* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2646 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

GIMP flees SourceForge over dodgy ads and installer

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Find a mirror with ftp access

The naming convention is easy to understand. Searching and downloading via ftp is far simpler than with the user hostile http site - and that was before people started complaining about the ads.

Berners-Lee: 'Appalling and foolish' NSA spying HELPS CRIMINALS

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Anyone got the names of the 28 MPs?

I just wondered which ones the Security Services have the most dirt on.

UK.gov forks out £250k to rescue EROTIC novelists and pals from PIRATES

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Easy ...

... follow Steele and Hansmeier's example. I am sure the government will give away another £250 million to set up Prenda UK.

BBC to spaff £18 MILLION of licence fee cash... on BIG DATA

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Anyone know ...

... what percentage of customers are driven away by analytics?

When analytics consultants infest a website, the website suddenly requires javascript. If the javascript works at all it is slower than a squashed slug and some twit puts an animations all over the pages to make it difficult to read the text.

The web needs globally backed, verifiable security standards – says Huawei

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Please understand patents

In theory mathematics is not patentable. In practice anything can be patented. Software is mathematics, so it is not patentable. There is an explicit exemption that makes software unpatentable in the EU. To get a patent on software in the EU, you call it a 'computer implemented invention'. The RSA algorithm for public key cryptography is covered by (expired) U.S. Patent 4,405,829. The disaster with patents is that an infinite number of code monkeys can come up with an infinite number implementations without ever reading any patents, but they can still all be sued for infringement - even if they all have licenses for the litigated expired invalid patents.

The thing is, we have had the basic requirements for security well publicised for decades:

Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.

Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.

Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.

Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.

You need all of these to give people the power and incentive to find and fix bugs efficiently, and to distribute the results. Without the source code, and the rights and tools to use it, you can find a thousand exploits, but still have to pay lock-in prices to the supplier to get anything fixed. On top of that, you have to put up with whatever addition features the supplier chooses to include with security updates.

A $17.3bn fine, you say? Samsung begs for five-year patent war truce

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Just curious ...

How much did Apple pay to license these patents?

Microsoft: Everyone stop running so the fat kid Win RT can catch up

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It's 'make phones or die'

Ballmer is getting pushed out because he took Microsoft's phone market share from 12% to 4±1%. According to Mr Orlowski, 'Windows Phone has been a success for Microsoft in 2013' but it has been a disaster for Nokia. WP took Nokia's market share from 35% to 4±1%. The only reason it got such a high market share was because the unsold piles phones were sold from the bargain bin at a huge loss. RT is about as successful as Windows Phone.

The desk top market is dying and the laptop market is not healthy. Microsoft are converting their desktop OS into a legacy business - the shinking market will be countered by increasing prices. At some point, the price will get so high that sales will fall to 0. Microsoft need a different market, and Bill has decided it is phones. The phone market is still growing. Phones are powerful enough to do common tasks that used to belong to desktops and laptops, and phones are getting more powerful each year.

Microsoft will continue to throw money at the WP/RT burning platforms for as long as they have money to burn. That is not poor management. It is sound business sense. The problem is that Microsoft have been utterly incapable of getting a significant market share. You can blame it on bad management, unenthusiastic salesmen, the developers, the carriers, or the dog that ate Ballmer's home work. What ever the reason, Mr Orlowski will be writing another article saying how well Microsoft have done to increase their phone market share to 2±1% next year.

Let police track you through your mobe - it's for your OWN GOOD

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Going back a decade ...

... some service providers reduced the prices of mobile calls when the call was made from home. The kit back then knew when your phone was at home - it might get the wrong answer if you were next door, but it knew if you were further away than that. This was to better compete with land lines - and to be sure the service provider knew your home address.

So, the additional cost to the operators of knowing your location when the phone is registered with the network is £0. There is a cost in transporting that information to the police. I am sure the current prices for that are exorbitant. I have assumed that this information has been streamed continuously to GCHQ for years. It is the sort of thing they would do, and they have no incentive to care that it is supposed to be illegal.

If I call the police, I am happy for them to know where I am, and I would rather they did not have to pay an excessive amount to find that out. This enquiry might lead to a better deal. Decide for yourself if this means lower taxes or increased phone bills.

The operators are required to keep records of where phones were, and the police get a court order for subsets of that database. (Some people really are stupid enough to regularly commit crimes while carrying a mobile.) The information is out there. It is being used and abused already. The only thing a new law will do is legitimise existing practice. If you want to be sure you are not being tracked, removed the phone's battery just like you cover the lens of a camera if you do not want to be photographed. (Guess why there is no off-switch for the microphone.)

Best Buy: Bring us your cowering, unwanted Microsoft Surface masses

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Re: howtogeek secure boot article

Microsoft’s own Windows Hardware Certification Requirements state that for non-ARM systems, you must be able to both disable Secure Boot and change the keys

A while ago, it was big news that manufacturers did not provide the means to disable secure boot or change the keys. I do not see it in the news so often. I do not know if that is because manufacturers have given purchasers control of non-ARM Windows8 computers or because lack of action has persisted so long that it is no longer news.

To me, this means that the first step in buying a new computer is to check that I can install the operating system of my choice. It also means that if a friend wants to try Linux on their computer, they may have to buy a new one because that particular model does not completely follow Microsoft’s published Windows Hardware Certification Requirements.

Although I wish that it would be possible to change the OS on ARM devices, it is fair to say that Microsoft is following the industry standard with regard to tablets here.

I think it is fair to say their are plenty of ARM tablets without boot loader restrictions. There is no such thing as "the industry standard".

Secure boot prevents malware from infecting your system at a low, undetectable level during boot.

Secure boot prevents unsigned malware from infecting your system during boot. I am sure it allows NSA malware to boot, and whatever malware was created by the nation where you bought the computer. UEFI is sufficiently complicated that it is likely to contain security flaws anyway. I would have more confidence in OpenBIOS on the grounds that it is far simpler and it is possible to audit the code.

Campaigning against UEFI/Secure Boot as a technology is short-sighted, misinformed, and unlikely to be effective anyways. It’s more important to ensure that manufacturers actually follow Microsoft’s requirements for letting users disable Secure Boot or change the keys if they so desire.

The good news is you can buy devices without UEFI, Secure Boot or Windows 8. I think that is much more sensible than buying an OS you do not want, begging for a means to install your own keys and hoping that UEFI is not back doored and full of flaws. I would like to think that campaigning against UEFI/Secure Boot as a technology was effective, and contributed to the reduced sales of Window PCs. If there is such a contribution, it is probably hard to measure because of all the other reasons people are buying alternatives to Windows PCs.

Easily picked CD-ROM drive locks let Mexican banditos nick ATM cash

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I thought the sensible plan would be to remove the hard disk and set the BIOS to boot only from a CD ROM. That way, turning the machine off an on again wipes out any remotely installed malware. If someone has the ability to change the CD, then they also have the ability to swap in a new CDROM, or a new hard disk. BIOS restrictions on the type of boot device are not a significant barrier to anyone with physical access.

British support for fracking largely unmoved by knowledge of downsides

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The other fear

Even higher energy bills.

Nixed Nirvanix files for Chapter 11

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maximize value for its creditors?

The whole idea of chapter 11 is they can make their pre-petition creditors (suppliers) wait until after the reorganisation is complete. While in chapter 11, the company runs up post petition debt (with bankruptcy lawyers) that get paid if the bankruptcy court approves the bill. A competent law firm should be able to suck the company dry within a couple of years and build up enough debt to collect the entire proceeds of chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

Surely a famous firm of professional analysts like Gartner would have seen this coming...

Apple wins patent for entrance to retail store

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The US PTO has about 28 days of reserve funding

I glanced at an (incomplete) list. US PTO had the longest reserve. Second place had 14 days. Perhaps diverting R&D budgets to lawyers is critical to the funding of congress critters.

The bit that got me was the quoted paragraph. If a feature may be part of an invention, then a product that lacks the feature is still covered by the patent. Try that paragraph again without the optional features:

The invention relates ... to a building made using building panels.

That is all that is left. According to this one paragraph, glass, layers, curves, fins, beams, fittings and a roof are not required to infringe this patent. Apple have patented the garden fence - among other things. With work like this, why does the PTO get any funding at all? If lawyers want a patent system, they should fund the PTO themselves. While we are at it, deny them access to the courts. They can publish free abstracts of what a patent achieves, and charge people who want to read about how it is done.

500 MEELLION PCs still run Windows XP. How did we get here?

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Sample of 1

The only Windows app I still use runs quickly in WINE on an ancient laptop. Most of the time it is used remotely with a raspberry pi as an X server. I think someone with a larger XP legacy will find mileage will vary. Even if it only solves half your problems, at a cost of $0 forever, WINE is worth trying.

Seagate to storage bods: You CAN touch this (at last). Stop, HAMR time

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Space and power

A big 2.5" is 1TB. A big 3.5" is 4TB. To compare space and power, compare four 2.5's to one 3.5. It think the reason HAMR is starting at 2.5" is they are starting with a small, high-margin market because there will not be much production capacity to start with, and the cost of a recall will not be a disaster. I would much rather send three apologies and three trucks of new drives to Google, Facebook and Amazon than send 100,000 disks to 50,000 different commentards.

I am sure a big slow 3.5" will arrive when manufacturing has scaled up. In the mean time, shingle is a more obvious choice than HAMR if high speed is not required.

NSA: Yes, some of our spooks DID snoop on overseas lovers

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Other reason to let them play

"Boss, wasn't that illegal?"

"Take a look at this record of you listening in on your girlfriend's phone call."

"Sorry boss, my mistake. I am sure you were acting within the limits of a secret FISA warrant I have not seen."

Bill Gates: Yes, Ctrl-Alt-Del salute was a MISTAKE

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@BlueGreen: SAK (and much more) is in Linux

<ctrl><alt><backspace> Terminates the X server. This will cause the death of the window manager and any program it started. Most installations have a display manager that will restart the X server with a login program. Read the xorg man page for how to change the key combination or disable. The most common display managers are gdm and kdm. Both are very configurable.

<ctrl><alt><delete> can be intercepted by software that puts the keyboard into raw mode. Read the /proc/sys/kernel/ctrl-alt-del section of the proc man page to set the tty layer's behaviour if the keyboard is not in raw mode. The default behaviour is to send SIGINT to process 1. This is normally init, which will execute the command specified for ctrlaltdel in /etc/inittab.

<alt><sysreq>H Outputs the help for sysreq keys to the current virtual console. The one you are looking for is the secure acces key: <alt><sysreq>k - unless you changed the keyboard translation tables with loadkeys. The documentation is here. SAK cannot be intercepted by putting the keyboard into raw mode. It kills all processes on the current virtual terminal. Unless configured otherwise, init will spot this and run login on the terminal.

There are other handy things you can do with the sysreq key like remount all file systems read only and sync all the disks - unless the functionality was disabled from /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq.

UK's Get Safe Online? 'No one cares' - run the blockbuster ads instead

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Unusual transactions

I tried to buy a big TV - not something I do every decade. Someone claiming to represent the vendor asks me for the publicly available information my bank asks for when 'verifying' my identity. I explained that I did not give that information to unknown callers for security reasons, but I would be happy to call the vendor or the bank to answer the questions. This basic security measure was beyond the understanding of the caller and her computer was not programmed to offer any sensible solution, so the purchase is cancelled.

I repeated the above with a different vendor. After the deal got cancelled, I got a call from someone claiming to represent the bank who said that someone might be trying to use my card. Again I refused to answer the questions. I called the bank, answered the questions and explained what was going on. They removed the block on my card, but could not do anything about processing the payment. [The solution was to go to the first vendor's shop, and pay there - I paid the internet price rather than the shop price because of the failed online transaction.]

If a few computer illiterates take a passing interest in online security then the first time they try to apply their new knowledge they will be stonewalled by the vendors' and the banks' brain dead payment processing systems. The place to start online security eduction is with the banker responsible for making the bank's web site look stylish. Also the programmer responsible for hiding the 'http://' in Firefox should receive some proper security training with a clue bat.

Oracle sued over $33,000 bill for SaaS: STRIPPERS as a SERVICE

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Take a look at a rip-off bar menu

Pick somewhere touristy, sleazy and expensive and you will find the local variant of a rip-off bar. The obvious place to look in London is Soho. You do not have to look hard, as a sexy girl will invite you in. In the UK, such places are required to display a menu with prices outside. Start with the small print at the bottom and you will find things like:

30% service charge

No alcohol served in this establishment

If you buy a girl a drink, it will be $some_silly_name

Next look to the price of $some_silly_name. It will be well over £200. A few rounds of drinks for the girls plus the service charge will get the bill up to several thousands. $17,000 shows some determined cluelessness. Doing it twice demonstrates world class stupidity.

The NSA's hiring - and they want a CIVIL LIBERTIES officer

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Responsibility, but no mention of power

Power to investigate what the NSA is doing? Power to collect evidence? Power to show that evidence to a judge and jury?

Why not just hire someone to take responsibility of earth quakes and tidal waves.

Java updates too much of a bother? Maybe online banking's just not for you

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I disabled javascript as soon my browser supported it

There was a bad time when this noticeably restricted which web sites would render properly, but there were always other places to go. Several sites I remember leaving because they required javascript are now working fine without it. I try enabling javascript occasionally. I find the results more irritating and horrible each time. Try turning javascript off occasionally, and see if you are happier without it.

Nokia Lumia 1020: It's an imaging BEAST... and it makes calls too

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Dual boot phone?

Imagine if phones came with one of the free operating systems installed, with the option to buy, download and install one or more of the others. That would be real competition.

So, Linus Torvalds: Did US spooks demand a backdoor in Linux? 'Yes'

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Social engineering security test

NSA guy turns up and asks Linus to install a back door. When Linus says no, the NSA can have some confidence that Linus will not install a back door for any criminal claiming to be from the NSA.

Windows Phone overtakes Apple's market share ... in India

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Re: Numbers?

The article did say 'up to 5.4%'. An unfortunate phrase since we hear 'up to 20mb broadband' so often. I have confidence that Ballmer can get the market share back below 3% before he leaves.

I, for one, welcome our robotic communist jobless future

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If you live in a lake, it takes longer to walk to the well

If you are considering a robot economy, you can use the robots to solve its problems: robot recycling, robot mining, robot manufacture of power stations. The flaw I see is population growth. If resources become more available, the population will grow until some resource becomes scarce - or until we use killer robots to cull the population.

Open ZFS wielders kick off 'truly open source' dev group

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Re: CDDL and GPL not compatible


Since when is the GPL the yardstick by which free or open source software is measured?

Since about 70% of open source projects select a GPL license.

I wonder if you do really 'stick to GPL', or just think you do. Do you use X11? That's an MIT licence. Do you use Apache? Apache licence. Firefox? MPL. And so on.

'stick to GPL' is your phrase, not mine. I am very well aware of the licenses for X11, Apache and Firefox. All the licenses you just mentioned are GPL compatible. I have a specific problem with the CDDL, and why Sun selected it.

Oninoshiko: You are welcome to pull a ZFS disk out of a Mac and plug it into a Solaris box. I pick the most appropriate file system available on the OS and move data with a network connection. Where is the limitation?

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CDDL and GPL not compatible

If the Trojans had looked their gift horse in the mouth, they would have found it was full of Greek soldiers. Likewise ZFS is stuffed with patents. It is not possible to simultaneously satisfy the terms of the GPL and CDDL in a single piece of software, in part because GPL would require a patent license that Sun/Oracle do not provide. You are welcome to get sued like a GIF user, but I will stick to GPL or compatible. BTW: pi's already have BTRFS.

THE TRUTH about beaver arse milk in your cakes: There's nothing vanilla about vanilla

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Daft labelling

My red food dye has "Artificial" and "Cochineal" in a big font on the label. I assume they put 'cochineal' on there to scare away anyone who knows what it is, and 'artificial' to scare away anyone who doesn't. If I had been a little less alert, I would have missed it because I was looking for something that did not contain E120.

OK, so we paid a bill late, but did BT have to do this?

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Give them your rivals' contact details

If they aren't going to pay, you do not want them as clients. Send the hassle to your competitors.

Australian pub to serve beers for bitcoin

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Try using the preview button

Proof read carefully in case you any words out.

Zuck off, Zuck: Brit duo's JustDelete.Me nukes clingy web accounts

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Try getting the reference manual for a chip...

My ZIP code is 90210, just like every over embedded system programmer. My phone number is identical to their fax number. I am my current project is intelligent flame retardant underwear and my name really is Mr Stopasking Stupidquestions. I would like to thank username@example.org for saving everybody's time by using the password 'password'.

Lip-wobbling boffins: Eating Chinese food is like kissing a vibrator

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This Ig Nobles have been awarded!

Nothing about peppers this year, but now you can find out why onions make you cry.

Tape's NOT dead. WHOMP: This 8.5TB Oracle drive proves it

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home tape solution = external hard disk

For that size range look at LTO-3 to LTO-5. You might find an LTO-4 drive second hand for less than the cost of a 3TB hard disk. The ones I saw were all SAS, and a new SAS card will cost about the same as a pair of 3TB hard disks - perhaps you can find a second hand controller too. Then add the cost of the tapes. Tape is only economic and huge scales. Places that use them do upgrade when the price is right, and the kit is sufficiently reliable for a second hand market.

In the real world, you are not going to beat hard disks for backing up a few TB. If you really are burning 10-40 blue rays per backup, build one of these.

Psst.. Wanna Android all-in-one PC? We have the chip tech, says Intel

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£189 !

Until Intel divide that price by 5, all they get from me is a loud raspberry. A pi behind each TV does most of what I need at home, and a remote login to something older does the rest.

Steelie Neelie calls for TOTAL BAN on EU mobe roaming charges

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Back an fourth

OK, so you network will not get revenue from roaming fees any more. They won't have to pay for them either, or the infrastructure that counts the fees bills customers and sends money back and forth between different networks.

The one the has me concerned is the contract breaker for less than advertised data rates looks open to abuse. We could end up with mass contract breaking parties the the middle of Dartmoor or the Isle of Skye. More likely we will get promises like 'up to 20 millibits per second' like we have now.

Storage rage: Like getting a nice steak and being told to only eat 80% of it

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When you are only using 75% of the available space, there is a fair chance that the OS can put new data somewhere it can reach quickly after accessing related data. When you are using 95% of the available space, there is a fair chance that the OS will have to scatter data into places that will require head moves and disc rotations to get it all back.

Modern filing systems have at least one separate free space list per core. That way, any core can allocate (or release) some space without having to lock the other cores out of the only free space list. When a file system is mostly full, some of the free space lists will be full, and cores will have to queue to allocate space.

If your data is static, you can use something like cramfs and use 100% of the disk efficiently. If your use case involves modifications, you have to choose between performance and utilisation. If this is costing you thousands per month then experiment to find which solution gives you the best trade off. You really cannot have a whole cake while rapidly adding and removing slices.

Modular smartphones floated by Dutch designer chap

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Different parts have different life times

When a PC gets tangled in malware, most of the public go to PC World and buy a new monitor, keyboard, mouse, box, power supply, DVD player, hard disk, motherboard, super-duper CPU, RAM and graphics card. Anyone with basic computer literacy and a screwdriver updates only the parts that will make a difference when required.

I have wanted standard laptop components for decades, and they are now approximately practical (tape a monitor into the lid of an attaché case and a raspberry Pi with some USB components). Much of the cost of a laptop is the display - the second biggest cost is the bundled crap that is inflicted on me because of segmentation. Modular laptops would save customers lots of money, which is why the OEMs do not make them.

Modular phones do not exist for the same reasons as modular laptops. (Does Dell still swap some pins on the power connector to annoy customers who want to upgrade their PSU or mother board?). If love the idea of a modular phone. The only way they will exist is as a bunch of DIY components. Some people would like to pay for a quality camera. Others would like to save money there. I would like a physical off-switch for the microphone. I would like a good display, but not have to replace it when I upgrade to a more efficient CPU. I do not want to replace the entire phone when the battery no longer charges.

US plaintiffs can seek damages over Street View data slurp - court

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Blame the NSA

For all we know, the NSA required them to slurp this data, but Google cannot say so because of a secret national security letter.

Dyson takes Samsung to court in UK over vacuum cleaner

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Dyson does not have to sue

He could spend his money on R&D and make a better product. Even if someone copies the previous product, Dyson can stay one step ahead. All this legal action says is that Dyson knows his products suck badly and the business he is any good at is nuisance litigation.

Google scrambles to block backdoors

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Whose data is it?

Encypt your data. Pay in cash. Put a random MAC address in your wifi device, upload your data from a busy shop with free wifi then restore the MAC. Anyone got a method for transferring large amounts of data without letting an IP address connect you to your account?

US military: 'Help us build the ROBO-WARFIGHTER OF THE FUTURE'

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Imagine a microphone in every street lamp ...

The microphones listen for gun shots and speeding bullets, and transmit a warning by radio when a bullet goes passed. The suits listen for the warnings and lock solid if the bullet is going to hit. With an obese military budget, such a system could be demonstrated to work with current technology under ideal conditions. The really expensive research would be in methods to arrange ideal conditions in the front line of a war.

I can see this project lining the pockets of a few contractors. I am not convinced that it will lead to tanks with masts and sails or soldiers asking for a ceasefire so their solar panels can charge their batteries.

Australia's anti-smut internet filter blueprint lasts LESS THAN A DAY

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nationally agreed default safety standards

How are they going to get everyone in the nation to agree on anything?

Jury reckons Motorola wasn't 'fair and reasonable' to Microsoft

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Velvin Hogan

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Yes you missed something

The US judge insisted that Motorola not enforce the injunction. Microsoft did not need to relocate manufacturing at all.

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It is called 'Fair search'

A bunch of failed companies and Microsoft have already complained to the EU about Google search not putting their broken services at the top of the page.

New online banking Trojan empties users' wallets, videos privates

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Re: Move Along Linux Users

I did not see any mention of an app for Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7 or Windows Phone 8. Perhaps the tiny installed base is too fragmented.

Microsoft, Nokia and the sound of colliding garbage trucks

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The way that Microsoft lost

Monopoly: Microsoft claim 95% of the Windows market (I assume this means most pirates have deserted the sinking ship). The figure they hide under the bilge is that Microsoft have 30% of the installed base when you include non-Windows devices.

Legacy software: The value of Microsoft's operating systems was that they (mostly) ran (well enough) software that companies had invested time and money on. Microsoft are winning their battle against legacy software. If things go according to plan, all software will be bought from Microsoft who might send some scraps back to the third-party developers.

Lock-in: As legacy software becomes harder to install, lock-in becomes lock-out. Microsoft are pushing their users along the gang-plank expecting them to fall into a walled garden. Instead users are using their mobiles to call in an air-lift.

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Where Microsoft need Elop

Elop delivered a massive coup for Microsoft. The day he Trojanned, Nokia were selling more phones than Apple and Samsung combined - at a hefty profit - with their market share increasing. Nokia had a Linux phone in development that later beat Apple for ease of use and features. Elop destroyed all that. If it were not for Elop's outstanding efforts, Nokia would be in first place, and all their phones would be Linux. The place Microsoft really need to put Elop is CEO of Samsung. Elop has demonstrated the abilities required to turn Samsung around and regain the bulk of the Windows Phone market from Nokia.

Sysadmins hail Windows Server 2012 R2's killer ... clipboard?

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Even more confused

I know I am a bit out of touch with Windows. Last time I used it, I complained that the middle mouse button did not work. It turned out, left-button-select and middle-button-paste was something Microsoft did not support. You had to use ^C and ^V or whatever key each application had assigned.

Any cut and paste between servers will be done via remote log in as they do not have mice or monitors. X has been doing that for two and a half decades. Even Linux consoles (graphics cards switched to text mode to conserve resources) support cut and paste between remote machines.

I would like to congratulate Windows users for reaching the twentieth century, but I am not sure if they all have three button mice yet.

Intel chases network gear and cold storage with Avoton Atoms

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Why do I expect this to be just like Intel's response to the raspberry pi.

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