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* Posts by Roo

699 posts • joined 21 Sep 2010

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Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws

Roo
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Windows

Re: Not surprising

"Most dumb code is produced either by poor quality or inexperienced developers (usually operating in a poor or non-existent review framework), "

The lack of adequate review framework is a key fail. You have no idea about the quality of a piece of code until it's been tested and those tests have been reviewed by > 1 trustworthy third parties...

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Roo
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Devil

Re: Not surprising

"I'd also like to point the finger of blame at two technical issues:

1. The C language and its derivatives."

The root cause of that problem is the people choosing to use C where it is not a good fit for their problem & skill set. As it happens it was a pretty good fit for systems programming on PDP-11s with 64kb address space.

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Obama's healthcare.gov savior says: 'No suits please, we're techies'

Roo
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"Its time IT had a regulatory body to drive up standards in our industry to something akin to a professional level."

That's really down to the folks doing the hiring. If employers were prepared to meet the costs then I am sure it would happen, however at present they clearly prefer hiring cheap blinged up monkey-ass-wannabe-centaurs.

At present it is *far* quicker easier and lucrative to be an Electrician or a Plumber than it is to write safety-critical embedded software (in terms of gaining qualifications + certification)... I really can't see a reason for the alleged "skill shortage" to evaporate while that fact of life persists.

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Linux duo land $54m VC Xamarin cash bag

Roo
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Devil

Re: Or rewrite nothing with Qt, which is cross-platform

"Scala, just too escape that circle of hell."

You are likely to find there is always another circle of hell with Scala. :)

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Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7

Roo
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Re: POWER8 disappoints

"And look at the IBM road map. It seems a bit empty? What is there after POWER8? Nothing?"

Good question. I suspect a fair amount of their power budget is expended in driving those massive I/O and memory bandwidth numbers, and it's a brutal game of diminishing returns... However IBM also punt massively scalable beasts like BlueGene/Q that deliver very close to peak performance - with decent power efficiency (3.7GF/W). POWER8 being opened offers possibility of convergence on something like a BlueGene style building block with SoC customization (see POWER A2). POWER's future looks a lot more useful to people who want to fun code faster and cheaper than Larry's boat wrecks.

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Roo
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Re: POWER8 disappoints

"BTW, the SPARC M6 is faster than the POWER7+ cpu"

Depends how you measure it. Oracle have failed to provide CINT2006 & CFP2006 single thread results for 3 years and counting now, however they do provide the rates figures (spec.org explains the difference between the two types of benchmark in plain english on their website).

The lowest common denominator between recent (ie: <2 years old) SPARC & POWER SPEC results seem to be the 16 core rates figures. Box boxes look to be of a similar physical size too. :)

SPARC T5-1B int 489, fp 369 (Oct 2013 & Apr 2013)

IBM Power 730 Express (4.2 GHz, 16 core, SLES) int 852, fp 575 (Feb 20i13)

Power7+ delivers 70% more int and 50% more fp in those 16 core 2U boxes... IMO the main reason for people to run a SPARC is that they can't run their binaries on something else, the performance argument just doesn't stack up, and it hasn't done for at least a decade.

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Roo
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Re: POWER8 disappoints

"It didnt get this. Care to explain a bit more? How can one POWER8 core match one SPARC T5 socket?"

SPECfp & SPECint are *different* benchmarks from the *rate ones. One targets single thread performance the other multi-thread. It's the Apples & Oranges scenario again.

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Roo
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Re: POWER8 disappoints

"IBM POWER8 is a big disappointment. One POWER8 socket gives 437 SPECint2006, and it gives 342 SPECfp2006:

http://benchmarkingblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/awesome-power8-benchmarks-awesome-dessert/

The SPARC T5 gives more performance that, 467 and 436 for one socket:

https://blogs.oracle.com/BestPerf/entry/20130326_sparc_t5_speccpu2006_rate"

How bizarre, it looks like you are comparing base to rate figures, totally different benchmarks. All you have shown is that a single POWER8 *core* can get within spitting distance of a T5 running flat out with all cores blazing.

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Roo
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Re: This explains IBM's $3 billion systems invest FUD

"Not just single-thread performance, but multi-thread as well."

My gut says you're right, but there have been some pretty stunning massive thread count success stories, like GPUs for instance. They tend to operate well below peak, have relatively tiny cache and suck data through a fat but very long straw, but they dominate the Green500 list nonetheless.

I still prefer working on machines that can sustain a high percentage of peak performance on a single thread. The Pentium Pro 200 (256kb L2 @ core clock) was a fine example of that style of core, it worked miracles on gnarly dusty deck code. :)

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Roo
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Re: This explains IBM's $3 billion systems invest FUD

"Performance not good because of loss of single chip cache coherence so they went to giant off chip(s) shared L4 cache."

The POWER8 has 512kbytes of dedicated L2 *per core*. That is backed by a further 96Mbytes of shared L3 on the same die, and up to another 128Mbytes of L4.

By contrast the M7 has 256kbytes of shared L2 for each 4 cores, and 64Mbytes of shared L3 per die.

"Sparc M7 seems like a big step ahead."

The M7 has less cache, and the L2 cache has 4x the number of cores using it. Even if you ignore the L4 cache, the M7's caching scheme is in fact a step backwards for people who value single-thread performance.

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Roo
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Re: Nice!

"I really wonder sometimes. How does a comment about trying to cool something like this get a thumbs down?"

That's easy: The down-voters are ignorant fanbois and shills. They really don't give a toss about the tech, all they care about is burying bad news under a mountain of downvotes. The Itanic fanbois did the same trick, a few architectures got buried as a result, but in the real world the Itanic still ended up as an overpriced, inefficient and underperforming boat anchor. The only winners were the shills who got rich in the process (eg Steve Milunovich), of course none of them actually had to use an Itanic to earn a living...

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Roo
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Re: Cache size

"Does anybody else think that 64MB of cache seems tiny for 32 cores and 8 threads a core?"

Totally inadequate at that kind of clock rate, they are banking (sic) on the latency being hidden by threading. It'll be interesting to see how one of those chips stacks up against a Xeon Phi.

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US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo

Roo
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Re: Not all supercomputers are created equal

""I know how to make 4 horses pull a cart - I don't know how to make 1024 chickens do it." --Enrico Clementi."

Yesterday's horses are no match for today's mice...

A Cray X1E node peaked at 18 GFLOPs with 34 GBytes/sec in 2005, Intel hit 100 Gbyte/sec with STREAM using a two sockets with 2012 vintage Xeon E5s...

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Hackers' Paradise: The rise of soft options and the demise of hard choices

Roo
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Re: Default deny

"What about creating a default-deny state on computers?"

Default deny is one way of looking at it, it may be more constructive to turn it on it's head and say "what shall I allow this operation to read/write/execute ?"... ie: Capabilities a la KeyKos. Simple to understand, safe by default (ie: you have to load the gun before blowing your toes off), but please don't let the vista UI bods skin it... Instead of supplying signed vendor supplied templates for apps they would insist on swarms of dialogs to swat down.

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Roo
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Re: "with a competent operating system, these machines were essentially bomb proof."

"If you want things less complicated---and there is definitely merit in reducing the attack surface--then try a Chromebook. If that won't do what you want, then you need the complexity of the Windows' folder."

It's not an either-or proposition at the moment (thank goodness).

There are a whole spectrum of possibilities, that provide different strategies for tackling attack surface.

A base install of OpenBSD is pretty minimal, it might be a better fit to Hargrove's OSes of yesteryear, all the core stuff is designed to be "secure by default", but you can, at *your* discretion, install 'ports' (ie: imported stuff like GNOME :P), either in pre-built form or build them from source. undeadly.org publishes hackathon reports if you want to know what is being hacked on and why.

You can get read-only Linuxen that support persistent storage, all the way through to a full on 'experience/clusterfunt' like Android and Ubuntu. Then there's NetBSD, FreeBSD, and some looney Russians trying to clone Windows NT. Pretty much all of those will run Thunderbird, Firefox, and some descendent of OpenOffice which covers about 80% of the time people spend using computers for work and play.

So there is some choice out there, and if folks threw half as much money at an Open Source project as they spaffed on Oracle licensing they would have a better product that fits their needs perfectly.

Love it or loathe it Open Source has given us a massive amount of choice and it has given the vendors a massive kick up the arse. Prices have fallen, utility and security have improved at a far greater rate since Open Source showed up. I expect this process to accelerate - because the percentage of people who can write code is going up every day, and they now have a massive library of mature open source components to use.

It will be interesting to see which vendors adapt and survive. IMHO the odds don't look good for Oracle while Larry & H-Bomb are showing their faces at the office. :)

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Roo
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"This is just a rant. It starts by explaining how things were in the good old days. Then, on the final page, the author admits they don't understand how things are these days. And then he says he doesn't care."

The article reflects very badly on the knowledge base and quality of thinking in the BCS.

I can't help but suspect that John Watkinson is trying to justify mass surveillance with the intent of hitching his wagon onto the anti-liberal-government think-tank/quango gravy train.

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Roo
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Re: If I could, I would ...

""Back-in-the-day boffins did not want to do harm"

If they had, would VAX and the like have remained untouchable?"

History says no. Students were cracking machines to get more compute/disk space and cause mischief before the VAX-11/780. I suspect people are unaware of this because they are too lazy to search USENET archives, or they assume that if it isn't indexed by Google then it didn't happen. Computer history has developed a "dark age" because people tend to use Google and WWW as their primary sources rather than books, journals and periodicals. Anything pre-WWW seems to be forgotten... :(

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Roo
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Rose tinted glasses are misleading...

The old machines he refers to were actually very prone to being hacked, people found holes the microcode, OSes and peripherals, they were anything but bombproof. The only thing making them look better than they were are the rose tinted specs being worn by John Watkinson.

He's right to touch on the software side of problem, but I think the OS folks have (mostly) got a good grip on what needs to be done now, the nastiest security holes seem to be in userland these days. Sometimes those holes are usually caused by app developers circumventing/ignoring OS security provisions & policies, but often it's down to userland developers failing to design and implement an robust and verifiable security model.

The verifiable bit is really important, ideally the verification process should be repeatable, cheap, transparent and available to the end user. Anything less than that is a fail. This is all doable now, but it is often viewed as a nice to have - rather than an essential part of product development. That will only change when vendors get hit very hard in the wallet.

The idea that having people identify themselves online will somehow improve the hacking situation is extremely naive and extremely dangerous. Crackers, and other criminals will *continue* to spoof ids regardless, meanwhile folks who would like to make an honest protest will be now have a massive bullseye painted on their back. Personally I don't think we should trade legit protest for an increased incentive for criminals to commit id theft and spoofing.

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Time to move away from Windows 7 ... whoa, whoa, who said anything about Windows 8?

Roo
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Re: Windows...the end date

"The corporations can't make the change on their internal software they run on their thousands of computers fast enough to keep up with the end of life dates for each version of the Windows OS"

Err, that really shouldn't be a problem, they own the software & IP so all they have to do is reach into their pockets and pay people to update the stuff. In practice the big show-stoppers are vendors who refuse to upgrade their products - or make it hard/ridiculously expensive to upgrade...

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Intel disables hot new TSX tech in early Broadwells and Haswells

Roo
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Windows

Fair play...

I'm not surprised, nor am I disappointed... Well a litte. ;)

The good thing is that Intel are willing punt it to customers, and smart enough to put their hand up and switch it off. Pain tends to happen along with progress.

The thing is, even if Intel doesn't get TSX out into the wild, I think it's a fair bet some MIPS clone will get something comparable in China (it may already have been tried).

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It's time for PGP to die, says ... no, not the NSA – a US crypto prof

Roo
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Re: He's right! PGP sucks to use!

Have an upvote for that point about independence brooxta.

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VMware hangs with the cool kids in the Containers gang

Roo
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Windows

Re: Containers = Ancient tech

"With containers being significantly different from VMs on terms of what they offer, it seems that they compliment virtualization rather than compete with it. "

In many cases people are using VMs as application+OS containers, it is rare (in my experience) that they use them to mix different OSes or versions of OSes on a box. Containers can achieve the same end but more efficiently and more easily (because you have less layers to admin), so a significant portion of VMware's lunch could be eaten by containers.

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Roo
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It's pretty simple really.

Kit Colbert has every incentive to pretend that 40 odd years worth of prior art and products don't exist, and very little incentive to read what commentards say on el Reg. The only way to tackle him is to call him on his wilful ignorance in public.

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Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness

Roo
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Devil

Have the NSA/Canadian authorities bungled their tapping operation ? :)

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Gartner's Special Report: Should you believe the hype?

Roo
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Windows

Re: IoT Hype

Gartner analysts will benefit hugely from the "right to be forgotten".

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Oracle Database 12c's data redaction security smashed live on stage

Roo
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Windows

Shocking...

but also not entirely surprising...

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Roo
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10/10

"Microsoft should school Ellison on safeguarding privates, says infosec bod"

That is a delightful sub-heading. 10/10.

Have a beer, you earned it. :)

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Tiny steps: HTTP 2.0 WG looks for consensus

Roo
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Windows

Re: Encryption with SSL is problematic

"I think that's dubious."

I can live with that. :)

"It would only help where you have many requests over persistent connections; where the size of the HTTP header is significant compared to the size of the message-body;"

In my experience that is not as rare as you may think with in-house REST services. 'Real-time' sensor data can generate a lot of header and not much data, and it's something we'll get more of with toasters acquiring internet connections.

"and where transmission time is significant in relation both to total turn-around time and to encoding and parsing time."

There are benefits to be had in terms of less traffic on slow main memory & I/O busses, as well as reduced cache pressure. Not that many people seem to care about that icky hardware stuff anymore... Can't entirely blame them if they're running code on a JVM that is running under a VM...

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Roo
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Re: Encryption with SSL is problematic @ CB

"You just push in your data and it'll come out with the latency of the line."

Encoding and Decoding the message is > 0 cost, I was careful to specify "local" as well. A reduction in codec cost would yield benefits in power consumption AND latency, so there would be more cases where you can provide a ubiquitous web API instead of something more specialised and prone to misunderstanding + failure. That's all speculation and dreams until it hits the metal though. :)

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Roo
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Windows

Re: Encryption with SSL is problematic

Compressed headers may reduce the round-trip latency for local REST services which could be a big win over the long haul.

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Hacker crew nicks '1.2 billion passwords' – but WHERE did they all come from?

Roo
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Devil

Re: Can someone please explain

"I suspect rushed deadlines are the problem."

SQL injection is easy to fix using parameterized queries, they are widely supported and have been around for a long time. It really doesn't take much effort to write the code correctly in the first place in this instance, the most likely reason for SQL injection vulns are ignorance and lack of care.

"That and vulnerabilities seem to be found at a rate quicker than sys admins can patch."

That is a fact of life that is unlikely to change. :)

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Windows Registry-infecting malware has no files, survives reboots

Roo
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Devil

Re: "a tool Microsoft uses to hide its source code from being copied"

"This doesn't mean it is a good option, and great file systems on other platforms are not particularly relevant if they're on other platforms and not where they're needed..."

Interestingly Wikipedia reckons that NTFS currently supports tail-packing like FFS. If MS have done the job properly you won't have to worry about small files munching all your "LFAU"s while you sleep. That's one less excuse for the Registry's existence.

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Roo
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Re: Treacle OS

"Yep, transpose 90% of Windows users over to Linux or OSX overnight and watch the carnage continue as though nothing had happened."

I suspect that you will find that about 10% of that 90% have already migrated to OSX/iOS, of those maybe half would be folks who were beaten into retreat by Windows, the other half would be techies would like stuff that works well and looks nice.

The thing is, even if there is massive carnage happening in OSX/iOS land I can ignore it because the potholes are being dug in departed Steve's FruitLoop Lawn.

For that matter in Linux land it's always carnage, same with OpenBSD land too, however for the Open source projects a much higher proportion of the carnage (aka R&D) makes it's way to the outside world (for better or worse).

Retrospectively I am glad that Microsoft have been around, but I would have preferred it if they chose to compete via innovation rather than domination. For example, they were talking about delivering WinFS (a FrankenFileSystem consisting of a database engine with a file system API bolted to it's neck) in 1996 with Cairo... They failed and failed again with Longhorn. Clearly this feature has been eagerly awaited because some developers have been using the Registry as a WinFS instance all these years anyway... :)

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Roo
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Re: "a tool Microsoft uses to hide its source code from being copied"

"LFAU? I wouldn't appreciate losing gigabytes of storage to handle a few tens of megabytes, maybe a hundred megabytes, of configuration data."

It appears that you are asserting that the registry is a good option because file systems are shit at handling small files... There are file systems that pack (multiple) small files into larger allocation units (eg: FFS), so it's technically possible to be space efficient with lots of small files...

Small files have always existed, and they will continue to exist, it's up to you whether you wish to suffer the cost imposed by a vendor's inadequate file system design.

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Roo
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Re: "a tool Microsoft uses to hide its source code from being copied"

"The would be because the Registry (basically a Btrieve database) can locate and update data many times faster than you can via parsing a flat file - regardless of what file system the text file is stored on."

There is nothing stopping people from storing raw binary into a flat file if they wish to.

Some software uses both human readable and binary formats, using tools to convert from the human readable to machine readable format, so the human readable config only has to be parsed once. The parsing can also be done offline so there is no runtime penalty as well...

The *only* time I've found config parsing to be a serious bottleneck/problem is when XML is involved, and again people are free to choose something other than XML (and in my opinion they *should* choose anything but XML :P).

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Roo
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Facepalm

Re: "a tool Microsoft uses to hide its source code from being copied"

"Quite - databases are a far more scalable and sensible way of storing configuration informatino than flat text files."

How is the registry (which looks a lot like a directory tree) more "scalable" than a filesystem ? File systems have been capable of storing petabytes and running at Gigabytes/sec for over 15 years now, surely that should be enough for a bit of config...

FWIW one justification for the registry was that it could provide transactional consistency for the configuration data - which is nice in principle, but in practice I have not noticed a measurable improvement over the file model, YMMV.

"It doesnt run code from the registry. The registry entries are passed to Javascript as a process start up command."

Those two sentences are mutually exclusive.

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Leaked docs reveal power of malware-for-government product 'FinFisher'

Roo
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Devil

Re: So quite a lot of AV not very good?

"rely upon the volume of legitimate traffic to shroud it"

How quaint.

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Evidence during FOI disputes can be provided in SECRET

Roo
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Nothing to hide, nothing to fear...

It does beg the question as to what they are doing that could lead to harm as a result of publication. Surely they have nothing to hide because UK gov have issued them with a license...

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NASA tests crazytech flying saucer thruster, could reach Mars in days

Roo
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Just a quick double check, it's not April 1st...

Holy Cow !

That is awesome, as will be the necessary power source (at current thrust levels). :)

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Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins

Roo
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Re: Bah.

Splitter !

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Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source

Roo
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Devil

Re: Technically speaking...

"Was it really necessary for MS to change the architecture of the NT kernel just so a server OS could have all-singing all-dancing display drivers?"

Yes it was, because they couldn't bring themselves to copy the UNIX way of achieving the same end efficiently and (more) securely. ;)

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Need a US visa, passport? Prepare for misery: Database crash strands thousands

Roo
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Devil

Re: Nah

In fairness the Buffer Overflow is quite valid - I found one by compiling their sample code. :)

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Banning handheld phone use by drivers had NO effect on accident rate - study

Roo
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Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

"But I do get somewhat annoyed when I see trumped up traffic officers on TV lambasting the odd driver who just picks up his phone to see the status of the screen. There's no danger in that, in my opinion, any more than there is picking up a sandwich and taking a bite (which I gather is now also a punishable offence in the UK)."

I get the irritation, but those traffic officers attend accident scenes so they have a very different perspective on it because they see the grizzly aftermath of a driver not paying attention or making an error of judgement while they were distracted. At the end of the day a driver *can* cause a massive amount of damage to themselves and innocent bystanders, even at a low speed, therefore a driver *should* be giving driving the maximum amount of attention that they can at all times.

In my view by trying to do driving + something else the driver has decided that saving a few seconds time is more important that driving as safely as they can.

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Will the next US-EU trade pact prevent Brussels acting against US tech giants?

Roo
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Class Action...

Strikes me that this is a class action suite waiting to happen where the little guys take governments to the cleaners as well for giving multinationals an unfair advantage. It appears that Turkeys do indeed vote for Xmas.

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NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'

Roo
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Re: Why am I not surprised by this?

"Actually, yes. The NSA is part of the US DoD and hence, has anyone viewing, trading or collecting child porn arrested and charged for the crime."

That's only useful if folks get caught and prosecuted, Snowdon is claiming that the NSA's internal oversight is very lax - so there is a strong possibility "anyone" won't get caught so prosecution won't happen.

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Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad

Roo
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Re: @Roo

"The internet is full of vacillating drain bramaged novelty seekers. Can't we just have ONE place in tech reporting that encourages skepticism?"

I am quite happy with the Reg as far as skepticism goes, although I think that it has gone a bit soft in comparison to say 10 years ago - or perhaps I have become too jaded by the endless press releases.

Change is inevitable, and I think that El Reg has handled change over the years better than most. :)

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Roo
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Re: @Roo

"Get off my goddamned lawn."

No worries, you can keep your lawn Trevor. For the record I think there is room for both kinds of lawn at El Reg, I just wish that El Reg could find a bit more space for the other kind... :)

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Roo
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"The Register has been focussing increasingly on an old fashioned IT administrator crowd."

You have taken quite a few downvotes, but I think the point you made above is a fair one, I have been lamenting that particular trend for many years now. Have an upvote for that point at least. :)

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NSA dragnet mostly slurped innocents' traffic

Roo
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Re: AC BoringGreen Boring Roominant (the proven liar) @Matt Bryant

"".....I wonder how you can claim to know that those caught or admitting to it were the only ones that abused the system....." Gee, is that another sheeple attempt to get me to try proving a negative?"

No Matt, that is actually a person pointing out the massive hole in your argument. Instead of addressing that hole you have decided to insult them instead, presumably because you think that makes you look better at their expense. Here's a clue for you: the fact you attacked the person rather than the argument draws attention to the fact that you have no valid point to make.

Service as usual from Mendacious Matt Bryant the identity thief.

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Roo
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Re: BoringGreen Boring Roominant (the proven liar) @Matt Bryant

"Roo or anyone else, would you please report this as abuse to bring it to the attention of the mods. Matt, if you wish to do the same, that would be great."

I have some sympathy for your point of view BG having shared a similar train of thought on more than one occasion. There are factors that stay my hand though, in no particular order:

+ Matt behaves like a narcissistic contrarian. If that is his true nature then he really can't help himself. Expecting decent behaviour from Matt would be akin to expecting a Hippo to put on a hat and tails and nip over to Covent Garden to take in an opera.

+ Sometimes an opposing view is actually useful and even valid (OK, Matt doesn't score particularly well on this front - but it's *technically* possible even if it's very unlikely).

+ Matt clearly invests quite a lot of time and anger into his posts, it would be churlish to deny the poor chap an audience.

+ Matt is doing a fantastic job of embarrassing himself, why stop him when the record is there for anyone who cares enough about Matt Bryant to take a look ?

The downside of all that is that real Matt Bryants (Matt asserts that he is using a pseudonym), will look like a bunch of arses as well, but if it really does hurt their interview chances they may be able to find redress within the courts. It's not as if Matt hasn't had it explained to him that he might be shafting real Matt Bryants with his abusive rubbish so I wouldn't be too upset if that chicken came home to roost.

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