* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2118 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Intel loses its ARM wrestling match, kicks out Atom mobe chips

Flocke Kroes
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Re: ARM are growing even without Samsung

Intel leaving mobile makes no difference to ARM as Intel had a microscopic market share.

Intel leaving mobile makes a chunky difference to Intel as they are not wasting money developing expensive low margin chips that hardly sell, and displace a sale of a high margin product when they do.

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Miguel de Icaza on his journey from open source to Microsoft: 'It's a different company'

Flocke Kroes
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Re: BSD license

BSD and similar licenses are often chosen by people and institutions financed by government grants. The license requires third party distributors to mention in their product literature that it uses some BSD or MIT or whatever software. The authors can include these mentions in their next grant application as evidence that something useful was done with the money last time. There is plenty of excellent software with a BSD style license that has ended up in all sorts of places - both free and proprietary.

The BSD license does not attempt to limit patent threats. These threats are not from the coders, but from third parties because some patent systems reward first to file rather than the inventor (even for software which patent lawyers refuse to admit is not patentable because it it a branch of mathematics). Microsoft and other companies like BSD variants because they can embrace and extend without sharing.

The GPL is selected by people who like the idea of contributing an onion and sharing the whole soup. There is an attempt to limit the damage inflicted by the patent system. The license to distribute is only available to people and companies who do not aggressively assert patents, so for some reason Microsoft actively despise the GPL, and will not distribute software with that license.

If you code something, or hire someone to code it for you, you choose the license. If you want to use someone else's code in your project, read their license and if you are not entirely certain about license compatibility hire a lawyer to explain it to you before you commit large amounts of time or money to a project with no future. Throwing chairs at people because you do not like the license they have selected doesn't make the world a happier place. The good news is that in the world of software, the wheel has been invented so many times that you can usually pick one the a license want.

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Flocke Kroes
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It was about the patents

The problem with Mono was never about what Ballmer said. It was about patents. If you used Mono, Microsoft could sue you for patent infringement. If you breathe, Microsoft could sue you for patent infringement, but would probably get kicked out of court before you had spent several million dollars. Using Mono and making a large profit would put you at risk of being sued until you look like SCO.

A clear promise from Microsoft not to enforce patents did not make headline news. To be fair, I was not looking for one, but for years a lack of such a promise was headline news.

I am sure Microsoft's lawyers a very aware of the difference between open source and free software. Open source means you can look at the source code, but without written evidence to the contrary, you should expect to be sued for wilful patent infringement if you ever distribute software afterwards (clearly you copied the patented structure, sequence and organisation of their gardening software into you motorbike design software).

Free software can be any price. The free refers to freedom - to run, study, redistribute and improve. Part of a free software license is a guaranty from the supplier not to sue for patent infringement - unless you sue him first. I hope one day, journalists will understand the difference between open source and free software. Judging by the current evidence, an Orion capsule will land on Mars first.

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Linux greybeards release beta of systemd-free Debian fork

Flocke Kroes
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systemd is not a boot loader

The sequence is firmware loads (part of) the boot loader, which is usually grub for x86 or U-Boot for everything else. The boot loader - using nothing but itself and some probably broken firmware - loads the rest of itself, then the kernel (and possibly a small disk image). The kernel mounts the root file system, and then runs something as process 1. That was usually sysvinit, or - if you are recovering a badly confused machine - bash. Systemd is a replacement for sysvinit.

When process 1 starts, it has the complete kernel and any modules the kernel requires, the root file system, and probably a few pseudo file systems like /dev. Sys[vt][ei][nm][di]t? starts almost everything else: all the permanently attached file systems, any strange configuration, various demons, login for each terminal and one of the gui login programs. When a process dies, its parent gets sent a signal. If the parent is dead, that signal goes to process 1. While running, systemd/sysvinit restarts any dead demons. During shutdown, sysvinit/systemd kills all the processes and unmounts all the file systems.

This makes sys{vinit,temd} very different from a boot loader - which self destructed when it handed control to the kernel within a few seconds of power on.

BTW: Debian architecture names make sense to techies, but not to computer illiterates. AMD64 is almost certainly what your Intel processor is pretending to be when it is not pretending to be an ancient pentium for 32-bit Windows users. It is the most common architecture on the planet. Raspberry pi is odd. The earliest ones are not quite armhf. The newest ones are ARM64, and the ones in the middle are armhf. Supporting raspberry pi means armhf with restrictive compiler flags. Banana pi is full armhf, and anything armhf should be able to use the same repository.

If we go through popcon in order of architecture, fist is AMD64. Second is i386 (probably AMD64 compatible machines, although some will be ancient / odd). Raspberry pi is not included in popcon, but is probably next in real life, then comes armel (arm older than the oldest pi), powerpc (old converted macs?), armhf (banana pi, and a pile of other arm based small cheap computers). All the remaining architectures supported by debian together are not as common as armhf. Devuan have chosen about three and a half of the most popular architectures. The most of the others are too old to run Debian Jessie anyway, have bigger problems than hatred of systemd if the maintainers want to upgrade.

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CERN publishes massive data set

Flocke Kroes
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The barn already has a definition - and it is a small area

The origin really is "Couldn't hit the broad side of a barn".

Harmondsworth great barn is 58.55 x 11.3 x 11.9 metres, so its broad side is about 7x10^30 barns. TheRegister already has a unit of area, the nanoWales.

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Microsoft, Google bury hatchet – surprisingly, not in each other

Flocke Kroes
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Re: encourage government regulators to investigate each other

Getting a PC without Windows has been getting steadily easier. It has reached the point where major distributors are openly selling blank hardware for less than the same hardware with Windows installed. The final nail in the coffin was banking trojans hidden in the crapware. The effort of searching for trojans exceeded the bribes for installing the rubbish in the first place. Although retailers could include Linux as standard, the first thing any penguin is going to do is wipe the machine and do a clean install, so I can understand them not making the effort.

W10 is Microsoft moving to an ad supported revenue model. The telemetry is part of the cost of the OS. If the cost is too high for you, don't buy it. You have choices that do not involve the old Microsoft tax. Forced updates and bundling of cloud services are more costs known in advance to anyone vaguely computer literate. Pay the costs or leave Microsoft to their thoroughly lock-in victims.

There is a whole chain of blame for lack of Android updates: The telco won't allow it, the manufacturer can't be bothered, the chip vendor will not maintain closed source drivers for old chips. You could wait a decade for the European court to reach a verdict, and another for effective enforcement. If you want updates, check out which makes get regular updates before you buy.

If you think Google are manipulating search results, jump straight to page 2. They are not the only search engine. I am more likely to search Wakipedia or Amazon than use a generic search. Java has an off switch. So does javascript. The web looks so much better without either.

Voting with your feet is far more effective than waiting for the EU to do something useful.

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'Impossible' EmDrive flying saucer thruster may herald new theory of inertia

Flocke Kroes
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Re: 'Cannot be explained by known Physics' they say...

Laser beams and light sails are easy: You put a big fan (laser) in you (space) port, and a big (light) sail on your ship. The fan pushes air in one direction and the Earth in the other, but as the Earth is so big, no-one notices. The air hits the ship. The air slows down (light bounces back) and the ship speeds up.

The first good thing about the EmDrive is that the fan and the sails are both on the ship. The other clever bit is a trick to reduce the size of the fan: You put sails at both ends of the ship, and the fan in the middle. You change the direction the fan spins back and forth really quickly, in time with the frequency that air bounces back and forth between the sails so the air speed builds up like small pushes on swing.

Because it is symmetrical, there is no net force. The trick to getting money out of investors is to make the sails at each end of the ship different sizes, and put a truncated cone around the ship to match the wind to each sail.

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How innocent people 'of no security interest' are mere keystrokes away in UK's spy databases

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Staff looking themselves up

I was wondering why this is a problem.

The most obvious answer is that the database contains so many errors that employees cannot rely on it to fill out their travel expense forms. If this became public knowledge, people might question whether this enormous database was worth all the tax payers' money needed to funnel garbage into it. I can see how this would be considered utterly intolerable, and that staff should be thoroughly discouraged from looking themselves up.

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Bundling ZFS and Linux is impossible says Richard Stallman

Flocke Kroes
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If it compiles, ship it

The key concept is that linking GPL code with code licensed with an incompatible license results in program you cannot distribute. Back when the GPL was written, linking to a library meant creating a single binary file containing its own copy of some of the code from the library file. The binary would run fine even if you deleted the library file. Later, dynamic linking allowed programmers to create programs that contained no library code, but several programs could share the same library (one copy on disk and up to one in memory no matter how many programs linked to it). The general consensus is that this still constitutes linking as referenced by the GPL.

Before compiling, the kernel must be configured. Most of the configuration options select which parts of the kernel are missed out, which get compiled into a large file and which get compiled into individual modules. Kernel modules can be loaded at any time and connect to the bulk of the kernel (and to each other) in pretty much the same way that a user land dynamic library connects to an executable. According to Linus, loading a kernel module is not the same as linking as referenced by the GPL. Linus is the copyright holder for much of the kernel, and is entitled to decide what is and isn't allowed when distributing derived works of his project. He can certainly decide not to sue even if Stallman thinks he should.

Linus is not the only contributor. Other people have contributed portions of the kernel, and they retain copyright over their contributions. Contributions are only accepted if they are licensed under the GPL or a compatible licence, that way the entire kernel including all the contributions can be distributed as a whole without all the distributors having to reach separate licensing agreements with all the contributors.

Not all contributors agree with Linus's opinion about kernel modules not counting as linking. To allow for this contributors can mark symbols in their own code with EXPORT_SYMBOL (any module can get the value of the symbol), or EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL (only GPL licensed modules can get the value of the symbol).

The idea is, if you create a non-GPL module (which you can distribute independently of the kernel), and try to load it into the kernel, the kernel will check every symbol reference and will fail to load the module if it tries to use a symbol defined in code written by someone with a strict interpretation of the GPL. (I think compilation will fail, so you cannot not accidently create a module other people cannot load). You can see more of the details here.

Stallman is welcome to limit how derived works of his projects are distributed. So is Linus, but Linus lets contributors select their own interpretation of the GPL without screaming at others that they have to see things his way.

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Ames boffins mix metals to boost electron velocity

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Interesting

M(v)=M(0)/sqrt(1-v^2/c^2)

M(99% c) is about 7 times M(0). A big difference for the few electrons going fast. Electrons contribute less than 1 part in 4000 to the mass of metals, so you are not going to notice the wire putting on weight until you have most of them going at 99.99999%c. (If real life about 98% of the electrons in platinum are not going anywhere).

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PC market shambling towards an unquiet grave

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Gartner forecasts

Gartner have predicted of sorts of rubbish over the years. I have more confidence in Raspberry Pi's outselling desktops within a decade than in a random Gartner forecast.

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Half of people plug in USB drives they find in the parking lot

Flocke Kroes
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Re: I'll be more careful ...

The other magic command you are looking for is lsusb, to see if the device is pretending to be a keyboard. The challenge is to type lsusb before the usb device types something that modifies lsusb to make itself invisible.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: automount

The automount demon requires CAP_SYS_ADMIN to mount devices. Back when I was a PFY, automountd ran as root, and did not run fschk before mounting a block device. A defective file system could crash the kernel, and a maliciously crafted one would be able to run arbitrary code as the kernel.

My information may be really out of date as I always disable automountd when commissioning a new system. (I do not use a file manager and I find it irritating to press <ALT><F4> every time I plug in a USB storage device).

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Flocke Kroes
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Another reason why plugging in a USB stick is dangerous

It looks like a flash device, but the software in it pretends to be a USB hub with a flash device and a keyboard attached. When it thinks you are not watching, the software pretends another flash device has been plugged in then types the required command to run the malware on this hidden flash device.

Of course, the OS can prevent this from happening by not trusting any USB keyboards, and all the user has to do is type "Trust me" to tell the OS which keyboard to trust.

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Flocke Kroes
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I thought I had a backup ...

... but she refused to type it in again.

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Websites take control of USB devices: Googlers propose WebUSB API

Flocke Kroes
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No source code, no sale

So, this web interface in going to find out the USB device is attached to a router running openwrt on a MIPS CPU. It determines the correct version of the kernel, applies the required patches and configuration file, modifies the driver code to match the kernel version, downloads a cross compiler and compiles the module for the USB device. It then magically pulls the correct system definition for QEMU, emulates my router in software, tests the driver, fixes some bugs, re-compiles and repeats until the tests pass before sending the driver to my web-browser - except my router does not have a browser. It does not have the X client libraries, so the only browsers it could run would be things like lynx, links and w3m.

Imagine how much easier it would be if manufacturers documented their hardware, and programmers contributed and maintained an free software driver in the mainline kernel. The driver could then be installed with distribution's standard tools and loaded when required without user intervention. Although there are many thousands of USB devices that already work this way, there are a few that don't. This is easy dealt with: no source code, no sale.

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Anonymised search engine page found on 'kid-friendly' search site

Flocke Kroes
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The other problem

I have no problem with a child avoiding tracking (I would be a bit surprised that one made the effort). A way around the porn filter is a significant failure, but hopefully they can fix it. The thing that really caught my attention was that trying to access lukol by https caused certificate not trusted, certificate expired and a redirect to http. The form tag's action attribute was http.

If you use lukol, your ISP will be able/required to log the address and search key and hand the details to your local Stasi.

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Watch: SpaceX finally lands Falcon rocket on robo-barge in one piece

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Dis link:

CRS-8 T-18 minutes until landing. youtube-dl.

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Apple faces €48.5m fine from furious French

Flocke Kroes
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Or looked at the other way:

Oh that poor little Apple corporation outsmarted by the big bad Telcos.

It seems to me that Apple's lawyers and negotiators did not spot a €48.5m hole in the deal.

The Telcos took advantage of Apple's reputation for negotiating horrendous terms with their business partners. Ummm Newsflash: business works best when both sides have something to gain from the deal. No-one gets it right all the time (it would be nice if AMD succeeded a little more often).

No-one forced Apple to try to evade their responsibility for fixing defective kit. They could have set up the required infrastructure to repair/replace/reimburse devices that failed under warranty just like all the other manufacturers who trade in the EU.

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Google reveals own security regime policy trusts no network, anywhere, ever

Flocke Kroes
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Re: source code not enough - need to control the list of keys in the hardware

I can imagine this working with Chrome OS. The boot loader only loads a signed kernel. The kernel mounts the root partition and the first time each time each block is fetched, its signature is checked before passing it on to the file system layer. It is an effective way to test for a trusted image in the root partition without a big delay on boot. The source code has been available for years. The downside is the effort required to delete the vendor's keys and install your own so only your signed kernels and root file systems can boot may require hunting down an exploit in the supplies OS.

(Do not bother if the device has AMT - unless Intel suddenly document it sufficiently for you to audit it properly.)

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UK Home Office seeks secret settlements over unlawful DNA retention

Flocke Kroes
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Re: secret settlements?

That would land on the people responsible. Wouldn't it be better to keep this quiet by handing over a pile of tax payers' money?

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Windows 7's grip on the enterprise desktop is loosening

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Whatever

Musk and Bezos could well reach the moon in a decade or two. I have not seen any Microsoft rockets.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: "Sent from my iPad"

Reply:

Sent from my arm chair.

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Flocke Kroes
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Macs might last longer than _Windows_ PC's

I am a Penguin, so my knowledge of Windows is thin and Macs even thinner. I keep seeing Windows PCs replaced because of software issues - the required software only runs on new versions of the OS, the new version of the OS will not work with old hardware. The hardware was fine. A quick Linux install, and ancient machines are useful. Resistance to Windows 10 may well push up the service life of Windows boxes.

From a Penguin's point of view, a desktop does not have a single age. The case might well be a relic from the nineties. There was a time for a Motherboard+CPU+RAM upgrades for speed. Later, a similar upgrade for power reduction or silence. Floppy disks barely got used because of network cables, and were retired in working order because of USB flash. Pre-SATA DVD players were retired when legacy PATA disappeared. After about a decade, the laser in a DVD player becomes too dim to play reliably. Keyboards and mice have a life time proportion to the cleanliness of the user. Disks got regular upgrades depending on bravery and the cost of restoring from backups, but SSDs are big and reliable these days. Properly specced power supplies last for ages (white box shippers liked to fit something with under 1W to spare so it would fry when you add a second hard disk). Monitors lasted until extra desk space was required, and I have not had a reason to refresh them since.

I am not sure how to compare the life time of a Penguin flavoured desktop PC to a Mac. Five years ago, I would have said replace the CPU/Motherboard/memory/SSD every five years, mostly to cut power consumption, and expect the rest to last a decade. The comparison has become irrelevant anyway. My final desktop was working fine when it was retired over two years ago because it's work could be done by £90/10W fist full of ARM (approximately equal to a Pi3 + SATA + GB ethernet + memory bandwidth). By the time that dies, a Raspbery Pi 6 will blend, and if I need something bigger, I will take a closer look at this.

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Eat your greens, FCC tells ISPs with new broadband "nutrition label"

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Some other things they should fix

Top of the list: Technical support cost. If it is £5/minute then service faults are a revenue stream and I will go elsewhere.

Next is cancellation: This must only depend on me doing things, like say fill in form, add cheque, post and cancel instructions to the bank. If it requires waiting for the ISP to do something then I will not sign up.

Terms and conditions are the ones on the sheet of paper I signed, not the ones on the web site that change with the wind.

My ISP got bonus points for defining contention ratio and telling what it would be. They even knew the difference between megabytes per second and a millibit.

Data caps are way down the list. If I could buy evidence of purchase for a film and download it then I would take an interest, but the only thing on offer is streaming. In the mean time, the post office is far more cost effective for high bandwidth using sneakernet.

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Did water rocket threaten Brum airport Airbus?

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Extreme water rocket

Mythbusters and a compressed air cylinder.

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FreeBSD 10.3 lands

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Who uses FreeBSD in preference to Linux and why?

One plan is to split the workload among servers with different operating systems in the hope that a single exploit will not work on both Linux and BSD.

A really quick look for market share shows nearly 2% of http servers running a BSD based OS. There is reason to hope that crackers will focus on the mass market.

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Microsoft smells Musk, splashes on 'Mune' space program

Flocke Kroes
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Sound of zero hands clapping

Temperature is the average energy per degree of freedom (number of particles multiplied by the number of ways they can move). In a complete vacuum, there are zero particles, and the sum of their energy is zero. Ask your C compiler, and it will tell you 0./0. is not a number.

In real life, space is not a complete vacuum. Depending on where you are, the few particles could have a large or small energy. If you had a really good thermometer, and plenty of time for it to reach equilibrium with its surroundings it could read anything from 2.7 to several million Kelvin depending on where in space you put it.

Phrases like 'Icy cold of spaaaace' have been winding me up for years, and today I snapped because I had hoped for better science from The Register even in a really cool first of April article.

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Zombie SCO rises from the grave again

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow........

The Lawyer daft enough to agree to represent The SCO Group all the way to the supreme court in return for some shares in TSG is called David Boies. I have heard is does have a brain, even though he could not win a legal argument against a gardener. He must have caught on quite quickly because he shuffled the case off to some minions very early on. The minions have done really well considering they had no evidence to work with.

TSG is run by a bankruptcy trustee. The only way I know that Boies Schiller Flexner can escape before appealing to SCOTUS is to convince the trustee to let them off. Clearly it is cheaper to continue to fart about in Judge Nuffer's court. They should get some legal advice about splitting BSF into the profitable parts and the bit stuck with the TSG/IBM litigation, then bankrupt the useless bit. Perhaps, for reasons of judicial efficiency, they could get Judge Gross to assign the same trustee.

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Closing courts to fling £700m at digital stand-ins will fail, MPs snarl at UK.gov

Flocke Kroes
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Trial over the internet...

How much does an hour of DDOS attack cost?

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Ello ello ello: Bungling Met cops blew £100m on failing tech wheezes

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Change of perception needed

1) Starting with a factory acceptance test, and guarantying payment only after something passes said test should weed out all the suppliers expecting to piss away £24M before anyone asks them what they have achieved.

2) No source code, no money. I had hoped that after over three decades Microsoft's customers would understand the phrase 'lock in', but so far I have been disappointed.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: £100M

Although it is tempting to assume backhanders are to blame, I would not bother searching for that until I had spent a few seconds looking for gross professional incompetence.

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Error checks? Eh? What could go wrong, really? (DoSing a US govt site)

Flocke Kroes
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We have learned nothing

Mouse not detected. Click here to change.

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Intel tock blocked for good: Tick-tock now an oom-pah-pah waltz

Flocke Kroes
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As long as Windows dominant on the desktop ...

The desktop is not dominant now, and non-gamers are noticing that it is more than they need. Smart phones out-number desktops. A modern smart phone is more than powerful enough for a word processor and the majority of business software. When connecting a phone to a monitor and keyboard become convenient, another chunk will vanish from the desktop market.

Microsoft saw this coming. They spent loads on a smart phone OS, a billion advertising it, over a billion propping up Nokia and more buying out the burned out shell. All because Microsoft knew that being dominant on the desktop will be the equivalent of being the dominant supplier of abacuses next decade. After their abysmal phone failure (35% market share -> 2%), Microsoft have switched to porting their products to Linux.

Next target: servers. The Google and Amazon account for a hefty chunk of the server market. They are designing their own silicon. I have seen plenty of rumours of an Amazon ARM or a Google ARM or Power. For now, I think these are big sticks to shake at Intel. Such sticks can be really effective: Itanium killed Alpha well before there was a functional Itanium CPU. ARM architecture could have made big changes to the server market that we do not see because we do not know the details of negotiations between Intel and Google/Amazon/Facebook.

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Web ads are reading my keystrokes and I can’t even spel propperlie

Flocke Kroes
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Re: I'm probably on a watchlist

The quick and easy way onto the NSA shit list is to do a web search for "tails linux".

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Top rocket exec quits after telling the truth about SpaceX price war

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Mid air retrieval

Mid air retrieval has worked before. I could not find the mass of the film bucket from the Corona missions, but judging from the size, I would guess under 100kg. The plan for Vulcan is to separate the engines from the rocket (explosive bolts?) and just catch the engines. I could not find the mass of the engines, but about 2000kg each is a reasonable guess.

A Soyuz re-entry module is 2500kg, so a parachute is feasible. A CH-54B helicopter can carry 9000kg, so carrying both engines at once should be fine. Early designs of SpaceShipOne (1200kg) included mid-air recovery but that was considered too risky.

I would call mid air recovery of a pair of BE-4 engines at least as impressive as landing a Falcon 9 on an ocean barge, but not impossible.

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Woz: World-changers to Apple Watches, why pay for an overpriced band?

Flocke Kroes
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Try thinking like one of Apple's satisfied customers

The purpose of the watch is to prove that they have money to burn. It may sound beyond stupid to us, but some people genuinely need to prove they have money to burn. It makes a real difference to how they are treated. If the watch is useless after a few years then all the better, because wearing a new Apple watch shows they have money to burn regularly.

From a business point of few selling 10,000 hundred dollar watches for $1000 is just as good as selling 1,000,000 ninety dollar watches for $99. The only down side is a boat load of high margin products can be turned into landfill if one of the senior executives does a Ratner.

The watch business could wither and die and you would not notice the difference to Apple's profits. What matters is that about 20% of phone owners are happy to pay double for a phone if it has the Apple logo on it. With a determined effort, Wozniak could change that. I thought he knew better.

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Former Nokia boss Stephen Elop scores gig as chief innovator for Australia's top telco

Flocke Kroes
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Why won't Elop take credit for his own achievements?

In what way is Elop a victim?

In short, Ex-Microsoftie Elop put a clause in his Nokia contract that got him a US$25million bonus if Microsoft bought Nokia. The problem was Nokia had twice the smart phone profits of Apple and Samsung combined. It took a combined Osborne and Ratner to trash Nokia to the point where Microsoft could afford it. The bonus was for a Microsoft buyout, not a sale to the highest bidder. Hence the switch to Windows Phone (Nokia factories could not manufacture the required hardware) and Elop's refusal to sell the award winning (iPhone beating!)N9 in large markets even though Nokia's idle factories could build it.

Elop sent Nokia into the biggest death spiral in business history, but still will not take credit for his outstanding achievement.

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UK plans robo-car tests on motorways in 2017

Flocke Kroes
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Could be worse

At first, I wondered what on Earth robot cars had to do with the budget. If the government want robot cars, then they can change to regulations to make them legal, and Google will turn up. If they are threatening to spend money on robot car software then I can see the project completing in the UK shortly after the NHS goes paperless - and at a similar cost.

Perhaps if the government throw enough money at robot cars then they will have to cancel some other over-priced software project like storing everyone's browser history.

In other news, DARPA is offering money to people who can turn consumer electronics into improvised weapons.

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Microsoft's done a terrible job with its Windows 10 nagware

Flocke Kroes
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Re: What users want ...

... doesn't matter to Microsoft.

Google has more market share than Microsoft, and Apple has more revenue. Google works giving things away for free and selling adds. Apple sells an expensive walled garden. Microsoft have decided to copy Google and Apple. bazza and a million other previously content Windows users are now third in the queue at best (behind advertisers and commercial licensing) when it comes to what Windows N+1 will do.

Ranting isn't going to fix anything. What you can do is make purchase searches on Amazon (already common) and information searches on Wakipedia (probably the first useful link in search results anyway). If you take the users from Google/Bing, then the advertising revenue will wander off and Microsoft will have to rethink where their money will come from.

If you have a problem with LibreOffice, then fix it - you have the source code and a license to use it. Personally, I use reportlab+python, but each to his own.

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Cisco says CLI becoming interface of last resort

Flocke Kroes
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Re: History repeats itself

Install:

CLI: write script, debug script, document script.

GUI: click on things until it works. Attempt to document what you remember of the correct sequence of clicks missing out the miss-steps made while learning the GUI interface.

Rebuild after disaster:

CLI: type one word and press enter.

GUI: One of the miss-steps you didn't document is required to get the right option to appear on the GUI. Someone re-organised the GUI to make it more intuitive and all your notes are now useless. Fart about for ten minutes until you think you got it right then find out next week what you got wrong.

With practice, you might restore one service with a dozen clicks on a GUI. A dozen services means 144 clicks - or a script with twelve words in it. There are tasks that are better handled by a GUI - like copping one image. As soon as you have to do something repeatedly, (or if someone else may have to do it after you leave) the CLI is the right choice and anyone who says GUI can suffer the death of a thousand clicks.

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Strike! European Patent Office staff vote in their thousands for walkout

Flocke Kroes
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How to measure performance

What is better: 1,000 software patents rubber stamped per day or one software patent permanently rejected per month?

I applaud Battistelli and the union leaders finally doing something useful about the vast number of troll patents approved each day. Lets hope they can keep this up for at least a year.

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Microsoft has made SQL Server for Linux. Repeat, Microsoft has made SQL Server 2016 for Linux

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Imagine my joy

Clippy for Linux. I think the internet has a missing rule.

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Microsoft wants to lock everyone into its store via universal Windows apps, says game kingpin

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Oh dear, It would appear that nobody is doing any remembering.

The FTC started looking at Microsoft's anti-competitive activities on 1991, and closed the investigation in 1993 without taking action. In 1993 the DOJ started investigating, and reached a settlement with Microsoft in 1994, which Microsoft promptly broke when they required all customers to pay for IE bundled with new computers whether they wanted it or not. The trial began in 1998. Microsoft were found guilty of using the monopoly in operating systems to crush competitors, and of tying. The court sentenced Microsoft to be broken into two (an OS company and an applications company) in 2000. In 2001 Microsoft wrote their own sentence which was accepted by the DOJ in 2002, and allowed Microsoft to continue tying.

If Microsoft do crush non-Microsoft Windows App stores, then I fully expect the FTC and DOJ to huff and puff for another decade and achieve nothing.

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Facebook paid £4k in tax. HMRC then paid Facebook £27k – for ads

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Meanwhile, in other news ...

My local bus service is a charity subsidised by some of the local authorities it goes through, and has no need to swerve to avoid taxes. The accident was in California, where busses may be funded differently.

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Flocke Kroes
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@frank ly

The new law is over 500 pages long. I have no idea how much tax law the UK has, but I doubt that there is a shortage. The new law is vague. The only practical solution is to negotiate an agreement with a tax man. In a banana republic, this would result in a poor government and rich tax men. I would expect that Google's accountants are not dim, and that they bought a piece of paper that says they have paid all the required back taxes in full.

The fun comes when the government tries to explain why that piece of paper is worthless, and why Google should buy another piece of paper.

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'Boss, I've got a bug fix: Nuke the whole thing from orbit, rewrite it all'

Flocke Kroes
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Aßembly (without the donkey :-)

It didn't look particularly like Z80 or 68000. It screamed 6502 to me.

I regret that I do not have to source code to the most horrible bug I have ever found. The project involved using DSPs to send position data regularly by radio (pre-GSM), but with each radio transmitting at a different time. I had time from GPS, so sync was easy. Apart from a little assembly language for the signal processing, the bulk of the code was in C. The kit worked fine in the office. Hours of testing with no problems at all. On the next day, I took it to the customer for a demonstration, and the kit sat there doing nothing.

After some frantic bug hunting I discovered the fault was in the C library for the DSP. The 32-bit add function was made out of a pair of _signed_ 16 bit shifted add instructions. The DSP was massively optimised for 16 bit variables (and fixed point arithmetic). CHAR_MAX was 32767 (sizeof(char)==1 by definition in C). As a result, almost all of my C code used 16-bit (int) variables and long int was only ever used for the time. During testing, bit 15 was zero, but the demonstration was at a time when bit 15 was 1.

The easy bit was fixing the code during the customer's lunch break. The difficult bit was explaining what I had fixed.

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NASA funds new supersonic airliner research

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Busemann's biplane

Busemann's biplane design created shock waves on the leading edges and anti-shock waves where the wing thickness reduced. The idea was that the shock waves from each wing would hit the anti shock wave form the other wing - when the plane was going at precisely the right speed. The symmetry of the design ensured no sonic boom. Unfortunately that symmetry also meant the lift was zero. Not a little lift or low lift, but precisely zero lift. Unless the biplane has more buoyancy than mass it isn't going to fly.

The article My-Handle pointed at did not mention how they solved this problem. Does anyone know?

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Gov opens consultation on how to best to use your data

Flocke Kroes
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Re: If this lot can get hold of it ...

They will buy proprietary database software to store all the data for a hundred million, then pay half a billion each time the need to get some data back out of the obfuscated file format created specially by the contractor.

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Microsoft releases Windows 10 preview for Raspberry Pi 3

Flocke Kroes
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@Orwell

The reason for the upgrade from Pi1 to Pi2: The usual increases in speed and decreases in power, size and cost with time in electronics allowed a faster CPU and more RAM in the same size without increasing the cost. As a 'bonus', the instruction set for the new CPU matched the one Microsoft supports, so Microsoft could, with a little effort, trim down version of their OS to fit the memory and speed constraints of a Pi2.

Precisely why Microsoft bothered is not clear to me. I could buy a Windows PC, buy some Microsoft development tools, learn how to use them, create something to run on a Windows Pi, then read through the huge license agreements to see if I can distribute the result, and hope that Microsoft's tools will still be maintained at an reasonable fee in five years time. On the other hand, I can use all the tools I am familiar with for free, have confidence that they will be maintained and free for at least a decade, I can distribute my work without fear that a part of it will only be available from a monopoly at an ever increasing price, and I get a full OS tested on millions of servers, not some cut down thing tested almost once by a pair of Microsoft employees.

The reason for the Pi2 to Pi3 upgrade is precisely the same as last time - newer, better kit was available without increasing the cost. Pi3 supports the same instruction set as Pi2 and a 64bit instruction set. Microsoft's IoT for Pi2 should work with little or no modification on a Pi3.

Microsoft are perfectly welcome to distribute an OS for Pi3, or any other computer they want. The fun thing about a Pi, and many other small cheap computers is that they do not come with bundled storage or operating systems. The buyers get to make their own choices. This is a new experience for Microsoft, and I for one welcome them to the twenty first century and wish them luck catching up.

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