* Posts by bazza

2108 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

LHC finds a new and very charming particle: the Xicc++ baryon

bazza
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Re: Awe

I would offer them a beer but I suppose they would be too busy looking for the next quantamy quarky higgs thingy to come along.

Nope, beer works well no matter what, offer away!

In fact beer was the inspiration for the bubble chamber, a now sadly obsolete detector type that used vast quantities of superheated liquid hydrogen to form bubbles around the tracks of particles which were then photographed.

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U wot M8? Oracle chip designers quietly work on new SPARC CPU

bazza
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Re: Scale

What's age got to do with it?

There's features in Solaris that Linux is still trying to replicate. ZFS is one of those.

Sparc/solaris clearly matter to enough people to make comparisons to Intel / Amd / Linux / Windows irrelevant. They want it, Larry's selling it. Or maybe Fujitsu are.

IBM is similar. There's enough niche applications for which mainframes based on POWER are ideal to be worthwhile making them. For example POWER, with its decimal maths coprocessor, is fantastic for currency exchange calculations. Some people want to do a lot of those ultra reliably every day of the year.

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Zero accidents, all of your data – what The Reg learnt at Bosch's autonomous car bash

bazza
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Re: Zero accidents?

Yes, that's kind of the problem behind the whole self driving car "bubble". It is impossible to achieve whilst guaranteeing that there will be no accidents.

The only way to achieve it with technology we have now or at any point in the next 100 years is to turn all the roads into closed access, no bikes, no motorbikes, no pedestrians, no horses, no human driven cars, fenced off zones with standardised carriage widths, zero potholes, no fog, no snow, no heavy rain, no flooding, no fords, no ice, no deer running across the road, etc. We already have those, they're called railways (e.g. Docklands Light Railway in London). Except there we use steel tracks and wheels instead of tarmac and rubber and they don't mind fog or rain or deer so much, they don't have potholes, but admittedly do seem flummoxed by the wrong sort of snow, leaves, etc.

In short, a certifiable self driving autonomous anything needs to have an artificially controlled environment kept clear of any hazard or risk that cannot be controlled by the system designers.

There's a serious amount of money being put into this bubble by a lot of badly advised investors. For companies like Bosch it's slightly different - it gives their engineers something to do when they might otherwise be twiddling their thumbs.

I think that at best the thing that will come out of this whole thing is a super-advanced cruise control that still needs a sober licensed driver paying attention sat behind the steering wheel. Trouble is that that is of very little appeal in the car market. For example, who'd genuinely pay £10k (guessing the premium here) extra for a system that still can't drive you home pissed after a decent night in the pub? That's a lot of taxis. And for a long time to come the price of all this equipment is going to outweigh the total cost of most cars anyway. Doesn't bode well for the mass marketing of these things.

This bubble will eventually get burst. The ones who are first to do their systems engineering and certification engineering properly, and some decent market research to see the true sales potential of a partial solution, will get out and sell their project to one of the other big players.

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While USA is distracted by its President's antics, China is busy breaking another fusion record

bazza
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Re: let me guess...

Hmmm, well apart from the failed efforts back in the 50s, 60s, the progress has been ahead of track since the 1970s. The JET project in Culham in the UK exceeded its research objectives, and that has now been expanded into the ITER project. There is a plan, but it is quite a long plan, but for the past 40ish years it's been running according to (or better than) plan. More or less.

ITER won't produce power, but it is aiming to be able to sustain a plasma. Once that's achieved, fusion power is a certainty, not a hope.

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bazza
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Re: Worse..

If the Chinese can crack it they will be absolutely flooded with every possible malware the US can throw at it...

Sensationalist clap trap.

China and the USA (and Russia too) are members of the ITER project. China is helping build it, just like everyone else. Even the Iranians are talking of joining in. As member nations, they all have equal access to the intellectual property developed by the project. A lot of the other projects are in support of the joint ITER effort, as is the norm with large, international, collaborative scientific research projects.

ITER is too important to be cocked up by politicians. One can only hope that Trump doesn't decide that America is too important to mix it with the Old Foes.

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Create a user called '0day', get bonus root privs – thanks, Systemd!

bazza
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Re: POSIX

I can't have 1234 as my username. That's my password.

Hang on a mo, I'll just log in and change it for you.

There, how's that?

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Microsoft boasted it had rebuilt Skype 'from the ground up'. Instead, it should have buried it

bazza
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Re: Market research

@IsJustabloke,

"Carrying 2 phones in this day and age is nuts,"

I couldn't disagree more strongly with this sentiment!

my phone is *my* phone I don't want work shit anywhere near it. So what if I have two phones? it's not like they're the size of a brick. At the end of my working day I throw it in my lappy bag and walk away.

Ah, well that was the beauty of BlackBerry Balance on BB10. There is a cryptographic separation between work apps, data, calendars, email, contacts and your own personal apps, email, contacts, etc. The cryptographic separation is pretty good, and has a lot of approvals from DoD, MoD, etc. Work could remotely control / wipe their partition, but had zero ability to see, wipe, or control the personal partition. You couldn't copy / paste from work apps/email to personal apps or email, and vice versa.

The result is that Work can be confident that their data won't leak through your personal accounts and apps, and you could be confident that work cannot see or control your personal stuff. If you want to boot work off it altogether, simply signing out to sever their connection and wipe all the data.

Fence Sitting

The best bit is that OS's own calendar app could sit on the fence between the two partitions, and see down into both your work and personal calendar, so you could easily manage personal and work appointments even though neither calendar backend is aware of the other. Similarly for the email client, contacts, etc.

This is the feature that many other mobile management packages lack; you have two separate calendar applications to check before making appointments, two places to look for email, two places to look for contacts, etc.

Two Phone Numbers All At Once

BlackBerry also bought a company that did something clever with virtual sims. So you could have a work number live and dialable that will connect to your phone, whilst your own personal number on the phone also works. AFAIK you could block the work phone number whenever you wanted.

I think you could also turn off notifications from the work side. You get to 5pm, and switch off the work partition and number, and no one else can do anything about it.

Too Clever

All in all it is a pretty sophisticated approach to BOYD, with a far high level of functionality than things like Knox, or IronMobile. It allows the handset owner to strike the balance they want between work and not-work, and be in control of their stuff without having a free reign over the work stuff.

But the number of people who could be bothered to see if anyone had done anything more sophisticated than Google or Apple is quite low, and still fewer were in a position to be able to persuade bosses of its merit.

That type of technology is something that genuinely helps working people have less stuff to carry and have an easier time running their lives. Trouble was that Google and Apple have shown the world that you can make $100billions by simply the needs of working people.

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bazza
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Re: Market research

@nymike,

That's the consumerization of tech, that's how the iPhone also ate BlackBerry. And it's not always a bad thing, if it brings more money for increased development spending etc. (People preferred the iPhone over BB because it was better!) But, you have to do the consumerization right. Apple 1, Microsoft 0.

BlackBerry's response to iPhone, BB10, has some marvellous technical features that make for a really good BYOD solution. The problem they had was:

1) Apple had already "educated" people as to what to expect from a smartphone, so neat technical solutions to the BYOD problem didn't get any interest,

2) it was too late.

The results are that these days, certainly where I work, everyone has a work mobile and a personal phone. Carrying 2 phones in this day and age is nuts, but that's what most British workers with a need for a mobile phone end up doing.

Apple could buy BlackBerry really easily, absorb that tech, but the results consumerisation are clear; there's no real money in supporting business users anymore.

We see it in other areas. BlackBerry Travel is a superb app, and always has been since long, long before iPhone and Android came on to the market. If you and colleagues did a lot of travelling it was fantastic - it managed all your flights, hotels and car rental, kept you up to date on delays, etc. It would even tell you which gate to go to before the airport's own displays. It still works today, but is being shut doing this September. Apparently the company behind it, WorldMate, are deciding there's no future in competing against Google's equivalent. But in comparison, Google's equivalent is a poor, poor imitation.

BB10 Skype

On the plus side, Skype on BB10 (a warmed up version of the Android skype) is unchanged. Doesn't work amazingly well, but works well enough and doesn't make a fuss about it.

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bazza
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If they can do this to a simple thing like Skype, what might they do to Office?!?!

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bazza
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Re: It's Great!

So it's attempting to say, "pay attention to me, not the person you're talking to"?

I'm not sure that MS have fully understood this communications thing...

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SpaceX halts Intelsat 35e launch twice in a row

bazza
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Re: Violation Of Abort Criteria

It is certainly a "no shit, Sherlock" excuseexplanation. It's not like there's anything that's allowed to look a bit iffy, launch anyway, it'll be fine.

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Google DeepMind trial failed to comply with data protection – ICO

bazza
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Fixed?

"We accept the ICO's findings and have already made good progress to address the areas where they have concerns. For example, we are now doing much more to keep our patients informed actually bothering to write to our patients to tell them that we slurped their data and about how their data is used. We would like to reassure patients that their information has been in our control at all times and has never been used for anything other than delivering patient care or ensuring their safety, but as much as we'd like to do that it's doubtful that they'll have any reason to believe us and will likely win if they choose to sue"

I'd that a good enough fix?

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Intel AMT bug bit Siemens industrial PCs

bazza
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Re: " It..checks the number of characters of password received against the actual password,

Just to be clear you're implying that they don't even check the actual password against the entered password? Are you sure that's what you mean as that's a real "WTF?" moment right there.

Unless things have changed since I last read about it; they do check the entered password against the set password, but only if the entered password has more than zero characters. Give it a zero length password and it thinks that everything is a-ok. It was down to a misuse of the strcmp() function.

It's a serious cock up. Knowing the basic architecture and functionality many people have been theorising able the possibility of this kind of bug, but this was an absolute peach. There's going to be more I suspect.

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How to pwn phones with shady replacement parts

bazza
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Re: Error 53

I sometimes wonder if people ever stop and think about why phone manufacturers like Apple are fond of sleek, smooth materials like glass, used in places where glass is not required.

Looks nice? Sure. Breaks easily? Fairly easily. Encourages you to buy a new one when the back of your old one is trashed? Yes.

They're certainly not made for durability, which plastic is actually much better at.

Not that durability requires plastic. When Apple had the opportunity to move over to sapphire glass, which is nigh on indestructible, they decided not to. Part of that decision might have been the motivation to not make a phone that really would last forever.

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bazza
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Re: Error 53

I think partly yes, and then again no.

It's possible, so guarding against it is a good idea.

On the other hand, the cost/reward ratio for someone doing this isn't that favourable. You'd have to do some serious bank account drainage to make it worthwhile I suspect. And if it became a common thing people would simply stop using the dodgy repair guys, lesson learned.

I think Apple's reasons were more related to revenue "protection".

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Not that scary or that hard: Two decades of VLANS

bazza
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VLANS Are Useful

That is all.

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Australian regulator will decide if Uber drivers are staff or contractors

bazza
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At what point do the VC investors pull the plug? The way things are going they're going to burn through all the money and have nothing to show for it except for a lot of disgruntled drivers, a poor reputation as a company and possibly a whole bunch of unpaid fines. Not very good material around which to build a compelling IPO...

They’ve been going for a while now, and AFAIK there's little evidence to suggest that they can ever be profitable. Why waste more money on it? If they closed down Uber now, they wouldn't have to pay redundancy to all those drivers who look like becoming staff in the near future.

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Don't panic, but Linux's Systemd can be pwned via an evil DNS query

bazza
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Re: Hang on, all y'all ...

Unfortunately most anti-systemd trolls are childish and couldn't code their way out of a paper bag

No. A lot of people had already written a ton of perfectly good code, which RedHat/Pottering then consigned to scrap heap using their control of another key project to force everyone else to follow suit, replacing it with a pile of code that has repeatedly been shown to be full of security flaws like this one.

RedHat / Pottering might be able to code their way out of a paper bag, but their strategic decisions have put everyone including themselves inside several thick hessian sacks tied at the neck. It's going to take a long time to get out of the sacks.

GNOME may as well be closed source.

Anyone through about re-doing systemd in Rust?

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bazza
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Re: Hang on, all y'all ...

The point is that someone, and we all know who, has used their corporate position (i.e. control of the Gnome project) to force a big pile of code onto the rest of the Linux world, and has made the classic mistake of making it do too much, for no good reason. For example, what earthly reason is there for an init system to be providing a dns reverse lookup service?

By unnecessarily replacing lots of existing working code with a lot of new code, it's inevitable that there's a shit load of vulnerabilities. These are going to take decades to find and fix. And because of the unnecessarily wide scope of systemd and it's privileged position in an OS, bugs are potentially dangerous.

And because a ton of scripted code has been replaced by a ton of C code, arguably there is more classes of bug (like buffer overruns) to be worried about.

This has been a backward step in system security. It will be a long time before we can trust it. There are very large groups of bug hunters out there who have every intention of using them for malicious purposes, and systemd is great for them. Even if Pottering can point at an empty list of issues for systemd, that doesn't mean there are no security bugs.

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Search results suddenly missing from Google? Well, BLAME CANADA!

bazza
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Enforcement is easy enough. Fine Google. Or if Google takes its corporate presence outside of Canada, pass a law banning Canadian companies from using their advertising services and fine them.

The ad boycott that started in Europe caused Google to lose cash. That's when they started paying attention. It became immoral to advertise on Google, something advertisers don't like, so they withdrew their accounts.

Imagine if it also became illegal?

The world's legal systems haven't really even begun to catch up with the implications of dominant global online services. In the meantime Google especially (and a few others) are making a ton of what could be described as dodgy money. The Europeans are more active at working out whether what they're doing is actually legal and openly competitive, and increasingly they're finding against Google.

Now Google is a wealthy company and should be able to anticipate some of these rulings. They know they're the dominant player, and consequently it is inevitable that some of their website features will attract attention. Now they have to explain to their shareholders why their American style business strategy was the best one to use globally. It wasn't, it's costing shareholders money, and it looks like it's going to get worse.

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bazza
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Re: Does this mean...

...all heck will break loose.

Doesn't sound too bad. Does it tickle?

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Google hit with record antitrust fine of €2.4bn by Europe

bazza
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@Ken Hagan,

Intel and Microsoft also changed the world for good. If you are too young and uninformed to remember or know how, I suggest you do some reading up on how the world was back then. If they have both become fat and lazy and exploitative in recent years, well they are in good company: Google have gone the same way.

At least AMD seem to be giving Intel a hard run for their money again. Competition there is good at the moment. Intel have totally failed to dominate the mobile CPU market. MS dominated with Windows, NT, domains, and then Active Directory. The fact that they got forced to open up those protocols (for a modest fee) was a good thing. The Samba team got the funds together, and that means that there is now an increasingly viable alternative to Windows Server for domain administration. That too is a good thing. MS office doc formats are publicly available, another good thing they were forced to do.

My point is that, yes, Intel and MS have pretty strong positions, but there has been regulatory intervention, even in the USA. Whether there's been enough or not, I don't know. However with Google there's seemingly nothing they can do that annoys the US regulators, which seems worse than the situation we had / have with MS/Intel.

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bazza
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Re: If you were to invent a really great device...

@Doug S

"What percentage of all advertising is a recently invented really great products that most people haven't heard of yet, versus the assortment of me-too products that bring nothing new to the table, useless products that bring nothing at all to the table, assorted scams that are a drain on society, or worst of all, political ads?

I'd say about 0.1% or so is really great product you haven't heard of, at a guess. And I'm probably overestimating at that!"

Your analysis is probably right. Advertising is, to some extent, corporate blackmail. "If you don't advertise with us, we'll make sure that your competitor does". I'm sure it's not said like that, but that's what all publicity departments feel like.

The problem these days is that Google and everyone else have invented a whole new vast array of "places" where adverts can appear. Pre-Internet, there were only so many bill boards, only so many magazines / newspapers, only so many TV channels / ad stops mid show. Nowadays there's practically every single web page on the bleedin' planet, with the notable exception of Wikipedia and the BBC. Google of course are responsible for a big chunk of that; too responsible in fact, according to today's ruling and €2.4billion fine from the EU.

According to the UK Internet Advertising Bureau here UK online advertising is approx £7billion per year. Acknowledging that all advertising is ultimately paid for by consumers, performing some crude calculations on that is quite revealing. £7billion / 60million people = £116 per person per year. Working that out for just wage earners, I reckon that's close to £280 per year, extra money spent on things we buy simply because they're advertised online. Apparently non-internet advertising is about another £7billion, so all told we're spending something like £560 per year just on being advertised at.

Of course, that's a crude analysis, but it's kinda hard to argue with. Advertising doesn't look like good value for money when looked at that way. If one were to ask anyone on the street whether they'd pay £280 per year to use Google search, maps, mail and a few other websites, having already spent £700 on a phone, I doubt there'd be many takers.

I'd quite happily pay £12 per year to use El Reg, ad free. I bet that'd be more than the dear old thing earns from me through ads (and I mostly don't run an ad blocker on El Reg).

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Linus Torvalds slams 'pure garbage' from 'clowns' at Grsecurity

bazza
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Re: Linus exhibits all the qualities of pure sociopath

If it wasn't for him, we'd be limited to Windows, and maybe what OSX would've been.

That's very doubtful. FreeBSD's origins predate Linus's efforts, and FreeBSD's itself first hit the Web very soon after Linux. Had Linus studied the History of Art instead, FreeBSD would have come into existence anyway (it was well on the way to completion). FreeBSD is pretty good.

Then there's the NetBSDs and OpenBSDs of this world.

You're also ignoring some perfectly good commercial OSes; QNX, INTEGRITY, VxWorks are all excellent. QNX in particular is quite interesting, in theory it's capable of being the basis of a desktop OS (you could use it like that back in its very early days). INTEGRITY could too, though that would be a massive piece of work. VxWorks is well and truly stuck in the world of embedded systems, but is (like the others) pretty good at what it does.

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bazza
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Re: SELinux is not the answer.

I am no SELinux expert, but isn't one of its problems that it can be configured badly, to the point of uselessness? Of course, "configure", "badly", and "uselessness" are all very subjective words, everyone has different requirements...

Doesn't BlackBerry's spin of Android run GR patches? If so, anyone know whether it has resisted exploits that have worked on other flavours of Android? Linus might not like the GR guys, but if their code is working then there must be some merit in it.

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AES-256 keys sniffed in seconds using €200 of kit a few inches away

bazza
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Re: AES was not cracked, cut the click bait

@Mage,

But most of the worlds encryption users are now running ARM based phones or tablets. The majority of x86 are either work related laptops or in server rooms and now seriously outnumbered by ARM based gadgets etc.

Whilst that's true, there's still an effort / reward balance to be considered.

Look at Oyster cards on the London Underground. Are they the ultimate in security, the most impenetrable of contactless subway ticketing, proof against nation states and even capable amateurs? No. Do they need to be? Not really, it costs more to clone / hack one than the cost of just paying the fare.

So yes, it might be that someone could build a sniffer the size of a ruck sack, and start picking apart keys on random communications decrypted by crypto co-processors commonly found on, say, ARM SOCs in phones on the tube, in a coffee shop, or IoT devices in someone's home, etc. But to what purpose? I don't really see the point. It'll still be a needle in a haystack, and even if a phone is only moderately well screened (like they probably are to pass EMC accreditation), there's little prospect of being able to make anything of it.

Certainly if it ever became a problem it's so easy to counter it.

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bazza
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Re: AES was not cracked, cut the click bait

Indeed. I feel they set this up to succeed.

Nothing wrong with that of course, but it would have been far more impressive had they pulled off the same trick against an x86 server running a busy workload as well as doing crypto operations. There would be far more background noise to obscure a useful signal. Also due to the mixed workload there's not likely to be an obvious signal to latch onto in the first place. And it'd have a metal case.

Therefore I don't see this result leading to any changes in practices. If there's someone who can get within a couple of meters of one's infrastructure then you've already got a problem. Installing a keyboard logger or something else like that sounds more productive for the attacker.

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Florida Man to be fined $1.25 per robocall... all 96 million of them

bazza
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I think he should be made to listen to each and every single one of those 96million calls too.

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Not Apr 1: Google stops scanning your Gmail to sling targeted ads at you

bazza
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Re: Spamfilter to be crippled too?

You mean the one they got by buying Postini? The one that became worse once Google got their hands on it? That one? It's OK, but they made some needless changes that then made it harder to integrate, and harder to use. And a paid for, unscanned anti spam service became just as paid for but with added scanning for ad data mining.

I doubt this change will alter the spam filtering aspects of their service. It's a completely different scanning process (not looking for key words, just looking for commonality between emails, and specific patterns in binaries, etc.

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F-Secure's Mikko Hypponen on IoT: If it uses electricity, it will go online

bazza
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It's simple really, they're a vast company and can afford to do it properly.

A lot of these IoT things are being done by quite small companies without the long standing software dev team who's only job is to keep up with Linux patches, etc. It's make it work, sell it, abandonware it ASAP and move on.

Belkin seems to be fairly well behaved too.

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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

They just have to not check the box for encryption.

Fine, provided the hypervisor writers remember to make that a checkable option...

On the topic of hypervisors, it does open up a new avenue for malware. Malware could stand up its own hypervisor, with encryption enabled, or use a hypervisor offered by the host OS, and run its paylaod in that VM. There's then nothing the host OS could do about looking inside that VM. There's plenty of reasons why malware wants discreet, unobservable runtime on someone else's hardware.

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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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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned, says report

bazza
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Don't. Just. Don't. Mention. That. Possibility.

On a more serious note, there's now an infamous ex CEO on the loose, and the passage of time will diminish that to merely "heard of him, must be good". He will end up being someone's boss somewhere at some time in the medium term. So now we're all kind of playing CEO roulette...

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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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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.

3
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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.

28
3

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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