* Posts by bazza

1922 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

100 million self-driving cars will be sold globally in 2035 – report

bazza
Silver badge

Re: One word for this prediction:

@DougS,

"Driverless cars may not be known to be foolproof, but humans ARE known to NOT be foolproof. "

"Driverless cars will never be foolproof, and people will die at their "hands". Big deal, guess how many people die on the roads worldwide each year?"

Yeah right. Fools have always and will continue to find imaginative ways to kill themselves and possibly others. The problem with autonomous cars is that you are placing your life entirely in the hands of other people - you have no control, no choice whatsoever. So then, how many of those people are fools? How many of them are malicious? Inevitably, a proportion of people involved in your safety are idiots, yet none of them will be involved in the car crash they'll end up causing. Personally speaking I'd rather choose to take responsibility for my own safety as far as is possible, and I definitely wouldn't want to be bored witless behind the 'wheel' of a car I'm not allowed to drive but am somehow required to supervise.

Your statistic of a million a year glosses over many regional differences. The roads in Germany for instance are amongst the safest on the planet, yet they have no automation and impressively high speeds. Go figure.

The problem with automatic cars is that they may reduce the accident rate in the short term, but they're inevitably just one unfortunate software bug away from causing a few billion car crashes in a single day (assuming that there's that many in use). Does that really sound like a good idea? Arguably it's unlikely, but no one would ever consider the outcome to be acceptable under any circumstances. Google can't even get a calendar right on a mobile phone; who says they can get a car right?

Also I note you didn't consider the opportunity for malicious hacking attack. Want to crash someone else's car? Deploy an exploit. Internet connecting these things sounds like a sure fire recipe for trouble on the roads, and you know that given the opportunity someone out there is guaranteed to give it a go. I just hope they're not internet connected, though knowing the US's / Googles propensity for connecting literally everything to the net, I fear the worst.

"Computerized driving is a much lower bar than computerized flying"

Totally and completely wrong. Computerised driving is far harder than computerised flying. An aircraft has a very simple navigational problem to solve (fly from here to here), and obstacle avoidance is easy (fly at this height, pay attention to the TCAS). Whereas the obstacle avoidance part of an automatic car is a really difficult problem. I notice that current auto-cars are mainly currently used in dry sunny places. I'd like to see them work reliably on a horrible stormy, rainy night with lumps of tree and rubbish flying all over the place on a narrow and twisty road in the civilised world. What if a fly squishes over a sensor? Is that obstacle ahead a genuine problem, or is it just a piece of paper blowing in the wind? And a car doesn't even have the luxury of being able to go where it wants; there's a road to identify, follow, and keep to the correct side of to within a couple of feet or so. Planes don't even have to be that precise when landing on a nice and straight runway. And, apart from landing and take off, there's generally loads of time in an airliner to sort out problems. In a car you've got perhaps half a second to respond to a system failure on a busy fast road.

There is a growing feeling in the aviation industry that the reason pilots are making mistakes is because the automatics are doing too much. Pilots these days (depending on which airline) are really just system supervisors, and only rarely do they actually do any flying. It's hardly surprising that when the automatics fail or are unavailable that they make mistakes. Even Airbus acknowledge this, and apparently the upcoming A350 will be less 'automatic' and will require the pilots to actually do some flying.

Sure, you could remove the pilots altogether and go fully automatic, but the crash rate for UAVs is appalling in comparison to manned aircraft. Making that change is, at the moment, guaranteed to lead to a significant increase in fatalities.

3
1
bazza
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: One word for this prediction:

"What a load of utter bollocks."

Yep, I think that about covers it.

Liability

The article (and seemingly the study) touches only briefly on liability. And there is a fatal stumbling block; artifical semi-intelligent systems such as those that drive the current autonomous cars aren't known to be fool proof. We've got a pretty good idea that they work reasonably well, but that's not proof. This is reflected in current law: places where they are legal still require a competent driver to be behind the wheel in a sober condition and paying attention, to take control just in case.

So that leads to three possible future situations.

First, the law doesn't trust the tech and requires the 'passenger' to be able to become the 'driver' at a moments notice. In which case, what's the damned point of the whole thing anyway? If I've got an autonomous car I want it to be able to drive me home pissed as a newt from any watering hole that I choose, but I can't; I have to remain sober and with it. That's the current situation AFAIK. Sooner or later there will be a case where such a car is involved in a bump and all sorts of legal arguments will ensue.

Second, the tech advances to a point where the law and can reasonably trust the tech and pass all liability on to the manufacturers. Clearly we're a long way from that, and I don't think that we'll ever really get there. Not even the aviation industry has managed to wean itself off having two pilots in the front. And their operating environment is much more controlled (i.e. far simpler from an automatic software point of view) than the roads; their attempts so far have been far from reliable in UAVs.

Third, and most distastefully, the manufacturers do a large amount of lobbying and get autonomous vehicles mandated by law, but with the liability for their malfunctions residing with the 'passenger'. The old "you have to have it, but its your fault if it goes wrong" problem. In some countries (the US?) where the legislative system is completely broken and at the mercy of the powerful lobbyists I don't think that you can rule this situation out.

Boredom Threshold, and the Human Inability to Cross it Quickly

Regardless, there is a real danger that the public will fall for the marketing and the blurb and will start trusting the tech. Ok, so we trust car design and manufacturing now, but even though cars are mostly very mechanical at a fundamental level (so no room for complicated software to break) we still can't make Toyotas drive along the motorway at a speed of our choosing all of the time.

Put most people in an autonomous vehicle and they will stop paying attention; it will be just too damned boring. It's bad enough at the moment in normal cars. Expecting someone to intervene at a moments notice when something is going badly wrong quickly after they've gotten used to months of trouble free operation is unrealistic, but failing to do so will (currently) result in the liability resting with them.

Security? Is there any?

And none of that even begins to address the opportunities for the maliciously minded hacker. Google's car is no doubt wirelessly connected via the internet to The Chocolate Factory. How long before someone spots a crazy simple security weakness in that? I mean, has anyone done any penetration testing on these things at all? For all the current drivers know it could be dead easy for some script kiddie on the other side of the planet to hack into their car and send it haywire and cause an accident, just for the kicks. Would you want that happening to your car with you in it?

3
0

Google goes dark for 2 minutes, kills 40% of world's net traffic

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Explanation

@John Brown,

"42".

Well, that might be their answer, but Googling 6x9 reveals a very dull 54.

Clearly they've no sense of humour.

1
0
bazza
Silver badge

Explanation

It will be interesting to see how Google explain this event.

It is difficult to think up reasons for the outage that don't put dents in Google's claims of being reliable enough to trust ones entire business to. After all, if you've trusted your entire business to Google's cloud (Docs, mail, everything) then when Google are down there's nothing you can do; you're not working. There's not even a phone number you can call.

At least if you have your own IT you can go and harry the IT guys.

Companies are very bad at risk management. It always seems that they refuse to consider highly unlikely scenarios that have devastating consequences. For instance how many outfits are there that have all their IT in a cloud and have an effective Plan B in their sleeve just in case? Companies like Google are highly unlikely to go off line completely for a long stretch, but if all your IT is Googlised and they do vanish for a few days, your business is guaranteed to be in deep trouble.

So what exactly would a good Plan B be? There's no easy way to start using another cloud because there is no way to do a bulk export of everything (docs, calendars, contacts, sheets and mail, etc) that you can bulk import into another cloud. In fact such a thing would be the very last thing that Google, Microsoft, etc. would want to give you. I know that you can get at the data piecemeal, but file by file and user by user exports and imports is no way to perform disaster recovery.

Synchronising a cloud with your own IT is more like it, but surely the whole point of a cloud is to avoid having your own IT. Such synchronisation is available only because the cloud providers offer it as a way to get going with a cloud; I don't expect that it will be something that will work reliably and well forever.

And if you're going to have your own IT then what exactly is the cloud for anyway? Backup?

To me and presumably anyone else that cares about coping with the ultimate What-If problems clouds just don't meet the requirements. However, with the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Google trying very hard to push their customers onto their respective clouds and a large be action of those customers being happy (or stupid) enough to go along with that, what choice will there be for those that want to do things on their own IT?

Clouds also bring big national risks. Say Google got to the position where 50% of American companies were wholly dependent on Google's cloud for their docs, sheets, contacts databases, etc. That would mean that 50% of the US economy is just one single hack attack away from difficulty and possibly disaster. Is that a healthy position for a national economy to be in? Isn't that a huge big juicy target for a belligerent foe, be they an individual or nation state? After all, Google's networks have been penetrated before (they blamed the Chinese as it happens); why not again?

11
1

Microsoft warns of post-April zero day hack bonanza on Windows XP

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Left hand, meet right hand @shawnfromnh

Linux is in no way an adequate desktop replacement, free office suite or not. If it were, everybody would be using it. But they're not.

Also as a hard working chap who finds many features of MS Office (eg Outlook) totally unimplemented in the open source world I would find it very hard to consider the combination of Libre Office and Evolution and everything else to be an "Office Suite". It's very unfortunate (I like Linux) but it has too many problems and omissions to be able to even begin to supplant Windows + MS office. Not even Apple have managed to slay that dragon, and they've been trying really hard.

And who cares how long it takes to install an OS? It's not as if you do that on your desktop every day. IT admits don't do it very often either, they just roll out some pre built image complete with required apps.

7
12

Android detective explains Bitcoin borkage breadcrumbs

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Random numbers

Shake a device to get randomness? That'll be not very good, especially if the user is told to shake the phone for that purpose...

0
0

BlackBerry pie sliced up: Nuke-plant OS, BBM chat app, etc sale mulled

bazza
Silver badge
Meh

Hmmm, your ignorance is unfortunately for BlackBerry too commonly found amongst the supposed experts of mobile computing. I'm not suggesting that you should know better, but there are plenty of people out there who should do more research when designing and choosing technology.

Currently BlackBerry offer the world's only mobile specific OS for smart phones with a functional, usable and DoD approved multi level security system which ought to be everybody's dream solution to the BYOD problem, as well as the best mobile messaging infrastructure out.

If you don't know what a multi level security system is nor why corporate users would want one then you're going to be happy with iOS, Android or WinPhone. If you do know what one is then iOS, WinPhone and particularly Android look really badly thought out from a security-usability-combo point of view. There is some tinkering around with crude MLS on the other OSes, but nothing as complete or as usable as BlackBerry's setup is on the cards.

When BB said they were intending on focusing on the corporate market, they weren't kidding. BB10's Balance is aimed fair and square right at the eyes of the big corporate IT admin. BB's problem is that either the IT admin is a dunce and doesn't know what a multi level security system can do for their company. Or they're overruled higher up by senior management anxious to pander to staff demands for company iPhones, Android's, etc, and data security be dammed.

Android in particular seems to be a terrible choice from a security point of view. Even if the OS's own security is improving all it takes is for one user in a company to root their own device and install something ill-advised and their employer could lose some business-killing info. And who would ever know anything about how it leaked out? The farce over ineffective signing of APK files on Android, a problem that will persist in the user base for years to come, is a classic.

WinPhone and iOS are better written than Android, but their design is such that they're only secure if the user is prevented from using all the fun stuff. So they'll still have to carry two phones. BB10 offers a way in which you can have fun and security at the same time. But they're trying to sell it to a world where even most companies seem to care only about the fun; not good for BB in the short term, probably not good for companies in the long run.

From a point of view of what would the best outcome for the whole of mobile computing, I think that the addition of a BB Balance style multi level security system to iOS would be best. It's probably not too bad a job - they're both based on POSIX underneath the glitz. Android is a real security nightmare (updates? What updates?), and WinPhone is so far removed from POSIX it would be a difficult porting job. That leaves iOS as the best home for the best bits of BB10.

5
1

Admins warned: Drill SSL knowledge into your Chrome users

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Useless certificate system

@El Andy,

Enhanced Verification Certificates might mean that some meat bag has done something slightly more than usual to check an ID, but all the same commercial pressures exist to reduce their worth. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before one of those gets abused.

I think that the only way to really ensure that a certificate system is good is if the commercial interests surrounding them are taken out of the equation, and actual real hard information (eg perhaps a street address for the websites owners) is encoded in them, and that a CA actually goes and checks out that address regularly. Unfortunately that starts sounding very governmental and expensive, which is bound not to work universally worldwide.

0
0
bazza
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Useless certificate system

@Andy Prough,

They used smoke signal relay points? Yes, that would certainly allow a man in the middle attack.

Anyone up for writing an RFC for SmokeIP?

1
0
bazza
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Useless certificate system

I'm intrigued - how do you mount a man in the middle attack on smoke signals?!

2
0
bazza
Silver badge

Re: Chrome...

" would be the browser that insists on its sandbox process running as root on linux."

Er, I think you have that wrong (though I'm prepared to be corrected). According to the various web pages I've read it runs the sandbox in a chroot, which is definitely not the same as running as root. I've not seen any reference elsewhere to it running as root.

1
0
bazza
Silver badge

Useless certificate system

Given the apparent ease with which you can get a certificate in the first place, the system seems to be pretty useless anyway. With all those certificate authorities out there how is an individual supposed to know which ones to trust? A list built in to your website browser is ok, but then you've only got their word for it.

Effectively all the system does at best is tell you that some outfit out there that your browser developer has heard off has some sort if vague knowledge of where to find some other guy (probably just an email address; like they're a strong identity...) whose website it is that you're visiting. Even then that doesn't mean that the website is actually trustworthy or unhacked, and these days is anyway likely to be attempting to gather as much data about you as possible for their own commercial gain. And then there's the sites that reuse the same tech but isn't part of the certificates system at all that you really do want to visit (eg your own router), and the sites that you do know about which have forgotten to renew their certificates, meaning you've got to bypass the system anyway with one or more mouse clicks.

The Internet does not have a good means of establishing identity. The technology is probably as good as we can make it, but the system is badly run by the meat bags that inhabit the system who are themselves out to make as much money as possible for the least amount of work.

Anyone got a better idea?

11
0

Xerox copier flaw changes numbers in scanned docs

bazza
Silver badge
FAIL

Use Case Fail

Given that most photocopiers get used for copying nothing but text containing documents, it is surprising that Xerox saw fit to choose such a stingy default setting. That is pretty poor judgement on their part.

How on earth did the person writing that manual ever think that such a characteristic would be even remotely acceptable to any end user? The phrase "It's a photocopier" should have been foremost in their mind. In trading off between accurate copying and some crazy features that almost no one ever uses, how did the latter ever come to be considered more important than the former?

If that isn't a sign of company that's lost the plot, I don't know what else is.

6
1

Sad shop-shelf-clinging BlackBerry Z10 AXED ... in price, contracts

bazza
Silver badge

Re: No sympathy

Er, I don't think anyone here remembers MS having a large market share in the mobile market...

As for resting on their laurels, well yes BB did a bit. Just like Apple are doing now, and Google/Samsung now. The Android world in particular is becoming ridiculous; I don't call a 5inch screen on a phone 'innovative', that's just a crummy small tablet. And a retina display isn't innovative, that's just over engineering something; it doesn't actually make a device do anything better as a phone / phablet. It just means that you've got less time to read whatever is on the display before the battery goes flat.

BB have done a clever job of working out how to make a phone work as a helpful device for busy people, and their Hub and Balance are unmatched by everyone else. That's good engineering innovation. Everyone else has worked out how to sell over engineered, under performing and cumbersome devices to gullible Sheeple whilst ripping off their privacy in order to earn a bunch more dollars from advertising revenue. That's good business innovation, and has very little to do with the best interests of the end user or engineering prowess.

1
2
bazza
Silver badge

Is that price right?

£736? I don't remember them costing that much SIM free even when they were brand new... I remember that you could get one for £530ish from the likes of Phones4U...

0
0

Bad timing: New HTML5 trickery lets hackers silently spy on browsers

bazza
Silver badge

Inevitable?

There's an obvious problem here. Security researchers tend not to be browser developers. Browser developers tend not to be security researchers. Browser developers implement security critical software.... see what I mean?

Solving this problem is going to be difficult. Either:

  • make every operation take the same amount of time
  • Randomise the time taken, which will hit performance and would be vulnerable to attack anyway (how good are random number generators anyway?)
  • forget the whole thing altogether
. What's it going to be?

0
1

Ultimate Radio Deathmatch: US Navy missile-defence radar vs 4G mobile mast

bazza
Silver badge

Proper radio wars

RV Jones wrote a good book ("Most Secret War") about radio wars in World War 2. Much more exciting than a radar vs cell network.

One of the funniest parts concerns the air surveillance radar British had on Malta vs the large jammer the Germans deployed to ruin it. The Germany jammer was highly effective, completely ruined the radar's picture. But the British just left the radar running and this puzzled the Germans, who eventually concluded that their jammer had to be useless and switched it off and didn't try it again.

RV Jones had the pleasure of explaining this to the German commander responsible after the war...

2
0

Samsung overtakes Apple as most profitable global handset maker

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Memories of Eaton's...

Apple have always been like that. They come up with a new thing, saying 'Hey, look what this can do!'. They aren't bad at making it dead simple for almost anybody to buy and use the thing straight out if the box, no need to plough through a million settings first, etc etc. They are also quite good at then keeping the pattern the same for future incarnations of the thing so as to retain their customer base, encourage upgrades, etc.

That's their model, and it works quite well for them. They don't need to offer an 'expert-do-what-you-want mode' to attract more market share. Anyway there's not really that many experts out there to be worthwhile chasing. They've also learnt that failing to innovate will kill them, as it almost did in the 1990's.

To me Android (from a purely commercial point of view) is totally weird. Google do all the work, Samsung make all the money. That's just nuts. In fact the amount of money Google isn't making from Android is crazy, especially when you look at all the de-Googlised versions that have flooded the biggest market in the world (China). The return on Google's investment is mostly going into other people's pockets.

And then the fragmentation of the Android world is an appalling mess. Ok, so as a consumer you can avoid it by buying a Samsung or a Nexus, but for applications developers it's a disappointment. Fortunately Samsung and Nexus adds up to a big enough market for applications developers to bother with, but they're not making as much as they might have. Another down side is that Google didn't make it hard to pirate software, so the developers get mightily ripped off. The pirates are even making money by selling ripped off APKs on the BlackBerry app store. Nor did Google come up with a way for bug fixes to make their way onto deployed handsets in an efficient manner.

So given all that, I have to humbly disagree with you on iPhone not being a smart phone. To anyone who cares about these wider issues (and security too) 'Smart' means much more than some cool technology (which Android is admittedly very good at), and they buy BlackBerries, WinPhones and iPhones depending on their requirements.

However, most people don't care about these things at all, which is why Android sells so well. And Google make just enough money to pull the wool over their shareholders' eyes, but really their poor strategy means they're missing out on a far larger fortune.

5
4

SkyDrive on par with C: Drive in Windows 8.1

bazza
Silver badge

Re: ?

@AC 06:40GMT,

"Not techies, but the sort of people who realise they need backup of some sort."

Saving to any single default location does not a backup make, even in the Cloud...

Besides, it just shifts the problem; Instead of relying on the dubious nature of spinning rust or forgetful Flash, SkyDrive users depend on the doubtful qualities of their ISP.

Microsoft are going to have to think carefully from now on. They're rapidly turning Windows desktop into an "OS for Dummies". There's a lot of Windows users out there who are very far from being Dummies, who are seemingly being forgotten about by MS. Those users might just bugger off somewhere else.

19
1

Surface RT: A plan worthy of the South Park Underpants Gnomes

bazza
Silver badge

@Charlie Clark,

"The hardware wasn't the problem, the artificial restriction on using existing apps was. Some kind of support for x86 binaries would have made the whole thing a very different value proposition..."

I'm not sure that x86 binaries were ever going to run in an emulation layer on ARM. The diminutive CPU from Cambridge isn't really going to do a good job of running x86 code very quickly.

I know Apple emulated 68000 on PowerPC, and emulated PowerPC on Intel. But in those cases the CPU change was to one with a lot more grunt, so the emulation (compared to the original native execution at least) had reasonable performance. The same can't be said of x86 emulated on ARM. Also everyone's being using ARMs in battery powered devices, and emulation ain't exactly kind to battery life.

However, I don't think any of that really mattered, or matters today. Microsoft showed a full fat version of Windows running on ARM with a compiled-for-ARM version of Office printing quite happily to an Epson printer (see this PC Pro magazine article). The implication is that MS did the minimum of hardware abstraction, compiled up the whole Windows, Office and driver stack using an ARM compiler, switched it on an surprise surprise it worked. The same would have gone for existing apps - just recompile the source code, do some lightweight testing, ship it (at least MS would have been able to have made it that slick and quick).

What confuses me is how on earth did MS go from that very promising start to the mess they're in now? If only they'd done a tablet that was primarily a full desktop PC (just add keyboard/mouse) with a tablet-interface-when-mobile mode it could easily have been very desirable.

6
2

Microsoft's earnings down on slow Windows sales, Surface RT bust

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Hiding corpses...

It certainly smells like an attempt to obfuscate the numbers, but it won't work. Shareholders aren't thick, they can add up the numbers themselves to see how the company as a whole has performed and compare that year on year.

I reckon the PC market downturn is due to Windows 8, not the other way round. People I know are sticking with what they've got rather than 'upgrade' to 8.

We all know that MS's strategy of putting everything online and grasping control with an app store just isn't working - that's what these figures show. And if it's not working you have to change something. The fact that they're not doing that (call that a Start Menu, 8.1?) smells awfully like someone (Balmer) attempting to keep their pride, which will probably end up costing MS shareholders a load of money.

Microsoft need to learn that change is something you bring in sloooooowly, and the best thing they could do right now is to give their customers the option of having 8 look and work like just like 7 did. Balmer will get turfed out, and his replacement will do just that and end up looking like a corporate hero. The only reason he hasn't been turfed out is because investors are convinced that 'Cloud' and such like are essential. However I'm convinced that it will turn out to be just another tech bubble.

There's also the issue with changes in laws. Here in the civilised world data protection regulators are getting increasingly worried about the extent to which Clouds allow companies to exploit an individual's private data. If they pass laws preventing that then the commercial rationale for offering punters Cloudy services vanishes, and so too will the Clouds themselves.

Oh, and to shift all those unsold Surfaces, they could do worse than opening them up, let us install other OSes on to them. At least that way there would be a reason for someone to buy the dammed things.

11
0

Worldwide smartwatch shipments predicted to top 5 million next year

bazza
Silver badge

Smart watch? What on earth for?

Most people with smart phones don't use the calendar, sync contacts, etc. etc. That's the reason that the PDA market never really grew very much, only a few dedicated hardcore users were ever motivated to get the most out of the functionality on offer.

No one is ever going to use a smart watch for watching movies, web browsing or playing games (where's the battery life going to come from????? How big is this watch going to be?!?!). So at best it's going to be a PDA on a wrist, only probably not as useful as a PDA.

Will it be a market dud? Well, a lot of people have bought a lot of questionably expensive Apple hardware for no reason other than the logo. I wouldn't be surprised if they sell a big load of them over a short period of time.

5
0

Analyst: Tests showing Intel smartphones beating ARM were rigged

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Dev[e|i]l's advocate....

@David D Hagood,

"On the one hand, it's a shame that Intel won't donate the algorithms they use to make ICC better than GCC back to GCC, but on the other hand, since that very well might benefit all of Intel's competitors, I can see why they don't."

Intel sell ICC for profit, whereas GCC is free. I doubt Intel would want to kill their own market. However, the algorithms that make ICC-compiled code quick(er) on x86 aren't likely to be re-usable on non-x86 platforms. If Intel wanted to boost their chip sales by giving everyone a free compiler that made for better performance they'd just start giving icc away; far easier than integrating it's IPR into gcc.

I'm wondering if auto-parallelisation is playing a role here. ICC and GCC (since 4.3) both do it, but certainly it's something that Intel promote; most GCC users I speak to have never heard of it.

0
0

Ubuntu 13.10 to ship with Mir instead of X

bazza
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: BULL!

@David Hagood,

Thanks, I didn't know that; clearly I am a bit behind on the latest!

0
0
bazza
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: BULL!

It's not even as if Mir is going to solve the problem of API versions either. Every API that evolves is going to end up with different versions all the problems inherent with that.

I just wish someone would make X do sound, other input mechanisms (e.g. touch) and print. That'd be pretty useful.

2
0

Human error blamed for toxic Russian rocket explosion

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Big Bang Expletives

"By St. Cyril of great blue testicles, someone will pay for it!"

Or is Google Translate being overly modest?!

2
0

Radar gremlins GROUND FLIGHTS across southern Blighty

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Good

"I work extremely close to heathrow and it is remarkable how quiet the aircraft are nowadays."

From what I've read it seems that planes landing are now the bigger noise problem, not planes taking off.

Quiet engines, steep ascents, throttling back at the right moment so as to be able to tip-toe away have made take-offs much quieter than they used to be.

But when landing aircraft are still coming in on a straight line, in a shallow glide, shedding speed as they go (which makes a ton of noise) and they're going slowly anyway. It means they can't fly around noise sensitive areas like they can on take off, they're low, and they they take ages to pass overhead. Sorting those problems out will take a lot of thinking.

3
1

Star Wars missile intercept fails for fifth year running

bazza
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Never failed....

+1,000,000 for the Sir Humphrey icon.

Do I actually get 1,000,000 votes? I do? Why, thank you!

2
0

Chin up, Intel heads - you can still lop legs off ARM's data-centre dash

bazza
Silver badge

Intel's has one ultimate problem: the X86 instruction set takes too many transistors to implement.

Everything about the modern X86/X64 architectures from both AMD and Intel shows just how clunky the instruction set is. The pipelines, instruction decoders, branch predictors and caches that are needed to make x86 perform well take an enormous number of transistors. Both Intel and AMD have done really well to make it work as well as it does, but the efficiency is low.

Whereas the ARM instruction set is far simpler to implement to perform well. Memory, modest cache, simple pipeline, CPU core, job done. That means less transistors, which means less power, etc. etc. The only reason Intel are still 'ahead' is because they're so good at making transistors, disguising their architecture's profligate use of them.

So as soon as Intel lose that silicon processing edge, they're doomed. ARMs can nip in and perform just a little bit better, and that's the server market gone ARMwards. There's not a lot they can do about that. The world didn't like Itanium. I doubt there's room for yet another CPU architecture. They could build their own ARM based CPUs, and they'd likely be the very best that you could buy.

For those of you muttering about MS being left behind - don't forget that at some tech shows some years back they showed desktop Windows working on an ARM board running Office and printing. If that's where they could get to with an experimental Alpha build then I don't suppose that porting Windows server is going to be that hard. Probably the biggest portion of the job is verification & testing.

3
0

BlackBerry introduces iOS and Android to Work Space

bazza
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Interesting...

"At this point, there are plenty of companies who allow their employees to access intranet sites with username and password, as well as Exchange E-mail accounts without using any BES Server.

Well yes, except that giving a user unfettered access to company Exchange servers is just asking for sensitive company data to find its way out, nasty stuff to find its way in, and is generally perceived to be a Bad Idea (if the company cares about its data). Imagine a jail broken Android mobile stuffed to the gunwales with malware connecting to your company's servers - sounds like a bad idea don't you think? How do you prevent the company's entire CRM contact list being nicked by a piece of nosey malware?

What BlackBerry are offering is a means for the company sys admin to have some control over user devices to protect their company's data. Think of it as being like a Domain Controller, but for mobiles. BlackBerry are betting on companies wanting that sort of reassurance, just like they did for desktops.

I suspect that it's quite common for companies to not care that much and, as you point out, just let their users connect anyway. Thing is, with that sort of approach there is no problem at all right up until that crucial piece of company data gets swiped. At that point the company's opinion as to whether their security measures are adequate may now be irrelevant, because they may be about to fold. They can then contemplate the meaning of 'hindsight' at leisure...

And to reinforce the point - how many security snafus have happened right after some sys admin said "Nah, it'll never happen to us...".

1
0

PlayStation 4 is FreeBSD inside

bazza
Silver badge

"More to do with missing functionality than anything interesting."

Or just less bloated...

4
0

Ferocious fungus imperils future of British gin and tonic

bazza
Silver badge
Mushroom

Nah, use him long before that. Just put him within 300 yards of an infected bush and have him bellow, "Bugger off!". It'll certainly kill the fungus, but it may also finish off the bush.

It's kill or cure, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Just make sure you're more than a mile away at the time.

0
0

AMD announces 'world's first commercially available 5GHz CPU'

bazza
Silver badge
Happy

Memory system

I hope they've done something to the memory subsystem to make all those GHz worthwhile... If so I'm joining the queue!

0
0

Boffins develop 'practically free' sulphur-powered batteries

bazza
Silver badge
Mushroom

Er, Wow!

x10ish battery capacity using cheap materials? That's pretty good, and deserves an icon at least.

<--- This one seems appropriate!

13
0

Who did Apple LIE TO: Australia or America?

bazza
Silver badge

Over cooking the tax avoidance schemes

Indeed, governments worldwide have been really slow to react to how big global corporations are running rings round their tax departments. Not good at all.

However, one thing that politicians are good at is getting angry. The more votes there are in getting angry the angrier they will get. And the angrier they get the more reactionary and swingeing their acts will become. And they'll quite happily stoke up the public mood even further so that they can step up their own anger-act.

At the moment there seems to be a global wave of consumer annoyance at large firms paying no real tax. Politicians are pretty sensitive to this sort of public mood, and sooner or later they're going to start getting really angry on our behalf and start passing penal tax laws. Then all it takes is for a few of the world's monetary politicians to have a quiet chat about coordinated action at the next G8/22/xx and a bit of dutch courage, and then the money could find itself with no place left to hide.

The big corporations are in a bit of a bind. They're more or less obliged by their shareholders to pay as little tax as is deviously possible. However, by tweaking the political tiger's tail like this (especially at the moment) they're risking provoking a global political backlash which could turn out to be veeeeery expensive indeed.

However, if they were to stop what they're doing that would only highlight the fact that they've been taking the piss all this time. But it's probably better to stop doing it before the politicians finally get their arses in gear. Hell, it might even improve sales, so long as it doesn't look too cynical.

Thing is if there is a global tax grab against these major corporations that are hoarding cash out of site one has to stop and consider who loses out. Answer? The shareholders. And they, lest we forget, are quite often our pension plans...

The thing is that cash locked up abroad is of no actual use to the shareholders at all who, in the absence of a decent dividend, have to make do with rising share prices whilst hoping the bubble doesn't burst. And if the money was repatriated, and tax paid, that lessens the tax burden on the individual right now.

Of course, all the above could be just naïve claptrap, but that doesn't mean to say that the general public won't be thinking along similar lines. People looking at their small and decreasing pay packets will sooner or later start wondering why they're pouring money into foreign firms that don't otherwise contribute to their country.

2
0

Google whips the sheet off new Gmail interface

bazza
Silver badge
Mushroom

Web Apps Suck

'Nuff said.

Actually no, not enough said. Not all web apps are completely broken and rubbish. But none of them are as good to use as a decent native app for any platform, mobile or desktop. Writing a Web App because it's "Write once run anywhere" still seems ludicrously optimistic... Plugins may or may not help Web Apps work better, but using one sort of defeats the point doesn't it? And as for Google's NaCl, that's just a bad joke isn't it?

0
0

Stop the Microsoft, Skype wedding, screams enraged Cisco in court

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Anti-Competitive? Is there anything to discuss there?

Not just Microsoft, almost any company with shareholders. A company's board of directors is obliged to maximize profit for the shareholders. That means getting away with as much as possible (as big a monopoly as is possible, the lowest amount of tax, the hardest deals with suppliers, the cheapest wages in the cheapest manufacturing facility, etc).

If a board of directors comes across all lovey-dovey towards their competitors their company will get torn to shreds and they'll get sued to bits by their shareholders. If you want things to improve you'll have to get your government to intervene in the market and pass a few laws. Good luck with that in the US.

Yet such government intervention does work. In the US the mobile phone standards were left up to companies to decide, hence CDMA and CDMA2000 and the almost complete inability to put a handset from one network operator on another network, never mind using it in another country. In Europe the laws said otherwise; its GSM or UMTS or nothing, and the result is a world wide adoption of GSM and UMTS. It's worked so well that even the US has decided to go along with LTE for 4G.

So if we the consumers want a standard we have to persuade the politicians to act. Thing is i reckon most people don't give a damn. Google is 'free', so is Skype, Outlook.com, iCloud. No one complains if something is free (until they discover that they're locked in, and then it seems most people just shrug their shoulders and get back to worrying where the next wage packet is coming from). Plus a lot of people seem to actively enjoy the tribalism of being an iPhone or Android user (bit like being a Spurs or Arsenal supporter), so I don't anticipate a mass protest just yet.

0
0

Rogue Nokia splinter cell drops its Jolla phone A-BOMB

bazza
Silver badge

Hmmm, are you sure? It depends on how big they are and how much they've sunk into the hardware side of things. Mind you, the phone hardware world is coalescing on them all being pretty much the same, so building any decent quality hardware is probably more of a marketing choice rather than an engineering challenge.

If they're small (=cheap), enthusiastic and talented and get the balance of the software just right so as to appeal to the talented enthusiast pro or amateur they could (in their terms) do very nicely indeed. You don't have to become Apple big if your investors aren't expecting or demanding that. The problem with being Apple-sized is that its way too easy to shrink by frightening amounts, just like is happening to Apple now.

6
0
bazza
Silver badge

I like the Z10, I have one. If you want to write one's own software its a fairly good place to be.

0
1

ScaleMP: Use RAM plus vSMP, not flash, to boost server performance

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Latency, it's all about latency

@Michael Wilkinson,

Yes, it certainly is all about the latency.

The computing industry hadn't really done much to solve the problem of slooooow memory for many years; well, forever really. Everything we've got (caches, DDR, QPI, Hypertransport, this idea from ScaleMP, Flash disk caches, etc) are all about working round the problem of memory being too small, and too slow for the CPUs we have. It is a massively difficult problem to solve, and it doesn't look it will be solved any time soon.

I program along the lines of Communicating Sequential Processes - forces me to get the scalability built in straight away, but takes a lot of thinking up front. Worth it in the end.

0
0
bazza
Silver badge

Re: Still pugging something

"that nobody really wants."

Hmmm, I don't think you've read the article properly, nor do I think you understand programmers either.

If you look at what's been going on in CPU design over the last 15 years you can clearly see that the CPU manufacturers have concluded that the vast majority of programmers are not prepared to confront the un-scalability of the software they right.

What Happened When Someone Built a Pure NUMA CPU

For example, the Cell processor in the PS3 is perhaps the ultimate physical expression of the benefits of properly embracing NUMA in your software. The Cell doesn't give you the option - it's maths cores (the SPEs) are unable to directly address each other's memory - pure NUMA. This obliges the programmer to write software that is wholly NUMA aware. If you do that and know what you're doing you can get performance that even today Intel's biggest chips are only just challenging.

Hiding NUMA from the programmer

Whereas Intel, when they finally went NUMA, hid that from the programmer by making QPI synthesise an SMP environment. It took a lot of silicon, and their design panders to the 'average' use case of one machine running several different programs and needing good performance for each of them.

Which Design Strategy Sold Best?

Now, any kind of market analysis will show that Intel got it right, and the IBM, Sony and Toshiba got it wrong. Sure, Sony put the Cell in the PS3 and have sold a bundle of those, but the number of programmers who can fully exploit the CPU is really very low. IBM realised that too, which is why they dropped it a few years back. Much to my great annoyance in the world of high capacity mass-parallelism signal processing where such architectures are very familiar and exciting.

So?

So what does that analysis tell you? It tells us that programmers, mostly, cannot / do not / aren't allowed to spend time and effort properly architecting their code for true scalability.

So lets carefully analyse of what ScaleMP have actually done with their hypervisor. In effect they've done an Intel. Intel, for multi-socket boxes, have a bunch of cores connected on a network (the QPI) that allows any of them to access any memory anywhere else as if it were a true SMP system. All that ScaleMP have done is written a hypervisor that, if you squint only a little bit, provides a bunch of virtual cores connected on a network (the Infiniband) that allows any of them to access any memory anywhere else, as if it were a true SMP system.

Given that, and the clearly continued success of SMP (synthesised or not) in the modern NUMA world, how can you say "that nobody really wants" it. I think ScaleMP will do quite well once system developers realise what it is.

2
0

BlackBerry 10 passes US defence department tests

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Did it pass in the UK?

Apparently not yet...

0
0
bazza
Silver badge

Probably not. It's all BlackBerry hardware, and the OS (BB10) has already been approved. Any additional examination is likely to be quite minor and incremental.

Apple, MS and BlackBerry are in a reasonably good place for maintaining an active listing on this list. MS has a hardware spec that goes along with WP8, so as long as the handset manufacturers stay within that (ie don't add a port labelled Debug Here And Slurp All The Data, or something) then it should be relatively easy to keep WP8 approved (assuming . Apple and BlackBerry control their hardware anyway and so are in a good place.

However Android is in a bad place; each handset manufacturer is effectively its own OS provider, Google don't provide them with pre built binaries. Samsung might get Android version X.Y.Z certified on their hardware, but that probably won't read across to a HTC handset running the 'same' version.

0
0
bazza
Silver badge

Re: Imperative

Submitted not equal to passed...

5
2
bazza
Silver badge

interesting list

The UC APL list is quite interesting. There's 4 Androids, only one of which is Android 4. There's a couple of Apples, but only iOS 5. BlackBerry's entries are BB6 and BB7, and any device that runs it. And now BlackBerry have BB10 on there too (or will do as soon as anyone updates the website).

So of all the vendors only BlackBerry have their latest products and software approved. Not a bad position to be in.

5
0

Apple to end support for original iPhone: report

bazza
Silver badge
Unhappy

Ironically, web apps are now making something of an HTML-5-and-4G-networks-fuelled comeback, as those two innovations make it possible to deliver an experience far closer to that of a native app than was possible in the far-off days of 2007."

Maybe, but at what cost in power consumption? I like good battery life.

0
0

AMD reveals potent parallel processing breakthrough

bazza
Silver badge
Happy

Re: What was UMA architecture then?

In their current APUs the GPU doesn't interact with memory in the same way as the CPU does. That's in spite of the fact that they're on the same die and ultimately share the same DDR3 memory bus. In that's sense the arrangements are slightly Non Uniform, and you have to copy data in order to get it from one realm to another.

This new idea means that the GPU and CPU interact with memory in exactly the same way, and that makes a big difference. Software is simpler because a pointer in a program in the CPU doesn't need to be converted for the GPU to be able to use it. That helps developers. More importantly the "GPU job setup time" is effectively zero because no data has to be copied in or out first. That speeds up the overall job time.

I like it!

4
0

Apple's next OS X said to be targeted at 'power users'

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Could really poke a finger in Microsoft's eye...

"That would give Apple a leg up on Microsoft on a few fronts."

You're a bit behind the times, aren't you!? The whole entire ethos, reson d'etre, and point of Microsoft's Win8 strategy is that apps are the same(ish) on mobile, tablet and desktop/laptop. AFAIK the source code for a Metro app will (by and large) compile up and run on all of those platforms and interact with the user in the same way. Who needs binary compatibility when you've got source code compatibility?

Regardless of how well MS have actually managed to pull this off, if anything is to be said about who has got a leg up on who in this regard then you'd have to conclude that MS are well ahead of Apple.

Having said that, I personally (and seemingly many others) think that MS's strategy (and by extension your suggestion about running iOS apps on OS X) is not really workable. Tablet and mobile are totally different to desktop and laptop. Judging by my own experience and that of everyone I know who has tried, Win 8 is not for the heavy duty content creator, worker, programmer, etc. I've not tried it on a tablet / mobile in earnest, but I could see it working quite well there.

Of course, that doesn't mean to say that Apple won't do it, but I can't see it becoming a main stream way to produce and consume apps on an Apple desktop.

1
1

Outsourced space trucks battle for US middleweight lifting title

bazza
Silver badge

Re: Brits complaining about space?

"Isn't that a bit rich considering you can barely put a lego figure on a balloon?"

Ultimately there's not much money to be made by having a launch vehicle. Even the North Koreans can build one of those. So the commercial launch market is basically one of high costs and low margins in the long run.

However the satellites are much more difficult to make properly, and the real money is to be made from building them. We've got very good at those and the country has made a bundle of cash that way.

Same in the aero industry. The difficult bits of aircraft are engines, wings and avionics. The rest of it is basic metal bashing and/or variations on pâpier maché. And guess what? Rolls Royce has a hugely profitable order book, Airbus make their wings here and a lot of avionics comes from the UK too. That's cash in the bank, and it's not straight forward for a new competitor to emerge.

Mclaren have a nice order book for the MP12-4C, but they could end up making far more money from licensing their carbon fibre manufacturing technique. They now make a single piece hollow section carbon fibre chassis in 4 man hours. AFAIK everyone else, including the aviation industry, can't do hollow sections easily and take a lot longer.

Having said that we're spectacularly capable of sitting back and resting on our laurels and getting caught out by someone else who's invested and innovated.

1
0
bazza
Silver badge

Re: American jobs

"Actually didn't the Italians manufacture a fair amount of the ISS?)"

And the Russians, and Canada and other Europeans. The 'I' in ISS does stand for International...

3
0

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017