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* Posts by T. F. M. Reader

331 posts • joined 19 Dec 2012

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Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT

T. F. M. Reader
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It sounded like they had trouble scaling - probably a major reason for the "invitation only" policy. Thus even a relatively small DoS attack by someone who just saw one of the media reports and did it for lulz could push them off the intertubes.

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How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?

T. F. M. Reader
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How about some investigative journalism?

I find the article quite limited in scope, frankly. All the theoretical postulates can be argued about as much as you like (and I find some missing even from the comments). The empirical part seems to be inhibited by the particular procedure of ripping to a lossless format on a Mac (no criticism of Apple intended). Chris, how about you do some empirical research that goes beyond your own set of speakers and your own Mac and report on the results? Let's devise a few experiments you can do as a journalist.

1. Have you got an audiophile friend with high end equipment? Rip the CDs to FLAC and MP3 and listen to the originals and copies on his equipment and see if you can tell the difference. Intuitively, low end equipment has a bias in favour of lower quality codecs, so high end equipment makes a better experiment in this sense. Whether you can or cannot hear the difference, that will not tell you much about the reasons why, so move to the next phase.

2. Find a decent, professionally staffed audio equipment store and tell them you would like to get a reasonably good, better than basic consumer level shit, but not outrageously expensive audio setup. In my experience, what they will do (after some general questions and a discussion of what you are looking for, budget limitations, etc.) is invite you back with your own CDs. Ask your audiophile friend to help you pick a couple of CDs that are not completely lousy to begin with, and also bring a CD with FLAC and MP3 of the same music - ripped from the same original CDs - on it. They will line up a few decent receivers and a few sets of speakers and will start switching between them while playing the same tracks. My guesses are (assuming your audio perception is not completely degenerate): a) the same digitally recorded music played on different equipment combinations will sound completely different; b) some combinations - not necessarily the more expensive ones - will sound rich in texture and great overall while others will sound flat and poor. That's with the original CDs, no lossy codecs or anything.

[Disclaimer: This item is based on my own experiences choosing audio equipment. YMMV.]

3. Tell the store guys that you do listen to downloaded music and not just to original CDs and you would like to test how the various combinations handle that. Chances are that their DVD player will handle the formats natively. Try to listen to FLAC and MP3 on those combos that sounded great and on those combos that sounded poor. See if you hear the differences in either case.

4. If you can, bring your audiophile friend along for the experiment ("to help you make a choice") as well, as his ears are probably better trained. Don't worry if he likes a different receiver/speaker combination - this does not mean you have a hole in your head, it is very individual. The point is, whether or not he tells you that he hears a difference where you don't, it will be significant.

Report here. The results of the experiments above cannot be published in a peer reviewed journal (small sample, no objective measurements), but will be quite suitable for El Reg, IMHO.

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Sun of a beach! Java biz founder loses battle to keep his shore private

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Some 20+ years ago I was amazed that beach side residential communities in California - not just individual billionaires - could have effectively private (residents only) beaches by the simple device of providing free access, making every empty space within walking distance from the beach a public parking lot with meters, and limiting the meters to 20-25 minutes. No one can enjoy a beach if one needs to feed the meter every 20 minute to avoid a hefty fine, so beaches were deserted, pristine, and beautiful.

I was assured by aborigines that it was both legal and common. It was much closer to LA than SF, as I recall, not sure if local by-laws weigh in differently...

Maybe that's the rich guy's next recourse?

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FBI boss: Apple's iPhone, iPad encryption puts people 'ABOVE THE LAW'

T. F. M. Reader
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IANAL, but it looks like a well reasoned comment. What is not clear to me is what Mr. Comey is complaining about then?

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T. F. M. Reader
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You really don't get it, Matt

Why baristas need to encrypt stuff is none of your business. That's the whole point, really.

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Bruges Booze tubes to pump LOVELY BEER underneath city

T. F. M. Reader
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500 trucks a year?

That's all that bothers them? That's 2 trucks per working day, roughly. Is this really worth the trouble of running a whole new pipeline under the city?

Is it really 500 lorries a day?

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CloudFlare ditches private SSL keys for better security

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: "key server under the customer's control"

[replying to my own post - bad form, I know...]

Maybe crooks who don't need the NSA kind of scale will feel a tad happier though?

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T. F. M. Reader
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"key server under the customer's control"

It looks genuinely interesting. While GCHQ/NSA/etc. may have a much easier time hacking the customer's key server and stealing the private keys they'd have to do it individually for each customer, I assume.

Don't see how it mitigates MITM though, but maybe I am missing something - I only skimmed the "technical details" blog.

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Does this float your boat? Dead Steve Jobs to hijack yachts from BEYOND THE GRAVE

T. F. M. Reader
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Prior art candidates - in fiction and in real life

Fiction: Certainly either the late Desmond Llewelyn or MI6 or maybe Eon Productions have a reasonable claim to prior art because of that ill-fated - but remotely controlled from a cell phone - BMW Series 7 in Tomorrow Never Dies? Wheels or screws - there is little conceptual difference. The villain in Speed 2 only used laptops to control a luxury cruise liner, not cell phones, right? Disqualified, then.

Reality: Jim Clark's Hyperion was completely controlled by a network of SGI servers, and the interface was LCD touch screens. The touch screens were not called "tablets" at the time - so? The network was wired, I assume, but is it reasonable to insert the word "wireless" into something completely obvious and claim to have invented something?

Joking aside, whatever "innovation" Apple may claim here I can't see how this can conceivably be qualified as an invention. And you need to invent something for a patent, don't you? Oh... Sorry...

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Data entry REAR-END SNAFU: Weighty ballsup leads to plane take-off flap

T. F. M. Reader
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Insurance?

A single group of 87 schoolchildren and 9 adults from the same organization on the same plane? Were there any special insurance arrangements? Just wondering...

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Don't bother with Apple's 9 Sept hype-day: Someone's GONE AND BLABBED IT ALL

T. F. M. Reader
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Handoff

The preferred method of getting an iWatch without standing in line?

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Glasshole-in-chief QUITS Google to become CTO of America

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So the new tech czar is a former veep of innovative total surveillance, notably including video, and the deputy used to be a public policy big wig at the biggest factory of meaningless soundbites? Emphatically not someone who can run a datacenter and/or a scalable web/database server farm for, I dunno, health care? It all seems fitting, if ominous.

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BOFH: The current value of our IT ASSets? Minus eleventy-seven...

T. F. M. Reader
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optical illusions

A story told by a (former) scientist at a (former) chemical research facility in the (former) USSR: auditors were asking about an abnormally high rate of consumption of ethanol at the facility - this was in Soviet Russia, alcohol was the universal currency, but they were still making a stink about it. Wait, maybe that's why they were making a stink?

The records showed that vast quantities of ethanol were used regularly "to clean the optical axis of the radiometer". OK, said the auditors, would you please show us the radiometer and its optical axis that requires so much cleaning material - it must be huge? - Oh right, would you come with us please? After a trip through a basement maze, in front of a huge lead door with a big, bright, shiny, and glowing in the dark radiation hazard sign on it: "Oh, you do have clearance to inspect this secret facility, don't you? We will need a copy for our records, please, otherwise no one is allowed inside." No auditor has ever returned with such clearance.

Repeated many times over the glory years, or so I was told.

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SpiderOak says you'll know it's secure because a little bird told you

T. F. M. Reader
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What am I missing?

So how will the three people in different countries learn about a secret warrant served? Even if all three are the designated recipients of such warrants in their respective countries, arguably the one who learns about a warrant and leaks it, even if only by inaction, may be liable under the law. And they won't even learn of any secret warrant in a fourth country without someone breaking the law - and risking severe punishment - there.

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Crypto Daddy Phil Zimmerman says surveillance society is DOOMED

T. F. M. Reader
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A flaw in his argument

It is natural that Zimmerman focuses on encryption as the main means to ensure privacy. However, encrypting one's communications is a means against eavesdropping, but not against surveillance. Surveillance is about gathering metadata - who is talking to whom - and not (so much) learning the contents of the conversations.

Since calls need to be connected, emails need to be delivered, packets need to be routed, IP addresses need to be assigned to physical locations, and even mobile phones need to talk to towers, metadata can be gathered, stored, and analysed, if deemed necessary. This is surveillance, and encryption will not help against it.

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Americans to be guinea pigs in vast chip-and-PIN security experiment

T. F. M. Reader
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PIN lengths here are variable... 4 digits is pathetic.

So what do you do when you travel outside of the enlightened Canada and are presented with a prompt for a 4 digit PIN? Will the first 4 digits work?

And what if 4 digits are not enough? I saw that at a petrol station in Italy once. Around midnight it was dark and empty, so it was self-service or nothing. I stuck my card into the slot at a pump and was prompted for the PIN. I punched my 4 digits in only to notice that there were 5 positions, and the device did not allow me to proceed with just 4. I turned to my Italian friend who was with me in the car and asked, "This is weird. Do your credit cards have 5 digit PINs?" She looked at me and said, "I wouldn't know. I have never had a credit card in my life."

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Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers

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Re: US Tech Companies

@Trevor_Pott: "I sometimes go a little far in having fun or asserting my independence. But I'm not a threat to anyone."

Hmm... Trevor, can you spot a contradiction in what you wrote?

Seems like any assertion of independence by anyone - a person, a company, or a country - is now treated as a threat.

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

T. F. M. Reader
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Obligatory Donald Knuth quote?

"Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it."

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Indie ISP to Netflix: Give it a rest about 'net neutrality' – and get your checkbook out

T. F. M. Reader
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It really sounds to me like Netflix have a very popular product and a model for delivering it to the customers. One may argue advantages, disadvantages, "fairness", "wastefulness" (caching/no caching/whatever), or other features and qualities of this model, but let's assume for the sake of this discussion that the model suits Netflix's current business needs. That is really all that matters.

The ISP's customers want that product. Delivering it to the customers costs the ISP extra compared to the rest of the content it carries. IMHO, the ISP has two choices: say, "we don't carry it" and hope not too many will care, or pay the price and pass it on to their customers one way or the other. It is not fundamentally different from a local (brick) store whose clientèle wants products from (say) an overseas manufacturer. It would also fight an uphill battle with (e.g.) major chains that have the infrastructure and relationships and economy of scale in place.

[The direct comparison with the brick-and-mortar world tells me the situation has little to do with "net neutrality".]

It is perfectly legitimate to complain about the situation, of course. Complaining, however, will not be a viable third choice *unless* a lot of people will forego Netflix "because it is unfair to small ISPs" and thus force Netflix into revising the distribution model, rather than switch to a different ISP that has the goods.

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White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!

T. F. M. Reader
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Not only Blacks and Latinos are under-represented

Twitter is a US company, right?

According to the same 2010 US census cited in the article, 72.4% of the US population is white. So only the top leadership of Twitter has roughly the average proportion of whites, while in all the lower layers whites are horribly under-represented. Probably indicating a discriminatory practice.

Right?

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Say goodbye to landfill Android: Top 10 cheap 'n' cheerful smartphones

T. F. M. Reader
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a list of *smaller* phones

My current phone is 4in, and it is way too big for a phone, IMHO. Are there phones on the market that are less than 4in, say in the general 3.5in area, but with a decent screen resolution?

Priorities: GSM, call quality and reliability, battery life, texts, contacts + calendar + call reminder, occasional web and email, alarm clock. No need at all for any kind of apps (well, a calculator and a trivial memo app would be useful, but not essential), social networks, games, camera, music, bells or whistles. The only reason to have a smartphone over a "feature phone" is screen resolution adequate for the aforementioned occasional web/email usage.

Dear Reg, pretty please? A review of a few of those? Are there any?

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Elon Musk GIVES UP ON SEX: He'll make do with a 'cheap' Tesla III instead

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Sued over Model E?

@MrDamage: There already has been a big issue in Europe about a complete zero. Do you know how the iconic Porsche 911 got its model number?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porsche_901

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Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Best practice

This industry is in such a great shape because everyone follows the best practices.

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Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee

T. F. M. Reader
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WTF?

Yale???

Internet-connected locks, each with its own IPv6 address?... What could possibly go wrong?

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Forget the mobile patent wars – these web giants have patented your DATA CENTER

T. F. M. Reader
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Mushroom

The 21st century version

of MAD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_assured_destruction). Maybe not such a bad idea - after all, the world is still here...

[Choosing the most appropriate icon from the list.]

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Future Apple gumble could lock fanbois out of their own devices

T. F. M. Reader
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I mostly noticed the part that says

"The system would sense a device's proximity to other devices, networks or locations, before deciding the level of security that is required."

For the last, I don't know, ~15 years my mobile phones stopped locking the screen when "sensing proximity" to the car's BT hands-free kit. In a sense, it is a location determination: I am in my car, so I don't want to punch in my password and I am reasonably safe. If I forget the phone in the car but the engine is switched off the screen will be locked - smart, eh?

[Aside: my current "smart" phone can't do it out of the box, but there is an "innovative" app for that.]

Will all that start infringing on Apple's IP once they are granted the patent?

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ISPs haul GCHQ into COURT over dragnet interwebs snooping

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Re: Epic Fail

@Adrian 4: "is it the case that MPs are more likely to be acting criminally than the average MOTP ?"

Here are some plausible hypotheses for your consideration:

1) we mostly/only elect crooks;

2) only crooks ever want to be elected, hence #1 above;

3) neither #1 or #2, but power corrupts;

4) #3 or not, investigating MPs is so much more juicy than investigating MOTP that we tend to catch them with a higher probability;

5) maybe not even #4, but a crooked MP is more likely to hit a front page than a crooked MOTP.

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Amazon sues former employee who took Google cloud job

T. F. M. Reader
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No. But the contract might have specified the applicable jurisdiction (Washington in this case) in advance. Many contacts do. This is in general to the company's advantage, since in case of a dispute the employee, who normally has limited resources, will have to arrange for legal representation (and maybe appear in court) in a far away and often foreign land with unfamiliar laws.

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What's it like using the LG G smartwatch and Android Wear? Let us tell YOU

T. F. M. Reader
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Coat

... utterly insignificant ...

... little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

I really, really could not resist... I'll get my towel now, thank you.

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BOFH: You can take our lives, but you'll never take OUR MACROS

T. F. M. Reader
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Those lusers will believe anything...

"Inbuilt stupidity limiter" in Excel? Who would ever believe THAT?!?!?

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MPAA, meet the Streisand effect: Picture ass. slaps Reddit with takedown

T. F. M. Reader
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Until now

I have never heard of that particular dark corner of the Internet.

Now I find myself wondering if one could find a link to Yentl over there...

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'Sterile neutrinos' re-ignite 'we found dark-stuff' debate

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terminology

@Sander van der Wal: This is about galaxy clusters, as in "clusters of galaxies". What you mean is star clusters. The term "supercluster of galaxies" is very recent and refers to "clusters of cluster of galaxies" - this is not what the Bulbul et al. paper studies.

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Warrantless snooping on American man was LEGAL in terrorism case, rules US judge

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IANAL

I wonder if there is a lawyertard lurking here to provide an explanation.

My layman's understanding is that illegally obtained evidence is inadmissible in court only in some jurisdictions. I am not sure whether it is a purely American notion, but I suspect that it might be, popular TV shows making it seem more widely applicable than it actually is. I am not sure whether it is, in fact, the norm in British courts (luckily I have not had sufficient experience). I think the prevailing notion on this side of the pond may rather be that evidence is evidence and if it was obtained illegally it's a separate matter from guilt or innocence that it proves. I may be horribly wrong and I will gladly be educated on the subject.

This layman's conviction that warrantless untargeted surveillance is evil and must be made illegal in any country that pretends to care about individual rights and freedoms does not conflict with the feeling (disclaimer: I am not familiar with the case) that the chap deserves a very long time in jail. But then, I am not American. If I were, I might think longer about what the implications are for the foundations of my country's legal system.

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Traffic lights, fridges and how they've all got it in for us

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@Nick Ryan: I am with you. The only question is how your suggested enhancements will benefit from Internet connectivity. If someone leaves a fridge door open, how will an email or text to your cell phone in the middle of a working day facilitate closing it? And wouldn't it be better if the fridge just beeped if the door was not closed properly (after a certain short timeout maybe?) - before the guilty party leaves the house?

And as for midnight fridge raids, do you mean when you are on vacation with your other half and your teenage kids are home alone? Which of them are you going to call and scold at 3AM when your phone wakes you up in a hotel bed? Oh, I forgot: the fridge will take a picture of whoever opens the door at night and post it on Facebook, right? In a nightgown. Hopefully.

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Internet of Things fridges? Pfft. So how does my milk carton know when it's empty?

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Big Brother

Re: There is very little doubt

<<That this "Internet of Things" is a totally unnecessary solution in search of an as-yet-non-existing problem - at least as far as the consumers are concerned.>>

It s not about the consumers' problems. The manufacturers will be thrilled to get together and agree to push only Internet-enabled household appliances emphasizing that, though they are a bit more expensive, your home and health insurance will be cheaper if you have full-on IoT. The insurance companies will monitor your consumption of everything at all times, and at some point down the road you will find that you are not covered because your family of four bought, put into the fridge, and took out (and thus presumably ate) 5% more processed read meat than the national average per person. Your car insurance will also go up because your fridge and your shelves figured out how many alcohol units you consumed every night (they'll know how many people were present at dinner, too), and whether or not your car was driven afterwards.

The possibilities are endless, but consumers are not the ones to enjoy them.

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Microsoft C# chief Hejlsberg: Our open-source Apache pick will clear the FUD

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Re: Like Linux....

@ckm5: "you do realize the MSFT was one of the largest contributors to the Linux kernel at one point?"

You do realize the above statement, as worded, is basically a headline? Do re-read the article. At that point (2011) MSFT were the 17th largest *corporate* (i.e., not overall) contributor to the kernel, and that was right after their Hyper-V drivers, that had previously violated GPL, were accepted. About 7KLOC out of the total of about 15MLOC at the time.

MSFT do contribute to the kernel. Not enough to be counted as a top dog though.

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Evidence of ancient WORLD SMASHER planet Theia - FOUND ON MOON

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Named by whom?

@Malc: And what was the 'name' of the proto-Earth before the collision that went on to form the Earth and Moon?

Do you mean in Greek Mythology or in science? Might be the same, actually...

Selene's parents were Theia and her brother Hyperion. Their parents were Gaia (rings a bell?) and Uranus. So whether you stick to mythology or go all "scientific" (and adopt the view that Selene was born out of a chance encounter between Theia and... hmm... Gaia) it gets incestuous really fast. Nothing particularly unusual for Greek Mythology, mind you.

The scientific version will have less trouble with biological impossibility of Gaia and Theia producing offspring (consider Selene adopted by her grandmother) than with genealogy of Selene's brother Helios. Thus full reconciliation between science and mythology will require a bit more ingenuity.

*Pulling tongue out of cheek*

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NSA: Inside the FIVE-EYED VAMPIRE SQUID of the INTERNET

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: El Reg's gloves come off

@moiety: The writers seem more pissed-off than usual too

Seems to be one guest writer for whom it is business as usual, actually:

http://www.duncancampbell.org/content/biography

Or is he on staff now?

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REVEALED: GCHQ's BEYOND TOP SECRET Middle Eastern INTERNET SPY BASE

T. F. M. Reader
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J'accuse

May I just point out that the reference to "J'accuse" hardly fits the context? ;-)

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For your next privacy panic, look no further than vending machines

T. F. M. Reader
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More useful to look at those who do *not* buy

The cameras can provide information on the demographics of potential customers who do *not* buy anything, especially those who actually throw a glance but then just walk by. Much more useful than looking at the paying customers.

Might even be considered a valid market research application. Unless actual footage or snapshots are stored, and/or facial recognition is involved. Neither is really needed for the described application, but what are the chances?...

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Still watching DVDs? You're a PLANET-KILLING CARBON HOG!

T. F. M. Reader
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"once you count in driving to the store"

So going to the cinema is a crime against the planet, too?

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Spy platform zero day exposes cops' wiretapped calls

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Dual use?

@article: "NICE's Recording eXpress voice recording product <...> targets police and law enforcement agencies."

Huh? Isn't it a call centre recording product? You know, "some calls may be recorded to improve customer service"? Plus for compliance to all sorts of non-security-related regulations?

http://www.nice.com/compliance-call-recording ?

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Google TOO WHITE and MALE, says HR boss, looking in mirror

T. F. M. Reader
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Not very useful stats?

So they have more men than women and are heavy on Asians at the expense of Hispanics/Latinos. Hardly surprising for a geeky American tech company. The proportion of whites does not seem to be too out of line for US.

I suspect the statistics of who actually work there are not very telling or useful for guiding the company's hiring policies. What about the demographics of applicants who get hired or rejected after personal interviews (as opposed to screening techniques that are designed to be gender- and ethnically blind and anonymous)? What about the statistics of non-anonymous CVs that are binned by HR - are females or Hispanics more likely to get rejected early? Is the ethnic mix wildly different from the relevant university departments? If they develop some measures along such lines and find out there is a bias they they can start thinking there may be a problem to address.

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What can The Simpsons teach us about stats algorithms? Glad you asked...

T. F. M. Reader
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Re: Tree ring plus measured?

I must have slipped in my vigilance - not sure what denialist offensive you have in mind. Have not heard anything about tree rings for years.

I recall reading the first and then the second paper on tree rings as a proxy for historic temperature measurements. I am too lazy to check, and my memory may be faulty after all these years, but if it isn't the first sample consisted of 3 stumps, and the second - of 21 or so. Both samples were from basically the same place. I decided to discount all the conclusions that could be drawn from either sample (or both - it well may be that the samples were similar enough that the Simpson paradox would not manifest itself) regarding the temperature history for the planet as a whole at that point.

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Cloud computing aka 'The future is trying to KILL YOU'

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The cycle of change spins ever faster... Really?

Gliding over the dubious validity of overall comparisons between VMware, Hadoop, and NOSQL, let's take the statements in the article at face value.

So, VMware didn't have a serious effect on the industry for a decade? [I'd beg to differ[1], but I'll accept the statement for commentarding purposes]. But Hadoop "started to cause change" after 7 years (2005 to 2012, according to the article), and NOSQL "already having an effect" also after 7 years (2007 to, presumably, 2014)?

This does not show any significant acceleration. On the contrary, the timescales look very similar to me: 7 years - with "started" and "already" qualifiers - against 10 (or, arguably, quite a bit less[1])? Meh...

NB: The above does not, by itself, invalidate other main points of the article. But this particular argument does not hold water, IMHO.

[1] VMware had a very significant impact several years before 2008. From personal recollections, not only was it widely used for workstation virtualization by 2000-2001 (x86 *servers* were not as dominant then as they are now, btw), but starting from about 2004-2006 VMware was a really major platform for server and networking companies on the supply side, and (at least) big banks on the demand side (see also below). EMC bought it for $625M in 2004 - its impact had to be pretty obvious at the time (that's just 5 years after the first product release).

To emphasize the dubiousness of the article's comparison, VMware got a real boost after Intel and AMD built virtualization support into x86 (starting from 2006). This helped VMware win over paravirtualization (e.g., Xen, which is still kicking - think AWS and Citrix - but no longer has the performance advantages of the olden days).

Neither Hadoop nor NOSQL needed this kind of CPU redesign to take off. And still their industry penetration timescale is no faster. I would also argue VMware's impact is a lot wider - Hadoop and NOSQL are very significant niches, but niches nonetheless in comparison. Arguably (yes, one can argue both ways, so don't start), big banks alone were such a niche for VMware before 2008, comparable in scale to big data today.

A more direct comparison to VMware may be provided by KVM, which is already widely used in the Cloud even though its first *stable* release was just over 18 month ago. However, even KVM: a) was ready enough for Red Hat to buy Qumranet back in 2008 (and leveraged the pre-existing QEMU); b) didn't need to wait for CPU support, either, which helped; c) never had to fight for the basic virtualization business case as the pioneers - VMware and Xen - had won that battle several years earlier.

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How to catch a fraudster – using 'top cop' Benford and the power of maths

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Re: Scale independence

@Dr Paul Taylor: I am a little surprised not to have seen the word "logarithm" in the article.

It is actually there if you look closely. ;-) [Hint: in the description of where Frank Benford started from.]

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Archive.org web trove hits FOUR HUNDRED BEEEELLION pages

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Understatement of the year?

Who had more beer last night: me, The Reg, or the Wayback Machine? Their announcement says FOUR HUNDRED BEEELLION pages. or at least that's what I saw. Twice.

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Oracle vs Google redux: Appeals court says APIs CAN TOO be copyrighted

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What Java APIs?

Does this mean that IBM and others who have their own JVMs (presumably implementing the same APIs) are Oracle's next targets? I may misunderstand what APIs are the issue here. Enlightenment will be app...

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Powershell terminal sucks. Is there a better choice?

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Cygwin

Can't imagine a usable Windows system without it. Or without X that comes with it. Or without the multitude of familiar tools (bash being the first). Compared to the usual Linux/UNIX environment it has its quirks, but those can be forgiven.

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China 'in discussions' about high-speed rail lines to London, Germany – and the US

T. F. M. Reader
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Napoleon complex?

A tunnel between Mainland China and Taiwan? Didn't Napoleon consider digging a tunnel under the Channel to invade Britain?

Back to the long haul plans: besides the purely engineering fascination with a project of this scale I am curious about business aspects:

1) IMHO, for passengers such a trip (London to Beijing or whatever) would be attractive only if it is made significantly cheaper than flights. Even a high speed train will be slower than flying long distances, and I expect the arrival/departure and the associated procedures, including security, to be essentially the same.

2) For cargo it will make sense only if there is enough demand for 2-4 day delivery of massive quantities of stuff, so that planes are not feasible and ships (or slow trains) are too slow. A side question: is it feasible to transport standard cargo containers on 350km/h trains?

Any pointers to a business analysis of question above will be followed with interest.

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