* Posts by PaulVD

15 posts • joined 28 Jul 2010

Files aren’t property, says US government

PaulVD

@moiety

Then keep them on your own computer.

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Ten netbooks

PaulVD

Re: Windows is not the enemy of netbooks

An afterthought: in case of theft, my netbook's hard drive is completely encrypted using TrueCrypt. So everything, including the operating system files, has to be decrypted on the fly, which is a tax that I don't impose on my desktop machines. Even with that overhead, the netbook's performance is perfectly adequate.

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PaulVD
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Windows is not the enemy of netbooks

I don't understand the complaint about netbooks being underpowered. My old Samsung N140 (Atom N280 at 1.6GHz, 2GB RAM) runs Win7 Ultimate 32-bit just fine. The original Win7 starter + crapware quickly got annoying, and I eventually replaced the 250GB(?) disk with an 80GB SSD, of which I use less than half - this improves battery life a lot and improves performance a little. I run Office including Access, statistical analysis with Mathematica and R, VBA programming, and basically all the same stuff that I run on my desktops. Yes, some operations that take 10msec on a fast desktop take 30msec on the netbook, but you usually need a timer to notice the difference.

Of course, I could have bought a full laptop for the money I spent upgrading, except for two points: (1) Every manufacturer seems to supply Windows + crapware preinstalled, and there is no way to thoroughly remove the crapware and get decent performance from Windows except to install a clean copy direct from Redmond. So that upgrade is necessary on a laptop anyway. (2) Laptops are too big to fit properly in front of the next seat on a train/plane/bus, where I do much of my work.

Modern machines, even netbooks, seem easily powerful enough for the things I do. I wouldn't try video editing on one, of course, and I don't play games. My complaints are the crippled screen resolution and the fact that opening a Sammy case to upgrade is difficult and dangerous. But this line-up shows that there are netbooks out there now with reasonable screens, so maybe it's time to upgrade. (I'd still transfer across my SSD and my proper Windows, though.)

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Finally some QUALITY apps for Android: PalmOS emulator ported

PaulVD
Happy

Re: Just needed a leaf from the Palm

Ta, Bill. It hadn't occurred to me to search for a graffiti app. Just installed it, and my HTC One X is now finally usable!

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Secret US 'Jedi' ghost-copters kept out of bin Laden raid

PaulVD

This post has a black helicopter logo

But its stealth technology is so good that you can't see it.

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Boffinry summit names 3 new elements

PaulVD

Prenaming elements

We already know the atomic numbers of the elements that have not yet been created. So why did the committee not clear the decks while it was meeting anyway and announce the names to be assigned to the next dozen or so?

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Open-sourcers suggest Linux secure boot block workarounds

PaulVD

@GoatJam

You won't get your money back, because the computer WAS fit for purpose. It was sold to you as a machine that runs Windows 8, and it did that. Wanting it to run Linux (or XP, for that matter) is like buying a petrol-engined car and expecting to run it on diesel. (Anyone managed to get a refund on an iPhone because it won't run Android?)

The problem is that some of us will want to buy machines that are not tied to Windows 8, and it is not at all clear that enough manufacturers can be bothered supplying that market. The Windows 8 logo will be really important to them, and they can get that without the extra fiddling needed to support other operating systems.

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Reg hacks confront really wide Oz load terror

PaulVD

Instead of photographs...

... will you settle for Playmobil?

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Linux.com pwned in fresh round of cyber break-ins

PaulVD

@Shaun: Win7 not back to XP

When I played around with Ubuntu, for various configuration or update tasks the computer would tell me to type the administrative password - so I did. I had no way of knowing (and not the slightest interest in knowing) what I was permitting.

In Vista, for various configuration or update tasks the computer would tell me to type the administrative password - so I did. The only difference in Win7 is that I get the option of clicking a dialog box instead of typing a password.

The principle is exactly the same in Linux as in Windows post-XP: programs can't make system-level changes without the user accepting them. There may be implementation errors in either OS, but the security design is now exactly the same.

And the design has the same flaw in both OSs: ordinary users cannot know (and do not care) what they are approving. If Linux on the desktop ever gets 100 million users, this will matter.

Maybe there are other design features that make Linux more secure than Windows, but running as root by default is no longer one of them.

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Godson: China shuns US silicon with faux x86 superchip

PaulVD
WTF?

Maybe the Chinese are stupid, but I doubt it

This technology looks very handy, say for designing nuclear weapons, developing more fuel-efficient aircraft, using brute force to decrypt stolen files, searching through internet data for concealed dissident messages, and lots of other useful applications. What makes everyone suppose that China will give up these technological advantages for a few million in revenue by selling actual chips to the West? More likely Godson and its successors will be declared a strategic technology, not for export (as the US did with encryption and other technologies). China recently suspended the export of rare earths; if this gear is as good as it seems, it might come under the same sort of ban.

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Apple patent endangers unbiased product reviews

PaulVD
Thumb Down

Not new, no big deal

Despite el Reg's spin, this is not a review process at all. It is a well-known process called a prediction market, working on the idea that groups of people make better predictions on average than even expert individuals. It is not intended to tell readers which products are good, but to tell marketers which ones are going to sell. The basic idea is not patentable because of prior art problems; economists, in particular, have used prediction markets for many years.

Apple's wrinkle addresses the problem that prediction markets open to any troll do not generally work well. There needs to be an incentive for participants to think about what they are saying and try to get it right. Apple's solution might work, and might be patentable, although it is likely to have problems with both obviousness and prior art.

But the idea is no threat to the system of consumer reviews.

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WikiLeaked US cables link China to Google hack

PaulVD

Calm down, folks

I'm less astonished at the vitriol than at the ignorance of so many comments posted here. What has come out so far is routine embassy traffic; ambassadors and spooks reporting back to Washington what they have been told, what they guess, and what might be useful. Every country does this: the diplomatic traffic for the British or Chinese or Australian embassies back to their Governments would look much the same. So far I have seen no information about nefarious US plots, and very little information that was not already clear to anyone who reads the newspapers. (Surely we all knew that Sunni Arab countries are far more frightened of Shia Iran than of Israel, what ever they say in public. You didn't know that? - do try to keep up.)

The shocking thing, and the IT aspect, is that this torrent of unevaluated and mostly confidential stuff was freely available to millions of people who had no need to see it and no way of making use of it. After 9/11 the US security agencies were told they had to share information more. I don't think this was quite what was intended - but, as usual, with a badly-thought-out requirements definition you get an unbelievably useless system. Nobody was willing to sit down and develop a proper data architecture with sensible security controls, because they would have been blamed if a later attack might have been prevented with more information sharing. So the safe bureaucratic position was to share almost everything. Nobody will be blamed for this, even though sharing with Julian Assange would not have been part of any sensible specification.

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Netbooks: notebook evolved - or stunted throwback?

PaulVD
Thumb Up

Netbook works for me

On a train, bus and plane, the netbook is small enough that it fits on my lap and doesn't bump into the seat in front. I can't use a laptop that way. Commuting with my Win7 netbook, I write documents in Word, run spreadsheets in Excel, run statistics in Mathematica and R, and generally get to be as happy as Larry. (Leisure Suit, not Ellison.) When I get home, the small screen and keyboard gets annoying, so I break out the laptop for reading El Reg. If I need serious number crunching, there are serious desktops in the office. But the netbook works for me in a lot of tasks that I would thought beyond it. (Mind you, it does not seem that many years since an N140 with 1GB DDR2 and 120GB disk would have been the sort of power you would see in a top-end desktop, so maybe I should not be surprised.)

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Stuxnet 'a game changer for malware defence'

PaulVD

Simple...

"helping to devise revised best practices for securing SCADA systems."

It should be quite a short document:

1. Do not connect any SCADA system to the internet.

2. Do not connect any SCADA system to any computer running any version of Windows.

3. Member States will impose the mandatory death penalty for anyone who violates rules 1 or 2.

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Zeus bot latches onto Windows shortcut security hole

PaulVD
WTF?

Sophos's clever solution

I downloaded the Sophos patch, which seemed like a good idea until I read the licence agreement. (Yes, I have a boring life!)

Clause 3.2.3: You are not permitted to use Software other than the Licensed Product;

So if I stop using any software on my machine, my icons won't get infected? That works for sure.

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