* Posts by bazza

1926 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

Microsoft admits to disabling third-party antivirus code if Win 10 doesn't like it

bazza
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Re: Nothing new under the sun

Sadly these days MS seems to be responding, "our lawyers are more expensive than your lawyers, and we can afford to keep them busy for the rest of eternity".

Doesn't mean they win, but they do seem prepared to go to court against their users!!!!! Customer Relationship Management at its finest...

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bazza
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Re: Admission

There is one aspect of old AV software that is worth remembering. It has complete access to the entire system, and it can itself become a vector for infection. We have already seen this, where the AV software's update mechanism could be turned against it and used to install malware.

Let me see, which one was it that had that problem. Ah yes, MS defender!

It would be highly weird if MS used that particular example as part of their defence against Kasperky's case...

That doesn't mean the point is invalid. Old AV software can be very dangerous if exploitable bugs are found. If so, removing it is likely better than leaving it running. But MS declaring it to be actually dangerous simply because it old is probably a step too far.

What seems totally indefensible is MS managing what apps install or not based on some weird perception of compatibility. An application is either compiled for Windows, or it's not. MS's criteria seem to be covering other aspects of applications (colour scheme?).

I could understand it a tiny bit if an application was using a deprecated API call. If that's the case then they should put up a dialogue box saying so, or just complete the deprecation process by actually removing the API call from the OS. That would break the application, but at least there'd be a trail of notices to developers giving fair warning.

I'm a long time Win 7 user. If Apple sort out their hardware line up I'll be heading for Mac land when 7 drops off support.

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In the Epyc center: More Zen server CPU specs, prices sneak out of AMD

bazza
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Re: That SEV mode looks really interesting

This harks back to some work done a long time ago. AMD opened up Hypertransport, meaning that any old Tom, Dick or Harry could make silicon that could plug into an AMD socket.

And people did, well, at least they did FPGA modules that could plug into a second CPU slot. I'm sure that one of the things someone did was to turn the FPGA into a RAM encrypter. Looks like AMD have moved that functionality over into the main CPU's memory controller.

It's an interesting idea that the hypervisor cannot see inside the VM. The IT security researchers won't like that particularly - they use VMs as a way of studying viruses, trojans, etc, relying on the hypervisor being an unseen God mode stealthy observer of whatever happens inside the VM. Meanwhile the malware writers go to a lot of effort to ensure that their malware detects a virtual environment and deletes itself, to prevent the whitehats unpicking the malware.

However, if SEV mode becomes commonplace, it might give the malware writers an unexpected advantage; the whitehats might no longer be able to see inside the VMs...

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bazza
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I doubt it has been open sourced.

Perhaps the more important thing is that hopefully they've not made the mistake Intel did - connecting a system management microcontroller running an opaque binary blob with complete access to everything to the machine's Ethernet, and then finding that they'd fucked it up...

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Google may follow Apple, design mobile chips in-house

bazza
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Re: "Android multitasking is dire. Still can't match BB10."

Another BB10 diehard here...

If Google are so keen on the microkernel idea (Project Treble), why don't they just buy BlackBerry with a bit of loose change and actually get hold of a proper, solid and highly respected QNX microkernel OS?

If literally every manufacturer is going to have to re-write their drivers for Treble, why not re-write them for an actual microkernel OS instead, make a complete break with Linux? The rest of the task is, in comparison, fairly straightforward; it's another POSIX compliant unix-like OS environment, recompliation of Android's userland doesn't seem too great a task, especially as Google are also in control of their own application development environment.

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bazza
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Re: As they say....

@Dave 126,

"Google are beginning to put the pieces in place so that Android handsets can be effectively updated without the code first going through the chipset and Original Device manufacturers; if it were that easy, Google would have done so years ago because *they* do have a strong incentive to do so."

Yep, Project Treble, a well overdue and welcome development. They're turning Linux into a microkernel. I can't see Linus liking that!

In a way it's an unspoken acknowledgement on Google's part that they seriously cocked up the entire roadmap for Android from the very beginning. It's like they chose Linux "coz it's free and cool", without even beginning to think about the possible consequences. And here we are, years later, with appalling and, frankly, embarassing update problems. No one else in the history of anything even remotely related to computers has ever to build such a large market with such a crap software upgrade path.

Project Treble might start solving some of these issues. What'll be interesting is to see how this plays with the wider Linux development roadmap. It's another split away from the kernel mainstream (bad), but they'll be ending up with a kernel with fewer hardware dependencies (good).

In a way the Linux world needs Linux to go the microkernel route too. This will allow things like WiFi and graphics drivers can be done by hardware manufacturers jealously guarding their IP or not wanting to have an enourmous team dedicated to driver updates every time Linus and chums change anything. However I can't see the Linux kernel development community, or Linux himself, being particularly keen on the idea.

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Intel: Joule's burned, Edison switched off, and Galileo – Galileo is no more

bazza
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Re: Another botched call by Intel

Exactly! Had Intel bought ARM

You're right about Intel not being allowed to buy ARM. The competition authorities on both sides of the pond would have had to take a look at the deal. It would have been very difficult to conclude that it was "in the public interests". Same for Apple or Google.

Softbank, being neither a phone manufacturer or chip developer, where a neutral.

There's nothing magical about the ARM ISA that makes it better - it has just had way way way more resources put into it than the competition.

Actually, ARM's ISA is pretty good. The code density is much better than x86; you can get more done per kilobyte of program. This maps into less RAM, fewer RAM accesses, less power, etc.

The more important part is that you don't need millions of transistors for an ARM core. I think that even the 64 bit cores (ignoring the cache, etc) is still only about 48,000 transistors to implement the ISA and get decent performance. This compares very well to the x86, which typically needs millions of transistors. Transistors take power, a bad thing in a battery powered device.

The low transistor count goes all the way back to the very beginning. When Acorn were doing their first design, back in the 1980s, they had no money (compared to today), and every single transistor saved really mattered financially. So it's kind of an acident that the ARM core turned out to be very power efficient.

ARM also have mastered the idea of specialised co-processors for popular tasks - video compression, etc. Intel have always been of the opinion "the core can do everything", which it can, but not at low power...

Apple chose ARM for the first iPod, and first iPhone probably because they were one of ARM's founders and had a little experience with it having used it for the Newton.

Apple weren't on the scene back in the 1980s when Acorn first started developing their own chip. In 1987 we had Acorn Archimedes computers at school with ARM2 inside. Apple came later, when ARM Holdings (the company) was founded and took on the role of developing the chips that Acorn had created. Apple sold off a load of shares in ARM Holdings in the late 1990s.

When Apple started using ARMs in iPhones, ARMs were already pretty well established in the mobile industry, even in feature phones. For example, everything based on Symbian was ARM. They already dominated the mobile market by the time iPhone came along.

That goes all the way back to Psion and the Psion 5, 5mx; they chose ARM for this device (even shaving off some of the packaging off the chip so that it'd fit inside), running EPOC32, which Nokia bought and then proceeded to ruin and called it Symbian. It took the world a long time to work out that Nokia had ruined it (the first iPhone demonstrated just how badly), but Symbian (and therefore ARM) was literally everywhere already by the time the iPhone came along.

I couldn't forgive Nokia for screwing it up that badly. It was the foundation of their own ultimate ruin. Had they simply taken the Psion 5MX and shoved a 3G modem chip inside, it'd have been a killer device. Had they paid Psion to keep developing it, it'd now rule the world. They didn't. Whoops.

But had Intel owned it and licensing wasn't as attractive, they'd have chosen something else.

You raise a very intersting point. Way back in the day, Intel inheritted StrongARM, they were at the height of their powers, and ARM was still a pretty small player. Intel back then could have probably got away with buying ARM itself without perturbing the competition authorities. Instead they ditched StrongARM (Marvell got it), went and did Itanium, ended up focusing on x86 and copied AMD's x64. Not their most glorious of moments.

I think Itanium really stung Intel. That was their last attempt to introduce a new instruction set. It didn't work out too well. I think that really put Intel off introducing a new ISA ever again, x86/64 it is no matter what. Yet running x86 quickly is a battery killer - too many transistors. To succeed in the mobile space the really needed a different ISA. It's difficult to see how they could have made that succeed any time in the last 17 years, but they've not even tried.

If Intel got back into the ARM game, their mastery of silicon processing would produce a stunning ARM SOC. They'd wipe the floor with Snapdragon, Apple's A series of devices, and everything else. It's only pride that's stopped them doing this.

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Google coughs up $5.5m to make recruiters 'screwed out of overtime pay' go away

bazza
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Re: It'e like the 'kin; wild west out there!

Hire and Fire is the American way, it seems.

I'm convinced this costs American companies, and therefore shareholders, a ton of cash. Every time you fire all your expertise, you'll get less of it back when you re-hire. More and more of your R&D budget goes into re-growing expertise and making big mistakes, whilst less of it goes into actual product development. As technology and engineering get more and more complex, the problem gets worse. Boeing, P&W, GE, MS, etc, have all suffered from this as a result.

The current trends for AI and self driving cars is also about a lack expertise; shareholders are being hoodwinked by generally young teams of "engineers" who are all saying "yeah we can do this". Yet anyone with any actual experience in safety certification would be telling the shareholders that, at best, it'll never get to be anything more than an advanced cruise control still requiring sober, licensed drivers. The marketing expertise would then point out that thousands of dollars of extra equipment on a car isn't going to be commercially viable if, fundamentally, it doesn't let you travel whilst pissed / asleep / unlicensed / making out...

Cohesive teams become very good, takes about 15, 20 years. The original Skunk Works was like that, and they did amazing things; they stayed together for a long time, and their peak, F117, was truly amazing value for money.

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Small carriers aren't showing up to IPv6 standards chats, consultant warns

bazza
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It is interesting how IPv4 is exhausted, and yet here we all are quite happily on the net... I know that most mobile networks are v6, perhaps that's why we've managed this far.

There is kind of a conspiracy though. IPv6 does or should make it trivial to connect to devices in the home from outside. That ought to make it easy to have IoT devices that are directly controllable from one's mobe, and no need to register with MegaCorp's server (ok I'm asking you all to suspend disbelief and imagine that IoT is going to be a massive thing...).

The thing is that the current IPv4 arrangements, namely using MegaCorp's server as a broker between IoT device and mobe, suits MegaCorp's very, very nicely indeed; they can slurp the data.

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Lockheed, USAF hold breath as F-35 pilots report hypoxia

bazza
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Re: Hmm

As far as I know there's only one system in use so the fact that the failures are being experienced on types from different manufacturers isn't surprising.

Aha, now that's interesting. The variation in behaviour is indeed surprising. They're clearly finding it hard to pin down the reason why. Perhaps having just one standard design is a disadvantage...

I wonder if they can put a LOX system in?

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bazza
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Re: O2 many issues

They've been putting the F35 up against a variety of other fighter aircraft in air combat competitions. It's done exceedingly well, when it actually makes it up into the air. Ok, it's early days, but it's beginning to look like the weapons system is actually pretty awesome.

Whether it will end up living up to the initial billing, i.e. a superior all round air/ground attack aircraft, only time will tell. I was pretty sceptical about it ("multi-role" really annoys me - smacks of trying to save a penny and wasting lots of pounds), but I think that if they can just finish it, get it right, for some roles it could turn out to be really something. An ugly something, and it does-it-a-different-way something.

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bazza
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Re: Hmm

It's not just Lockheed. The F22 has had problems (Lockheed again), but the F18 has also had problems, as has the T45 Goshawk; they're both Boeing products. The Goshawk is based on the BAE Hawk, which is British, and AFAIK that has never had any problems in its long and reliable history, so the Americans must have changed something.

To me it sounds like there's a problem with the US standards that govern how oxygen systems are designed, tested, etc. To have basically the same problem on four different types from two different manufacturers when one of them in it's original form (the BAE Hawk) has never had an issue sounds too much to be coincidence.

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France and UK want to make web firms liable for users' content

bazza
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Re: 'bout fecking time

Who knows.

What it would do is make it very expensive to offer and collect revenue from a service in the UK with (effectively) anonymous user accounts.

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Two leading ladies of Europe warn that internet regulation is coming

bazza
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Re: Logic Of Extra Monitoring

Re: false positives

I think you're kinda missing the point. No one is born a terrorist, it's something they're persuaded to do.

Can we tell who in a population of 50million has been persuaded? Well, you're right about that part, unless they've been incompetent their Internet browsing history won't betray them particularly.

The point is that when they have gone and done something, like stab a load of people in a pub or whatever, you then want to know who persuaded them to do it. You no longer care about the attacker themselves, they're likely dead.

So at this point you have a true positive - a dead attacker.

What the Internet then makes very difficult is finding out who they've been talking to, because it's that person you really want to find.

And the reason the Internet matters in all this is because persuasion needs communication, and that's either face to face, or over the 'net. They're not going to be using the phone, or the post, or pigeons...

Conflicting Requirements

The difficulty has always been that the Internet is trying to meet conflicting requirements. The first is to let good people do whatever the hell they like. The second is to stop bad people using it at all. The Internet can't tell the difference...

The situation the governments find themselves in is one where American social network companies are deliberately making the job of finding the persuaders impossible. You go to WhatsApp with a dead terrorist, an undeniably true positive, and WhatsApp refuse to cooperate (their end encryption doesn't mean they don't know the who-to-who).

That doesn't go down well. Not well at all.

And any elected and ruling politicians, who therefore have a responsibility for law and order, will then behave the same, no matter what European country or party they're from. They're gonna do something about it.

Not doing something about it is demonstrably electoral suicide (look at Spain and the Madrid bombings).

So they will pass stringent laws, impose fines, demand access, ban services; that's what politicians do. It's inevitable.

Adapt or Die?

What the social networks seem to be ignoring is that elected governments in Europe with clear majorities can and will pass such laws. Germany already has. If the companies don't adapt, they'll lose out.

So why not cave in a little, open up a little? Answer: it won't wash well in the US... That's the risk of trying to run a global network and impose a US themed moral mono-culture on everyone else.

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Google's news algorithm serves up penis pills

bazza
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You've got to hand it to them, they’ve....

No wait, that's gone wrong.

You've got to give them some credit, an automated news service is a master stroke that...

Hang on, that's gone wrong too.

They should get it right one day, and then they'll blow away the...

Damn.

It's a pretty clever idea, having an algorithm to suck in the stories that...

Crap. I give up.

It's a pretty clever idea to have an algorithm to soak up the world's entire stream of news stories, and distil it down to a golden stream which they target us with.

Got there in the end...

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Windows 10 Creators Update preview: Lovin' for Edge and pen users, nowt much else

bazza
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Re: Fall Creators Update

Killing and eating people just because they don't like a UI? And people think the flaming can get a bit harsh...

Flame grilled commentard. Chewy, needs mustard, satisfaction stems mostly from having it served on one's own plate.

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Human-free robo-cars on Washington streets after governor said the software is 'foolproof'

bazza
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Re: This could backfire on them

Yes, it's an oddly human thing. Kids die or are crippled every day, many times per day, all over the world, by cars driven by humans and few people bat an eye at that.

But in those cases the driver is almost always to blame, are held liable, and cannot escape the consequences.

With a self driving car, who is liable? Who goes to jail? I've yet to hear any of the self drive researchers / developers volunteer for that role, and it certainly shouldn't be the car's occupants...

It's a big social deal if the law says no one is to blame anymore.

However I doubt it'll get that far; when the discussion is concluded it will be the manufacturers, and I can't see them having the stomach for it.

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Intel to Qualcomm and Microsoft: Nice x86 emulation you've got there, shame if it got sued into oblivion

bazza
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Re: Tough Times at Santa Clara

There's also the question of ARM servers. There's a big chance that the big data centre operators might go for ARM there, to save power. Data centres is where Intel's profit comes from these days. If that starts happening then Intel is in deep trouble.

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Microsoft officially hangs up on old Skype phones, users fuming

bazza
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What, replace one proprietary standard with two different proprietary standards?!?!

To be honest I don't know if Telegram or WhatsApp offerings are open standards compliant, but in this day and age of OTT walled gardens I'm not getting my hopes up...

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bazza
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Re: Had a Three phone with Skype on Three

The only reason why I went to Three in the first place was Skype

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Infosec guru Schneier: Govts will intervene to regulate Internet of Sh!t

bazza
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Re: Let's be honest about this...

"So, yes, regulation does stifle innovation and competition, and is often used to that end."

That's because you let the wrong people write the regs.

Like it or loathe it, the one thing the EU has been quite good at is imposing sensible technical standards for the benefit of all. The SIM card is part of that, and it's a tremendous boon for the consumer. Here in the UK (and I think most of the rest of Europe) you own your mobile phone number, and the network have to let you take it to another network.

In fact the whole GSM / UMTS thing came about against a back ground of regulatory interest, ensuring that there was open compeition between network equipment providers. The irony of course is that it took a Chinese company - Huawei - to make the big innovation in that by changing the internals of a GSM network whilst keeping the external interfaces (base station, SS7 connection) the same.

If there is one thing that really needs sorting out, it's the walled gardens that are the OTT networks, comms apps, etc. Having spent decades setting standard for interoperable communications and services (e.g. MS being forced to publish docs for Windows Domain protocols), governments all over are ignoring the erossion of interoperability by Facebook, Google, Apple, WhatsApp, etc, and the harm it ultimately does to all consumers.

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Apple gives world ... umm ... not much new actually

bazza
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Samsung are indeed crazy with the hardware, but poor at software. If it weren't for the fact that Android is available to them, I'm unconvinced that they could pull together a whole OS stack from scratch and sell it in vast numbers. Tizen isn't exactly compelling... I don't think their Android mods are worth a damn either.

Apple's approach has been nakedly commercial. Whilst they have refined their products for keep the users of those products happy-ish, they’ve completely abandoned a whole class of user who really matter (the people who develop, power users, etc).

For example in the world today there isn't a single Mac that you can put a high end NVIDIA GPU inside. Lots of people use CUDA these days for all sorts of applications. There's a ton of work going on out there that you cannot do on a MAC.

Google are pretty hopeless on the software strategy front, in my opinion. Only now with Project Treble are they beginning to fix that, effectively turning Linux into a microkernel OS so that hardware and software updates can be independent of each other. This might be radical for Linux and Android, but it is decades behind everyone else. All the problems in the Android world originate in that misguided and careless design decision to use Linux because it's "free" and "trendy". If they'd decided to roll with, say, FreeBSD or QNX that'd have allowed them to avoid all this craziness with updates, etc.

That so much money has been made by companies that have made such poor technical decisions shows how uneducated the vast majority of the market is... the cost is that now they have no way of expanding the markets they sell into. No power user will buy Apple. Samsung have no compelling software to differentiate themselves. Google cannot get people to fully commit their entire souls to their databases because no one fully trusts anyone to keep their Android fully patched, etc.

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UK PM Theresa May's response to terror attacks 'shortsighted'

bazza
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@wolftone,

"The internet, on the whole, isn't to blame for the mess we're in now. It's the actions of those MP's who we've elected, who brought us in to illegal wars, who continue to fund regimes with weapons and money to carry on those and other wars, who allow proxy wars to continue to be fought, ...."

So you think that terrorist attacks in, say, Britain are linked to deployment of British forces elsewhere? So exactly what did Sweden do to attract the attention of these brain dead wankers? Or Belgium? Or the Philippines? Or Pakistan? Or India? Or Iraq? Or Argentina? I don't recall those countries being involved in deployments beyond their own borders.

It's a monumental level of naivety to assume that there is any connection whatsoever between a country's foreign policy and whether or not it becomes a target for terrorists. Saying "Stop being beastly and the terrorists will stop being beastly to us" is demonstrably a load of bollocks.

Many countries across Europe have woken up too late to the fact that despite a policy of non-involvement in the affairs of the Middle East they are just as targetted as anywhere else. That's come as a nasty shock.

Well she's going to point at the internet and blame that for what happened on Saturday and the week before that in Manchester.

She's not pointing at the Internet, she's pointing at companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple.

Google and Facebook in particular seem to be quite happy to host some truly nasty content, make money from placing ads next to it, and are currently highly ineffective at blocking it from upload and responding to take down notifications. Their feeble attempts thus far seem to focus around making content ineligble for "monetisation", which is a long way from "deleting the content and reporting the user responsible to the police". This approach seems more focused on persuading advertisers that their ads won't appear next to such content, rather than preventing the content being there in the first place. That's really taking the piss.

Whether Google/Facebook like it or not there's kids out there seeking out this kind of material. They're also using these companies' services to talk to some truly nasty, manipulative, far-from-brain-dead wankers who do a good job at grooming them to the point where they're willing to kill themselves and a whole load of others. That's the nub of it. No one is born to do this kind of thing, and it's generally not the parents egging them on, and here in the UK the Police are generally on good terms with Mosques these days. There's actually a ton of good community / police cooperation; parents do not want their sons going off the rails and doing something fatally stupid.

The social media networks acknowledge that they are a conduit for this, and yet they are being very unhelpful or wilfully obstructive in helping law enforcement agencies identify these people. The only reason why the social network companies are being unhelpful and obstructive is because it's going to cost them a ton of cash to do anything about it, or they need to change their business model entirely, or they need to stop pandering to their US users and swallow their First Ammendment pride, or let law enforcement agencies into their data sets so that they can police the content themselves. All of that sounds massively unprofitable.

Well fuck that. I and everyone else (including yourself) want these wankers, brain dead or otherwise, to be hindered, identified, arrested and jailed. If the companies aren't going to usefully help with that, then they're going to have to be forced. If that means regulation and users having to give up the effective anonymity currently afforded by the companies' freetard business models, so be it. If the companies don't like that, well hard luck, get a different business model.

So, given that, how exactly do you expect any elected government to respond? Yes, that's right, elections 101: being lax on law enforcement doesn't look good at the ballot box. The incumbent Spanish government lost the general election immediately after the Madrid bombings thanks to it's poor response; other politicians (though apparently not Corbyn or the Lib Dems) took careful note of that.

So it's no surprise that governments all over Europe are talking about or have already taken similar actions. For example, France has an enduring state of emergency where there's a lot of extra-judical activity going on. Germany will now be handing out €50m fines. Belgium has been having a bit of a crackdown too. I've no idea what the Swedes have been doing.

By being so pathetically useless at cleaning up their act the companies are bringing this upon themselves.

Network Fractures

Having said all that, I think the logical conclusion of strong intervention by governments across Europe against US social network tech companies is 1) they'll have to stop offering a global service and offer non-connected regional services, or 2) they'll withdraw their service entirely from Europe, or 3) they'll abandon or change their US market, or 4) countries will start establishing things akin to the Great Firewall of China to block them and any other non-compliant service.

Ultimately this is boiling down to battle of wills between US users and users in Europe / UK / Canada / elsewhere, and whether or not a company decides to operate in one environment or the other. Americans are quite often vociferously paranoid about the Federal government (which explains the attitudes of the American companies), whereas Europeans, etc. generally trust their governments. Despite the occasional raving the contrary on forums such as this, the majority of of people in Europe can tell the difference between an oppressive totalitarian regime and sensible policing measures. Go ask an East German aged 50 or older, they'll give you an exceptionally clear explanation.

In the past, when it's come to similar Europe / rest of the world vs the USA decisions (e.g. Apple choosing a phone standard for the first iPhone), there is form for American companies realising that the USA is too small a market (Apple chose GSM).

You're Calling for a Police State?

Putting more police on the streets seems wrong. What would you have them do? Stop every white van they see and ask the driver what their intentions are? Follow everyone who looks like they might have Middle Eastern ancestry everywhere to see what they're doing? Stop and search to see if they have a kitchen knife about their person? Sounds like you're calling for a police state. No thanks. No thanks at all.

Police on the streets are only any good for stopping crimes in the act of being committed, if they see it happening. Or for sweeping up the pieces afterwards.

What we need is to stop young kids being turned into brain dead wankers in the first place, and you're not going to achieve that by putting a load of bobbies on the beat. Arguably having more spooks is a part of that, and curiously enough I think they've been recruiting recently.

Another Way

Of course, the only reason why attacks like this happen at all is the vast amounts of publicity they generate. So stop publishing news stories about it.

This was done back in the late 1980s / early 1990s, when the IRA were calling in a load of hoax bomb warnings on the London Underground. The government forced the press and media to stop reporting the incidents, and the hoaxes dried up very quickly.

If the same level of blackout could be achieved for these attacks, they'd stop happening. Though in this day and age, and with the fatalities involved, it would be difficult. Still, it would be very effective, requires no technology or changes in how we live our lives, etc.

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Bixby bailout: Samsungers bailing on lame-duck assistant

bazza
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Re: But...

@M0rt,

Using voice to dial at home - can't get it to use speaker phone initially so have to pick it up anyway. So much for dialling when hands full/covered in oil etc.

Using voice to dial when bluetoothed to Supertooth Buddy in car. Dials and automatically puts it into speakerphone mode, not bluetooth headset.

This is exactly the kind of thing that has kept me on BlackBerry 10 for so long. It does things like talking to a Bluetooth headset and a Bluetooth audio streamer very well, in just the way I want it to. Voice dialling and subsequent phone call through the hands free, music to get audio streamer, no messing about.

And whilst their audio assistant might not be as all encompassing as Siri or Google's, it does the things I want to do by voice (i.e. dialling, navigation) perfectly well.

Despite being late to the party and now being almost dead, things like Bluetooth just work, and work in ways that the likes of Android just hasn't thought of yet.

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Amazon granted patent to put parachutes inside shipping labels

bazza
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This is Getting Out of Hand

Indeed, and I don't see what value Amazon think this patent adds to their idea.

If they're going to do delivery by drone, they're only going to be allowed to do so if the whole set up meets the requirements of the local aviation authorities. That means, amongst other things, that every aspect of drone flight, control and navigation is a safety critical system. We don't want drones buzzing around the place out of control, running out of battery power and landing on a motorway, crashing on to people, etc.

Given that here in the UK at least the whole remote drone / UAV community has effectively been told "your systems will have to be certified as safety critical", one does wonder why anyone is persisting with the idea. Achieving certification for things as madly complicated as this is going to be ludicrously expensive. Realisation will eventually dawn I'm sure, but not until after a lot of people who should know better have spent a lot of someone elses money on false pretences.

[Rabbit hole. When that realisation dawns it'll be very bad for the tech sector as a whole; if investors start thinking that the tech industry is leading them up the garden path with drone this, self-driving that, AI the next thing, then investment in tech could easily dry up altogether. There's a lot of money being poured into a lot of very ambitious projects that really have very little prospect of succeeding even if you did throw $billions at them, and investors will remember...]

However, if by some miracle they actually managed to achieve some sort of certification, they'd have produced a drone system that doesn't drop need to randomly drop packages by parachute, so they won't need it.

Pond

In fact, dropping something by 'chute sounds like a way of introducing uncontrollable randomness into where the package actually ends up, which can be only a bad thing. What's to stop the package drifting off and landing in, for example, my pond? Are they also planning on using IP68 packaging? I can't see how they'd make that simple to open...

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BA IT systems failure: Uninterruptible Power Supply was interrupted

bazza
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Ambitious...

"After a few minutes of this shutdown of power, it was turned back on in an unplanned and uncontrolled fashion"

That's got to count as one of the most ambitious attempts to switch something back on in the hope that no one will notice it ever got switched off in the first place.

Whoops!

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Toyota's entertaining the idea of Linux in cars

bazza
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There's also the simple matter of wiring, short circuits, earth faults, etc.

Separate modules with a direct connection to the thing they're controlling is easier to make reliable. Having a central brain with a longer wired connection to the things its controlling then means that the wiring loom's integrity and earth/chassis bonding is very important.

CAN bus is electrically very robust. Apparently you can short any one single conductor to ground, and the bus will continue to work perfectly well. The same cannot be said of Ethernet...

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bazza
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Re: Eggs

Indeed. The idea of one software system controlling the instrument binacle and the Internet connected infortainment system is, well, probably a little risky. You can smell the news articles about remote binnacle hacks coming from years away...

ARS Technica recently had an indepth review of various different systems used in cars today. Turns out that their most favourite ones were all based on QNX; seems that a proper real time OS is a very good idea in these things. A proper RTOS with decent context switch times means you can use cheaper hardware without compromising on response times. Trivial things like boot time matter. Get in your car, turn on, you want the radio working right then, you don't want some stupid Linux boot log scrolling past for 30 seconds...

Risk of GUI Lunacy

It takes a monumental amount of effort to layer a decent application / graphics environment on top of an OS / kernel. Look at how long the Gnome and KDE projects have been going, and how annoying the results can be even after all that time.

A car manufacturer is going to be super reluctant to use someone else's open source GUI environment - all it takes is for the project members to go crazy and suddenly your entire line of cars is sporting a stupid UI that no one actually likes. The Gnome project have done some woefully stupid things in recent times... Can you imagine waking up one morning to find that the latest update for your car has resulted in the same kind of UI downgrade that happened when Gnome went from 2.x to 3.x?

So I think it will take a long time to do something new with AGL. Android has already gone through a lot of development, and it's always going to be a tough choice between selling one's soul to Google and going it alone...

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bazza
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Re: Please keep it simple

Though a purely mechanical car is very appealing, you simply cannot get the same level of refinement without using software control. For example, every aspect of the combustion process is software controlled these days, meaning that you can get a smooth running, economic, responsive yet driveable engine that works well and starts well no matter what the climatic conditions are.

This shows up a lot in how smooth an engine sounds when it's idling. These days we take it for granted that most engines will purr smoothly when idling, yet achieving this with a caburetour whilst also having good throttle response is difficult. Traditionally the smoothness came about in part from having a decently heavy flywheel, which would give the engine poor throttle response. Nowadays you don't need anything like as much weight in the flywheel. The ECU can smooth out the engine's idling by having very good and fast control of air and fuel delivery to individual cylinders in the engine on a stroke by stroke basis, so that it runs bang on 850rpm even if the underlying mechanical tendancy would be for the engine to idle poorly.

Diesels in particular, loathsome though many consider them to be, are significantly better because of the software control. Generally speaking they inject many pulses of fuel into a cyclinder at TDC, which improves combustion efficiency and smoothness. If you compare any modern diesel to an old diesel - well, the noise difference speaks volumes.

Complicated? Yes, definitely.

Impressive? Certainly.

Essential? Well, if we want to use less fuel without engaging in dramatic, far reaching and controversial national socio-economic discussions about transportation, housing and employment policy and how there should be more trains/trams and fewer roads/cars, most definitely yes. Say what you like about ecofriendliness, but from a purely economic point of view finding a way to use less fuel going forward sounds like spending less of our money on buying the thick, gloopy black stuff. We can all be keen on that, unless you're one of Trumps current crop of best pals.

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Nest leaves competition in the dust with new smart camera

bazza
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Re: Sigh ...

Amazon's Echo has been remarkably popular for similar reasons. Old people like helpful tech that can call son/daughter, take photos of visitors, etc.

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Event horizons around black holes do exist, say astroboffins

bazza
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Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

Symon,

It's remarkable how Newton's laws of motion describe the world around us. The 17th century was truly the age of enlightenment.

Agreed. Newton's achievement was getting so close, and Einstein's was showing exactly (as in a quantifiable measure of closeness) how close Newton had come.

Which of them was the cleverest? Well Newton went on to run the Royal Mint, so he quite literally showed how the universe worked (nearly), and then got a license to mint cash. That's a whole different type of cleverness...

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bazza
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Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

@dan1980,

Yes that's my (imperfect) understanding too. Gravity makes a mess of the whole thing...

I saw a really good explanation of how magnetism was down to the effects of relativity on the quantum mechanical behaviour of electrons (and other charged particles). Can't for the life of me remember who gave it, might have been vsauce or veritassium.

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bazza
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Re: I'm relieved to hear that

Why, what have you disposed of in our local cosmic refuse basket, and why do you not want to see it again?!

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bazza
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Re: These theories are all over the place!

Ah, similar to the Dirk Gently approach to problem solving.

It worked for him!

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bazza
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Clever Chap, Einstein

It's remarkable how well both relativity and quantum mechanics describe the world around us. The early part of the 20th century was truly a great time for science.

However, I take a lot of comfort from the knowledge that relativity and quantum mechanics still disagree. That's a good thing. It means that there's some other, even more monumental idea out there that fully explains both. I know there's a few ideas for that floating around, but whoever nails it will be owed something more grand than the Nobel physics prize...

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WebAssembly fandom kills Google's Portable Native Client

bazza
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Has Anyone...

...implemented a Web browser inside a WebAssembly yet? I'm sure that would create a black hole somehow...

Whilst part of me quite likes the look of Web Assembly, another part of me is saying, "Oh no, not another client side arbitrary code execution environment". The recent unwinding of operating system ASLR in Javascript is surely a trick that can also be pulled off in Web Assembly, but probably faster. For both JS and WA this is certainly something to be thought about quite carefully...

Nonetheless it seems like a sensible way to allow sane languages to be used as part of Web apps, and is very welcome. Are we going to see the return of the Java applet, done properly?!

It strikes me that there's a whole class of process missing from operating systems. All that these sand boxing technologies are trying to do is stand up a process that cannot do various things (access storage, etc). Surely in this day and age we'd be better off having a sandbox process as an operating system object, not something that a browser has implemented for itself? That would be useful for a whole variety of things, not just Web browsers.

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Done and done: BlackBerry ties up $940m settlement with Qualcomm

bazza
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Re: Big pile of cash

If you're referring to CDMA and CDMA2000, Yes they did create those (building on other pre-existing ideas, just like everyone else did), but CDMA2000 and it's slavish copy UMTS were "A Bad Idea", really. Only the Japanese and Australians managed to make the most of 3G.

And I'm not sure how much input QC have had into LTE... The Europeans have been very strong in creating good standards. There was a definite feeling that LTE was going to be it, and there was no way the USA / Qualcomm could plough it's own path.

Snapdragon has been a very good thing indeed - I'm using one right now, on a BlackBerry Z30..

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'Do not tell Elon': Ex-SpaceX man claims firm cut corners on NASA part tests

bazza
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I think that if one's concerns are of a safety nature (e.g rocket blowing up and killing people) then one would be looking for a more guaranteed information source than the company's servers.

I'd be retaining my own lawyer and lodging printed letters, emails and data with them as well as keeping contemporaneous notes. It's a "proper" place, so you can't be completely accused of mishandling company information. And your lawyer can attest to dates, content, etc.

Doing that before seeking how the company responds to the bad news you're able to raise with them means that you already have your evidence stashed.

Expensive, but remember that a result of a fatal accident inquiry is that one might get a charge of negligence pinned against one, and being able to make that go away quickly and easily is an imperative; you need another job, fast!

That's not something that one wants to entrust to a discovery process involving data that management may be trying to track down and destroy... No data looks bad, but it is also their word vs yours, and there’s more of them.

There's engineers in VW who probably wish they'd done this...

8
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'President Zuck' fundraiser opens for business

bazza
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Re: "Silicon Valley plutocrats"

"At least Gates has just got on with spending his money in places that can use it."

I've had to seriously re-evaluate my opinion of Gates. Politician, or serious philanthropist aiming to help the very poorest out there? I think he's chosen wisely.

And with the way Trump is heading, Gates might be all that's left of the American overseas aid effort.

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Walkers' Crisps pulls backfiring Tweet campaign that paired Gary Lineker and a bunch of nasties

bazza
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Re: Fucky McFuckface

Shouldn't they have been put on a spaceship by now?

How do you think they got here in the first place?

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Google wants to track your phone and credit card through meatspace

bazza
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Re: Targeted advertising?

Maybe not, but you're still paying for it all through the price of goods you buy. About £200 for each wage earner per year in the UK for online advertising.

If you buy brand X, and that's advertised anywhere, you are paying for that advertising. And what isn't advertised at least somewhere...

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bazza
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Re: What Ads... What Shops?

1: I never look at ads

2: I have never bought anything because of an ad I saw...

One thing missing. As a consumer you have paid for the ad whether of not you saw it. For example, if you buy a particular brand of washing powder, you are contributing to the cost of the advertising of that brand regardless of whether you saw the ad or not.

All told, Internet advertising costs each UK bread winner about £200 a year regardless of what phone they have and what ads they see (UK online advertising is about £7billion per year). Would you pay £200 per year to use Google's services? Sounds quite expensive to me for what you get...

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bazza
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Re: What Ads... What Shops?

yeah because the poor schmuck trying to make a living needs to have his/her day improved by twunts like you.

Supply and demand. Employees are paid that way because the shops think it increases sales. A customer strike will change their minds very, very rapidly or they go out of business. Like Comet did. Shopping there was just horrible.

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bazza
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Re: Google may be afraid someone is about to discover the king is naked...

It kinda doesn't matter. If your competitors advertise, you advertise yourself to keep the playing field level. It doesn't matter if it's all bollocks, no one is prepared to risk not advertising...

What Google has done is to massively expand the number of advertising opportunities. Before Google there were only so many bill boards, TV programs magazines and newspapers to place ads in. It was saturated.

Google simply extended the dimensions of the playing field, and keeps creating new ones (search, maps, mail, Android, etc). Not for nothing is it called advertising blackmail...

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bazza
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Oh for Pity's Sake

1. Privacy

Here in the UK, the reason we have loyalty cards is because it is illegal for stores to tie purchase information (e.g. who you are and what you bought) to your credit card details. A loyalty card comes with T&Cs that specifically allow the store to do this.

I can't see how on earth Google getting round that could ever be considered legal. Anonymised, my arse.

2. Irony

Given that stores are, quite often, also customers of advertising agencies, why on earth would they ever want to participate in this? It sounds like a way of paying/helping Google to cook up a only slightly-less-than-phoney reason for putting their advert prices up.

3. Turf Takeover?

Also it seems like a way for Google to get the same kind of data that the store loyalty cards collect, only more so. Surely this is diluting the value of the store's own collected data? I mean, the contents of one's grocery shop can surely be used to mine information about what sort of mood different types of customer are in, and that is valuable data that the supermarket can aggregate and sell.

However if Google can generate that kind of data nationwide, through the back door, their version of this type of data is going to be far more comprehensive than any one single chain of stores, who then won't be able to find a secondary market for the data they already collect. And tailored advertising can be pushed to specific people, based on everything they've ever bought anywhere by any means. No thanks.

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Google leak-hunting team put under unwelcome spotlight

bazza
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Re: Irony?

@Charlie Clark,

"Not really. All employment contracts have confidentiality clauses and if your business is mainly around IP then you need your employees to understand that careless talk costs jobs as the recent...

Right, but how many times has Google declined to take down / de-index leaked data because "it is in the public interest"? I'd guess loads of times.

The problem with the big tech companies is that they want to be seen as private concerns with all the privacy rights that come along with that status. But really they're performing a very public role these days and are gathering a vast amount of data on all members of the public regardless of whether or not they actually use the company services (Android's collection of caller ID information, Facebook's tagging / tracking of all faces, regardless of whether they belong to Facebook users, etc.). That is a very quasi-governmental level of data acquisition, except that it's all done for the benefit of their shareholders, not the tax payer.

Given that out of the ordinary status, perhaps their internal affairs, corruptions, and issues should be more in the public domain. After all, given some of the things we here about Si Valley (misogyny, sexism, ageism, abuses of employment law, etc), why should companies performing such a major public function be allowed to hide that all away? If a government department carried on its affairs in the same way there'd be a tremendous political scandal. And so there should be for companies processing our data with / without our permission.

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No nudity please, we're killing ourselves: Advice to Facebook mods leaks

bazza
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Re: Can't satisfy everyone

...no system scales to billions of users across thousands of cultures.

Indeed, and of course that's no excuse. Facebook cannot be allowed to use the argument "we're too big to do anything". Size does not excuse illegality. Global presence is not a reason to impose US derived moral mono-culture. If they have based their entire business model on doing just that and don't like the idea of that being destroyed, hard cheese.

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The real battle of Android's future – who controls the updates

bazza
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Kernel Version?

I do wonder what this all means for the continued use of Linux underneath Android. Keeping proprietary drivers up to date within Linux can occasionally be a bit of burden. I've no problem with that; no one has the right to tell the Linux community to freeze their device driver interfaces, it's their software after all.

However, I can see this new initiative doing is making it even harder for Android to move on to more recent kernels. Being able to easily keep up with the fast rate of kernel development is kinda essential - no one wants to be left back-porting security patches forever more.

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bazza
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Re: @S4qFBxkFFg - Google can't pull a Microsoft on handset makers (yet)

Google on the other hand, conquered their market share by offering Android for free and even encouraging handset makers to customize it (at least in the beginning).

Android, or at least any meaningful version of it, is not free. You need the Google Play Services binary, and that comes with strings attached. It's one of the reasons they're being investigated by the EU.

Microsoft made OS updates work on Windows Mobile by defining a minimum hardware standards. It was largely successful in that regard.

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Britain shouldn't turn its back on EU drone regs, warns aerospace boffin

bazza
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Re: Here be snowflakes...

@Phil Lord

Still, on a positive side, it's not just aviation where we have this problem. Also, medicines and medical practice, clinical trials, chemicals, engineering, education, telecoms.

Indeed, and it's exactly this kind of mess that was inevitable as soon as the EEC went from being a largely technical standards / trade organisation to one that tied them in with politics and money (immigration, human rights, Euro, etc) too and got renamed as the EU. Big mistake. Can you imagine the mess if ISO membership suddenly required going along with all American laws and politics?

As it happens there's plenty of other European countries talking about a "withdrawal from within", which basically seems to mean ditching the political and maybe financial aspects of the EU without actually formally saying that's what they've done. Even Macron has said that perhaps the whole EU thing needs to be reconsidered. So there a good chance that things will get sorted out.

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