* Posts by Christian Berger

4443 posts • joined 9 Mar 2007

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mark the life of Slack for Windows Phone

Christian Berger
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Slack? Seriously?

I fail to see how attention grabbing as a service is in any way desirable. We now have letters and e-mail, we can now communicate with eachother in non-synchronous ways. One can ask a question while the other one can react at any time they choose. This is one of the greatest improvement in human communication.

Slack on the other hand is just a bad copy of IRC with disadvantages mimicking the telephone network.

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What can you do when the pup of programming becomes the black dog of burnout? Dude, leave

Christian Berger
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I've actually seen more of the opposite

In one company, I've had the opposite problem. You get time allotted so solve a certain task, you finish it to decent standards in half of that time, polish it and fix the bugs the tester found out (testers are a great thing to have on your development team), but then you still have a quarter of your time left you need to fill somehow.

That is really frustrating, particularly when there are problems in the software that cannot be reasonably fixed, as they were based on design decisions other people did. Eventually you'll break over the difference of what you think should be and what is.

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Unbreakable smart lock devastated to discover screwdrivers exist

Christian Berger
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Re: Prediction for the next problems

"Magnets won't work on steppers, and decent fingerprint scanners will ignore masks - which would make these methods useless for any well designe... oh wait."

Well actually magnets work on most kinds of motors. You essentially emulate the fields which the coils generate by sliding a magnet down the side, then turning the magnet and doing it again.

Fingerprint scanners don't ignore masks, as with any biometric method you can always fool them. Usually even very easily. (see Touch-ID)

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Christian Berger
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Prediction for the next problems

The standard things to try out would be:

Using a strong magnet to make the motor turn without being told to do so. That way you could open the lock.

Reading off the fingerprint from the reader, generating a fingerprint mask and using it on the device. If they were really stupid, they didn't check for "latent fingerprints" and all you have to do is breathe at it.

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Quantum cryptography demo shows no need for ritzy new infrastructure

Christian Berger
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Obviously it needs that

All those schemes work on dedicated unamplified fibre, and don't even dream about repeaters.

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Intel chip flaw: Math unit may spill crypto secrets to apps – modern Linux, Windows, BSDs immune

Christian Berger
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Re: Floating point crypto operations?

"I did not realize that the scope of the FPU had grown so much over the years!"

It actually hasn't. It's just that register reuse became popular.

Any task switcher needs to store all registers of an old task and restore all registers of the new task. If you add new registers, you'd need to change the code of your task switcher. In the 1990s when register reuse started, this obviously was a no-go. It would have meant that Microsoft would have to have provided patches to their existing software packages. For example that task switcher in dosshell would have had to be updated, as well as Windows.

Therefore they chose to re-use registers since that's way easier than convincing Microsoft to change their code.

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Huawei unveils bigger iron KunLun server at CeBIT

Christian Berger
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How does cache coherency work on such a system

I mean presumably it mimicks a huge shared memory box when one actually makes multi-CPU partitions.

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The chances of anything really new coming from storage are a million to one, but still they come

Christian Berger
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The musical was made on excess time for "Watership Down"

Apparently the composer for "Watership Down" couldn't come up with enough music for the film, so the orchester padded and rearranged out what little they had and recorded that. The remaining time was sold to record the "War Of The Worlds" musical.

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Which? calls for compensation for users hit by Windows 10 woes

Christian Berger
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Re: I was in IKEA...

Well seriously, if someone is still trying to sell you an information screen based on Windows in 2018, you should be verry weary of them.

After all in the real world, there are software packages/services like Info Beamer, that allow you to do the same with a small Linux box (preferably a Raspberry PI) with features like live coding (save your file and the new code will be applied during the next frame) and recursive frames in subdirectories. If you use the commercial services all you need is to upload your content, to the "cloud", write the OS image onto an SD-card, pop that into a Raspberry Pi and register it to the service.

And if you don't want to use the service you can use Info Beamer independently of it. Just log into your computer via ssh and edit the files on there.

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Christian Berger
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One would expect a consumer magazine...

... to know somewhat more about Microsoft, than to expect that they would now compensate their users.

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England's top judge lashes out at 'Science Museum' grade court IT

Christian Berger
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Trivial...

Once you have a trivial document format, you can either just transfer the files via simple protocols like FTP (over VPN of course) or you can use VNC to remotely use a computer.

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Christian Berger
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Yes, plus...

...for court documents having them as simple high resolution bitmaps with OCRed (or exported) plain text would already be very good without opening them up to the dangers of some Office product or even Acrobat Reader.

Instead of spending more and more money on highly complex solutions, we should think about making trivially simple archival formats. We now have the bandwidth and storage space that we can deal with documents being RLE compressed bitmaps along with an UTF-8 extract of the text on them. Yes, a page may be 200 kilobytes, but today the risk of having a bug in a complex parser exploited by far outweights a couple of gigabytes of storage space.

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VPNFilter router malware is a lot worse than everyone thought

Christian Berger
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Wasn't that the company...

that advertised "The NHS is completely protected with Sophos" just before they got hit by Wannacry?

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Christian Berger
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Re: malware scum *

"though granted they are all using very similar software"

Hence the term "BSP reskinner", someone who takes the board support package of a router chipset and puts their own logos and HTML-pages on it.

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In defence of online ads: The 'net ain't free and you ain't paying

Christian Berger
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It's not like we don't have a micro payment rich alternative ecosystem...

... there are appstores and they are just as full of targeted ads as the web is.

Also few people complain about ads, what people complain about is tracking and Javascript which are completely different things.

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Automation won’t take your job until the next recession threatens it

Christian Berger
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another difference

While your 1990s Unix workstation had simple interfaces making it simple to automatically process, for example e-mails into commands for a database, we now neither have people with basic computer skills, nor have simple interfaces for office automation.

So now instead dictating a text and handing it over to the printing department, people spend hours looking for cliparts and fonts to put into their printed documents.

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Stern Vint Cerf blasts techies for lackluster worldwide IPv6 adoption

Christian Berger
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Re: But I like...

"My fritzbox uses a different IP on the home network to the one on the internet."

Yes, but for the one on the Internet you can use the free MyFritz service to get a domain name.

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Christian Berger
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Re: But I like...

"I'll never remember:

My router is 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334"

Yeah, because nobody will ever give their router such an address. It'll likely be:

2001:0db8:85a3::0000

Or for most consumer networks, it'll be accessible as "fritz.box" via DNS.

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Christian Berger
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It will co-exist, we have done bigger changes to our telecommunication networks

I mean the ISDN Telephony network co-exists with the Internet. Those are highly different technologies, yet, at first we tunneled IPv4 over ISDN, now we connect the remaining ISDN Islands over IPv4.

Just like some people got rid of their fax machines, and many companies got rid of their BBSes after they got Internet access, people might build the cool new stuff on IPv6 while the legacy stuff continues to be on IPv4 until it's dropped.

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Dual-screen laptops debut at Asus' Computex chat

Christian Berger
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WTF, why?

I mean I can mildly understand putting a touchpad into a laptop, but seriously putting an additional screen there will just waste valuable battery power as that screen will always be obscured by your hands.

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Britain mulls 'complete shutdown' of 4G net for emergency services

Christian Berger
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With 5G that'll be

Ambulance driver: Yes doctor, the patient is starting to... [418 I'm a teapot]

As 5G is based on HTTP.

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Christian Berger
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Re: Still waiting

Still waiting for _any_ outsourced contract of something moderately complex to come in on time and/or budget.

The problem is outsourcing. Your only chance of making outsourcing work is when you have one person for every 5-10 people in the outsourcing company embedded in their team.

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'Moore's Revenge' is upon us and will make the world weird

Christian Berger
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Re: Note that Moore did not write about speed

"/me thinks: GPUs (sorta already doing that, for some things)"

I'm not sure, as far as I know they still share the same memory. So they are nice if you have independent processes. I'm not sure how efficient those are for pipelines of different processes chained together.

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Christian Berger
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Note that Moore did not write about speed

He apparently he wrote about circuit densities. That's a rather significant difference. BTW you can turn that into speed if you manage to use parallel processing. In order to do that in any meaningfull way you need to ditch the shared memory concept as it doesn't scale.

It could be that we see a revival of the Transputer concept, where we have small simple processors with their own RAM connected via a high speed bus.

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Is Microsoft about to git-merge with GitHub? Rumors suggest: Yes

Christian Berger
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Disney probably is more of an IT company than AOL

Disney has started looking into IT and investing into its research at least as early as the 1970s. Back then they cooperated with Xerox Parc on programming literacy projects.

Disney even produced their own computer systems.

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Christian Berger
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It could have some benefits...

... as it would drive people away from GitHub. Now GitHub isn't to bad as such, however having all your eggs in one basket is something that is very dangerous. The Free Software world should not depend on one company.

If it means that people will set up their own git servers, I'm all for it.

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HostingUK drops offline after losing Farmer vs Fibre competition

Christian Berger
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There is something called geo-redundancy

It's a way of ordering cables to make sure they can't both be damaged by the same event. Usually you have fibres going through different places. If that is impossible, you can still put a slab of concrete in between the fibres making the "yellow fibre finding aparatus" break before it can find the other fibre.

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You should find out what's going on in that neural network. Y'know they're cheating now?

Christian Berger
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Such problems were known _way_ before the current hype

The early 1990s TV documentary series "The Machine that Changed the World" already covered that as a problem with Neural Networks by using the example of a tank detecting network trained with pictures of tanks during good weather, and pictures without tanks during bad weather. It trained on the weather instead of the tanks.

BTW that series only mentiones the Internet once and only in passing.

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Chinese president Xi seeks innovation independence

Christian Berger
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They are actually trying

Apparently to this talk by Mitch Altman, China is really working on supporting their hackerspaces as one of their sources for innovation. That certainly is way smarter than the German way of just giving companies money to waste.

https://media.ccc.de/v/zeteco-38-hacking_in_china

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Christian Berger
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I'm sorry, but incentives have nothing to do with the economy

It's not like in capitalism innovation brings any incentive other than the intrinsic ones. It's not like an innovative company will be successful. Just look at Apple which became successful after they stopped trying to be innovative.

The smartphone business simply is dead innovation wise, no change in how you do economics can change that. It's a commodity market, like sugar.

If you want to see innovation, you need to look into the public sector. Innovation is done at universities or even partially state run companies. Just look at the new electric car the German postal company brought out recently.

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ISP popped router ports, saving customers the trouble of making themselves hackable

Christian Berger
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Re: This is why I feel....

"Unfortunately they have taken some features out / it can't be used in bridged modem only mode grrr."

As far as I can tell, they have fixed that in newer versions.

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Christian Berger
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TR-069

Well that's actually a widely exploited vector. If you hear about "Millions of Routers becoming part of a botnet", that's usually a flaw in the TR-069 implementation. It's just far to complex to be implemented correctly by BSP-reskinners.

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Leaked pics: Motorola to add 'unpatriotic' 5G to 4G phones with magnets

Christian Berger
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Well in the GSM world radio progress isn't the most important thing

It's usually how the patents are distributed among the large implementers. That's why, instead of sane codecs like Speex or Opus, they use weird codecs like AMR.

So it makes sense to develop your own "patent-reduced" standards, as it'll likely even be complexity reduced because of that.

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Android daddy Andy Rubin's Essential axes handset, is 'actively shopping itself' – report

Christian Berger
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Re: If it were anyone other than Google who bought Android, Inc...

"It's been the best OS around introducing features years before apple copy them,"

Maybe it's been the best _mobile_ OS around, however it's a far cry from most operating systems. I wonder why mobile OS vendors all had to do the same obvious mistakes.

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Christian Berger
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I don't know...

I mean most mobile phone ecosystems have the same problem. Paid applications seem to only make that worse. Just look at things like "Pay to Win" in games or paid applications still siphoning your data.

What would have had a chance if there was some minimalistic operating system for mobile devices. Something that just adds a "phone layer" on top of a "normal laptop". In a way a modern form of the Nokia Communicator. We would now have the technology.

The problem with the Essential Phone was, that it was just what reviewers wanted. It didn't have an easy to replace battery. It had some gimmicky "modular" thing, which only offered things that were normal in mobile phones. Reviewers love that. However if you actually have to spend money for it, practical use is somewhat more important.

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Electron patches patch after security researcher bypassed said patch

Christian Berger
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Re: What is Electron?

Well true, I think it also allows your text editor to execute code from text files without your intervention. Kinda like the Canon Cat, but less competently made.

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Christian Berger
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Re: It's simply a terrible idea

"But it's a low hanging fruit, you can reuse your cheap javascript developers"

Yes, but getting software written by people who have little idea what they are doing is actually a recepie for desaster. We have seen that in the 1990s. It was so bad that crashing computers were the norm in the PC and Mac world.

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Christian Berger
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Re: What is Electron?

No it's like all those jokes about EMACS combined and amplified by a factor of 100. Essentially Electron is not just an operating system like EMACS, it's much more complex than an operating system, yet has very little actual functionality.

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Christian Berger
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It's simply a terrible idea

to use a full browser, one of the most complex software projects around, as a GUI framework. Seriously Windows 3.1 had a powerfull GUI framework and that fit onto a single floppy disk.

Besides browsers were never made for interactive applications, that's why it's so hard to do that with them.

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Can't pay Information Commissioner's fine? No problem! Just liquidate your firm

Christian Berger
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So where is the news here?

Company messes up badly, company goes kaboom. That should be the norm. Unfortunately for many big companies that is not the case.

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Big bimmer bummer: Bavaria's BMW buggies battered by bad bugs

Christian Berger
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That's because people rarely look at such things

Here's for example a talk talking about the many problems of "secure" random number generators in QNX

https://media.ccc.de/v/34c3-8730-taking_a_scalpel_to_qnx

With embedded devices it's usually the closed source software the manufacturer puts on it. It's extremely rare to find a bug in, let's say, the TCP/IP stack... whereas even I was able to find a Ping of Death bug in Nucleus within a few minutes of trying some years ago.

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Christian Berger
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the key word here is "was"

Most of those systems start up rather decent, by people with a vision and knowing what they are doing. However that was in the 1980s and 1990s. Today people who are interested in operating system work don't work on proprietary ones any more as it's not really something that is very fulfilling.

I've seen that with "Nucleus", once a popular operating system for GSM basebands. You can see the quality gradient from the old core features which are moderately well designed (though a far cry from something like OpenRTOS/FreeRTOS) to things like the USB stack (which would crash immediately with the default settings) and the board support package, which actually had problems you could _see_ in the code without understanding C. Or the JSON generator which had a beginner's bug in it's integer output function.

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Christian Berger
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Well those companies typically work hard to keep decent programmers out

For example by having decisions like "we use QNX" dumped onto the programmers because some salesperson came along selling it with bogus arguments, like that it's not "Open Source". In reality that means that your board support package will be closed source and written by highly incompetent programmers.

Essentially those things will drive any decent programmer out of the company. What'll be left are those who just want the money and don't care about what they are doing. So obviously they don't care about the security of their code.

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Microsoft gives users options for Office data slurpage – Basic or Full

Christian Berger
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Re: GPDR Fines

You forget something, Microsoft is an US company, if they refuse to pay, they refuse to pay. Nobody is going to do the thing they should have done 20 years ago and ban their products if they don't pay.

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Christian Berger
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It's actually even worse

We now have App-Stores where softare manufacturers can charge money in arbitrary increments. Even the Apps you pay for sell your data or display advertisements.

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Christian Berger
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Re: Why not NONE?

"Basically, if MS in any way valued the security and confidentiality of the people who use their software, they would provide a NONE option,"

If they did so, the Windows ecosystem would look a _lot_ different. They would be running regular massive code audits. They would strive to make their systems simpler instead of re-inventing the wheel every few months. They would depreciate and remove VBA from their office products.

However why should they do so? The remaining users of their software are either forced to use it, or they obviously don't care about security and confidentiality.

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Christian Berger
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Remember when people claimed that if you pay for a service your data is protected?

Seriously what a naive idea. Any company will always opt for getting more money and/or data out of their user if they can.

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Router admin? Bored? Let's play Battleships using BGP!

Christian Berger
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What I wonder is...

since this apparently works without changing the protocol. Would it be possible to use those 16 bits to transmit some cryptographic hash for that route. Obviously you need more than 16 bits for that so you'd combine more messages to some sensible length.

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Christian Berger
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Well Dan Kaminski actually ran audio streams over DNS

way back when he was cool. The great advantage is that DNS is extremely well cached, so you could run a web radio station from a measly little ISDN line.

BTW back when ISDN was introduced in Germany, there was a manufacturer of ISDN equipment demonstrating chess over "User to User Signaling", an obscure feature of ISDN which allowed you to send free data while establishing a call.

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Zuckerberg gets a night off: Much-hyped Euro grilling was all smoke, absolutely no heat

Christian Berger
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To bad they didn't let Sonneborn have a go

For example he once asked Günter Öttinger some questions, and asked him to answer in English:

This is Öttinger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ2Pz4naZPs

Those are the questions, turn on subtitles, they work decently.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsbV3fGe4eU

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