* Posts by John Savard

1619 posts • joined 18 Sep 2007

Ad-blocker blocking websites face legal peril at hands of privacy bods

John Savard
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If Ghostery gets detected after it's uninstalled, Ghostery, not Wired or Fark, is the guilty party. Any program that leaves traces of itself behind after the Windows Uninstaller has done its work has not been following the rules for a Windows application.

But presumably it's not sold in stores in boxes, so it doesn't need to get permission to stick a logo on them.

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Intel literally decimates workforce: 12,000 will be axed, CFO shifts to sales

John Savard
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Re: Literally

Read the article more carefully; it doesn't, so the only thing making the decimation non-literal is that the terminated employees won't be terminated with what is sometimes called "extreme prejudice".

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John Savard
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Re: Food for thought?

It's true that Microsoft has fixed things so that you get Windows "free" whenever you buy a computer, thus making the fact that Linux is free less important. And we all know what Linux is doing wrong; making it painful to write Linux drivers for hardware, by changing the interface with each new kernel, and banning closed-source drivers from some Linux distributions. Not to mention that different Linux distros use different package managers.

So if I need shrink-wrapped software, it will be for Windows. But I may be able to get free software of a similar kind for Linux.

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John Savard
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Literally

Oh, you mean that Intel actually has more than 120,000 people working for it?

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Chinese crypto techie sentenced to death for leaking state secrets

John Savard
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And for the rest

I just think it's a pity China has a second-strike capability. It is clearly a country in need of regime change.

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Censorship FTW! China bans Paris Hilton, minor Kardashians et al

John Savard
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Re: yah know...

Well, at one point Kim Kardashian did make public statements helping to heighten awareness of the Armenian Genocide.

And I'm sure her father defended some clients other than O. J. Simpson, some of whom were actually innocent.

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John Savard
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Freedom

A stopped clock is right twice a day!

I wouldn't want to live in North Korea, even though instead of that awful rock and roll music, young people have inspiring songs to listen to like "Let's Study!" (also translated as "Let's Learn!").

Of course a dictatorship will, among its other goals, want its people to labor constructively, and rest with uplifting pastimes - and so they will clamp down hard on drugs and all forms of dissipation. Latitude for such things is one of the prices we pay for freedom, but it's worth it.

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Embrace, extend – and kill. Microsoft discontinues RoboVM

John Savard
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Alternative

Is it possible to go back to the last open-source version of OpenVM and start from there?

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Spinning rust fans reckon we'll have 18TB disk drives in two years

John Savard
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Bit-Patterned Media

I hadn't been keeping up with my buzzwords, and thought that shingled recording was a term for what actually is known as "bit-patterned media". Instead, shingled recording involves having the tracks overlap - stopping every few tracks for one that is not overlapped, so that the tracks in a group can always be written in the same direction.

And they now make drives that still do the work of managing this internally, but with special driver software allowing the layout to be optimized depending on which files are accessed sequentially, and which ones are accessed randomly.

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Bibliotheca Alexandrina buys a Huawei superdupercomputer

John Savard
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Export Restrictions?

And here I thought China had recently passed a law banning the export of supercomputers from China, to show that their supercomputers were just as good as the Americans'.

But then, Egypt is a friendly country, I suppose.

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Just how close are Obama and Google? You won’t believe the answer

John Savard
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Market Power

Classifying Internet Service Providers as being governed by Title II actually provides consumers in the United States with a great deal of protection - against, for example, the only broadband provider in their town, since it is also a Cable TV company, blocking access to YouTube, Netflix, and other video streaming services. That's what "net neutrality" is about.

Even if it is true that making net neutrality mandatory prevents the emergence of certain kinds of useful services (why not ad-funded "free internet") the call for net neutrality reflects very real inequalities in market power between a broadband provider and an individual private citizen seeking an Internet connection.

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Space archeologist discovers new evidence of Vikings invading America

John Savard
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Date

Space archeologists and Vikings? In the same news item?

Also, I've heard of TED talks, but I didn't think that a company that gets revenue from ads on YouTube would be able to afford $1 million prizes.

And then there was that recent "find" of a Roman sword in the New World that turned out to look exactly like a real Roman sword used as the model for cheap imitation Roman swords. That find took place in Atlantic Canada, although I can't remember if it was in l'Anse aux Meadows.

Given all that, if this was a genuine news item, the date on which it was published will lead to confusion.

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'Planet nine' theory boosted by Kuiper Belt Object with odd orbit

John Savard
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Alternatively

Yes, many people still think of Pluto as the ninth planet, even though then Eris would have to be the tenth. Perhaps this should be Planet Nine, Second Try, or Planet 9B.

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Six charged for 'hacking' lottery terminals to spew only winning tickets

John Savard
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Re: So, what's the charge?

They tampered with the machines. They cancelled tickets after first finding out whether or not they would be winning tickets, which is inherently fraudulent, whatever scheme or mechanism they may have used to do so: since the whole point of this "gambling" thing is that you pay first, and then find out if you've won. And taking advantage of weak security is no excuse; it's neither more nor less illegal to pick the lock on someone's door and steal his furniture whether he has an expensive lock on his door or a cheap one.

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Boffins urged to publish in free journals by science sugardaddy

John Savard
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Reputation

It certainly is true that there are some open-access journals that primarily exist to give undeserved credibility to what is sometimes politely called fringe science. The journals that are well-established and recognized, unfortunately, are the ones that charge high fees. But then, quite apart from the costs of paper and ink, overseeing an effective peer-review process costs money.

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Let’s re-invent small phones! Small screens! And rubber buttons!

John Savard
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Re: Mad, but Innovative?

The Sony Ericsson W44S was of this kind - but now I think the one I remember first hearing about was from Motorola, the MPx. I had thought that just one company brought out a phone of this kind once, which would have been a sad loss, but in fact there are several other dual-hinge phones I haven't listed.

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John Savard
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Re: Mad, but Innovative?

Ah, the Sony Premier 3 Walkman did this as well. And the Nokia N93, which also allocated more space to the camera than most phones.

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John Savard
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Mad, but Innovative?

As far as I'm concerned, the Samsung dual-hinge phone designs, like that of the SGH-D307, are what I'd like to see brought back, but for a full-powered modern smartphone.

That way, not only do you have real buttons to push, but you can choose what kind of keyboard you will use!

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Mud sticks: Microsoft, Windows 10 and reputational damage

John Savard
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The Problem

The problem with Windows 10, for me, is that unless you have the enterprise version, you have no control over how it updates itself - except by not connecting your computer to the Internet.

That is simply not acceptable.

Otherwise, the fact that it's gone further back than Windows 8.1 towards allowing older Windows applications to be convenient to use is a good thing. Possibly it's in need of a tweak to allow switching to a different interface style when one is using it on a mobile device, but I'm not familiar enough with it to know anything about those issues.

I think what I would like to see, though, is simply for it to start with the new-style screen, but when you click on "Desktop", it takes you to what is basically a Windows 7 desktop, even if you can also run new-style applications from there now. There's no need to get more complicated than that.

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Hand in glove: Google and the US State Dept

John Savard
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What's to Complain About Here?

This news story seems to just show that Google is acting in an exemplary and public-spirited manner for a private company, doing more than its duty to help work towards peace and freedom.

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A Logic Named Joe: The 1946 sci-fi short that nailed modern tech

John Savard
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I Keep Remembering It

The story "A Logic Named Joe" certainly comes to my mind when I read news items about Apple adjusting Siri so she won't try to be helpful to someone who asks how he can murder his wife, and so on.

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Apple engineers rebel, refuse to work on iOS amid FBI iPhone battle

John Savard
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Source Code

Usually, in a lawsuit, one cannot compel a performance. So rather than requiring Apple's engineers to act against their principles, handing over the relevant source code to the FBI would serve the purposes of the relief the FBI is seeking.

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NASA celebrates 50-year anniversary of first spaceship docking in orbit

John Savard
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Re: And in three years ...

It's true that the Apollo program was cut short by Nixon, ending with Apollo 17 when it should have continued to Apollo 20. However, the main motive for the Apollo program was, in the wake of Sputnik, to prove that America, not Russia, was the technical leader of the world.

Today, with the world using Microsoft Windows on Intel (or AMD) processors, and with the fall of the Soviet Union, there's no need to spend billions to make that point. Building a base on the Moon, sending men to Mars, colonizing Mars - these things certainly are desirable.

But are they desirable enough that most people agree they're a worthwhile expenditure of tax dollars? That's not bad politics - it's bad politics when the pork-barrel leads to the design for the SLS not using the best and cheapest engine for its boosters, but it's politics the way it should be when the wishes of the electorate are correctly represented.

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Get lost, Windows 10 and Phone fans: No maps HERE on Microsoft's OS

John Savard
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At Face Value

If what they're saying at HERE is the truth, they didn't decide to drop support for Windows 10 because they didn't like Microsoft, but for technical reasons that would have made continuing support uneconomical.

And it also means that since it's a workaround for a fundamental incompatibility that's breaking, that what Microsoft did on its end may have been a legitimate step to improve the security of their operating system.

I'm surprised that an application to display maps on a mobile device has to somehow break the rules software developers are expected to follow, and resort to hacker-type techniques in order to provide its basic functionality. But given the statement that it could work if rewritten from the ground up, likely that is not the issue, the problem could be that the app derives from legacy code written for the Windows desktop, i.e., Windows 7 or earlier.

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Java evangelist leaves Oracle to save Java

John Savard
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Inclined

When reading the article, I was moved to feel the sentiment that sometimes apathy and short-sightedness are good things.

Java seems to be on the way out in browsers, as has been noted here. Whatever its merits as a language with an associated P-code level to give it greater universality, there are a great many cross-platform languages out there. Of course other languages can be compiled to run on the JVM, but specifically because that is owned and controlled by Oracle, in many circumstances people have a motive to avoid it.

Thus, it's very hard for me to see Java as something to get or remain excited about. So I ended up being rather baffled and unsympathetic from the article; Oracle is unlikely to change its ways, and I fail to see why trying to achieve this is worth the effort. Of course, writing yet another alternative cross-platform language would perhaps be only slightly less unhelpful.

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Yelp minimum wage row shines spotlight on … broke, fired employee

John Savard
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Re: A Minimium Wage Employee

What, bus drivers don't belong to a union in California?

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John Savard
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Re: Rent

Such high rents can fail to result in a building spree when the government passes legislation interfering in the free market in order to maintain the aesthetics of the beautiful San Francisco area for the benefit of those who can afford to pay a lot to live there.

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John Savard
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It did occur to me that indeed, her extravagant lifestyle choices were perhaps partly to blame here.

Perhaps she took a job that was intended for people who are still living at home with their parents.

As for commuting to San Francisco, apparently the geography is such that her carbon footprint would be bad - and her travel expenses would make up for the savings in housing expenses, particularly as the latter are likely to be limited given that many higher-paid people have already had the same idea.

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John Savard
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Cyystal Balls for Sale Cheap

It's the government's fault, for not managing the economy so that there were more jobs to go around.

It's true that arts degrees aren't terribly marketable in the best of times, but sometimes a degree was marketable when you went to college, and isn't when you graduate.

The government should maintain normal economic conditions of 1948-1968 era full employment at all times forever. Oh, it can do that; but trade barriers would be the first step.

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John Savard
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Joke

It's All Her Fault!

Clearly, she was stealing a job which should have gone to an African-American, who could live in the slums where the rent is lower! Such an individual would have had some money left for food.

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Who hit you, HP Inc? 'Windows 10! It's all Windows 10's fault'

John Savard
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Microsoft Couldn't Win

If Microsoft hadn't given Windows 10 upgrades away for free, how many people would have gone out to buy a new computer just because it had an operating system that wouldn't let you control how much information it sent to Microsoft, and wouldn't let you control what system updates it accepted?

So giving it away free wasn't the only problem; what Windows 10 is would also have reduced its value as an incentive to new sales even if people did have to buy a new computer to get it.

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NSA data centre brings 300 million daily security scares to its Utah home

John Savard
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Re: But on the bright side...

From Utah, you can ship a truck filled with Blu-Ray disks over land to Fort Meade, Maryland. From Alaska, you would have to either use a boat over the ocean, or go through a foreign country, Canada. So there is a legitimate security reason for choosing Utah over Alaska; it isn't necessarily because the NSA scientists want to gamble (or hack the casinos?) in Las Vegas.

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Intel shows budget Android phone powering big-screen Linux

John Savard
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Better than Continuum

If I understood it correctly, while Windows Continuum lets you run applications with a desktop interface, it still does not let you run just any shrink-wrapped Windows 10 x86 binary application; the applications still have to be for the mobile version of Windows 10, to run on ARM. This, on the other hand, lets one run real Linux programs, not Android programs which are modified to accept the mouse buttons and expect a keyboard.

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Europe's ExoMars mission enjoys orchestral fanfare

John Savard
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Re: Which Orchestra?

Or they hired a young Japanese girl with a Yamaha Electone Stagea?

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John Savard
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Which Orchestra?

I wonder if the ESA went almost "to the ends of the Earth" to find an orchestra that would be available at a reduced expense to make life easier for the taxpayers.

For example, a British company known as Jagex went to Bratislava (in Slovakia), so as to be able to hire a symphony orchestra in order to play music to accompany their MMORPG known as "RuneScape".

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Solution to tech bros' disgust of SF homeless people launched

John Savard
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It's a joke, people

I should think it's obviously intended as a satirical attack on the insensitive people who are worried about how the homeless look to them, instead of the problems the homeless are facing.

Not as a serious way of making money off this insensitivity.

After all, the main reason why people are dismayed selfishly at seeing the homeless about is that they feel they present a risk - the odd one might be an aggressive panhandler or worse. So the last thing one would want is to have one's vision of potential hazards obstructed.

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Eurovision Song Contest uncorks 1975 vote shocker: No 'Nul point'!

John Savard
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Re: I like it how the ESC brings people from all kinds of countries together...

Yes, it was 819 lines in France for black and white television - and 405 lines in Britain. Everywhere else, it was the same 625 lines as is today used for color television in Europe.

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John Savard
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There Used to Be

There used to be some quite good songs coming out of Eurovision... not even necessarily just the winners:

1958: Nel Blu Dipinto Del Blu/Volare

1960: Tom Pilibi

1961: Al di la, and also Valoa Ikkunassa

1962: Tipi-tii

1963: A Force du Prier

1964: Non ho l'eta

1965: Poupee de cire, poupee de son

1966: A Man Without Love, and also Ce soir j'attendais

1967: L'amour est bleu/Love is Blue, and also Puppet on a String

1968: La la la, and also Ein Hoch der Liebe, and also La Source

1970: All Kinds of Everything, and also Knock Knock Who's There

1971: Jack in the Box

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Q: How many guns to arm nine coachloads of terrorists?

John Savard
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Precisely

Presumably, they were aiming at a high figure, so with 439 weapons, if "enough" is defined as one weapon per terrorist, ten coachloads must hold 440 or more people, but nine coachloads 439 or fewer. So a coach can have no less than 44 seats, and no more than 48 seats.

However, looking this up, it seems that there were 56 seats on a British Railways Mark I carriage.

So those weapons would only be enough to arm every terrorist in seven coachloads!

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Khronos releases Vulkan 1.0 open graphics specification

John Savard
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Re: Vulkan successor to OpenGL?

Given that DirectX 12 is the successor to DirectX 11, it certainly would seem that the close-to-the-metal capabilities of Vulkan should be integrated with the more mainstream approach of OpenGL to provide a comparable alternative - ideally, one where one could program most of one's graphics in the normal OpenGL fashion, getting close to the metal only when one needs to.

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John Savard
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Some (well, most, or nearly all) of the improvements found in DirectX 12 over DirectX 11 will now be available on Linux as well. Plus, since this also works under Windows, and on the Mac, it will be easier to make games that run very well on all three platforms.

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John Savard
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Aww

Went to the NVIDIA site. Their Vulkan drivers are still in beta, and they only go back as far as the GTX 600 series, so I'm out of luck with a GTX 440 on my laptop.

What made me enthusiastic about Vulkan at this point was that it was noted in the article as being helpful to using the GPU for calculation and not just for graphics.

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PC sales aren't doing so great – but good God, you're buying mountains of Nvidia graphics cards

John Savard
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Good News for AMD, Not Bad

Actually, this is good news for the ATI division of AMD: it proves there's a market out there for new graphics cards. If Nvidia was losing money instead, without an improvement in what AMD was doing in that area, then that would mean that AMD, if it made an investment in improving their GPUs, would have difficulty in recouping that investment.

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Why Tim Cook is wrong: A privacy advocate's view

John Savard
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Not Concerned Here

I don't consider it a 'design flaw' that the limits on entering PINs into phones are only enforced by software - which is on chips that can be removed from the phone and replaced by chips programmed differently. An iPhone is not a piece of military communications equipment that may be captured in hostile territory.

Since the authorities have obtained physical possession of the phone in question in a legal manner, however, I do not see the judge's order as a threat to privacy. It is a threat when a backdoor to encryption lets the authorities eavesdrop on people who have no way to know this is happening - but when proper procedures have led to a computer being seized, that is a very different matter.

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China 'evacuates' 9,000 around monster radio 'scope

John Savard
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Hazards

Well, it is true that people use personal computers and even television sets, and so one would wish to put a radio telescope in an empty spot. And China is known to be rather crowded.

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Boffins' 5D laser-based storage tech could keep terabytes forever

John Savard
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Safety Margin

If the data can survive for 13.8 billion years, the fact that no one will be around to care is not the problem.

It just means the data is more likely to be there in, say, ten years, when I just might want to read it again. The rest is just gravy.

And, barring disaster, people will still be able to understand English, say, 1,000 years from now, which is longer than most contemporary storage media would hold up.

Plus, 360 terabytes on something the size of a Compact Disc! Finally, backing up your hard drive will be practical again, which will give those ransomware peddlers a good kick!

So I certainly hope those folks in Lithuania manage to productize this exciting technology.

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Apple must help Feds unlock San Bernardino killer's iPhone – judge

John Savard
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Security

The cryptanalysis capabilities of the NSA and the GCHQ are a closely guarded secret. Therefore, this secret will not be unveiled simply to assist in a criminal investigation. Therefore, it cannot be inferred that these capabilities are unequal to extracting the data from an iPhone simply because of this criminal case.

Clearly, it should be possible to bypass a restriction on how many times one can try passwords on a smartphone. Copying all the encrypted data out, and having in hand the full source code to the phone's software, it should indeed be trivial. Given this, there is no reason to endanger any capabilities the NSA may have to avoid it.

However, one might note that, given the sophistication of today's secret-key algorithms, at least, barring some flaw in Apple's security, it would be reasonable for other reasons to feel that the NSA could not read data on an iPhone by means of cryptanalysis. But this court case is not evidence one way or the other.

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Reluctant Wikipedia lifts lid on $2.5m internet search engine project

John Savard
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A Clear Difference

Well, unlike Google, it's supposed to be a search engine for trustworthy information on the Internet, not just things that happen to be on the Internet.

Although Google, by giving Wikipedia a high ranking to start with, sort of used Wikipedia to help it partially perform that function!

Still, it sounds like they're aiming at something between what Yahoo! used to be on the one hand, and what a search engine, like AltaVista, or that upstart Google, is. Some kind of intelligent self-curating AI search engine.

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Boffins freeze brains, then thaw them – and they're in perfect order

John Savard
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Some Progress

Some progress in this area - and I think this research is an exciting milestone - is better than none.

Having found the right version of "antifreeze" to use on the most critical part of the body (the rest can just be cloned, after all) is the major step to making cryopreservation work.

Of course, it's up to the voters to demand that when it does work that it get included in the local equivalent of the National Health.

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Submarine cable cut lops Terabits off Australia's data bridge

John Savard
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Cape York

Looking at a submarine cable map, I see that Australia still has a few other cables left. Also, there are one or more cables linking it to Papua New Guinea, which is closer to Asia. But what surprises me is that none of those cables enter the ocean from Cape York, which would allow them to be shorter.

As Papua New Guinea is administered by Australia, it would seem that they're missing an opportunity to shorten the length of Australia's submarine cable links to the outside world; those links could go to PNG and then continue on from it to Australia.

Also, I read an interesting report on the web that notes that New Zealand takes the protection of its submarine cables more seriously than Australia.

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