* Posts by Peter Gathercole

2054 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

MAINFRAMES are SO NOT DEAD: IBM's launched a new one

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Many years ago...

I know the innards are probably different, but the 9125-F2C which from the picture looks like it uses the same frame, each frame when full weighs 3.5 tonnes.

The z13 won't weigh quite so much, but the racks themselves are pretty substantial.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: So is it running z/OS or Linux or both?

It should be noted that IBM pretty much invented virtualization with the 370 mainframe systems in the early 1970's. About the same time, Intel were making 4 bit microprocessors and TTL chips.

The virtualization will be performed either by the PR/SM type 1 (hardware) hypervisor or z/VM.

Read up on Type 1 hypervisors. There does not have to be a host OS, at least not as I think you understand them.

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Peter Gathercole
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Many years ago...

... I planned the installation of a full height 9076 SP/2 into a normal office space in an IBM building in Basingstoke.

When installed, it was about half full, and did not quite exceed the floor loading weight.

After I left, I heard it had been filled. I had visions of it descending through the 11th floor, then the 10th, the 9th and on to the ground!

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Can I just have the case?

Probably, if you think you have the space.

This looks like the same racks that the 9125-F2C P7 775 system is packaged in (they're both products from IBM Poughkeepsie, NY), an if so, this is 2 racks side-by-side, with each rack over 2.10 metres tall and 1.8 metres deep. Both racks together would be around 2 metres wide.

In addition, they will not take standard 19" wide rackmount devices without some additional mounting hardware as the 'gap' is 26" IIRC (sorry, I realise I've mixed measurement units).

IBM actually have some quite fancy doors available for their standard T-series racks, if you want to pay for them!

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What will happen to the oil price? Look to the PC for clues

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Get hungry, not starve... @adam

You and tens or hundreds of thousands of other people.

In the event of a breakdown in cities, you need to get out fast, and with as many guns as possible to deprive the people already in the country, and to stop others following and taking what you took first!

There is a semi-rational a reason why US isolationists build defendable enclosures.

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This $10 phone charger will wirelessly keylog your boss

Peter Gathercole
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IBM keyboard

Just converted my youngest son to the merits of IBM buckling spring technology (I graciously allowed him to use my 1990 built Model M for a few weeks).

Bought him a Unicomp USB 'IBM Classic' keyboard for Christmas.

They're still about as heavy as the originals.

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It's 4K-ing big right now, but it's NOT going to save TV

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come. @Dave

I obviously look at this differently from many of the people here, although I don't believe that the OP was stating anything about why he purchased the Sony or the size of the TV he purchased. I presumed he did it because of the failure of his previous one, bearing in mind he did not want any of the shiny features.

I buy primarily on price. At the moment, if I were in the market for one, I would prefer to buy a £250 1080p TV now, and another one (probably better) in a couple of years should I feel the need (read on), rather than a £500+ one with a five year guarantee now.

I can see that there is a difference in quality, but not one that I feel is worth the extra money . And quite often, the cheaper ones can be 'life extended' by capacitor replacement or board-swap maintenance. My current TV (a Digihome bought from Tesco, in case you wanted to know) is seven years old, and has had a power supply capacitor replacement and a t-con board at a total additional cost of about £20 plus a little of my time. It lasted the best part of four years without any work, and I can see it lasting another couple of years, although it may be relegated to another room at some time.

Maybe I've been lucky. I feel the picture on this one is good enough, although the blacks could be blacker. The upscaler on non-HD content is good, and I do not suffer from block decoding artefacts or noticible high-speed smear, although I will admit that the best quality signal it gets fed is from a 3rd generation Sky HD box. I've certainly seen some stinkers (I also have a similar aged 32" Sanyo TV bough second hand for the kids game consoles, which is pretty bad).

But what I have is 'good enough'. I've seen many big name (but not necessarily THE big names in TVs) that are no better, and were much more expensive than my current TV. I'll certainly not be buying a TV for more than about £350 absolute maximum any time soon, and I suspect that there is a huge segment of the buying public who will think the same.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

In what world are 'smart tvs' the only ones available, especially 2 years ago?

I suspect that you had limited your choice by brand and how much you wanted to spend, but I can assure you that even now, full HD 'dumb' TVs are still available, some from major brands, and many quite good quality ones from volume or badge engineered brands that techno-snobs tend to ignore.

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Boybanders ONE DIRECTION launch DoS attack on open-source bods

Peter Gathercole
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Re: I read as far as "Boybanders"

Maybe not. Maybe the author has not realised that One Dimension Direction (I'm sorry, that's how I read 1D, which they use as an abbreviation) are all now over 20, and have pretty much shed their 'boy band' image (they're often seen sporting stubble and other 'adult' stylings).

Mind you, Take That are still occasionally called a 'boy band' even though they are all over 40.

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MI5 boss: We NEED to break securo-tech, get 'assistance' from data-slurp firms

Peter Gathercole
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Whilst I completely agree with what you say, isn't it the case that he is saying "See, we can prove that they are using the Internet from these cases. Now give us the facilities and powers to snoop so that we can see this while it is happening, rather than after the fact".

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NHS refused to pull 'unfit for purpose' Care.data leaflet

Peter Gathercole
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"it is already based on statistical assumptions" @AC

Yes. Broad statistical assumptions, but risk is still shared, and insurance companies are unlikely to deny cover except in very specific cases.

But being able to mine exact information about individuals allows them to say "I would not touch this guy with a barge pole", whereas previously, they would have had to have taken effectively a gamble on whether the whole demographic they were in was a risk.

What happens at the moment is that if someone is in a particular risk group, they will probably be offered more expensive insurance, whereas if the insurer had specific information (which may not actually have been told to the patient as it may be detailed clinical information), they could turn round on an individual-by-individual basis and just say no.

And I would hazard to suggest that they would not say why an individual had been refused because of 'data protection' issues.

The whole concept of insurance is shared risk. If the insurance companies were able to decide to only offer insurance on things that they knew were unlikely to happen (the flip side of refusing to insure for things that they could tell were more likely to happen because of detailed individual information), then there is no real risk, and they would just take the money and laugh!

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Double-digit tablet growth spurt is OVER, say pundits

Peter Gathercole
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"The collapse of the tablet market in 2014 was alarming"

Funny, I would have thought that a "collapse" would indicate a decline in the numbers sold. But no! they're still increasing, just not as fast.

What this indicated is that marketing bods expect too much, and do not understand their markets. No sales market can grow forever, and even if the devices only lasted a year, you would get to a point where sales were stable and never increased. As it is, most tablets last more than a year (mine is nearly three years old and still doing what I need it to do), so the market will saturate, at which point you just get replacement sales.

It's the same as the TV manufacturers thinking that the bump in sales due to replacement of CRT TVs by flat panel ones would go on forever.

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Elite:Dangerous goes TITSUP

Peter Gathercole
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Re: I've been thinking about playing.... @Blinky

My favourite on the BBC version with analogue joysticks (or even a Bitstick, which was even better) was to move onto the axis of rotation, match the rotation rate, and accelerate at maximum. Provided that you were aligned correctly, it did not appear to matter what speed you were travelling at. Was a lot faster that waiting for the docking computer to faff around, which often gave you an opportunity to go and make a cup of tea in the time it took to dock.

And it wasn't perfect! When I did use the docking computer, I still had the occasional crash. Was most distressing to come back from making tea to find a game over message.

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Edu-apps may be STALKING YOUR KIDS, feds warn

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Where the buck stops

"Perhaps ALL TV channels should be required to show public information ads about internet and App security".

That's not a bad idea. Especially the channels specifically provided for children.

You could also make it age sensitive, as there is a clear difference between channels provided for pre-school, pre-teen and teenage markets.

Run them as public information films, like they used to for road safety or stranger danger.

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Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Bah! @Stevie

Were you reading my music catalogue!

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UK air traffic bods deny they 'skimped' on IT investment after server mega-fail

Peter Gathercole
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Re: It was said to be a line of code with a previously unfound error

This is exactly why they have strict operating procedures that dictate that if they can't get the system back up within a set period of time, the invoke their contingency plans to keep passengers, aircraf and aircrew safe.

I understand from an interview I heard on BBC Radio 4 on Friday or maybe Monday that this threshold is 7 minutes. The interviewee said that they had the system running again after 15 minutes, but that was 8 minutes too late.

Once they've initiated the contingency plan, which basically involves preventing any more aircraft from entering the controlled air space and getting as many that were already there on the ground as quickly and safely as possible, the damage was done. It was inevitable that there would be issues that ran on into the following days (aircraft and aircrew being in the wrong place, aircraft missing their scheduled maintenance because they were not at their maintenance location etc.)

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Webcam-snooping spawn of ZeuS hits 150 banks worldwide

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Some day

I was going to say something very similar.

I was worried about my Father until I read this. He does not have Word, and although I cannot be complacent about this (other vectors are still possible), the fact that the major one appears to be Word actually makes me breathe a little more easily. Must check his AV status though.

If it had been using the CORBA vulnerability that was publicised a few weeks back, I may have had more concern.

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VISC-y business: Can Soft Machines keep the free lunch counter open?

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Writing parallel code doesn't have to be any harder than writing sequential code.

The difficulties lie in accessing the data structures, and also in efficient memory utilisation.

If you have a single stream of code execution, the processor itself causes an implied serialisation of access to data structures. Once you get more than one processor running, you then have to worry about making sure that two or more threads running simultaneously do not try to write to the same data structure.

You end up having to deal with spinlocks and other mechanisms that are completely unnecessary with single processor code execution. It's been this way ever since multiprocessor machines were available, and I worked on my first multiprocessor machine back in 1987. This challenge gets exponentially worse as the number of cores goes up. There are ways of managing this by separating the data into per-thread memory pools, but again it's something you just don't have to think about with single core machines.

The classic way of doing this has been to put an implied separation into the work that the system is doing. Things like not having multi-threaded processes so that there is no data contention at a process level, or, like the example you quote, having a state machine serialising access to common data structures. But when you start talking about true parallelisation, with multiple threads working on the same data set, these approaches don't work. HPC code writers have struggled with this problem for many years.

You also have the problem that modern multiprocessor machines are normally NUMA, which means that in order to get the best out of the machine, you have to have some idea of how to align memory to the CPUs executing the threads using the bulk of the data.

Both of these problems get much worse if you don't have any idea of the shape of the machine at the time you are writing the code.

What I read this approach as doing is to abstract the machine topology away from the hardware, and putting the complex parallelisation into the abstraction layer. If done correctly, this would allow the code writers to write for a single virtual machine shape without having to worry about the underlying hardware, much in the same way that a JVM allows writers to write code that appears processor neutral.

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Judge spanks SCO in ancient ownership of Unix lawsuit

Peter Gathercole
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Unixware

I often wonder whether it would be possible to resurrect Unixware. This is the closest thing to a mainstream UNIX, and I would love to see a real genetic UNIX available again. But I think Linux has filled the gap where Unixware could exist.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: TSG is not SCO @Floke

Good summary.

I'm not sure about the Tarentella part though.

I thought (and Wikipedia appears to confirm this) that Tarentella was the remains of the original Santa Cruz Operation after they sold the UNIX server and services division to Caldera, and it was Caldera which renamed themselves The SCO Group.

Tarentella ended up being bought by Sun Microsystems, and is now a division of Oracle.

Darl McBride came into the picture, because he was the CEO of Caldera at the time Caldera bought the Santa Cruz UNIX assets. Before this, Caldera had been one of the early companies specialising in Linux distribution, which is why it was so ironic that they later started threatening to sue other Linux companies. Darl became the CEO of SCO Group when Caldera renamed itself.

Another piece of the picture is that I am sure that HP were originally involved with the original SCO in the transfer of assets from UNIX System Laboratories, when USL was wound up (I missed a bullet there, I was offered a job at USL as a Support/Consultant/Trainer in the UK in the early '90s). This is from memory, although I really ought to see whether there is a UniGram archive somewhere.

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

Peter Gathercole
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Re: PROPER Time Stamps!!!

I want proper time stamps so that I can reply specifically to one comment in a comment trail, and have everybody know exactly to what I was referring. It's not enough to use the posters name or the title, because we get into conversations with each other on the threads, keeping the comment the same.

Relative timestamps are no bloody use at all!

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Car-crash IT: HUGE write-off for Universal Credit - PAC

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Pretty good @AC re Entitled?

You would have to make it £100 per person in the household, including the children, if you wanted to make a flat-rate minimum guarantee.

And that would have it's own problems as people realised that the more kids they had, the more money they would receive.

If you were to make the benefits system back to one where need was not taken into account, then you would have to be prepared to return to the days of the flop house, workhouses and foundling orphanages, people living on the streets and escalating crime and prostitution as people did whatever was necessary to survive.

The whole point of benefits where they are needed is to provide a way of living (note I do not say that it should be particularly comfortable) for whole family units, not just individuals. And benefits where needed requires systems to assess the need.

It was a real eye opener when the historical TV programme "Turn Back Time" reminded me that in the first half of the 20th Century in England, people were forced to sell any possessions of value before they would be given any state support if they could not support themselves.

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Blu-ray region locks popped by hardware hacker

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Region Locks @Vladimir

I see your point, but this is just how publishing rights have ever worked, be they for films, books magazines or music. It's been that way ever since works were re-produced and distributed locally. A publisher or distributor buys the rights from the copyright holder. Just look at how books and CDs are published by different publishers on each side of the Atlantic. The only difference is with DVDs and BluRays there is a technical way to enforce it. It may look like a cartel, but unfortunately it's enshrined in well established law.

Until we get a completely global market with no trade barriers, common taxation and the same price, adjusted by whatever exchange rate is current, there will always have to be differentiation of the market in different regions. There may also be classification issues as well for some controversial material.

If you do not give regional rights to distribute these things, then it means that you could only use a distribution company that was global, otherwise some regions would have no distribution at all. If that were the case, you would really find completely different prices depending on how much it cost to import the work from the producing country.

To change it would require huge amendments to copyright legislation and world trade agreements in general. You might wish it changed, but that does not mean that it is going to happen.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Region Locks

The reason is not just price differentiation. It's also that different countries/regions have distribution deals with different companies. So the region lock supports a company which has bought distribution rights for a film in their region to protect their investment from imports from outside the region by a different company that has no rights there.

If a film has different release dates in different regions/countries, it also protects the rights of the distributor in the country that releases the film later or last.

I admit it's all still pretty arbitrary and possibly petty from a consumer's position, but not from the distribution company's point of view.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Forced to view content (Adverts etc.)

What amuses me is Disney FastPlay on DVDs.

They spend 15 seconds explaining that you will be advertised to, and then play about 4-5 minutes of adverts before the move automatically starts. This is supposed to be playing faster?

The alternative is jumping to the top menu and selecting "Play Feature". OK, it's more button presses, but a whole lot faster than the default.

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The Great Unwatched: BBC hails glorious digital future for Three

Peter Gathercole
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BBC Choice

That was the original name of what became BBC3. It used to show time-shifted repeats of the best of the other BBC channels, except when Glastonbury was on when it was pretty much full time coverage.

So, having BBC1+1 is almost like going back to it's roots.

And remember, significant numbers of people who were early smart TV and BluRay player adopters have recently been deprived of iPlayer when the BEEB decided to re-work the UI to make it incompatible with older devices.

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EU law bods: New eCall crash system WON'T TRACK YOU. Really

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Track Me @ ElNumbre

Yes, you need to attend paranoia classes.

The type that teaches you to be more paranoid.

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Feast your eyes: 10 'fortysomething' smart TVs

Peter Gathercole
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Re: model-specific and poorly maintained as models age

Yes, you have to be careful about putting all your eggs into one basket.

I was recently very annoyed to see iPlayer disappear from 2 Sony 'Smart' Bluray players that I have. Apparently, the BBC changed the way iPlayer worked (they removed what was termed the "Big Screen" format) in a way that was incompatible with some devices made before 2012, and Sony are not intending to supply an upgrade to these devices. Now 2012 is no more than three years ago, however you look at it, so that's not a very long life for a consumer device.

As it turns out, I bought these Bluray players mainly for their iPlayer function (it was before NowTV or Roku devices were around at a low price), and I've never played a Bluray disk (although they are used to play DVDs), so I am none too pleased with both the BBC and Sony.

But at least I can replace these players relatively inexpensively, especially if I get a £10 Now TV box. If I had lost the function from the telly itself, I might have been even more annoyed.

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Boffins unearth the ultimate antique art - 500,000 years old

Peter Gathercole
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Re: "If you don't know the intention of the person who made it, it's impossible to call it art,"

No, no.

It's the earliest example of ridiculous warnings. It actually says "May contain fish"

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Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Excited about Internet-of-stuff?

There's a fix to the batteries running down in the remote. You put a mains powered 'controller' with a simple on/off toggle setting to override the remote in a fixed position in the room, somewhere like on the wall at shoulder height just inside the door.

Hey presto, problem fixed.

.... I feel I'm missing something here.

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NOKIA - Not FINNished yet! BEHOLD the somewhat DULL MYSTERY DEVICE!

Peter Gathercole
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Re: "Nokia said China would receive it first" @disembodied John Brown

That was never the joke. The North East used to have many coal mines, and used to export the coal to other parts of the country and abroad out of Newcastle. So the ironic joke was that there was no point in shipping coal to Newcastle because they had enough of their own.

Now the North East has no coal mines, and also does not export much of anything at all out of Newcastle.

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'Chinese hackers' pop US weather bureau, flatten forecast feeds

Peter Gathercole
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Re: A suitably designed, multi-layer protection model implemented @AC

I don't follow, unless you are alluding to there being a much simpler vector for the breach, like an insider or a social engineering attack.

I was actually not making a judgement about this particular issue, but following up on the comment by Wzrd1 about intruders getting in. I think that we are actually talking the same thing about limiting the damage that can be done while the IDS and intrusion incident protocols are triggered.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Yeah but, this is a RE-hacking @Wzrd1

That they will get in is a wise statement to make.

But it does not have to be totally true. A suitably designed, multi-layer protection model implemented using multiple vendors kit will probably defeat almost all attacks, especially if the design is kept secret. The trick is to be utterly ruthless with what is allowed between each of your security zones.

By using multiple vendors kit, each boundary between the security zones presents a new problem to be 'cracked'. If things are designed properly, by the time the attacker gets to the third or fourth boundary, your intrusion detectors should have been tripped so that you can take action to protect the service being attacked, and other systems that lie further into the network.

You layer the servers themselves to form parts of the security infrastructure, so in the case of web-based services, your edge web servers only keep session and transient data, intermediate servers keep application logic and only enough data for the transactions in flight, and you keep the core databases separate still. In all cases, the servers have an external side and an internal side, and the networks on either side are never bridged by network infrastructure (obviously you have to have something to allow the servers to be administered, but the same rules apply to the management infrastructure).

In order to get access to the places where data is really present for bulk-download, the only practical way in is to have knowledge of everything in advance.

I'm not saying that even this design is intrusion free, but the idea is to make it so periphery intrusion does not expose data wholesale, so as to limit the damage. It also does not protect from DOS type attacks, or protect you from holes in the infrastructure you provide for your employee's internet access, but that's another story.

But the problem with a model like this is that it gets expensive. And too often, the risk vs. cost balance is set wrong because the managers are dominated by accountants. Too many organisations assume that a single or dual layer of security devices is sufficient to protect their internal networks, and once on a system on an internal network, the world is the cracker's oyster.

I know one bank that used a design like this, which had many zones boundaries, where the architect declared at the end of the first project that it would have been cheaper to give all the customers of the service access to a personal banker for a year than to build the infrastructure! But they did use the infrastructure again for other services, so the cost of later projects was reduced.

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VINYL is BACK and you can thank Sonos for that

Peter Gathercole
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I never gave vinyl up

Although some of the shortcomings of my Project Debut 2 were beginning to take the edge off my enjoyment. So I found that Henley Designs offers a noise reduction kit that is supposed to eliminate the rumble that was just audible enough to annoy, and Hey Presto, so little rumble that I had to check that I'd actually put the needle on the silent track!

OK, I said to myself. Time replace the stock OM-5e cartridge that was 'just about good enough' with my hoarded Ortofon VMS20e MKII and set it up. Oh, and dig out the Osawa OM-10 mat and the HiFi News test disk. I've been meaning to do this for a while, but the rumble and time pressures just prevented me from carrying it through.

Well, I always liked the sound of the Project, but now it's sublime. So much so that the Wife does not see me many evenings as I revisit disks that I've not played for years.

My biggest problem is that the glue on the sleeves of my LPs is degrading. Every time I get a disk down, the sleeve comes apart. Also, the paper inner sleeves are starting to shed wood fibres, so a deep clean is needed. Somehow, it appears that my collection has got slightly damp, but I can't work out how. It was in storage for some months during a house move, which is the most likely time.

I am not an extreme audiophile. My setup has always been only one step above budget, but was bought as best-buy in their class. Besides the Project, it's a NAD 7020 receiver, JVC KD720 tape desk and Keesonic Kub speakers, but the combination is really quite good. There's also a Technics CD player as well, but I don't know the model off the top of my head.

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Cold? Cuddle these HOT GERMAN RACKS, yours for only 12,000 euro – we swear there's an IT angle

Peter Gathercole
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Nothing new here, move along

Newcastle University used the heat from their water cooled IBM 360/64 and later the 370/168 to help heat Claremont Tower back in the 1970s.

One of my kids uses his gaming rig to keep his bedroom warm without having the radiator turned on.

Both different in scale, but similar in concept.

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Why can't a mobile be more like a cordless kettle?

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Cars

Devices with more capacity are available. I've got one that does 2A from one socket and 1A fro the other. Both will charge my phone.

But I have a problem with the stability of the voltage. Just charging the phone is great, but if I plug the 3.5" jack into the radio to play music from the phone at the same time as I'm charging, electrical noise from the car's electrical system gets through to the phone and renders any quiet audio un-listenable.

I'm just wondering whether I should fork out for a branded adapter, although the one I'm using was not a pound shop special. Anybody any idea whether Belkin et. al. actually make their adapters using better components, or whether they just slap their name on the same old tat and charge a higher price

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FLASH better than DISK for archiving, say academics. Are they stark, raving mad?

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Endurance?

Flash memory degrades over time due to the migration of electrons as a result of entropy. At he 2013 Flash Memory Summit, it was suggested by a Facebook representative that the "JEDEC JESD218A endurance specification states that if flash power off temperature is at 25 degrees C then retention is 101 weeks". Flash memory retains the data best if the controller is powered up once in a while to scan and correct any bit errors that creep in.

I've always been dubious of flash memory retaining the data for any extended time, and I would be incredibly sceptical about any claim that says that current flash memory technologies could be used to reliably keep data for decades, even if "Flash drive controllers, currently mostly optimised for performance, can be optimised for endurance instead".

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Chinese coder's got 99 problems and getting hitched is one: Huge iPhone woo plot FAILS

Peter Gathercole
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Re: But... Why? @Simon Harris

You do know that the original song "Neunundneunzig Luftballons" is an anti-war protest song (and says nothing about the ballons being red - which originally confused me when the German video was shown with the English song).

Heute zieh ich meine Runden,

Seh' die Welt in Truemmern liegen,

Hab' 'nen Luftballon gefunden,

Denk' an Dich und lass' ihn fliegen...

- literal translation (but not mine), definitely not the english version

Today I'm doing my rounds,

Seeing the world lying in ruins,

Found a balloon,

Think of you and let it fly....

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Why solid-state disks are winning the argument

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Long-term deep storage

I've noticed this. My old EEEPC 701, which is not used much now, has needed to be reinstalled each time I've left it a few months without being powered on.

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Hold onto your hats and follow the BYOD generation

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Well duh

Split your WiFi into trusted and untrusted domains.

Strictly control what can connect to the trusted domain by key or strict access control.

Let the untrusted one be a free for all, with a disclaimer that using it is at the user's own risk.

If there is a requirement for the untrusted devices to connect to trusted services, treat all of the connections as if they were from the Internet proper, and put the correct firewall and barrier controls in place to protect your core services.

Use additional DMZs if that allows you to contain access.

There is absolutely no need to allow BYO devices to connect to your core networks for social media access. If you want them to use their devices for work, you may need to think a bit harder, but for just social media access, it's not that difficult.

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Peter Gathercole
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As a business policy ...

... I have often said that if someone is irreplaceable, you should fire them!

Too often people become irreplaceable by hoarding and not sharing knowledge, and such people are never good for an organisation.

By extension, everybody should be replaceable.

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Snapper's decisions: Whatever happened to REAL photography?

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Enjoyed this

If you are not looking at developing the films yourself, you could use C-41 process black and white film. This can be processed by any film processor as it uses the same equipment as colour film.

I believe that both Ilford and Fuji still produce this type of film, and you may still be able to find some Kodak film still within it's use-by date.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: nice commentary

I don't count myself as a photography enthusiast, but I have taken pictures over the years that have generated a wow reaction from people.

I taught myself film photography from books and experience while at university, using a tank of a second hand Praktica LTL3 completely manual SLR camera with an f2.8 Carl Zeiss Tessar lens (an optically good, if rather restrictive lens) and stop-down metering.

By my photos were always the ones people wanted to see at the breakfast table when they came back from the developers.

What this hair-shirt experience taught me was that preparation was important, and pre-focus for action shots, setting the aperture and exposure in advance, and, above all, choosing the correct shooting location is essential. All of which are skills that can and should be learned. Another thing was to leave the camera cocked at a medium aperture and mid-range focus (for reasonable depth of field) so as to make an attempt at those 'just happening' shots, and rely on the developing process to correct the exposure. And if you have time and spare film, bracket the exposure for those important shots you don't want to miss.

I stopped spending significant time taking pictures, and am now really just a casual photographer.

When I got my first digital bridge camera, I was appalled by just how difficult it was to actually control the process. Everything was automatic, and the overrides were so difficult to work using the few buttons on the camera that it was a joke. I now possess a slightly more serious Fuji bridge camera with a mid-zoom lens. But I chose this one because I could control the focus and zoom by hand (which does wonders for preserving the battery life), and while I don't fully understand how the synthetic aperture work, I can use it. But what I first learned using a feature-free camera is still useful, even if most of the time I now shoot on full automatic.

I pity people learning photography now, because they just don't get the opportunity to learn the necessary skills properly. One of my kids studied photography a few years back as part of her foundation degree, and I found it highly amusing that they were told to go and buy a cheap second hand film camera with full manual over-ride for use on the course, so at least the colleges still understand.

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BOFH: Stop your tiers – when it comes to storage, LESS is MORE

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

SSA disks?

What on earth does Simon have against SSA disks? I found them easy to deploy, quick for it's time, quite dense (it was the first disk subsystem I knew that used both the front and back of the drawer) and easy to maintain.

OK, it tied you in to IBM and their disks a bit, but I did not find them too bad at the time, and there was never a quibble replacing them while under maintenance.

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FIFTEEN whole dollars on offer for cranky Pentium 4 buyers

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Pentium 4 didn't suck. @Nigel 11

I don't claim to be an expert in Intel x86 architecture, but I believe that some of the more specific features may have led to additional instructions being added to the ISA. That is certainly the case in other processor families I have used.

In order for code that uses these instructions to run on processors that do not implement the instructions, it is necessary to be able to trap the 'illegal instruction' interrupt, and do something appropriate.

If you did not trap the illegal instruction, the OS would at best kill the process, or at worst, crash the whole system.

In the case of the MicroVAX and early PowerPC processors, you would call code that emulated (slowly) the missing instruction, which had to be part of either the OS, or the runtime support for the application. I've not heard of that happening in the Intel/Windows world, although I'm not discounting that it may be there.

In the s370 world, instead of emulation code, it was possible to trap such things in alterable microcode, this being the method that IBM used to 'add' additional instructions to the s370 ISA for specific purposes to allow application speed-ups.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Pentium 4 didn't suck. @Gordan

You make a very good point, but you ignore that compiling for a particular processor, using all of the features of that processor breaks the "compile once run anywhere" ubiquity of the Intel x86 and compatible processors.

If this class action lawsuit is providing relief for home users, these are people who will buy a system and install code that is compiled to a common subset of instructions for the processors it is expected to run on. They are certainly not going to re-compile the applications they buy, let alone the operating system and utilities (you have to admit that dominant players providing x86 operating systems do not make it easy for a user to recompile the code even if they wanted to).

Imagine if when buying a program, you had to check not only which versions of Windows it would run on, but which processor (I know, some games did, but they are a special case).

I also know that it is perfectly possible for an application or OS provider to provide smart installers that identify the processor at install time, and install the correctly compiled version for the processor. Or even put conditional code in that detects at run time which libraries to bind, or which path through the code to select.

Each of those last alternatives lead to significant bloat in either the install media, or even worse, the disk and memory footprint of the installed code. And that is not to mention the support nightmare having several different code paths to do the same thing on different processors.

No, the shrink-wrap application providers will write their code for a common subset of features, and that is what the Pentium 4 was weak at. The same binaries often ran slower on Pentium 4 than on Pentium III processors at the same clock speed (and when launched, the Pentuim 4s did not run at the high clock speeds they later achieved). And later processors such as the Pentium M and Core architecture processors, which used more of the Pentium III architecture, with the 'good' bits of the Pentium 4 grafted on show that Intel eventually got the message that Pentium 4 was a dead end. I'm surprised they contested this, although I guess that this case is all about benchmark deception rather than the ultimate speed.

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BONFIRE of the MEGA-BUCKS: $200m+ BURNED in SECONDS in Antares launch blast

Peter Gathercole
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Thumb Up

Re: OK, quick survey -

I sat through the whole thing, thinking "Something has got to happen soon".

Can't do a hand, how about a thumb.

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Peter Gathercole
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Mushroom

That's it!

The follow on project to LOHAN has to be an amateur resupply rocket to the ISS.

I'm sure Lester and the other boffins will be up for it!

Appropriate icon?

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Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Lazy lazy lazy

And RT has not developed a serious anti-US agenda since the situation in Crimea and the Ukraine started, has it!

When Russia Today started, I was surprised by how apparently neutral it was. I tuned in a few days ago and was (actually not) surprised how that has changed in the last few months, with them predicting the demise of the dollar as a world currency (suggesting Bitcoin as an alternative, of all things), and the rise of a fascist police state in the US. It almost seemed that they were listening to anybody spouting a conspiratorial line. Almost like "Controversial TV" used to be, although that did carry drivel by David Ike as well.

I wonder whether Mr Putin has been applying pressure on RT. It must be nice to have a personal mouthpiece broadcasting to the world.

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Cray-cray Met Office spaffs £97m on VERY AVERAGE HPC box

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Good hardware but why not a real operating systems? @AC

Remind me. How many Windows systems are there on the Top 500 Supercomputer list?

I assume you are either joking or a troll. I cannot really think you are really serious.

I don't think Cray supply anything other than Linux on their hardware.

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