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* Posts by James 100

562 posts • joined 26 Jun 2009

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Hey small biz: You know what you need? A tape library – Overland

James 100
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Yep - I took over support for a small business which had a backup system consisting of an external USB HDD with nightly full Windows NT Backup backups going back a week. That was it:7 big files. Of course, as soon as the server filled up beyond 1/7th of that drive's capacity, the backups stopped working...

(Almost no budget for new anything, so I switched it to a weekly full backup and nightly incrementals to keep it going, then backed it up over the Net to a server of my own just in case.)

Of course, a library of 60 tapes would be massive overkill as an upgrade from "one external USB drive", but there's definitely still a place for tape!

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US government fines Intel's Wind River over crypto exports

James 100
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Re: I cant believe it.

I demonstrated exactly that on a simulated CPU at a security conference earlier this year - a plain old Intel CPU with AES-NI ... and an FDIV instruction which just happened to leak the crypto keys when you divided a particular pair of numbers. It didn't even need closed source software to do the sneaking: a few lines of Javascript did the trick.

(The harder question is "how do we guarantee the real CPU isn't doing this too?" - and it really is a hard question.)

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AWS pulls desktop-as-a-service from the PC

James 100
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Re: X Windows dumb client for the modern age

That is pretty much "dumb terminal/X terminal" updated for the intervening decades of progress, isn't it? I understand it, and I do like the idea - so yes, the encryption is new, the graphics are much fancier and you get USB support, but which of those isn't an obvious feature of "modern version of X terminal"?

The centralisation has big advantages, and disadvantages too. That big powerful central box is cheaper to administer and secure than lots of little machines, but expensive to buy. For bursty loads like typical office (or indeed developer) work I imagine it could be a great advantage: you get the full attention of a handful of Xeon cores to compile or load your code, with all the applications already cached in RAM.

(I still remember when the more clued-in geeks at work would fire up Netscape Navigator on the big shared Sun box over X, because it was faster than cranking it to life on the diskless 486 Win3.1 machines we used at the time ... ah, nostalgia!)

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Keep a beady eye on your business's cloud service shopping

James 100
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Shadow IT - symptom of poor internal IT

Having been on both sides now, I sympathise with both to some extent. I've seen Ethernet bodged in on the cheap by an electrician (coax in those days, and it didn't take kindly to getting stapled to the wall), departments balking at a tenner a month for their department's server to be included in the tape robot's nightly to-do list (then getting billed £500 for my time scraping the data off said server when it died suddenly with no backups) ... and I've been on the outside, seeing my department quoted thousands for a few hundred extra Gb of disk, thousands more for the use of an existing GbE port on an existing switch, a hundred a year to register a .uk domain.

TL;DR: In-house service provision should at least keep pace with what online services can offer the general public - and stop client departments ending up buying third-rate junk, too.

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Sky's tech bets pay off: Pay TV firm unveils blazing growth for Q1

James 100
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Wholesale?

"Just over 11.5 million of those are retail customers, and just over 4 million wholesale."

Presumably those are Virgin Media people buying their TV channels via cable? I was baffled by Sky buying up Be, only to kill off their wholesale offering entirely - it seems they just migrated the retail customers over to Sky's existing LLU network, then pulled the plug on the one they'd just bought: buying a whole company, only to throw away both their infrastructure and a whole class of customer. (Also messing Be's retail business customers around badly, refusing to provide VAT receipts, changing IP addresses...)

The "cord cutting" offering might be interesting: I can imagine light TV users like myself going online timeshift-only for the few programmes we actually watch - and no more TV Licence.

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'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan

James 100
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Physics fails

Yes, the absurd physics anomalies involved grated on me when I watched - from the mysterious gain in mass before hatching, to the idea of the new hatchling immediately laying an egg the same size and mass it had been previously - but then, it is a series about a time travelling police phone box. If you can get past that every single episode, is the "moon-egg" really such a big barrier?

Lousy episode, though, and rather too close to "Waters of Mars" (which also violated the conservation of matter, with spontaneously created water in large quantities).

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Marriott fined $600k for deliberate JAMMING of guests' Wi-Fi hotspots

James 100
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A small step in the right direction

Now, can we please see the de-auth loophole closed so any old idiot can't disable wifi networks, and shut down all the firms selling these DoS tools?

My old university (in the UK) pulled the same stunt on anything within range; perhaps a few more six figure fines in the news will stop this being mistaken for acceptable.

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EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report

James 100
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Re: Jurisdiction shopping

"It becomes a race to the bottom as undercutting what the "other guys" charge is worth it if you can get enough extra to make up what you lose from who you already have."

That doesn't sound like a bad thing, or any different from other areas of competition: if, say, O2 offer me a cheaper mobile tariff, I'll jump - or get Three to match it as a retentions deal. There's a limit to how low either telco will go since they don't want to take a bath on it, but the end result is that we reach a price where neither of us is getting ripped off. Not a race to "the bottom" - just a race to the best price for both sides.

Even as regular individuals it happens now to some extent, particularly on a local level with council tax levels - just as it should: we can each make our own choices about levels of tax and spending.

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Kenyan court case could sound death knell for mobile money

James 100
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"if banks stop telcos from doing mobile money"

That's the missing link in the logic: nothing here says anyone is trying to stop Safaricom's existing service, just that the banks want to get into the same game. Merely competing with them doesn't do that, unless perhaps the banks plan to run an unsustainably cheap banking service to wipe Safaricom's one out completely, then pull the plug and hope they don't come back - which would be a bit of a stretch.

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Oracle plans German DCs to soothe NSA-ruffled nerves

James 100
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I think it probably brings a bit of legal safety to European companies, though, even if it is almost baseless.

If my UK company sticks customer data on a server in the US or Canada, we're potentially in a world of legal pain for doing that. If we put it on a server in Germany, and the hosting company there goes and exports it without our consent, that's probably *their* problem rather than ours.

(Besides, a US court order against Oracle to get access to our data really isn't something we need to guard against, either legally or practically: legally, we're supposed to keep it in compatible jurisdictions and take appropriate precautions, practically, half of it's a matter of public record anyway and the other half is just something we'd like to keep away from our bigger UK competitor.)

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Netflix bullish after six-country European INVASION

James 100
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Re: signed-up for free trial in France - still feel it is bad value for money

It does vary country by country, as they buy up rights - unfortunately, because those are regional, content in one country might well not be available to another. I imagine they will sort out the House of Cards oddity soon; in the mean time, remember your Netflix subscription works wherever your Internet connection is, showing the content for that country. I'm told the Canadian content is quite good these days, though haven't tried it myself...

The library is quite good, too. I've been catching up on some old 24 episodes, it meant my mother could easily watch a couple of Robin Williams films when he died - replacement for a Sky subscription? No, but it's a decent service for the price.

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'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'

James 100
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"clear indication that the internet NEEDS to be censored"

No, just clear indication this "Rantic" bunch need to be purged. I would love the irony if 4chan ended up owning them in court for pulling this mad false-flag stunt...

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iPAD-FONDLING fanboi sparks SECURITY ALERT at Sydney airport

James 100
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Security so good ...

... that you can bypass it *by mistake*?! I feel so much safer knowing how likely that is to stop the likes of Al Qaeda: surely they wouldn't be so devious as to try sneaking through the unguarded door? You'll be telling me they go through the green Customs channel without declaring their bomb!

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Internet Transit price falls slowing: Telegeography

James 100
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Meanwhile, BT...

So, for just over $1 per Mbps, you can get a port in London which covers the globe, probably with a service level guarantee about packet loss and latency. Or, for £50 per Mbps, your ISP can get connected to BT's exchanges, with no such guarantees.

I wonder if these prices levelling out might signify growing demand and investment coming back? There was a huge overbuild early in the .com bubble years, with everyone rushing to lay fibre - then the bubble burst and the backbone providers could buy up lots of fibre cheaply, pushing prices down for years afterwards. (You weren't paying to lay new fibre any more, just paying to light up a spare bit of the existing stuff.) I wonder if Telegeography or similar track that aspect: are the point to point links that make up transit networks getting tighter too?

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IT crisis looming: 'What if AWS goes pop, runs out of cash?'

James 100
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Crisis?

The "banking crisis" was fear of a collapse in clearing bank services: that our salary payments would fail to transfer, we'd be unable to pay our bills and mortgages or buy food. That really would have been a crisis: headlines of "Nobody paid, direct debits all bounce, starvation and looting in the streets".

An Amazon outage? We've had those before: my company had a pair of EC2 instances in Dublin knocked offline back when they had the mysterious cascade power failure. Yes, it meant some downtime; if it had lasted more than a few hours, I could have picked up a pair of VMs from some other hosting company and restored backups to it - meaning a day's downtime for DNS caching to update. No missed mortgage payments or starving kids: "Big service provider closes suddenly, everyone moves to rivals"?

It's very hard to imagine Amazon suddenly pulling the plug, too: more likely, either they'd hike prices to sustainable levels (if current levels really aren't), or announce a planned shutdown, giving us time to move. Yes, maybe the alternatives would cost more ... where's the scary headline there? "Hosting providers hike prices, web hosting to cost more next year"? Sorry, not scared.

Apart from anything else, in the estimates of AWS revenue, are they really factoring in Amazon's own heavy use of the infrastructure for the corporate web presence? (That use probably won't show up in "revenue" since it's internal.)

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EU operators PLEAD for MERCY, may get roaming rates cut ‘reprieve’

James 100
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"Surely for the bigger providers (i.e. vodafone) this should be a non-issue as they already have networks in most countries so they are only paying themselves..."

That would be one problem with this plan: it screws smaller operators who don't have a heft pan-European footprint.

Some comments point out the *cost* of a call now is trivial. In a way, that's right - the problem is, the *price* of that call - even for one telco charging another - is not.

Supposing I had a UK mobile network. I charge a flat 2p/min for calls. (As, in fact, my current provider does.) If you roam to France, Orange charge me 10p/min; go to some small island, maybe I get charged £1/min because there's only one operator there. Now the EU demands that all of those be the same price to customers - do I charge everyone £1/min so I'm not getting ripped off any time someone visits the island? 3p/min to everyone, so UK customers have to subsidise tourists and make that island's monopoly rich?

That's the problem with the "one price" proposal: there is no single fair price to customers, when the goods in question differ in wholesale price widely! If they were to regular wholesale roaming charges, then cap the retail roaming price based on that, it would be fairer all round. Yes, calls in Croatia would cost me more than they do at home - that's because the service in question actually costs more to provide! (Of course, Three have managed to iron out the difference, for *some* countries; hopefully that will continue and spread - but it certainly isn't universal, and perhaps never will be.)

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Jesus phone RAISED from DEAD. Watch iPhone 6 get BURNED, DROWNED, SMASHED

James 100
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I had a Nexus 4 with the self-destructing back (smashed to powder by a small drop, revealing the back was made of very very thin glass rather than plastic) and I've lost two handsets to liquid damage (one washing machine incident, one coffee spill that got into the wrong place), so I'm delighted to see things like the Galaxy S5 on the market with decent resilience and water resistance.

Living in Scotland, just going for a walk can mean a wet handset (walking a mile in heavy rain meant that even the shirt under my "waterproof" jacket was soaked through, leaving me seriously worried about the phone in my pocket until I got a carrier bag to wrap it in).

Of course, these days I make sure to put any new handset in a Lifeproof case - so, from their specs, I could safely go scuba diving with my phone never mind get caught in the rain.

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Apple iPhone 6: Looking good, slim. AW... your battery died

James 100
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So thin it's thick

I do wish they'd easy up on the anorexia: an extra millimetre of thickness would both remove the camera protrusion and enhance the battery life, at the cost of an extra few drops of LiIon gunk in the box. Will you find a single person who thinks the iPhone is too *thick*? I doubt it: just those like me who think it's a bit too thin.

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Mushy spam law's IDEAL for toothless watchdog: Spamhaus slams CAN-SPAM

James 100
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Re: Zero enforcement in the UK

There is at least a token effort at enforcement of nuisance call prohibitions now - a few big names got fined. Far too little, though - and of course they are still allowed to make anonymous calls, which is a large part of the problem. (Prohibit anonymous calls from non-residential lines, and the spam problem will be greatly reduced.)

I'm planning to set up Asterisk soon to route all anonymous calls straight to voicemail without ringing. That should solve the problem - but I really resent having to make that effort to deal with people who break the law to boost profits! My e-mail spam filtering is pretty effective - but again, why should we make that effort, when spammers are getting away with breaking the law? Start *jailing* directors of companies violating it, and terminating their companies' phone and Internet access, and we might see real progress.

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SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD – courting speed freaks and gamers

James 100
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Smaller, faster?

"the 240GB drive is a wee bit quicker at up to 520MB/s."

Isn't this odd for SSDs? I thought the larger ones tended to be faster, because they're spreading the load over more chips.

With decent backups, reliability isn't such an issue - I've had plenty of regular HDDs die on me over the years. The SSDs seem to be fine so far, but of course that's a much smaller and newer sample.

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Report: EE in talks to scoop up 60 Phones 4u stores from troubled High Street retailer

James 100
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Funny, that ...

they pull the plug on it, then happen to be standing ready to buy up the useful bits for themselves... How convenient.

My brother just got a good deal on a new handset with Vodafone through Carphone Warehouse, after shopping around, so they can still be useful - but with all the overhead involved, I'm surprised Vodafone couldn't offer a better deal directly online.

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Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer

James 100
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I've always been surprised by the popularity of those shops, when surely an online operation can heavily undercut them (and indeed the online-only deals are often much better than in-store). OK, it's handy to go in for replacement SIMs, browsing handsets etc, but why do so many people still buy there?!

Some consolidation was inevitable, I think, so Phones4U disappearing isn't a surprise (why would Vodafone or EE sell through them when they could sell direct instead?) I wonder if Carphone Warehouse are looking nervously over their shoulders now, worrying about what their next network renewal talks are going to involve?

Of course, I recall the anomalous situation some years ago of having an O2 (just before they dropped the Cellnet name IIRC) mobile ... billed through Vodafone, because they'd bought the O2 reseller I was a customer of. That was a strange novelty at the time. Now they've merged their network operations under Cornerstone, might they start pooling more infrastructure?

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BBC Trust candidate defends licence fee, says evaders are CRIMINALS

James 100
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"German TV mostly consists of dumb people shouting at you,"

Well, yes. It's German. What did you expect?

(Mostly tongue-in-cheek, being part German myself - though it does sound very much like most family reunions on that side of the family...)

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2016: Robo-butlers, flying cars, and Google's internet Terminators hunting SHA-1 SSL certs

James 100
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Re: Like nuclear power...

In a mirror universe where Bill Gates has a beard and figured out how to write working search engines, Bing has 90% of the search engine market - and to get in the first five pages for any search term, you must be hosted on IIS.

I like the idea of HTTPS rather than HTTP, and better crypto whenever possible, but is the strength of encryption or hash size really valid as an indicator of page quality? When I'm searching for, say, a user manual for that old VoIP adapter I just bought on eBay, is the fact one site uses a fancy new SSL certificate actually relevant to my search?

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Who us, SHARE infrastructure? Networks reject gov proposal

James 100
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Re: Infrastructure as a public service

An odd definition of "public" company there, though it is technically what the P in "BT Group plc" (Openreach's parent company) stands for. Not to mention, relations are often quite acrimonious between BT and the rival telcos which have to buy Openreach's services to compete with them - there's an awful lot of regulation from Ofcom involved, and frequent disputes and complaints about unfair treatment.

While the networks may have "rejected" the idea, they're already half way to implemented it, between O2 and Vodafone's "Cornerstone" and EE-Three's closer integration in MBNL: we're basically down to two sets of base stations already, from the five we had a few years before. Merge MBNL and Cornerstone, you've arrived at that single network destination anyway!

Not to mention we already *have* a roaming option for those who really want it (my ISP, Andrews & Arnold, offers SIMs which can roam across every UK network except Three).

So, in summary, the government "wants" companies to offer a service which they already provide to those who want it - and nobody's explained this to them yet?

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APNIC receives recovered /12 from IANA

James 100
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One /12...

That would be one-sixteenth of a /8, the size of block each RIR was routinely handed until recently (some big ISPs, companies and even individual universities already holding more than one of those). Good illustration just how tight the shortage is getting ...

... so ISPs will finally be activating IPv6 and understanding that IPv4 is closed for new business, right? Right? Some already do of course - but just an ominous silence from Virgin, Zen and others. (Vague mumblings about it from BT, and some tickets relating to enabling support for it within their own network, but nothing promising publicly.)

Anything to do with the convenient "flaw" that CGNAT happens to kneecap servers and P2P traffic?

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Epiphany hits Raspberry Pi founders, users

James 100
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Re: @werdsmith

I was helping teach a 1st year embedded/robotics course last semester - some of the students were doing the development work on a Pi, plus monitor and keyboard. Desktop, file system, text editor - and they were running a little HTTP server to serve up the images from the camera they'd attached.

Could you do that over a serial port? No chance. Could they have put something together to stream the pictures and commands over a serial link? Yes - but it would actually have been much more work for them to do that, rather than talking HTTP over Wifi from Python. End result, instead of having built a little web page where they could move the camera around the floor, they'd have spent all their time fiddling with serial transport, packing and unpacking images and commands! A tiny little Linux system made a lot more sense.

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Apple reportedly inks deal with American Express for its iPhone payments system

James 100
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"Sooo many places don't take American Express due to their insanely high handling fees."

It's slightly more expensive than MC/Visa, but plenty of places do actually accept it: all the supermarkets, petrol stations, BT, railway stations - generally, it's only small businesses that don't. The higher fees do buy great customer service, a good deal for customers (which is why I use it whenever I can: my card gives up to 1.25% of spending back as a straight account credit; my Amazon MasterCard gives me 1% of spending back as Amazon credit, making it my second choice). They also do more to promote their client businesses: I often get promotional credits for making particular purchases, like one-day offers of £5 on local restaurants, posting Tripadvisor reviews, signing up for services like Spotify... I've never had that with any of my MC/Visa cards.

Most absurdly, in a local Indian buffet (which DOES actually take Amex, and was even featured in Amex's small business promotion last year) the waiter told me "we don't take MasterCard, because that's the same as Amex".

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Gamma's not a goner! UK ISP sorts out major outage

James 100
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Re: Not Gamma

Another ISP had downtime this week - their primary BT link failed, then instead of fixing it BT somehow cut the backup link by mistake. On the backbone, they use multiple bonded 10G links (up to 32 of them?) so a lot of those links will be serving multiple ISPs at once, including their own retail arm.

I wonder if someone at BT deleted the wrong thing? Redundant hardware only takes you so far - even with the most resilient system there is, tell the system "route all traffic for address range X to the bitbucket" and everyone at X is stuffed. Like the Royal Bank of Scotland fiasco, when their very reliable and secure mainframe was mistakenly told "delete all transactions" - so it reliably and securely deleted all transactions, leaving a reliable and secure disaster while they figured out how to reverse it.

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Chipzilla gives birth to a TINY comms chip

James 100
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Re: Looks big to me

I suppose there could be noise issues between the chips - take a look inside a phone, you'll see a few chips tend to have little metal cages over them, presumably for that reason. Otherwise, I'd have expected a bit more integration too - maybe one small module handling all the RF stuff, then a bigger one doing everything digital, with a shield between the two.

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EE plonks 4G in UK Prime Minister's backyard

James 100
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"The PM has famously said that he tales his BlackBerry with him wherever he goes, so you do have to feel a little sorry for him. You’ll also note that he stops short of saying which network he is on."

He probably doesn't know... (Though I know the MD of AAISP sent him a free multi-network roaming SIM to try recently, so if he uses that he'll be on whichever of O2, EE and Vodafone covers the area he's in at the time.)

Pretty sad he thinks one of the four networks offering 4G rather than 3G is enough to make that place (and the other 292!) "one of the best" anything, though - particularly with such poor fixed broadband service. Of course, we know he's got a full-blown leased line at home, so it's academic to him!

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Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch

James 100
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From the "3G call" and "Bluetooth call", I'm guessing it can be used to make phone calls using a Bluetooth headset. Combine that with the ability to read email, I might actually find this a useful alternative to carrying a smartphone everywhere ... I could carry a tablet instead, for example.

A two day battery life for a wrist-mounted smartphone doesn't seem so bad: just charge it each night, like most of us do with regular smartphones now.

I'll keep an eye on this, anyway: it could well be good for most of the things I use my phone for now, with a tablet better suited for the rest anyway. Yes, writing an email on it would be silly - but really, so's trying to write one on a phone, IMO, the keyboard really isn't big enough in either case.

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Office space outfit Regus suffers 'UK-wide' network outage

James 100
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Re: Backup is not necessarily desirable...

I'd have thought dropping back to FTTC (as little as £20 for a "business" service on top of a BT line) would be feasible - cheap, and probably worth it for the difference between "we're totally offline! OMGWTFBBQ!" and "God it's really slow today". Then again, if the primary link has 3-nines (i.e. under 9 hours a year down), I suppose it's hard to justify spending anything to eliminate those last few hours offline...

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Finally, a practical use for 3D printing: Helping surgeons rehearse

James 100
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Useful stuff

My old university department 3D printed some skull portions for surgical training 2-3 years ago. For training purposes, of course, the precision is much less demanding. I remember a colleague talking about this being used surgically, though: if you need a titanium plate to cover a skull injury, there used to be multiple steps of trial and error *while in the operating theatre* to get the plate properly fitted! You'd get the patient anaesthetised, open up the skin, test the plate's position, mark where it doesn't quite fit, go and hammer it a bit, then try again - horrendously expensive, since you're tying up theatre, an anaesthetist and surgeon as well as the supporting nurses etc, but also more risky: the longer you're kept under, the bigger a problem it is. Now, they can make, test and adjust the plate beforehand on a high-precision plastic model: much less work to do once in theatre, so the patient's back in recovery and the next patient is being operated on much sooner.

It's been a while, so the numbers are a bit hazy, but I seem to remember that a thousand quid per skull was something they'd jump at - the theatre and staff time saved dwarf the cost of this process. Of course, with better software and printers presumably they'll be able to do it much more cheaply in future.

Alternatively, in some cases the plate itself could be directly 3D-printed, not just used to fit a conventionally-made plate - done twice last year with plastic skull replacements: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/26/3d-printed-skull-transplant-utrecht-_n_5036665.html

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BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes

James 100
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Re: "refuse to install government censorship on their lines"

"AAISP use BT and Talktalk wholesale, so the existing taps on the BT and Talktalk DSL networks are sufficient."

Not for censorship purposes, anyway: yes, in theory BT and TalkTalk Wholesale could *monitor* the traffic between A&A and their customers, logging the whole PPPoE traffic stream - but the traffic definitely does not go through any of the filtering nonsense they inflict on their retail victims. Without some form of DPI, they don't even see what IP addresses each end is using (or indeed what protocol: you can use IPv6 inside the PPPoE stream; if you really want, you can even go pure IPv6 and let A&A translate that back to IPv4 on their end, though I've never tried that route).

RevK - the MD of A&A - has also noted in the past that they have the option of encrypting that PPPoE traffic, if TT or BT were to start tampering with or snooping on that traffic. Tampering (censorship) would very quickly be detected; they could theoretically be snooping on the backbone traffic, but why bother when they have put so much effort into snooping and filtering at the far end instead?

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Brit Sci-Fi author Alastair Reynolds says MS Word 'drives me to distraction'

James 100
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Not WYSIWYG

Whatever you use for a novel, it really won't be WYSIWYG or even close to it!

Leaving aside the fact a novel now will be ending up in multiple different formats anyway (hardback, paperback, maybe a large print edition, each with different type and paper sizes and different margins - then we get into the different e-book options, where it's the user who selects the typeface and size), the author just doesn't control the formatting anyway.

I've occasionally seen journalists at work, filing newspaper stories electronically. Definitely not Word - and not formatted, either, some sort of plain text editor.

On a pro level, trying to display (and edit) formatting while you work on text is just a nuisance: a waste of computer resources and a distraction to the user. It's why the high-end pro stuff like InDesign have features like "story editor" where you can edit just the text, without formatting in the way; it's why I like that and LaTeX.

Word? Save it for the school essays thanks, leave real work for real software.

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Trundle, trundle, FLEEEP: iPhone 6 production grinds to halt

James 100
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Thinner, battery life

I'd certainly be more attracted by a thicker iPhone with double the battery life - I suppose to some extent that demand is met by the "battery case" products, though, which add a second battery and some thickness to the handset. You can always *add* battery and thickness externally, but there's no way any add-on could make it thinner or lighter, so I suppose the ultra-thin route makes a bit more sense.

I hope Samsung's achievement of IP67 for the S5 starts a trend. I have a LifeProof iPhone case at the moment, which is great for the most part but does seem to interfere with the touchscreen sometimes (phantom touches at the screen edge, in particular). A simple padded case for extra drop protection - so nothing to interfere with the screen - sounds like the ideal setup for me right now. (That and dual SIM support, which the S5 "Duos" has natively.)

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Beware of Greeks bearing spammy small omicrons, says Google

James 100
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Re: Use .co.uk to reduce your phishing risk :)

"Barclays and Santander appear to use a .co.uk domain which seems sensible since nominet doesn't support internationalised domain names."

You mean their *official* site is on co.uk - that doesn't stop people falling for phishing from imposters resembling bàrclays.com, barclaycàrd.com etc!

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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

James 100
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Mobile phone reality

Two ironies strike me there. First, we've effectively consolidated from 5 networks to 2 already, with T-Mobile and Orange forming EE, then EE combining operations with Three to form MBNL and O2 and Vodafone pooled masts under Cornerstone. (Which is one flaw in Cameron's new-found love of roaming: if you're miles from the nearest O2 mast, you'll be exactly the same distance from the nearest Vodafone mast too, so roaming to them would be futile. There might be an EE/Three mast - but a dual-SIM phone and a Three PAYG SIM will get you access to that right now, without any roaming hassles.)

Secondly, it was the government which benefited enormously from the competition, particularly for 3G licences, pocketing many billions from it! Would they have managed to extract that much profit from their own state mobile company, or would it all have been wasted in militant unions and inefficient operations?

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Intel disables hot new TSX tech in early Broadwells and Haswells

James 100
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Re: BIOS update ?

From the sound of it, it's just a BIOS change to switch this feature off at boot time - just like you can switch some other CPU features off through the BIOS. A microcode update which got the feature working properly would be better, of course, but sounds as if Intel can't or won't fix it this way. My guess is that for a feature this performance-critical, the implementation (and hence the flaw) is right in the silicon, too low for microcode to patch.

There was a similar "workaround" for the original FDIV bug as I recall: a little DOS utility which switched the floating point unit of early Pentiums off. In those days, "everyone" was still booting through DOS, and there were enough 486SXs out there that most software could never depend on having floating point hardware, so that was almost workable - except, having coughed up $$$$ for a high-end chip, you were then left with lousy performance on anything maths-heavy!

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Yahoo! will! deploy! end-to-end! email! crypto! by! 2015!

James 100
Bronze badge

Meanwhile, struggling with advanced security concepts ...

... such as "logging on".

Each time I logged in to their god-awful abomination of an IM platform, I was told "some features" (such as...?!) had been "temporarily disabled", and I should log in to the website to fix that. That didn't help, of course. Eventually, I tried creating an app-specific password for IM ... which was rejected each time, but after trying it, I was able to log in with the main account password without getting the stupid warning message.

A shame seeing what once seemed like a nice modern company with useful services being run into the ground.

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Wait, an actual QR code use case? TGI Friday's builds techno-restaurant

James 100
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I like the idea of paying this way (and their provision of power+USB) - and yes, electronic ordering would be a very welcome addition.

Last time I was in a Harvester restaurant, the waitress entered the order on some form of smartphone (looked like an iPod Touch from what I could see, maybe an Android device though). Clever: she could see all the options at a touch (no more coming back later when the kitchen asks which dressing you wanted, or whatever) and no time wasted carrying a paper order back to the kitchen: she could go straight on to clearing another table or taking another order instead. Of course, better still if I could have entered the order myself.

Yes, it does reduce the workload, hence potentially cutting the number of staff employed. That's not a bad think for everyone: how do you think those staff get paid?!

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Americans to be guinea pigs in vast chip-and-PIN security experiment

James 100
Bronze badge

A friend has a local restaurant with a chip&PIN machine which prompts you for a tip first. He's told me an alarmingly large number of people accidentally enter the PIN as a four-digit tip ("Did you really mean to give me a £27.45 tip on that £20 meal, or would your PIN happen to be 2745...?")

The ease of extracting and verifying the PIN is alarming, though: I would hope banks get wise to that and either disable those remote PIN-checkers, or start using different PINs for actual card transactions and those remote banking operations. Yes, criminals could then use actual card terminals to try a transaction - but of course that leaves a much stronger paper trail (they'd need an online terminal to process that transaction, giving the police something to hunt down).

I liked the idea of chip&PIN, replacing signatures which really don't give any security at all, but there are indeed plenty of flaws in the current approach.

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Simian selfie stupidity: Macaque snap sparks Wikipedia copyright row

James 100
Bronze badge

"I'm fairly sure that the EXIF information coded into the photo by the camera would have included at least his name and probably copyright information. That, and the fact that he published the photo online and the world knew all about it would have been a fairly strong indicator that it was his."

If you borrow my camera and take a picture with it, the EXIF data will say the photo belongs to me. The EXIF data will be wrong, because the camera does not know who is operating it or understand copyright law. Ownership of the camera is wholly irrelevant: even if I happen to use a stolen camera, the copyright in any photo I take belongs to me. The legal question here is quite simply: who "took" this photo, the hairy primate who pressed the button, or the (presumably less hairy) primate who adjusted the settings beforehand? The answer to that is difficult. Had the subject of the photo been human, the court would rule robustly that copyright belonged to them (or, if employed, to their employer).

(I have a barrister friend who specialises in copyright and patent law, I wonder what her take is, and how much it would cost?)

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BBC man Linwood 'was unfairly sacked' over £100 MILLION DMI omnifail

James 100
Bronze badge

Re: Never mind the "talent", what do their HR people get paid?

Wow. I'd been wondering how firing the guy in charge of blowing 9 figures up the wall could possibly fail ... presumably BBC HR wondered the same thing, but managed to find a way.

As I opened the article, the headline made me ask "if blowing the price of a small hospital with nothing to show for it isn't enough to get fired, what the ... is?!" - but then, that's what people were wondering after the 'Baby P' firing was ruled unfair too.

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Ain't NAND grand? Samsung unveils next-gen SAS SSD

James 100
Bronze badge

Slower writes

Odd that sequential write performance has dropped so substantially, when everything else including random writes shows a small boost. I'd always thought of sequential writes as being the "easy" bit to do quickly, too - getting much harder when you get lots of small fragmented writes instead.

There seem to be some other oddities in the lineup, though. The SM1625 is listed as coming in sizes up to 800Gb - with much faster random writes but slower random reads than the smaller units of the same model. Slower sequential reads, too (700 instead of 900 Mb/sec) - but sequential writes at 450, right in between the 100Gb unit's 300 and the 200Gb one's 600.

I haven't seen a teardown yet of how many Flash modules, what size and what the channel arrangement is. If the SM1623 had six channels to the SM1625's five, that would explain the random read and write improvement, but why the drop in sequential write? Is it doing more intensive checksumming or readback validation to wring better life out of the smaller MLC cells?

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Hey guys. We've got 1.2 BILLION stolen accounts here. Send us your passwords, 'cos safety

James 100
Bronze badge

Correction ...

"Actually only 10,000 stolen passwords so far ... enter all of yours below, tell all your friends and we'll hit the 1.2bn mark in no time!"

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HTTP-Yes! Google boosts SSL-encrypted sites in search results

James 100
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More cowbell^WSSL

I'd like to see more ubiquitous use of SSL for regular websites, personally. For one thing, it gives cover to more sensitive use of SSL (instead of "this bit of traffic is SSL, so it must be the important stuff"); moreover, it defeats stupidity like Phorm and TalkTalk's recent URL snooping (where any time a user requests something over TalkTalk, TalkTalk fetch themselves a copy 30 seconds later - breaking stuff like WebSocket implementations, as well as being distinctly creepy).

Imagine an Internet where only the sender and receiver know the content of each message: anyone else can only see the size and endpoints. Isn't that worth a bit of CPU overhead at each end?

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Cor blimey: Virgin Media pipes 152Mb fibre to 100,000 East Londoners

James 100
Bronze badge

"Intriguingly a lot of properties that could have a cable service have preferred to stick with copper. One may well wonder why."

In fact everyone on that cable service is also stuck with copper, since that's what the coaxial cable in question is made of!

Having used both, I found FTTC much better in actual use than Virgin's DOCSIS. Both are copper as far as a green street cabinet, then fibre from that point on - but FTTC gives much more consistent throughput, particularly for upload.

Since someone asked earlier, I'm with aaisp.net (Andrews & Arnold), and extremely happy with them. I did have a fault - which we eventually traced to a bad backbone switch port within BT's core network. Finding and fixing that required SIX Openreach visits to do line tests, before BT Wholesale would escalate the matter to BT TSOps and on to Adhara (the backbone management team at Adastral Park). Any other ISP would have given up; A&A didn't bat an eyelid, just kept pushing harder and harder in different bits of BT until the fault was fixed. They don't cut corners, so they aren't cheap - but they will do whatever it takes to get issues fixed. Bandwidth options for Home::1 users are 100, 200 or 300 Gb per month (£10 difference between each), which will be fine for virtually anyone. (If you use over 300 Gb per month on the BT backbone, you'll be costing your ISP an absolute fortune.)

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Chinese 'linkfarms' propel Microsoft to web server crown

James 100
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"Hosting platform of choice for web-spammers!"

Not really an accolade anyone sane would brag about ...

I seem to recall MS were offering incentives to hosting companies to push IIS, too, which might help explain this: if running a link-farm allows you to exploit both Google (by generating spurious web traffic and thus ad hits) and Microsoft (getting you whatever their reward is for hosting X sites on their platform), I'm sure the unscrupulous would jump at the chance.

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