* Posts by bazza

2059 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

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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Creaking protocols are threat to EU's telecom infrastructure security

bazza
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Oh Good Grief

There's nothing wrong with SS7, provided you trust that you knew everybody who can see the network traffic and knew who all the network nodes belonged to. Back in the old days this was reasonable as it was limited to the national telecoms companies. The problems have started since carriers have gotten lazy and started bearing SS7 traffic on Internet connections, meaning that literally anyone can see and interact with the SS7 traffic.

Ok, so if the Internet is going to be underlying carrier, they still have to solve the problem of securing that. Last time I looked that wasn't straight forward either to completely guarantee it. You have to ask yourself, is that certificate really trustworthy? Does it really belong to the telephone company I think it does? Do I even know if that really is a telephone company off in some far flung land, or is it just someone pretending?

In short, I don't see why telecoms is immune to the Internet's identity problems. CAs aren't wholly trustworthy, and no one could fully establish the identity or bona fides of all the worlds telephone companies.

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Microsoft loves Linux so much it wants someone else to build distros for its Windows Store

bazza
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Re: Sounds very useful for cross platform devs

Another angle on this is Visual Studio. It supports compilation / debugging of C/C++ on Linux, ssh'ing in to the Linux VM / host to use gcc, gdb and gdbserver. It's very good. The only slight annoyance is that VS can't see /usr/include, so Intellisense gets a bit angry; MS recommend copying that over to the Windows side so that VS can see the files there, but I use Expandrive to map the Linux's /usr/include to a drive letter on Windows.

I've yet to try this in WSL instead of a Linux VM, but it ought to work (provided sshd can be run).

VS also understands CMAKE these days. Which is pretty cool.

In comparison Eclipse CDT on Linux has become a bloated, memory hogging ghastly mess. Using Visual Studio and spinning up a whole Linux VM, I use less RAM than Eclipse does all by itself for the same project.

VS Code on Linux makes a lot of sense too.

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Java-aaaargh! Google faces $9bn copyright bill after Oracle scores 'fair use' court appeal win

bazza
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Re: Subsystem for Linux

I don't think so. WINE are not copying and altering the API; they have no access to the source code for it. They're trying to implement the Win32 API, using the reference manuals as the specification. With a commendable degree of success.

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Meet the open sorcerers who have vowed to make Facebook history

bazza
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Re: Anonymous on Facebook

My kids created a Facebook id for our cat about 12 years ago. Said cat died about 10 years ago but still shows up as a friend of my wife. Facebook gathers a lot of connection data. Whether it knows how to make use of it is less clear.

Not sure it matters anymore. Advertisers are so in love with the whole idea of analytics, data silos, pretty much anything that's got those labels attached gets accepted as "brilliant" without anyone caring whether it's any good or not.

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Google lobbies hard to derail new US privacy laws – using dodgy stats

bazza
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Re: Time for transparency

No it hasn't. The only way one would be able to estimate the value of their personal data to Google would be if Google provided the same services it provides now - Gmail, Android, Gcalendar, etc - free of { spying | slurping | aggregating | optimizing } but for a monthly fee to the user, while maintaining its current profit growth rate.

Well, in my defence I didn't claim it to be an accurate estimate! But I bet I'm within a few £10s.

If as both you and I suggest Google did actually convert to a pure subscription model, that would allow a measurement of worth to be made, which would certainly trump my estimate.

I can't see that happening spontaneously - none of the companies seems to have the imagination to see where the legislative environment is headed. So when legislation does come about that destroys their current business models, that will at least be a level playing field for all the companies. And it'll probably raze a few of the companies to the ground. The ones who have worthwhile services will then discover the true value of their services; survival.

In a sense such legislation has now come into existence, with the recent changes to the Communications Decency Act in the US. By law companies now have to be good enough at filtering certain types of content.

The initial response, which has been to close off certain forums, won't work; users will simply hijack another. That's probably already happened. This will rapidly escalate into a war of cat'n'mouse between users and a company's AI filters. The filters are going to lose. Sooner or later the companies are going to have to moderate content by human inspection. Which utterly destroys their current business model; human inspection is too expensive...

However if the service was subscription only, the companies have a better ID for users (bank details), and can therefore more easily pass the blame (and the court summons) onto the true source of all the problems; those few Internet users hell bent on socially unacceptable behaviour.

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bazza
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Re: Time for transparency

The problem here is that people thought they got "great stuff" like Google search, Android, Facebook for free. Initially this seemed a good deal - "I don't mind them seeing what I read, or serving ads to me, I get all this for free". But users were never told what monetary value those companies placed on the different elements of their data, nor the extent to which their data would be sold on to progressively less ethical companies (starting of course from a very, very low base).

It's always been possible to estimate the monetary value. The companies are ad funded. Adverts are, ultimately, paid for by the consumer (that's you and me) through the price of goods in the shops. And we pay for those ads no matter what tech companies we use.

Use some broad brushed numbers, here in the UK it's about £7billion per year spent on on-line advertising. If we assume 30 million working people in the country, that's about £230 each. Every year. No choice.

So "free" isn't really free at all. In fact, it's rather expensive. It's about the same as a broadband package costs.

If Google managed to snaffle 30% of that, they're taking approx £80 out of every working person's pocket per year. Assume Facebook get the same... Now, is Facebook's service worth £80 per year? Probably not. Google's combined services, yes, provided there's no advertising / data slurping.

I've argued before in these forums that the tech companies need to change their business model before they get legislated out of existence. And it would make them more profitable. If one considers what Google spend that £80 per year on, a large fraction (say, 50%) of it is electricity and infrastructure required to host all that slurped data and run all those analytics. If they went ad-free, subscription only, no analytics / data slurp, they'd be able to chop that electricity bill and infrastructure costs by a large amount. Split the difference with the consumer, and we're left paying £60 / year (£5 / month), and they're left with a smaller infrastructure, less energy consumption, and probably £20/year/user added to the company profits. Moreover with a properly run, non-antagonistic approach to privacy, they'd likely stop attracting €billion fines every year like they are at the moment.

Ok, that's some wild-arsed estimating going on there, but it's probably not so wide of the mark. And if legislation on data privacy effectively outlawed data slurping and big, ad-funded online services, subscription funded services might become the only option available to the consumer.

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2 + 2 = 4, er, 4.1, no, 4.3... Nvidia's Titan V GPUs spit out 'wrong answers' in scientific simulations

bazza
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Re: Shades of the Pentium floating point bug?

Some versions of PowerPC’s AltiVec SIMD unit are optimised to complete instructions in a single clock cycle at the expense of perfect numerical accuracy. Well documented, understood and repeatable, this was fine for games, signal processing, image processing.

This problem with NVidia’s latest sounds different. Sounds like a big mistake in the silicon process, or too optimistic on the clock speed.

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BlackBerry Z10 'share-price pump' lawsuit is back from the dead

bazza
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Z10 Became Quite Good

I've no idea what was actually going on sales-numbers-wise in BB at the time, but one can see that the company's best interest included portraying a rosy picture of adoption.

That whole episode was symptomatic of a company realising too late they were being left behind by upstarts Apple. It was a big pity really; after BlackBerry had ironed out all the crinkles BB10 and the Z10 were (still are, if one ignores the lack of apps) quite good. I have a Z10 that I've kept up to date firmware-wise; if BlackBerry had got the Z10 out 2 years earlier with today's firmware, they'd have cleaned up (again). Shows the dangers of resting on one's laurels...

A great pity is that the hegemony of Apple and Android today effectively means that the entire world population has been conditioned to "know" how a mobile device should work, and there's now no room for an alternative even if it's "better" (though of course that's always a subjective thing). I've used Android, iOS and BB10 a lot, and (once you get used to it) BB10 is by far the most natural and easiest to use, especially one handed. I'm still catching myself doing BB10 swipes on both Android and iOS, which of course no longer work; one has to go hunting for some stupid home button.

Other things that are often overlooked today include i) doing Bluetooth completely properly, ii) doing BYOD properly, iii) doing messaging properly. Apple and Android have between them convinced the world that it doesn't need these things, and now almost everything thinks they've never existed in the first place.

Still, I can report that today's Android-based BlackBerries are pretty good.

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CTS who? AMD brushes off chipset security bugs with firmware patches

bazza
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Re: Downgrade attack?

And how about we accept that to pull off an attack using any of these flaws you'd have to have accomplished root access in the first place. In which case all bets are already off...

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BOOM! Cambridge Analytica explodes following extraordinary TV expose

bazza
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Re: Collapse of Facebook

The share price has dropped $37billion, which is a big hint that investors have been spooked. Given that Facebook have probably used their own shares as collateral or as a alternative to cash in one way or other, that's probably not good news for the company.

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Uber breaks self-driving car record: First robo-ride to kill a pedestrian

bazza
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Are there countries where it's legal to run down pedestrians* on a normal road? There may be mitigation, but in civilised countries, it's the driver's responsibility to not drive into pedestrians (and many other things).

Certainly here in the UK the law has offences like "Driving without due care and attention", e.g. driving too fast past a line of parked cars when a kid runs out.

All the moral dilemna debates about autonomous vehicles having to choose who to crash into are missing the point. If the self driving car has got itself into a position where such a choice has to be made, then the programmer / manufacturer has failed and someone probably ought to go to jail.

Hopefully this accident will cause a review into the reasonableness of testing on the public highway. It's now harder to justify it as being safe.

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Nest reveals the first truly connected home

bazza
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The biggest problem with a lot of SmartHome stuff is that it is battery powered. Radiator valves, burglar alarm sensors, door locks, etc would all be significantly more useful if mains powered, for example by Power over Ethernet. Not only does that avoid having to change batteries, but they can have better communications, better functionality. A lot of the things I've tried have been a bit rubbish because the designers have been struggling to make it work on 2 AA cells for a month or so.

So the sooner they start building homes with Cat5 cable run to every radiator, corner of every ceiling, outside door, window, shed, the sooner they can build things that work properly.

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Android Oreo mic drop fury: Google ups tempo for Pixel mobe audio fix

bazza
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Re: "Hello? Hello? Hello?"

Maybe they should have tried 'Allo 'Allo, with the accent of course. And then send round Herr Flick of the Gestapo...

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bazza
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Not Good

For such a company that is selling a mobile at an expensive price, running their very own software, this is the complete opposite of acceptable. It's a complete absence of customer service.

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Google to 'forget me' man: Have you forgotten what you said earlier?

bazza
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Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

@BlockChainToo,

Speaking from the USA, this all seems rather strange. Here criminal convictions are a matter of public record. You can search the court sites for individuals and their records.

Convictions are also a matter of public record here too, but the idea is that only those who absolutely need to know about it should have access.

The idea behind the legislation concerning rehabilitation of offenders, the irrelevance of most spent convictions, and the right to get back to normal life, is all about changing the mind-set of someone who got sent to jail. Without it there's nothing to be gained for the ex criminal as society (informed by Google) will quite possibly piss on them forevermore, and then you'll have a greater rate of recidivism in your law and order system. That costs money.

If Google want to do what they are currently doing, the law will likely get changed to make Google pay the monetary cost to society of that. Government is already mulling passing the monetary cost to the NHS in increasing rates of mental illness amongst youngsters bullied on line on to Facebook, etc.

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Mozilla wants to seduce BOFHs with button-down Firefox

bazza
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Re: Quandary would be more on the mark

Firefox Quantum CSS and WebRender and both technologies far in advance of Chrome.

Also Firefox has far more advanced Privacy and Tracking protection than Chrome does

Yep. The ability to easily, and individually, control which websites can store what cookies is the prime reason why I use Firefox. Plus it seems to be pretty quick and fast these days.

The irony of this latest thing - integration with domain group policy - seems to be exactly the thing that MS walked away from when going from IE to Edge (unless I've got the wrong end of the stick - apologies to MS if so). Personally speaking I think integration with a domain is really, really useful for some types of use case (and I have done this with IE in the past). It's very handy, sometimes.

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Elon Musk invents bus stop, waits for applause, internet LOLs

bazza
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Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

Public transportation can be made so much more energy efficient though if the transports don't stop.

Stopping and starting are not the problem. Braking and applying power to accelerate are the problem. So if you coast uphill to stop, and roll downhill to accelerate, you're not using / losing energy in stopping and starting.

And funnily enough the Crossrail engineers know this, and the vertical profile of their tracks is arranged so that the trains more or less roll to a stop at the stations, and roll off downhill towards the next station.

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Intel ponders Broadcom buy as Qualcomm's exec chair steps away

bazza
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It will certainly be interesting to see where this all goes.

I think that Intel buying Broadcom makes some sense. Intel have been soundly beaten in anything mobile, largely because x86 is a terrible choice when it comes to low power high performance. It simply requires too many transistors. If Intel want to compete they're going to have to go with ARM, and acquiring Broadcom is one way of doing that. Though there'd still be a ton of development to do.

It might make more sense if they bought Qualcomm.

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BlackBerry unveils bold new strategy: Suing the c**p out of Facebook

bazza
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Re: Enough, already

Can we just have an end to software patents?

That's easy to say when your livelihood isn't dependent on you monetising your software innovation.

A lot of big companies will always try it on. Apple got caught trying to patent software that some independent iOS developer had submitted for review prior to release on the iTunes store. The patent application even had a diagram of the user interface that was an exact copy of the UI in the guy's app. This story was covered by The Register some years ago.

Patents are there to, in theory, allow the small guys to protect their livelihood against the big guys just ripping them off and out-marketing them. Without a working patent system there is no more innovation, there are just more ways in which big corporates rip off customers. Whether or not software patents should be part of a working patent system I don't know. What I do know is that a lot of patent systems around the world are pretty damned broken.

A good example of a big company making things worse is Google, with their Travel offering. Worldmate, in the guise of BlackBerry Travel, had the concept of a decent manage-your-travel application pretty much perfect. Calendar/email integration, flight times data, group travel, hotel / hire car booking, the lot. It was really, properly good.

They've withdrawn because Google are now trying (and not really succeeding) in doing the same sort of thing as part of Android. Worldmate have seen the way the wind is blowing and decided to bail out rather than fight. Google can give prominence to their product, everyone else will struggle to get a look-in. If that isn't an abuse of a monopoly position, I don't know what is.

So we're now left with a solution from Google that is worse than the one we've had over the past 10, 15 years ago on BlackBerry. We're worse off, simply because a big Corporate is pushing a false message of innovation to its users and has got enough clout to make that stick.

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You can survive the migration from Windows vCenter server

bazza
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There is just no reason not to go with appliance. No malware, no Windows patches and no weird Windows server compatibility bugs.

No malware? No patches? No weird compatability bugs? These are, well, courageous claims...

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Boring. The phone business has lost the plot and Google is making it worse

bazza
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From the article:

If this catches on, most phones in the world will look and work exactly as the Chocolate Factory intended, exercising the same power that Bill Gates held over the PC builders. What chances, then, of anything interesting happening ever again? ®

Hmm well, that might become a problem for Google. If it becomes apparent that, really, all non iPhones are stock Android, then Google are kinda in the same position as MS were with Windows / DOS back in the day; a near monopoly. That could attract the kind of attention that would not be welcome so far as Google are concerned. They're already being investigated in the EU over their leveraging of Google Play Store to command prominence and exclusivity of their services on other manufacturer's mobiles.

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Hubble Space Telescope one of 16 suffering data-scrambling sensor error

bazza
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Re: Bit-bucket ADC? For real?

Er, anything wrong with a network of resistors?! Once you get up to proper sampling frequencies such as 3.6GHz (see this this bad boy) you're pretty much stuck with a chain of resistors and a network of comparators....

Incidentally, streaming data from something like this and processing it on the fly is, naturally, quite hard work...

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Bosch and Daimler jump in together on driverless vehicle tech

bazza
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I'm predicting that a million gallon vat of custard will suddenly up end itself all over them.

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Australia joins the 'decrypt it or we'll legislate' club

bazza
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Re: @ bazza

@Tiggity,

That's all fine and good, but your bank is using IT and Internet connections between its business centres for conducting your banking business on your behalf, even if you don't interact with them except for in the branch. I strongly support your way of using a bank, but it's security is as illusory as https and passwords are for Internet banking. That is to say, it's security is pretty good, but not completely guaranteed.

The one definite plus point is that your not using a computer for banking, so you yourself are not being hacked. It's often a user's PC / mobile being stuffed full of password sniffing trojans that lies behind ebanking frauds.

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bazza
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Re: @ bazza

@Evil Auditor,

Partially, I do. I know my account manager reasonably well and - for now, still - I identify her by voice and vice versa.

Oh to have a bank where one can recognise the staff, instead of some vast call centre... Er, have you heard of Rory Bremner? Used to phone up politicians whilst impersonating another politician, for comedic effect. Dangerous guy!

If you come up with a feasible network architecture that is inherently secure: I'm game! I doubt that it will do without encryption though. Encryption is much older than our data networks; the objectives remain the same, i.e. privacy and non-repudiation.

I'm afraid I can't beat the phone networks, and they rely entirely on control of connection points and of wires for security. Circuit switching is just a way to route through known locations, which is a plus too. But the net effect is that the phone network is less of a free for all where baddies roam (apart from the effing PPI lot). It's worth noting that the only reason why we kinda trust the phone network is that it is heavily regulated and in effect policed, in a way that the Internet just isn't.

At the end of the day there is no good solution to the identity problem. We have to meet the other person to know for sure who they are. Encryption algorithms are valueless without solving that identity problem well, and we haven't. Also what we have is only one way; you don't need a certificate to be Facebook user...

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bazza
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Re: @ bazza

@Lost all faith...

wow Bazza, you really do live with the Unicorns.

Well, not quite!

So I should just send my bank details and card details to Amazon on the back of a postcard?

Er, your bank posted them to you in the first place. Flimsy things, envelopes, very easily opened.

Or my corporate work should all be done over ftp with no password?

If that server you have no control over has been poorly set up and someone else is already inside it, your password is of zero value.

Maybe I should leave my phone unlocked, with all my personal details free to view, should I ever leave it somewhere by accident.

And if you use Android (which seems to be easily rooted by malware) and possibly soon iPhones (whose boot loader source code has leaked and may suffer a similar TITSUP), what's the difference between locked and unlocked?

Or in your world, should we just accept what our governments want to do to us and never stick two finders up and say Fuck you, I'm not putting up with this.

Feel free to do that, but I fear they're going to do it anyway. More voters couldn't care less about that, but do care about crime figures, fraud, online bullying, etc.

This generation has already gotten soft, with slacktivision being the new force of "change".

Press "Like" if you want the world to change for the better.

Finally, something to agree on.

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bazza
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Re: @ bazza

@Evil Auditor,

What about a secure communications infrastructure, one where my hypothetical millions in the bank account are not put at risk? Yes, we are talking about encryption again. No matter what kind of "secure" network architecture you use, I wouldn't trust the nodes in between me and my bank.

Well you trust the phone network when you call up your bank don't you? The world would be a whole lot better if we could trust the Internet in the same way. That certainly is wishful thinking indeed on my part, but we have to recognise that if the Internet's network were as trusted as that then a lot of the political pressures on services like Facebook, etc. would go away.

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bazza
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Re: Sauce for the goose...

@Adam 1,

And one doesn't have to wonder too hard to realise that the baddies will continue to use the existing strong encryption to communicate with each other or to lock up your files and demand a ransom. Meanwhile, your defences against this same scum are gone. You first.

I rather think you're missing the point of my reference to circuit switched networks.

Using the Internet as it is today without encryption is indeed security suicide. It's a hostile place to be. My point is that that hostility is itself something that should not exist so easily.

Every time we (as a profession) add some encrypted this, certificated that, etc. in an attempt to make the Internet "safe", we screw it up to the point where it's not working in a useful way. Look at https and the system of certificate authorities that "secures" it. It doesn't secure it at all. There's a market for certificates, and some of the vendors aren't particularly choosy who they sell certificates too.

The whole point of certificated https is to establish certainty as to who the other end point really is. Well, another way of doing that is to have a network where physical endpoint identity is guaranteed by the network provider. You dial someone's phone number, you know whose phone is ringing.

There's many an OS or browser or server that salts and encrypts passwords, but what's the bleeding point when 1) users pick daft passwords, 2) tons of software flaws mean that passwords get exposed in other ways. We've tried other means such as biometrics, but they just do not work very well in the first place. Anyway they're no better than writing down a complicated password on a piece of paper and pinning it to your monitor. And you can't change one's biometrics without a lot of surgery.

Nasties like ransomware continue to ruin many an unwary user's day, despite the many layers of protection in browsers and OSes that themselves use encryption

My reference to circuit switched networks is that you know more about how one's traffic gets from A to B and exactly who the intervening switches belong to. That also makes the network operators keener to establish user identity before hooking you up (you can't just hook up to a phone line and get a service all by oneself). So you know more about from where and from who traffic is coming from (caller ID on a phone network is a useful way of blocking that annoying Aunt who phones all the time). Network traits like that are a useful thing for keeping baddies at bay.

These are traits that the Internet just does not have, and I think that that is an increasingly bad thing. I don't think the sticking plasters we patch on top are doing a good enough job. There is a risk that the global Internet will get fragmented by concerned politicians (the really malicious ones have done it already), and the only way of heading that off it to clean up the network and make it hard for the baddies to use it anonymously (like they can now).

That's a massive and unachievable job, but unless it gets done we may have to live with some significant consequences for the network's design, operation and reach.

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bazza
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Re: @ bazza

No.

And note that I'm merely observing that a lot of the tech we get given is pretty useless really, and warning that there's the beginnings of a trend towards Internet fragmentation and control that we may not like, and the major tech companies are doing absolutely nothing substantive to discourage.

Politicians respond to costs, crime figures and votes. They absolutely will pass laws if they see Internet bullying, on-line paedophilia, terrorism, etc. becoming an electoral issue. When the Madrid train bombings happened, the sitting government was widely blamed by the population for not having done enough to prevent it. They lost the general election that followed soon after.

Is it any surprise that other governments look at that event, look at what's going on on-line, and start making noises? If you are surprised by that, or doubt it somehow, then you don't know what a politician is or how they get and keep their jobs.

Politicians are also quite good at recognising what the average voter will vote on (that's different to what they say they want). Unchecked criminal activity (including on-line nasties) is the surest way imaginable to be kicked out come the next election. On the other hand, the quite small percentage of the population that is actually going to make an election time noise about online monitoring by law enforcement agencies is, electorally speaking, ignorable. If you think otherwise then I suggest to try it out for yourself by standing for election on the issue.

That's what the large tech companies don't seem to understand. Compared to the interests of a politician in being seen to be doing something effective about law and order, the tech companies business model and their "we're secure and private" marketing is of zero concern to a sitting government. It's only in the USA (where lobbying is such a corrosive force) can the tech companies get political leverage. And ask yourself, why do the tech companies need to lobby so much?

Add in to the mix the fact that companies like Facebook, Twitter are seemingly quite content to be conduits by which the democratic process is externally influenced, and you have the perfect recipe of reasons why governments will change and pass laws about such things.

If you don't like that, try making it an electoral issue and see how your fellow countrymen vote.

Me? I'm pretty neutral on the matter. Encryption is occasionally useful, often useless, and definitely dangerous. A well set up E-Banking website is useful. Encrypting passwords is pretty useless given the myriad of other software and hardware flaws that get used to leak credentials. Tor likes to present itself as being a force for good. Given the sort of people (paedos, drug dealers, etc) who actually seem to use it in places (e.g. Western Europe) where you don't otherwise need it, and that you can't use it in places where you might need it (China), I doubt that Tor has much net social value.

If we had a network that didn't require encrypted communications for reasonable security, then

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bazza
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Re: Sauce for the goose...

Whilst many see encryption as being a tool with which to defend against baddies, one has to wonder whether we'd be better off without it. It's not actually helping those who have been on the wrong end of a ransomware attack, or a credentials loss. And in a week which has seen yet another Tor-using paedo jailed for a few decades, it is undeniable that encryption is just as powerful a tool for baddies as it it can (with difficulty) be a tool for goodies.

We only have encrypted network communications because we don't trust the transport to be free of eavesdropping. Anyone using Facebook, ebanking, an IMS, etc, is perfectly happy with the recipient reading data; https is not being used to defend data at rest. In a packet switch network, eg the Internet, one has no idea where data flows, so encryption is desirable. Don't want the Russians seeing my communications with my bank.

With a circuit switched network, one does know where data flows. Perhaps that's a desirable trait.

Skewed Debate

One of the problems with the whole debate is that Americans generally loathe and distrust their own government in a way that all other civilised societies don't. Add the commercial interests of MegaCorp Inc into the mix and you end up with technology solving problems that, on the whole, the man on the street in the UK isn't really worrying about. At the same time MegaCorp is also creating problems that man on street does care about, and will vote accordingly.

Add in differences in laws, customs, and social expectations on policing, and you have to question whether or not the Internet is going to remain as one network, or will it start getting broken apart at national boundaries. Just like China has already done.

Now if Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, MS, etc. want to avoid that and preserve their business models then they're going to have to give governments a reason to not want to put up national firewall. But theyre doing the exact opposite. It's long term commercial suicide.

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Qualcomm opens maw, prepares to swallow Dutch chipmaker NXP

bazza
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Re: Reduced Diversity ???

When NXP bought Freescale, they got what had once been Motorola's successful line of PowerPC based CPUs. In certain key product areas these are still heavily used, including by a customer who has their own way of insisting on continuity of supply: the US Government.

PowerPC is widely used in a lot of quite important military systems (radars, communications systems, etc), and Uncle Sam doesn't want to have to completely re-engineer things simply because some corporate wonk has decided to prune the product list. I know it's used in F35, and it would enormously expensive to re-do those bits of that already very expensive and very late jet.

When Apple bought PA-Semi all those years ago, Apple found themselves on the wrong end of an un-ignorable instruction from the US DOD, and had to keep the PA-Semi PowerPC line running for quite some time afterwards. Which was a pity for Apple because they didn't want the PowerPC part, they wanted the staff, but failed to retain them. So it didn't work out for Apple... Qualcomm most likely will receive a similar missive.

Incidentally, PowerPC was popular because it was pretty quick (Altivec was far better than anything Intel did at the time), and designed for real time systems (no variable clock frequencies, no Management Engine cocking about with power modes, etc). Had Freescale not screwed up their 12-core roll out, PowerPC might still have been a decent contender to this day.

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Oracle open-sources DTrace under the GPL

bazza
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Re: They should relicense...

Well, so long as they don't stop releasing it under other licenses. We don't want FreeBSD and everything else being screwed simply because of switch to GPL2.

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bazza
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Re: Open source tools

Its been in Oracle Linux for years.

The problem is the license and Oracle's lawyers.

Strictly speaking it's not Oracle's lawyers that are the problem. It's GPL2 that has the problem accepting other licenses. Oracle (Sun) can license their code in whichever way they want to; it's up to the rest of us to respect that.

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Opportunity knocked? Rover survives Martian winter, may not survive budget cuts

bazza
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Re: Give it away.

One of the problems with that idea is, I fear, access to the deep space communications network. You can't just point a 1 meter dish in the general direction of Mars and get an IP connection going. You need access to NASA's network of dishes dotted around Earth. And they're pretty busy, and expensive.

However, my view is that whilst there's a prospect of the Martian marauder still doing useful science, then it would be a hideous waste of money to not use it. Arguably these two trundlers, and Curiosity too, represent astonishing science (and public) value for US taxpayer dollars; they've gotten far, far more for than anyone ever bargained for. The original project Balance of Investment report is utter toast; the costs account is so heavily outweighed by the delivered benefits account those responsible should get medals.

Really the answer should be, build more deep space communications dishes, and get even more value out of the missions that are running, and out of other future long lived missions. There is an argument that international collaboration on that network is the way forward.

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