* Posts by Henry Wertz 1

1925 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

Bloke, 22, in knockoff Microsoft Xbox ring gets 18 months in the cooler

Henry Wertz 1
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I'm impressed

I'm duly impressed that they could mock up an XBox One.

As for the value oft the docuemnts, there's a long tradition in the US of ridiculously inflating these figures. The example I am aware of is the 1990 case where AT&T sent the Feds after some LOD/H (Legion of Doom/Legion of Hackers) members for pilfering a confidential AT&T document. First, AT&T claimed the document was worth $75,000. Then $35,000. Then, they had the feds drop all charges when it came out that a) This document was available -- for free -- at various public libraries, including the defendent's local library, it was not confidential at all. b) AT&T would ship it in printed form to any and all for like $50 shipped.

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Oh Em Pee! Giant Android tinkles on Apple in Google Maps graffiti

Henry Wertz 1
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How?

How the heck do you even submit a user edit like this? I mean, last time I tried, I had difficulty even telling it that a road did not actually connect to another road so Google Nav would quit trying to direct me through 20 feet or so of grass.

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London man arrested over $40 MILLION HFT flash crash allegations

Henry Wertz 1
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What a joke

So, it's already for HFT systems to manipulate the market, make those fractions of a cent that they haven't REALLY earned, but if someone else manages to do it they get in trouble?

To elaborate: 1) The HFT systems usually use exploits in the trading platforms to look at trades everyone else has put in ALREADY IN THE TRADING QUEUE, stick theirs AHEAD of the ones ALREADY in the queue, so they can stick themselves in the middle of buy/sell orders and "split the difference", making a profit for themselves that they truthfully did not earn in any way. When anyone complains about HFT traders, they refer to this as "adding liquidity to the market", and imply that if the HFTs weren't there suddenly nobody would be willing to make trades.. which of course is complete bull.

This guy figures out how to "trick" the HFT systems (no real people) and all of a sudden he's in trouble? I honestly think this is a load of crap, it's the HFT system writer's problem if they can be tricked by this. HFTs put up and pull trades without executing them ALL THE TIME to both try to have trades ready for things they think may or may not happen, and to try to manipulate other HFT systems behaviors (after all, multiple investment firms have HFTs and they'll be competing with each other for this money.)

2) The HFTs did cause the flash crash. The fact that his unusual input may have triggered it (if it even did) doesn't change the fact that their software malfunctioned and caused the crash.

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Fed-up Colorado man takes 9mm PISTOL to vexing Dell PC

Henry Wertz 1
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"The XPS 410 was current in 2007. I doubt his warranty was eight years. Which makes me wonder why he was so angry that such an old piece of kit was on the blink?"

I run Ubuntu so I don't get pissed off enough at my computers to want to shoot them. But, the hardware problems of an older PC are generally fan failures, when you can hear those fans grind and stop spinning it's annoying but also obvious something's going wrong (the "numerous blown cap" Dells were GX270s, several years older). Elderly-Windows-install related misbehaviors, crashes, slowdowns, viruses and spyware, mystery popups, and so on? Those would piss anybody off. I guess the flip side of this all is, though, if the computer was on it's last legs, there was really no harm in shooting it (other than having the plod show up).

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Comcast accused of torpedoing Hulu sale to rivals with weapon of mass transactions

Henry Wertz 1
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Greasy

My god is Comcast greasy. I would just like to take this opportunity to point out, on ranking of customer satisfaction, as well as ratings of general opinion of companies... Time Warner Cable is rated the most-hated company in America, with Comcast rated #2. Their ISPs are rated the two worst in the industry, and their two cable cos are rated well below any other cable company. You can just google to find plenty of problems.

The big scandal last year was several viral calls of people trying to cancel their Comcast service. Apparently they play the -- illegal, BTW -- tactic of just saying "no" and expecting you to berate them into cancelling. Personally, I have a simple solution to cancelling a service like this -- I tell them I'm cancelling (I'll answer 1 or 2 questions if they want, that's OK), ask what the final bill is, pay it, make sure I've documented the time and date of the call, and make sure autopay is disabled. If they come back later to complain about non-payment, I point out that's their problem, look in the account record and see when I called on that date? That's when I cancelled.

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GoDaddy buys 200,000 domains for $28.1m – that's $140 a piece

Henry Wertz 1
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Does this seriously mean telemarketing?

"A significant and growing majority of the consumer engagement and sales driven by mobile advertising happens offline, such as through phone calls,"

Does the current CEO of Marchex seriously think that telemarketing will work? Honestly, a) Lots of people are on the Do Not Call list (they aren't planning to join the greasy greasy, degenrate scum of the earth ILLEGAL TELEMARKETERS I hope? Great way to get a huge fine.) b) Nobody else says they enjoy getting telemarketing calls either... maybe in the past they'd buy stuff anyway, but these days? Who buys stuff via a phone call any more? c) Last I heard (thankfully) the telemarketing market was in a rapid decline (probably due to these two factors among others.)

As for selling the domains... I think that's a good move. For GoDaddy, they provide plenty of online services so the domain goes with it. For Marchex, it'll be increasingly hard to get good money for just the domain (no value added services like GoDaddy has) when there are so many new TLDs.

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Evil Wi-Fi kills iPhones, iPods in range – 'No iOS Zone' SSL bug revealed

Henry Wertz 1
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"Thankfully ubiquitous, fast, unlimited 4G will probably ultimately render them as obsolete as payphone and fax machines in the future."

Hah! While 4G has GREATLY decreased the cost per GB of providing service, the providers in the US have gone full-greed and actually INCREASED per-GB charges over the past 5 or 10 years. Unbelievable but true.

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Republicans in sneaky bid to reauthorize Patriot Act spying until 2020

Henry Wertz 1
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Please dox these senators

"The law gives legal cover to the NSA for its massive database of US cellphone records, among other things."

This was actually one of the "shell games" NSA supporters played -- successfully against the television reporters, unsuccessfully against the online media. After initially leaning on the NSA over the (always has been and still is) illegal mass surveillance program, the TV media's attention was diverted to the (legal due to Patriot Act) call record program (which has phone # and call length only). The TV media was perfectly played, instead of leaning on the NSA to reform the illegal mass surveillance program that the public actually cares about, they "successfully" leaned on the NSA to reform the call records program.

As for these senators -- I would ask Anonymous or someone to dox them. These types of people are ALWAYS hypocrites... they will invariably have no problem saying that nobody should have a right to privacy, until THEIR OWN private information is leaked. THEN all of a sudden, what do you know, privacy is a big deal!

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Loose lips slip when Windows 10 ships: 'End of July' says AMD CEO

Henry Wertz 1
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On the contrary

"Damn few people care about Win 10. "

On the contrary, I've had several people (who persuade themselves their old computer is slow because it's "getting old", when really they are running Windows so they have loads of viruses and spyware bogging them down), they know they can't get a new system with Windows 7, and they know they don't want Windows 8. And inexplicably they won't just ditch Windows even though they are literally doing nothing but web browsing (not even word processing...). They just couldn't wrap it around their heads that Windows 10 hasn't shipped yet, that it's effectively vaporware until the OEMs actually get it (since in the past, Microsoft has almost always stated the next Windows version will ship in the next 3-6 months, and just push that date back until it's actually ready.) They insisted they would find a machine with Windows 10 on it, I was like "Good luck with that".

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Philip Glass tells all and Lovelace and Babbage get the comic novel treatment

Henry Wertz 1
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"I I found Sydney Padua's Lovelace and Babbage comic quite enjoyable"

Me to, and I recall the online comic being reasonably coherent too. I don't know if the reviewer simply didn't like it (which is certainly fine) or if some bits got cut between the online comic and book.

Also... I hate to say it, it's a little harsh to call Babbage a failure but... although his contributions then and now were important, he did end in his later years flat broke, destitute, and bitter (basically from going broke before he could complete building his inventions.) Some inventors and people who start startups now use the phrase "go for broke" (invest everything into your invention or startup), and he literally did.

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Let’s PULL Augmented Reality and CLIMAX with JISM

Henry Wertz 1
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Great article, and spot on

I think. I think this was spot on -- the crazy amounts of problems presenters seem to have. Especially if they are using Windows (and Apples where they forget the proprietary connectors.)

The uselessness of AR too; ShortLegs brings up one definitely useful use (and I've read about a few USAF jets also having a heavily augmented flight helmet) but in general, mostly I've seen a few fairly useless (but less double entendre-filled) tech demos, with no suggestion of what it'd actually be used for.

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FCC hit with SEVENTH net neutrality lawsuit

Henry Wertz 1
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Re: Centurylink, yeah they went and upgraded some of their "boxes" from just a wiring cabinet to remote DSLAMs with (I think) VDSL2 on it, so you can get up to like 100mbps. It's pretty picey though. Large areas end up being able to get like 3mbps or less, looong line runs and very conservative in terms of DSL parameters (i.e. a line where you could get 12mbps, they might only provide up to 7.)

I have no idea what problems CL might have with network neutrality rules though, they'd have to turn off the "falsely send DNS not found to a 'search page'" thing -- which I work around with alternate DNS servers -- but I would have thought that's about it, they really don't mess with traffic or ports as far as I know.

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The Internet of things is great until it blows up your house

Henry Wertz 1
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Yeah...

1) The clothes, you have a standardized range from 1-10 or whatever, have a "please iron with setting 5" on the clothes. Done.

2) The other example... as AC says, a 4-bit microcontroller would have more than enough power for this (and I don't even know if they're on the market any more, but even a embedded 32-bit CPU is well under a dollar) I can't see any reason to have this have bluetooth or anything in it, I would expect it to have the usual "1 through 6" or whatever temperature knob, and a mode switch to switch in a few modes to do whatever cooling off later and so on based on the sensor inputs.. I'd expect this to have reasonable factory calibrations in a lookup table, but calculating "on the fly" really shouldn't require going online either. For safety purposes, although the software should also have "sanity checks" to avoid unsafe temperatures, the existing safety shutoff should be kept as-is.

Safety can be an issue, but to avoid it I advocate using hardware safety interlocks when reasonable. For example, the electric blanket retains a temperature cutoff (the software should still have a final "sanity check" on the temperature, but some piece of hardware ultimately shuts it off in case of CPU failure or whatever). In the case of the stove... well, first, I don't know why you'd want to remotely turn it on, it doesn't take that long to heat up. But, I would use furnace-style hardware... on the furnace I have now, you hold down an igniter switch while lighting the pilot. You let up on the button, and if some temperature switch hasn't gotten up to temperature, the gas shuts off. I'd give the CPU only access to a "gas plus ignition" switch, the hardware would limit on time and excessive retriggers, so the CPU could try to blow up the stove all it wants and the hardware would prevent it.

I think anyone working on these "iot" devices that do anything important should read up on the Therac-25. In short, it was an electron beam medical device that would run the high-energy electron beam without spreader plate due to a race condition, causing about 1000x the intended dose; if some data was updated close enough to 'start of procedure', and there were incorrect results, they could slip in after the safety checks. On the previous models, a hardware interlock prevented this configuration but the previous hardware safeties were removed in favor of full software control. Most devices aren't that likely to be harmful, but I still recommend leaving in hardware interlocks.

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2550100 ... An Illuminati codeword or name of new alliance demanding faster Ethernet faster?

Henry Wertz 1
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"These days we have HD TV over Internet, which needs at least a 10MB line to be barely watchable."

Actually 10mb. (10MB would be 10 mega*bytes* per second).

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Nvidia's GTX 900 cards lock out open-source Linux devs yet again

Henry Wertz 1
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firmware

"The headline of this article is VERY disingenuous and misleading."

No it's not, it sounds to me like the developers working on the open source nouveau driver are in fact locked out.

I'm with Stuart Longland on this, BTW. Having the drivers AND firmware be open source would be nice. But, 1) It seems arbitrary that people will not mind if a device has firmware on a flash ROM or (god forbid) permanent ROM, but flip out if the exact same firmware is loaded at initialization time into some RAM on the device. 2) To be honest, I've seen multiple instances of devices with closed firmware but fully open specs, and the open firmware never seems to actually get completed.

Why do I favour open source drivers? Simply because I'm less likely to run into the "kernel too new", "X.Org too new" or "card too old, the vendor is not shipping updated drivers any more" situations... not some strict purity standpoint. As for firmware, the one big argument for open source firmware to me is bug fixes -- see Intel iwl4965 802.11n wifi for what can go wrong.... the newest firmware is like 5 years old and buggy, the next-older one works for me but is very buggy for other users (I think depending on the radio envrionment, or perhaps which 802.11N options their AP is using). Intel never got the bugs worked out, just stopped work and went on to the next chip. If it were open source, perhaps someone would have gotten the bugs worked out. (The *driver* is open source, but it's one of those drivers where it just hands things over to the firmware, and the firmware fails.)

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Microsoft points at Skype, Lync: You two, in my office – right now

Henry Wertz 1
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"Incorrect. Firstly, privileged parties do get to review the source code of MS products for security reasons such as this. Secondly, whilst you might not notice, there are plenty of parties that would notice Lync reaching out of your network to send your information back to MS HQ. "

First point, actually this software is closed source. Having some privileged few parties get to look over it really isn't at all reassuring to me.

Second point is 100% true, enough people run traffic sniffers to notice if Lynx were phoning home without authorization, it clearly doesn't do this or it would have been called out for it a long time ago.

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Finally, Mozilla looks at moving away from 'insecure' HTTP. Maybe

Henry Wertz 1
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Traffic interception

"HTTPS provides minimal protection against either of these - I've never come across a case of HTTP content being altered in transit, and analysis of HTTPS content is still possible, just not very easy."

I have. Mediacom interferes with people's traffic. I used to see occasional download failures on my Ubuntu updates. Why? I looked at one of the failed downloads, and Mediacom was injecting javascript code (to force some kind of Mediacom-related popup to say they were doing network work) into files that are not even HTML, like package lists and so on. I've also seen the thing at the top of the screen indicating this on pages that *were* HTML. Of course if you go for the other main ISP here (Centurylink), they hijack DNS so unknown domains are falsely redirected to an ad/"search help" page instead of properly returning the address does not exist. Other ISPs have felt free to steal banner ad space from whoever is "supposed" to be using it to insert their own ads. There was that case, just last week, about a Bell Canada being sued because they were tracking people to sell the info, and replacing ads; and people who opted out, they just quit replacing the ads but continued tracking them.

That said -- I think the furthest Firefox should go is to put some kind of warning symbol in the address bar or status bar. It simply doesn't matter if certain types of traffic are secured or not, and for something like a video stream it may just be a waste of CPU cycles. I'd also prefer to choose using some site or not rather than have it just quit working because "HTTP is deprecated." As people say above, a nosey ISP could still perform traffic analysis of HTTPS anyway...

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Sprint fined $16m for sticking it to The Man: Telco 'overcharged' Feds for phone wiretaps

Henry Wertz 1
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"It's sort of funny that the US is seeking to ban what it does itself - repeatedly."

Yup, the US main two political parties, and officials in power, are incredibly hypocritical in this regard. You should see them bleat on about how horrible it is about China wanting to spy on it's citizens and so on, then there's just awkward silence when the subject turns to what they are going to do about the US's illegal spying program spying on US citizens. These guys have some kind of blinders, thinking that if they don't mention the US spying programs that they'll just go away.

Re: Sprint... heh. Sprint having billing problems? I can't believe it...hehehe. (For you across the pond, it's like a running joke with Sprint, like... boy I sure did get a good deal, I hope I don't run into billing problems.) Good on them for trying to recoup costs though, if the Feds want specialized equipment they should damn well have to pay for it.

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Wi-Fi hotspots can put iPhones into ETERNAL super slow-mo

Henry Wertz 1
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"Well, I do. Only a small minority of people have an understanding of IT security, and expecting them to do so is as unrealistic as expecting all programmers to have an in-depth knowledge of patent or contract law."

I don't have an in-depth knowledge of patent or contract law, BUT if someone said "this simple trick will make you instantly wealthy!!!!" I would know it's bullshit. As anybody with common sense, WITHOUT having to know anything about "IT security", should know that if some simple one-liner increased storage space, it'd be the default. No comment about Apple... I'm not surprised if Apple users are more gullible^H^H^H susceptible to this.

On topic, this proxy-handling bug sounds pretty nasty!

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Ex-cop: Holborn fireball comms outage cover for £200m bling heist gang

Henry Wertz 1
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New York City

So, they had an underground transformer burn up in New York City like 10 or 15 years ago. The cause? Some restaurant had been dumping their grease down the drain for like 20 or 30 years... eventually, the grease completely covered this ~6-8 foot tall transformer, it overheated and lit the grease on fire. Lots of smoke, lots of flame, lots of burnt out wiring.

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Microsoft uses Windows Update to force Windows 10 ads onto older PCs

Henry Wertz 1
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"Maybe some of the readers of this site, but not most people. I don't want to be responsible for doing these checks on all my family's pcs every month!"

So don't take responsibility. I quit going through the "relatives treadmill" of running something that needs as much handholding as Windows, and being expected to handhold their computers, years and years ago. My sister uses a Mac, my parents run Windows. When I go to Wisconsin, other relatives, when they complain about "computer problems" I point out they are not computer problems, they are Windows problems, and I don't get those problems since I'm running Ubuntu Linux and not Windows. If they want something fixed they pay up.

"So if you're not required to install this update and can remove it at any time without losing any benefits, how can you say that the update or Microsoft "forces" anything?"

Yeah yeah, no software vendor can force anything, you can always pull the plug and reformat the hard drive. Don't be a smartass.... placing an update (which is apparently a useless advertisement and nothing resembling a useful update) into a category where it auto-installs by default is forcing the update.

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This will crack you up: US drug squad's phone call megaslurp dates back to 1990s

Henry Wertz 1
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Both main parties faults

@Dan Paul, both main parties have proven to be anti-privacy and anti-personal liberties. El Reg is British, and operates in a country with a functional multi-party system. They are not going to go over the miniscule differences between the US's main two political parties (in a proper multi-party system, the mainstream of these two parties would be a single party, with the religious Republican element, the Libertarian Republican element, and the farther left Democratic element, each having their own seperate parties.)

Bush gets the blame for instituting this program; each and every president since then (including Clinton, yes) who has failed to reign these powers in also gets the blame. Don't worry there's plenty of blame to go around!

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Marvell: We don't want to pay this $1.5bn patent bill because, cripes, it's way too much

Henry Wertz 1
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How much were the chips?

Regarding "No reasonable jury could have found 50-cents-a-chip on worldwide sales is a reasonable royalty," I guess two points:

1) How much were the chips? It makes a big difference if these are like $1 chips versus (I know, unlikely) $50 chips.

2) If Marvell had wanted a reasonable royalty rate, they should have negotiated a resonable royalty rate and paid it. They didn't, so it's far too late for them to whine about the royalty rate being unfair somehow.

3) Wait, they've shipped out like 2 billion hard drive chips over 9 years? Wow.

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Bell Canada pulls U-turn on super-invasive web-stalking operation

Henry Wertz 1
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"We’re dedicated to protecting customer privacy and thank the commission for clarifying the rules."

Yeah, way to lie Bell. (Obviously not dedicated to protecting customer privacy, when they continued to track customers who SPECIFICALLY said they didn't want to be by opting out, until threatened with court action.)

"Canada is almost even worse than the US when it comes to choice. "

There's no almost here. Canada actually has it worse -- high DSL and cable prices with low low data caps are typical. And wireless? Heh, I thought US pricing is bad, plans there have even higher data prices, instead of "unlimited voice" they have high priced capped voice plans, sometimes still with long distance charges and roaming charges outside a local market.

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Non-American nerds jam immigration pleading for right to live in the US

Henry Wertz 1
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"Lay off the Fox News koolaid, AC. H1B employers can't give lower wages to H1B holders, immigration law mandates a higher wage to avoid 'taking them over a US citizen'. They also have to prove there's a shortage of available US citizens to do the job. There is a real shortage, probably because CompSci degrees are still low in the US."

I do agree that, in fact, the letter of the law of the H1B system actually does prevent the types of problems that I outlined in my previous post and agrees with what you are saying here. (Other than the Fox News part -- I don't think Fox News is sophisticated enough to cover H1B abuse.) But, there seems to be ABSOLUTELY NO ENFORCEMENT. I have no idea how they aren't called out, each and every time, they pay H1-B employees less than everyone else since this is so easy to determine. But, it's been documented that their pay is substantially lower, and nothing is done about it. And, as I say in my other post, to "prove" there is a shortage, they simply list impossible job requirements, then conveniently neglect to ask potential H1-B hires the same questions (which of course would exclude 100% of them too.) I have no idea how employers are not called out for this either. There is not a real shortage, there is intense competition for each and every IT or programming-related job I've seen.

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Henry Wertz 1
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H1-B system is broken

The H1-B system is broken. What is it meant for? For being able to bring in specialists that are in short supply in the US. The main example I've heard is Siemens being able to bring in German nuclear technicians trained in operating Siemens' nuclear power plants and so on, to either keep operating them or to train locals (who are already specialists on nuclear systems, just not Siemen's specifically.)

What is it NOT meant for? Companies deciding they want to overlook the numerous talented American programmers just lined up waiting for a job, instead preferring to pretend they "can't find anybody" and locking H1-B programmers into a kind of indentured servitude.

What do I mean? They will list jobs with impossible requirements, like 10 years of experience with software that's been out for 5 years. If you don't meet EACH and EVERY requirement (including the impossible ones) you are excluded so they can legally claim they found nobody that met the requirements.... and of course, if you claim you DO meet those requirements you're excluded for lying. (This is not speculation, to verify the general scuttlebutt that this is what happens, there've been investigative reports where people applied to some of these "impossible" jobs both claiming they did and did not meet the requirements, recorded the responses, and tracked what ultimately happened with the jobs.) They then claim they couldn't find anybody and need H1-B employees. They pay the H1-B hirees like 1/2 to 2/3rds the usual rate. What did I mean by indentured servitude? Well, being in the US under H1-B relies on having a "sponsor" (i.e. a company you're working for). If you put up a fuss, you're gone, and then shipped back out of the country. They are in the weakest possible bargaining position.

The sick part? These companies that abuse the H1-B system essentially to save money are so convinced this is the way to do it, they don't even try offering locals the H1-B pay rate. I think the job market is poor enough that they would be able to hire plenty of locals at that pay scale; but they don't even offer it first.

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FCC taps CenturyLink on shoulder, mumbles about a fine for THAT six-hour 911 outage

Henry Wertz 1
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And the irony...

And the irony of it is, since nobody has any use for a landline any more, CenturyLink's main method of trying to sell landlines (other than force-bundling them with services people may still have a use for like DSL), is implying that a landline is much better for making 911 calls than making them from a cell phone or VOIP service.

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Mobile 4G spectrum investors actually spent $12.4m on walkie-talkie frequencies – US SEC

Henry Wertz 1
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This spectum

So, this is (most likely) the spectrum that was used for Nextel-like systems -- Nextel ran a nationwide low-speed data, walkie-talkie, and cell phone service using Motorola iDen technology (as did/does SouthernLinc in part of the South)... these are the 2000 pound gorillas but anyone else who wished to also have licenses here for walkie talkie service (probably also using private iDEN networks). Sprint bought Nextel about 15 years ago. These licenses were kind of one-off, sometimes just 1 or 2 (30khz) channels at a time, so (licensing issues asside) typically Sprint would not have had enough contiguous spectrum to run even a single 1.25mhz pair for a CDMA channel. Sprint did get the other iDEN users rebanded so they are more-or-less contiguous, and Sprint's spectrum is contiguous, and got the FCC to let them use it for something else... so they are in fact using this 800mhz spectrum now (for about the last 5 years) for CDMA 1x (for better range than the 1900mhz CDMA they have) and for LTE service (800mhz LTE for range, 2.5ghz LTE for capacity).

That said, this was a one-off deal, Sprint cannot buy the remaining narrowband spectrum to add to their CDMA or LTE service. The investment firm should have known this, and if the investors had done minimal due diligence they could have seen "800mhz? WTF?" and thought twice about investing as well.

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Streaming tears of laughter as Jay-Z (Tidal) waves goodbye to $56m

Henry Wertz 1
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"If you are going to rip the CD for use by multiple people and also place it on a server (presumably not as a backup, a CD suffices, especially when unused otherwise) then why pay for it in the first place?"

He bought it because he wanted to. The music industry would want him to pay, then pay again (probably double price) for the mobile, pay a 3rd time for the ipod, and probably no way to pay for a copy for the memory stick... nevertheless, whether the like it or not, this falls within fair use (the wife's ipod being the only questionable one, but it is still use within the household after all.)

"Always reminds me of the article I read where Elton John bought eight copies of every CD he bought, one for each of the locations he required it - so easy to be honest when you are stinking rich."

He can if he wants, but in all honesty, it's fair use to buy one copy and make sure copies are at the locations he's using it.

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France will flog off 700MHz to boost mobe broadband while UK dithers. Thanks, Ofcom

Henry Wertz 1
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"With the number of difficult to replace embedded devices using 2G, wouldn't it make more sense to think about freeing up spectrum by reducing 3G capacity, rather than trying to kill 2G?"

In the US, T-Mobile is now doing this, they have shuffled 3G capacity to 4G, and in areas where they were 2G only they are running 2G + 4G LTE (no 3G at all.)

As for 700mhz equipment... US carriers have been rolling 700mhz hardware for several years now. There's been some problems with initially the phones only supporting 1 or 2 of the 700mhz bands instead of all of them. I have a phone in my pocket now that supports 700mhz C block and also supports 900mhz, 1800 and 2100mhz along with US-style 850 and 1900. The hardware shouldn't be an issue really... of course paying for it could be, you need new 700mhz antennas, new LTE hardware, and lots more backhaul than a typical 3G network.

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Dot-com intimidation forces Indiana to undo hated anti-gay law

Henry Wertz 1
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This is the problem...

This is the problem with some religious nuts in the US. Some of these people honestly believe things like they can discriminate against people based on some religious belief, and it's not discrimination, and of course say they love all people while espousing hate for whatever groups they think they have some kind of beef with. They don't get the concept of double standards either -- they will generally be so concerned that gays, or Muslims, or whoever are trying to take over the country --- but see no conflict between this and themselves wanting to take over the country and turn it into a "Christian nation" or some such. They don't seem to get the concept that they can worry about their own religious purity, and perhaps try to persuade others to join them, rather than trying to force everyone to conform to their views.

Nobody is trying to require you to LIKE (insert group here -- in this case gays)... but if you are running a business, you are required to service them just like anybody else, and you really should. Think about the golden rule -- would you like to come in somewhere, and be turned away because of (for instance) your religious beliefs? I didn't think so.

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Sony nabs cloud gamers OnLive, administers swift headshot

Henry Wertz 1
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Seek other services instead

"OnLive customers facing a doubling of their monthly costs – and a little butthurt from the abrupt closure of OnLive, which will wipe all their stored gaming personas and achievements – might seek other services instead."

And I encourage anyone in this situation to seek other services instead. You've seen within the last week how Sony treats their customers.

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Comcast: Google, we'll see your 1Gbps fiber and DOUBLE IT

Henry Wertz 1
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I'll believe it when I see it

I'll believe it when I see it.... there've been cases time and again here in the US where some area has either only cable, only DSL, or both, but a 3rd party is going to move in and break up their monopoly or duopoly. Either the cable or DSL provider says "don't bother, we'll roll out (1.5x-2x the 3rd party's speed) service anyway." What do you know, "mysteriously" that higher speed service from the DSL or cable provide never actually materializes, or it covers like 1 or 2 city blocks so they can claim for marketing purposes that they rolled out the service.

That said, my main interest is LOWER COSTS, not higher speeds! The cable and DSL providers here both offer like 6 or 12 month promotional price then a MASSIVE price hike.. usually they require bundling with TV or (landline, not cell phone!) phone service too, or even "triple play" (internet/home phone/TV) to get this price. Absurdly, the duopoly pricing here is so poor that it actually will cost me LESS to get satellite internet service!

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SPY FRY: Smart meters EXPLODE in Californian power surge

Henry Wertz 1
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Not nutjobs

"In the USA, there's a small subset of nutcases who believe the Government is installing smart meters to emit mind control rays and spy on what they're doing"

These people are not nutcases, any more than they were nutcases claiming the NSA had a large illegal surveillance program. I've never heard of some claim of mind control rays (nice ad hominem there), but police agencies, and these same spy agencies that have been performing worldwide illegal surveillance programs already, are drooling over getting access to this type of information (whether they have much use for it or not, they just want more and more information.)

I don't think this is the INTENT of these meters (and I don't think the people opposing the meters usually think this either.) But, the US has virtually no privacy protection laws, and businesses don't feel any need to respect privacy either; so without a privacy law SPECIFICALLY restricted power data to the customer and the power co., I'm quite sure they'll feel free to sell that data to whoever. (I recall when these meters were first being developed, one of the first suggested uses was a Nielsen-rating-style thing to sell area-by-area estimates of how many TVs were in use.)

The current use for this type of information that makes the DEA-types and police agencies want it, currently they will hassle people for running grow rooms only if they have an extremely high power bill (all that indoor lighting don't you know). With minute-by-minute info from these smart meters, it's clear what's going on (based on the power going up and down right on schedule). Of course they'd like this without any warrant or court order, to data mine everybody's power use.

Beyond that, this info is accurate enough to determine when you turn on and off your TV (if you have one), microwave, washer, dryer, how much air conditioning you are running, probably when you are turning on and off the lights. I can't think of any nefarious use for this, but it's frankly none of "their" business.

Finally, what people have found in these areas is the bill invariably goes up... 1) The smart meter almost always measures the same power use as using more killowatt-hours than the older meters. 2) The power cos will greatly raise the peak power rate (which is fine) but "forget" to lower the off-peak rate below the pre-smart-meter rate, so the best people could do by shifting all usage off-peak is get the bill back to where it was previously, the being able to lower the bill by shifting usage is essentially a myth. (And if I want to lower use by notice something is using lots of power and use it less often, I can see the meter's spinning quickly with any old mechanical meter; or plug something into a kill-o-watt meter for like $10 to measure actual usage, I don't need a smart meter for that.)

Luckily, in my area, the extent of this technology is the power meter being able to radio like 50-100 feet, so the power company truck can drive down the street to get a meter reading from each meter instead of walking up to each and every meter and reading the little dial on it. (Usually, one place I worked had so much metal it didn't work... several times a year, I'd see the power co truck drive by, then drive into the parking lot closer and closer to the building, and finally park and come in to get a reading the old fashioned way.)

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The coming of DAB+: Stereo eluded the radio star

Henry Wertz 1
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Quality?

(Disclaimer, I'm in the US so this is 2nd hand.)

The thing that I think has held back DAB is... well, it'd be mighty disappointing to hear FM, hear this shiny new FM-replacement, and find that none of the stations even equal the audio quality of FM, which is apparently the case.

DAB was spec'ed out long ago, perhaps good codecs weren't available yet then; but they were available well before significant amounts (if any) DAB services and devices actually shipped. They should have essentially switched to a "DAB+" like 20 years ago.

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Secret Bezos delivery helicopters operate from mystery Canadian base to evade US regulators

Henry Wertz 1
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Mmm, free drone!

Of course, there's also the issue of myself grabbing and keeping any drones that may fly onto my property.

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Big Blue to give car insurers IoT peeking powers

Henry Wertz 1
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Not interested

Not interested. If a newer car has some kind of module that tries to "phone home", I will remove it. I know damned well, these modules will not be used to *reduce* anybody's rates, only to increase them.

Also, the existing module an insurance co. or two advertise (that plug into the OBD2 port) do not recognize good driving habits, just hard braking, acceleration, and speed. So the jackass that drifts down the onramp at 45MPH and fails to yield, cutting into 70MPH traffic (causing problems for everyone else), then goes into the left lane (we drive on the right here) and becomes a 55MPH traffic obstruction (causing problems for everyone else), will be seen as "Hey, they really aren't accelerating that hard, good on them!" while someone using a badly designed interchange that requires some hard braking or accelerating to safely match the flow of traffic will be dinged, not for using the badly designed intersection but because this stupid unit sees them braking or accelerating.

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Encryption is the REAL threat – Head Europlod

Henry Wertz 1
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World's smallest violin

"All we want is to know everything about everyone at all times! I can't believe these people are using crypto to reassert the right to privacy that we took away!" Here I am playing the world's smallest violin.

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Apple's Tim Cook and Salesforce's Marc Benioff DECLARE WAR on anti-gay Indiana

Henry Wertz 1
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Yeah...

I don't really care what CEOs think about issues. But, you do have activist investors who invest or not based on the actions of companies; so, now, you have activist CEOs who will (if they go through with it) take actions. I mean, if I was CEO of a company, I'd make sure nobody had to go to Texas.

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Just WALK IN and buy an Apple Watch. Are you mad?

Henry Wertz 1
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Not sensible

"it used to be the case that no sensible techno-person would ever buy Version 1.0 of anything Apple...."

Apple fanbois are not sensible techno-people.

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What is HPC actually good for? Just you wait and see

Henry Wertz 1
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"The backend storage is effectively a software defined storage solution attached using ordinary Infiniband,"

Funny you should mention that, because *I* was going to mention Infiniband as a prime example of a technology that WAS developed exclusively for use in supercomputers moving down to being (high-end) commodity hardware. The view 15 or 20 years ago of the supercomputer of the future was that it would use tech very similar to PCIe on-board, fiber channel-like technology to connect storage, and infiniband to connect CPU cabinets together. No fiber channel for you? Well, the >gigabit ethernet also cribs methods from these supercomputer interconnects, so instead of 10gigabit being totally untested when it came out, the principles had already been tested to some extent.

The fact of the matter is, I think the "trickle down economics" has proven to be mostly crap... but technologies developed for HPC do indeed trickle down first to higher end servers and clusters, and the parts that make sense eventually make it to (non-server) desktops and eventually some makes it to portable systems.

That said, as far as I know GPGPU (general purpose GPU) computing kind of came out of left field, and did not stem from supercomputer developments. The Cray 1 had a vector processing unit, but this was more in scale like MMX or SSE instructions (running the same operations on a block of numbers) than the totally over-the-top processing of the GPU-based supercomputers of the last year or two.

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Hey, Microsoft, we can call Windows 10 apps anything we like – you're NOT OUR REAL MOM

Henry Wertz 1
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Yeah, nonsense

Yeah, I do think it's some nonsense to refer to Windows 10-only tablet+PC (no phone yet apparently!) apps as "Windows apps." INCREDIBLY confusing, and the kind of move that indicates to me marketing is completely taking over a company.

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Europe could be drowned in 'worthless pop culture' thanks to EU copyright plans

Henry Wertz 1
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Seems like a specious argument

I can't say that a pan-European copyright regime is a good idea -- I don't know. I do think it probably favors the bland "pop" music and movies, and there may be other serious problems with this -- the devil is in the details. And it may be true that it's simply unnecessary.

But, this argument that (for example) since Poland's products have a small share of the European market, that a Europe-wide license instead of Poland-only will magically dry up sales? Makes absolutely no sense to me. Obviously, instead of having a large share of a small market, they'll have a small share of a larger market... but I can't see how this would hurt actual sales at all. I can't see how it would affect Poles buying their own products within Poland. And, "overseas" (American term for "out of country" even though in this case not over any sea at all)? If anything, I would think "overseas" Poles being able to buy Polish media without waiting months or years (if they become available in the rest of Europe at all) would just increase them buying these items instead of pirating them.

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I helped Amazon.com find an XSS hole and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

Henry Wertz 1
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Altruism isn't dead but doesn't apply here.

"Is altruism dead and forgotten?"

No, but when dealing with a multi-billion dollar company, I don't see the need for being altruistic. They can a) pay at least a token $100 or whatever. And b) have a security contact, I would not go through layers of tech support to report a security flaw (not saying they don't already do this, maybe they do.)

Also, here's a nasty flaw. I'm reporting it here, because Google's support interface is damn near useless, and when I reported it on their support forum the response was a) someone snarkily putting "my friend" in quotation marks, implying that it was my computer problems and not his. b) Saying I got scammed (again ignoring it was my friend -- and nobody got scammed.)

So he wanted to transfer paid Android games from his old Google account to his new one. (Why he didn't just put the old account in his new Android device I don't know.) He got all flustered and finally decided to call Google (which I didn't think would help but didn't think it could hurt either). I Google'd the phone number, 1 (650) 253-0000. I Googled *that* number to make sure it was actually Google's (and not some scam paid listing or something), and it is. My friend dialed it -- and instead of going to Google, it went to a scammy Indian call center! They dicked around for like 20 minutes pretending to transfer account info, then wanted to bill him $120. He handed the phone to me and I was like "Is this someone at Google? If so, you already have his credit card info..." "Oh, no you've got to go to this site and..." "No, if you're google as you claim you already have his info." I hadn't the phone back to him and he hung up. Don't try to scam someone out of their card info by impersonating someone that already has that info 8-). NOBODY in the Google forum addressed "How did Google's main phone number get redirected to someone else?" instead making snarky remarks. They have NO forum for security issues, and no E-Mail contacts whatsoever to contact someone like a professional. Given this experience I would NEVER report a flaw to Google, I would report flaws publicly (especially given the only option to reach Google is ALREADY a public forum!)

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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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