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* Posts by El Andy

414 posts • joined 7 Jul 2011

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Microsoft reissues Windows 8.1 Update for enterprise customers

El Andy
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Re: Well that's all well and good, but...

Typically with major updates like Service Packs and IE versions they'll roll them out as optional for everyone then gradually move them over to automatic installs in a staged process so as not to overload the servers and to give them a way out of issues start to arise.

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Revoke, reissue, invalidate: Stat! Security bods scramble to plug up Heartbleed

El Andy
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It's not TDD they've used, which could easily be lacking. It's a formal mathematical proof, which is a lot harder to do, but a solid guarantee that it works. I would suspect the F# code isn't necessarily that performant, but that's a better problem to need to solve, IMO.

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El Andy
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This highlights two issues with Open Source software

1) The whole "many eyes" things is just a complete myth. And worryingly the sheer belief that code is somehow under constant auditing is making developers complacent.

2) Because the nature of O.S. code is to share widely, vulnerable code can end up in lots of places and actually tracking them all down becomes a lot harder. We really need automated tools to scan open source codebases to find places where bits of open ssl code might well have ended up copy-pasted.

The real take away though is how poor the overall quality of a lot of security critical code is becoming these days. I notice that Microsoft have a TLS reference implementation written in F# that has been mathematically verified. Maybe applying formal proofs to key open source codebases, such as OpenSSL, is what really needs to start happening. As well as not using languages like C for this sort of thing, which we all know just carry far too many risks of introducing subtle bugs.

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Uh oh! Here comes the first bug in the Windows 8.1 Update

El Andy
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Re: Not just enterprise customers

Why is your friend using WSUS with Windows 8 Home. I mean i assume he must be since that's not only the only way he could possibly be affected by this bug, but also the only way he could have noticed that the client had stopped reporting in to WSUS.

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

El Andy
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Not all clients are browers

There are a whole bunch of client applications out there that aren't web browsers. So the browser you're using might not be vulnerable, but the mail client, IM client, game with internet connectivity etc might well be exploitable. And unless you're prepared and able to check that every one has no OpenSSL dependency (or if it has, that it's been fixed), knowing that you're vulnerable is actually quite hard.

Still, can we at least declare this the end of the nonsensical "many eyes make all bugs shallow" meme that FOSS advocates have been touting for years?

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Win XP usage down but not out as support cutoff deadline looms

El Andy
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Re: MIcrosoft+Evil Greed

@Nigel 11:"Are similar deals in place with other governments and huge customers? "

Yes. In fact anyone can buy additional support and the bigger you are, the more clout you'll have to negotiate a bigger discount too.

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Windows Phone 8.1: Like WinPho 8, but BETTER

El Andy
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Re: Free?

@Ledswinger: "Bur Microsoft, make money from "free"? How?"

From apps sold in the Store, Xbox Music etc. Not to mention sales of full Windows 8 devices, given the whole Universal Apps thing.

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Microsoft in OPEN-SOURCE .Net love-in with new foundation

El Andy
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@Lapun Mankimasta: "I'd still like to see Microsoft release most of its obsolete OSes and software development environments and productivity software under the GPL v3"

Even if they wanted to, they couldn't, because the GPLv3 places a number of restrictions on what you can do in source code that are incompatible with existing software bases.

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Back off, Siri! Microsoft debuts Halo beauty Cortana

El Andy
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Re: Microsoft FAIL

Um, you may have missed it but Siri also uses Bing. HTH.

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How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example

El Andy
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It's not just Microsoft who end up supporting XP

As a third party software developer, customers running XP is an additional expense for us. It means extra testing, having to find workarounds for APIs and technologies not supported by XP and adds a significant extra cost to doing business. However we can't really do much about that whilst Microsoft holds back the industry by propping up customers running an old PS. We essentially have to support XP at least as long as Microsoft do (and probably about a year or so later)

It's time has passed. Move on and let the world get better for it.

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Microsoft issues less-than-helpful tips to XP holdouts

El Andy
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Re: Linux?

@Mark Simon: "Linux, on the other hand, powers the majority of web servers and routers, which is why the Web is still working. Definitely worth targeting, I should have thought."

There are plenty of compromised Linux webservers on the internet.

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El Andy
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Re: Linux? @AC

@rm -rf/

"Linux does not log you in as root, which effectively is what Windows does by setting you up by default as administrator rather than a standard user."

For one thing, modern versions of Windows don't even act as "root" when you are logged in with an Administrator account, everything you run runs as a standard user unless you elect to do otherwise via a UAC prompt.

Furthermore, the issue most people actually face isn't "running as root". If you have a computer with a single user account, being root isn't really a big advantage. Most malware is perfectly capable of stealing data and doing whatever it feels like under a standard user account. And, for the record, Linux isn't really much better at protecting a user from applications/scripts they choose to run under their account, although it does make doing so marginally more difficult (which is akin to security through obscurity)

"And another windows howler is that it allows you to download and run an exe while in guest mode."

And Linux allows anyone to chmod +x anything in their home directory and run it. Your point is?

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This changes everything: Microsoft slips WinXP holdouts $100 to buy new Windows 8 PCs

El Andy
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Re: More effective.

@Vociferous: "I don't understand why Microsoft isn't offering a special "Upgrade From XP" version of Windows 8, with an instance of XP running in a secured hyper-v virtual machine."

They did that for Windows 7 (so called XP Mode), if the XP users didn't migrate then, why would they now?

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Win XP holdouts storm eBay and licence brokers, hiss: Give us all your Windows 7

El Andy
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Re: Maybe I'm missing something here...

@AC: "At the customer where this plant is operating a lot of the staff use Windows 8 displaying on 23in+ monitors. These are all recent graduates with 20/20 (or as near as) vision yet they insist in opening everything full screen. If gets really tedious to have to switch through 10+ apps to get to something that you want to refer to in another window when running decently sized windows (i.e. not full screen), for example a PDF manual. The moan like hell if they leave me alone at one of their desktop because I'll usually leave it with most of their full screen apps decently sized."

So Windows 8 is crap because it opens apps full screen, which the staff at the company all seem to prefer? Do you even realise how dumb that sounds?

In my experience, most non technical people use their computers with apps maximised. They always have done and generally always will. And I don't believe apps being full screen is nearly as problematic for the average user and some of the other interface changes have proven to be, despite what some of the internet rants would have you believe.

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El Andy
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Re: Viruses and malware

@Hairy Spod: "Fact of the matter is that the UI used by XP and many of the non Unity/Gnome3 Linux desktop environments are pretty much close to the optimal"

That's what people used to say about DOS. And then Windows 3....

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Microsoft to push out penultimate XP patch on March Patch Tuesday

El Andy
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Re: Is it done?

"Does this fix it? Is XP now of merchantable quality, after more than a decade of fixes?"

Security is a journey, not a destination, regardless of which OS you use.

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El Andy
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Re: Critical Internet Explorer vulnerability ..

Notepad could be uninstalled easily from XP. Internet Explorer, on the other hand...

Mostly because the Add/Remove Programs dialog box (amongst other things) is actually written in HTML on XP and rendered using IE.

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Fee fie Firefox: Mozilla's lawyers probe Dell over browser install charge

El Andy
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Re: Mozillidiots

@AC: "Their Firefox trademark is not free and they can choose to do what they want with it, charges or distribution."

Irrelevant. Trademark protection doesn't work like that, you can't just add arbitrary rules and assume they're legal requirements. In exactly the same way Coca-Cola can't insist that shopkeepers selling their product have to paint the walls blue.

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Windows 8.1 becomes world's fourth-most-popular desktop OS

El Andy
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Re: MS took that to heart and people still complain.

Because most of XPs problems stem from user mode and not the kernel (specifically the fact that, by default, users run with unrestricted Administrator tokens which bypass much of the OS security) and that's where many of the changes in Vista and beyond were.

It gets worse post-EOL, because an unpatched OS is always vulnerable to whatever the patch was for, regardless of how "secure" it is otherwise.

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UK picks Open Document Format for all government files

El Andy
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Re: Important change

Except that ODF has always been vague on numerous parts of the specification, leading to the exciting prospect of "standards compliant" documents that can only be reliably opened in whatever version of whatever software originally created them.

Yay?

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Fine! We'll keep updating WinXP's malware sniffer after April, says Microsoft

El Andy
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Re: Will XP really "never be updated"?

Experience shows that the companies paying thousands of dollars for Microsoft to hotfix issues after extended support don't tend to leak them (try finding one for NT4 or Windows 2000 for example, it just doesn't happen). And they will only be paying for specific fixes to specific issues they encounter, not necessarily everything if they can mitigate it in other ways.

Remember, everyone said *exactly* the same thing about NT4 which loads of businesses were running past the end of support, often because they were assuming the same thing you are - that Microsoft would somehow have a last minute change of heart and extend support further. And Microsoft duly stopped providing updates, exactly as had always been claimed.

If you're running XP past the first patch Tuesday after EOL, I really hope you have it very much isolated from the internet, because it's going to be open season.

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Italy's 'Google tax law' could fall foul of EU discrimination rules

El Andy
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Re: Hmm

"Even if it were not found illegal under EU law (as I've been predicting it would be) all Google would need to do is appoint an agent in Rome, give him a 0.5% margin on all sales and still send all the cash to Ireland."

The way these avoidance scams work at the moment is that an Italian company, wanting to advertise on Italian websites go speak to an agent of Google in Italy. That agent negotiates prices etc and then, for no logical reason, the "sale" is completed in Ireland by someone the Italian company have probably never dealt with in any way shape or form, and Google get to pay Irish tax only.

What this law is, rather clumsily, attempting to do is force that final step to count as a sale in Italy - which 99% of people would probably agree it should be - and thus be subject to Italian taxation. This way big multinationals have to compete on a level playing field with smaller local companies who aren't in a position to play the system in the same way.

This particular implementation may be wrong and almost certainly tramples over a bunch of EU rules, but it's hard to disagree with the principles behind it, that companies should be subject to the tax laws in the countries they do business and not be able to simply divert profits to anywhere they like without consequence.

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Microsoft now using next-gen Roslyn C#, Visual Basic compilers in house

El Andy
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Of course it did, things like that end up being awfully bloated and slow with pretty much any kind of framework - because it isn't the kind of thing the framework is built to support. For more realistic apps, the difference drops significantly.

But since Rosyln can compile C# right down to native code (even as far as stripping out dependencies on the .NET framework libraries) and does things like whole program optimization (something the existing JIT compilers don't), you may well find it reduces your "Hello World" to something surprisingly small.

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No anon pr0n for you: BT's network-level 'smut' filters will catch proxy servers too

El Andy
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Joke

Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

"What will be blocked next?"

Any site carrying Nickleback music?

Well someone has got to hope for a silver lining to this cloud....

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Microsoft's licence riddles give Linux and pals a free ride to virtual domination

El Andy
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Microsoft's VDI licensing is unbelievably complex and has a tendency to eradicate the cost savings that VDI is supposed to bring. Straight up server virtualisation, on the other hand, is relatively simple and hardly the realm of rocket science. And Hyper-V is largely covered by licensing the OS itself, as well as offering the benefits of sliding straight into an existing management structure,

If you're looking for the utterly retarded end of virtualisation licensing, look no further than VMWare, where it actually gets more expensive the more densely you consolidate VMs. On what planet is that still a sane choice?

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Julie Larson-Green: Yes, MICROSOFT is going to KILL WINDOWS

El Andy
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Re: Moronic Idiocy

@Darryl: "Actually, the kernels are called NT and CE"

Actually the kernel (singular) is called NT. CE is an ex-OS, it's dead, it is pushing up the proverbial daisies.

As to all this "Microsoft is losing it's way, merging OSs is crazy" talk, those of us old enough to remember the comments when NT first came to light have seen this all before. The haters weren't right then either.

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Firefox reveals new look: rounded rectangles

El Andy
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IE's autozoom is based on your display's DPI setting. So you can make it default to 100% by setting your DPI accordingly.

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Google WILL wriggle away from Euro probe... but THEN what?

El Andy
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Re: Is it just me?

And I don't want Opera to appear in the Browser Ballot on Windows, but that's not the way the choice works (nor should it be).

I don't see why the EU can't apply *exactly* the same rules as they're applying to Windows. Namely that, provided sufficient criteria are matched for inclusion, each vertical provider (including Google) must be given equal prominence in a random ordering.

Why isn't what is "good enough" for Microsoft, good enough for Google?

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FREEZE, GLASSHOLE! California cops bust Google Glass driver

El Andy
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Re: Two things...

The HUD in a car has already passed various industry safety tests, a third party add-on like Google Glass hasn't. And likely never would given it's ability to display "information" other than what a driver needs

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Google tired of endless AGONY over alleged EU search biz abuse

El Andy
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Because Google Maps are great and one of the top brands.

Now try with "car insurance", not something Google are renowned for and yet their "sponsored" result for their comparison service comes top of the list, above big names like MoneySupermarket, Compare The Market etc.

It even lets you start a quote in the results page.

This is what people are complaining about. Not that Google are successful. Nor that Google services should always be secondary.

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El Andy
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Re: Yawn.....

*sigh* You're missing the point.

Imagine you sell widgets, they're really popular and after lots of time, effort and money you've got the start of a thriving business online. You're #1 in Google search and more people are finding your site every day.

Then Google decide they want a piece of that action. They start selling widgets and your page suddenly languishes on Page 195 of Google's results. No more customers come your way. Even old customers who go searching for widgets just see that your page has disappeared, assume you've gone bust and buy from Google instead.

That's an *enormous* amount of power and it's incredibly hard to argue that Google does not have the power to wield it, should they so choose. Now, as it stands today I doubt they've *explicitly* set out to do exactly that (arguably some PageRank changes were designed to push competitors rankings down) but they're certainly using their position to promote their own services way above anything else.

Google is really the ideal example of where splitting the business off is the only real way to prevent abuse. Put the "search" business into a separate company, funded purely by ad sales and force every other service to buy ads in a way consistent with any other company. If those services really are the best, it won't affect them at all.

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Want to keep the users happy? Don't call them users for a start

El Andy
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Re: Do not trust but don't dismiss either

I think "Never trust the user" is more in the context of "Don't trust the user's description of a problem" rather than assume they're outright lying. So when they say "My PC isn't getting email", the problem may just as likely be "Nobody in the office has any networking at all". Without being intentionally misleading, they often describe only part of a symptom and could send you off on a wild goose chase.

Of course there are certain questions that you can absolutely guarantee users will lie about, "Have you changed anything recently?" and "Have you checked it's plugged in?" are classic examples because nobody wants to think they broke something or that they've asked a dumb question. That's why good IT folk sometimes suggest "remove the plug, waiting a few seconds, then plug it back in" - because 99% of the time that's the moment when the user spots their mistake but allows them to resolve the issue without seeming foolish.

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Wozniak: Please, whatever you do, DON'T buy me an iPad Air

El Andy
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Maybe she can buy him a Surface and a portable hard drive for his media, you can have 1TB for next to nothing when you have a real USB port.

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Pop OS X Mavericks on your Mac for FREE while you have LUNCH

El Andy
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Re: The important point is ....

There are already more Windows 8 users than every version of Mac OS X and Linux combined. And that's still only a tiny share of the Windows market. What Apple do or do not do is so unbelievably insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

And "free" software that requires you to by a specific brand of relatively expensive PC hardware isn't really all that "free", is it?

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Surface 2 MYSTERY: Haswell's here, so WHY the duff battery life?

El Andy
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Re: Windows just has a bunch of overhead

Operations on thousands of files that take ages are usually the result of 8.3 short filename generation, if you switch it off (as is the default on Server versions) things go a lot quicker.

The overhead still isn't nearly as bad as on Mac OS X, which is still using a poorly performing big-endian file system despite the fact the CPU in every Mac is little endian, resulting in bytes having to be re-ordered on every read/write from the filesystem.

As to the overall power performance, I suspect it's down to the fact that power consumption is heavily dependent upon drivers and no manufacturer of PC laptops is putting the same effort into driver development for Windows that Apple are for OS X (including Apple, whose Bootcamp drivers are legendarily crappy)

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Wait for it, waaiiit for it: We update an Atom tablet to Windows 8.1 Pro

El Andy
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Re: 2hrs 45minutes and still not done !

"Boss: I need a desktop with a fresh installation, ASAP, FOR YESTERDAY!

You: Yesterday?? You mean *tomorrow* right?"

If you aren't patching your base install image, you're doing it wrong.

Or is it that Apt, Yum, Yast etc don't support offline image patching?

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Microsoft: Everyone stop running so the fat kid Win RT can catch up

El Andy
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Boffin

They're aiming for 77% API compatibility between WinRT and Windows Phone. Note that's WinRT (the API set used by both ARM and Intel Windows 8 applications) and not Windows RT (the ARM version of Windows 8)

Despite the misleading nomenclature, getting Windows Phone to be much closer to Windows 8 will make the end goal of applications that can run on phones, tablets and even desktops a lot closer.

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The legacy IE survivor's guide: Firefox, Chrome... more IE?

El Andy
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Irony

The real irony here is that all those IE6-only apps were the result of "Web developers" telling corporations that switching over to their web based products would save them the endless hassle of upgrading. Had they all stayed running the native Windows applications they'd been using previously, chances are they'd have found migrating away from XP much less of a hassle.

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Microsoft's swipe'n'swirl pic passwords LESS secure than PINs, warn researchers

El Andy
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@Tempest8008: "If Microsoft chooses not to be open about this new security method then they are basically depending on Security through Obscurity."

Um, they are being entirely open about it. How it's actually stored within Windows is irrelevant, by the time someone is in a position to read that data, they're already the other side of the airtight hatchway....

"Why is this necessary when facial recognition and other biometrics are becoming so commonplace?"

Because even a weak picture password is less laughably insecure than every implementation of facial recognition seen so far? Because most devices don't have fingerprint readers yet, despite them being around for years? Take your pick.

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Google's Project Glass headman answers most pressing question: 'Why?'

El Andy
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Re: Honey someone's calling you

If you put on Google Glass, you are going to look like a complete twat. That's the fundamental road-block. Like speech-controlled PCs or the kind of ridiculous Minority Report UI's that Microsoft are trying to encourage with Kinect, these are all geek-fantasies that are not actually of practical benefit to anyone and will ultimately always be rejected for being hopelessly intrusive by "normal" folk.

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Star Wars revival secret: This isn't the celluloid you're looking for

El Andy
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Re: How's this for analogue...

Not only was Jabba's scene not in the original, but because it was cut the speech was re-worked into the conversation with Greedo. Which means that when you watch the modern CGI-dumped on editions, you basically sit through the whole conversation twice. and Lucas apparently didn't think that was stupid....

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Germany warns: You just CAN'T TRUST some Windows 8 PCs

El Andy
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@heyrick "This, from the company that released successive versions of their most popular version of Windows with the initial out-of-the-box user profile defaulting to being an Administrator..."

And then, in the first version that didn't (Vista), were berated by self-appointed "power users" for breaking applications and "taking away the ability to do what I want with my PC".

Damned if they do, damned if they don't....

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El Andy
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Re: Which PC's don't have TPM

@AC12:10 "That whole "people who think the government are spying on us must be nutters" meme must been reversed somewhat of late. Shirley anyone who still hasn't realised it must be the nutter?"

Do government spies spy? Er, yes, of course. Do you think they care about the minutia of every thing you do in your life? Really? Can you even begin to conceive how many people it would actually require to spy on every single moment of even a single individual's life and all their interactions? Do you think that it is even remotely plausible that even one person is dedicating their existence to monitoring yours?

If you do, then yes you belong firmly in the tin-foil-hat brigade. If, on the other hand, you look at espionage as an occasionally necessary evil and consider the practical limitations on the reality of what is ever going to be possible, then you should really see why there isn't actually much to be worried about.

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El Andy
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Facepalm

Re: Which PC's don't have TPM

@Tuomas Hosia: "So you have a whole TPM chip and you _know_ what it *actually* does, despite half of the functions being officially not documented and who knows how many functions totally secret, the NSA segment?"

TPM is an ISO spec. Every part of TPM is documented, because it'd be a pointless spec if it weren't.

If you want to believe the NSA are putting "secret" extra bits inside the PC that let them spy on you, that's up to you, but there would be no need for that to be a part of TPM, nor for it to be removed/disabled in machines without a TPM or with TPM disabled. It wouldn't even have to stop functioning when you ran Linux. Heck, it's probably buried deep within every x86 and ARM CPU ever manufactured and deliberately sending details of everything you ever do to a bunch of people who have nothing better to do in life than check exactly what you're doing every single minute of the day,

Have a nice afternoon thinking that through....

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El Andy
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Re: Which PC's don't have TPM

@Havin_it "Do all TPM chips have these components, or just 2.0 versions?"

A TPM without encryption capabilities would be pointless, given that's the only thing they *actually* do, as opposed to what the tin-foil hat brigade would like you to believe....

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El Andy
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Re: Swings and roundabouts....

@Paul Crawford "Really, you can get *ALL* the code for windows"

Yes. It's called a disassembler. You can get all the code to anything that runs on a PC. It might not be nice commented C source, but it's still there.

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Ballmer's emotional farewell to Redmond: I LOVE THIS COMPANY

El Andy
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FAIL

Re: End to vertical lock-in?

@Andy Prough

On the day when the typical Linux user pays for applications, rather than ranting endlessly about how the free (as in beer) equivalents are just as good if not better even when they blatantly aren't*, that might happen. Until then, you've a snowballs chance in hell of seeing Office for Linux.

*See every discussion on Photoshop vs GIMP ever for example

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Fanbois taught to use Apple's new killer app: Microsoft Windows

El Andy
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Re: Apple Store sells Windows Licence Then

@thondwe: Why do you think Apple couldn't sell a Windows license? They've been doing it for years....

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El Andy
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Re: Fanbois taught to use a GIMPED Windows...

@AC9:02 "all Apple have to do to gain even the tinest presence in the datacentre is to certify their server OS to run on a virtualisation platform"

Well, they also have to make it work, which I suspect is the harder part.

OS X Server is an absolute pain in the ass to get working and pretty much every Apple-ified tool added to supposedly make it easier just increases the pain levels tenfold. Without the ease of use aspect that's worked on the desktop, there really is no sane reason to choose OS X over a Linux box.

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El Andy
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Re: Fanbois taught to use a GIMPED Windows...

@AC15:37 "I do write shell scripts to do things as thats pretty easy to do. Windows is junk for this sort of thing."

I take it you've never used Powershell then? Try doing the equivalent of a Powershell Parallel Workflow script aggregating results across hundreds of machines in Bash, then decide which is "junk for this sort of thing"

Windows has moved on a lot since DOS batch files, y'know.

"The equivalent compiler from Microsoft is far too much money."

Visual Studio Express costs the princely sum of nothing. The compiler is the exact same one used by the most expensive version of Visual Studio (you just lack many of the advanced IDE functionality).

Macs are all well and good if that's what you want. Though the point of buying a machine then also buying VM software and a completely different OS all over again because that's the only one that runs your applications is lost on me. You accomplish nothing other than making your life just that little bit harder, for no tangible benefit.

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