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* Posts by Oliver Jones

597 posts • joined 14 May 2007

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Anatomy of OpenSSL's Heartbleed: Just four bytes trigger horror bug

Oliver Jones

Re: I don't get it..

I know a few banks that actually have a no open source policy: They forbid use of open source software.

Well, they'll be laughing this week.

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VAT's all folks: Telecoms and services tax to be set at consumer's homeland rate

Oliver Jones

Glad I live in Switzerland...

VAT here is only 8% (and a mere 2.5% on food), and when I stroll over the border to go shopping in Germany, I can import up to 300 CHF worth of goods without having to declare them or pay Swiss VAT at all (but I can reclaim the German VAT!)

VAT-free shopping, in other words, unless you order/import something really big.

The EU's rules and regulations seem to be most useful when you live outside.

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PSST! New PCs with Windows 7 preinstalled are out there – and will be into 2015, at least

Oliver Jones

The more they speed up the cadence...

...the more commercial customers will say "F*** it, even if we bite the bullet, we'll still be 3-4 generations behind, with no support, in no time. We might as well stick with what we have right now, and save ourselves all that trouble."

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The UNTOLD SUCCESS of Microsoft: Yes, it's Windows 7

Oliver Jones

Re: New Wheeze

XP 64 bit never worked well - and had a lot of device drivers missing.

Ahem. XP x64 was based on Windows 2003 Server, and 64-bit computing was new at the time. These days, it's pretty darn easy to find drivers for XP x64 - just look for it, or - failing all else, install a driver for Windows 2003 x64. It's the same kernel, so the same drivers will work. x64 is no longer a novelty, after all.

As for it never working well, I have to call bullshit on that one, my friend. XP x64 is not only more stable than the 32-bit variant of XP, but it runs rings around it - and then some. Up to 128GB of RAM is not a problem, and it supports GPT-partitioned disks and multicore CPUs with amazing dexterity.

I'd know: I've been using it for the last few years. Have you?

There are a lot of improvements yo can't see in the user interface in Windows 7 and 8 kernels (read "Windows Internals", if you're interested). Please look beyond the UI widgets - those are just a little part of what an OS is.

Real-world performance (especially in a commercial environment) doesn't bear this out. Not only is Windows 7 absolutely crap at copying files (which could be described as a core OS function), but it has so much bloat that any kernel improvement has been bogged down with so much cruft as to make it irrelevant.

XP (and XP x64) wins, in the real world.

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Object to #YearOfCode? You're a misogynist and a snob, says the BBC

Oliver Jones

Re: Keep the kids dumb!

My thoughts exactly!

I won't object, at all - I am all for this waste of time keeping future Brits from competing with the likes of me on an international level. Less competition = more profit.

Congratulations to Rory Cellan-Jones and the BBC, but not for the reasons you'd like to think.

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Friends don't do tech support for friends running Windows XP

Oliver Jones

Re: My Documents

because, to Microsoft, the idea of separating your OS and data partitions is an unknown concept. It is the norm in Unix since around '75, and other platforms before that. Admittedly, professional Wintel admins do it, kind of, by creating a D: drive, but that is plainly not what Microsoft assumes.

I've always installed XP and XP x64 with an answer file on a floppy disk (for newer PCs, I bring along an external USB floppy drive, which also has F6 drivers on for new hardware - and that does the trick.) Documents and Settings, on any Windows PC I set up, is always on D:\.

Unfortunately, Microsoft never encouraged this or made the process practical for most end users. The Documents and Settings location should have been available with a practical default setting in the Windows installation procedure, just as it is with Solaris and Linux.

These days, you really need to prep a system before you install Windows XP or XP x64 on it, because of Microsoft's idiotic decision to start the first MBR partition on sector 63. Modern hard disks have 4K sectors, which is a bit like installing on a single-volume RAID 0 setup. But a Windows 7 OPK disc/USB key will nicely do the trick of allowing you to partition the hard disk with a 1MB offset, make it active and format it - so once you've done that, you may as well go the whole hog and prep a D:\ drive for your Documents and Settings folder.

But anyone who installs XP or XP x64 without:

a) Partitioning their hard disk with a 64K+ offset

b) Installing AHCI and/or RAID drivers via an F6 driver diskette

c) Prepping the system and storage volumes first (best with an SSD for boot, and HDD for storage)

isn't really getting the best out of their hardware, unless the hardware is ancient.

Microsoft has not made the process for c) easier for Windows 7, unfortunately - and you actually have to install the system with the Users folder on C:\ and then move it later, which seems a tad retarded. Then there's the small fact that a Windows 7 system with a Users folder on anything other than the system drive is not supported when running a service pack upgrade (although, with only one service pack projected in its entire lifetime for Windows 7, maybe that's not such a problem anymore.)

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Oliver Jones

I built my parents a new PC...

...and it's running Windows XP x64 and Office 2003. :)

Just the way I like it: One sniff of Windows 8.1, and it won't matter that it's a Microsoft-supported product - I'll be getting calls every day asking me how to do what was once easy on XP, but almost impossible to guess on Microsoft's new OS.

Sorry, Redmond - but I consider my time to be more important than your profit. Rebuilding a virus-infested machine is pretty easy these days with Acronis, and my parents don't want to learn how to think like teenagers. Neither, for that matter, do I.

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Bill Gates to pull a Steve Jobs and SAVE MICROSOFT – report

Oliver Jones
Headmaster

Re: The huge difference...

Tacit approval!

(Tassets are pieces of plate armour.)

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Amazon's 'schizophrenic' open source selfishness scares off potential talent, say insiders

Oliver Jones

Re: Storm in a teacup.

Planting backdoors in many consumer devices (including routers) is supposedly tricky, too - but the NSA and GCHQ have already been there, and done that.

Or are you trying to tell me that the test suite is something the secret services are not privy to?

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Oliver Jones

Re: Storm in a teacup.

If you read and truly understood Reflections on Trusting Trust, you would have already fîgured out for yourself that having the source code for your compiler makes absolutely no difference if you cannot trust the binary compiler you are compiling it with!

I'm personally amazed at the number of open source nuts who downvote me for pointing out this startlingly obvious fact. (It's no wonder that the likes of the NSA and GCHQ are reaping huge dividends on the sheer ignorance out there!) Did you check the binary on your RHEL / CentOS / Debian / Ubuntu install before you started using it to compile code? I don't think so. So how do you know you can trust it?

The answer is simple: You can no more trust your unaudited compiler than I can trust mine. I'm not defending closed-source as more secure: I'm just attacking open source as being significantly less secure than many would think.

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UK.gov recruiting 400 crack CompSci experts to go into teaching

Oliver Jones

Re: @Ben Norris

Hmm, while we're on that subject, Mr. James of John Willmott School (early to mid 1990s) can stand up and take a bow, for being a great head of Technology with an impressive knowledge of engineering, electronics and assembler.

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Microsoft empties a can of BUG SPRAY on Visual Studio 2013, hands sticky result to devs

Oliver Jones

DID THEY FIX THE ALL-CAPS MENUS, YET?

See title.

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Consumers shove EMEA PC market down giant hole of DOOM

Oliver Jones

Not surprising...

The market has spoken, but Microsoft still isn't taking the hint.

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Microsoft buries Sinofsky Era... then jumps on the coffin lid

Oliver Jones

"I don't understand the 'Metro-whatever is SO difficult to use' complaints that go round. Rather, it seems that a lot of that moaning comes from tech professionals (I know a couple, even heavy Linux users), who really shouldn't be that confused by it. You've seen an iPad, right? It's like that."

You have mistaken annoyance for confusion.

By the way, shovels can also be used to decapitate people - but just because a sword is better at that one particular feature does not mean that all shovels should be replaced by swords.

Windows 8 is the sword that workers have been given to dig with, and - understandably - they're quite peeved about it.

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Oliver Jones

Re: What we want to know is...

"That is some mutherfukka multitasking going on there dood (or doodette)"

For some of us, that's just another normal day at the office.

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Thought sales were in the toilet before? Behold the agony: 2013 was a PC market BLOODBATH

Oliver Jones

Re: I did my part.

I have to use Windows 7 at work, every day.

It's slow, inefficient and too focused on looking nice, rather than getting the hell out of my way and letting me get on with my work. XP x64 is, by comparison, a breath of fresh air.

When Microsoft stops trying to sell me an "experience" and starts selling an operating system (and maybe also an Office suite that doesn't look like it belongs in the Fisher-Price range), then I might be interested in moving from the (still productive) XP / Office 2003 interface. Until then, I'm stocking up with hardware that will run the software I want to run.

I'm not alone, either: With nearly a third of the world's PCs still running some derivative of XP, that adds up to a hell of a lot of us who aren't buying the new digital snake oil.

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Oliver Jones

Re: What's the point of upgrading

Personally, I don't see myself ever running Windows on a Haswell system, simply because they have decided to stop supporting XP and Windows 2003 on Haswell and above. The drop in performance from having to downgrade from 64-bit Windows XP to Windows 7 is not worth the performance gains you get over Ivy Bridge.

Why bother? Windows 7 can't even copy files properly in cases that XP can easily handle, and copying files is a core OS function. Windows 7 is, to me, not fit for purpose - therefore I won't be using it on a productive system.

I will buy Skylake Xeon E3s in due time, but that will be for running the likes of FreeBSD, Solaris and Linux. I will stick with the Ivy Bridge Xeon E3s and E5s for running Windows. Anything Intel produces in the meantime doesn't interest me at all.

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Oliver Jones

I did my part.

I put together 6 systems based on Asus P8C WS boards, Xeon E3-1280 CPUs, 32GB of memory, nVidia GTX770 graphics and Intel DC-S3700 boot SSDs (mirrored), plus mirrored WD RE 4TB drives for Documents and Settings. Still running Office 2003 Professional, plus a few extras.

Running... drum roll... Windows XP x64 Edition, downgraded from Windows 7 Ultimate licences I bought earlier. I don't expect to have to replace them for some time, as they run like greased lightning.

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I KNOW how to SAVE Microsoft. Give Windows 8 away for FREE – analyst

Oliver Jones

Re: 32 bit OS in a 64-bit world.

Windows XP x64 is based on the Windows 2003 x64 kernel (exactly the same patches will work on both OSes) - and, given the considerable support 2003 has enjoyed as a 64-bit OS, XP x64 users haven't had to worry about driver or software issues for some time. 32-bit apps run just nicely under x64 - even games - and compatibility was certainly not an issue for me (even though I own a lot of software.)

What's more, I haven't seen a single Windows OS (Windows 2000 and 32-bit XP included) that beat XP x64 in terms of speed, and both Vista and Windows 7 are woefully slow when it comes to most operations (particularly file copying, a core operating system function!) Even with WD's new Advanced Format drives, a properly-prepped and installed XP x64 system is noticeably faster than Windows 7 on the same hardware.

XP x64 supports 128GB of RAM and GPT partitions (just not as a boot drive, but if you're using a SSD as a boot drive, that's not going to be a problem for some time) - and having a monster 8TB+ RAID volume for your documents and settings is no issue. There's plenty of life left in it, long after 32-bit XP runs out of steam.

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Oliver Jones

The difference lies in the value proposition:

I'd pay £450 for a CPU, but I wouldn't switch to Windows 8 even if you paid me £450.

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Bank of America: Bitcoin could become THE currency of e-commerce

Oliver Jones

Re: I think Bitcoin will die a death very soon

Ahem, silver is the second most useful substance on Earth, with approximately 10,000 uses. It's beaten only by oil, with around 30,000 uses. Like oil, silver is consumed, often in very small amounts at a time, which makes recovery a lot harder to justify (unlike gold jewelry.)

Given the rate of silver consumption that has occurred over the last 3 decades, the last time there was this little silver stock available on the planet was around 1300 AD. Available silver stocks are around 20% of the quantity available in the 1980s, and consumption is increasing: Many industrial applications have no substitute for silver.

Think on the ramifications of that for a moment, and then tell me - hand on heart - that there is no future in precious metals. Or listen to this guy.

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Oliver Jones

I think Bitcoin will die a death very soon

"The amount of computational power required to mine a Bitcoin has now pushed hobbyists out of the market and specialized ASIC chips are required to perform the calculations needed to generate new currency."

This means, in effect, that Bitcoin mining is more centralised, and vulnerable to attack. It will be attacked in short order, by the same banking cartel that is threatened by Bitcoin's own emergence as a replacement for fiat money that can be conjured out of thin air (with interest payable on every penny, of course.)

If there is one thing central bankers hate above all else, it's competition. However, they're smiling right now, because every penny that's spent on Bitcoin is money that isn't going into gold and silver. When physical supplies of that finally dry up, it will be time to put the pin in Bitcoin.

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Submerged Navy submarine successfully launches drone from missile tubes

Oliver Jones

Re: Recovery?

How many up/down votes you got is not a reliable indicator of how good your plan is.

People are inherently populists, but ideas that are commonplace today (round Earth, heavier-than-air flight, jet engines, nuclear submarines) were, once upon a time, not only works of science fiction - but fantastic science fiction.

Evaluate an idea on its own merits, not on perceived popularity: That's what politicians do, after all - and one only needs to look at their track record to see the merits of taking that path. :)

Of votes, I'm actually most pleased when I post something that heavily divides opinion, with massive numbers of up and down votes: Apathy is easy to find in this day and age.

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Oliver Jones

Re: Recovery?

My guess is that the drone has a small explosive charge on board (a Sony lithium-ion cell would do - how's that for dual-purpose equipment?), which destroys the thing as soon as it's no longer needed. Far easier, cheaper and more practical than spending time, manpower trying to recover it.

Of course, it isn't environmentally friendly, but if you're concerned about that, you would also be against war in the first place...

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Oh no, RBS has gone titsup again... but is it JUST BAD LUCK?

Oliver Jones
Happy

Re: not just faults

What do you mean, disabling interrupts is not good programming practice?!?

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PC market staging a RECOVERY. (Only joking, it's through the floor)

Oliver Jones

Re: Lets try to look at the facts

Not only that: The computer industry is actively trying its best to make the PC irrelevant as a productivity platform, by loading it down with performance-sapping eye candy, stupid design decisions and the removal of customer choice.

I've put a stake in the ground, bought spanking-new hardware - and intend to run Windows XP x64, Office 2003 and Adobe CS6 on it, for as long as I can.

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Oliver Jones

Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"? @Steve Knox

Come 1982, the Commodore 64 arrived on the scene, with common graphics and sound capabilities across all 30 million ever sold - and anyone who was serious about anything more than text didn't give the PC a second glance until VGA and the likes of Chris Roberts' Wing Commander came along.

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Oliver Jones

Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"?

Or even a Windows XP x64 R2 version, licenced and paid for on an annual subscription (£25/year/seat) basis. Some of us consider even Windows 7 a downgrade from XP x64.

Microsoft has shown zero interest in my desires - and until they do, I have no intention of showing any interest in theirs. The PC industry's sales tanked pretty much as soon as MS EOL'ed XP, which says everything that needs to be said, as far as I'm concerned.

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Visual Studio 2013: 50 Shades of Grey not a worry for MONSTER dev TOOL

Oliver Jones

NOT BUYING IT.

Last time I used an application with all-caps menus was on my Commodore 64.

What happened to progress?

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What's wrong with Britain's computer scientists?

Oliver Jones
Happy

Re: There's your problem right there.

Maybe they just need a HAM (Human Abstraction Layer)?

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Wintel must welcome Androitel and Chromtel into cosy menage – Intel

Oliver Jones

Re: +1

I have many fond memories of m68k from my youth.

Crying shame that IBM picked Intel for their PC.

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Win 8 PC sales plunge as retailers, disties shave orders by HALF A MILLION in Q3

Oliver Jones
Happy

Re: D'Oh

Or they walked into PC World, played with a Windows 8 laptop, laughed, and walked out empty-handed.

That's what I did. :)

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Crowdfunded audit of 'NSA-proof' encryption suite TrueCrypt is GO

Oliver Jones

Re: Once upon a time...

Nice idea, but most text editors aren't so cooperative when it comes to actioning ANSI control codes: They just print the code you were trying to hide, plus a load of rubbish on the screen, followed by the code you were hoping to obfuscate it with.

You're also assuming (and making a very big assumption, I might add) that the compiler wouldn't choke on those non-standard characters when it came to lexical analysis.

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Oliver Jones

Re: Still not "secure" @ despairingcitizen

This is why messages should be compressed before they are encrypted: That way, you can safely remove speculation about the content of the file, because many of the characteristics will have been mangled by the compression algorithm prior to encryption - making use of cribs much harder.

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Oliver Jones

Re: Great, fine...

Examining the source code of the compiler won't help you - if it has been bugged in the way Ken Thompson describes in the article you linked to, it will replicate a trojan horse even if a clean copy of the compiler source code is compiled with a bugged compiler. An attacker doesn't need to ship the bugged source code - a bugged binary and clean source will suffice just nicely.

This is the point so many open source nuts simply don't get: If it were as easy as simply recompiling the code, it wouldn't be an issue. If you download a Linux distro and recompile everything yourself with the compiler in the distro, you are trusting the distro not to have embedded a backdoor in the compiler they have shipped. It matters not one jot whether the compiler is open source or not.

That TrueCrypt is open source simply makes it easier to target with a compiler Trojan, because the target is a known quantity. How many open source enthusiasts - in all seriousness - thoroughly check the compiler that shipped with their system?

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Your kids' chances of becoming programmers? ZERO

Oliver Jones

Re: 6502/6809's rool btw...

Zero page (and zero page addressing) made the 6502/6510 much more useful that it appeared at first sight. Chuck Peddle really was a genius for coming up with that at the time.

I also really liked the 68k, and probably spent more time sitting in front of Devpac 3 on my Amiga than with any other application. :)

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Thought you didn't need to show ID in the UK? Wrong

Oliver Jones

Re: More ill-thought out government 'bright ideas'

There is no need for a passport, no - but they can ask for a copy of your naturalisation or birth certificate, which can be checked against Home Office records.

Failure to produce the required documentation to back up your claim of UK citizenship means that your claim is not substantiated - and can therefore be safely ignored, leading directly back to step 1: Passport, please. :)

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Oliver Jones

Re: re: hate for ID

"it's simple - this is Britain. The basic principle is that everyone is free to do what they want, without interference by the state, so long as they are not actually breaking the law."

Tell that to Jean Charles de Menezes.

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Win XP? Your PLAGUE risk is SIX times that of Win 8 - NOW

Oliver Jones

Re: Is that...

Not so: Any driver that works with Windows 2003 x64 will also work with XP x64.

Same kernel, you see...

Finding drivers these days is actually quite easy - it's not 2005 anymore, and 64-bit operating systems are the norm these days, rather than the irrelevant novelty they were back when the Athlon 64 was relased.

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Oliver Jones

Re: Are we confusing cause and effect?

DEP actually came with XP SP2, and is also present in the 64-bit edition.

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Migrating from Windows XP: Time to move on

Oliver Jones

Re: Only if you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers...

Yup. It still runs like a dog, compared to XP x64 on the same hardware.

To be honest, with the number of processor and graphics improvements we've seen over the years (especially with multi-threading enhancements, new instructions, et cetera), I expect more performance when I switch to a new OS, not less.

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Oliver Jones

Re: Only if you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers...

One of the first things I do with a new XP installation is make it look just like Windows NT 4.00 or Windows 2000. The Windows Themes service can be disabled, resulting in considerable speedup.

On Windows 7, one can try doing this - but the system is still dog slow by comparison. On XP, I've never had to click twice because the computer never registered the first click - on Windows 7, this is a common experience, even with high-end hardware, and I've observed it on several different machines. So the problem is definitely not with me.

However, in your eagerness to label me as the problem, you appear to have missed this simple fact. Better luck next time, eh?

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Oliver Jones

Only if you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers...

Windows XP was the last Microsoft OS released with end-user productivity in mind.

Everything they have released since then is eye-candy ridden entertainment software that happens to run other apps, if you're lucky - and with a huge performance penalty.

Having to use Windows 7 on a Sandy Bridge laptop in an enterprise environment (big bank) feels like 1995 all over again. Who cares if it boots quickly, if everything feels like treacle when you've logged in? I can make a cup of coffee when my system boots, but I can't get back the time wasted because the OS is sluggish and unresponsive when I need to be working!

The amount of time wasted by Windows 7 costs more in lost time per day than a 10-minute boot would have. Oh, and don't even talk to me about the performance of network shares...

In terms of productivity, Windows XP is still unmatched by any later Windows release.

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Post-PC era? Post-MAC era! OS X Mavericks 'upgrade' ruins iWorks

Oliver Jones

If they keep this up...

...before long, Mini Office on the Commodore 64 will be more productive!

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The Raspberry Pi: Is it REALLY the saviour of British computing?

Oliver Jones

Re: Absolutely

I won't be teaching my kids with a Pi - I have a Commodore 128D and Acorn A5000 for that purpose.

People seem to have forgotten that the home computer boom took off when manufacturers were able to market and sell pre-assembled computers. Yes, the Pi is affordable - but then so was the KIM-1. However, the first mass-selling home computer that slaughtered the competition (the Commodore 64) did not require the customer to source their case, power supply and keyboard separately.

My gripes with the Pi are also of an architectural bent - ethernet is hobbled because it has to go over the USB bus, rather than having a dedicated PHY (as the Beaglebone Black has.)

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FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS: Microsoft faces prising XP from Big Biz

Oliver Jones

Re: Oh come on...

I'm putting together six new PCs based on Asus P8C WS boards (with Xeon E3-1280v2 CPUs and 32GB of ECC memory, each) - and yes, the Asus boards come with serial and parallel headers - just buy an optional header for about $7, and you can have both (serial header already comes in the box.)

Puget Systems build workstations based on this board in the US, and they come highly recommended.

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Windows XP folks: At least GOOGLE still loves you ... UNTIL 2015

Oliver Jones

Re: Dangerous to users

No, the responsible thing would be to allow end users to purchase extended support, and let the market speak - rather than just arbitrarily limiting support and saying "Right, that's it. Our way or the highway!"

Solaris 10 has had 11 service packs since its launch (well, updates, but they're essentially the same thing), compared to 3 for Windows XP, 2 for Windows 2003/XP x64 and 1 for Windows 7. Oracle might still be guilty of reaming its customers for every penny they can get hold of - but, unlike Microsoft, it seems that they do still understand which side of their customers' bread is buttered.

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Oliver Jones

Re: I won't be upgrading - in fact, I'm building 6 new PCs with XP x64 on them.

Windows XP x64 and Windows 2003 share the same kernel (and even the same service packs.)

Given that there is still PLENTY of hardware and applications out there with support for Windows 2003, I'm not going to sweat it that much. XP x64's limited support was an issue back in 2005, yes, but fast forward eight years, and driver support has been pretty easy to find.

Only the latest Haswell machines have actually put an end to that, which is why I'm building six new PCs based on Ivy Bridge (Xeon E3-1280v2s on Asus P8C WS boards, with 32GB of ECC memory, to be exact).

I have enough experience with Windows 7 - at work (with an employer-supplied Ivy Bridge notebook). It's a dog, and it makes Windows XP look like a Ferrari by comparison.

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Oliver Jones

Re: I won't be upgrading - in fact, I'm building 6 new PCs with XP x64 on them.

You didn't even read the title of my post correctly, did you?

(Emphasis on the "new" - if you missed it the second time around.)

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