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* Posts by MacroRodent

857 posts • joined 18 May 2007

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Cisco snaps up OpenDNS, tidies up cloud security portfolio

MacroRodent
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IntimateDNS

I use OpenDNS at home (to filter pr0n from the kid - at least until he wises up and learns about DNS and how to change the name server setting :-), and have enabled the statistics. It is eye-opening how much one can deduce about browsing habits from even rough statistics about the DNS lookups (and also the staggering amount of tracking and advertisement lookups). Something that could be pure gold for advertisers, and also various spooks or other shady characters. I'm keeping an eye on whether OpenDNS keeps its integrity. Any alternatives if it goes sour?

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Supreme Court ignores Google's whinging in Java copyright suit

MacroRodent
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The take-home message is...

... do not base your business on any API or language owned by another company! Either go for open standards, a spec controlled by a benign nonprofit foundation, or roll your own. Relying on interfaces copyrighted by another company now means that company has you by your testicles. You cannot rebase on a 3.part implementation of the API.

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Apple wants to patent iBeacon stalking

MacroRodent
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Nokia had it first...

I recall looking at a bluetooth app much like that in a Nokia feature phone a decade ago. Nobody used it, probably because they thought it too creepy, and it was dropped. To bad I don't remember what it was called.

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We need to know about the Internet of Things, say US Senators

MacroRodent
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Big Brother

Re: Smart TV

It will still be connected to an external network: where do you think the pretty pictures and sound come from?

But over-the-air TV broadcasts, whether analogue or digital, are one-way only. Hard to spy on you that way. Of course it is likely that at some point in the future it will be decided that OTA broadcasts are redundant, because most people watch TV only over the Internet, and the bandwidth is repurposed for cellular networks. Then indeed it is time for the privacy-conscious to throw out their TV:s...

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MacroRodent
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Smart TV

It is getting difficult to NOT buy a "smart" TV, if you want a TV big enough for comfortable living room viewing... At least the one I recently bought to replace a 20-year old tube set has no built-in WLAN interface (a bit old model), so I can reliably cut the connection.

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This whopping 16-bit computer processor is being built by hand, transistor by transistor

MacroRodent
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Re: stack based

Sure! Zap, ping etc. made the Oric easier to get started with, as I remember in C64 you needed peeks and pokes for sound effects. Sadly my Oric 1 (64k) does not boot any more, I suspect the EPROM has lost its contents.

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MacroRodent
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Re: stack based

The 6502 is not a stack-based machine. It does support a stack for push, pop and subroutine call instructions, but so does almost every other microprocessor. I think the 6502 can be best described as an accumulator machine, where all arithmetic and logical instructions require one of the operands to be in the accumulator (A) register. (The first CPU I ever tried programming in machine language, on the Oric 1, which is why I go on about it...).

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MacroRodent
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Re: Quite a challenge

The 6502 does everything in 8-bits width, except addresses. An opcode byte is optionally followed by an 1 byte immediate value, or a 1 or 2 byte address. I'm guessing that it has 2-bit field in the instruction byte that causes it to load 0, 1 or 2 following bytes to a register determined by rest of the opcode (and increment the PC). If performance is no big concern, shouldn't this operand loading sequence be implementable with a simple state machine? Though I must admit my knowledge about CPU design comes from one mostly-forgotten university course a quarter-century ago... (the final exercise was creating a paper design, which was not even simulated, never mind built.)

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MacroRodent
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Quite a challenge

...building a 16-bit system. Doing a 8-bit design would have been less than half the work. If he had chosen to clone the 6502 or some other early 8-bit CPU, there would also have been lots of existing software to run. But maybe he considered it too easy.

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Killer ChAraCter HOSES almost all versions of Reader, Windows

MacroRodent
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Re: Does this also ...

The font handling in Linux kernel is trivial, just fixed-width bitmap fonts. Should be easy to check.

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So what are you doing about your legacy MS 16-bit applications?

MacroRodent
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DOSBox

Another alternative is DOSBox (www.dosbox.com). Runs on Windows and Linux (and various other systems as well). This is a software-only emulator, but so is dosemu as well, if you run it on a 64-bit Linux system (the reason is the VM8086 feature that dosemu uses to run MS-DOS code at native speed on 32-bit Linux does not run in the 64-bit mode).

DOSBox is a bit easier to get started with because it includes its own built-in MS-DOS clone (unfortunately it is a bit behind the times, for example it does not support the long file name extension).

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How Music Got Free and Creatocracy

MacroRodent
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No cracking needed

reports that the Germans’ meticulous memory for details deserts them for a year or so, by which time their software has been cracked and has become the standard.

Cracked? As I remember it, the early MP3 software was based on Fraunhofer's reference implementation, which wasn't exactly a secret, being an attachment to the MPEG standard (and before it was published, probably circulated quite widely with the drafts and other working documents for the standard, as is the usual practice).

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Chrome, Debian Linux, and the secret binary blob download riddle

MacroRodent
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Re: minor quibbles

>All so Red Hat can steal other's work and cash in.

That is quite uncalled-for. Whatever one thinks of Red Hat products, it still is one of the largest sponsors of open source software developers.

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Philae warms up nicely, sends home second burst of data

MacroRodent
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Re: It does seem as if its a bit of a hole

Given that the probe woke up because its getting warmer and is on a ball of ice and dust, it's hardly surprising that its position has shifted slightly as the environment around it warms up.

I wonder if there is any serious risk of some kind of geyser becoming active under Philae, and literally blowing it back to space? I don't suppose it has been attached in any way to the comet now. I believe the original plan involved screws that drill into the comet, but they did not work.

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EU MEPs accept lonely Pirate's copyright report – and water it down

MacroRodent
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Re: “The commercial use of...

There is also some tower in Paris that keeps appearing in many photos taken there. Will they all be confiscated now?

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Confusion reigns as Bundestag malware clean-up staggers on

MacroRodent
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Black Helicopters

Purging the plaque

But in this case it might be they do not dare to use anything from the old installation, except possibly the cables! Backups? Could be infected (eg. if most of the documents are DOC files, as they probably are). . Servers? Disks? The worm might be in the firmware.

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Undetectable NSA-linked hybrid malware hits Intel Security radar

MacroRodent
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Re: No of course not

If we have to assume NSA can force any vendor to do things like that, then there is no solution. Even if the firmware were burned into real ROM, and unmodifiable by anyone, we would have to worry about NSA forcing manufacturers to pre-install their malware. That way lies madness...

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MacroRodent
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Shouldn't signing firmware prevent this?

- assuming the signing process is done competently: good algorithm, long keys, keys kept secure. I think many manufacturers already do this, but apparently not all.

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Kaspersky says air-gap industrial systems: why not baby monitors, too?

MacroRodent
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Re: Baby monitors?!

If you are within 30 meters of your baby, then don't you have a pair perfectly functional baby monitors attached to either side of your head?

They are not enough.The point is getting to attend to the baby when he wakes up but before he starts crying at full blast.

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MacroRodent
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Re: Baby monitors?!

Your use case sounds more like a general webcam. For me. a baby monitor was a voice-activated radio that alerted me when the sleeping baby was waking up. Range beyond 30m or so is pointless (in fact possibly harmful), one has to be near enough to respond. The main security threat would be a denial of service that disables the alerting, since for obvious reasons there would not be much to eavesdrop on in the room the baby is sleeping in.

In this case, I don't see any benefits in internet connection, but there are downsides in the form of decreased reliability.

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MacroRodent
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Baby monitors?!

Are there really internet-connected baby monitors? It seems to me a prime example of an item where internet is a bad idea anyway, simply because if you go further from the baby than the range of normal wireless, you are too far already.

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FBI: Apple and Google are helping ISIS by offering strong crypto

MacroRodent
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both ways

Encryption helps also those who resist ISIS. In ISIS-controlled area they are the ones you want to hide things from! Also, If there was a mandatory backdoor, well-funded bad guys like ISIS would probably take advantage of it.

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Your servers are underwater? Chill OUT, baby – liquid's cool

MacroRodent
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hard drives?

What about hard drives? I think they still have a hole with a filter for equalizing air pressure inside the shell, and will certainly not work if full of oil. Of course not an issue if all your storage is solid state.

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SpaceX asks to test broadband in SPAAACE

MacroRodent
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Firewall beater

I wonder if such a satellite could be made powerful enough when transmitting and sensitive enough when listening, so that consumer WLAN equipment could be used to contact it? (Possibly supplemented with a directional "Pringles can" antenna)? That would by-pass the firewalls of authoritarian regimes (or at least of those that cannot shoot down satellites...).

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VirtualBox 5.0 beta four graduates to become first release candidate

MacroRodent
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cost

What kind of a developer can't afford a $50-60 tool? If its actually needed

In a company, you save more than that: the hassle of purchasing and managing licenses. You can also install more copies when needed, without asking permission from anyone.

VMWare is actually more that $50-$60. The version of VMWare Player licensed for commercial use is 117.39 € (excluding VAT), and if you want the full VMWare Desktop product (which would be a more accurate comparison to VirtualBox), it is 186.96 € (checked today at their web site).

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Siri, please save my iPhone from the messages of death

MacroRodent
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Re: Bring back the good 'ole days

Unfortunately, Nokia and other manufacturers have had similar bugs in SMS, like the stuff in this The Register article: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/21/sms_of_death_explained/

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Finally! It's the year of Linux on the desktop TITSUP

MacroRodent
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Unhappy

Sad, but not unexpected

At one point Mandrake, later renamed Mandriva (for trademark reasons) was a really good desktop distribution, perhaps the best if you liked KDE. I used it at home. But they had financial missteps and also managed to annoy their community with the for-pay Club whose benefits did not meet the expectations of many who signed up. I myself switched to OpenSUSE some years ago when it became clear Mandriva was going nowhere (tried also Mageia, but for whatever reason I could not get its early versions to work on my machine). But mostly I have good memories of the distribution. Some ideas and software from it still live on in others.

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Unicode wonks are bringing home the BACON, as an emoji

MacroRodent
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Re: "I want to be called Loretta"

Where's the foetus gonna gestate? You gonna keep it in a box?

Schwarzenegger and DeVito had a solution in "Junior" ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110216/ ). Probably the strangest Schwarzenegger film ever...

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MacroRodent
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Facepalm

Re: In a Pickle

An "f" (MUSICAL SYMBOL FORTE) does look a lot like an "f" (LATIN SMALL LETTER f WITH HOOK) and both have more than a passing resemblance to the "f" (LATIN SMALL LETTER f), but they are all unique CHARACTERS even though the GLYPHS for these may be indistinguishable from each other, depending on font, styling etc.

Not to mention that there is a separate code point for "å" (a-ring) and the symbol for the ångström unit, although these are really the same character originally. All of which makes Unicode the Phishermans Friend. Ironically, originally Unicode tried to cram all the code points to 16 bits by "unifying" Asian letters that look the same. It is incomprehensible that "å" the letter and "å" the unit name, and many similar cases were not unified.

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City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

MacroRodent
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Questions

I've always preferred sites that allow you to create the question and answer yourself

Agreed. I have long wondered why there are prepared questions at all. When you write the question yourself, it can be made to relate to a personally memorable event or fact, which is easier to remember and far less likely to be discoverable by an attacker than something like mother's maiden name.

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Russia will fork Sailfish OS to shut out pesky Western spooks

MacroRodent
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Boffin

Re: What about the toolchain?

Do you recompile all of the libraries going into GCC/etc. from source? Do you recompile all the compilers from source? Do you trust the underlying OS?

When the source is available, there is a verification method for the toolchain: Diverse double compiling, described by David A. Wheeler here: http://www.dwheeler.com/trusting-trust/

The general idea is to use multiple independently developed compilers as a cross-check. It is not plausible that they are all subverted the same way.

Note that this verification is possible only if the source is available, giving open source an edge in trustworthiness.

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MacroRodent
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Linux

Re: Same old hokey-cokey

Poor old Sailfish - started as Nokia's great hope, now bedrock for Finland's historic foe.

Aren't you exaggerating a bit the historical significance of smartphone operatng systems?

Anyway, too bad Sailfish hasn't exacly made it even here in Finland. The only Jolla:s I have seen have been in the hands of certified Linux fanatics. Lumia:s are fare more common. (I have one, so the NSA probably knows -or could easily find out- all my movements).

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Airplane HACK PANIC! Hold on, it's surely a STORM in a TEACUP

MacroRodent
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Black box?

One would expect the flight recorder could be used to determine if the alleged hacking actually happened or not.

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MacroRodent
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Re: Don't rely on passengers to catch this

Besides, it would be easy to book the whole seat row with accomplices.

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Attack of the possibly-Nazi clone parakeet invaders

MacroRodent
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Easy boring explanation for lack of genetic variation

They are probably descendants of a single pair of parakeets (or maybe a very small number of them) originally brought over by some pet importer. The descendants of these have then been sold in both Europe and North America, and escaped.

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DEEPENING MYSTERY of BRIGHT LIGHTS on dwarf world Ceres

MacroRodent
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Re: Reflected Light

Exactly! It has been reported that Ceres is very dark. So if you were flying with Dawn, it would appear almost black to you, and the spots are blindingly bright in comparison, even if they are just a bit of dirty ice.

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All-Russian 'Elbrus' PCs and servers go on sale

MacroRodent
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Will the real instruction set please stand up?

The Elbrus 4c used in the PCs and servers is said to support two instruction sets: very long instruction word and SPARC. It's also said to be capable of x86 emulation, and to run Linux natively, after one performs binary translation.

This is confusing... what is the real instruction set in it, homegrown, SPARC, x86 or ARM? After googling links for Elbrus 4c (hampered by my lack of Russian skillz), the most likely answer seems the homegrown VLIW, with some emulation support for x86. Sounds just like the plan that worked so splendidly for Intel Itanium... The native VLIW code might not be too slow, despite the low clock speed, provided there is a good compiler, but then all software has to be ported, so it is likely most users (if any...) will use it as a slow x86 replacement.

Elbrus by the way seems to also have been the name for a line of Soviet mainframes.

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PEAK PC: 'Most' Google web searches 'come from mobiles' in US

MacroRodent
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Re: Big display

I find search on mobile devices to be too frustrating.

I find the search is generally OK, but often the sites the found links refer to are poorly visible on mobile. But this is improving. The fact that the the mobile is always there when I need the answer is a killer advantage.

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Oxford chaps solve problem in 1982 Sinclair Spectrum manual

MacroRodent
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Overcoming memory limits in Spectrum-only solution

2) Memory limitations. The symphony is over an hour long, so can't be crammed into 48k of memory, especially in BASIC.

If a sufficiently large supply of Sinclair Spectrums can be assumed, the memory problem could be solved by using a number of them for storage. Some Spectrums act as "conductors" that issue playing commands to the "orchestra". When conductor #1 reaches the end of the score in its memory, it "passes the baton" to conductor #2 which continues where the first left off, and so on....

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NASA spies weird glow from Pluto's FRIGID pole

MacroRodent
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Bps

We won't get them back for two weeks due to the distances involved and the 1Kbps bandwidth for data transmission.

Bah, that is still faster than my first dial-up modem that ran at 300 bps. I managed to edit with Emacs through it, although some patience was needed, and an optimized /etc/termcap.

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NINETY PER CENT of Java black hats migrate to footling Flash

MacroRodent
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Firefox too

Another significant factor is that Firefox has started to prevent Java plugins from being run, unless you ask for it. But a Microsoft guy of course would disregard that.

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Japan showcases really, really fast … whoa, WTF was that?!

MacroRodent
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Re: maglev is the way to go

This becomes less of an issue if the train is in a tube or tunnel (the proposed track between Tokyo and Nagoya is 80% underground!)

They should dig it all the way, and also evacuate (as far as practical) the air from the tunnel. That would allow it to go even faster (1000km/h ?).

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Yay, we're all European (Irish) now on Twitter (except Americans)

MacroRodent
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You cannot be compelled, as an EU citizen, to break EU law in order that a DIFFERENT US company satisfy a US court order.

In theory. In practice, if a senior guy from the parent company, say Twitter (US) comes to Ireland and tells an IT guy working at Twitter (Ireland) to hand the data or clear his desk, how many have the balls to resist the order?

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JavaScript CPU cache snooper tells crooks EVERYTHING you do online

MacroRodent
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Re: And Another Thing

Assumption - I am running a browser in a VM. The exploit can tell an attacker about anything else inside that VM but cannot "see" outside it.

Actually, the isolation breaks down because the CPU cache is shared by the VM, the host OS and other VM:s. What gets difficult is cache-mapping keystrokes that do not go into the VM running the snooper, but I would not be surprised if some really smart boffin finds a way around this, too.

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Digital killed the radio star: Norway names FM switchoff date

MacroRodent
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Re: DAB, what is that?

The strongest AM stations I hear on a regular radio in Helsinki seem to be all in Russian. I am not sure if their signal is strong enough for a simple chrystal radio. Perhaps with a good outdoor antenna. The old Helsinki station could be received with just a couple of meters of wire indoors.

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MacroRodent
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DAB, what is that?

Here in Finland, the experimental DAB broadcasts were stopped 10 years ago, since nobody was interested. No wonder. FM is good enough, and the receivers are practically free.

What irks me is they also stopped the last remaining AM transmitter near Helsinki. Now I cannot build a crystal radio with my kid... :-(

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Ravello unravels mystery of ESXi on AWS, Google

MacroRodent
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wheels within wheels within...

If I understood correctly, the result would be having your code running inside 3 layers of virtualization, because AWS & Google also run their clients virtualized. Surely there must be a cost in performance or reliability?

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Sysadmins, patch now: HTTP 'pings of death' are spewing across web to kill Windows servers

MacroRodent
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People seem to be forgetting that Apache had a DoS based on the range header back in 2011 as well. Windows isn't the only one that has issues.

You mean this: https://httpd.apache.org/security/CVE-2011-3192.txt

That bug killed only the user-level Apache server program, not the OS it was running on, and did not lead to any remote exploit. So it was much less serious, thanks to keeping the http server out of the kernel.

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Life after Nokia: Microsoft Lumia 640 budget WinPho blower

MacroRodent
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The size obsession

So this too is larger than its predecessor.

The other day I was looking at a shop what was on offer in case I need to replace my Nokia Lumia 710 (mostly works well, but the browser is dated and is starting to have problems with modern web sites, and the camera is not too great), and was baffled by the large size of the phones, no matter which vendor.

I need my mobile phone to be mobile. The 710 is about the largest size that comfortably fits into my trousers' pocket, and it also has a nicely rounded shape. But all new phones with comparable features are larger, and many have sharp corners or edges. Are they really mobiles? I really would like to have a modern phone in a Lumia 710-shaped shell. Maybe I have to wait until the big size fashion passes.

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NSA: 'Back doors are a bad idea, give us a FRONT door key'

MacroRodent
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deja-vu

" the clipper chip saga."

Ah, that was why I thought I had seen this movie before. Bad ideas never die.

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