* Posts by Charlie Clark

5121 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

President Trump tweets from insecure Android, security boffins roll eyes

Charlie Clark
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Re: Douglas Adams nailed it

It's older than that: the Marx brothers but probably also Mark Twain, et al including Cicero. It's painfully obvious that those wishing to wield power are the least suited to doing. But, unfortunately, they're also usually very charismatic.

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Trump lieutenants 'use private email' for govt work... but who'd make a big deal out of that?

Charlie Clark
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There's a huge distinction between speculation and propaganda…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: No Surprise

Speaking of executive orders, how come they were bad when Obama was making them but suddenly OK now?

Who's complaining about them? All presidents make them with the knowledge that the next one might undo them. But if you want details then Obama's orders were usually made after he couldn't get something through Congress, Trump is currently signing ones largely for show: nearly everything still has to go through Congress.

Trump reminds me of Mussolini: he likes to be in front of the camera doing something. We can expect a lot of this for a while but at some point he's going to have to deliver and the constitution deliberately makes that difficult.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Some of us who have been around a longish time...

WE know which is the lesser of the two evils, and it ain't Clinton.

I actually like Larry Correia's comparison of them as two different forms of cancer. Lots of reasons not to vote for either of them but one of them had to win. On balance, as an outsider I think Trump's business interests are going to be the biggest problem and this is where the attention should be focused. We should get used to him hiring and subsequently firing venal incompetents.

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Charlie Clark
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It's really quite simple: employed office holders are banned from conducting party business.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 will be a no-show at MWC, exec says

Charlie Clark
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Re: Bloody hell

Mind that's all assuming the reports true.

They may all be true but also incomplete. Samsung's initial response indicated that they thought there was a construction / design problem in batteries from one supplier. This turned out to be an optimistic and, ultimately, very expensive assumption as we're now learning. For whatever reasons the design flaws in the batteries only became apparent once they were in the devices. Alongside pressure and the usual bashing we give our phones, you've also got lots and lots of dodgy power supplies.

The key thing will be the lessons learned both in terms of design, specification, testing and approval processes: is someone really going to stop the launch of something that has been in development for 18 months?

As all Li-Ion batteries are potentially explosive it's important to get regulators onboard here. I can see arguments both for and against mandating removable batteries: makes recalls a whole lot easier; knock-off replacement batteries are known to be safety risk. Getting the regulators onboard also makes it easier to fight off competition from no-name Chinese makers who give even less of a shit about safety and one of the reasons why Samsung went ahead with this particular specification was in response to a highly competitive market. Had it worked out as intended, it should have insulated Samsung a bit more from the cut-throat competition.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Bloody hell

Obviously not enough.

But I suspect the problem was related as to what kind of testing was done: you would be amazed at what people actually do with their phones and anticipating this can be very hard.

I'm not a consumer electronics engineer so I'm not going to speculate but I do wonder from the report as to whether pressure sensitivity (such as being in an airplane) might have pushed things beyond design tolerance on some devices. No excuse, of course, but remember the number of reported incidents versus the number of devices actually sold.

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Government to sling extra £4.7bn at R&D in bid to Brexit-proof Britain

Charlie Clark
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Facepalm

There is now new money…

at least based on the last budget there isn't. So any announcements are either the usual repackaging of previous ones, or outright lies, or both like the £ 350 million a week allegedly to be found down the Treasury's sofa.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Buzzword bingo and the boomer mindset

They would do better spending their time thinking up a strategy for preserving UK-owned exploitable intellectual property,

Easy to do using some kind of golden share but this begs the question as to whether ARM would have been as successful with such an arrangement. On paper the ARM sale was a great deal for the shareholders… A bigger problem is current trend for debt-financed M&A but I don't expect any government to take any steps to reduce this any time soon.

Governments almost always get it wrong when they get closely involved in industrial policy whether it's by trying to pick winners, protectionist policies or subsidies in the form of lower taxes.

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Samsung set a fire under battery-makers to make the Galaxy Note 7 flaming brilliant

Charlie Clark
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Give it a rest

Your correspondent suspects the idea Samsung wants us all to take away is that it pushed so hard…

… that safety considerations were ignored with disastrous, though fortunately not life-threatening, effects.

While you're busy beating on Samsung you might also mention Takata whose problems with airbags were slightly more alarming. Or any of the many similar cases. For various reasons (cost-cutting is not the only one) products are released onto the market with defects. Some of these can and should be avoided. But before we get on our high horses, we might take a moment to consider how complicated some of this stuff is.

That said, while Samsung is handling the Note 7 extremely well, it's got a potentially bigger issue related to the influence peddling scandal in South Korea.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Comparison of outrage

To be fair to the "journnos" stories like this and the Apple "antennagate" are easy to write and attract lots of readers. But, basically, there's not much meat left of this: Samsung fucked up, fumbled and then accepted full responsibility and did a complete product recall and investigation. You can't really expect more than that.

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Google loses Android friends with Pixel exclusivity

Charlie Clark
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Re: Give it a rest

Have to agree with you on this. Google is already beta testing the assistant on world & dog in Allo and will no doubt release it as a standalone app in due course.

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Why Theresa May’s hard Brexit might be softer than you think

Charlie Clark
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Re: I'm still confused how this is going to work for Northern Ireland.

I fear a return to a full border and subsequently terrorism, which will have learned all the lessons of the last 15 years. :-( Northern Ireland was a huge money pit with bombs before the Good Friday agreement and has since benefitted (financially and in terms of jobs) significantly from EU funds. Disaffected sectarians without jobs is not a recipe for peace and prosperity.

We'll get a better idea after the next elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly but I really am pessimistic about things.

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Charlie Clark
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Lump of labour fallacy

flood of cheap labour from Eastern Europe – a boon to bosses, as it suppresses wages

Statements like this demonstrate a clear lack of understating of the labour market in what is known as the "lump of labour fallacy".

Britain had a "booming" low wage sector before EU enlargement but this is almost entirely due to a preference for low regulation and low skilled workers. Immigrants from elsewhere in the EU were attracted by job opportunities, ie. jobs that could not be taken up by UK nationals for various reasons, including the wages offered (there is certainly correlation). If they had not arrived then it's most likely that the positions would have remained unfilled or wages and prices would have to rise significantly. Immigration leads to economic growth through increased aggregate demand (new jobs are created as a result) and indeed many immigrants have gone on to create their own businesses as have so many of the generations before them.

However, while the EU immigrants have been net economic contributors, there is no doubt that they have caused resentment because they compete for scarce and inflexible resources: housing; schooling; healthcare. This was particularly notable in areas with no recent tradition in immigration where, say, even a 5% increased in "foreigners" at the doctor's surgery can have a dramatic effect in waiting times. But they're not responsible for the current problems in the NHS: this is down to the UK's shameful tradition of trying to squeeze a quart out of a pint bottle. Indeed the NHS has for years depended upon skilled immigrants and would probably collapse without them.

Otherwise the analysis is fair (the UK government is still looking for the clue hammer), but largely misses the point. Until the UK formally requests to leave the EU then all of these speeches and remarks are purely for domestic consumption, which is why it contains nonsense like "no deal is better than a bad deal". Game theory alone tells us that a bargaining position of maximum demands is not optimal in the forthcoming negotiations, so we can expect this change. In fact, the speech was reminiscent of May's many speeches about reducing the number of immigrants to the UK. And just how successful was she in this respect? Even immigration from outside the EU, where the UK can do pretty much what it likes, rose.

It's possible this is a long game and the idea is to start making things so unpleasant for the UK in order to sideline the hardliners and make the inevitable compromise more likely to succeed politically: an vote in parliament is likely to depend as much upon the opposition as it is upon the government's own supporters.

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EU tosses Europe's cookies... popups

Charlie Clark
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Devil

Re: So we commit to leave

What? People voted to leave the EU because they were being informed about cookies? Good riddance!

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Charlie Clark
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Re: woo hoo

Banners we never sufficient for explicit consent but some EU member states mandated them and web monkeys copied them. Technical solutions such as proper browser settings, think of websites asking for your location, would always have been possible.

Anyway, until the law is changed the existing laws stay in place. It's just that the fines will start to go up from next year.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: woo hoo

This is simply a discussion document…

The EU never requested popups and explicit consent is still required for non-essential cookies because it's a good thing.

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Rethink on bank cybersecurity rules might only follow major bank breach, says expert

Charlie Clark
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Re: Customer experience

Banks don't want to makes things secure either becasue it costs money

They want just as much security as will give them plausible deniability and mean that they are not liable for any losses. Making customers responsible also means that they can sell insurance. Win, win you might say.

Good security that is easy to use is possible with HBCI. Never heard of it? Makes you wonder why, doesn't it.

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Hangouts hangs up on third party apps

Charlie Clark
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Re: The Google giveth...

You pay in one way or another.

Aw, diddums.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Is this Reddit or what?

Don't Allo and Duo rely on using your mobile number for identification

like SMS/MMS, etc.? Probably to set up but I think this is a side-effect of the encryption system used. The phone + SIM model was chosen for GSM because it's good for security and also one of the reasons why, in Europe at least, the phone number belongs to the user and not the service provider.

If you want something multi-platform that isn't necessarily tied to a number then you can give BBM or Wire a look.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The Google giveth...

1) can you tell the difference between an API and a service? Hangouts is alive and kicking, the rest are better RIP.

2) which services do you provide for free?

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Charlie Clark
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Is this Reddit or what?

Google announced last year that Allo and Duo would be the new messaging platforms with Hangouts being reserved for enterprise, where it works really well and for which the relevant extensions will be kept around.

Note to self: one-sentence-per-paragraph articles are usually accompanied by whiny comments.

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Soz fanbois, Apple DIDN'T invent the smartphone after all

Charlie Clark
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When apple release an iOS update everyone gets it.

Which unfortunately still doesn't mean that the updates are ever timely.

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ZTE laying off 3,000

Charlie Clark
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Re: Who?

Unlike Huawei, ZTE has struggled to break out of the white label market for handsets outside of China. This is probably as much down to its corporate structure as anything else. Then again, given how close it is to the Chinese military, it doesn't really need to worry as its forays into the data centre business illustrate.

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Google's Grumpy code makes Python Go

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: Just port the bloody code.

Shall we go through the original Python code-base and re-implement it in Go, testing as we go?

Because computes make fewer mistakes than humans? "Transpiling", particularly with Python, is well understood, reliable and fast as the PyPy project documents.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Calling BS

A cross compiler allows Google to get rid of CPython and, eventually, create a private version Python that is not foreign matter in Google's parallel universe.

This is some of the biggest horse shit I've come across in a while. Google does loads of stuff in Python and actively contributes to lots of products. They wanted to use it for systems stuff but hit problems with the GIL and Go was a reasonable solution for some stuff. A good developer keeps an open mind and Google is keen on good developers.

I've not used Go myself but I know plenty of developers who are comfortable switching between Go and Python depending on the task in hand. Go's builtin support for concurrency and parallelism is fantastic for some situations, though not for all, as Ben Bangert's talk on Python to Go and back makes clear. In many situations being able to use PyPy will solve most performance problems and this sounds like an extension of the idea where better parallelism is required.

Meantime async.io is getting traction and Python is also looking at ways of alleviating problems associated with the GIL.

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How Google.org stole the Christmas Spirit

Charlie Clark
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Re: Just a google bash?

The real issue here is DonorsChoose taking such a so much of a cut and Schools needing to beg for essentials like paper, colored pencils, etc.

This is the sad truth. I know of one school in Germany where the kids have to take in their own toilet paper!

All aid programmes reveal contradictions. Indeed foreign aid programmes are one of the biggest gravy trains for industrial contracts out there.

I'm not a fan of Chromebooks but the US non-profit set up invites this kind of self-serving "foundation" because of the favourable tax treatment. However, just because schools are asking for computers and basic materials, does not make the programme evil. It just highlights the general underinvestment in education. The programmes themselves are supposed to be complementary and provide additional resources.

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Chinese boffins: We're testing an 'impossible' EM Drive IN SPAAAACE

Charlie Clark
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Re: Curiouser and curiouser

As others have noted, the comparison is the cold fusion nonsense: the time isn't spent debunking but in trying to replicate the experiment and possibly along the way discover flaws in equipment (fast neutrinos) or calculations.

Theoretically there is no reason to give this "drive" any credence. But sometimes, just sometimes, it's worth trying the daftest of ideas just one more time. And a good scientist is one who's able to put aside his prejudices to do so. That said, this really is an expensive joke.

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Did EU ruling invalidate the UK's bonkers Snoopers' Charter?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Get yourself an early Xmas present...

Sadly, using Tunnelbear from outside the UK condemns one to be geolocated in Slough

Great, let the spooks all think we're in Slough and then, pace Betjeman:

Come, lovely bombs, and fall on Slough

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EU accuses Facebook of providing incorrect info on WhatsApp buy

Charlie Clark
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Re: just one word ....Signal !!!

You can only download/use Signal through a Google Play account; which entirely nullifies the point of it for me.

Lots of places you can sideload it from but it is fine to install it from the Google Store: key creation and exchange have nothing to do with that.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Why not actually demand a FIX for a change?

Facebook cannot fix what happened two years ago, no matter how much the EU or the UK would press them to..

You can't change the past but the EU Commission could easily enforce not just financial sanctions as the case against Microsoft demonstrated. Anything that looks like unravelling that deal would put a lot of pressure on Facebook because of the size of the deal and the potential negative affect on Facebook's sell the idiots' data business model.

Expect the Trumpeter to get noisy about this.

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Brussels cunning plan to save the EU: No more Cookie Popups

Charlie Clark
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Thumb Up

Yes, "strictly necessary" cookies have never been a problem: the people who drafted these documents are not entirely clueless. Banners, such as those used on El Reg, do not constitute informed consent but are easy to copy. As this is how much of the internet works, this is why we see so many of them.

There is, of course, a problem with what constitutes "strictly necessary". I've argued successfully in the past that this can include statistics as long as the data collected is processed in accordance with the data privacy regulations of the website owner: this excludes Google Analytics, which Google provides as a "free" service in order to track people across websites.

Of course, in a "post-truth" world privacy can be considered as at best optional and, at worst, dangerous.

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Trump meets Google – exclusive transcript

Charlie Clark
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Re: Sounds about right

But now they all need each other. Trump won the election so he doesn't need votes from the saps any more but he will need Congress to get anything done and the palms in Congress will need greasing.

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SpaceX delays manned Dragon capsule launch

Charlie Clark
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I don't think Boeing's going around boasting about how it's revolutionising the industry. Plus, and I don't know any details, doesn't Boeing have to produce something to satisfy the politicians? That usually means a whole heap of impossible requirements.

Anyway, having multiple suppliers is important. Having Space X in there undoubtedly encourages the others to up their game. Who knows, it might even lead them to tell the politicians when their pipe dreams are impossible or at least financially ruinous.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Actually less about the Amosposion I think.

Whoever said rocket science isn't hard?

While admire a lot of what Musk does, there is often an undertone that the existing way of doing things is all wrong. Yes, NASA (but even more so DARPA) is a nice source of big, fat cost-plus contracts for the industry, but they still have an enviable record for getting stuff done. Especially the stuff no one has done before.

As for launch records: Space X still has a long way to go to match Ariane but it's good that they're trying and we're all learning new things.

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Reschedule the holiday party, Patch Tuesday is here and it's a big one

Charlie Clark
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Yes, because the Linux lot never get it wrong. Except that Debian and Ubuntu are famous for botching the integration of upstream patches (openSSL, cough). And RedHat will happily offer you software that is not only no longer maintained but actively warned against.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Update nightmares

Apple's approach is particularly egregious here. They should just do what FreeBSD does best and keep system and application updates separate and keep system updates out of the fucking awful AppStore. Even Microsoft has managed to do this reasonably well, Internet Explorer notwithstanding.

When something is broken, fix it, test the fix and distribute it but stop sitting on these vulnerabilities for months.

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Investigatory Powers Act signed into UK law by Queen

Charlie Clark
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Facepalm

As usual, laws like this tend to suffer from the "Law of Unintended Consequences": secure messaging encryption, TOR proxies and VPNs are now commodified so that anyone who has something they want to hide from the state can easily do so and, more importantly, it's better hidden than used to be possible.

The government can collect all the fucking data it wants; it'll do them little good. But I worry a lot about what happens after the inevitable data breaches: criminals now have extremely good reasons to try and get hold of this stuff and the government have conveniently offered to put all the data in one place.

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Huawei Mate 9: The Note you've been waiting for?

Charlie Clark
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Good on you. Still, Samsung did the only sensible thing they could do and withdrew the product: at some point you can no longer bury the bad PR. While the battery-related problems were obviously worrying, they were also, er, blown up (sorry) all out of proportion by a sensationalist media.

I'm happy with my second-hand S5 but looking forward to what Samsung next come up with, especially if they go back on the non-replaceable battery approach. Could be onto a winner if they do.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Competition

The camera is 13MP, with laser focus and two-tone flash.

If you want to go budget then you really ought to ignore the bells and whistles, which are there just to convince you that there's no such thing as a false economy, and you're less likely to be disappointed.

Price/performance isn't linear, which is why the term "premium" exists. Still, you almost always do "get what you pay for": paying a bit more will generally mean a better overall product. If you ask me, waterproofing, ability to survive the odd drop and a screen that's readable in sunlight are more important than how many MP the camera has (CCD size and speed are more important, but can also fall victim to "go faster stripes". After-market support is also important: does the vendor have a support operation in your country, etc? Yes, we all know Samsung's and Huawei's record on updates isn't stellar, but they have UK subsidies who you can at least take to court.

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'Mirai bots' cyber-blitz 1m German broadband routers – and your ISP could be next

Charlie Clark
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Re: The big problem is...

Well, legally they are a victim of a malicious attack. As to whether they were negligent, well, that's another matter.

Fritz boxes are not immune either: a a couple of months ago there was an exploit that finally galvanised Unitymedia and AVM into a firmware update for their 6360s.

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ESA: Sorry about Schiaparelli, can we have another €400 mill?

Charlie Clark
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Re: So, you want an extra €400 million?

I haven't had a chance to follow the details of this one but I don't thing a lack of software testing is the only thing to blame. And since Ariane 5 the ESA has a heap of people pouring over the code.

I'm a huge fan of software testing. But, as Gary Bernhardt says, you're often restricted to testing "known unknowns". Sending probes to foreign planets tends involve heaps of "unknown unknowns". This is rocket science after all!

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Charlie Clark
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Re: syntactical question

Most abbreviations tend to get the definite article: theCIA, etc; MI5 being an exception. So I tend say the NASA and the ESA. Whether acronym gets contracted into a noun is another matter and one of preference, though with only three letters it doesn't make much difference. Longer than that, eg. NASA, and the lazy brain will tend to try and speak it.

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Charlie Clark
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to give a kick along to smaller and startup space companies developing “software, hardware, and integrated solutions for companies using satellite data”

The ESA has a long history of working with university spin-offs to get stuff done: it's how Surrey Satellites got started.

When it comes to things like Exo-Mars then comparisons with Space X and Blue Origin are completely specious. None of this stuff has been done before, ergo, none of it has been commodified and can be done cheaply.

As any fule kno, the biggest cost of any mission is getting whichever contraptions you have from the earth to the destination (out of the earth's gravity well and into Mars' orbit). My scribbles on the back of an envelope that, given the current cost of routine satellite launches, $ 500 million isn't expensive for going to Mars and still better than trashing the main lander "to see if you've fixed the problem".

On projects like this you need teams that will work hard to find out what went wrong, who will own up about it publicly, and management that will back them. So kudos to the ESA for doing this.

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Airbus flies new plane for the first time

Charlie Clark
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I think it's a little too early to judge the A380. Sales have been disappointing but not bad, all things considered and the markets for which it's really suitable are still growing: pilgrimages to Mecca from around the world. But for Airbus it was also the test bed of many of the techniques that it's now using in things like the A350. And, while the 787 is selling well, it had so many problems that I reckon the financials are on a par.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: First Flight Challenges

shattered and charred aluminium

Pah! I laugh in scorn at your aluminium, puny human: real planes are made from plywood! :-)

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Sorry, iPhone fans – only Fandroids get Barclays' tap-to-withdraw

Charlie Clark
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Re: Security?

NFC itself has nothing to do with security, this should be implemented by the chip + PIN because the magnetic stripe isn't in the least bit secure.

Medium term it would also mean cash machines with fewer moving parts. Though there are many economists who want to move us away from cash so they can devalue the currency faster.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: How is this progress?

It makes skimming the card at a cash machine a lot more difficult.

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Samsung fires $70m at quantum televisions

Charlie Clark
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So rather than combining RBG to get beige, the quantum dot just emits beige?

Not quite. Due to the use of filters LCD screens have a narrower range of colours or gamut than OLED. Doping the crystals with the nano particles helps increase that range. The difference is that colours used to be tied to particular chemicals: say Lead oxide for white, rust for ochre. Now you just choose nano particles of the right size for the colours you want. I'm not au fait with the details but I think they use the quantum dots to create sub pixels and thus increase the range of colours, because the "white" of the source isn't a continuous spectrum.

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Signal security revealed: A triple-Diffie-Hellman with a double ratchet

Charlie Clark
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Re: Capture the message post decryption...

Signal disables screengrabbing by default and can be configured to require a password to read any message. If I was writing malware I wouldn't start there.

The encryption stuff is mainly about spooks trying to listen in on all traffic. If they get hold of you and your device then I wouldn't really worry about any passwords.

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