* Posts by bazza

1599 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

One BEEELLION dollars: Apple sues Qualcomm, one of its chip designers

bazza
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Re: Que ?

Sounds like it was,

"If you don't like this price, wait until you see what it's like if we don't get exclusivity...".

Which would be a pretty good example of gouging.

Qualcomm do seem to have been playing it pretty dirty, or at least dirty enough to attract a big fine in Korea and the attention of the FTC and the Chinese government. Qualcomm have a lot of patents, but a lot of them relate to CDMA2000 (and bits of UMTS), which is a dying and increasingly pointless technology.

It's no surprise that Apple have gone and tried the CDMA2000-less Intel chips, just a pity that Intel don't seem to have got them quite right.

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Google loses Android friends with Pixel exclusivity

bazza
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Re: Non-story?

Android is in a mess because Google didn't plan it out at all. Applauding Google for making sure that there's at least a couple of clean Android phones out there merely illustrates the problem. In a proper ecosystem all phones running the same underlying OS should be 'clean'. Instead they shoved it out there without a thought in the world and, worse, made the most important part proprietary (Play Services), and basically left everyone else to do whatever they thought best. Fragmentation was inevitable. Rubbish.

Microsoft did it properly. They set a hardware standard on which their binaries would run. Manufacturer diversity, OS sanity across the board. Neat, but clearly not of itself a market draw. Apple and BB10 BlackBerry merely defined their own ecosystems and did the whole thing alone. Neat, but no choices.

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Windows 10 networking bug derails Microsoft's own IPv6 rollout

bazza
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"Can someone remind us again why the Internet Engineering Task Force decided not to make this next-gen networking protocol backward-compatible?"

Who knows. IPv4 was, kinda, a bit of a kludge even for its time, with limitations built in that are akin to "nobody will ever need more than 640k"...

Perpetuating that is undesirable. However, I'm not convinced that the replacement is kludge free either.

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Linux is part of the IoT security problem, dev tells Linux conference

bazza
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Re: No, the enemy is the idiot who wrote the specs

SOAP, RTSP and HTTP don't need Linux. How about QNX? VxWorks?

The real problem is money. The market for small things like this is ultra-competitive, and if you can save a few cents per unit in manufacturing then that's what you do.

Linux has no license costs. In large numbers, an alternative OS might be licensed down in the cents/unit area, but that still a large amount of money out the door.

And as for the idea of keeping a dev team stood up purely to provide support for products in the field, no way is that cheap or profitable (at least not in the short-sighted eyes of the company accountants...), and certainly not if one has gone and spun up a customised stripped down distro that one now has to maintain oneself.

[An exception is, apparently, Belkin, who do at least respond to vulnerability reports and issue updates. Shame their Android app, through which the update process is managed, is awful at doing the update itself. The iOS one is much better].

And clearly the market simply does not give a damn about bugs, vulnerabilities or malware in these things. Some botnet running out of one's own house probably does not impact on the owners of the house in any noticeable way. The only exception I heard of was Nests in the early days - too many bitcoin miners infesting one's Nest meant that it actually stopped working as a thermostat.

Regulation

Faced with a situation where the customers for IoT devices don't know, don't really care, couldn't do much about it even if the did know that their thing was up to no good, how does the behaviour of the market get changed to prevent all this becoming a truly dangerous thing to the Internet (an thence the economy) as a whole?

The only option left is regulation imposed by government. They're the only outfit that can forcibly change the market's dynamic when the market itself shows absolutely no sign whatsoever of sorting itself out. Though exactly how that's done without mandating an OS + distro, encryption standards, etc. that doesn't make it massively expensive thus killing the market and a massive target for blackhats looking for the thrill at getting one over on the government, I've no idea. Perhaps forcing adoption of HomeKit and maybe a couple of others isn't such a bad idea.

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Euro space agency's Galileo satellites stricken by mystery clock failures

bazza
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Re: EU?

Canada is a member of ESA, and Canada is notable for not even being in Europe, let alone the EU.

With Trump getting inaugurated tomorrow, perhaps Canada would like to be able to cast off, sail across the Atlantic and anchor somewhere off the French coast, perhaps form a land bridge between France and the UK.

Might have to turn it sideways to fit it in without also forming a land bridge to the eastern coast of the USA...

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Solaris 12 disappears from Oracle's roadmap

bazza
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Re: "...I'm not sure if this is a major deal"

I can't help but agree. It's a pity if Solaris becomes moribund. I still occasionally use it, but I used to use it lots (weirdly, on embedded systems as well as workstations).

I think you're right - if they start pushing things out for Linux ahead of Solaris, the writing is on the wall.

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bazza
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It certainly does look vague.

I'm wondering though, is there any really big deal? I'm not entirely sure how one would define where an OS ends and applications start, and whether a lack of development in the OS is a major deal.

The Linux kernel gets updated a lot, and that's pretty cool if you're wanting the latest and greatest kernel features for x64 chips and the eradication of vulnerabilities, etc. However, they're very careful to not break user-land (I can imagine that doing so is good fun - Linus baiting as a recreational activity). But Solaris's kernel, on SPARC, just how much updating is actually required to keep it viable and useful? I can't see Oracle not supporting it on newer SPARC silicon, or failing to fix identified vulnerabilities.

I can see it becoming a problem though if some major user-land package becomes desirable, and the authors of it have gone and made something hideous like systemd a dependency. Solaris doesn't have systemd. Oracle would have to do quite a lot of porting then to accommodate such a package. There's a big trend these days for containers, things like that, but Solaris already does pretty well in that direction, and Sun were amongst the pioneers of quite a lot of that stuff anyway.

But without that kind of issue, most user land stuff should run just fine on Linux or Solaris with no real compilation problems. Solaris can even run Linux binaries without recompilation if required.

Is there perhaps some parallel between Solaris and Windows 7? Windows 7 was, arguably, perfect and pretty much complete, perhaps could have benefited from some under the hood tweaks, etc. Instead MS took it upon themselves to dispose of the entire existing software base (well, demote it to a 2nd class status with a not-shown-by-default desktop) when they did Windows 8. Then 8.1 drew back from that a little bit, 10 more so. The proper, boring, and almost no effort thing for them to have done was simply to tweak 7's innards (for example, 8, 8.1 and 10 have some good improvements to certain aspects of the kernel) but otherwise left well alone.

So perhaps Solaris is in that same place - there's literally not much to be done to keep it rolling along just nicely.

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Japan tries to launch satellite on rocket the size of a telegraph pole

bazza
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Re: Good Effort

"Sounds like something from the Hillary/Neocon prayer book."

Hmm, you don't pay attention to the goings on in North Korea and the Western Pacific much, do you. Are you some kinda commie China stooge?

"Japan has to deal with its regional problems on its own terms. The US forces (and the US for that matter) won't be around forever."

Except that Japan pays a vast fortune to host US forces. Unlike NATO, where there's no membership fee as such, the Japan US mutual security treaty involves a very large payment. That's something Trump was unaware of, and when made aware declared the sum inadequate. The treaty does allow one party to terminate it with 1 year's notice.

However there's been some recent adjustments related to moving Kadena, for which the Japanese have also agreed to pay, and this may have included an alteration to the termination clauses.

Cancelling all that now would be very poor form indeed so far as diplomatic codes of conduct are concerned. It also doesn't fit with Trump's apparent pro-Taiwan stance; he cannot support them without military bases being close at hand, and they're all in Japan.

Trump is generally making noises about withdrawing from all sorts of treaties. That's not going to do the USA any good. It'll make doing business with the US more hassle than its worth. And it's not like the USA has any money these days.

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bazza
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Re: Good Effort

"You seem to forget that, having had nuclear weapons used on them, the Japanese have an absolute horror of them."

And they're pretty determined that no one will ever use them again on Japan. They've not had to do anything about it since WWII on account of the treaty arrangements between Japan and the USA, which Trump has threatened to break.

"Without the declared threat (which the Japanese people wouldn't stand for) atom bombs aren't any use defensively, so why would they bother, especially given that the rocket isn't any use in lofting anything but the smallest battlefield weapons?"

Er, have you seen the kind of guff that North Korea puts out daily? Besides, it's no good whinging about undeclared threats if the mini-ICBM is already on its way over from the peninsular.

That kind of thinking led to the policy of appeasement leading up to WWII, which nearly lost us (the UK) the war. The exact same arguments we had then are going in Japanese society even now.

With the two countries so close together you don't need massive range. North Korea has been launching quite small rockets over the top of Japan for years, gives them the collie wobbles every time.

As for why bother, that's a question that can be equally applied to the USA, UK and France. At least two of those countries have been using nuclear weapons for defensive purposes only. Answer: mutually assured destruction is no comfort (not really), but you'd rather have the option of bringing it about than not. Especially when the other country already has a bomb, nearly has a warhead, has a missile, has stated an intent to inflict harm on its neighbours and the USA if it can reach it, and a political insanity that does not encourage belief in their self-restraint. Faced with that, it would immensely surprising that Japan and South Korea (and even China!) didn't take substantive steps to ensure that such a threat (theoretical or not) was neutralised, at least to some extent. Japan can develop a nuclear warhead of its own if it wants to, it has the underlying nuclear industry required to produce the plutonium.

Historically countries faced with a nuclear threat have gone on to do so (India & Pakistan, Russia & West, China & West, Israel & Syria / Iraq / Iran / Libya). I don't see why Japan would necessarily be any different if the USA walks out on its treaty obligations.

Besides, as I've already written, a small nuke is not the only strategically useful payload that can be lofted on something of this size. It's far more likely that they'd concentrate on an interception capability first (something that the USA already fields on their behalf, but seemingly now might not be counted on). An interception capability is less "aggressive", and stands a good chance of succeeding. North Korea almost certainly doesn't have the industrial capability to produce large numbers of missiles and warheads. Shooting down one or two missiles is far easier than shooting down several hundred. Japan hasn't had a vehicle of this size available to them previously. Arguably, they do now (failed launch or not).

If the USA walks out of the Pacific, the countries that are traditional allies of the USA (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines [though their current president seems to be taking leave of his senses], Malaysia, Thailand, even Vietnam these days) will feel immense pressure to tool up. Japan already is, it's built some aircraft carriers in recent years, lots of pretty good submarines too. Everyone knows that China is tooling up fast, has been for years and already has nuclear weapons.

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bazza
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Re: Telegraph pole?

Yes! It's certainly more interesting than the boring "utility pole".

Besides, I believe that the one SR71 pilot who actually saw a Russian SAM come up to his flight level (plenty were launched but the crews rarely saw them with their own eyes) described that as looking like a telegraph pole. So I think small rockets have been similarly dubbed ever since.

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bazza
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Good Effort

The idea of a small cheap orbital launcher is very attractive. And this nearly worked. I do wonder though, a few million to launch this sounds expensive in comparison to hitching a cheaper ride on the back of a bigger satellite's launch (typically that costs a few tens of thousands of pounds). That is how cube sats have been launched to date.

Is Everything As It Seems?

This was intended as a launcher to get some about 4kg into an orbit about 2000km up. So it could put something a bit heavier into low earth orbit. Or something even heavier into a sub orbital hop. Or something heavier again a few hundred miles.

If that something were a small nuke, they'd have a pretty handy little intercontinental nuclear armed missile, or (bigger again) a good short range tactical weapon. It could also probably serve as the booster for an interception weapon to take out other missiles.

There's a lot of concern in Japan about North Korea's military capabilities and sanity. There's also some worry that a Trump administration in the US won't stick to its treaty obligations to guarantee Japanese security in return for billions hard earned dollars. In his campaigning Trump essentially threatened to withdraw US forces from the western Pacific because he was fed up of Japan getting it's security for free. On being told that, actually, Japan pays a huge sum of cash annually for hosting US forces, he said that it wasn't enough.

Understandably this has caused some consternation in Japan, with plenty of people pointing out that without US forces (especially a few choice anti-missile systems) Japan is adjacent to and undefended from the world's craziest nuclear armed regime, and a power vacuum would also allow the Chinese to move into the Western Pacific in a bigger way.

So the unpredictable Trump (aren't they always?) actually gets elected, and the Japanese launch this thing, but they have a good excuse for not lighting up the second stage and completing the flight (which would betray its true capability). It may not be entirely coincidental. I think that we may be seeing something of this again, possibly painted green, on a mobile launch platform. And with the way things are going, that'd probably be a good thing.

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US watchdog sues Qualcomm for 'bribing' Apple to swallow chips

bazza
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They should add, "But don't over do it...".

There's a lot of companies out there that could do with remembering that part.

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Auto emissions 'cheatware' scandal sparks war of words between Italy, Germany

bazza
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Re: But did they actually break any rules ?

Yes, they passed the tests. But completely disabling some of the cleanup-measures during normal driving is VERY likely still illegal.

And that's reasonable, the cars isn't being driven as tested. It's not so very different to removing the catalytic converter, putting it back only for the annual government inspection.

Note they were always allowed to disable cleanup in high-load situations.

That's interesting. Could Fiat Chrysler's problem simply be one of poor parameter choices rather than code deliberately designed to deceive? Or is it just a more subtle deception? No doubt time will tell.

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Google reveals its servers all contain custom security silicon

bazza
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Rule of Thumb

The more data an online service provider manages to snaffle from its freetard / paying users, the more it likes to boast abouts its security measures.

So, what do Google know about us all?!

Of course, these days Google, Facebook, etc. are snaffling data about people who are not their users (Android's use of caller ID, Facebook's face recognition and tracking, etc).

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How Apple exploded Europe's crony capitalism

bazza
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Re: 'Microsoft making cash on Apple's turf'

@DougS,

"It isn't as though Apple had the 'premium laptop' segment all to itself"

For a long time all PC laptops, even top of the line ones, were clunky, plastic and horrible even if the internals were pretty good. Meanwhile Macbooks were aluminium, sleek and lovely. It's only comparatively recently that the PC market has worked out that nicely made good looking premium stuff sells, and sells well. It took them only 10 years of watching Macbook sky high profits to work that out.

"Surface isn't stealing any sales from Apple, it is stealing them from Wintel partners like Dell."

Well, MacWorld reported that Apples Q4 results for iPhone, iPad and Mac sales were all down. Yet everywhere I look I read news of the boom in sales of MS's Surface line. Apple sell less computers, MS sell more computers. Call me old fashioned, but if that isn't sales stealing I don't know what is.

There's been plenty of people, even here on El Reg's forums, announcing that they've jumped off Apple's ship too. Seems that the delta between Windows 10 and OSX is small enough that the availability of things like standard USB, ethernet, HDMI and SD slots is more valuable than slimness, adapters, and an increasingly poorly performing OS-X.

The fact that MS (yes, boring old aesthetically challenged MS) can make money at all from selling a premium notebook / tablet thingy running Windows 10 is, by conventional thinking, unbelievable. Aesthetics is supposed to be what Apple are best at, yet it's clearly not enough to preserve their sales figures.

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bazza
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Re: Absolutely agree

@2+2=5,

"These two statements are contradictory. The reason it is possible to lock down an iOS device is because Apple does support business usage via its Device Enrolment Program."

No they're not. The mainstream MDM solutions are all about allowing a company to make a device less the users and more the company's. They're designed so that the user is allowed to do less and the company is restricting it more. That's not BYOD, that's "it's a company phone that does company things, not a phone you the user can do anything you like on. It's CACD (Carry Around a Company Device).

The only way that this really results in anything like a BYOD environment that the user has normal rights on is if the company places few restrictions on what the user can do at all. Which is dumb because there's be zero point of the MDM and "Device Enrolment" at all (apart from slicker roll-outs).

I've yet to see anyone at all use an MDM encumbered iOS or Android device as their own personal phone too, or for their own personal accounts / social media / etc.

"The degree of lockdown is completely up to the company. If yours is unusable then that's because your employer chose to make it so."

I refer back to my previous point. MDM + minimal / zero lockdown is not really MDM'ed at all. It's just a personal phone that maybe the company can remote wipe if they want to. Bit of a stretch to call that "managed". To get any real assurances concerning protecting company data the company has to lock it down.

For example, time and again there's been highly dodgy data stealing malware scattered all over Google's app store, and Android itself is generally wide open to vulnerabilities for very long periods of time. It's the last OS on earth that any company with any concerns at all about their data security would allow an employee to install arbitrary apps on a company mobile.The only real answer is to stop the employee installing apps at all, and then it's useless as a personal device.

In comparison to BlackBerry's Balance and it's multi-level security system with its cryptographic separation of company and personal data and slick unified view of both personal / private email and calendars, the MDM approach on iOS and Android is pretty lame brained. They're essentially doing little more than turning stuff off and maybe installing clunky alternate email clients / calendars / etc.

That's not adding any supporting functionality at all, it's taking it away. But it is right up there, bang in line with what company admins already do (lock down PCs to the n'th degree, more of the same please). It's all distressingly unimaginative, admins don't have to think, and Apple and Google don't really have to do much to support this.

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bazza
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Re: Absolutely agree

@Dave126,

"It appears that in between appealing to executives and being more secure than Android, Apple got a good chunk of the corporate market without trying too hard."

I disagree so some extent. Apple haven't done a single thing to specifically get the corporate market, and I don't think they give a damn about it either. They never bothered doing anything in their computers to help businesses either, not really.

They aim their products at the consumer market, which is where the big money is. Corporate users are welcome to buy of course...

What I mean is that there's nothing in Apple products that helps corporate admins fit them nicely into a (often necessarily) controlled corporate IT environment. OS-X can do domain authentication and browse file shares, but that's it. The MDM solutions that exist for iOS are terrible kludges really, sticking plasters applied on top of an unhelpful OS. It doesn't even do VPNs properly.

Killing BOYD

With little real support for business use in both iOS and Android, BYOD now seems to have become:

"Your work mobile is an iPhone we've lent you that's locked down to the point where it's not worth stealing it":

This suits Apple very well. Apple get to sell 2 phones, not one, and they still don't have to do anything technological to support that. But us drones have to carry 2 phones.

Android is the same but worse by the way - it doesn't do a very good job of talking to Exchange servers, and so the MDM solutions for it are quite often even kludgier. Yes I know, Exchange servers, domains, it's all so much old bollocks, but not every company (especially outside the USA) is prepared to jump into the Google, Apple or MS clouds

The only mobile company that did understand the needs of business and BYOD was BlackBerry, and built a mobile OS specifically to accomodate that - BB10, and particularly it's Balance feature and the 2 phone numbers in one device party trick.

This is still the most elegant solution to the BYOD problem. It's far superior to sticking a MDM plaster on top of a consumer focused mobile OS. It's the only thing out there that truly makes it plausible for an employee to have one single phone for both work and personal use, with the right level of control for both parties and strong separation of the business and personal domains, and still be easy and pleasurable to use. It definitely doesn't feel like something "added on", it's right at the core of the whole OS, mail client, calendar, apps store, the lot.

Unfortunately, BlackBerry, like a lot of other companies, didn't understand the art of doing business.

Balance is really good, but it also takes a lot of getting your head round. By the time it came out it was already too late, and very few people had the motivation to go look at clever ways of solving the BOYD problem.

If Apple cared about chasing the corporate market they'd have bought up BlackBerry just to get their hands on Balance and incorporated the idea into iOS. They haven't.

Forget the Business Market, it's Irrelevant

Apple, and to some extent Google with Android, taught the world that chasing fat corporate sales was a pointless myth. The corporate market is too small to bother with. The consumer market, that's the thing.

Having learned that lesson, Microsoft went off and did Window 8. Whoopsie!

The PC is really a business tool. It became cheap enough for consumers to buy it. Turns out consumers didn't really want PCs, they wanted mobiles and tablets. Nowadays one looks at the PC market and wonders whether one will still be able to buy an affordable workstation for one's business needs in 5, 10 years time.

I'm no fan of Apple or Jobs, but Jobs did get one thing right. It's the software that matters. As soon as electronics had advanced to the point where a battery powered handheld could just about support an advanced graphical user interface it was inevitable that someone somewhere would do one. Jobs saw that, jumped early (the first iPhone models were absolute bollocks really), cleaned up.

For the rest of the industry the warning signs were there. The Apple Newton may have been poor, but there was the seeds of something there.

Nokia are perhaps the worst offender. They acquried Psion's OS and software stack - the Psion 5mx was a true masterpiece that's yet to be equalled - and threw the opportunity away. Nokia had more than the seeds of an idea, they had something that actually worked. Nokia in effect had a 10 year head start on Apple, and cocked it up. But then again, Nokia was run by hardware guys.

Apple's Future

It's looking dodgy. Their designers are now so up their own arses that one seriously wonders whether they can recover. They need to stop chasing "form" and get back to designing things that people will actually lust after. Can't plug an iPhone 7 into a Macbook, even for charging? Job's would have had a fit at the idea.

Weirdly, Microsoft are making a ton of cash on Apples turf - premium laptops. Surface notebooks sell veeery well. Apple need to move fast to make sure that there's no possibility of a resurgency in the mobile space for Microsoft. Apple have a lot of laurels these days, difficult not to rest on them

Apple's product line up is, well, boring and disjointed, and in some ways very very annoying. Whereas MS is possibly be about to launch a good mobile to go along with good laptops. If only a few key mobile apps make it to Surface phone, people might just start wondering whether they need an iPhone and its frailties at all.

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TV anchor says live on-air 'Alexa, order me a dollhouse' – guess what happens next

bazza
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It seems that Amazon Echos are becoming quite popular with the elderly - it's an easy way for them to "use the web", and it's seen as a way they can call for help if they fall, etc. So Echo is beginning to find roles which could be seen to have a significant element of safety-criticality in them.

This is unexpected, to say the least. And this has taken off in just the very few weeks it's been on sale here in the UK. Amazing!

I bet Amazon, or anyone else didn't anticipate this...

So it means that Producers of Sound (radio, TV, the lot) are going to have to be careful to not do as you suggest!

Arguably it's a cock up for Amazon - broadcasters might become very reluctant to ever use the word "Alexa", for fear of triggering some chain of events somewhere. We may have escaped the dollshousalypse, and no one wants to be blamed for another. And if its never mentioned, where's the publicity coming from?

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bazza
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Even This Article..

...would cause problems for partially sighted / blind people using web-to-spoken-voice-translation aids, if they also have an Amazon Echo in the house. There's a real risk that somewhere out there a blind person is now in receipt of a pointless dolls house.

I'm wondering how long it'll be before some wag on a radio station (perhaps a call in) says, "Hello TomTom. Go Home". Anyone with a modern TomTom satnav who is driving and listening to that station may find their travel plans altered for the better...

Similarly a radio station could, on Mother's day, broadcast "OK Google, call Mum".

Etc.

Anyway, we're lucky that the world's economy has not been fully configured overnight to supply nothing but dolls houses... Or, perhaps it has?

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Switzerland says Uber's an employer, sends social security bill

bazza
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Re: Switzerland is not worth it for Uber.

That said, self-driving cars are the future - but it might come as a surprise to Uber et al when Ford, Honda, et cetera, start running automated taxi services with their own fleets, rather than letting Uber do it.

Personally I doubt we'll ever get true fully autonomous full authority self driving cars, not with the roads as they are and the shared usage of them (bikes, horses, etc). Google are running away from the idea, Apple too, can't see anyone else pulling off a significant development.

I think the car manufacturers are indeed covering moves by Google, Uber etc. The difference is if they don't quite make it they'll still probably end up with something useful. Google, Uber won't - they've not got a foothold in making cars.

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Google's Grumpy code makes Python Go

bazza
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Re: Yes, its you.

@smartypants,

"Go context switches are cheaper than OS context switches. It you have more threads, it's more efficient for them to be virtual."

Have you ever programmed for OSes like VxWorks? Some of these hard-RT OSes have ultra-low context switch times (kinda the point I guess). Anyway, one tends to get thread-happy on such OSes because the context switch penalty just isn't that much of a deal. I always found it quite liberating!

But I do like the idea of there being only as many native threads as cores with "green threads" (I think that's their technical term) being used within the language, especially on top of Linux / Windows / etc. I wonder if Go can cope with a thread blocking on network I/O?

This is the problem that Python completely failed to address, so they went multi-process as a "terrible kludge". Perhaps that's too harsh - the Python guys have never put it forward as a hard core, high performance system's language (though I reckon there's plenty of people trying to use it that way...).

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bazza
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"

And I looked at Python, and came away not believing how anything so naff could actually have any traction whatsoever.

I mean who came up with that dire idea to use whitespace for code logic flow??? What was wrong with curly braces???"

I have to agree. Something that you cannot see or print or write down on paper matters? Rubbish.

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bazza
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Re: Yes, its you.

@Boltar,

Thats because CSP is a formal language. But that doesn't help you when you have to map it into a real language.

There are plenty of real language CSP implementations. I've written some myself. You design your system, express it algebraically in CSP, do the algebra, prove that the system is correct. You then write source code that implements the same architecture that you've expressed in CSP, compile & run. Go and Rust are but the latest in a long line of CSP implementations, but the advantage is that there's real merit (excellent memory handling, etc) to the languages themselves beyond just their CSPness.

It doesn't really make a lot of difference what architecture the board & CPU have.

No, but Intel and everyone else is really struggling to get improved SMP performance, especially when it comes to large machines. The amount of silicon overhead required to make SMP work well on top of what is fundamentally a NUMA architecture is really quite large, which costs power, money, etc.

The only reason they still do it because of the large amount of pre-existing software that has been written around SMP, including all mainstream operating systems. We're not going to throw those out any time soon.

You have to go via the OS API unless you plan on having your code talk direct to the hardware...

It doesn't work like that. SMP makes all your process memory equally accessible no matter where the memory is and where the process thread(s) are running. You use the OS to handle threads, semaphores, locks. Memory access across QPI or L3 cache does not require OS intervention.

However, for one thread to access memory shared with another in an SMP system, it has to take a semaphore (assuming one is locking shared memory), access the memory (which involves a whole load of data transfers up to L3 cache / across QPI), give the semaphore back. And all the while the separate L1/L2 caches have to be kept coherent, because two (or more) cores are all accessing the same memory address.

CSP, which although it's copying data (rather than sharing it) involves essentially the same amount of work, but this is dressed up as some sort of IPC transaction instead. For example, an OS pipe still involves taking semaphores, accessing memory (in order to copy it), giving semaphores back. The difference is that because CSP copies the data instead of sharing it, there ends up being less cache coherence traffic running across the QPI or up to the L3 cache, because the source and copied data are being accessed by only one thread each.

The fact that CSP implementations are doing this at all stems from the fact that they're sitting on top of a faked SMP machine that is itself sitting on top of and completely obscuring a NUMA architecture. If the SMPness were to be omitted altogether, the CSP would be far more efficient (helped further by being able to omit the silicon that implements the SMP environment). Given a genuine NUMA hardware environment (such as a network of Transputers) CSP is a tremendously good fit.

Distributed processing is another topic entirely.

It is, but it really, really shouldn't be.

Things like ZeroMQ do a wonderful job of completely abstracting away the means by which data is moved in Actor model applications (it nearly does CSP). Intra process, inter process, across a network, nothing that matters changes in your source code. The performance changes, yes, but that's no big deal. You already know that it'll be slower across a network, and can plan one's distribution accordingly. The key thing is that changing the distribution is very little work, there's almost no re-coding to be done.

In contrast, if one has used, say, Rust or Go's CSP mechanisms in-process, and then one decides one wants to distribute processes / threads across a number of machines, you've got a major re-write on one's hands. The CSP channels in those languages don't propagate across network connections AFAIK. Bad karma.

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bazza
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Re: Yes, its you.

Um, yah. Rob Pike and Ken Thompson are wee ankle-biters.

Tony Hoare is 20 years older, and is entitled to call a 52 year old Rob Pike a youngster!

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bazza
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Re: Yes, its you.

@boltar,

Is using pthreads REALLY so hard? There seems to be a lot of noise about the latest flavour of the month concurrent languages but in reality all they do is prettify (and arguably simplify) threading syntax and control then make the same underlying calls to the OS threading system. They don't actually give you any more power.

PThreads are harder to get right (from the point of view of being sure there's no potential for deadlock, lock failures, etc). Shared memory, semaphores, etc can be fearsomely difficult to debug, etc.

CSP in particular makes it easier to get it right, or at least if you don't you're guaranteed to find out as soon as you run your system. If you've written it such that it can deadlock, it will deadlock.

Also you can do some process calculi maths and prove the correctness of a CSP design theoretically. That's not something you can do with pthreads, shared memory and semaphores in anything but the most trivial of cases.

As for more power, one has to be a bit careful. Pthreads, shared memory, semaphores all assume that it's running on top of an SMP computer architecture. Whereas CSP is quite content to exist on NUMA architectures. What Intel actually give us is, effectively, a NUMA machine with SMP emulated on top. Thus software that's more NUMAry in operation can be kinder to the Quickpath interconnect between CPUS and the shared L3 caches.

And because CSP is NUMA friendly, it's quite straight forward to scatter CSP proecesses around a network and scale up (though Go and Rust don't AFAIK do this for you). That's a complete no-no with shared memory, semaphores and pthreads.

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bazza
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Re: Yes, its you.

...At least you might like Rust once they've decided whether or not to keep channels and select...

Tracking Issue for Channel Selection

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bazza
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Re: Yes, its you.

If you like Go's concurrency you may also like Rust. That too gives you Channels which can be rendezvous mechanisms.

Rust is beginning to look good because it is suitable as a system's language. There's a whole lot of youngsters at work getting excited about it.

To us old timers the re-emergence of CSP channels is a delight! It's definitely the easiest way to do parallel execution. Rust'll save me having to implement CSP in C++ for myself every time...

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A vintage year for snoopers and big state-ists

bazza
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Parliament produces an annual report on surveillance activities, and the court case results and transcripts are openly available. Go read!

But yes, Trump's Muslim registry is an abhorrent idea.

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bazza
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Re: GCHQ == STASI

I suspect you're too young, of the wrong nationality, and lacking in scholarly study of history to really know what horrible bastards the STASI really were. Count yourself very lucky indeed to not be living somewhere anything like the former GDR.

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bazza
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From the article:

"Her position is ironic considering her first act in government, way back in 2010, to repeal Labour's Identity Cards Act 2006. May claimed the Act would not “keep us safe without intruding on civil liberties” and continuing that while “some data storage is essential,” in her explanation to Parliament, “these events do not point in the direction of a massive expansion of the surveillance state, which ID cards would necessarily involve.”

The ID card scheme's planned use of biometrics was mathematically flawed. It was never going to be able to deliver what was wanted because the biometric ID part of that was going to be insufficiently reliable. One might therefore argue that binning the scheme was actually a well measured move on May's part, as nothing good was going for come from having all that data on file, all that equipment in place, etc.

"David Davis, currently Brexit secretary, so disliked the PM's last attempt at a Snoopers' Charter that he with others took the country to the EU's highest court. The resulting judgment seems to put much of the UK's new data retention regime to challenge."

Ah yes, David Davis, the man who resigned from the then shadow cabinet in protest at something that the then Labour government was doing. Can't remember what it was all about, but the lasting impression his protest made was "idiot": it's a Shadow Cabinet politician's job to criticise government where necessary, something you cannot do if you quit. A hollow gesture at best, and at the very least it was poor judgment.

Anyway, the true irony is that whilst many may look upon Europe as a means to moderate whatever 'excesses' one might perceive to be built into the IPA, some (e.g. France) and probably many other European governments are planning or implementing similar laws.

The wave of attacks on various blameless and/or beneficient European countries (what's Belgium ever done to annoy anyone? Chocolate?) has finally woken them up. We're all at risk from such attacks, and a policy of non-involvement in the world's trouble spots and a laissez-faire attitude to what's happening in communities in your own capital city is not good armour against them.

The EU and ECJ may witter on about open borders and human rights, but European politicians now realise that there's elections to be lost through inaction and failure to prevent repeat attacks. Everyone remembers that the ruling party in Spain lost the next general election immediately after the Madrid train bombings. There's nothing like the prospect of losing their job to make politicians engage in hard realpolitiks.

Anyway, my point about Britons seeking redress in the ECJ about what they perceive to be the excess of the IPA is that if any government tells the ECJ to back off it might not be the UK government that ends up doing that.

What would be truly excessive is not having laws (or having very weak laws) about what the state can and cannot do in the area of domestic security, and then making it up on the spot or doing things with no legal top cover in response to the popular backlash against a government hitherto inattentive to such matters. For example, France is still officially in a state of emergency. Who knows what they're doing under that cover. And last time I was there (Nov) there's still troops on the streets of Brussels. This is far from "normal".

An interesting listen on such topics is the Reith lectures given by Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5.

All things considered I'd far rather have open laws on domestic surveillance and security than opaque states of emergency, or no laws at all. Whether or not they're effective laws or not time will tell.

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‘Artificial Intelligence’ was 2016's fake news

bazza
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Re: Will Andrew be burned at the stake for this heresy?

No matches being applied to the pyre from this here IP address.

The only thing that I'd disagree with Andrew on is that 2017 would be the year that it all started to unravel. I'd say that it's already started with Google effectively abandoning their self driving car effort, all the way back when in 2016. Self driving is probably the most ambitious AI challenge that was being contemplated and, unsurprisingly, it turns out they couldn't make it work and don't know how to go about improving it. Apple have also wound their necks in on their equivalent ambitions. Uber look positively behind the times in persisting with their endeavour, which has only just got going. And with the big tech-companies running into difficulty, the threat of them disrupting the traditional auto manufacturers' business is diminshed, so they too will drop the topic with a quiet, unpublicised thud.

Unfortunately, juding from various electoral results across the world, one might also have to conclude that human intelligence also started to unravel quite badly in 2016 too. Rise of the machines? Hardly. What we actually got was the Rise of the Trump.

21
1

Folders return to Windows 10's Start Thing

bazza
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Mushroom

Re: Unbelievable

"Clippy"

AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!

</livinginfear>

No. Not even MS could be that mad. Ooops, perhaps that'd have been better unsaid, lest they get an idea...

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bazza
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Unbelievable

All those wasted, fruitless and ruinous years of shoving the PC industry down the tubes with comical, immature user interfaces that no one on the entire planet wanted. They'd already got what had to be one of the best desktop UIs (Win7) ever. If it's coming back, it feels like it's doing so through shear osmotic pressure rather than any kind of coherent plan. Whatever next - Aero? Carousel?

Sigh....

If they did something now that had Window 7's UI, none of that advertising / snooping nonsense that is the final ruin of Windows 10, and a tabbed Windows Explorer, I'd happily pay £100 for it.

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Meet the Internet of big, lethal Things

bazza
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Re: the eff is way out of line here

It sounds like the better thing to campaign for is freedom of servicing (such as exists by law for ordinary cars). It's a law change that's needed to make that happen, not access to software source code.

It sounds like Deere are fully exploiting the lock-in opportunity offered by the law as it stands, which is kinda dangerous for them. First, it could / should provoke a change in the law (which might include some punitive retrospective measures against manufacturers who had been taking the piss). Second, it leaves the market wide open to a more enlightened manufacturer to come in and tempt the customers with easy servicing options.

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bazza
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Re: IMHO, any modified vehicle should become immediately unfit for the road...

@Adrian4,

Because anything manufactured by industry is certain to be built, tested and operating according to all the rules? And if the implementation is kept secret, how exactly could you be sure of that?

Er, by black box testing it. All designs have to pass a bunch of tests, and unless they pass they cannot be sold. Who cares what the software is like if it passes the required tests?

Given the vast number of cars that are sold world wide one has to conclude that the regulatory oversight of the industry is highly effective; there's comparatively few defects that escape notice, and the regulatory recall system works well to fix those that crop up later on.

Didn't work for emissions. Why should it work for anything else?

VW emissions cheating was found by black box testing, not examination of the software. It was an imaginative step by the researchers who found it, and it's resulted in the regulatory inspections being tightened. So there's now even less reason to examine the source code than before. In the same piece of research they found that a number of other vehicles did perform properly, again established without access to the software.

The UK is comparatively unusual in that individuals are allowed to design and build their own car from scratch and drive it on the road. The *only* thing you have to do is get it past a vehicle inspection. It's quite a big inspection, but it's affordable (costs a few hundred pounds). Some people have even done this to the extent of designing their own engine. There's no requirement to show that all your own software has been written according to MISRA rules, etc. In, say, France it's different; an individual has to go through the same crash test regime as a major manufacturer - prohibitively expensive.

So in short, the source code is irrelevant. Even if you had it, that makes no difference to get tests a vehicle has to pass.

The only thing that the source code might usefully do is allow servicing monopolies to be broken. But getting the law changed is likely to be a quicker and more effective way of achieving that.

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bazza
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Re: bug free software

They're basically saying that they're not going to expose themselves to potential liability by releasing their source code. Can't blame them for that.

No matter what wording they might put in release notes, releasing the source code at all could be construed by a clever lawyer (especially in the US) as being equivalent to "do what you like, you can't go wrong". However in these days of throttle-by-wire, brake-by-wire, etc that's far from being true. They really would be running the risk of being sued by the victim of someone who'd modified it.

Getting the law changed on open servicing for farm vehicles, plant, etc. sounds like a far better bet. Putting campaigning effort into that would be more productive that cocking about with copyright laws.

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Spotty battery life costs Apple's MacBook Pro its gold-star rating

bazza
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It Does Make One Wonder...

...Whether anyone at Apple ever bothered to turn one on more than once in development...

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Rollout of smart meters continues at a snail's pace

bazza
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Ha!

As I read these comments a spam email from my provider has arrived plugging the benefits of a smart meter!

Ignored...

Been ignoring them for months now. Some of my neighbours have had them installed, seems like the fitters have taken the opportunity to suggest lots of expensive and entirely unnecessary remedial work on the houses' electrics. 1990 houses. Not ancient at all, no rubber insulated wires here, etc. Con.

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Strong non-backdoored encryption is vital – but the Feds should totally be able to crack it, say House committees

bazza
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Re: Quantum cryptography

But only until you observe it, and then it's pot luck as to whether you can read it or not!

0
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Facebook's internet drone crash-landed after wing 'deformed' in flight

bazza
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Re: Recurrent theme?

Also missing is by comparison from El Reg's analysis of military drone incidents, is why it was decided to be solely flown on autopilot. Where's the oversight and the person with the "abort landing" button in this?

USAF Predators are (were?) hand-landed, US Army's we are auto landed. Something to do with letting USAF personnel think they had a 'flying' role. Guess what, USAF lost loads in landing accidents...

There's a big difference between things like the sturdier Predator and this flimsy thing from Facebook. Predators are designed with good endurance, but Aquila is all about staying up for a very long time indeed. But military UAVs, despite being sturdier, aren't that fond of nasty conditions either. Strong winds, poor visibility will ground them.

A human pilot on board (e.g. On something like an A320 / 737) is able to land in far worse conditions, and are able to deal with lots of faults, and are pretty good at improvising landings on rivers, etc.

8
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Uber to Cali DMV: Back off, pal, our 'self-driving cars' aren't self driving

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Huh?

@Orv, yes that's all sensible stuff. It's similar in the aero engine business too - GE, RR, PW are deadly serious competitors but assist each other to help out on safety issues. It's a mature industry that operates well for the benefit of passengers and suppliers alike.

I think that California is also being very sensible by permitting and regulating tests and publishing test results. It's forcing the nascent self driving car industry to behave with maturity, and most importantly of all it's not letting PR control whether or not these things go on general sale.

That's definitely caught out Google's team, whose enthusiasm for self driving has taken a dive following the publication of their test results. One wonders what would have happened had publication not been an obligatory part of the process.

If Uber start chipping away at that edifice of rationality then, as you say, that could ruin the current beneficial status quo.

My own point of view is that we'll never be able to develop a self driving car that is demonstrably as reliable as the best human driver (no point being as good as the average driver, most of us would be worse off). We simply don't have the means to even write down in detail what it is that a human driver actually does and can do if required. And if we can't even write that down on paper, how can we ever test a self driving car and show that it is equal to the best human driver?

There will always be some unexpected circumstances that defeat a self driving car (anyone tried one on a dark foggy night on narrow twisty British lanes with black ice here and there, lots of leaves falling from the trees? Thought not...), and you won't want the car getting into a panic when it's got only your kids on board.

At best we might get an elaborate cruise control thing, but then there are human factors concerns about drivers who spend very little time actually driving suddenly being expected to take over in circumstances that by definition will be challenging. Just look at the problems surrounding Tesla's Autopilot... I'm hoping that State regulators will think very carefully about that aspect.

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Give us encrypted camera storage, please – filmmakers, journos

bazza
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Re: Is there any way...

Trouble is any kind of reasonable unlocking scheme isn't going to be very compatible with taking snapshots in those fleeting moments of inspired opportunity.

2
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Snowden: Donald Trump could get pal Putin to kick me out of Russia

bazza
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"The answer to bad speech is not censorship, it's more speech calling out fake news," he said. "We need to spread the idea that critical thinking is important."

Er, am I alone in thinking that that's an ambitious aspiration?

Also I'm not entirely sure what fake news is, or rather more specifically, what real news is. People wring their hands about the traditional press and its 'real news' being eroded to irrelevance by online fake junk, etc, but then again the traditional press includes the Daily Mail, the Murdoch-owned newspapers, the Telegraph, Express, Guardian, etc. We 'know' that a lot of their output is designed to suit their owners' views and is far from being 'true'.

Even broadcast news is questionable - in the UK it's pretty much the same stories in the same order with the same-ish spin no matter which channel one tunes into. TV journalists are told by their editors what sort of story to get, and they choose what interviews with "members of the public" are actually used. And even if one thinks that the news channel is playing it straight, one often has to wonder why so many placards are written in English and displayed in so many protests in so many countries where English is not widely spoken.

I've long ago concluded that the only reason something is broadcast or printed or Web published is because someone somewhere wants you to absorb their point of view to further their own agenda. Editors mostly, press officers too. The difference being these days that almost anyone can be an editor online, and social media 'trending' popular content brings it to the fore. Fake news? 'Real' news outlets are just as capable of deliberately misconstruing or misrepresenting or imagining 'facts' to suit the agenda of the owner of the newspaper, TV channel, etc. For example, look at the BBC's abysmal role in spreading the demonstrably false scare stories about the MMR jab. Balance? Balance my arse - sensational stories bring high viewing figures, broadcast and revel in the numbers, that's their only motivation. On this particular topic, Brian Cox pointed out that the BBC's 'balance' weighed the entirety of scientific peer reviewed wisdom against the opinion of a man not accepted as an authority in the field with no peer reviewed papers to back him up, and judged them to be equal. Oh dear.

Anyway, so almost no one involved in the creation, dissemination of 'real' news is truly an honest broker. So why is 'fake' news significantly worse?

About the only exception is Private Eye, which is pretty good at putting out mostly facts (rare mistakes) and mostly letting them speak for themselves. And the tech press like El Reg does a good job of sticking to tech news.

10
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Uber-creepy: Dial-a-ride devs accused of stalking pop diva Beyonce

bazza
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Re: Shameless

...when and on what planet did anyone think that information was going to treated well and respected?

Well all across Europe there's quite strong data protection laws. Breaches like the ones reported in the US would result in some stringent fines. In the UK this can be up to £5000 fine per data item lost / breached / exposed. Consequently Megabreaches are potentially veeeery expensive (millions x £5000), and that rather focuses senior management attention on data protection within a business. Basically you don't collect data unless there's a genuine business need, and you don't make it available willy-nilly within a company, etc.

But Uber is USAian, so like many other companies they're rather uncaring able their customers' data, what they collect, etc.

3
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SpaceX delays manned Dragon capsule launch

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Actually less about the Amosposion I think.

Interesting stuff.

I had no idea they were designing new space suits. I'm somewhat mystified as to why existing designs aren't acceptable. Do you suppose it's simply a matter of IPR ownership?

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Patience is SpaceX's latest virtue

bazza
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Re: @ bazza

@AndyS,

Oops. For 'billion', read 'million'. Hadn't had an early morning cuppa.

Anyway, to return to the point, for any half decent payload (big TV satellite, big comms sat) the owner would have paid anything up to $1billion building it. ENVISAT cost a reputed $2.9billion. Uncle Sam will quite happily spend $1billion on a spy sat. The one SpaceX blew up a few weeks back was a comparative tiddler money-wise, only $200million. There's a good book here, page 99.

In comparison, even an "expensive" launcher like Ariane will be ~$100million ($150million if one's satellite takes up the whole launch payload), Wikipedia's page is quite informative on the matter. And SpaceX are seeking to chop costs like that into tinier pieces.

It's been a long time since launches were more expensive than building big satellites.

Manpower. SpaceX seem to have no ambition to reuse a booster more than 1 or 2 times. That means that for the foreseeable future they will have to retain the skill base, currency, and capacity for something close to full rate production (assuming that a few don't make it to landing as planned). These are not talentless people who can be picked up off the streets at short notice, these are hard-to-find guys and girls who once you've got them you have to retain them, pay them, keep them busy, etc. It's not like they're necessarily jack of all trades either - they're specialist welders, machinists, etc, all highly specialised in their individual fields and not easily transferable to different roles. A lot of that skill base may very well be vested in suppliers' workforces, but it's there same problem all over again and the costs of dealing with it will be passed on to SpaceX and anyone else buying from the same supplier. Same for the factory - whilst there's a single final assembly building, there's a myriad of smaller plants all over the place that have to be kept operational if they're to build just one booster per year.

And on top of that SpaceX would need to have the refurb staff too to recycle the one's that did make it to landing. If, and only if, SpaceX can re-use their first stage many many times (e.g. 50 times) is it worth building a fleet and then standing down the production line.

This problem aflicts every major large engineering production project. Fighter jets - the unit cost goes up as the government's order shrinks for exactly the same reason. To get an empty cardboard box from Lockheed or SpaceX would cost almost as much as putting an F22 or Falcon 9 inside it. The F16 production line is about to close, and once gone it'll be veeery expensive to bring it back should anyone want a new build F16. The overhead of having the means to produce things this complicated yet not making them is almost as expensive as making them regardless.

And since you mention cars, it costs Ford / GM / Merc / etc. around about $1-6billion to develop a new car. Which is why there's so much platform sharing going on these days. Once they have developed it and set up the line they can churn out millions of cars for a couple of thousand dollars each (if that), but that first one is $1-6billion. Take a look at this.

Anyway, I'm only reinforcing SpaceX's own pronouncements on the matter, covered previously here on El Reg and elsewhere in the press. Take a look at this: SpaceX were talking about a 30% discount, tops. Even that seems ambitious to me.

So lets see... Say SpaceX charge $50million for a fresh launcher, 30% discount for a second hander = $15million saving. $15million/$200million = 7.5% of the price of the satellite that got blown up. That's pretty small beer. In the grand scheme of things, if one could ensure the success of an investment in a $200million satellite by spending an extra $15million on a fresh launcher as opposed to "taking a chance" (no-one really knows yet what reliability SpaceX can achieved for re-used first stages), one (or more likely one's insurer) probably would spend that extra. If it's Uncle Sam who's just spent $1billion make a new military satellite, $15million is really small beer indeed.

They will get to re-use one of their first stages one of these days, but the money saving isn't as attractive as all that to launch customers (or their insurers). If SpaceX can show that it works "as good as new", which I'm sure they'll manage to do one way or other, then it would become a no-brainer. But just at the moment it'd be a brave customer to bet their own enterprise on a small saving.

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bazza
Silver badge

I'm guessing that they're having trouble convincing a customer to go with it. For various reasons re-using one isn't as cheap as all that, and so the financial incentives for a customer aren't that great compared to taking a brand new one. If they've spent a few $100billion on their satellite, risking it all for the sake of a few million extra for a brand new launcher is almost a no-brainer.

SpaceX may have to launch one or two on test flights to show that it can be done.

The reason re-use isn't as cheap as all that is because SpaceX still have to pay the fixed costs (manpower, supply and support contracts, facilities, heating, cooling, lighting, land, etc) of maintaining the ability to manufacturer new ones. That fixed cost is far more than the price of the materials that get thrown away every time they destroy one. Only if they become massively re-usable can SpaceX economise on those fixed costs.

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Uber is watching your smartphone's battery charge

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Efficency

That's probably what is going on, but that should be the kind of thing the devs assess in debug back in the shop, not live on everyone's phone where it's purpose may be misconstrued (as I did at the top!).

After all, discovering that one's app's power consumption is terrible from live telemetry back from users is bad for business and makes it look like one couldn't be bothered to check it oneself because shipping.

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bazza
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Low Charge Desparation

Of course they're going to charge more money to someone late at night whose mobile is close to switching itself off!

In fact, the more pointless computation the Uber app does the more battery it uses up and the more likely the "customer" is to be desparate to get home.

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Bloke sold cash register code to restaurants that deliberately hid sales from taxmen

bazza
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Re: Reminds me of Petrol Pumps

Sounds very similar to VW's emissions controls software!

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