* Posts by bazza

2093 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

Windows 10 Linux Distribution Overload? We have just the thing

bazza
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Re: It's all lies

No, that's wrong. Microsoft have done an implementation of the Linux kernel's system call interface. The POSIX part come from plonking glibc on top of that, the necessary binary being identical to that compiled by Ubuntu, or RedHat, or whoever.

As for what Linux is, given the myriad versions of the kernel that are out there, stretching way beyond the main stream kernel, arguably the only thing that defines them all as "Linux" is the system call interface. That's the one thing Linus has been very passionate about keeping consistent and stable. It's the only thing that unifies them all. That, and some shared git commit in a repository far, far away a long time ago.

So in a sense, anything that implements the system call interface is a Linux of sorts. That includes Windows 10, FreeBSD, QNX, Solaris, GR, RedHat, Ubuntu, Android, etc.

Reportedly MS have done MSSQL on Linux by doing a Windows kernel interface shim for Linux. They can put win32.dll and everything else on that, and software that uses these DLLs has no idea that there's no NT kernel underneath. So with that installed, a Linux can now also be a Windows too. At least to some extent.

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bazza
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Re: Remind me again......

Anything that Redmond can do, GNU can do better.

Windows has better graphics drivers and supports more WiFi devices...

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Google risks mega-fine in EU over location 'stalking'

bazza
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Re: "It's been quite clear for some time that funding development"

@LDS,

Google could have charged for its mobile OS to fund its development - but the plan was to give it away for free (more or less) to spread it as much as possible, so it would have greatly sustained the ads business - and the plan worked, especially outside US where Apple expensive phones have less market share.

Free? More or less? Don't you remember that just a few weeks ago the EU fined Google because Android is far from free? Using it relies on proprietary blobs that come with conditions attached, illegal conditions as it turns out.

Google's business model is sunk, at least in Europe, it's just a matter of when the regulators tear them apart, not if.

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bazza
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Re: Confusopoly

@My-Handle,

Sounds like an extension of the "If you can't dazzle with brilliance, baffle with bullshit" approach. Also used to great effect by large companies to limit bonuses, raises, promotions of their own employees, justify bonuses, raises of management, justify the appointment of manager's mate to high-level role, by governments when enacting new 'security' laws...

That list was supposed to be small, but I can think of so many examples on the spur of the moment that it's depressing.

Oh be fair. At least with a government you're able to vote against them, and if enough people do that then there's a change of ruling party, and possibly a change in law too.

Can't do that with Google. You can buy shares in them, but all the openly traded ones don't give you voting rights. So as a member of the public you have even less ability to change Google's behavior than your own government's...

I must say that this looks like a spectacular fail on Google's part. This new data law has been in the cards for yonks, and surely it must have crossed their minds that what they're doing is probably illegal. Did they consult a European lawyer, or rely on an American interpretation?

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Visual Studio gains some go-faster stripes for Android emulation

bazza
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Kinda the polar opposite of Rust then. I'm not yet a Rusty programmer, but I aspire to be!

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Three more data-leaking security holes found in Intel chips as designers swap security for speed

bazza
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Re: Looking at the wrong holes

I'm with Cynic_999 to a large extent with this one. Running random third party code is asking for trouble, and absolutely requires one's machine implementation to be exactly as per the manuals in order to be safe. The manuals are turning out to be mere pipe dreams...

Trouble is that literally everything that happens today that has anything to do with the Web (i.e. almost everything) totally relies on running unsigned, random JavaScript. It doesn't matter what else we do, whilst we have this dirty habit we're going to be inviting potentially malevolent code to run on our machines. There's been some surprising successes in proof-of-concept demos written in JavaScript to exploit CPU flaws.

I don't hear Google campaigning to do away with JavaScript. Rather the opposite in fact...

It is possible that we'll look back on this episode and wonder what all the fuss was about communications encryption when we weren't bothering to check what code we were running at the end points.

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US voting systems: Full of holes, loaded with pop music, and 'hacked' by an 11-year-old

bazza
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Re: Voting needs to be Convenient, Accurate, and Fast ...

There's a constituency here in the UK that specialises in doing the paper count by hand, really quickly. It takes organisation, and plenty of volunteers. They're really good at it.

There's a lot to be said for doing it this way. If an optically scanned result is challenged then you have to count it by hand, ultimately. If you've not got the organisation or people ready and practised to do that, you've got a disaster on your hands.

Sometimes the old ways are the best.

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Wait, did you hear that? That rumbling in the distance? Sounds like... a 16-socket IBM Power9 box shuffling this way

bazza
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Re: So many threads!

It's probably pretty quick. Power9 is a fine chip. It's especially good for banking applications, with its decimal maths accelerator.

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BlackBerry claims it can do to ransomware what Apple did to its phones

bazza
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You're missing the point. It's part of BlackBerry's enterprise management tools. So if you are already using that (and plenty of people are) then this is a handy addition.

Put it another way. Does a mere backup system also manage mobile devices of all sorts, control access to information, and everything else that a decent enterprise management tool does? No.

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Linux kernel 4.18 delayed: Bug ate my rc7, says Linus Torvalds

bazza
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Re: Linus should really learn from Microsoft

@Dave 126,

It's a curious flavour of Linux that dominates smartphones today, chosen as it was in a hurry to bring iPhone-competitors to market.

I've often wondered if it could be called "Linux" at all. My own humble opinion is that it could, at most, be described as being Linux-ish, but is not Linux because it's a separate source code tree (albeit one with a lot of the same source code). By extension that means I don't believe that RedHat's kernels are Linux either.

One may consider the system calling interface to be the only worthwhile definition of what makes something "Linux" (because that's the only thing all the variations maintain consistently across the board). Code compiled for x86 Linux will run on RedHat, a stock kernel, Ubuntu, Android for x86 (distro dependencies permitting).

The thing is, Solaris, QNX, FreeBSD and Windows all support the Linux system calling interface these days to a greater or lesser extent. So does that make them "Linux" too? By this particular definition, yes it does. Is that completely bonkers? I'm not sure.

For example, Microsoft could (with a fair bit of work) emit a bastardised version of Windows 10 that lacks the Windows services and userland stuff, but has Windows Subsystem for Linux, an entire Ubuntu userland / init, booting into Gnome. It would run more or less like Ubuntu. It would look like Ubuntu. Linux apps would run on it just fine. From a user's point of view, it would be an Ubuntu. Certainly most non-technical users would be unable to distinguish the difference. But underneath it'd be a WindowsNT kernel masquerading as a Linux kernel.

Google's Project Treble, which will turn Linux into a microkernel (snarfle!) is even less Linux than Android is today. Is there a trademark on "Linux"?

Windows Mobile, just about dead, obviously wasn't Linux based. BB10, Unix-like, is dead, though the proprietary OS it's based on, QNX, is alive and well because it's superior to Linux for some applications (it's smaller, Real Time and very well tested) including industrial control.

It's a pity about BB10. As a mobile OS it was really, properly good from purely technical point of view. Still is. It was just way too late. Whilst everyone has struggled to shoe-horn desktop sized OSes into battery powered devices (with laughable battery consumption as a result, at least to begin with), BB10 was the right sized OS from the very start.

QNX is indeed alive and well and pretty good, in part because BlackBerry gave it good GUI libraries and tools (something it'd lacked prior to then). The proper real time-ness and the GUI stuff makes for some pretty slick in car entertainment systems.

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bazza
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Android Security?

One large headache involves ashmem, an application-level virtual memory area type introduced to the Linux kernel to solve a problem arising from Android's security paranoia.

Android lacks a writable tmpfs temporarily file system, to prevent malicious applications doing naughty or messy stuff in /tmp,...

Er, forgive me if I'm being a bit dense, but surely security on Android is far from being good enough in other areas for a lack of tmpfs to be of any real benefit? There being no tmpfs doesn't exactly seem to have stopped malware rooting Android, doing nasty things, etc.

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Why Google won't break a sweat about EU ruling

bazza
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Re: Fixed it for you

It's hard to argue against any of the ponts here. Google have provided a free and open OS without any restrictions and allow anyone to do with as they wish.

No they haven't. Google Play Services effectively provides many of the OS's critical APIs, but it is a proprietary blob you can get only if you play Google's game by their rules, not yours.

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Fork it! Google fined €4.34bn over Android, has 90 days to behave

bazza
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Shareholders Carry the Can?

So, how is Google going to explain this one to shareholders. After all, this is not the first time Google have been fined by the EU, and this specific result has been in the pipeline for a long time.

In short, Google cannot tell their shareholders that they are "surprised" by the outcome.

Ordinarily, this scale and type (as near to a criminal fine as you can get without attracting a jail term!) of loss would result in a pretty big shake up in the composition of the board, and the chairman / CEO would be in trouble too. Except that owing to the corporate constitution of Google, Google's seniors can go tell the ordinary shareholder "like it or lump it", because most shareholders have no voting rights in Google.

Why oh why the US permits these types of company constitutions to exist is beyond me; they distort the open market enormously, something that the USA is supposed to be dead set against. Oh it's all very well saying that there's other companies out there in which one is free to invest, but a large number of these enormous new tech companies are all set up in similar ways; there is no real choice out there for the tech-orientated investor.

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bazza
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Re: The Attrition Game

Fun fact: NOBODY knew what an acceptable solution looked like, and only Google was working to find one. It was in all the other parties interests to not agree they found one.

It's obvious; any solution that does not impose conditions that abuse a monopoly position would be acceptable. So, that means offering Google Play Services to all and sundry, not just those that agree to make Chrome, Google Search, Google Maps, etc the default burned-in un-removable tools, prominently placed on the main screen in specific positions.

This action by the EU is starting to head in the direction of preventing Google from using Android as a user tracking / monitoring system. And that would be a very good thing.

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Intel buys eASIC because FPGAs aren't always the answer

bazza
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Go

Interesting Direction

The idea of glueing high performance components of disparate types together on a high speed bus, potentially all in one package, is quite interesting. If that allowed one to develop on, say, something like OpenVPX boards knowing that there's a simply way forward to a single package device, well yes count me interested!

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Desktop hypervisor fiends. Both of you. VMware's testing a new cut of Workstation

bazza
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Re: I've always....

My favourite non-serious achievement of all time: VMWare Player hosting ESXi, which in turn hosted a Windows domain controller, a VCentre Server and a number of clients. All on a laptop. All worked pretty well, considering, required a bit of tweaking to allow hardware support for virtualisation to be nested down into the guests.

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When Google's robots give your business the death sentence – who you gonna call?

bazza
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Re: Capricious Gods

I'm sure the reason they act this way is to prevent themselves turning into clones of the old IT kings like, for example, IBM*. If they're to provide a decent level of service with the necessary human cover to adequately and efficiently sort out cock-ups on the rare occasions when they ruin your day, then that's going to cost a whole heap of money.

I strongly suspect that Google's business model is focused on get as many customers as possible, and if the gullible ones get stung over the poor customer service who gives a shit?

* I've no experience of IBM themselves, I just imagine that if they're charging as much as I suspect they do, I'd damn well want to be able to speak to someone almost anytime I want and get keyboards rattling sharpish.

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bazza
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Well, sure, but Google arbitrarily threatening to delete all his things isn't...

Indeed. And furthermore, why should a private consumer face the deletion of their entire stuff simply because they fail to respond within three days. Holidays? Hospital stays?

If Google can't be arsed keep a private individual's stuff up and running for a reasonable period of time after their crappo-bots crap out, why should an enterprise user paying enterprise money trust them at all? The hypothetical conversation goes,

E: "Where's my enterprise stuff?"

Google: "Oh sorry, one of our bots has autodeleted the lot"

E: "Well gee, thanks a lot"

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The Notch contagion is spreading slower than phone experts thought

bazza
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Re: Charge by wire

If rather have the wireless charging. Bloody tired of having the usb port fail after a couple of years or get so full of fluff they might as well be broken.

Wireless charging has one big drawback. Try using your phone whilst charging. If you mobie is flat and you urgently want to use it, you're basically stuck hunched over some stupid flat thing rather than being at the end of a cable of one's choosing.

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UK Home Office sheds 70 staff on delayed 4G upgrade to Emergency Services Network

bazza
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Re: The wrong solution from the beginning.

Many technical staff say such things without ever having had to pay for the alternatives.

If you want a broadband mobile radio network with similar qualities to that of, say, 4G then you are going to be paying 4G like money to develop it. That's £billions on the modem development (research, experiments, and then you have to persuade someone to make the chips and base station kit), untold £billions getting bespoke handsets done (design of their hardware, manufacturing set up, never mind standing up an OS and software stack and applications), rolling out the network and then maintaining it all. Training. Remanufacture. Keeping the knowledge alive.

The telecoms industry has spent a huge amount on cellular mobile and an attempt to do that again just for ESN is nonsensical.

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Koh YEAH! Apple, Samsung finally settle iPhone patent crusade

bazza
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Re: Steve Jobs vowed to launch the legal equivalent of "thermonuclear war" against Samsung

Indeed, and arguably they have both been caught napping as phones are increasingly a commodity item which is driving prices down, and no amount of notching or blinging can save it. Arguing about rounded corners is stupid when the Chinese are undercutting your market position.

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Not OK Google: Massive outage turns smart home kit utterly dumb

bazza
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Re: Fundamentally Flawed Architecture

In the UK, a pharmacy is more commonly known as a chemists.

Comes from the fact that traditionally they sold more than just medicines; if you wanted a chemical substance, the chemists is where you went to get it.

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At last! Apple admits its MacBook Pro butterfly keyboards utterly suck, offers free replacements

bazza
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Re: Oops...to late? I think Apple just burned the last bridge completely

Apart from not being supported by their current OS, a late '08 Macbook upgraded with an SSD still works ok.

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bazza
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Er, this Doesn't Really Fix the Problem...

Unless something has been done to fundamentally improve the design, you still end up with a keyboard that is, at best, fragile.

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OpenBSD disables Intel’s hyper-threading over CPU data leak fears

bazza
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I'm wondering how this interacts with AMD's memory encryption technology. In principle the data of one process can be encrypted, and not comprehensible to another process. However if this new problem is within the CPU, where of course a process's data is handled unencrypted, then it might be a problem.

Interesting stuff - can't wait to find out what it is!

(Can't remember if AMD bother with hyperthreading)

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Cryptography is the Bombe: Britain's Enigma-cracker on display in new home

bazza
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Re: When?

The Polish gave their work to the British more or less as the final act of their government before being overrun by the Germans. It was a close run thing in the scheme of things.

As well as being a marvellous technical gift, what it also gave us British was a hope that a machine based decrytion effort was plausible (indeed, the Poles had done it). In war, the gift of hope is worth a thousand battleships.

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Now Microsoft ports Windows 10, Linux to homegrown CPU design

bazza
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Re: GIGO

Remember that Office has >90% market share. There are decent alternatives too.

The alternative often pointed to is Libre / OpenOffice. And whilst chunks of LibreOffice are OK, some parts are pretty shockingly bad. I find their spreadsheet program to be astonishingly slow in comparison to Excel. Like, really, really slow when dealing with large amounts of data on a sheet.

Office is good because Office, well, just works. Ok, it's not "perfect" and there's a ton of quirks, but as a tool for just getting stuff done it's pretty hard to beat. A corporate Outlook / Exchange setup is a very powerful thing, and now there's nothing else to compete with it.

Apart from Visio; that is a hateful thing, truly ghastly. I wish it had never been born.

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bazza
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Re: Itanic was wildly successful ...

Not to mention that thing called multi-tasking. So what it each app is optimized when the scheduler then dumps you out to run the next thing in queue.

Sun made a similar mistake with sliding stack frames in SPARC; neat idea, until the scheduler comes along and schedules something else.

Itanium was popular with people developing DSP, because it had an FMA instruction. X86 didn't until, what, 5 years ago now? I took the addition of FMA to AVX / SSE as being the signal from Intel that Itanium was finally, irrevocably dead.

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bazza
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Re: Computer says "No"

MacroRodent said:

In the 1990's, RISC processors generally ran circles around Intel's 486 and the original Pentium. I am not sure when the tables turned. Maybe around the time when Pentium III was introduced. Should did up old benchmarks.

True, but then again a SPARC or Alpha or MIPs based machines cost a huge amount of money, whereas PCs were pretty cheap. A Silicon Graphics workstation was the object of envy that never sat on my desk at work...

The writing was on the wall by 1995, and by 2000 there was nothing to justify picking anything other than x86, except in particular cases for particular purposes.

The 400MHz PPC7400 PowerPC chip from Motorola was quicker at certain types of maths (DSP) than a 4GHz Pentium 4, largely because Intel hadn't bought into the SIMD idea. It's only quite recently that Intel finally added an FMA instruction to SSE / AVX that meant it wasn't hamstrung. Not adding this was apparently a deliberate policy to make Itanium (which always had an FMA) look good.

Even today there's a lot of radar systems based on PowerPC.

The Cell processor from IBM (think Sony PS3) was quicker (for some specific purposes) than anything Intel had; in fact it took about 6, 8 years for Intel to get close to beating the Cell, and only comparatively recently have they matched its memory bandwidth. Experiencing the full might of a proper Cell processor (i.e. not one inside a PS3) was a mind bending moment, they were truly unbelievably good. Hard to program for, unless one had grown up on Transputers. It's a real pity IBM canned it, because a Cell processor from a modern silicon fab with the SPE count dialled up to max would still eat everything else for breakfast. Though with the idea of today's JavaScript generation getting to grips with something as complex as Cell being laughable, perhaps IBM took the right commercial decision.

Interestingly, the modern CPUs from Intel and especially AMD are resembling Cell more and more (lots of cores on a fast internal bus, lots of IO bandwidth), the only substantive difference is that their cores are full-on x86 cores with (annoying) caches whereas all an SPE was good for was maths and nothing else, run out of their very handy SRAM, with no cache engine to get in the way.

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bazza
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Re: Computer says "No"

FIA said:

Isn't this kind of backwards? Remember ARM were an order of magnitude faster than X86 when they debuted, it's just the focus switched to low power/embedded when Intel's focus remained on high performance.

Well, I was around at the time the first Acorn Archimedes computers came out. They were quick, they weren't quicker than a high end PC, especially one with a '87 coprocessor. They were cheaper though, so whilst 386 equipped PCs did exist and would blow the pants of an Archimedes, no one could afford a PC like that. Even a 286 or 86 equipped PC was an expensive, comparatively rare item back then.

A modern ARM core, especially a 64bit one tunes for speed can be quite quick too. See the CPUs coming out of Apple for example.

The guys behind the K computer in Japan are considering ARM for their next super computer. ARMs have always been excellent choices in the circumstance of using the core to marshal other units (like video decompressors, math units, etc, which is what's going on inside a phone).

Making an ARM as fast as a big Intel chip is mostly a matter of achieving the same DRAM bandwidth, having big caches, etc. This all takes a lot of transistors, just like it does in X86s. The advantage ARM has is that they don't have to translate a CISC instruction set (X86) into a RISC instruction set prior to execution. That's what's going on inside modern X86 processors. By not doing this, ARM saves a lot of transistors.

Intel's current range of big CPUs have main memory bandwidths of 100GByte/sec; that's a huge amount, and is unmatched by any ARM. This allows Xeons to really chomp through an awful lot of processing very quickly indeed, keeping their cores fully fed. Same with AMD's current processors; they're monsters.

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bazza
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They have been the world leaders in quantum computers for years, even as far back as Windows 2000 the OS was both working and not working simultaneously.

Perhaps, but only if you are not observing it, so you'd have to be a Linux / Mac user for Windows to be in that state. As soon as you observe it, you'll see it either working or not.

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From here on, Red Hat's new GPLv2 software projects will have GPLv3 cure for license violators

bazza
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Changing the License Terms?

It's all very well saying that it's for new open source projects, but just how much of a new project is entirely new code these days? If they're using a bunch of libraries, etc. then there's a good chance that some component of a new project won't have the cure clause in its own license, negating the whole purpose.

Still, it's a good idea. But from a system point of view, that includes hardware, an OS, and application software on top. With Linux being the most likely OS chosen for a whole range of applications (e.g. a car I.C.E. system) there's still going to have to be the offer of the kernel source code, and failing on that front is just a debilitating as failing to supply the source code for open source derived applications.

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Remember that $5,000 you spent on Tesla's Autopilot and then sued when it didn't deliver? We have good news...

bazza
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Re: Semi-autonomously =fail

A big difference between AF447 and a self driving car is that the pilots had a loooong time to identify and take the correct action, and still didn't do it. Handled properly it takes a long time for an airliner to glide down from 40,000ft.

Whereas a self driving car is going to go from "all OK" to "oops, over to you" seconds from disaster. If you're lucky.

So if highly trained pilots can't do it in 30 minutes, what hope for a tired, over worked and over reliant car owner?

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International Maritime Organisation turns salty gaze on regulating robotic shipping

bazza
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It'll Never Happen

Given how busy merchant crews are doing routine maintenance to keep their ship in insurable good order, and how little time ships spend in ports, one wonders just how "crewless" a robot ship would actually be. They already navigate themselves across the big blue sea, so in theatre sense they're already "crewless". But until someone comes up with a robot that'll strip and rebuild a diesel generator, put out a container fire and wield a chipping hammer, there'll still be people on board.

It's a similar aspiration to Tesla's / Musk's failed dream of fully automated Model 3 manufacturing. It won't work.

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Wanna break Microsoft's Edge browser? Google's explained how

bazza
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Re: Disable javascript

Seconded.

Trouble is that there's now too much Web stuff that relies on it. If we lose Javascript (and Meltdown came pretty close to causing that) the likes of Google are in deep trouble. I can't see them advocating a precautionary change of direction which is a pity, because they own Chrome...

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Admin needed server fast, skipped factory config … then bricked it

bazza
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Indeed. Halve the volts, double the current. Not good when you don't really double the metal...

The number of electrocutions in the UK is nearly nil. With proper controls, 240V AC is not a problem.

Long live the UK ring mains. Saves lot of copper.

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Another quarter, another record-breaking Tesla loss: Let's take a question from YouTube, eh, Mr Musk?

bazza
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Re: If you skip that preliminary step and like to play with fire to scam the investors ...

BMW has a functional production line which combine carbon fibre composites , glueing it on a aluminium frame ... this stuff you still don't find in mass-production ... only for the super-cars and aviation

BMW's i3 carbon fibre isn't what we traditionally think CF to be; it's not CF fabric layered up in a mold, impregnated with resin and baked in an autoclave. Instead it's a half way towards injection molding, so it's fast.

Mclaren have their CF chassis process down to 4 man hours per chassis. They make a hollow section CF chassis tub in one step, so that's fast too, which is incredible.

The likes of Toyota can do a steel chassis using zero man hours...

Tesla has a mountain to climb. If Mclaren or BMW do an all electric car with their chassis tech, Tesla's are going to be slow and heavy.

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Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

bazza
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Re: Hounslow 17:56 weekdays ...

So whilst we might feel all sorts of warm feelings about Concorde, it's worth noting that we (and our parents) paid for it, and never reaped the rewards.

Depends on where you look for the return on the initial investment. In Concorde's case, it gave us (ie Europeans) Airbus, and in terms of economic stimulation and return that has been excellent. There's hundreds of thousands of people engaged in gainful employment today as a direct result of the Concorde treaty being successful (ie yes, we can work together, let's do more of that).

Ok, so Airbus might have happened anyway, but Concorde did set the scene rather well.

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bazza
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Re: Particularly as a lot of them do test flights with large crews..playing with all the computers.

That said some of these were analogue computers, hard wired to take scaled voltages and currents, mash them through a bunch of operational amplifiers and drive some actuators. Good for near instantaneous response to certain parameters.

Well, you still have the group delay round the feedback loops, but that's it.

One subtle and now overlooked feature of analogue control avionics is that certification is far easier. No software. It's easy to prove an analogue circuit meets a specification both analytically and by testing. Digital is far harder, and especially so when you use digital electronics to run software...

I'll note it took 66 flights to plan the "schedule" of spike positions on the SR71. While Concorde's speed range was lower it was design to cope with "unstarts" where the inlet expels the shock wave (a potentially fatal event on the SR71 requiring immediate pilot action) automatically.

A big difference between Concorde and SR71 inlets is stability. Square sloped inlets such as Concorde, Tornado, F15, etc used are more tolerant of disturbances in the airflow into them. Maneuvering is unlikely to upset that airflow. Whereas the SR71 was all about absolutely maxing the pressure recovery (for which spike round inlets are the best), no compromises, and was much more on the edge whilst at high speed. Very exciting, if nerve wracking, ride!

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Apple grounds AirPort once and for all. It has departed. Not gonna fly any more. The baggage is dropped off...

bazza
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Re: One of their best products.

It's also odd that in an age when manufacturers are looking for an excuse to have an always on presence in homes so that things like Alexa can work, and to be an IOT hub, Apple has thrown away the AirPort brand that gave them that. AirPort + Siri, anyone?

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Blighty stuffs itself in Galileo airlock and dares Europe to pull the lever

bazza
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Re: EU friends apparantly

@Mike Richards

When we still had a viable launcher, the US promised the U.K. free access to American rockets. The offer was withdrawn almost immediately once Black Arrow was scrapped.

Well, the Blue Streak / Black Arrow project was intended to produce an ICBM. The whole thing was deeply flawed; solid fuel boosters were obviously better, and Britain simply doesn't have the right geology (we're mostly mud) for building silos able to withstand a first strike. The idea of a liquid fuelled ICBM was a dead end (quite literally).

Also at the time it was far from clear that there was going to be big money in the commercial launch sector. Turns out, there isn't (SpaceX's margins aren't that great), at least not in comparison to building big geosats. Satellites are something we've become very successful at, thanks to a big government investment back in the 1980s, and make good money out of.

And besides that, bits of Blue Streak were still being used on Ariane 4, so we had a direct hand in that business for a loooong time.

It's better to specialise in the valuable parts of business, rather than the whole thing where margins are small.

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Congressional group asks FBI boss Wray to explain Apple lawsuit

bazza
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Re: Likely answers

Or, "That would be an ecumenical matter".

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Airbus plans beds in passenger plane cargo holds

bazza
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Re: Glossing a commercial turd

All that would be needed would be to streamline the airport processes at each end, the flight in the middle would vanish from your life and air travel would be less onerous.

That's what BA did with their Concorde service to New York. There was none of this 3-hour check in, queuing for immigration / baggage / customs nonesense. You saved about 4 to 5 hours airport time as well as 3 hours less in the air. So the door-to-door time was more like 4 to 5 hours, instead of 11 to 12 hours. Pretty big saving.

I think they still do this on their London City - JFK route, but that's subsonic :-(

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bazza
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Re: Glossing a commercial turd

Niche?

Calling Emirate's A380 operation out of Dubai "niche" is a bit like referring to Ford F150 pickup as "niche".

Emirate's operation is vast, and the A380 serves them very well. What they offer some of the most profitable passengers (business people who get business class travel) in the aviation market is nigh on unmatched, and it results in pretty good load factors. Amongst other things, that bar they have is a pretty big draw.

Apparently Emirates consider the staircase you have to climb to First / Business class heaven on their A380s is one of the most powerful marketing tools they have. Yes, it's irrational, but then a lot of purchasing decisions are irrational. People with money like to think they're going "up there", and not "down there".

Etihad have "The Residence", a multi-room suite on their A380s. This is reputed to be the most profitable ticket ($ / cubic foot) in the whole aviation market.

I know plenty of people who travel Europe / Asia / Africa who won't even bother looking at any other airline now, simply because they want to go on an A380 to get there. Even for economy class travellers (like I was the other day) the flight on an EK A380 was better than anything else out there (except perhaps another A380), and infinitely preferable to being squeezed up in a 787 or 777.

Orders

As for A380 orders drying up, well not yet. Rumours of its extinction have circulated since before it even flew, and yet it's still there. Emirates themselves are in the position of not being able to afford to let the production line close. Many were surprised (not least Boeing) when they ordered a few more, just to keep the line going. It's entirely possible that Emireates will cancel a few 777X orders to compensate which, given the size of the Emirates' order, Boeing would find discombobulating.

Plus there's clearly a demand from Emirates for an A380neo, and they have the money to pay for it. In fact, they've got the money to buy Airbus to make it happen. Anyway, one of the reasons why it's not happened yet is because Airbus don't want to destroy the investment made by other A380 customers.

The A380neo is like a gun held to the head of the entire aviation industry; if it is built, and it turns up competing on a route you operate with your puny 777s / 787s, you're likely going to lose all your passengers on that route to the A380neo operator. It just has so much capacity, it's the equivalent of a high quality superstore opening up in competition to a local Mom'n'Pop shop, with all the economies of scale too. Emirates have already been doing this successfully with the current A380 on many routes, the neo would finish off the competition entirely.

It happened with the 747 too, back in the day. Back then an airline executive had to take a Brave Pill before buying 747s. Those that did made big bucks. Those that didn't failed. The problem with the A380 (and A380neo) is that you have to take a f***ing big Brave Pill to buy them, because by definition it's a statement of intent to increase passenger numbers on a route. In effect Emirates have been saying to the other airlines, "Well if you won't, I will", and getting away with it.

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Blackberry snaps, yakkity-yak Snapchat app brats slapped with patent trap rap

bazza
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Re: Bollocks

How do they get away with this absolute bollocks?

I'm sure it's easy to be as disparaging as that, right up until someone else steals your own money spinning idea and rips you off.

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Ariane 5 primed for second launch of year after trajectory cockup

bazza
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Re: Reusable?

@mr.k,

And we do not know how much money they spend getting a Falcon 9 ready for another flight. Personally I believe they have cracked it and will bring costs down. We'll see.

There's also the overhead of maintaining the ability to manufacture new ones, regardless of how many they can reuse. Retaining that manufacturing capability whilst it's sat idle is almost as expensive as just building new ones all the time. If they were to close the production line to make savings, it might take a decade to reconstitute it. So they'd have to have a big stock of launchers that lasted that long, and it would end up being a marginal saving.

SpaceX have hinted at that by saying that a second hand launcher isn't half price...

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Watchdog growls at Tesla for spilling death crash details: 'Autopilot on, hands off wheel'

bazza
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Re: Don't be naive

And when the investors who are funding all this work out that there's nothing going to come from all this research, there's going to be repercussions. It will become difficult to get good ideas funded as the money men stop trusting the techies. Again.

Couple that with Facebook and other social media companies likely losing profits as the full repercussions of Cambridge Analytica-gate sink in (regulations, laws, compensation, ad-boycott campaigns), and you can see a whole lot of investors getting badly burned over the next few years.

There's going to be a recession in the tech business. The money is going to dry up.

What investors want is steady, reliable returns on their investment. That's where true shareholders value comes from. The current crop of tech mega giants don't look like offering that. The "boring" companies like Apple and Microsoft do, because they actually have something real to sell.

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bazza
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Re: Selecting Lane 3 of 2

@JeffyPoooh,

Given that GPS isn't accurate enough for pinpointing which lane a car is in, map awareness isn't going to help much. Watch how a current SatNav does "road snapping", ie it adjusts the car's GPS measurement to a position that aligns with a road. You can see this in action when you don't take a motorway exit slip when the SatNav is expecting you to. It can take quite a while for the SatNav to recognise that you're still on the motorway.

It seems that a single radar sensor and video camera is also insufficient for lane tracking.

Humans are very good at interpreting the scene they see in front of them. Though some are worse at it than others (reference to all those who blindly follow their sat nav into rivers, train tracks, etc, despite that obviously being a bad idea). All humans are very good at recognising immediate danger.

I can't see AI systems matching that ability any time soon. For me it's level 5 autonomy, or nothing more elaborate than adaptive cruise control (and I worry about that). Level 3, 4 are going to be too dangerous for inattentive humans to be trusted with.

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Facebook exec extracts foot from mouth: We didn't really mean growth matters more than human life

bazza
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Re: Cressida Dick

@Adrian4,

...I can't agree that either commercial operators or the government are fit for the purpose of defining 'acceptable'.

In case you hadn't noticed, it is the job of politicians to decide what speech is acceptable. They make the laws on these matters on our behalf, interpreting the message they're told by the voters that out them there. Hence the laws on discrimination, race relations, hate speech, terrorist materials, etc. Such laws set out penalties for breaching the limits on speech. Facebook et al make it very difficult for such laws to be rigorously enforced, and are quite happy to profit from it.

If you don't agree with the politicians doing that job, I suggest you move to a less democratic country where someone else makes the rules.

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bazza
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Re: Cressida Dick

Whether facebook is something so good that we can ignore the deaths it might cause is less apparent, but despite disliking it (and not using it myself), I don't really think we want to reduce interpersonal conflict by restricting communication. It doesn't feel like a good solution.

The problem lies in the fact that abuse on social media is, to all intents and purposes, anonymous, and unhampered. That is an abuser / groomer / bully is effectively unpunishable and unstoppable, unless they go so far as to require immediate police intervention. And even then it's pretty difficult for the police to get hold of them. And it's not like the social networks are very good at helping the police, or sufficiently proactive themselves.

Governments are becoming increasingly aware of the financial cost resulting from this (mental health problems, poor performance in school, police time), and the UK government has plans to pass this cost directly on to the social media companies. The memo that has leaked makes any legislation required more or less certain to be passed, especially when coupled with the aggressive tax efficient accounting policies used by these companies.

Facebook have seriously f***ed up, confirmed by this memo. Bye bye profits. How do advertisers justify placing ads with such a company? Advertising on Facebook is now more toxic for a brand than ever before. The recent changes in the Communications Decency Act is another nail in their coffin. How about that for growth and shareholder value? Facebook's shareholders should start suing the board now, whilst there's any money left.

About the only sane course of action now is for companies like this to require paid subscriptions to access their services. This serves to strongly identify users, and the ease with which legal liability can then be passed on to users warranting prosecution (or other retribution - bans, etc) will soon act as a detterent again misbehaviour. The comapnies that start adapting to this model soonest may survive. Those that don't risk extinction.

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