* Posts by bazza

1951 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

Three million Adobe accounts hacked? Sorry, make that 38 MILLION

bazza
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Re: What's in a zero anyways?

The first rule of cloud club is, don't get hacked.

The second rule of cloud club is, really don't get hacked.

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The last rule of cloud club is, if you do get hacked don't ever tell anyone. Except when it's that bad...

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Z30: The classiest BlackBerry mobe ever ... and possibly the last

bazza
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Re: Here we go again...

"It's aimed at RICH grown-ups. I don't know anyone who would spend that kind of money on a mobile and if I did, I'd have to say they were fucking lunatics."

Are you suggesting that people who spend that much on an iPhone or Samsung are lunatics too?

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Finally! How to make Android USABLE: Install BlackBerry OS 10.2

bazza
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Re: BB's saviour?

No, Google don't need to make direct money from Android, not so long as their shareholders haven't figured out where it's all going.

Google made $10billion in 2012, not bad for an ad broker. However Samsung are making more like $30billion. A very big chunk of that $30billion is courtesy of Android, yet it isn't in Google's shareholders' pockets. Samsung galaxy wouldn't be doing anything like that much business without Android. How long before Google's shareholders start wanting a slice of that pie?

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bazza
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Re: BB's saviour?

@ Steve Davies 3,

"Release a build that can be installed on say, Samsung Android phones and still let the user have full access to Android apps."

Er, you do know this is an article about the BlackBerry operating system, not about the recent BBM port to Android and iOS?

From what I understand of BB's architecture there's hardware features in BB's phones that support the operating system's security model. Without those hardware features the phone wouldn't be as secure. Porting BB10 to a Samsung might not be possible without ruining the security model.

BB have offered manufacturers BB10 under license, but so far there's been no takers. Understandable - Android is effectively 'free' and clearly good enough to attract a healthy market. BB10 wouldn't be free.

On the topic of money, I think it's astonishing how much money Google aren't making out of Android. They do all the work, but it seems that Samsung are the guys making all the money. Google clearly do make some money, but they're effectively missing out one many gigadollars that are being banked by Samsung.

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bazza
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Installed it...

...and I like it :-)

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Please, PLEASE, Skype... Don't kill our apps and headsets, plead devs

bazza
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Re: 1 out of 3 aint bad.

"The reaction and participation on the petition - or rather the distinct lack there-of - is a pretty good indicator of the impact and importance of this API. The internet says "meh"."

Except that most end users won't have a clue what all this means until they discover that the Skype peripheral they got given for Christmas last year stops working before this Christmas.

Ok, so perhaps there's not that many people out there who are going to care or even notice, but it is crap of MS to do this. The API was well established, used by quite a wide variety of hardware and software, wasn't doing any harm, and wouldn't have taken any effort to leave it in Skype alongside whatever new API MS want to introduce.

Gaining traction and market share in communications is a key business goal for MS, and they're not in an unassailable position. Skype is not the whole of the mobile comms market. Doing something that pisses off even a small portion of the customer base would seem to be a stupid thing to do.

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bazza
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They weren't kidding...

"They believe the HTML-based Skype URI interface lacks the rich functionality needed to build decent third-party services and products for Skype."

And they're right. Looks like all the URI interface allows you to do is start up Skype in one way or another, not access the audio/video data streams themselves. That's a severe curtailment of functionality!

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Lenovo sniffing BlackBerry's laundry, may purchase: report

bazza
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Unintended Consequences

"Then there's the mobile messaging business BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has said is BlackBerry's fallback position, although whether the world is ready to have its supposedly secure messages tended by a Chinese concern is another matter."

Lenovo buying BlackBerry risks them encountering the same sort of problems as Huawei. And for those users who really want BlackBerry secure messaging (Governments, banks) they might suddenly find that they can't use it anymore. What price does one pay then?

It's another example of something necessary and important for the few is supplied by the mass market, but then the market moves on leaving them stranded with few real options. With everything beginning to focus on the consumer, the tools used by the providers are going to become unique and expensive, or possibly non existent. For example, things like PCs used to be used by consumer and provider alike, but less so now.

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Apple slams brakes on orders of (not so cheap) plasticky iPhone 5C

bazza
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Re: No surprise

Well the world's a crazy place.

People prefer to spend larger sums of money on a flashy metal finished iPhone 5s, then they cover it in cheap plastic and rubber protectors to make it look worse than a 5c. What gives?

No, I've not bought a 5c either.

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All cool kids' phones run ALTERNATIVE alternative custom Android ROM

bazza
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Re: Not like Skype then

"Skype was never open source as far as I'm aware."

Quite right, it has always been proprietary. In fact, it kind of went beyond proprietary, it didn't even comply with any open standard. Instead they invented their own complete and finished VOIP system which poked two fingers up at the likes of SIP.

Judging by how successful Skype has been you have to wonder if any of those open standards is actually any good. Skype clearly had 'something' that all the rest lacked.

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Oracle says open source has no place in military apps

bazza
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What You Really Need...

...is good support. Properly good support that actually works, will pick up the phone when called and give you useful answers. If you can find someone to support FOSS, great. If that means finding a good proprietary product from a good helpful company, great. In my time I have found both with great success.

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PC sales continue meteoric death plunge through 3rd quarter, drop another 8.6 per cent

bazza
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Re: PCs are horrible

"Sometimes necessary"

Well for anyone doing an actual job of creating something, tablets are pretty much useless. So if we want to the world to carry on existing as it is we're going to keep needing PCs (or Macs I guess).

"but hugely inconvenient and with many annoying flaws"

Not if you're creating something. Tablets are badly flawed from that point of view.

"Too much maintenance."

Not really, its just that the mobile platforms like iOS, Android and the like don't get updated often enough. Android in particular is truly dreadful; it's full of security horrors, and there's not much the average user can do to rectify them. PCs don't require too much maintenance; Android does too little. Apple, Microsoft and Blackberry all push out regular updates too, and as the hackers get their teeth into these platforms the need for regular update cycles will increase.

I suspect that the decline in the market is caused by two separate things. First, no one likes Windows 8; anyone with enough cash is probably going to buy a Mac instead. Second, most people only ever used PCs for content consumption, and having discovered that you can do that quite happily on a mobile device they suddenly find they don't need a PC.

Thing is, we will always need PCs, and they're only affordable because the market is so large. But if that market dwindles too much then PCs will start costing a lot of money. And where does that leave the people who actually need one for creating all that stuff that everyone else wants to watch, play or run?

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Britney-obsessed Ubuntu 13.10 DUMPS X Windows-killer Mir in desktop U-turn

bazza
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Re: Oh FFS

"Is this important? In terms of distinction between kernel and OS, not really, no, though there are plenty of people who would vehemently disagree with me on that one. But in terms of remembering there are plenty of other Linux distributions out there (which may or may not have the same bug, depending on where it originated), yes it is. A bit. Relatively speaking, of course."

Well, for the average Joe it is quite important. How's anyone supposed to know which distro is good and proper, and which ones to avoid? And are the recommended ones popular because they appeal to a certain type of geek, or because they are actually well thought out for the average end user. It's especially difficult when the answers to these question seems to change every year or so. And as for desktop consistent experiences - ha!

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Great Britain rebuilt - in Minecraft: Intern reveals 22-BEEELLION block map

bazza
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Easter Egg

He's an intern; there's bound to be an easter egg in there somewhere. Anyone going to go looking? It could take a while...

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BlackBerry inks deal to go private for $4.7bn

bazza
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Re: "Beleaguered BlackBerry"

@Levente Szileszky,

"...and worst: they are even unable to come up with anything remotely original on their own - "Beleaguered BlackBerry", dear Jesus in heaven, really?"

Well, a $billion loss in a quarter for a company of Blackberry's size is pretty bad, and definitely well down the road to terminal if not dealt with.

Being taken private is probably the best way to deal with it. They may even do quite well unencumbered by dullard shareholders wanting their firm to take on the likes of Apple, etc. Far better that they focus cleanly on what they're good at; a high security platform for those who want that above all else.

Problem is that I think that their core market is being taken away by company accountants reckoning on BYOD being cheaper for their employer. And of course all accountants of course know everything about IT security and the consequences of getting that wrong.

What Blackberry need above all else is a massive and public disaster in a large famous company to be traced back to a rooted and compromised Android BYOD employee phone. That'd focus minds somewhat.

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Roll up, roll up: Cash, Bitcoin and booze offered for iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner hack

bazza
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How many fingers?

Does anyone out there know whether the phone keeps several fingerprints on record? I hope so, or its going to be very annoying on some occasions:

* when you've injured your first term and got a plaster wrapped around it

* if you're a couple used to sharing a phone

* when you just want to lend your phone to someone for a short while

* when you're wearing a pair of those touch screen compatible gloves on a cold day

If iPhone 5x doesn't deal with those scenarios then I suspect it will be quite annoying...

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BlackBerry Messenger to launch on Android, iOS this weekend

bazza
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Re: Something for the kiddies

@Khaptain,

"I have never even considered that it was even possible to connect directly to an Exchange server from a BB terminal.."

Yes it is, and a whole load of other email server types too. Mine's bolted onto Hotmail (or whatever it's called these days) too.

Plus, BB Balance allows you to do a neat trick. The phone implements a Multi-Level Security System, and I've had to do a lot of reading to glean what follows from that. [Alas I've not got a company phone, nor my own BES, so I've not been able to try it out myself]

So, as I understand it, one level is "personal", and can be joined to your own email, Exchange, Facebook, Twitter, and can have it's own apps, calendars, contacts, the lot.

The other level is "company", and is joined to your company's BES server, has its own email, apps, calendars, contacts, the lot. The company has full control of that level, they can install apps, setup email, wipe data remotely.

The clever bit is that nothing in the company level can be interact with the personal level, nor can anything from the personal level interact with the company level. Personal apps can't nick company data. Company apps can't see personal data. That provides assurance to the company that their data is safe, but you can still do your own personal thing knowing that your boss can't see. The company can even remote wipe their level in the phone, but they can't touch the personal level at all.

And the really clever bit is that apps like the Calendar and Contacts sit above both levels and can see down into them. For example, that means that you can see both your company and personal calendar when arranging a meeting, but your company can't see your personal calendar at all.

What's more, all that's got some pretty good approvals from various bits of the US and UK governments. That probably means that it's quite strong (though of course recent events might have dented that inference somewhat...).

You need Z10, Q10 and so on to be able to do all this; older Blackberries won't, and I think that the company needs to upgrade to the latest BES too. There might be money involved in doing all that, which might put off a company from upgrading.

It'd be interesting to know if your company has heard of BB Balance.

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bazza
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Re: Something for the kiddies

@Seven Seas Jim,

"All that is very nice... but BlackBerry has failed to advertize and promote these advantages and features. They make great phones but don't know how to sell them."

Well, I think you're fairly right on that front, but I think no marketing campaign would ever be able to convey exactly what it is that might make a BB phone a good choice.

Part of Blackberry's problem (in my humble opinion) is that quite a lot of their really good technology is unmatched by everyone else. A BB phone is not a clone of anything else, it stands apart in quite a lot of important areas. So, when you show an iOS user a BB phone, there is not a lot in their previous experiences to tell them what a BB phone can do. You have to explain the Blackberryness to them from scratch.

For example, Apple have educated everyone to expect some sort of a home button. Android copied that idea. Blackberry didn't put one on, they did something different; a bezel swipe gesture that works no matter which way up you're holding the phone. It saves you having to hunt for the damned button, and also saves surface area (you don't need to find room for a physical button), and thus has quite a lot of benefits. It also stops the phone looking long and thin and means the screen can fill the whole frontage, unlike the iPhone 5 for example.

As for marketing, they have advertised things like Blackberry Balance, but you have to look at it all really hard to really understand exactly what Blackberry Balance is and why you might want it. That doesn't even begin to fit into a 30sec ad, never mind impart the true essence of that particular thing to someone who has never seen anything like it before.

So I think that BB are sort of in a Betamax vs VHS situation; in many ways they're arguably far superior to everyone else, but most people don't understand why so don't bother looking. Instead BB have to rely on users who have a pressing need for something different and are thus motivated to thoroughly explore what BB actually have on offer. Most of the 'deficiencies' of a BB phone (a lack of apps is the most common observation) would be easily fixed if they had mass market appeal; software devs would eagerly write the apps for the thing.

I think that BB themselves recognised this problem some time ago, which is why they said then that they'd be focusing primarily on the corporate market hoping that they at least could be bothered to read the literature properly. Instead it seems that the corporate market is itself largely committing data-security suicide by being happy with staff using their own phones.

It's a pity, because BB's Balance is the ideal solution to that problem. I'm pretty sure that most companies have no idea that Balance allows company data security to be assured whilst letting the user do whatever the hell they like with their own messaging, games, etc.

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bazza
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Re: Something for the kiddies

@Khaptain,

The reason why their email is so good is because of the corporate BB subscriptions and BlackBerry's Enterprise Server, worth paying the money for.

However, BB now offer an alternative. Point your BB at an Exchange server and the result is fantastic. And, if you've already got an Exchange server, it's free.

Me, I rent my own Exchange server online (well, a mail box on an Exchange server), a cloud I can call my own. Better than using Google's, Apple's, or Microsoft's. Costs only £3.99 a month which is a pretty good deal for privacy I reckon.

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Open ZFS wielders kick off 'truly open source' dev group

bazza
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Re: @AC

And we're lucky that Sun did gave away the source code to various gems like ZFS.

People who complain about it not being GPL2 licensed are simply being ungrateful. Perhaps they should chill out a bit. You don't look a gift horse in the mouth, as the old saying goes.

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Cold-blooded, INHUMAN visitor hitches ride on NASA moon rocket

bazza
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OK, I'll jump

One small jump for a frog, one giant leap for anurankind...

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Torvalds suggests poison and sabotage for ARM SoC designers

bazza
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Re: He's right.

Not convinced he is completely right.

If you want discoverable buses, that all adds transistors, taking more power, and probably starts trampling over some other company's intellectual property, etc.

For ARM SOCs, power is king, and no chip builder is ever going to put in a whole bunch of additional transistors that then makes their chip look bad from a power consumption point of view. Nor can they afford to pinch someone else's intellectual property; someone out there is bound to be holding patents on discoverable buses like PCI.

Linus wants these things so that Linux doesn't need to be manually configured and built for each individual SOC design from every individual manufacturer. But if that's what we're going to be stuck with, how about making it possible for the manufacturers to easily contribute a single 'config.sys' file (for want of a better phrase) for their SOC that is then automatically available to everyone downloading the Linux source code? That would at least mean that the work gets done only once.

I don't know enough about the Linux ARM source code base to know if that makes sense, but something along the lines ought to be possible. For all I know it may even already be there but the manufacturers aren't playing ball, which would be a pity.

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Boffins follow TOR breadcrumbs to identify users

bazza
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The Irony

TOR started off as a NRL project which they later open sourced. It's ironic that another NRL study has found it to be not wholly effective...

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THE HORROR: Bloody SLAB sales slash fest forecast for 2013

bazza
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Foresight?

Didn't BlackBerry predict this downturn about 8 months ago?

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Apple tops target list for litigious patent trolls

bazza
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Aiming at the cash

This is not entirely surprising. The patent trolls will naturally go for the wealthier companies, and they don't get much wealthier than Apple. The richer they are the less significant the consequences of just paying up. There's no point suing a close-to-bankrupt company, there'd be no profit in it.

Of course, Apple's own litigious tendencies will probably mean that there won't be much sympathy...

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ISPs scramble to explain mouse-sniffing tool

bazza
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Bad Design

Use of this sort of tool is no substitute for designing the website right in the first place.

Scenario: website goes up, people start using it, author uses this trick to see how people use it. Author then decides to change the design in response to the gathered data. Users now have no idea how to use the website. Repeat that cycle a few times and you end up with no users.

Get design right first time; iterative design on a live site works only if you do it veeery slowly.

Website authors are getting very lazy. A search feature does not mean that you don't need to design the website and lay it out sensibly.

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You won't find this in your phone: A 4GHz 12-core Power8 for badass boxes

bazza
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Unhappy

Re: Putting up the good fight...

@BeachRider,

"That means that IBM needs to open the door to higher single-thread operation (GHz or IE efficiency). This might be a cool thing to track over the next 1-2 years."

The biggest barrier to better single thread performance for everybody is memory latency. The memory architecture for Power8 is unbelievably complex and has tremendous bandwidth, and all that complexity is a good effort to overcome the fact that DRAM latency is way too slow in comparison to the core speed. But IBM and everyone else needs faster high capacity memory technology.

You can judge how hard it is to do. Despite the vast improvements in silicon manufacturing technology IBM and everyone else still has only about 64k of L1 cache running at core speed. We can put billions of transistors on a chip, but we can get only a few tens of thousands of those to operate as memory running at 4GHz. Unbelievable after all this time. IBM did pretty well with the Cell processor (256k core speed RAM next to each SPE), but we seem to have gone backwards since then.

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Pulsars: the GPS beacons of the cosmos

bazza
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Re: @ MacroRodent (was: The idea of using pulsars for spacecraft ::snippage::)

@Jake,

I suspect that they've not worked on any embedded system like that at all.

The following may be of interest. The Lockheed A12 and SR71 did navigation by star tracking. They had a little telescope system on the top, they could sight for particular stars and work out their terrestrial position that way. Kind of like an automation of navigation by sextant. That was all done with 1960s era computing. It follows that that's all that is needed for this sort of problem. A modern day 200MHz rad hardened PowerPC is massive overkill for this sort of navigational problem.

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A single company is responsible for 1 out of 4 BlackBerry apps

bazza
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Emulation Engine

BlackBerry's emulation engine, rather than a platform-native app.

Dalvik in anything is theoretically the same as Dalvik on Android. Dalvik on BB10 is no more an emulation than Dalvik on Android. BB's implementation is getting better all the time, and reportedly will be Jelly Bean compatible in a short while.

Having said that, those Android apps on BlackBerry do show up how unsatisfactory a UI Android is. Use BB10 for a short period of time and you soon realize how stupid it is to have a home button in a fixed position on the mobile, and how crazy it is to have buttons at all. Native BB apps that use BB's bezel gestures are far nicer to use. It's a shame that app developers are taking advantage of BB' Dalvik to port apps in a lazy way rather than doing the job properly. However, BB would probably have very few apps indeed without their Dalvik implementation; beggars can't be choosers.

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

bazza
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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.

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bazza
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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?

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

bazza
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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.

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bazza
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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?

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

bazza
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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.

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Android detective explains Bitcoin borkage breadcrumbs

bazza
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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...

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

bazza
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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.

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Admins warned: Drill SSL knowledge into your Chrome users

bazza
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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.

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bazza
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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?

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bazza
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Re: Useless certificate system

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

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bazza
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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.

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bazza
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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?

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Xerox copier flaw changes numbers in scanned docs

bazza
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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.

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

bazza
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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.

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bazza
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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...

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

bazza
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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?

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

bazza
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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...

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Samsung overtakes Apple as most profitable global handset maker

bazza
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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.

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SkyDrive on par with C: Drive in Windows 8.1

bazza
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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.

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

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

bazza
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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.

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