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* Posts by MacroRodent

636 posts • joined 18 May 2007

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OpenSSL bug hunt: Find NEXT Heartbleed, earn $$$ – if enough people donate cash

MacroRodent
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Re: Open Source Funding...

I don't think it's actually possible to put any lower value than 'free' on the contributions most people make to open source projects.

Actually, these days the most important open-source projects have paid developers working on them, paid either by corporations that use the code, or by some non-profit. OpenSSL seems to be an exception for high-profile project. This needs to change.

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Lost your credit card PIN? No worries! Get a new one - over SMS

MacroRodent
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SMS is retained

"Infobip argues that while the final leg of SMS isn’t completely secure, it’s at least as secure as printing a secure envelope and trusting it to the postal system.""

The difference is the post office cannot feasibly open each envelope and scan the contents (at least it does not do so in most countries). But your full SMS text actually may sit at the SMS server of your phone company for a long time, possibly months or years. This happens even without any special "lawful interception" feature being enabled. It's just part of the normal logs.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS

MacroRodent
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Re: iSuppli estimates

The same is true in any hardware company. The details of parts supplier deals are always deep secrets, because both the competitors and competing suppliers could take advantage of them.

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Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'

MacroRodent
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Unhappy

NO technology yet (Re: Makes sense)

Except the technology to get there exists now, so it isn't going to provide the boost it did in the past because there are no problems that need solving.

Technology for a very expensive moon picnic exists (or used to exist), but not for an extended stay, which would have its own set of unsolved problems: radiation shielding, dealing with moondust, recycling air and water for an extended time, surviving the cold lunar night, etc.etc.

Plenty of challenges remain.

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Not just websites hit by OpenSSL's Heartbleed – PCs, phones and more under threat

MacroRodent
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Re: The real bug

>This bug is the sort of mistake beginners make

And experienced people as well, occasionally! I have seen bugs of similar stupidity level made by long-timers (me included). Sometimes in code that has been in use for years.

There is no room for any holier-than-thou attitudes in programming. Anyone can goof up, therefore processes must be in place to to catch and limit the damage.

What I want to emphasize is this starts at making sane specs that avoid unnecessary complexity (like the redundant length field).

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MacroRodent
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Facepalm

The real bug

is having two length fields in the heartbeat packet that inevitably got out of sync! The potential for bugs like this is one reason why you should not duplicate information needlessly. The spec was bad.

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The gift of Grace: COBOL's odyssey from Vietnam to the Square Mile

MacroRodent
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Mel (Re: Real Programmers *and* Mythical Man Month?)

That Story of Mel link did not work (at least for me). I think the canonical reference is to the one inside the Jargon File: http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/story-of-mel.html

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Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed

MacroRodent
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Re: remote management?

I wonder how often the remote management is on by default in these devices? The ADSL+WLAN router I bough several years ago had it disabled, and after some thinking I left it that way, not seeing any good reasons to enable it, just lots of risks. But I could imagine some manufacturers having a different policy, in which case those devices are probably pwned by now.

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Microsoft: We've got HUNDREDS of patents on Android tech

MacroRodent
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Re: I assume ...

>Second, doesn't UDF have a big memory overhead?

I haven't heard of it having any worse memory requirements than other non-ancient file systems. Surely larger than FAT, but that is also true of exFAT (which does not have much to do with the old FAT file system, apart from the name). UDF comes in several variants to handle non-overwritable media, but flash cards and USB drives would only need one, the simplest read/write variant.

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MacroRodent
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Re: I assume ...

>There's nothing stopping anyone doing a decent ext4 file system driver for Windows,

It probably is doable (although not so simple: there is a quite a bit of impedance mismatch between how Linux and Windows handle files, like how protections are handled, and the case sensitivity issue).

>and it could become something that everyone just knows they have to install.

This is where it falls down. Unless you can somehow automate it totally (like getting the driver quickly installed the first time an ext4-formatted SD card is plugged in), most users will not bother with cards requiring such tricks.

A little-known fact is that the UDF file system could in principle be used on other media than DVD:s as a read-write file system, and many operating systems already support it, Windows included. So trying to get flash card vendors to use that would be a better plan.

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Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest

MacroRodent
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Re: " toughest substance in the known universe"

You neatly described how I also see the Lego evolution. My son has around 1000x times the number of Lego parts I had at his 8 years of age (yeah we Finns have got richer...), but it is harder to use them for own designs, since most come from different disintegrated StarWars, Space Police, Kingdoms etc. etc. sets with too many special types of parts. Even if you find more than 2 of the same shape, they are of different colour... The old limited palette reduced this problem.

I still have my box of various old school Legos, but left intentionally at my parents house. It is delightful to see what happens when the modern kids (my son and his cousins) get their hands on these mostly generic parts that do not carry any message about what you should build from them. The only specialty is the old Lego railway system with the discrete rail and tie parts. But even there the isolated rails can act in other designs as rods etc. It is really sad it has been discontinued.

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Chinese patent app tries to own Wine on ARM

MacroRodent
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Facepalm

So they try to patent a port of an existing program!

Unfortunately, given how patent offices work (not just in U.S) the possibilities of this going through are good. For a software guy, if you know how to program X once, then making X in execute in a loop, or making X a parametrised subroutine, or making X work on a different hardware platform are obvious stuff. But patent offices have issued bad software patents for these variations of a known operation.

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Microsoft frisked blogger's Hotmail inbox, IM chat to hunt Windows 8 leaker, court told

MacroRodent
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Facepalm

Re: Next time...

Probably this generation of "internet natives" does not even realize it is possible to transfer data with other methods than the Net! (or think the only other alternative is owls, quil and parchment, as in Harry Potter).

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Shuttleworth: Firmware is the universal Trojan

MacroRodent
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Serious industrial spies will have no trouble getting hold of a binary blob to analyze, even if its redistribution is restricted (spies by definition do not obey the rules). Such redistribution restrictions hamper only honest users.

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MacroRodent
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Re: But then we'd need hardware standards

>Basically, you wanna ban trade secrets.

Not at all. Just keep them on the other side of the programming interface. If the trade secret can be seen from the firmware code, it is no trade secret at all, because those with serious financial interest in getting the secrets can get the binary blob disassembled and analyzed. The only people hampered by the binary blob are those who honestly want to program the device.

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MacroRodent
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Re: He's right... and wrong!

>Oh really? And abandon, say, QA and other trivial things?

Of course not. This could work analogously with Red Hat's RHEL, with the companies using the firmware doing QA on their hardware.

Besides the existing state of firmware QA isn't stellar either. Eg., I have a big.brand DVD recorder / DVB-receiver combination that locks up almost always when it sees disk it does not like (wrong format, or too scratchy). The great corporate QA department obviously tested it only with perfect disks.

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MacroRodent
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Re: But then we'd need hardware standards

No, the hardware would just have to be documented, no hidden bits needing non-disclosure agreements to see. Of course getting rid of nonsensical variation would be useful, and might be a side-effect of more openness and the requirement to properly and publicly document things (gratuitous changes become more expensive to do).

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MacroRodent
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Re: He's right... and wrong!

>Firmware typically needs to be incredibly responsive and run on very cheap hardware.

That's precisely the code I would like to see written by enthusiasts, not corporate drones. You know the demo scene? One sub-genre is making really limited hardware like C64 do things you would never have thought possible with it...

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ZEPPELINS to replace Goodyear blimps in American skies

MacroRodent
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Seen it!

One of the NT:s hung around the Helsinki Malmi airport one summer around 10 years ago. It arrived from Germany, and the idea was to fly it to Japan, but Russia did not give the required permits. So after a month or two it flew back, and was later ignomiously shipped to its buyer by sea.

I live near the small Malmi airport, and saw it arrive, and then sadly grounded there.Funnhy how after a while this exotic ship started looking like a part of the landscape...

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NASA to programmers: Save the Earth and fatten your wallet

MacroRodent
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Re: Saving the Earth from a civilization-crippling asteroid impact: How exactly?

The prospect of extinction would be a pretty good motivation to start putting even remotely plausible theories in practice,and the cost be damned.

As they say, nothing clears the mind like the sight of the gallows.

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MacroRodent
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Re: "dinosaurs didn't have a space program" - look what happened to them

The dinosaurs were not a single species, but a group. A better comparison would be to how long primates have been around, around 55 million years. And the primates have finally developed a space program...

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Very fabric of space-time RIPPED apart in latest Hubble pic

MacroRodent
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Re: I wonder

Galactic magnetic field? Is that strong enough to matter, compared to the effects of the solar magnetic field and of course the terrestrial field?

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Your 'funny' cat pics are weighing down the web, so here's a better JPEG encoder from Mozilla

MacroRodent
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Re: Why not just replace the last-end compression?

> hell it's not even Huffman! It's plain arithmetic encoding

Actually the JPEG standard allows both Huffman and arithmetic coding, and most JPEGs use Huffman, because of concerns about arithmetic coding patents (another case of software patents hindering progress!), and also because using arithmetic coding does not improve the compression very much, and is slower.

>It's plain arithmetic encoding, and anyone who knows their compression codecs knows plain old' arithmetic encoding SUCKS.

I suspect you misremembered the relative quality of Huffman and arithmetic codings. Arithmetic coding is considered superior to Huffman coding. Please see the Wikipedia article on JPEG, which claims files that use arithmetic coding are about 5–7% smaller.

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MacroRodent
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FAIL

Re: Whatever became of...?

Software patents are probably the biggest problem nevertheless. JPEG2000 (first introduced in 2000) might perhaps come into widespread use in 10 years or so, when it becomes obviously unencumbered, even by submarine patents, and in all jurisdictions. And that is only the basic barebones version of the system, later enhanced versions of the standard are encumbered by later patents.

See how succesfully patents promote the progress of the useful arts!

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Microsoft to get in XP users' faces with one last warning

MacroRodent
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Re: Yes I predict it will be exactly as terrible as Y2K!

Sorry to hear you had such a boring Y2K. Where I worked, programs were actually fixed, and vendor patches applied. Not a sticker in sight.

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MacroRodent
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Mushroom

Re: Yes I predict it will be exactly as terrible as Y2K!

> So in other words, a complete and utter non event :)

This pretty common attitude pisses me off.

Y2K was a non-event precisely because serious fixing was done. Sure there was a lot of scare-mongering, but it helped in getting resources to make it a non-event. No, civilization as we know would not have ended without Y2K fixing, but there would been a lot more inconvenience and confusion, probably also loss of life.

Very frustrating for the programmers and managers involved: Had there been problems, they would have been blamed, and now that there were no problems, they are ridiculed.

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Massive new AIRSHIP to enter commercial service at British dirigible base

MacroRodent
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Re: Hybrid helium - hydrogen?

Carbon intensive? Are you serious? Hydrogen is cheap as water compared to helium, which really is a scarce resource and can only be obtained by cryogenically distilling large amounts of natural gas from some wells, which is at least as carbon-intensive.

Hydrogen is widely used in industry, so ways to store and manage it are well known.

The Germans ran completely hydrogen-filled airships for decades before serious problems, using materials and technology way inferior to what are available now.

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MacroRodent
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Hybrid helium - hydrogen?

To solve the problem of too much lift after unloading without wasting expensive helium, why not have hydrogen-filled ballonets inside the helium balloons and vent gas from those instead? Hydrogen does not react with helium, so there is no risk of explosion.

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Linux-friendly Munich: Ja, we'll take open source collab cloud

MacroRodent
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Good for them

"bucking the trend for going public."

Makes sense for a city administration that wants to avoid broadcasting sensitive information about its working and citizens to every foreign spy agency. Go Munich!

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'G-WIZ like' object doing 40,000 MPH CRASHES on the MOON

MacroRodent
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Use fullscreen

I didn't see it until I watched it in full-screen mode. Must have been quite a puddle of molten rock to glow for so long after the impact.

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Years of AWOL Windows Phone features finally show up in video leaks

MacroRodent
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Windows

Re: Stuck in the doldrums...

Wouldn't say creaking... The feature set is limited but to my utter astonishment, the WP 7.8 on my Lumia 710 has been astonishingly stable. After the last major update had settled down, it basically works reliably indefinitely without needing a reboot, unlike the Symbian I previously used, or every other Windows version I have seen. I guess it has reached the plateau of productivity. ("If it works, it is obsolete", like one character in "2010" grumbled about progress in computer technology).

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Minecraft developer kills Kickstarted Minecraft movie

MacroRodent
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Rendering on PC:s

Special effects, he promised, “will be done on PC's, not super-computers”

Not a new concept.. The sci-fi spoof "Star Wrek: in the Pirkinning" was rendered this way already in 2005. Looked pretty good despite the shoestring budget. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472566/ (where the "trivia" section tells the rendering took 5 years overall).

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Is modern life possible without a smartphone?

MacroRodent
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Re: The browser

The Opera Mini does smart reflowing of pages, and also compresses them (Opera runs a proxy that does this). Small-screen devices actually are the ones where Opera Mini makes most sense. Touchscreen is not needed. (I used to browse a lot with Opera Mini before getting a Lumia).

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MacroRodent
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The browser

I suggest you check if Opera Mini works on it. It is available for all sorts of low-end phones, and if it does on yours, the browsing experience improves greatly.

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Snap! Nokia's gyro stabilised camera tech now on open market

MacroRodent
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Spin

Gyroscope - that makes me think of tiny spinning wheels, but I suspect that is not what is really inside the chip. I wonder how do they work.

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Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it's serious

MacroRodent
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Hope you CC your article to Stephen Fry directly...

...since he obviously does not read The Register. If he did, he wouldn't make mistakes like this. I remember The Register had a fine piece on the history of MS-DOS and CP/M a few years ago.

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FreeBSD 10.0 lands, targets VMs and laptops

MacroRodent
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Re: Legacy?

I wasn't cocky, just stating a fact about this particular IT segment. In some others (like desktops and laptops) Linux is almost nonexistent. Sure, Linux, Windows, Android, iOS etc. will get replaced eventually. So it goes. Personally I always try to write my code to be portable, and it has already paid off during my career.

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MacroRodent
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Linux

Re: Legacy?

An alternate way of saying that is that Microsoft put it there just to have ANY CHANGE AT ALL in the hypervisor market! All competitors supported Linux, and Linux is more or less what most cloud services run on, so only the 100% Windows data centres would have been interested in a Hyper-V that did not work well with Linux.

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MacroRodent
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Linux

Re: Legacy?

Besides, Hyper-V support is something Linux already has had for some time, FreeBSD must keep up.

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Bottom falls out of Nokia's network rump

MacroRodent
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Re: Philips

>I remember my auntie had a Nokia TV.

I still use one. Bought in 1994, works fine. Of course it now has to get its signal from a digi-TV box or DVD, since Finland no longer has any analogue PAL transmissions. Now and then I look at flat-screens in shops, but conclude that standard-definition TV on them looks worse than on the Nokia tube (the deinterlacing and other digital processing in flat-screen TV:s makes everything look cartoonish), and there is not yet enough on-air HDTV material here.

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Rap for KitKat in crap app wrap trap flap: Android 4.4 is 'meant to work like that'

MacroRodent
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Windows

They are now Windows-compatible

Ah, Google apparently wants to be Windows Phone compatible. The mobile IE browser has always behaved like that, and yes, it sucks. Sadly, Opera is not available on WP (before getting a Lumia,I always used Opera Mini on Symbian, which performed text reflow cleverly).

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Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

MacroRodent
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TI-59 memories

My father got a TI-59 from work around 1978 or 1979, and it was the first device on which I tried any kind of programming. Felt like using technology from the future! Unfortunately magnetic card reader was not too reliable, and eventually stopped working. There were also swappable ROM modules of programs. The calculator came with one, but others were supposedly available for special tasks. There was also a cheaper version TI-58 that lacked the magnetic card feature, but was otherwise similar.

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Haswell micro: Intel’s Next Unit of Computing desktop PC

MacroRodent
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Re: power cords

Not sure if you read my comment, but I did note they reverted the decision to omit the power cord.

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MacroRodent
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power cords

"Intel only left the cord out so it could reduce the size of the packaging - it can’t have saved it much money."

Could another reason be that the power sockets used around the world vary? Perhaps they thought this was a clever way to side-step the issue, but obviously annoying to buyers, so they reverted it.

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El Reg's contraptions confessional no.5: The Sinclair Sovereign

MacroRodent
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LED not so bad choice

As I remember it, in the 1970's LCD:s were still pitifully illegible. You had to look at them from just the correct angle to see anything, and even then it was murky. So putting LED:s or plasma displays(*) was quite reasonable at that time. (*)= not sure if this is the correct term for the kind of flat glass vacuum-tube-like element with the glowing number segments in it. Around 1980 I used to have a Casio scientific calculator with this kind of display.

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Macbook webcams CAN spy on you - and you simply CAN'T TELL

MacroRodent
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Nothing beats a physical shutter

So, as usual, if there is programmable logic involved, all bets are off. This is something my Asus 1225B mini laptop gets right: Next to the built-in camera there is a all-mechanical slider, which puts an opaque shutter in front of the lens. The user-facing side of the shutter is light-colored so I can immediately see its state. Hack that!

Apple owners can emulate this advanced security feature with a piece of duct tape.

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Cassini spots MEGA-METHANE SEAS on the north pole of Titan

MacroRodent
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Re: we'd use far more energy getting there and back

> Convenient outer solar system refueling station?

Having seas of methane is of no use as energy, if you don't have a corresponding amount of oxygen to burn it with.

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Got a one-of-a-kind N9? Get ready to adopt Meego's baby Sailfish

MacroRodent
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The N9 case and hardware is very similar to Lumia 800, the first Windows phone from Nokia. So much that people suspected Nokia rushed the Lumia out of the door by reusing the existing N9 design as much as possible . I wonder if Lumia 800 could also be converted to Sailfish.

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Los Angeles' weather is just like MORDOR, says Brit climate prof

MacroRodent
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Re: As with all Climate models

"Middle Earth has always struck me as just a set of scenes spatchcocked together as background for the plot [...]"

I wouldn't be that harsh. It reflects a Medieval European world-view, where to the West you have an apparently endless ocean, and to the east endless steppes from which invaders occasionally emerge. North is a cold wasteland, and South is hot, with Oliphants and other exotics. This is just how a Medieval knight would have perceived the universe, and neither he nor Tolkien had climate modelling in mind...

I don't see how the Earthsea geography would be better defined. It seems to say nothing what lies outside the archipelago, except I think one book hints you hit the land of the dead if you go too far in one direction. How would you model the climate of that? But I agree the working of Earthsea magic is far better defined than in most fantasy books, it is almost science.

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FreeBSD abandoning hardware randomness

MacroRodent
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Black Helicopters

Re: "You could make a random number generator"

Of course, to be really sure, you have to solder it together yourself from basic components... After all, who knows what really is in the commercial black boxes.

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