolerates a system failing, resuming whatever work it was doing on another system. In this case, I would not want to spend on enterprise reliability features.

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UK TV is getting worse as younglings shun the BBC et al, says Ofcom

Henry Wertz 1
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Well yeah..

Well, yeah, I've seen people watching FAR less TV here in the US than they would have 10 years ago. Several factors (which may or may not apply in UK):

1) Cost. Cable that went up from $35.95 to about $5 a month about 15 years ago, is up to $80 a month or so now. DirecTV costs somewhat less, and Dish network less than that (both satellite dish services) but still a good chunk of change each month. OTA (over the air), if you have good TV reception you can get "enough" channels (compared to before with analog) that many people have dropped cable or dish but since there are fewer channels to choose from, simply watch less TV.

2) Excessive advertising. One show I've seen is about 17 minutes long -- that is 13 minutes of ads. Who the hell is going to watch that many ads, that's almost 50% ads!!! I watch some TV, but NEVER live -- DVR recorded or downloads only.

3) Simply so many hours in the day. First, people do spend far longer online, so they won't be watching TV when they are online. Second, with the poor economy I've been seeing people work 2 jobs who used to work 1, putting in extra hours if they can. Going back to the cost factor, the average wage in the US is lower than it was a few years ago (not even counting inflation), so people would rather spend time online and read, if they have the free time even for that.

As for money spent on shows -- I just don't see the money spent on shows as a factor. If less money means fewer hours of programming, that is one thing. But, look, they must have spent about a buck fifty on some of those classic episodes of Doctor Who -- man the special effects were... something... -- but they were good to watch. On the flip side, I've seen movies and shows that they spent a fortune on the special effects, but the they SUCKED.

Of course, the big fad (in the US) is this endless collection of reality shows, most of which are virtually unwatchable but cost almost nothing to make. The thing is, though, good writing and good plot just don't cost a fortune, but a lot of shows now blow budget on sets and locales, and other extraneous things (there's a lot of wiggle room in special effects between "1970s Doctor Who" and "state of the art that costs a fortune" for example.)

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Did a SUPER RARE Sony-Nintendo PlayStation prototype just pop up online? Possibly, maybe

Henry Wertz 1
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Somebody's going to be rich...

Assuming this is not a fake, looks like someone's going to get a very nice pay day. This seems like just the kind of thing someone will pay big, big bucks for. Lucky! 8-)

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Let me PLUG that up there, love. It’s perfectly standaAAARGH!

Henry Wertz 1
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Both's faults?

Don't get me wrong, this is mainly the fault of the consultants. But, the client should have *some* responsibility.

I mean (not to get into bad analogies), if a plumber came in and said they wanted to run pipes all over the building, stick this cistern over here, oh and pumps, lots of pumps, I would think SOMEONE would ask "Why? We just have this sink here, and a bathroom over here. What is the goal of all this?" See if the answer makes sense. But, for IT, someone can come in and propose virtually anything, and they will not necessarily be questioned about "what is the goal for all this?"

Same thing here -- for ANY project I've proposed as a consultant... I ask what they want to get done, and how they expect to do it. I propose (even if just pen-on-paper ) some mockups to see if this is how they want this to work. I *DON'T* start out saying I'm going to use Python and this and that technology without even saying what the goal of this tech is. This would, for example, avoid the situation from the article where some group ended up with shared folders where they could not share anything with anyone else, and had to FTP to do so. I would have found either people want to share everything on there, and made all directories accesible to others... or found they want to share the odd file, and kept each user's directory private but added a "public to all" directory people could copy files in to to share them.

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This box beams cafes' Wi-Fi over 4kms so you can surf in obscurity

Henry Wertz 1
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A) 900mhz is ISM in the US, *not* allocated. Our cellular band is at 800mhz, thankyouverymuch.

B) This seems useless for the intended purpose. If you're not doing anything too naughty, nobody is going to look for you anyway. If you ARE doing something naughty, it's like "what's this weird box? Well, lets see who bought one in this area... 1 person huh?" and it'd also probably be covered in greasy fingerprints.

C) I like the concept anyway, though, of a 900mhz much longer range wifi type device. I'd love to run a few of these between households, avoiding the cripplingly slow 1mbps upstream of the local ISPs (when I'm just moving data from one house to another) as well as no worries about data caps (although at 1mbps upstream I'm unlikely to put a dent in the cap.)

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Export control laws force student to censor infosec research

Henry Wertz 1
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Time to become a grey hat.

Looks like time to quit being a white hat and become a grey hat. I won't recommend becoming a blackhat, that selling 'sploits to card scammers and such is greasy. But I can guarantee if I found an exploit I wanted to tell people about, well, you could tell me no all you want but I would do it anyway (unless there's an ACTUAL concrete reason for that "no".)

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What's black, sticky, and has just 8GB of storage?

Henry Wertz 1
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ARM stick?

"Not sure who is going to buy this, I would wait about 3 hours after the windows version is released for a Ubuntu image that can be installed on the better hardware."

I wouldn't, I will not be statistically counted as a "Windows customer" or whatever when I'm not going to use it.

That said... I don't know if the Linux version will be as popular as the Windows one anyway. Why? COST! You "lucky" Windows users have a choice of x86 or nothing (since the ARM version of Windows turned out to be a bit crap)

But, I got a quad-core ARM with a GB or 2 of RAM and (indeed rather paltry) 8GB of storage for like $70, and that was effectively paying some guy about $15 to put Linux on it.. they were like $55 blank. That was a year or two ago so they probably are less now. And to be clear, this isn't a compromised system, it shipped with a slightly stripped desktop but Ubuntu's regular "classic" desktop ran fine on it (Unity did too but Unity is crap), OpenGL 3d acceleration worked out of the box, and MPEG2/MPEG4/H.264 video acceleration worked out of the box (set up so vlc, mplayer, etc. can all use it.)

Don't get me wrong, the $110 Intel stick should also be able to run a full install of whatever you want... I just didn't want anyone to think, based on Microsoft's attempt at ARM Windows, followed by a retreat to x86 and saying ARM is for lightweight "Internet of Things" type use, that this is really all ARM is good for. Running Linux on there you honestly wouldn't know it's an ARM until you look at hardware info like /proc/cpuinfo or the kernel logs describing the hardware.

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Facebook unveils SECRET logo furtle – in a TWEET

Henry Wertz 1
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No point

I agree, there's no point to this.

First, how many people will even notice this (SLIGHTLY!) different font!

Second, I do notice things like this (I've noticed a few speed limit signs out and about with non-standard fonts compared to the rest, for instance) but... it's so similar I might not have even noticed. And, having noticed, as much as Facebook might want it to signify something deep, to me it doesn't signify a thing.

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Cash-strapped Chicago slaps CLOUD TAX on Netflix, Spotify etc users

Henry Wertz 1
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Illegal and avoidable

There's no chance this internet tax doesn't run afoul of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, since this Act was passed explicitly to bar taxes of online services and products. There is, of course, the question of whether online services should be exempt from taxation while everything else is subject to sales taxes and such. There was a good reason for this law though... the reason this law was passed was due to the ridiculousness of expecting online retailers to deal with having like 10,000 different sales tax jurisdictions (NOT an exaggeration, per Google there were 9,998 in the US as of mid-2014!) all with different tax rates and rules on what is and is not taxed.

Easily avoidable -- in areas with excessive cell phone taxes (in parts of California the taxes, fees, charges and bonus overcharges can amount to close to 50% of the bill!), it's common for people to not worry about getting a local phone number (since cell cos don't charge for long distance anyway.) They set up paperless billing and say "Yeah, of course I'm based in (Utah or wherever.)" I wouldn't hesitate for a second giving Netflix an "alternate" address and I bet a lot of Chicagoans will not hesitate either.

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Google IS listening: Binary blob banished from Chromium build

Henry Wertz 1
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Only usage

"Just because the term "kernel module" is widely used to refer to packaged software used to extend the Linux OS, that doesn't mean it's the only usage."

Well, I use it to refer to the little .ko files (whether packaged or not...) that can be loaded into the Linux kernel. Other OSes do have these... *BSD has modules, OSX has them but calls them kernel extensions. I'd go so far as to say it IS the only correct usage, computer science does give certain terms a pretty limited and precise meaning to avoid confusion. If someone decided to call some add-ons "kernel modules" I'd point out that term has a precise usage and they should call them something else.

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Who wants a classic ThinkPad with whizzy new hardware? Lenovo would just love to know

Henry Wertz 1
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I'd buy one

I would love something like that, I've never had a Thinkpad but loved the deisgn on the older ones. I'd buy something physically like that but with modern tech in it for sure. Do make a range though, I do tend to prefer longer battery life, lower heat and less fan use over a firebreathing monster. Others do prefer the firebreathing monster though 8-)

If you want to really lock it in, have a non-Microsoft option. Even if it's just "no OS", I really don't care to pay for an OS license I'll never use and be counted statistically as a Microsoft customer when I'm not.

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So much for rainbows, Zuck: Facebook staff still overwhelmingly male and white

Henry Wertz 1
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"Perhaps white people live there because black people can't afford to because your racist ass won't give them a job?"

What a racist statement. Nope, most people can't afford to live in these areas in California, regardless of race. About 20 years ago, I was offered a job in Silicon Valley area of California, with pay that sounded good by the standards of the midwestern US... but when I looked up expenses for the Silicon Valley area, I realized it would not have even paid for an apartment there even with 0 left over for living expenses.

As for the gender differences... I think the main factor here is IT departments that tend to demand unpaid "on call" service, and brutal overtime. I would not want to work at a place that sees this as the normal state of events, rather than a temporary situation they should work to correct. But, I hear that it's all to common. Quite simply, I think there are plenty of people of both genders that will not put up with this long-term, but more males than females will put up with it.

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Robo-car wars: Delphi's near crash, prang, wallop with Google DENIED!

Henry Wertz 1
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Umm...

Well, if they were a lane width apart there was no near-miss. But, if the Google car caused the Delphi car to abort a lane change, then yes, the Google car cut the Delphi car off, or the Delphi car did not "look" before it started to make a lane change, or it was excessively cautious. Does this happen to me? No.... I look before I signal and make lane changes, so I don't have to abort lane changes. And, if I'm signalling and performing a lane change and someone else is veering around from lane to lane without signalling, that is what my horn is for; they (the one who is not signalling) can damn well wait until they learn to signal their lane changes.

Of course, I doubt they were REALLY lane width apart at the closest -- why would either car abort doing anything if they were not (at some point) at least in adjacent lanes (which is NOT a lane width apart....)?

Are they going to start having robot wars? "If you buy a GM car, better not go to Mountain View, those Google and Delphi car computers are having a feud again." 8-)

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BT: Let us scrap ordinary phone lines. You've all got great internet, right?

Henry Wertz 1
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Don't let it be an excuse to raise prices

"I would suspect these days most households have at least 3 mobile phones capable of making emergency calls."

"But can they do that in an area without a signal, or if the cell towers are down?"

The "you can't call in an area without a signal" is an ad hominem, because you're comparing to a phone that only works within like 20 feet of the wall plate in your home. Do you have signal in your home? Yes? Then, the cell phone works in a superset of the area your wired phone does. Does it work when cell towers are down? No, and the landline doesn't work when your landline is down either.

"Similarly, power outages were common in the 1970's, but are extraordinarily rare today."

"Power outages in the UK are still quite common in more rural areas, (where there is less likely to be a mobile signal) and are likely to get more common and widespread if the government policies on power generation continue."

The "Power outages are uncommon" argument is silly. Nevertheless, power outages shouldn't be an argument against cell phones either. This shouldn't affect your cell phone (not saying that it doesn't but it shouldn't.) Verizon Wireless, for instance, has battery backup and generator backup on their cell sites. If your service goes out with the power, it means your phone provider are being cheapy-cheapy.

As for BT -- I'd say if they wish to change how they provide POTS, they should be able to go ahead. But there should be a few conditions.

First, since they say this'll save them money, they should not be able to use this as an excuse to raise prices. Side bar on this topic -- when cellular phone companies in the US started adding 4G LTE and VoLTE (Voice over LTE), MetroPCS said "LTE and VoLTE has cut our cost per voice minute and per byte by more than half, we're lowering rates". Almost every other provider said "LTE and VoLTE cost a lot to roll out, we're jacking up your rates".

Second, they should still be obligated to charge the same or lower than current POTS rates, to provide a dialtone to the customer's phone jack. If they want to do it over an internet connection with a VOIP to landline phone adapter, by all means. But they should NOT be able to use this as an excuse to rope these people into paying the the same voice rate as now, PLUS an internet connection fee PLUS a VOIP adapter rental fee.

Finally, something should be done about data caps -- either all VOIP use should count against whatever cap, or all VOIP use shouldn't. I can just see BT using "our VOIP doesn't count against your cap, theirs does" as some kind of bludgeon to "persuade" people to buy BT's VOIP service. (Honestly VOIP doesn't use much data... but still.)

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Whoops, there goes my data! Hold onto your privates in the Dropbox era

Henry Wertz 1
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I'm calling BS

I'm calling BS on the claim that a typical firm uses *923* different cloud services. Are they misusing the term "cloud service" to mean literally any web site, or what?

This doesn't really negate the fact that unauthorized use of services like Dropbox a) Could be a security risk b) Is a problem if it's being used in lieu of backups. c) Could be a cash drain if the corporate budget is being used for it.

To me, the solution is:

a) Find out what services people are using or want to use.

b) If it's important to the business, implement it. Either set up the service served from your own data center, or main office, or whatever... or buy a corporate version of the service so it's still going wherever, but you have some visibility into what's actually going on there, and some control over what happens to the files. Note that a way WAY clunkier equivalent is not at all equivalent -- the example from the article shows this, a clunky and slow web-based CMS is not equivalent to, say, Dropbox, which has a web version, an app, and makes sure everything operates nice and smoothly.

c) If it's just a sync'ed calendar or something, the risk of letting people use an "unauthorized" one may be pretty low, so you may just want to let them go ahead and use it.

edit: Regarding implementation -- if making this new service integrate with existing services at your business is going to delay the new service indefinitely.... maybe you just have to drop that requirement. After all, the choice here is not "service you provide" or "nothing", it's "service you provide", "unauthorized 3rd party service", or "nothing". I think it's better to have, say a "dumb file store" you operate than have people just use a 3rd party one... after all, the users using the unauthorized 3rd party one are clearly already getting by without that tight integration.

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Verizon outage borks phones, TVs, internet for hapless East Coast folk

Henry Wertz 1
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"Thats why I pay for a land line

It is only for emergencies.

"

Except, in FIOS markets, your landline would be via th FIOS service -- which is down.

When my parents had "a certain company" for landline -- I name names, it's CenturyLink, formerly Qwest -- and Verizon Wireless cell phone, CL had several outages while VZW had none. In addition, CL would get fast busies like clockwork around 4 or 5 in the afternoon (which they did, after some years, eventually clear up...), while with VZW I think I got one "all circuits are busy" over like 10 years. I assume as a former part of the Bell system, CenturyLink has the usual huge bank of 48-volt batteries for battery backup, but VZW also has battery and generator backup on their cell sites around here. The cell phones here are more reliable than the landlines. Plus, of course, for an emergency where seconds matter, my cell phone is on me, while the landline, I'd have to find where it's sitting.

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Wake up, sheeple! If you ask Siri about 9/11 it will rat you out to the police!

Henry Wertz 1
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Not phonetically identical

Not phonetically identical; this is a Siri screw-up. The date (which should be 11/9, but US'ians do their date in the nonsensical order month/day/year instead of day/month/year) is pronounced "nine eleven." The emergency phone number is "nine one one."

Despite this, I'm sure there'll be a few of the conspiracy theorists who take this to mean that... umm... lets see... I guess they'll decide Apple and Siri are in league with the CIA (who really took the buildings down, don'tcha know?) to prevent people finding out the truth.

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Amazon enrages authors as it switches to 'pay-per-page' model

Henry Wertz 1
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Re: Do the publisher contracts permit this?

"Surely Amazon can't unilaterally decide to pay a page at a time unless the contracts have some sort of language about selling parts of books."

These are self-published books, Amazon *is* the publisher. I'm sure they made sure their own contract permits changing the payment terms.

"Suppose someone self-publishes a book, 1000 people buy the Kindle version but no one reads it. Then five years later the writer becomes well known, and everyone who bought those 1000 copies suddenly reads all of it. Would Amazon pay the writer at that point?"

No they wouldn't be paid in 5 years, they would be paid at time of purchase for the whole book. People who pay the monthly fee for "all you can read" never purchase the book, so I would assume they could put the book on their device now, flip through the whole book 5 years from now and the author would be paid for them flipping through the whole book.

"This is going to be a bitch for people writing technical manuals/reference books/textbooks. Does anyone read every single page of the computing books they buy?"

Anyone buying a book, they will buy the book and the technical manual author will get the same as before. This is just for this "all you can read" service, and self-publish through Amazon.

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Henry Wertz 1
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I know why they are doing this

First off, I don't know about various posters, but I'm not a consumer, I'm a customer (or not -- I don't subscribe to Amazon's book service.)

I know why they are doing this. Or at least strongly suspect. I can think of two good reasons.

I've seen, time and again, self-published "books" that are like 10-20 pages long. This is not to denigrate these books, but I really don't see it as fair for a short story to be paid out the same as a full-length novel.

I've also seen a few books in Amazon, where the preview made it clear it was gibberish. Not merely badly written, but apparently text from one of those spam-web-page pseudo-English text generators... the ones that make text that at casual glance appears to be English but when trying to read it it's nonsense and sentence fragments. These guys shouldn't be paid at all, but this way when a reader glances at 1 page, says "WTF!", and moves on, they at least will be paid for 1 page instead of a whole book.

Of course, the devil is in the details. It's probably possible for Amazon to set a per-page rate so typical writers actually make more than before, while cutting down payment on very short books and "spam page text" books enough that Amazon still saves money. But, it's of course also possible for the per-page rate to be set way too low so everyone loses but Amazon.

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Vicious vandals violate voluminous Versailles vagina

Henry Wertz 1
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Looks OK to me.

"Actually on the topic of the Queen's Vagina I confess the picture leaves me unconvinced,l but then it's only a picture - I suppose it could be better in person."

Agreed.

To be honest, to me this just looks like an art piece that makes some interesting use of light and shadow. (Other than the likely astronomical cost) I would have no problem putting this thing in my yard. If someone said "Hey, don't you think that looks like a vagina?" I guess I'd say "Well, I guess" but it's not the first thing that would have come to mind when I saw it.

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