* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2646 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Adobe squishes code execution bug in download manager

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

You have choices

There are other PDF readers - even for windows. Try doing a web search. AFAIK only Adobe are dumb enough to support javascript. Gootube videos can be downloaded with youtube-dl and watched if you have gnash and mplayer (I do not know if these work on Windows). If there is a useful website that requires flash then I would not know as the first thing I do with a browser is to disable flash, javascript and java.

Polygamist Microsoft picks Amazon as latest Linux wife

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A whole dollar?

If Amazon felt compelled to pay out a hefty fee, they would publicise it to make their smaller competitors nervous. If Microsoft had received a hefty fee, they would have publicised it in the vain hope that they could convince others to settle nuisance litigation. As the amount is undisclosed, it must be utterly trivial. Tom Tom's deal is equally secret.

Microsoft have mentioned 235 Linux related patents years ago. They still have not had the nerve to give a list of patent numbers. We can be sure that every single one is obvious to anyone but a patent examiner. If any that survived RE Bilski then prior art will be known to dozens of the hundreds of thousands of free software developers.

If you pay a troll some real money today, you will have a herd of trolls on your doorstep tomorrow.


US Army moves rocket-buster raygun from lab to firing range

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Tea for everyone

The waste heat from the laser is enough to make 4 cups of tea every second. The generator produces about 10 cups per second. The next challenge is to get everyone to sit down and have a nice cup of tea instead of shooting at each other.

Microsoft guns for 2-for-1 sales with 'pre-installed' Office 2010 deal

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Apples and oranges

For most customers, software licenses are a secret to be sprung on them after the have been separated from there cash. The pre-installed version of MS Office is probably licensed for one computer and is not transferable. The boxed version has some remote chance of being licensed for one computer at a time - it may be possible to remove it and install on a new computer.

There are still enough geriatric PHBs too set in there ways to understand there are alternatives to MS office. Send them round the world on business trips and make them fill out expenses forms until the get a heart attack. Then you can upgrade to standards compliant software. Just imagine trying to explain to your grandchildren that MS Word could not reliably understand documents written by a different version of MS Word.

Note to Captain Kirk: Warp speed will kill you

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Hydrogen atoms move with the ship

Warp drive is supposed to work by messing with the space along the path between the starting point and the destination. In the moving region near the Enterprise, space is normal. Around this normal region is a moving region that has a short distance from the start point to the destination. To compensate for this, space has a large distance between the start point and the destination when the ship is not nearby.

Star trek's warp field is generated by the ship. As distortions in space travel at the speed of light, the Enterprise would not be able to distort the space ahead as required without magic. The solution is to send the required gravitational waves from the start point years before the journey starts so they will reach the destination when they are needed. (To get the right shaped space, the destination has to send gravity waves back to the source as well. The journey cannot start until those waves arrive.)

The distortions in space that make the Enterprise's path short also affect the hydrogen along the path. Near the Enterprise you find the hydrogen that started near the Enterprise and travelled with the ship. Around that, hydrogen gets moved out of the way while the ship is nearby. Everywhere else, there is more hydrogen in the way.

In real life, stars and black holes in tight orbits light years away do not create gravity waves big enough to be detected here by the most sensitive equipment currently available. Equipment big enough to make waves that could get the Enterprise to the nearest star in a few days would weigh more than the entire solar system. On the other hand, using slower than light ships and crews in suspended animation would remove all the urgency and excitement from a television series.

Microsoft tests show no Win 7 battery flaw

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Before blaming the battery manufacturers

Try disabling bluetooth and wifi. Inadequate EMC suppression can make battery monitoring chips give false readings. Some charger chips include a timer to make absolutely certain the battery is never over charged. Preventing the timer from activating when a radio transmits is challenging (much easy to use a chip without a timer, and use an external time source). If the timer stops the charger early, monitoring software will think the battery has reached its maximum charge when it has not had enough time to get close to full capacity.

Extreme pr0n suspect has his internet access suspended

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It is much easier to con someone who cannot communicate

I assume the reason why he is banned from accessing the internet is because a simple web search would show him at least one good defence for the charges against him. The next two steps are to threaten him with draconian punishments and tell him he can avoid them by signing a confession within five minutes.

ARM boss forecasts mass migration to netbooks

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Put ARM's in the supermarkets - computer distributors want too much money

I am typing this on a noisy Intel craptop. When I have real work to do, I ssh to an AMD desktop. I would like to upgrade to a silent ARM box that is too cheap to be worth nicking. If they really want my business: standardise laptop sizes so I can upgrade the main board or replace the keyboard or LCD panel with standard parts just like a desktop.

Entire UK will be on ID database sometime in next 3 millennia

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We will need more and better terrorists to get ID cards for all

According to: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/births1209.pdf 708711 babies were born in England and Wales in 2008.

If they triple Manchester's ID card rate and apply it to the whole country they still would not keep up with that birth rate. The obvious solution is to kill three out of every four babies. Policies with similar effects are already on the way. About once per year in winter the wind slows to a useless rate in Europe for about five days. If we switch to wind power, we should be able to freeze thousands of people to death every winter. Biofuel might be a better option as that should cause plenty of starvation. I am sure we can rely on our government to find imaginative ways to kill the required number of people. How about some UK based government funded terrorist training camps?

NSA beats warrantless wiretap rap

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Nothing new here

Kill 5 people and you are a murderer. Kill 5 million and you are emperor.

Rambus thanks Samsung for the memory

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Look out, here comes RDRAM 2

The whole idea of JEDEC was to create standards for connecting electronic components without risk of surprise lawsuits from patent trolls. Rambus have demonstrated that JEDEC's procedures can be profitably subverted. This will cause a stampede of lawyers each trying add their own tax to consumer electronics. There is a good reason why Rambus is a dirty word in the electronics industry.

Poisoned PDF pill used to attack US military contractors

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Javascript again

Yet another exploit that depends on javascript. Adding javascript to PDF was an outstandingly stupid idea. Plenty of PDF readers do not implement javascript. Just pick one not made by Adobe. The only content you will miss is malware.

Discrimination warning over airport body scanners

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Put collection boxes in the airports

If there are enough donations to fund a scanner and someone to look at the images then fine. People are welcome to spend their own money on a false sense of security.

Discounts damage for Microsoft Windows 7 PC boost?

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1% more market share needed

Apple's kit is not cheap, so there is no need for massive discounts to compete with them. If Linux has only 1% of the market share, why lose so much money to get it?

US Army's robot kill-chopper chopped

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The Mule definately has a future




Ex-AMD exec called own company 'pathetic'

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Don't forget Intel's achievements

- Late DVI: Intel stuck with analogue VGA when everyone else had DVI. A blurred picture on an LCD panel was a strong hint that it was connected to an Intel motherboard. The high speed A to D converters required by LCD panels to connect to Intel chipsets must have been a significant cost.

- RDRAM: High latency high power high cost memory covered in patents. RDRAM was intended to remove competitors to Intel's chipsets and had no advantages for customers.

- Memory Translation Hub: Rushed out to allow Intel CPU's to talk with SDRAM because of the limited supply of RDRAM. If it had worked, the latency would have been crippling.

- i945: Tolerable when it was first released, but stayed in the market long enough to make Atom look like a power hog. Somehow it got listed as a suitable chipset for Vista.

Data breach howlers to get up to £500,000 fine

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Half a solution

A penalty for failure does by itself not teach people how to succeed.

New mega offshore windfarms could supply 2% of UK energy

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Commentards demonstrate endless cheap energy without emissions

Clearly slagging off Lewis Page solves all our problems - although I have yet to see an explanation of how this works.

People who prefer checking the numbers to ad hominem attacks should read David MacKay's site (if they have not already): http://www.withouthotair.com/

Although David MacKay is a Professor in the department of physics at the university of Cambridge, understanding his site only requires knowledge of arithmetic. Unfortunately basic arithmetic is beyond the ability of many commentards and politicians.

Gordon Brown can honestly say that "The offshore wind industry ...could... support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020" but it would be nice if he added: almost all of those jobs will be for foreigners, and will be payed for by high electricity prices.

The reason we have ROC's at all is because wind turbines are not competitive with other sources of electricity.

Few a few days of most years, Europe has very little wind. A European electricity grid is not big enough to solve that. Energy storage is good for hours, and is used every day. Energy storage that lasts days and is used once a year is something only windfools should have to pay for.

Italians threaten suit over Windows pre-install

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Microsoft chose this

There is nothing to prevent Microsoft distributing a free version of broken Windows that people can pay Microsoft to upgrade over the internet. This does not require lengthy downloads - downloading a small activation key would do the job. Some retailers charge a fee to remove pre-installed crapware to make a new PC usable, so to a large extent, Windows users would not notice the difference.


Berkeleylug reported stats from NetApplications’ hitslink.com. This is a popular source for small numbers of Linux users. It measures the OS reported by web browsers. Many Linux users set this to Windows because some web sites refuse to talk to other browser settings. The figures you get from page hits depend on the content. A Debian technical support site will show far more Linux users than a site the requires silverlight. NetApplications have been accused of selecting sites that favour their sponsors.


I did a quick hunt for the number of unique IP addresses updating a Linux client distributions, and filled in the missing numbers for unknown distributions by scaling the page hits figures on distrowatch. The result is about 5% of IP addresses are used to update Linux clients. (Multiple clients hidden behind NAT out weigh multiple reports of a single client with a dynamic IP address).


Try including super computers, server farms, satnavs and routers.

Today is not New Year's Eve - or the end of the decade

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Standardise on ddate

Today is Setting Orange, the 73rd day of The Aftermath in the YOLD 3175.

High-speed Chinese train kicks French, Japanese butt

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Cars will compete with trains when I can read a book while driving

London to Endinburgh off peak return is about £186 first class and £107 standard. The journey time is a little under 5 hours. It might be possible to extract this information from the national rail enquiries web site. A very kind person has created a web site that works without hassle: http://traintimes.org.uk/

The best (of the worst) patent claims of 2009

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When your employer wants to own your dreams


Angels can't fly: Official

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Looking forward to recreational genetic engineering

A home made human sized angel would be inconvenient. If you make one with a human brain your new toy might be upset about having wings that are only for show.

Lady Cottington's pressed fairies are about the size of a human hand. If you have the skills to put insect wings on a miniature human body then your can use insect muscles (stronger than mammal muscle) and you might be able to make it fly. Also as the brain on a miniature fairy couldn't win a debate against a rabbit so there is less chance that your creation will get upset and stick needles in your eyes while you sleep.

For a really advanced project, try getting a lizard to burp methane (the stuff that powers your gas cooker and also comes out the back end of a cow). First person to make a fire breathing lizard wins a pair of singed eyebrows.

How Google became Microsoft: A decade of hits, misses and gaffes

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Netbooks did not come out of nowhere - they were a response to the problem of small cheap computers. Notebooks had become so expensive that they were too valuable to risk using in public. People had to buy an extra license to have the same software on their notbook as their desk top and they needed an expensive power hungry CPU to run it.

OLPC demonstrated that a useful computer could be sold for $200, and that people would buy them even if you made them jump through hoops to get them. They also demonstrated that the biggest profit centre for laptop distributors (proprietary software) could be entirely replaced with reliable free software.

Manufacturers were dragged kicking and screaming onto the small cheap computer bandwagon (each afraid that the others would get there first). Distributors refused to sell the Linux versions because they would not be able to shift profitable MS Office and crapware with Linux machines. Even so, small cheap computers sold because people would jump through hoops to get them and efficient distributors entered the computer market.

The term "small cheap computer" has been replaced with Netbook just like "Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disk drives" changed to "Redundant Array of Independent Disk drives". Removing the word "cheap" allowed prices to rise to the point where people will not risk using a Netbook in public. Manufacturers and distributors hope this will stifle sales to the point where they can claim Netbooks were fad people experimented with during a recession.

Perhaps they are right, and they can go back to their traditional segmented market. The next bump on the road map is the work AMD has done for ARM and MIPS CPU's. Investigations into how Intel kept AMD out of the market are starting to reach conclusions. If the regulators prevent Intel's anticompetitive behaviour, AMD will not be the only company to benefit. ARM laptops will not mysteriously disappear after a quick demonstration at a trade show.

The time has come for a new marketing name. I propose "laptop" for a silent computer that will not catch fire if you use it on your lap, uses a non-x86 CPU to keep the cost low and battery life high and has a pixel qi screen so you can read in sunlight. (Pixel Qi was started by the people who made the low cost daylight-readable display for OLPC's XO.)

Wireless e-car recharge tech within range?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

What about the other 10% ?

If we accept that impressive figure of 90%, and the little battery in the 15 mile range Prius reviewed yesterday, the wasted energy is enough to run a small toaster or two big graphics cards. Now scale that up to a car with a 150 mile range (still small enough to get derisive comments here). That other 10% is going to heat things. All the power of your central heating focussed into a patch under your car heating things you would prefer not to catch fire.

Please can the Register provide a video of a demonstration of this product in action a long way away from me.

Plug-in Prius production plan posted

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Battery life and replacement cost please

Electricity is about half the price of petrol per mile, but batteries have a limited life (2 or 3 years is a sensible guess) and a huge replacement cost.

Assume charger is 80% efficient, battery retains 80% of the supplied charge, and electricity is £0.12/kWH: 15 miles on a 5.2kWH battery is £0.065/mile.

Assume petrol is £1.1/l, 4.5l/uk gallon: 40 miles per gallon is £0.125 per mile.

At a wild guess, a new battery is £2000, so the break even point is about 1000 miles per month.

Police moot pop-up social network warnings

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Free advertising

Today police officers proposed adverting which sites have effective privacy technology with pop-ups.

National space agency for Blighty, says Drayson

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Anything but BSA

I would rather not name a new British space agency after the Bloated Software Alliance. How about: British Organisation For Flying Into Nothing.

US eyes speedy reviews for 'green' patents

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Winning patent litigation makes your lawyers rich


Microsoft and EU close on browser settlement?

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IE is not free

It is bundled with software that you are required to pay for with a new computer. The ballot screen is not a solution. Selecting a standards compliant browser does not get you a proportion of your money back.

Ministers lick problem of pan-EU patents - almost

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Plenty of solutions

1) Make the patent trolls pay to have patents translated into every language up front. Let the victims of patents choose what language they want to defend with. That will make nuisance litigation a tiny bit more expensive.

2) Don't bother translating patents as no-one reads them looking for new ideas anyway. Solve all patent disputes by tossing a coin: cheaper for everyone involved and just as fair as the current system.

3) Stop issuing patents. Simply deny all applications because they are obvious extensions of current inventions or not patentable subject matter.

Smut is OK, says Montreal prof

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Think of the anti-porn squad

They must have a reason to believe that looking at an action requires people to copy the action. Perhaps it is because that is what they would do themselves. The obvious solution is to recommend these people watch some films about people who do not imitate others all the time.

Nissan super-battery to 'double' e-car range

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

200 miles is too far

Drop the range to 20 miles and it is still double the distance I travel 95% of days. This drops the weight of the battery by a factor of 10, so it make a significant saving on the weight of the car. At a guess, a 20 mile battery is light enough for me (large and fit) to carry from the drive to the house and back every day. Charging such a small battery indoors is much simpler than charging a big battery outside. If they get the weight down to the point where granny can carry a battery indoors to charge then electric cars become much more practical.

Wind turbine tax is still much lower than petrol tax, so I would like a practical electric vehicle.

EU agency runs rule over ID cards for online banking logins

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It is not technically difficult

The amount and the person to be paid must be displayed on the card or you do not know how much you are paying or who you are paying it to. The buttons needed to authenticate must be on the card or you do not know who is logging them. The software must be open source so it can be checked. The software must be stored in ROM that can be read by external devices so you can tell it matches the source code.

The hard part is collecting a bigger bribe for the banks than the people who want insecure banking.

Spectrum goes liberal at EU level

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A title is missing

Spectrum is green.

California votes in HD TV power pruning law

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Comparing a truck load of apples to a dripping orange juice tap

"... the move will have saved sufficient energy by 2021 to power 864,000 single-family homes."

How long must an orange juice tap be left dripping until it leaks the same amount of juice as a truck load of apples? Exactly how many Joules of energy do they expect to save? How much power in Watts (=Joules/second) does a single family home use? For how many seconds will the energy saved by 2021 power 864000 homes?

Sounds like usual the piss and wind turbine figures used to justify subsidising wind farms. If everybody saves a little energy the result will be a small reduction in energy use. If you are going to do something meaningful about CO2 then everyone will have to do a lot. That means focusing on the biggest uses energy. For California that is probably transport, air conditioning and water. Watching half a television instead of one only sounds useful if you use a bogus energy / power comparison.

The great ‘build versus buy’ debate

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Lock-in / vendor survival is outwieghs everything else on the questionaire

Without source code and a license to modify, compile and distribute, any proprietary software is an invitation to lock-in or problems when the vendor ceases to support their product. I will pay for good software if I am certain it will be maintained - by myself and other users if necessary.

HELL-beam project now one step from jet-fighter raygun

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Battery powered laser sharks

A next generation super efficient 150kW laser needs about 200kW of electrical power. The first jet fighter I found has a 300kW generator and needs 400kW to power all its electrical systems simultaneously. Finding an extra few hundred kilowatts near a powerful jet engine on a fighter aircraft is achievable, but could be a bit of a challenge on a shark. A 50kg 10kW output power laser could be powered by a 50kg lithium ion battery for about 30 hours. (A smaller battery cannot power a bigger laser for less time because a smaller battery has a lower maximum discharge rate). Still, 10kW is not to be sneezed at.


Appeal Court: Mod chips infringe game copyright after all

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Now lock up arms dealers for murder

... an offence to sell or distribute "any device, product or component which is primarily designed, produce, or adapted for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of effective technological measures".

IIRC, The people who originally hacked the X-box were doing it so they could run Linux on cheap hardware subsidised by Microsoft. Their first successful hack had a side effect of making it possible to run copied games. They did not release the hack at once. Instead they gave Microsoft the opportunity to sign a Linux boot loader. That way, people could run Linux without defeating the Digital Restrictions Management hardware. Microsoft chose not to work with the hackers, so the DRM breaking details were published.

Modding an X-box has honest (possibly legal) uses. As well as running Linux, you can keep your games in a safe place and only let your children play with (scratch) copies of games you have bought.

People can use a modified X-box for Linux and backups or for playing stolen games just like people can use a gun for hunting or murder. They can have my video recorder when they pry it from my cold dead ^H^H^H^H^H when a giant alien bug crashes his flying saucer into my truck.

Microsoft yanks Windows code on GPL violation claim

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@Bob Gateaux

You have the freedom to use, modify and distribute GPL code on the condition that you do not take that freedom away the people you distribute to. Microsoft is accused of taking that freedom away from you.

People create GPL software because they can benefit when others contribute improvements. People contribute improvements because they can benefit when others contribute improvements.


Kingston SSD Now V 40GB boot drive

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Been doing this for some time already

I am not worried about swap wearing out my SSD. My swap partition is on sda2, so the following incantation tells me how many sectors have been written to swap space:

awk '{print $7}' /sys/block/sda/sda2/stat

It has been 7 days since the last power cut, and 0 sectors have been written to swap. (Anyone know the equivalent command for windows?). If swap space ever gets used regularly I will buy more RAM. Even if I do not, modern SSD's are so big that there are plenty of sectors for the wear levelling algorithm to work with. It will be a very long time before most of the sectors approach their limit.

I upgraded my desktop to silent (PVR disk is a 2.5", so I do not have to worry about spin up / spin down cycles wearing it out). The temperature controlled fan has never spun fast. The laptop is more of a problem. When the fan spins fast it downs out passing aeroplanes. I am looking forward to a replacement with an ARM or MIPS CPU and a Pixel Qi LCD panel.

Large Hadron Collider scuttled by birdy baguette-bomber

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Pointing the beams into space ...

... would be costly.

There are two beams travelling in opposite directions, so you would need a pair of quarter rings to divert the beams upwards. If the beams could be curved into a tighter (cheaper) circle, then they would have been - so you are looking at quarter rings that curve 8km into the sky. That would be spectacular even without a beam dump. If these extra rings were ever used then they would emit synchrotron radiation (X-rays going out radially). Anyone standing underneath would not be pleased.

Bug in latest Linux gives untrusted users root access

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Filippo: "A small issue. Noone is going to bother writing a virus that targets Linux anyway."

After all, noone would want to root paypal and divert lots of money to themselves.

Try some other big names like google or yahoo with something like: http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph?site=www.paypal.com

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Spengler cries wolf again

As root type "sysctl vm.mmap_min_addr". If the result is 4096, the problem has been dealt with. If it is 0, read the man page for "sysctl.conf".

WINE is for running Windows programs on a Linux box, but it has limitations. Last time I read about it, WINE was unable to install or run Windows malware correctly.

Closed source drivers can cause some hassle (none in this case). If some kit provides so much benefit for you that it is worth the hassle, ask the supplier to provide a minimal open source wrapper around a binary blob like nVidia have for years.

Coming soon: Freetard, The Movie

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Who else likes the taste of self destruction?

The only reason most of my family know it is possible to download movies for free is because of the the skip resistant advert on most DVD's. Will they include the advert on this DVD?

US sees 'hot-tub related injuries' increase triplefold

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just the unintentional ones ...

If government agents insist on prying guns from Americans' cold dead hands then they will just have to watch out for people armed with hot tubs.

Asus CEO signals Q1 2010 smartbook launch

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It's not a netbook

Anyone else remember "redundant array of inexpensive disks" morphing into "redundant array of independent disks"? "Netbook" is the marketing term used in the hope that people will forget that the XO was a small CHEAP computer.

It is good to see the SCC is on its way back from near extinction. The big question is does it come with a Pixel Qi daylight readable LCD or an X86 emulator and Vista SP2.

Microsoft counters Windows 7 upgrade hack advice

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More crapware please

Like some of the other commentards here, I upgrade my PC's a few components at a time rather than buy complete new systems. I would love to add some crapware to my next purchase to reduce the costs. Anyone seen a distributor offering crapware as a separate component?

I support Microsoft's right to rent out third rate software at exorbitant prices. If you do not like Microsoft's license, don't use their software and get your money back from the distributor.

Intel hindering USB 3.0 adoption, alleges industry insider

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Selling point: copying between USB devices

Most chip sets have one USB2 interface, a few USB1 interfaces and lots of USB ports. When you plug a USB1 device into a port it is assigned a USB1 interface if there is one left (If not, it trashes the performance of the USB2 interface). All USB2 devices share the 480Mb/s of the only USB2 interface. A modern hard disk can use all the bandwidth in USB2.

If you plug a ten of USB2 hard disks into a USB3 hub, they get almost 480Mb/s each. This is not a feature I would use every month, but some people might like to use their hi-res webcam while backing up.

Steve Ballmer's Windows 7 dance party

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More snarky articles please

Half the point of reading the Register is that the articles are not all rehashed press releases carefully worded to avoid annoying the advertisers. Next week, the wailing Microsofties can enjoy the Register's sarcasm applied to the launch of Karmic Koala.

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