* Posts by T. F. M. Reader

397 posts • joined 19 Dec 2012

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Google's 'encrypted-by-default' Android is NOT encrypting by default

T. F. M. Reader
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Headline a bit misleading?

The way I read it this does not mean that after an "attitude readjustment" from NSA or advertisers or both Lollipop devices will not have full disk encryption enabled out of the box. Most probably will, while some, presumably cheaper ones, may leave the setting off.

So between 4.4 and 5.0 Google realized that since their model, as far as I understand it, allows basically anyone to make an Android device, then with all their power they cannot really force all device manufacturers to include HW encryption accelerator. This makes the use of SHOULD quite proper under RC2119 (they refer to it). To quote the latter:

SHOULD: This word, or the adjective "RECOMMENDED", mean that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular item, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course.

Paranoid as I am, this does not sound like "the BASTARDS are selling me out to NSA/advertisers AGAIN!" They are, of course, but disk encryption is probably irrelevant for that purpose. All it protects you from is someone who gets hold of your device and tries to read the disk bypassing the screen lock. Or something.

Apple can afford to use RFC2119 MUST in their internal requirements documents.

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Would you trust 'spyproof' mobes made in Putin's Russia?

T. F. M. Reader
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So they own all the circuitry...

Why would they build anything but a GPS receiver into a supposedly secure phone then? A receiver should be enough for navigation, and I can only associate transmitting location data with a threat to privacy - what am I missing?

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MEGA PATENT DUMP! Ericsson, Smartflash blitz Apple: iPhone, iPad menaced by sales block

T. F. M. Reader
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Conspiracy theories...

Regardless of the merits of the complaints I am saddened, but not surprised (to paraphrase a QOTW about trolls), that a patent dispute between Ericsson and Apple has something to do with East Texas. Does either company even have a presence there? I can't help thinking that lawyers for manufacturing and non-manufacturing entities alike habitually collude to convince their employers/clients to slug it out in Texas, and even the manufacturers don't mind much since we, the consumers, pay the costs, anyway.

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Tim Cook chills the spines of swingers worldwide

T. F. M. Reader
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My car - and the key fob remote - is ~7.5 years old and I have not changed the battery yet. My watch also has a battery. I think I changed it once a few years ago. Not bloody likely that I'll be in a hurry to settle for a 1 day battery life in a combo.

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Why does the NSA's boss care so much about backdoors when he can just steal all our encryption keys?

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I'd say the post scriptum answer to the headline's question is quite incomplete. NSA want backdoors that will allow them to break into our computer and see if there is anything of interest there that has never been sent over the network. Decrypting your comms is just one part of the job.

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How good a techie are you? Objective about yourself and your skills?

T. F. M. Reader
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Trevor,

You don't say if there is any particular point in the CIPS ethics code that you cannot agree with. If there isn't, go forth and sign it. If all that bothers you is that your ethics (as manifested by competency) will be assessed by someone else who sees things differently, and that this will somehow make you "unethical", in my mind it is not an issue.

Allow me to elaborate. First, background disclosure, to help you decide whether to ignore the rest. I have some advanced degrees and I've taught at universities in addition to my day industry jobs. I am very comfortable with calculus among other fields. I code quite a bit when required (and it usually is), and I rather loathe Java. I tend to do lots of IT and DevOps stuff in addition to my real job simply because there is no one else around (e.g., in the startup I am with now) who can do it as well as I do, but I am not a provider of IT services as you are. I may agree or disagree with what you write on occasion, but do carry on - I will be awaiting your future columns (Drew - good call...).

I generally avoid being a member of organizations or societies, but I have been in the past, and I carefully checked the by-laws and ethical codes every time. Some companies I worked for (the really big ones) have ethical codes, professional conduct codes, etc. I had to sign those, too. I always made a point studying them. I must say I was quite impressed by both the apparent intent and the specific formulations and I never thought, "I shouldn't really sign this, but I will, to stay employed."

1. To answer your main question: Being a member of a professional organization will not really make you any different, nor will it make you a better or worse techie than you are. It does not define you. It may be a (perfectly ethical) tool in making your sales pitch more attractive to prospective clients, but it will not mean that you'll do your job any differently. It will be up to you to add to the professional society's credit - consider it an incentive.

2. Subscribing to an ethical code does not mean you cannot make any professional mistake from that moment on. I've never seen an ethics code that says, "making mistakes is unethical." If you "forget" to point out to a customer that designing a wirelessly controlled pacemaker or insulin pump with insufficient security (or pre-installing a certificate hijacker on a laptop, for that matter) will expose the end user to real danger just because you are afraid the contract will go to someone else, then it's a question of ethics. Generally speaking, it is about recognizing a conflict of interest. Is there anything that you would have done differently if circumstances were different? If at any point you recognize that something should not be done and do it anyway - that is when your ethics should be questioned. Offering your services while recognizing you cannot do the job is included - the term "competency" seems related.

3. By all means get a degree if you feel it'll be beneficial, either as a sales pitch aid or as a step to personal fulfilment or - hopefully - both. A degree will not, by itself, change you. Nor will it make you a better techie in any narrow, specific sense. A (good) university is not a vocational school, its job is not to add a specific set of skills to your repertoire. It may make you a better, more methodical learner and it may help you approach completely new problems with no known solutions more effectively (especially if we are talking about a master's degree). Again, it will be up to you to add to the university's reputation.

4. Most importantly to remember in moments of self-doubt: you are not, repeat NOT responsible for any expectations others may have of you. You cannot be. This includes your technology skills, your writing skills, everything. This includes the simpletons who think that if you have a university diploma or some membership card you will provide a better service. This includes any expectations that someone may have that you will never, ever, screw up. Your personal or professional ethics does not mean infallibility.

Best of luck.

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'NSA, GCHQ-ransacked' SIM maker Gemalto takes a $500m stock hit

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Fundamental misunderstanding of telecoms

@king_tut: I think the issue here is that if you've got the keys for damn near all the SIMs in the world then you can, in principle at least, eavesdrop on cellular conversations everywhere, not just in your own country where you may have either a quiet understanding with carriers or a secret blanket warrant. You don't need permission from a foreign cell company or authorities that may not be completely accommodating, nor do you need to sneak inside the carrier's network to get to unencrypted comms. Capturing the signal from the wireless leg will be enough - you can decrypt it at your leisure and without much effort. You say as much, of course, but I would not limit the utility of the method to really unfriendly locations as you do. Therein lies a problem...

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EU ministers hold Big Meeting on Big Data. But how will they get you to hand it over?

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: I, for one, do not wish to be transparent

@WonkoTheSane: I, for one, do not wish to be transparent

(because that would be... ew!)

I, for one, do not want to be transparent because basic physics says I will necessarily have to be blind then. In more sense than one, it seems...

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Hackers break the bank to the tune of $300 MEEELLION

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Malware?

Maybe those banks are relying too much on Windows?

To an extent, insofar as the initial attack vector was, allegedly, phishing emails read by clerks who were, probably, using Windows. The actual malware (at least initial stages) could be assembly-based, so your question could be phrased as "Maybe those banks are relying too much on $(uname -m)?"

I'm amazed that daily reconciliation didn't catch up with this.

Reconciliation wouldn't. The operations were disguised as transactions, so your money would be wired to another bank and the two banks would reconcile without a hitch. Note the following tidbit from the article: "criminals [...] sought out employees charged with administering cash transfer and ATMs" - apparently it all started and/or ended with cash. Started with fake cash transactions, ended with real ones?

Having said that, and not knowing any details, I assume there were both serious security shortcomings (beyond careless employees who click on juicy links and attachments on the same computer that handles their customers' money) and procedural/accounting gaps involved.

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ATTENTION SETI scientists! It's TOO LATE: ALIENS will ATTACK in 2049

T. F. M. Reader
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...any intelligent life resident on Gliese 581c is liable to have superhuman strength as the planet's surface gravity seems likely to be several times as strong as that of Earth

Actually, the Gliese 581c residents are likely to be small and light, since supporting a human-size (or larger) body on a planet with strong gravity would be exceedingly difficult.

So being swallowed by a small dog will be a quite likely outcome of their invasion.

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You'll NEVER guess who has bought I Taught Taylor Swift How To Give Head dot-com

T. F. M. Reader
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I am curious: did the same company handle Barbra Streisand's internet affairs at one time?

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California mulls law to protect your e-privates from warrant-free cops

T. F. M. Reader
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What about personal data left on a park bench?

It is not clear to me from the article whether personal data synced to Apple or Google[*] or whatever will be similarly protected under the proposed law. If not, either the law won't mean much or criminals will stop syncing - and, as if on cue, anyone who does not sync will be immediately suspect and obtaining a warrant won't be a problem ("He obviously has something to hide, Your Honor...").

[*] Both Californian companies.

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Google gets my data, I get search and email and that. Help help, I'm being REPRESSED!

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Imperfect information in a 'mutually beneficial' deal

This is a staple of any economics manual when compound interest is discussed. Manhattan was bought for what was worth ~$24 in 1626. Assume you sold it and invested for 389 years at 5% annual interest on average (that's less than the estimated performance of stock markets since then). You'd be just shy of 126 billion dollars today. This may be twice the total real estate value of Manhattan today or more (I think I saw an estimate of $47 billion a few years ago - too lazy to check). Still looks a bad deal?

Maybe Tim will give a better estimate over a weekend or on a Wednesday?

P.S. Given that the Indian tribe that closed that deal didn't "own" Manhattan nor was even settled on it, they got themselves a really great deal...

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T. F. M. Reader
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Voluntary?

In my mind the problem is that the "transaction" is not voluntary. Assume I value my privacy more than what Google's services are worth to me. So I decide to never use GMail and to stick to DuckDuckGo or something else for searches. However, I believe Google are still perfectly capable of building a rather detailed profile of me because every time I send an email to someone who uses GMail - and that includes a lot of companies and other organizations today, hell, even my employer - information about me gets into Google's vaults. Every website I visit that uses some of Google services - Analytics and such - contributes, too. So I decide that I might as well use Google search since it makes so little difference

The actual price of avoiding Google's data slurping is becoming a virtual digital recluse, pissing off one's friends, acquaintances, business associates, customers, etc. by asking whether they use GMail or whether their web side uses Google Analytics and saying you will never communicate unless they switch... Hmm... Basically, not an option.

"One cannot live in society and be free from society."[*] Essentially, we are all forced to give our data to Google unless we really go to a fringe. This does not make it a "voluntary transaction". The price of non-compliance is so high that it looks more like blackmail of the "wouldn't it be a shame if something happened to your communications and professional and social connections?" kind.

[*] The quote is from one V.I.Lenin - an expert on freedom... eh, I meant, on coercion. Treated as a neutral observation the statement rings true. Remembering that it served to justify all sorts of ugly things is worthwhile.

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Who's come to fix your broadband? It may be a Fed in disguise. Without a search warrant

T. F. M. Reader
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Not enough details

Was the original ruse qualified as an "undercover operation" and was the problem that when they requested a warrant they didn't tell the judge that the suspicion arose as a result of the said "undercover operation"?

I suppose I could possibly understand the logic behind all this if undercover operations in general don't require a priori validation from a judge. it also seems relevant that they did it with full co-operation of the property's owner (the hotel), and, in fact, on the owner's request. It stands to reason that the hotel may have something to say about (and maybe bear some responsibility for) activities in their rooms/villas. It is not clear to me how much suspicion the guests caused and what information was passed to the Feds before they decided to look around.

The relevant bit is how sweeping or limited the ruling is: whether, in the judge's view, the situation would be different if, say, someone's neighbours alerted the Feds that some heavy-duty computer equipment was delivered to a residential property. If not, I'd consider that a problem. But this is not clear from the article.

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Polish chap builds computer into a mouse

T. F. M. Reader
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How is the keyboard connected? It will be a must for me, and the guys in the video type happily. No mention of Bluetooth, so I assume there will be a cable to one of the USB ports? A mouse with two cables in different directions? Possible, but seems unwieldy, and requires a surface.

I think I'd prefer a keyboard with a built-in trackball, like the one I am typing on right now. Does not require a surface, and if graphics can be done wirelessly (should be OK for office/dev/IT) with an HDMI option for movies and stuff, and for cases where wireless co-operation from big screens is not forthcoming...

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Microsoft wants LAMP for wireless mobe charger

T. F. M. Reader
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This changes everything!!!

I find it most convenient to charge my phone at night. I also use the phone as an alarm clock on occasion, so leaving it in another room with lights on is not an option. Am I expected to change my habits?

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Facebook is MORE IMPORTANT to humanity than PORTUGAL

T. F. M. Reader
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Cynical exploitation of broken window fallacy

company's impact on the global economy "enabled" the creation of 4.5 million jobs in 2014.

I smell a hidden assumption that were it not for FB those 4.5 million people would not do anything productive at all. The real value of FB, accepting the 4.5 million FB-related jobs as an axiom, is the difference between the value generated by all these men and women doing FB-related stuff and the most valuable of realistic alternative. At this point I am not sure this difference would be positive.

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Security? Don't bother until it's needed says RFC

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Not the right way to do this

TLS which can be easily MITM'd is still better than no TLS

I am not sure. I think I'd prefer to know I am communicating in clear text than to be lulled into a false sense of privacy.

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Stop viewing Facebook at work says Facebook at work on Facebook at Work

T. F. M. Reader
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Perfect for corporate communications, HR, etc.

No one will be able to "dislike" them, eh?

Side benefit for managers: an automatic, algorithmic annual review for everyone?

Side benefit for Zuck: new FB@Home users (soz, people) as employees retire?

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Don't use Charlie Hebdo to justify Big Brother data-slurp – Data protection MEP

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Without even a hint of irony

@YAAC: "Saying we should bomb $MiddleEasternCountry in retaliation and somebody feels like killing $EthnicGroup would seem rather similar."

I would argue that they would not, unless the policy is to bomb a country specifically and solely for being different from yours. If one's country is attacked or seriously threatened by another country (militarily - a terrorist attack by one's own citizens or foreigners does not count, at least as long as it was not meaningfully supported by a foreign government, in which case it may arguably be considered a military act) I would argue that waging a war is a option that should be on the table around which the decision-makers gather. It should not be considered lightly, but it should not be ruled out a priori, either.

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T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Saying we should bomb $MiddleEasternCountry in retaliatiopn

@sabroni: including threatening other people

That seems exactly the threshold to me.

I think one cannot be prosecuted for being an Anti-Semite, an Islamophob, a racist in general, or a Catholic-hater, not even for expressing one's views, deplorable and unpalatable as they may be, in the town square, or even for acting on them. If one does not wish to, say, employ Jews, Muslims, Catholics, blacks (NB: in general, not just African-Americans - is there a generic PC term?), or bicycle-riders, or if one never enters a kosher or halal shop, the rest of us may decide to never speak to the bigot, never give him any business, and/or cross the street when he walks on a pavement, but I don't think it should be a criminal offence in itself. Large portions of the society may feel offended, but offending someone should not be a crime. Almost any non-trivial statement is likely to offend someone. "Bacon is delicious" will probably offend people in certain neighbourhoods, but you should not be beaten up for blurting it out. You should be allowed to like pork, despise Mohammed, think that a black person should never be allowed to become the president of your country, and be offended that so many people won't speak to you because of the views you hold.

The moment one says "I support killing|beating up|mutilating|torturing|(use your ingenuity here) Jews|Muslims|Catholics|blacks|BMW driver|people who mock the Prophet|people who disagree with me", especially if one is a public figure, the situation changes.

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Preserve the concinnity of English, caterwauls American university

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

@Charlie Clark: "Philistine is more than vaguely racist."

Actually, at worst it is vaguely Biblical, as evidenced by the Origin section of http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/philistine. ;-)

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Saudi Arabia to flog man 1,000 times for insulting religion on Facebook

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Religion of Peace?

When a Muslim tells you Islam is a religion of peace, it’s a blatant lie

Actually, no, though it is easy to perceive it as a lie, because we are biased by a certain notion of "peace". Consider a different definition of "peace". To a Muslim[*] peace will be established when the whole world becomes Dar-al-Islam (the Domain of Islam), and Dar-al-Harb (the Domain of War, i.e., all the countries that are not ruled by Islamic law - the term should be self-explanatory) ceases to exist. Thus, a terrorist that lashes an atheist for a FB post, or kills a few journalists, or blows up a bus or a restaurant full of Christians or Jews (believers or not) brings the world closer to peace, according to his definition of what "peace" is. Too bad if it is different from what you or I think. It is not "extremism", either, but rather a central tenet of Islam[**], called "jihad". It is the normal path to expansion of the religion's influence (NB: predates the Crusades, let alone Luther and Calvin - accused in this forum of inventing religious wars - by a few hundred years, too).

[*] Well, only if he takes some of the central teachings of his religion really seriously.

[**] Let's not forget that most people don't really choose religion, they are born into a certain environment/tradition/ethnicity, etc. Luckily, in our society we can both point out facts and express opinions, even unfavourable, of religions, ours as well as those of others, but we should never forget that adhering to a faith does not make a person bad or unworthy just because you find certain elements of that faith objectionable. Everybody takes from religion the bits that suit him (sometimes nothing) and ignores (and conveniently forgets) the bits that don't, and it is that, rather than formal self-identification, that should matter when you look at a person (and it is not all that matters).

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Ex-Microsoft Bug Bounty dev forced to decrypt laptop for Paris airport official

T. F. M. Reader
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@Lee D

My former employer, an independent school, blocked all employees taking workplace devices with them when they travelled to France.

I don't think it is limited to France in any aspect. More like, the French do it, too. And probably your average French doesn't realize it (since it is unlikely they do it to many of their own citizens when they come home from a foreign trip).

Ironically, I once met a French guy who had been asked to boot his laptop when he had arrived at a foreign airport. He played French, saying it was his laptop, they had no right, Liberte, Egalite, etc. Full body search followed. Even then his reaction was, "I will never go to THAT COUNTRY again!" I tried to convince him the situation was not geography-specific, not sure I succeeded.

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T. F. M. Reader
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@dan1980

Asking her to actually log in, however, was a first for her and not something she had seen before.

She used to work for Microsoft though, didn't she? I am curious because I used to work for another huge multinational computer company (say, 10 years ago) and I used to travel internationally with a company laptop with sensitive data on it, including code, presentations, plans, etc. The disk was fully encrypted, it wouldn't even boot without a password.

The official company guidelines were, if you are stopped at any border, airport, etc., and are asked to boot your laptop and supply your passport - comply without arguing. If they want to take your laptop - surrender it without delay. No corporate data on your laptop is precious enough to make the hassle of getting you out of trouble worthwhile.

I would naively assume Microsoft would have similar guidelines. Maybe she didn't get the memo?

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Apple's 16GB iPhones are a big fat lie, claims iOS 8 storage hog lawsuit

T. F. M. Reader
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What? No lawsuit about RAM?

I think they should sue everybody because operating systems also tend to take a bit of the advertised RAM...

Ridiculous as the lawsuit is, I noticed that, e.g., Samsung have a footnote to the specs on their website (UK, at least): "User memory is less than the total memory due to storage of the operating system and software used to operate the phones features. Actual user memory will vary depending on the mobile phone operator and may change after software upgrades are performed." Seems fair.

The Apple iPhone6 spec (https://www.apple.com/iphone-6/specs) does not have a similar footnote, but it does have another curious one: "1GB = 1 billion bytes; actual formatted capacity less." I am not sure what it means, except that maybe they don't operate in powers of 2 (and thus 16GB is a bit less than what I would expect) and they don't use the full 16GB storage (not sure if "formatted capacity less" only means some filesystem overhead).

With all the hype that iStuff is somehow "magical and revolutionary" I am not surprised that some non-technical users may have expectations...

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Zuckerberg asks the public to tell him where to go in 2015

T. F. M. Reader
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Biases, biases

He asks for suggestions on his FB page, so no one who has not got a FB account can give any?

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Titsup Twitter: We've swatted the bug that caused the outage

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Re: Still preferable

But of course when Twitter is down it is preferable to Facebook...

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Buses? PAH. Begone with your filthy peasant-wagons

T. F. M. Reader
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When you design the new hi-tech transportation system...

...please don't forget to take into account the needs of visitors to your home town. You know, tourists, people who come on business, people visiting relatives and friends, etc. Revenue generators, all of them, among other habits and qualities that are generally beneficial to the locals' lifestyle (well, IMHO).

I doubt visitors can be expected to have the right app in the right language for your area on their smartphones or, indeed, to spend a fortune on exchanging data packets with the company operating driverless taxies or with Uber-like private car owners. When I travel, privately or on business, I care less for coming to a bus station less than a minute before departure than for knowing in advance which bus to take, where the stop is, and how much it will cost (preferably without involving PayPal for every bus ticket) to get where I need to go. Figuring out ad-hoc, personalized solutions in an unfamiliar place without the possibility to ask around or make a simple phone call and explain oneself to a human does not look attractive at all. And I would also want a friendly, convenient environment for the visitors to my town - I like it when people come to visit.

I am not saying it kills the whole idea, just that it is much more complex than you getting to and from work. I see this missed all the time. Where I live, there are toll roads but no toll booths. When you use a toll road your license plate is scanned at entry and exit points and you - the vehicle owner - will get a bill in the mail - pay it over the Internet, by phone, at a post office, whatever. Very advanced hi-tech, works beautifully. Just don't drive on toll roads in a rental car though - the bill will be mailed to the rental company, usually long after you leave - and they will bill you for processing fees, rightly. Oops...

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Feds finger Norks in Sony hack, Obama asks: HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE KOREA?

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Freedom of expression

"laws about threatening the president even in jest"

Not just that. About 20 years ago (that's way before 9/11) I was waiting for boarding at a smallish US airport. There were those metal detector frames and a big sign saying passengers had to pass through them, they would be refused boarding if they didn't, it was a federal regulation, and it was against the law to mock, parody, or make any jokes about federal laws and regulations (don't remember the exact wording - it was quite formal).

There was a bored cop standing next to me. I asked if he would arrest me if I told him a joke about going through metal detectors while boarding a plane. He looked puzzled - I pointed to the sign. "Hmmm, I guess I would have to arrest you, sir... Never thought of that..."

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The Shock of the New: The Register redesign update 4

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Update 3

I was wondering the same thing, too. Some guesses:

* El Reg only operates in powers of 2...

* Like Microsoft's OS versions, every other one is so awful that it should better remain unmentioned...

* Like Intel's tick-tock, a bona fide update consists of two steps, of which the first one is merely shrinking of the headline font...

* They were going to Interview Update 3 designers and then they were planning to assassinate them, but North Korea objected...

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Microsoft whips out real-time translator for Skype calls

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I am very unlikely to have a real-time Skype conversation completely without a common language with the other party. I would also expect that when one person speaks his/her native tongue with a foreigner who is less than fluent s?he can relatively easily make a reasonable effort to speak clearly and without too much slang. Therefore, I would assume a more pressing problem to solve is to make non-native speech and accents more comprehensible. Why not start there?

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T. F. M. Reader
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Re: How about getting written text translation right first?

Google translate seems to have improved

This may be true, but you still need to be reasonably fluent in both languages to be reasonably sure that the translation conveys the intent correctly and is not too embarrassing. All too often the translation contains words corresponding to the original but means something completely different.

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Yahoo! Says! Chrome, IE Users! Should! 'Upgrade'! To! FIREFOX!

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Never attribute to malice...

I can easily imagine a coder who never saw a detailed spec (because there never was one) or thought much write

running_latest_firefox() || display_ff_upgrade_banner();

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T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Cheeky buggers...

@thames: Are you in the US? The search deal is US-only...

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Chum's house burnt down? Facebook mulls 'DISLIKE' button for that

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Will it be on the login screen?

Supply credentials, abandon hope, enter here, or hit this big shiny "DISLIKE" button and go away?

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Google says NYET! to Putin, pulls techies out of Russia – report

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: The more things change

But samizdat was available - or interesting - only to a tiny part of the Soviet population, and at considerable risk. If you talk to Russians now, the vast majority of them do not get - nor are interested in - any information sources outside of Putin-controlled ones, despite the big great Internet. Part of the reason is language. Another part is that the Russians - just like any other people - deserve their government.

I actually think it will not be very difficult for Putin to insulate the country. A small part of the population will find ways around it - Western radio was received in the USSR despite extensive jamming, too. And the transgressors will suffer for their audacity, just like in the past. Probably even more - it must be easier to trace who tries to reach Western websites than who tries to listen to the radio at home. Internet is a godsend to police states, eh? (We all should remember that.) In any case, the bulk of the population can be insulated quite efficiently.

The old USSR broke down because Gorby made the country a bit less insulated from above, not because the population demanded it - or circumvented the restrictions - from below. I don't know what Putin thinks, but he may well be thinking Gorby made a mistake.

I confess I am a history buff. When I catch news about Russia, which does not happen often, I admit, I occasionally think things look a bit similar to their early 1930ies - after a very brief period of economic "easing" (to borrow a modern term) when it became clear the economy didn't work. The problem with this analogy is that any student of history knows what happened there in the late 30ies...

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QEMU, FFMPEG guru unleashes JPEG-slaying graphics compressor

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Prety cool demo

Bellard's page has a link to a pretty cool demo - I am surprised El Reg didn't give a link . The most obvious effect that I saw there is in smooth parts of pictures (not surprising - that is where I expect compression to do most of its work), such as the sky in the "Moscow" picture.

Play with formats and file sizes (and check the "Original" format against the various options, and you may aso try to zoom in and out with the browser). You will find how close BPG is to Original even for small and tiny file sizes, and to what extent it blows away Mozjpeg and WebP.

On images with smaller details all over, such as the internals of the Toledo Cathedral, I do not see much difference between formats. I guess such images are just difficult to compress with any algo.

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Sony Pictures hit by 'fightback on filesharers' DDoS claims – report

T. F. M. Reader
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No fan of Sony, but...

I read the re/code article yesterday and noticed that it said DoS, but by the time I read through to the end it didn't seem like denial of service at all. It looks like Sony - if the reporting is right at all - let the curious public download fake torrent chunks. This does not sound to me as DDoS'ing anyone. I am not even sure that one can accuse Sony of faking anything - nothing that does not belong to them, at least. Not sure, either, that they are doing anything illegal given that they interfere with dissemination of stolen[*] digital property in the first place.

It seems to me that calling it a DDoS is misleading.

[*] For the pedantic among us: OK, illegally copied and published.

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GCHQ releases teen-friendly code-busting app

T. F. M. Reader
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Finally!!!

Someone is thinking of the children...

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Ford dumps Windows for QNX in new in-car entertainment unit

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Stuff usually works in promotional videos.

Am I the only one getting the impression that none of the touch-screen operations in the video actually succeeded?

To Ford's credit, it does not look like the guy was actually driving while fiddling with the touch screen (his hands were not on the steering wheel, at least). On the other hand, isn't one supposed to drive a Ford rather than use it as a stationary phone booth?

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: I swear I switched that webcam off.

The way you express yourselves conjures up an image in our minds... ;-)

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T. F. M. Reader
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I will not say that it is all awful, but while I am relatively indifferent to much of the change some things are really annoying compared to the old version. This is before I checked different resolutions and stuff, or the mobile version (less important to me, but when I do use my phone I always use the normal websites, as some of the others here). I am using a big screen now.

1. I like having as much of useful stuff on the screen as I can. This means that I really do not like the new layout which either leaves too much whitespace or presents too little information, depending on zoom level/font size.

2. No need for oversized pictures, cute and funny as they might be - I'll appreciate the humour even if the illustrations are smaller. They are nice to have and they take a lot of space, making me scroll to the really useful content.

3. The categories menu - Data Centre, Software, Networks, etc. - pops a huge bar with pictures and headlines that covers half of my bloody screen when the mouse accidentally hovers over it - please get rid of this horrible "feature".

4. Search has become much more difficult to use - you need to hover over the magnifying glass symbol and only then the search bar pops out, to which you need to carefully navigate and keep the mouse cursor over it at all times. Very cumbersome. It was much easier in the old version.

5. The pages load weirdly - the main frame appears shifted to the right with a lot of whitespace on the left. Only when I scroll down to the point where a part of the heading [right now, "El Reg redesign - leave your comment here"] is no longer visible the main frame jumps to the left and the right frame (with Most Read, Spotlight, etc.) appears. If I scroll up to the heading the right frame disappears again. Happens for articles and comments alike. Very annoying. This seems like a bug and not a feature.

6. I liked the Most Commented feature. I find an unusually significant proportion of comments fairly intelligent, and knowing which topics generated most active reaction was useful, whether or not I eventually clicked on the articles.

[Firefox on Linux with AB+, if that matters. AB+ has the option of not keeping empty placeholders on the page enable - mentioning that in case it is relevant to the amount of whitespace I see.]

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No more free Windows... and now it’s all about the services

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Ongoing revenue stream...

Very well said especially about the way files for products are spread around the disk.

Maybe they will finally comply to the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard? Hope dies last...

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Devs: Barack Obama's gunning for your job!

T. F. M. Reader
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Coat

New terms in computer science?

Obamacode? Obamascript? A language called Obaml?

Coat, please...

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Sacre block! French publishers to sue Adblock maker – report

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Re: Golden rule: gold rules

@Gray: version that does block all those pesky ads, regardless.

There is a checkbox in AdBlock Plus that is labelled "Allow some unobtrusive ads" or some such. I presume it is related to those paying advertisers. IIRC, it is checked by default. I always uncheck it. Between AB+ and Ghostery (and a long /etc/hosts) I never see 3rd party ads on the internet.

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Linux software nasty slithers out of online watering holes

T. F. M. Reader
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hardened against reverse-engineering ...

... through the use of stripped symbol information and hidden network communications, adding it could not be discovered using Netstat.

Eh, so it was a stripped binary, which I expect it to be just to reduce its size. Looks like Mr Kaspersky Bod is waving his hands wildly around some nonsense.

And undetectable with netstat? What exactly does this mean? Guessing wildly: it is detectable with netstat but doesn't advertise itself as a nasty but masquerades as something else, eh? Given the "hardened by stripping" bit in the same sentence, might it be an ssh tunnel? That would be similarly "undetectable" evenif one is looking at the packets on the wire...

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Brit smut slingers shafted by UK censors' stiff new stance

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Re: Let your betters decide

"whatever the market will bare"

Nice. Have an upvote.

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RIP Microsoft Clip Art – now you can fill your slides with web cat pics

T. F. M. Reader
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WTF?

I don't use Bing...

...but I am amazed how pitiful that last link is. A search for a "business cat" that finds no Catbert images???

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