* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2646 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Intel: Windows on ARM won't run 'legacy apps'

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Competing on price

Intel are talking about switching to 22nm, and then to 14nm a year later. If 22nm has to pay for itself in a year, atoms will stay expensive. ARM outsold X86 because it could get the job done with a cheap old manufacturing process and a small number of transistors.

Obama gov wants 3 yrs porridge for infrastructure hackers

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One day politicians will learn what cyber means


Northants cops blow up suspicious school play prop

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Here you go


Linutop feeds mini-PC fans tiny Tux box

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Rather buy a small cheap computer̼̊


EMC's second-generation Atmos goes five times faster

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Is ATMOS a trade mark of the Sontarans?


Is there anything to find on bin Laden's hard drive?

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All the good reasons to torture someone

1) You are a sadist.

2) You want this person to suffer.

3) You have prepared a confession for his farther to sign that you can sell to the CIA.

Getting accurate information from a torture victim only happens on TV.

Vatican blogger meeting says no to copyright, yes to lifting content

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Does this mean woodpeckers are not birds of the air?




Google and friends wrap open video codec in patent shield

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That software could come in handy ...

... but I could not find it in the source code. Could you point it out to me please:


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Microsoft is not wary of patents

Even if they deliberately infringe some patents, their lawyers can make the court case and appeals drag on for at least a decade. If they are feeling really mean, they can pay a settlement for some bogus patents, pass the cost on to their users and sit back while a new well-funded patent troll attacks their competitors.

Pope says gravity proves technology can't supplant God

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I never wanted to be like god

What is the point of being a piece of fiction argued and fought about for thousands of years. Technology may not have prevented the earthquake in Japan, but neither did the invisible beard in the sky. The pope is half way down a slide into irrelevance. If he wants to draw attention to that by trying to be controversial then he is welcome.

Our Bread-Maker who art in the kitchen. Morphy Richards be thy name. Thy ping will come, thy work be done on time as it smells good already. Give us this day our daily bread.

Supercomputer simulates neutron star-black hole SMACKDOWN

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Aim carefully

In a precise head-on collision, a black hole and neutron star would accelerate as they approached. If you do not aim your neutron star exactly, it will swing round the black hole and enter an elliptical orbit. If there is some loss of energy during the orbit, like emission of gravitational waves, then the neutron star will decelerate and get closer to the black hole until it gets torn apart by the tide.


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On the other side of the coin

Getting cancer causes some people to stop drinking.

Russia, NASA to hold talks on nuclear-powered spacecraft

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What has actually happened?

People have seen so much nuclear disaster hype that they just ignore it and get on with their lives. Today is an excellent day to step up plans for reactors, reprocessing and proper waste storage facilities as almost everyone will not care. Time to build thunderbird 3.

Ofcom refuses to interfere on powerline networking interference

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Ofcom still exists?

What is Ofcom's budget?

What does Ofcom actually do?

Natty Narwhal with Unity: Worst Ubuntu beta ever

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KDE 3 is alive and K←Ticking

KDE 4 delayed my upgrade to squeeze until I found http://www.trinitydesktop.org/

Digital player maker 'incited consumers to break the law', says ASA

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Read the license

Some places that distribute MP3's do so with a license that explicitly permits copying to your own portable devices. Some DVD's come with a version of the film that 'can be played on portable devices'. Ask a lawyer if that means there is a license to copy, and not just an invitation to be sued. Some music industry executives have stated that they do not object to copying CD's to the owner's MP3 player, but I have yet to see a license that clearly gives permission.

Google's 'clean' Linux headers: Are they really that dirty?

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Try looking inside the glibc headers

The glibc headers include headers from the underlying operating system, so they do not make your software independent of Linux if that is where your software runs. There are several reasons why including Linux header files does not requires your software to be GPL. The most obvious is an explicit waiver right at the beginning of the license that the kernel uses:


What this should teach lawyers is that if you blindly repeat Microsoft FUD then you come across as a clueless illiterate newby with a hint of gross professional incompetence.

Lindsay Lohan ditches her surname

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If you want a backcronym ...

Yet Another Space Diving Newspaper Illustrating Landscapes

Fukushima's toxic legacy: Ignorance and fear

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Remember CERN?

There were all those scare stories about what could happen when two high power beams of protons crash head on. When CERN first fired up their super conducting super collider, journalists from various institutions where there to build up the excitement - "The world is about to be destroyed!"

They could have said, "Only one beam will be switched on, at low power, to test the system."

PS: The sky is falling!

Balanced, neutral journalism is RUBBISH and that's a FACT

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Links to the source material and commentards please

If an article is badly wrong (or annoyingly right) there will be complaints from the commentards. The better commentards will provide links to support their position. Even without links, commentards can point out where to look further, or what sort of things commentards missunderstand. One of the thing I like about the Register is that most of the journalists are prepared to have criticism tacked onto their articles. The criticism is a mixture of incoherent drivel, attempts at humour, valid questions, useful answers, and sometimes evidence for what is really going on.

I like journalists to give their opinions. I can decide for myself whether those opinions are derived from bias, ignorance or insight. It is much easier to reach those conclusions when there are links to the source material. I can hunt down a particular draft EU directive, but it is much easier if the journalist provides the link he used for his research.

If Alice says the battle of Hastings was in 1066, and Bob says it was in 1076 that does not mean the right year was 1071. If a journalist provides a link to the appropriates articles in The Times and The Sun for 1066-10-14 then Bob and editorial balance should be filed in the bin.

The desktop lifecycle: How long is it anyway?

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Replace the bits that matter

Cases >10 years old

Motherboard+CPU about 5 years old

Ram upgrade about 2 years ago

SSD upgrade last year

BBC accused of coming out for porn opt-in?

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The sex industry should be thanking Wacqui

Labour worked hard to drive students into poverty. So how can a girl pay off her student loan?

Ex-PM blocked Steve Jobs knighthood

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After Bill, I have no problem with a knighthood for Steve

Can they knight the guy from Sony who approved the root kit too?

Traffic-light plague sweeps UK: Safety culture strangles Blighty

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Hidden costs

£46bn for road and fuel tax, but what is that £15bn for. Does it include NHS expenses following a road accident? How about the cost of police and firemen dealing with an accident? Watch out for policy based evidence like "alcohol related traffic accident injuring a pedestrian" can in include a drunk pedestrian lurching under a car.

Electric cars not as 'green' as advertised

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~500 Charge cycles

Most of the cost of an electric vehicle is replacing the battery when its charge retention falls to useless. Long lasting batteries survive 1000 charge cycles. If you want some other features like good energy/weight or good energy/price then you will have to accept a smaller number of charge cycles. At present, the battery life for electric vehicles is unknown. If running an electric car was cheaper the running a petrol one, then the manufacturers would increase their profit margins to compensate.

The down side of electric is you are giving some money to the ROC farms. More money goes to battery and car manufacturers. On the other hand, petrol is a complete disaster. Try to imagine how much damage the government would do if you keep paying petrol tax.

Flash drives dangerously hard to purge of sensitive data

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TRIM command a better choice than overwriting

If you overwrite a piece of data on an SSD, the wear levelling algorithm will write the data to a block that is not full, and record that the original data is cruft to be forgoten when the block it is stored on gets moved to create free space by the garbage collector. Overwriting multiple times and overwriting the entire disk adds lots of extra wear and will eventually activate the garbage collector. The garbage collector creates a lot of internal activity within the SSD, so there will be less performance available to the host computer.

One trim command will mark the data as cruft, and leaving the drive powered up and idle will activate the garbage collector. This method will make more space available to the wear levelling algorithm so it will be able to make better choices to prolong the life of the SSD.

If you are concerned that the police will bang on your door, and you will have to wipe an entire SSD full of incriminating data in a hurry, check the manufacturer's web site for a tool that will re-flash the firmware. The chances are the instructions will say something like: 'Back up and test that you can restore your data before you use this tool because it will erase every block in the SSD.'

Peruvian spuds entombed in Arctic 'doomsday vault'

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If you are caught outsid in the rain, stand under a tree ...

... when the tree gets wet through and starts dripping on you, stand under a different tree.

If climate change makes it difficult to preserve potatoes in the Andes, we can rest assured that natural freezer provided by the antarctic climate will protect potato seeds for us.

Smartphones 'out sell' PCs for first time

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Desktop Linux and profit margins

Desktop PC's are sold at low margins. Distributors make their money from additional software and crapware. No-one is offering money to pre-install their crapware on Linux. A Linux box has software to do everything, so does not generate additional software sales for the distributor. If you try to buy a desktop Linux box from a distributor, the saleman will spout utter drivel in the hope that he can get you to pay for something with a profit margin. Last time I went through all the hassle of finding a Linux Desktop on Dell's web site, they offered pointless Window-only add-on software to go with it.

Smart phones are walled gardens generating income for the network and app store. There is sufficient revenue from these sources to pay commission to the salesman. Microsoft have spent a lot on advertising that says Windows 7 is lean enough to run on a smart phone. Perhaps that is even true, but there is no way that a smart phone with anti-virus software and crapware could run Microsoft Office. Without that high margin bloatware, Microsoft has nothing to offer phone distributors.

NASA snaps Sun in super STEREO

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The sun spins

The sun rotates on its axis once every 24 days at its equator, and about once every 34 days at its poles. During those 24-34 days, the Earth moves, so a point on the sun faces the Earth about every 26 days. A part of the sun we cannot see will face Earth in about 7 to 21 days, not six months.

Seagate tells flash bigots to get real

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Consumers will catch on eventually

I switched to SSD over a year ago, and I will not switch back. Flash might wear out on an extremely busy server, but on a desktop or laptop the massively improved performance does not show any signs fading. /proc/diskstats tells me I need to increase disk writes by a factor of a hundred before I should think about buying a spare SSD.

I am sure ignorance and FUD will keep magnetic disks in laptops for two or three more years. Many consumers have noticed that they do not need an 8 core 4GHz CPU to browse the web. Eventually they will spot that they are only using about 50GB of their 250GB disks, and that if they switch to SSD they get a much more responsive computer at the expense of capacity they would never use.

My magnetic discs are for a video server and for backups. If Seagate want to sell more magnetic disks, they should open an online shop so I can buy films for download.

Mitsubishi commuter e-car goes on sale

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Scrap the subsidy

I am sure the end user price of £23,900 was selected to make the car competitive with a cheap diesel paying the congestion charge. If the £5000 subsidy disappeared, the price would still be about £24000. If the congestion charge exemption disappeared, the end user price would fall.

US woman sues again over XP 'downgrade', seeks class action

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Microsoft's software so Microsoft's choice of licence

I support Microsoft's right to gauge their customers for all they are worth. I can understand Microsoft admitting that XP is more valuable than Vista. I find it strange that they say XP is more valueable than a top end Windows 7 license, but I am prepared to take their word for it.

UK.gov relaxes patent application process

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Is this ignorance or malice?

If the EPO could follow ID cards down the toilet then you would really see innovation take off.

Enormous 1km ice-cube machine fashioned at South Pole

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The ice is transparent - not pure

This ice is not particularly pure. It contains a little air, just the rest of Antarctica. Ice looks white because air bubbles scatter the light. This scattering is inconvenient in a particle detector. Did you notice that they drilled down 2km to install detectors in 1km ice cube? The extra km of ice on top provides enough pressure to crush air bubbles out of existence and dissolve them in the ice.

National Identity Card holding chumps have buyer's remorse

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A fool and his money ...

Identity card holders are welcome to get their £30 back after they pay back the £292million wasted on the scheme. I hope the loss of £30 teaches them to be less gullible than 419 victims.

'Wear levelling' - a bedroom aid for multi-layer cell Flash

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Some real numbers

Here is how to get the number of bytes written per second since the last reboot:

dc -e "512 $(awk '{print $7}' /sys/block/sda/stat) * $(cut /proc/uptime -f 1 -d ' ') / p"

Laptop (web browsing and ssh client): 10521 Bytes per second.

Desktop (media server & software development): 1466 Bytes per second.

The laptop numbers are high because it is either being used or switched off. The desktop is on continuously and also has a magnetic disk for media files (3200 Bytes per second). SSD's might have a limited life on an extremely busy server, but they are fine for laptops and workstations. These two SSD's are too old to support TRIM, and still work fine after 14 months.

Ancient USB flash might have problems because: the capacity is so small that there are not many blocks to spread the writes over, the flash chips might be low quality and the wear levelling algorithm might assume a vfat filesystem.

NASA's new 'Bullet' airship to fly from Moffett Field

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You are reinventing Blaugas

Blauhas has the same density as air, so burning blaugas and replacing it with air does not change the buoyancy of your airship. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaugas

Condensing the exhaust gas has some good theory behind it. Hydrocarbon fuels have a little over two hydrogen atoms per carbon atom. The carbon dioxide gets thrown away, but for each carbon atom lost you get at least one water molecule - which comes with a free oxygen atom. Oxygen weighs a little more than a carbon, so even if the condensation process looses some water, you still get enough ballast.

3D printers, one-dimensional enemies

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Mickey Mouse controls copyright laws

Copyright was supposed to have a limit. It still has a nominal limit now, but the duration of copyright has been repeatedly extended to prevent Mickey Mouse from becoming public domain. By all means have a term long enough to recoup investment, but the current term is too long.

Global warming is actually good for rainforests, say boffins

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Old news backwards

Increased temperature alone was not expected to kill rain forests. It would increase the activity of fungi and parasites so that trees would spend more energy on there immune systems, and less converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. The effect of increasing CO2 is not obvious, and years ago it was sensible to decrease emissions as a precaution because the potential costs could be enormous.

Somehow, words like 'precaution', 'potential' and 'could' have mysteriously been replaced by 'necessary', 'certain' and 'will', without clearly published data to back them up. I am all for reducing our dependence on oil and gas independent of whether global warming is real or not. Unfortunately the current fashion is to build an impractical amount of over priced wind turbines - which will not be an effective way to substantially decrease dependence on oil and gas or reduce CO2.

Hadron Collider switches to heavy ions, tinfoilers wet pants again

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Velocities do not add

If particles U and V are moving at velocities u and v relative to the detector, then the velocity (w) of U relative to V is not u-v (the particles are going in opposite directions, so one out of u and v is negative). The correct formula is:

w = u - v / (1 - uv / c^2) where c = 299792458m/s

Netbooks: notebook evolved - or stunted throwback?

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3 Ingredients for a useful netbook

1) Sunlight readable display: Please electricute the berks who 1) made the backlight dim to unreadable when mains power is removed. 2) Reviewed the battery life as >0 when the display was unreadable outdoors on a cloudy day.

2) Cheap: If I use a £500 computer outdoors, someone will try to nick it. Remember they used to be called Small Cheap Computers for a reason.

3) Computer: Install Linux and you get a fully functional computer. Install Windows and you do not have the power to run anti-virus software - if you can find any that runs on ARM or MIPS.

Credit cards get colour screens

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Screen & keyboard essential on the card

A screen attached to the card reader shows you what the scammer wants you to see: a low price and the name of the restaurant you are in. A screen on the card will tell you how much you are really paying, and who to. Likewise, the keypad must be on the card - a key pad on the card reader is a key logger.

These cards have two of the minimum necessary requirements for electronic payments. The missing part is public key cryptography. Without proper cryptography, a man in the middle controls the display on the card, can log keys on the keypad and can transfer your bank balance to a mule.

UK border police seize £500k from Nigerians' hand luggage

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Isn't it obvious?

The money belonged to the late Mr John Smith who had no relatives. The Nigerians arranged by e-mail for Mr David Smith to claim to be John's brother. They have sorted out all the paper work and have paid for modalities. Now all that remains is for them to meet up and split the cash 40/40/20. Come on - deals like this take place 100,000 (ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND) times each day.

Vulture 1 rolls out of fab bunker

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Wrong colour

That silver paint will block some radio waves. Older GPS kit cannot handle a wet leaf let alone silver paint. A modern GPS should be OK, especially at altitude, but you have cut into the margins and may have problems after landing. If you have to put your antenna inside the fuselage, pick a pale colour. Better still, test all the radio kit in a simple painted box first because I am not sure that this PARIS would survive a complete stripping.

The Hardware mid-life crisis

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Many years

Each physical sector of flash may only last 100000 erase cycles, but the controller has wear levelling so many writes to a single logical sector will be converted to a few writes to many physical sectors. As there are about 1000000 physical sectors in my small SSDs, they should survive 1000 writes per second 24/7 for 3 years. In real life, desktops do not get thrashed anything like that hard. I would expect my small SSDs to outlast my big video storage drive.

As SSDs get bigger, they get more physical sectors, and so last longer. A more modern drive would have a bigger DRAM cache, so fewer writes make it past the cache to cause erase cycles. I switched to SSDs 13 months ago and I have yet to notice any degradation of performance whatsoever.

Other people have reported reductions in performance - usually with drives packed full of data (some of them were ignorant enough to defrag their SSD). I recommend leaving about 10% of the capacity unpartitioned. This gives the wear levelling algorithm more choices so it rarely has to move static data onto worn sectors while you are busy. Using the Trim command also helps. (When you delete a file, the drive does not know that the data is no longer needed, so it cannot increase the pool of erased sectors unless the operating system follows the delete with trim commands for the relevant sectors.)

Drug-addled scooter twock teen hit with bizarre crypto ban

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You need crypto to log in

Perhaps the court would like him to watch for people going for a coffee break without logging out, and using their session. Crypto is also used to unlock car doors remotely and play a DVDs from any region except 0. Was the judge high?

Just how special are Power Users?

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Separating the molecular modellers from the model ogglers

If some of your power users are whining just to get the egos stroked, put up a web page with a table with these columns: Name, loadavg, and PC cost. Sort the list by cost/loadavg. Should work just as well as a web page that shows who is using the most network bandwidth and what domain names their are downloading from.

Florida cops tase naked jogger

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If you really want to streak ...

... go to America and the police will make and distribute a video for you for free.

Manchester cops hit Twitter - spoof feeds fall down stairs

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Why did GMP attempt theft of a caravan?

Are they short of office space, or do they need another holding cell?

Robot teddy bears attack Alzheimer's

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If Google translate says badger, look for 狸 or タヌキ in the original Japanese. Tanuki is often mistranslated as badger or raccoon.


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