* Posts by Stephen W Harris

62 posts • joined 8 Jul 2009

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Chip company FTDI accused of bricking counterfeits again

Stephen W Harris

Misleading title

The latest driver _isn't_ bricking the chip. What it does it detect counterfeit chips and then send a specific stream 'NON GENUINE DEVICE FOUND!' to the device instead of the requested data.

I'm glad that FTDI is highlighting the problem of fake chips. I wish they could be a little less heavy handed (just refuse to work).

As for those people talking about "critical" usage... if FTDI just refused to talk to the chip then you'd bitch and scream in the same way.

There are two real problems, here, and neither are FTDI's making:

1) Fake chips and a lack of control in how they get into products. "Chain of trust" is a biggie, and this MUST be used in critical scenarios; if you're buying something that may impact life then damn well make sure you've bought from a vendor that has, itself, verified all its suppliers. Otherwise you, the purchaser, are culpable. And if it's a large reputable vendor then you might be able to get them to cover you...

2) Apply patches to production critical servers without having testing before hand. WTF, people? It makes me cringe; I've seen doctors and dentists use windows machines to do patient related stuff. I know they won't have a test bed, so any patches will be on live machines. This makes #1 even more important. (I wonder if this is why my doctor's systems were all down last year... hmm!)

FTDI have made some of the best USB chips around. So good that people are passing off counterfeit products as the original. On the streets of New York the cops will (sometimes) arrest fake Gucci street sellers. Where is the equivalent cops arresting fake FTDI sellers?

If you unknowingly buy stolen goods then you may have them confiscated. If you unknowingly buy conferfeit FTDI chips you may have them stop working.

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Boozing is unsafe at ‘any level’, thunders chief UK.gov quack

Stephen W Harris

Re: Calling Ben Goldacre

In some parts of the US it's a legal requirement to show ID to buy boozahol regardless of age, depending on the type of store (eg a pub may have different requirements to an offie).

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Sued for using HTTPS: Big brands told to cough up in crypto patent fight

Stephen W Harris

"I noted that there don't seem to be any Banks on the list" (@Public Citizen)

Banks have been trolled by Intellectual Vultures^WVentures for SSL/TLS in the past; see "Intellectual Ventures vs Capitol One", "Intellectual Ventures vs Chase" and so on. I believe the Chase one is still ongoing...

eg http://www.intellectualventures.com/assets_docs/Intellectual_Ventures_-_JPMorgan_Chase_Complaint_2013_1.pdf mentions 7634666 which is, basically, hardware accelerated public key encryption engine, and also 5745574 which appears to be SSL certificate authority stuff.

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Doctor Who's good/bad duality, war futility tale in The Zygon Inversion fails to fizz

Stephen W Harris

"that phrase delinates the distinction between fiction and fantasy."

I think any SciFi story that requires FTL would disagree with you.

"Suspension of disbelief" is the willingness of the reader/viewer/consumer to allow the story to work on its own terms.

I don't think there's _any_ SciFi that doesn't require some level of suspension. It may be minor (eg Allen Steele's near space stories) or it may be major (Star Trek, Babylon 5),

Or even your Thunderbirds; really, a rocket ship launching from the swimming pool without setting fire to the whole island? Have you seen how far back the safety area is at Kennedy Space Center? Tracey Island would be obliterated first time Thunderbird One launched.

We ignore these "errors" because they don't get in the way of the story. We deliberately suspend our notions of reality to aid in the story telling process.

And it doesn't matter the genre. If it's fiction then it requires some level of suspension of disbelief. Do you really think that any best selling book doesn't require acceptance of the universe? Even a Barbara Cartland "romantic" novel requires the acceptance of some super-stud Italian... and let's not get started on '50 shades of grey" :-)

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Doctor Who's Under the Lake splits Reg scribes: This Alien homage thing – good or bad?

Stephen W Harris

Re: Mid-season cliff-hangers aren't new...

Yeah... just to get started

Empty Child / Doctor Dances (May 21, May 28)

Rise Of The Cybermen / Age Of Steel (May 13, 20 May)

Impossible Planet / Satan Pit (Jun 3, Jun 10)

Daleks In Manhattan / Evolution Of The Daleks (Apr 21, Apr 28)

Human Nature / Family Of Blood (May 26, Jun 2)

and so on. Plenty of two-parters in the middle of a run.

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Doctor Who returns to our screens next week – so, WHO is the worst Time Lord of them all?

Stephen W Harris

Colin Baker, by a mile.

I'm gonna go against many people and say the McCoy was a really good Doctor. He's definitely in the top half. Yes there were some crappy stories (especially in his first season), but there were some good ones as well (I really liked Silver Nemesis, Battlefield, Remembrance, Fenric, Survival).

Colin Baker, though... ugh.

From the old series:

Hartnell: grumpy old man

Troughton: bit of a clown, flighty, panics

Pertwee: action man, "snazzy" dresser, kindly gentleman

Tom Baker (my favourite): joker, tried to be mysterious

Davison: weak, always a step behind

Colin Baker: arrogant arsehole, worst Doctor evuh

McCoy: brough some sense of fun back, had some good and _awful_ scripts

McGann... I try to forget that film.

Modern Who...

Eccleston: a good way to reboot. Chipper, not too serious, dynamic

Tennant: started off a little too wild and short-attention-span but settled down. In the end I think I liked him more than Eccleston.

Smith: started far too young and was far too weak; too many echoes of Tennant. But grew into the role.

Capaldi: grumpy old arsehole. Not liking him, so far.

Now I'm hoping this upcoming series will be better. I think there's potential, but so far he's the worst of the new Doctors and possibly the second worst Doctor thus far.

6
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New York State plots broadband future

Stephen W Harris

Re: Go ask New Jersey

Works well for me; I'm paying for 75Mbit/s Verizon FIOS. Here are some regular "wget" calls I make to check the speed from http://cachefly.cachefly.net/100mb.test

2015-01-20 13:50:11 (9.99 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]

2015-01-20 14:05:11 (10.0 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]

2015-01-20 14:20:12 (9.99 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]

2015-01-20 14:35:11 (9.99 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]

2015-01-20 14:50:11 (10.0 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]

2015-01-20 15:05:12 (9.99 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]

2015-01-20 15:20:11 (9.99 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]

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Mozilla, EFF, Cisco back free-as-in-FREE-BEER SSL cert authority

Stephen W Harris

Re: Do I understand this?

SSL certs are already free, from places like StartSSL; the green padlock doesn't really prove much. It's definitely not proof of identity.

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

Stephen W Harris

Re: Some vapid netheads ...

The Clangers? They've already been on Doctor Who. "The Sea Devils"; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOK1YdWalOw

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Stephen W Harris

Re: It's all gone to pot

Old series; Tom Baker was "my Doctor". Although I think McCoy could have been the best if he'd been given the chance. He re-introduced some of the mystery around the Doctor.

New series... I immediately liked Ecclestone. He was great. It made a good reboot and made me a fan of the new series. Disliked Tennant when he started, but got used to him within a few episodes. Smith was too young but he grew into the role (seriously, look at him standing up to the Atraxi in his first episode and thinking "cute, kid"; compare to almost any of Series 7; Journey To The Center Of The TARDIS; in just 2 years he'd grown up).

Capaldi I'm actively disliking. His character is an arsehole. Not Colin Baker levels of dislike ('worst Doctor ever!'), but definitely the worst of the new series.

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Ofcom will not probe lesbian lizard snog in new Dr Who series

Stephen W Harris

Re: Did the BBC just troll people?

Google "Dr Benjamin Spock". His name was the "Spock" that people knew long before Star Trek existed, and "Mr Spock" vs "Dr Spock" was a common mistake at the time.

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Linode busts up Digital Ocean with price-matching speedy server

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Stephen Fry MADNESS: 'New domain names GENERATE NEW IP NUMBERS'

Stephen W Harris

Re: Well...

You're confusing an expansion of a finite number with the value of the number. "PI" and "sqrt(2)" are both finite numbers (we can bound them; eg 3<PI<4) but any expansion of that number would take infinite space.

The "decimal expansion of 1/3" is infinite (0.333 recurring) but no one would claim 1/3 was infinite :-)

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Stephen W Harris

Re: Well...

There's actually no such thing as "nearly infinite".

For a number to be "nearly infinite" it must be a finite distance ("delta" away, and so has a value of "inf-delta"... which is, itself, "inf". So any "nearly infinite" number is, itself, infinite... contradiction.

Alternatively, all finite numbers must be infinitely far away from infinity and so are clearly not "nearly infinite".

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Stephen W Harris

Re: Isn't a number that is almost infinite, er, infinite?

0.999 recurring is exactly equal to 1.

Real numbers are different if there's another number that can be placed between them (a !=c if there exists b such that a<b<c. I typical example would be "(a+c)/2"). In the case of 0.999(rec) there is no value "b" which can be placed between it and 1; therefore 0.999(rec) == 1. It's not "almost 1", it's "exactly 1".

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US govt: You, ICANN. YOU can run the internet. We quit

Stephen W Harris

Re: What if ICANN goes renegade?

@Dougs, who asks "How is .london any worse than london.com, london.org and london.net? The new TLDs are stupid, but they aren't creating any new problems that didn't exist when there were only a few TLDs that any respectable organization was willing to use."

Without an organisation controlling the global namespace you will get fragmentation. My .london may be different to your .london; goes to different places or doesn't go anywhere at all. You'll end up with handful of distinct and separate name spaces.

At least, today, london.com goes to the same place for everyone.

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Curiosity now going BACKWARDS

Stephen W Harris

Re: There's no spare parts shop on Mars

Amazon Prime... whadya mean the Bezos drone doesn't go that far?

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Dropbox outage was caused by 'buggy' upgrade: DDoS us? You hardly know us...

Stephen W Harris

Re: 1775Sec

5 minutes is only 300Sec; these guys are greedy and want almost a whole half hour.

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Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Stephen W Harris

PYE

The first calculator I used was a PYE P-630 ( http://www.vintagecalculators.com/html/pye.html). I wonder what happened to it...

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El Reg Contraption Confessional No.1: The Dragon 32 micro

Stephen W Harris

Still new things in retro-computing

Not only do I still have my original Beeb from 1983 but I also have a second one, and a Master. I've also built an Econet, and built my own expansion boards (additional user ports; NVRAM) for it. I'm doing more with my Beeb, today, that I ever did BITD!

http://sweh.spuddy.org/Beeb/

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Did Linux drive supers, and can it drive corporate data centers?

Stephen W Harris
Thumb Down

Re: What's in a name?

Binary incompatibility does not demonstrate "not unix".

Try running an AIX binary on Solaris (both Unix). Or a SCO Unix binary on Solaris 86 (both Unix).

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Microsoft's cloud leaves manual transmission behind

Stephen W Harris

The point of "cattle vs pet" isn't to stop you having your unique and precious snowflake; it's to have you _define_ your unique snowflake in such a way that if it breaks (hard disk failure; hardware failure; whatever) then it's quicker to rebuild than to repair. SMEs benefit from this. An environment with 1000 OS instances definitely benefits.

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Godmother of Unix admins Evi Nemeth presumed lost at sea

Stephen W Harris
Coat

Must be _really_ old EPIRBs 'cos the ones in the early 90s would automatically activate in water. At least the ones we had onboard our ships did.

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Apple loses round to Amazon in 'App Store' name dispute

Stephen W Harris
Go

Re: Let me get this straight... @Neill Mitchell

See "WIMP": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WIMP_%28computing%29

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eBay frets as right to resell comes under scrutiny

Stephen W Harris
Angel

Free!

I'm not selling it; it's free! Just a small handling and postage fee to cover my expenses of shipping it to you...

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iOS 6 maps can't find Sydney Apple Store

Stephen W Harris
Thumb Down

Re: Map errors

I see errors in google maps all the time. Interestingly the main maps.google.com site gets it right, but the app on my phone gets it wrong. It's placing shops a mile away from where they should be.

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The perfect CRIME? New HTTPS web hijack attack explained

Stephen W Harris
Stop

Re: Mitigation

Doesn't work for large corporate environments where all traffic goes via a cluster of proxies; each request _could_ come from a different IP address.

Wouldn't solve the problem in the case of a cafe WiFi or a hotel where all the traffic might be NAT'd to a single IP address.

IP-binding of information has never worked too well; even in the early days of the web, all AOL-users would be proxied.

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Google whips away card, leaves just clouds in your Wallet

Stephen W Harris
Pint

Re: Bah!

It depends on the type of pre-paid card. Some of them are treated as "real" cards for billing/pay-down and reporting purposes. Someone with a poor credit rating can use these to gain a history of "paid on time" and thus improve their score.

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Stephen W Harris
Stop

Phone NFC credit cards - too much work

Choice 1: take phone out of pocket, unlock phone, start up relevant app, enter whatever PIN/authentication that app needs, wave phone over NFC reader.

Choice 2: take out credit card, wave card over NFC reader.

In the US many NFC enabled cards (eg PayPass) don't even need PIN or signing for low value transactions (between $20 or $50 depending on card and outlet). Using the phone strikes me as a lot less convenient.

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BOFH: Shove your project managementry up your mailbox!

Stephen W Harris

Re: Cricket bats versus baseball bats

The rules of cricket say "the ball" has to cross the boundary, not part of it. Thus the whole PM needs to cross. If the ball splits in half then the umpire must signal a dead ball. If the PM splits in half then the PM is declared DOA at the hospital.

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Computer error triggers mass rocket launch

Stephen W Harris
Joke

I blame the leap-second...

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Amazon cloud knocked out by violent storms in Virginia

Stephen W Harris
Joke

I think the storm was an excuse; it was the leap second that did it!

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FCC: Let's kill analogue early, fob diehards off with converter boxes

Stephen W Harris
Happy

Re: Our cable already did

When Verizon FIOS turned off their analogue channels in my area they offered a free converter box to customers. I took one for my basement TV (my main TV was already using digital via TiVo). This box will remain free as long as I keep FIOS TV service at this location. The result is that I now get all the "basic" FIOS SD channels for free on this second TV!

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Brit judge orders Facebook to rip masks from anonymous cowards

Stephen W Harris

Re: Facebook has a real name culture

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,

It isn't just one of your holiday games;

You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter

When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.

First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,

Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,

Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey—

All of them sensible everyday names.

There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,

Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:

Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter—

But all of them sensible everyday names.

But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,

A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,

Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,

Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?

Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,

Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,

Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-

Names that never belong to more than one cat.

But above and beyond there's still one name left over,

And that is the name that you never will guess;

The name that no human research can discover—

But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,

The reason, I tell you, is always the same:

His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation

Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:

His ineffable effable

Effanineffable

Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

- TS Elliot "The Naming Of Cats"

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Amazon says soz for foisting mag sub onto Kindle-touchers

Stephen W Harris
Mushroom

Spam?

Isn't this sort of thing more commonly known as "spam"? So Amazon are now spamming Kindle owners directly on their Kindle...

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Crime-fighting Seattle superhero unmasked, fired

Stephen W Harris
Stop

There will be well understood concepts around "aiding a police officer, or other officers of the law in the performance of their duties as police officers or officers of the law"; it's very unlikely that this situation came anywhere close to meeting the criteria. This person was not covered by the law you quoted.

"Civil Arrest" is equally problematical; you open yourself up to charges of unlawful imprisonment if you get it wrong!

If you wanna do a cop's job then become a cop, not a vigilante. At least, then, you'll have a better idea of the law and how to apply it!

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Stephen W Harris
Stop

If I give $10 to each and every person in my city (approx 30,000 people) then I good person; if I rob a bank to finance it then I'm a criminal.

The ends don't always justify the means.

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Android voice assistant shootout

Stephen W Harris

Phone load

Coincidentally I loaded "speaktoit" on my Droid3 over the weekend. And, wow, it killed phone performance. Everything was slower. Once I removed the app then speed was restored.

I wasn't very impressed with its behaviour, either; giving it one-word answers typically failed to cause a reaction ("yes"), so I had to say it twice which resulted in "yes yes". Dunno if that's an underlying speech recog issue with Android or just "speaktoit" being dumb.

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Nipples and teen lesbians sexy even when ironic, ASA rules

Stephen W Harris
Unhappy

Bleeped

Money For Nothing... sometimes on airplay the word "faggot" is distorted so you can't hear it. There's also a version of the song without that verse at all which gets played a lot.

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Boffins whip up SELF-WIRING chip

Stephen W Harris
Mushroom

More viruses

Current viruses may attack the CPU by loading a new microcode layer, but this is cleared on reset. I guess the next generation of viruses will physically rewire your CPU for you! Why am I envisioning some Neuromancer scenario where ICE wipes your CPU block clean?

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What's not in the iPhone 4S ... and why

Stephen W Harris
FAIL

SIM!

I have a Verizon Droid 3. A "world phone" on a CDMA network. Guess what; it also has a (Vodaphone) SIM. It roamed quite happily when I was in England 2 weeks ago. Expensive, like all international roaming, but it worked!

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Android's scariest nightmare: resurgently sexy Microsoft

Stephen W Harris
WTF?

Multitasking

Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x had great multitasking. Indeed, in the 6.x series the "[X]" button just did the equivalent to minimising your app, which confused a few people.

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Windows 8 secure boot would 'exclude' Linux

Stephen W Harris
Black Helicopters

Chain loading? Or Hypervisor?

Could we have a minimal signed boot loader that'll then chain-load unsigned code? Or maybe a signed hypervisor that'll then run the OS as a full-machine VM.

In fact I can see MS doing this; hyper-v being the loader and then allowing other OS's to run underneath it. Of course you'll need a Windows VM to manage hyper-v, and it'll let MS claim they have the worlds most popular hypervisor, but...

0
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Fanboys find way to NFC an iPhone

Stephen W Harris
WTF?

Nope

'Duck Tape' is a specific brand of tape and they do more than just duct tape; I've seen clear packing tape with the 'Duck Tape' branding. "Duct tape" is the correct term for the generic item in question.

"Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together."

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Julian Assange sets out bid to appeal extradition to Sweden

Stephen W Harris
WTF?

I need more sleep

I misread (multiple times) the article header as "sextradition".

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Buzzmeisters value Twitter at $4.5bn

Stephen W Harris
Happy

Too big to fail

In the next financial crisis, if JPMC goes down they'll bring Twitter with 'em.... _that_ will cause screaming!

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'You don't even know what change management is'

Stephen W Harris
Welcome

Depended on the floppy, actually

Different disks had different capacities depending.

The BBC Micro used 256byte sectors and started with SSSD40T (single sided single density - 10 sectors per track - 40Ttrack, so 100K), later became DSSD80T (400K). With the WD1770 we then got double-density disks which were sometimes 16 sectors per track (640K, eg Solidisk, Acorn) or 18 sectors per track (720K, eg Opus).

The IBM PC and clones typically used 512byte sectors and went to "quad density". The 5.25" floppies maxed out at 1200Kb - commonly called 1.2M (80 tracks, 15 sectors per track, 512 bytes per sector, double sided). 3.5" floppies were 1440Kb - commonly 1.4M or 1.44M (80 tracks, 18 sectors per track, 512bytes per sector, double sided).

So the capacity of the floppy depended on the type of floppy (density), number of tracks and whether the drive was single or double sided.

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Sprint introduces $10 smartphone premium

Stephen W Harris
Thumb Down

That'll hurt in comparison shopping

I've been a Sprint customer for almost 4 years. Was looking at getting a new phone, but maybe now Verizon will work out cheaper! (*sigh* good networks and CDMA, or crap networks and GSM. Lovely choice...)

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Apple in 873-page legal claim to word 'Pod'

Stephen W Harris
FAIL

Other technical uses of pod

Escape pod, cargo pod, transporter pod (eg Space 1999), OMS Pod (Space Shuttle), POD (perl Plain Old Documentation).

Also been used to describe a workstation environment ("work pod").

If memory serves, Psion 3a datacables had a "pod" in the middle of them.

There's so much prior art that it probably took 873 pages to sufficiently define the usage Apple want to lock down so that existing usage from decades ago isn't relevant!

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