* Posts by h4rm0ny

4545 posts • joined 26 Jul 2008

'Stop-gap' way to get Linux on Windows 8 machines to be issued

h4rm0ny
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Re: Protecting their investment

"What is so hypothetical about this? Do you think it is wrong for an operating system manufacturer to hold sway over a hardware manufacturer?"

Well, the question you ask is hypothetical when it comes to PCs because the devices are not locked to a particular OS manufacturer and MS require any manufacturer to ensure that they are not under threat of withholding Win8 certification from them. So that is what is hypothetical.

"Why would Microsoft subsidise the cost of a netbook? What is in it for them? Do you think it is coincidence that Toshiba wouldn't sell me an NB200 without an OS? I'll tell you this .. that I personally can think of no other reason that an OS manufacturer would put money behind the sale of hardware unless it was for the reason of keeping competitors off that platform."

Again, I point out that this has nothing to do with Secure Boot, that neither the NB200 supports it (it's not even a UEFI device) nor the OS (XP or 7) can use it. Do I think it's coincidence that it's only sold with Windows on it? No of course not - marketing decisions don't just happen by coincidence. I imagine it's mainly because, as Asus found, the market for PCs delivered with Linux on them was so small to not really be worth the extra support and bureacracy and that they also got hassle from people returning them because the buyers were ignorant that PC does not mean Windows. And this is the case for nearly all mainstream sold PCs, not just this one that you say MS subsidized. I also have to ask what you actually mean by MS subsidised the cost of the laptop. Taken literally, it seems to imply that money was flowing from MS to Toshiba, which seems unlikely. Should I read you as saying MS charged Toshiba less? That is quite common - large sellers always negotiate their own deals and these are often quite closely guarded secrets, so I want to know what the terms are that you say MS made Toshiba not sell blank devices.

"I have no proof, but that is my personal opinion."

It's possible. But as I've shown, there are also other explanations even though you stated you couldn't think of any. So we don't know if it's really the case or not, it's just hypothetical and as it's hypothetical it may not be appropriate for you to get as angry about it as you don't know whether it's the case or not.

Most of the rest of your post is just general comments against Microsoft and I don't know why you're directing them at me as I was talking about Secure Boot. I am not Microsoft. I'm just someone who understands how Secure Boot actually works. If you're going to reply to my post about Secure Boot, you should be addressing Secure Boot, not just using my comment as a platform for general anti-Microsoft attitude because the latter is not really a reply to what I was talking about.

"WHY does MS think that it is OK for i86 to be allowed to be turned off, while ARM can't? That's one question I've not yet heard convincingly answered."

I commented on this elsewhere. We don't know - it's not even out yet. But ARM devices are less generic beasts than x86 devices - the software is a lot more closely written to each individual device. (If Linux has only just built a generic layer for ARM, then I can only guess how far behind Windows is). In short, I don't know but I guess they are seen more like phones where the product is a closely-integrated hardware+software designed and sold (and cruicially, budgeted for) as a single saleable thing, rather than as one thing (hardware) that comes with another thing (software). At least I presume that is the mindset. Basically, it's the same model Apple use with the iPad and some Android devices. You're not supposed to rip it apart for the parts. It may be that these are priced on the expectation that the installed OS will remain there. E.g. the iPad is priced as is because Apple expect to make money from people buying apps for it through the store. If it were generic hardware, it would be more expensive. Don't know on that front, but this is my guess for the motivations.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Protecting their investment

"It has everything with secure boot. Toshiba wouldn't SELL me an NB200 without Windows on it. Don't people understand this yet?"

I actually just looked up the Toshiba NB200 to see why you are having a problem. This machine doesn't even have UEFI. It has BIOS. You're insisting that a model that does not support Secure Boot, which comes installed with an OS (XP or Win7) that cannot not use Secure Boot, has "everything to do with secure boot". It doesn't. That's what I've been telling you - what you're angry about has nothing to do with Secure Boot.

"Microsoft had contributed to the cost of the NB200 that was sold with Windows"

If that is true, then doesn't that mean that MS are subsidising the cost of the NB200. Your second comment: "Even if I wanted to pay the extra, I couldn't get an NB200 without Windows" doesn't make sense - if you're willing to pay extra for a device without Windows for some reason (I would not be), then you can just wipe the Windows that comes with it and not have to pay the extra. And again, this is nothing to do with Secure Boot. Do you think for some reason that Secure Boot would prevent you wiping Windows from your x86 device? If so, you have a very, very incorrect understanding of what Secure Boot actually is.

"As long as this kind of thing is possible, then what is to stop Microsoft insisting that the only keys installed on the NB200 (as a future example) is for the operating system that it is shipped with ... as it is ploughing money in to the sale."

As has been pointed out several times - MS are actually requiring hardware manufacturers to allow users to disable Secure Boot on PCs. Are you getting angry about hypothetical scenarios? Is that the issue?

"What the potential is for secure boot to play a part in such microshite/manufacturer deals now ... who knows, but I'm very, very wary of it and concerned about the situation."

Okay. Fine. But your earlier posts were giving the strong impression you were angry about an actual wrong being done now.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Here We Go Again

"Uhmm, h4rm0ny, it seems you misunderstood the whole topic. Read up on the material here for example: http://www.rodsbooks.com/efi-bootloaders"

Would you like to actually try pointing out somethig I have got factually wrong or have misunderstood? Linking to a page about bootloaders doesn't really say anything. If you're implying I don't understand how they work, you're incorrect.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Protecting their investment

"Now to the point - where is my ability to buy an NB200 without Windows on it? I can't, because Microsoft locked down my purchasing ability."

That really has nothing to do with this story about Secure Boot, but have you contacted Toyota and asked if they'll reimburse you if you don't use Windows? Dell, Acer, Lenovo and HP have all refunded people for the cost of the Windows licence if unused. Toshiba might also. That said, with volume licencing and the fact that the NB200 is very old and comes with XP on it, you're probably going to get very little back. (And it's Toshiba who are selling it with Windows on, not MS, just for accuracy). You could also buy it second hand as it's a few years old in which case you wont be paying for a Windows licence if that helps?

"So no matter what you think, I'm complaining to my MP. I have machines that run 24/7 and bring themsleves back up after a power cut that is beyond the UPS ... amd I supposed to always be there to press a button when this happens? No way."

I'm not sure what you're talking about here. Are you talking about Secure Boot blocking unsigned code from loading without user verification? Surely you would want that if you have Secure Boot turned on as that is what it is supposed to do. If you don't want that, just turn it off. (I am assuming that you aren't talking about 24/7 ARM machines on UPS).

"Also, why are the US companies Intel and AMD allowed to have a get out while UK company ARM isn't ?"

Because AMD and Intel make x86 hardware and ARM does not. Incidentally, ARM architecture was designed by a British company but the technology is actually licenced by a large number of hardware companies including US companies.

"This whole microsoft requirement stinks like shit; I'm as mad as fucking hell and my MP is damn sure going to know about it."

I genuinely don't understand why you are angry about the Microsoft requirement for Secure Boot which is that a user has the ability to turn it off on x86 devices. Without that requirement, device manufacturers could lock their x86 hardware to a specific OS. You understand that UEFI is not a Microsoft technology and nor is Secure Boot? It's produced by a forum of hardware manufacturers of about a dozen major hardware manufacturers. Linux distributions are also perfectly capable of signing code for Secure Boot.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: The keys are not controlled by the owner.

"You have just explained fairly well why those of us who use Gnu/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, etc, might want to use Secure Boot. You have not explained why we should not have the platform key and sign boot and other software as we choose"

I never tried to explain why you shouldn't. I'm all for user ownership of the device. I'm just trying to correct some of the horrendous misinformation and outright untruths flying around here, e.g. that Linux is blocked from being run on x86 without this "workaround" or that Secure Boot is just a scam without purpose. I'm pro-Security and pro-Accurate Reporting, not pushing any other agenda.

I guess I would say that if you routinely re-compile your kernel and modules then that mitigates some of the gains of self-signing. I.e. either you remove malware infections by recompiling, or if not then you're actually signing infected code. Though please don't think I'm arguing it has no value. I just think it more useful a scenario in the enterprise where you want to push out verfied code to a lot of users, rather than worry about your own box when you're already an expert user. So I love seeing that Red Hat are leading the way in this for Linux. Being able to roll out Linux to a thousand PCs and know that no-one can alter that install without an alert or being locked out - that's good stuff. My (admittedly somewhat out of date) Gentoo box, I would be either forever generating new keys for a system where I reckon I know what I'm doing anyway (and for which there's very little malware out in the wild) or I'd just turn Secure Boot off. Anyway, those are my thoughts on it.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: UEFI is a lockdown technique, NOT designed to prevent malware.

"Most if not all malware does not compromise the computer through the boot process. It compromises one or more of the running processes on a running computer to 'own' the target. The computer is already running at this point. UEFI only protects boot, not the running OS. Therefore the UEFI is NOT an anti-malware technique"

I can categorically state that you are not an active professional in the field of anti-malware development. I've elsewhere linked to entire families of malware that infect the boot process. I'll give you an example of a trojan. The user receives it somehow (typically an email attachment) and they run it. Now they're not going to run that executable every time they turn their computer on (particularly if it did not contain the video of Cheryl Cole naked that they were promised the first time) so the malware needs to infect the PC so it runs automatically. There are a variety of places it can hide and run and one of those places is the boot process. The advantage of the boot process is that the malware can activate before the anti-malware software (Norton, MS Security Essentials, whatever) can start - which helps it hide. By verifying that the code to be booted is signed and not altered, Secure Boot can protect against this. You can state that it isn't so, but I've actually linked to such software definitions elsewhere. It exists and it is widely known.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Here We Go Again

"I have EUFI laptop and the only way to get Linux on is via the Ubuntu installer that slips it into the Windows boot menu somehow. cant seem to get a better distro on there because there is simply no option to choose the boot device or do anything to the machine pre-boot."

If the only way to get Linux onto your laptop was via the Ubuntu installer, then Ubuntu would be the only Linux distro in existence. You can manually install Grub (or even LiLo if you want). I *think* you can still boot Win7 from both of these as well. If you meant you want to dual-boot, then the Ubuntu installer is a nice friendly way to do this by inserting it into the Windows boot menu, but there are most certainly other ways to do this. I really hate to come across as a grouchy old hand, but if you see the Ubuntu installer as the only way to get Linux on somewhere, then you'd never have survived the days of compiling your own kernel. Try getting hold of Gentoo or Arch to experience "real" Linux. ;)

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Wood for the Trees Problem

"No one is stopping Linux software companies from doing the same as Microsoft and saying "if you want Linux certification, you need a linux Master key in your BIOS"."

That's an interesting point. Fedora and Ubuntu are the first Linux distributions to do signed boot loaders, but I would imagine Google / Android to be the first to actually roll out devices locked to the installed device, a lá WinRT devices. It will be interesting to see the anger displayed or not displayed, when they do so.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: @HMB - let me get this straight

Just to follow on about WinRT. I guess the difference as MS see it, is that with OEM devices, they are selling software. But with the WinRT devices, they are not selling software, they are selling hardware and software combined. And they don't want to be subsidizing competitors, e.g. Android, by selling hardware priced according to subscription models or offset by software costs, if someone will just take the hardware and use it as a cheap platform for a rival at MS's expense. E.g. a common rumour is that some of the WinRT devices are going to be sold on a subscription model much like phones. Naturally, MS would want the device to be locked, just like a phone is locked. Doesn't mean I agree with it, but I presume that may be the reasoning.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: @HMB - let me get this straight

"The irony of the downvoters is that they think they are championing linux, but all they really do is make respectable linux users look more like goons by unfortunate association. They're the sort of people you don't invite along to parties because of inadequate emotional intelligence."

I've been using Linux for around a decade. And before that I was using UNIX. I remember when Ubuntu appeared and looking down on it for the way everything was pre-compiled. :D Yes, we don't need champions who would prefer a helpful lie to the truth.

"One caveat I would come out with was that I could have made it clearer that ARM wasn't included in the fair secure boot plan. I don't agree with ARM being locked out on principle, but I find it distasteful that Microsoft gets singled out for this when Apple has been locking down it's platform for some time. At least bash both of them in a balanced way."

Agreed and noted. As I wrote elsewhere, I would also like to see ARM devices required to allow Secure Boot to be disabled. I have criticised MS for this on other occasions, but I guess here I was just focused on trying to correct the onslaught of misinformation (some of which is almost certainly deliberate as at least some of the people here must know better). I will keep it in mind for the future. Cheers.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: The keys are not controlled by the owner.

"If UEFI was intended to protect from malware, the user could enter their own keys for what they want to have boot. This is not the current approach."

How would a piece of firmware tell the difference between a self-signed piece of software that the user wanted, and a self-signed piece of software that the user didn't want (i.e. malware). It's similar to self-signed certificates on servers - you need a trusted third party to verify (i.e. sign) your certificate else it's just a piece of software saying: "trust me because I say you can." Unless the code to be booted is signed with a key that the firmware recognizes (i.e. the device maker's key), then it can't know if the signature is valid. Yes - Secure Boot is designed to protect against malware. I linked you to a specific example of malware that would be blocked by it. There was an article on The Reg. here not long ago where someone had demonstrated how they were able to carry out an attack which was blocked if Secure Boot was enabled. It's downright bizarre that you claim it is purely a scam. Which brings us to this...

"So how did the malware get into the machine in the first place. It didn't get in through the boot process. The boot process is altered as part of the infection. What will happen is that the machine that gets infected will turn into a 'brick' and won't boot."

I gave you a direct link to an example piece of malware. You ask how did the malware get onto the machine in the first place. If you check the first line of the summary for that malware (or the technical name of it), you'll see that it is described as a Trojan. This means that the user has actively installed it, typically under the expectation that it is something else, e.g. porn or some such.

And nowhere in the description does it say that the infected device will become "a brick". Are you under the impression that Secure Boot will turn the device into a brick because of an infection? That's a good guess at what might happen if you haven't read up on it, but actually there are a range of options. First, note that this whole thing applies not just to the kernel itself but device drivers as well (which can also be infected). So you might for example, boot up in what used to be called "Safe Mode" with some functionality disabled allowing anti-malware software to re-install drivers or clean up infections. Also, typically, the system might start a separate repair or remediation process distinct from the normally booting OS which will again repair or clean up the infected system. There are all sorts of options, basically. Simply bricking the device and refusing to do anything...? Not by design, anyway.

And remember that the goal of modern malware is not normally to brick someone's device, but to either extract information or subvert their resources (e.g. for DDOS). I suppose if you're asking could someone write a piece of malware that infected not only the OS that ran, but destroyed the alternate systems put in place to recover from that as well with the deliberate intent of making the device a brick, I don't know. Maybe. But it would be a near-useless piece of malware to write and without profit. You can write a virus now today that goes and destroys an OS and user data with less privileges than are required to pull off a bootkit. So Secure Boot is not opening up any vector for attack that isn't already there.

Besides, you are aware that in the "bricking" scenario you have described, however unlikely, the user can just turn off Secure Boot, right?

"The way to prevent malware infection is at the point of infection. Fix the programs that are running, use qualified knowledgeable programmers instead of cheap off-shore labor. Take the time to test. Run boundary checking and fuzzing software against critical CIs.."

The whole principle of layered defence has just been discarded by you then? Firewalls should be disabled because no software on an OS will have a vulnerability that could be exploited? Suhosin and other server-level security should be disabled because no web-application written will have flaws in it? We should never scan for trojans because no user will ever install something without knowing what it does? We should never verify the signature of code we are booting because no malicious code will ever make it onto the device? That last one about verification of code - that's what Secure Boot does. I do not like your approach to security and I sincerely hope you are not involved in the field, though I get the impression you are not.

Honestly, you say you use Linux - one of the most secure OS's ever written, and yet you post arguments against a useful security mechanism that Linux can also take advantage of. What are you going to say when most Linux distributions are also using this security measure? Are you going to write angry posts about how CentOS or Ubuntu Server should not have this security measure?

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h4rm0ny
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Linux

Re: disable secure boot on non-ARM platforms

"Solid info though, thank you."

You're welcome! I've been using Debian all day, today. Cheerleading for companies is...well, it's okay, but not to the point that people will actively fight against inconvenient facts. It's allowable that more than one OS can be good!

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h4rm0ny
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"This secure UEFI boot is just a scam. It is not going to prevent malware infection of Windows 8 PC. This just shameless attempt to control the PC market by Microsoft."

This is dangerous misinformation and you are plainly not someone who has current knowledge of malware. There is malware active and in the wild that works by altering the boot process and which would be protected against by Secure Boot. For example, look at the Alureon family of Malware which infects device drivers and the disks MBR. A significant and widespread piecce of malware.

"run Gentoo Linux. It does not come with secure keys and I am not going to start paying Microsoft for one once I upgrade to UEFI computer. It is just not going to happen. I am going to find a way to disable UEFI secure boot and wipe the security key from Microsoft clean out."

That's very easy. It is a requirement of Win8 certification that you be able to disable Secure Boot. If someone can change the device they boot from in BIOS, then they similarly ought to be able to find the option to turn off Secure Boot in UEFI. It doesn't require hacker-level abilities.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: How does this work when you buy your components individually?

"Are all mobos gonna be subject to the same or is this just M$ forcing their wills on OEMs?"

You have it the wrong way around. UEFI is created by the hardware manufacturers (AMD, Intel, Lenovo, etc.). MS are actually forcing a requirement on them that Secure Boot can be disabled. No x86 hardware is currently blocking MS due to being sold with Windows on it. The article is flat out wrong.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Exactly how does UEFI protect me?

Secure Boot (not UEFI, Secure Boot is only a small part of UEFI) doesn't protect you against a corrupt hardware manufacturer. It protects you against malware that interferes with the boot process, taking effect before normal anti-malware measures are running. So just like buying a car alarm and immobiliser wouldn't protect me against corrupt car alarm manufacturers, but it does help protect me against everyone else. Basically, don't disregard a security measure because it's only effective against 98% of potential attackers, instead of 100%. There are boot process attacks out in the wild right now.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: disable secure boot on non-ARM platforms

"Fine, but there are lots (and an ever increasing number) of arm platforms I might want to install linux on; some of those may well start off with windows on them."

And I agree with you. I would like to see the same thing apply to ARM, more or less. But this article and the certificate the Linux Foundation are talking about is explicitly about x86. And at the time I write this, my post (which has been up about ten minutes) has already been downvoted twice. A post which simply provides the relevant facts and an actual referenced source and which indicates that people will actually be fine to install and run Linux on Win8 certified devices. What these downvotes indicate to me, is that there are people here who actively dislike being shown that MS hasn't blocked Linux. People who honestly prefer to see Linux beaten down so they can complain about that, than to see Linux given an opportunity to be installed and chosen by people.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Protecting their investment

"The potential here is frightening. I for one, am writing to my MP about this."

It's good to hassle MPs, but you have your facts wrong in this case (unsurprisingly as the Reg. article gets it wrong). It is required that any device manufacturer allow a physically present user to disable Secure Boot if they want the device to be certified for Windows 8, so with this requirement, MS are actually ensuring that the scenario you describe can't happen (unless Toshiba chose to forgo getting Win8 certification which they will not).

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h4rm0ny
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Re: You know what?

"If the PC vendors told MS to get stuffed MS would drop it. Talk about cart before the horse."

It's the "PC vendors" that came up with UEFI and Secure Boot. MS are one of about twelve partners on the UEFI forum and UEFI has been developed and pushed by hardware makers - from AMD to Lenovo to Apple.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: @Ragarath - Small correction for you.

"UEFI specs do not allow more than one public key in firmware"

They do allow multiple keys. But there are "platform keys" and "key exchange keys". There is only one "platform key" as far as I am aware, but you can have multiple keys for signing OSs and boot loaders. MS would not normally control the "platform key" for a device - that would be the maker of the hardware. At any rate, it is certainly possible to have multiple installs signed with different keys which is in contradiction to what you wrote.

Also, you write that "it is Microsoft that designed it like that." This is also incorrect. MS do not control the UEFI Forum that produce it, nor do they have that much influence on the specification. It's a multi-partnered body with about a dozen members - everyone from Apple to AMD to Lenovo. Pretty much open to any of the main players in developing motherboards and related hardware.

The amount of misinformation being confidently asserted as facts in this story and the comments here, is staggering. In some cases actually trying to correct people who know what they're talking about.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: @HMB - let me get this straight

"Not quite straight! Microsoft will allow (but not require!) computer OEM to allow users to disable secure boot on non-ARM platforms and we all know how independent manufacturers are from Microsoft"

If you're going to correct someone, you should be correct. HMB has it right. It is a requirement that PC providers allow users to disable Secure Boot. The Reg. article or Linux Foundation are spreading FUD. Here is the relevant document:

MS Hardware Certification Requirements. Because it's a long document, the part to skip to is the section on UEFI Secure Boot (begins page 118). The relevant paragraphs I have quoted below:

"17. Mandatory. On non-ARM systems, the platform MUST implement the ability for a physically present user to select between two Secure Boot modes in firmware setup: "Custom" and "Standard". Custom Mode allows for more flexibility as specified in the following:

a. It shall be possible for a physically present user to use the Custom Mode firmware setup option to modify the contents of the Secure Boot signature databases and the PK. This may be implemented by simply providing the option to clear all Secure Boot databases (PK, KEK, db, dbx), which puts the system into setup mode.

b. If the user ends up deleting the PK then, upon exiting the Custom Mode firmware setup, the system is operating in Setup Mode with SecureBoot turned off.

c. The firmware setup shall indicate if Secure Boot is turned on, and if it is operated in Standard or Custom Mode. The firmware setup must provide an option to return from Custom to Standard Mode which restores the factory defaults.On an ARM system, it is forbidden to enable Custom Mode. Only Standard Mode may be enabled.

18. Mandatory. Enable/Disable Secure Boot. On non-ARM systems, it is required to implement the ability to disable Secure Boot via firmware setup. A physically present user must be allowed to disable Secure Boot via firmware setup without possession of PKpriv. A Windows Server may also disable Secure Boot remotely using a strongly authenticated (preferably public-key based) out-of-band management connection, such as to a baseboard management controller or service processor. Programmatic disabling of Secure Boot either during Boot Services or after exiting EFI Boot Services MUST NOT be possible. Disabling Secure Boot must not be possible on ARM systems."

!--End Quote.

Now, let's see who downvotes a post for putting factual information with a source.

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Swiss photographer sues Apple for pilfering her eyeball

h4rm0ny
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So I assume...

...that The Register has permission to use the picture in their story above?

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h4rm0ny
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Re: so...

"The snapper should sue the GUILTY party. The ones who did something wrong."

Ideally, prior to suing, the snapper should simply send them a letter or email pointing out the infringement and stating their normal fees for such usage. We've no idea here (because the article doesn't tell us), if she skipped directly to the lawsuit or if there is some dispute. Lawsuits should not be a first resort and you can often get a quicker resolution without them.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: "All Aplle had to do was just put on some various strokes and an uncopyrighted face"

It's almost certainly an oversight. Big companies don't normally knowingly invite lawsuits over what - to them - are trifling amounts.

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And the latest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is ... the EU?

h4rm0ny
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Re: I can't be the only one thinking that maybe the Germans *should* just take over...

"whilst the Germans enjoy undeserved full employment"

Your post is factually accurate and I mostly agree with it, except to say that "undeserved" isn't really fair. Yes, the Germans get advantages out of EU membership but those advantages are in their favour because the Germans have built such a strong industrial base. Had Spain or Greece out-competed the Germans through working harder or being more innovative, then the same mechanisms would now be working in Span and Greece's favour. Having spent time in both Greece and Germany (not Spain), I can testify that the Germans do on the whole work a lot harder and more dilligently than the Greeks and they most definitely are more scrupulous in paying their taxes!

And whilst it's not without reward for them (assuming it pulls through), it is Germany that is broadly keeping the EU going by bailing out Greece. Harsh as things are in Greece with the cuts, a default is generally considered to be something that would be worse.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Seriously though...

"Hey, don't knock the idea, it worked for Charlemagne after all!"

It worked very well for Charlemagne. And I suppose fewer wars was a benefit to the serfs and peasants. Still, would be nice to avoid wars because of good relations between peoples, rather than through the merging of their ruling classes, which is what I was getting at. I'm actually fairly optimistic, but I think pretending the internationalization of business interests isn't a major factor in preserving peace is naive. As you point out, it has upsides even if Marx wouldn't be happy.

"Prerequisite for this to work is that the elites understand that people speak different languages in the EU, and that they should at least try to acquire some fluency in a few of the most important ones"

The elites all speak the most important one: Money. ;)

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Seriously though... (h4rm0ny)

"I'd like to bring your attention to J. Heller's Catch-22 and ask you if the likes of Halliburton or Bechtel agree. (also re: Doonesbury)"

And I would point out that neither Halliburton nor Bechtel's recent war-mongering efforts were directed at EU countries. I was intending to refer within the context of where trans-national business interests exist. So between EU countries or between the EU and the USA, it would be against those business interests for a war between them. At the time of the Iraq invasion (for example, which Halliburton pushed for), they didn't have significant business presence in the country. (They do now).

Catch-22: great novel. But even Milo Minderbinder was being paid by the Germans for his bombing raids so doesn't contradict my example. ;)

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Seriously though...

" it has basically made European wars unthinkable."

What has happened is that the ruling classes have become internationalized, rather than just being the ruling class of a particular nation. Naturally that leads to less war between nations because it's inefficient to battle your own multi-national interests. (Though obviously the threat of war can still be lucrative if you're in the arms business). The next European war will between the poor and the rich and it wont be called a war, it will be called unrest or rioting or terrorism.

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h4rm0ny
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I can't be the only one thinking that maybe the Germans *should* just take over...

I mean their country is organized, has good public transport, decent working regulations, a strong economy and an educated workforce. Okay, not much of a sense of humour, but they keep things running. The Germans actually *like* all that organization stuff that the rest of us see as a boring necessary evil. They elected a Chemist as their leader whilst most of the rest of us settle for either lawyers or over-ambitious politics students. If they want it, let them have it. They clearly know what they're doing and it'll stop them having to invade places too.

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Microsoft really is watching us from above

h4rm0ny
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Re: The whole concept is off-putting

"Never used MS Bing. Never will."

Good to know. Next time you criticize it, we'll know that you're basing your opinion on a foundation of zero experience.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: and Apple?

Apple however excel at timing. As William Gibson wrote: "the Future is here, it's just not widely distributed." In between a new technology being released and being widely uptaken, comes the Apple. They have a history of this. Look at the iPod. Were there other MP3 players out there? Yes. They were just starting to take off when Apple came in with a really polished version with a great interface and swept up. They did it again with smartphones. Lots of players starting to bring out all the right pieces for smartphone technology, lots of devices starting to appear that had the right features. Then Apple took most of the good bits, stitched them together more seamlessly than anyone else had and marketed the Hell out of it - iPhone. A really good device that wasn't ground-breaking technologically, but hit at just the right time and was more polished than anyone else's efforts. Ultrabooks - the technology reached the right point for really thin, really light laptops and wham - Apple shot in with those really skinny Macbooks.

Apple do fund innovation. The Thunderbolt interface is impressive and whilst they didn't develop it, ultimately the cost was bourne by them because they licenced it. But generally, Apple haven't suffered too much by reaping what others sow. Apple take what others do and make it a little bit nicer (for most people's tastes, anyway). Apple might have had a rare misstep with their maps, but they really had no choice on that and all they really need is more and better data in it - the program is okay, I've heard. Apple maps as a joke on echo chambers like the Reg forums will persist long after the product itself reaches parity with Google and Bing maps (they'll have longer to go to catch Nokia, mind you). But aside from that, they've done really well without massive R&D into brand new technologies (they put it into refining existing).

I think they're about to get leap-frogged semi-badly by the WP8 UI and Android is going to continue battering them in terms of sales, even if not image. But they'll be back. When the timing's right. ;)

...Hey, I jut noticed! Didn't their used to be a icon of Steve Jobs with a halo? Was it removed now that it would be in bad taste?

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November election sends chill down Valley shareholders' necks

h4rm0ny
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Genuine question

Why are there so many shares? Why have there be 2.5bn shares in Facebook at US$20 each. Why not have 0.25bn at US$200 each? Do they actually need the granularity of going down to single shares? They don't have that many employees so why? I would have thought you could knock a few orders of magnitude off that and make it a little simpler. Is it for psychological reasons? Would $200 a share look too overinflated (yeah, like $40 did not! ).

Incidentally, P/E for Facebook is still around 67, which is terrifying for a stock on decline. It indicates to my mind that the price is still seriously over-inflated.

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Amazon UK leaks Windows 8 retail box, TV ads

h4rm0ny
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Unhappy

Such hatred!

You'd think Emmanuel Goldstein designed the box based on the comments here.

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BBC unveils UltraViolet DVDs, BDs

h4rm0ny
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Re: Why can't I......?

"You paid for this stuff. You should expect to own it."

Most of the old stuff, our parents and gradnparents did not expect to be given free DVDs and recordings for their licence fees, nor that programmes would be re-broadcast on their request. They paid it for the service at the time with no expectation of more. Of the stuff that's broadcast today, again, no-one expects that they should be given free DVDs on request of that the BBC will re-broadcast over the Internet at their request and and all of the programmes. Again, they pay their licence fee knowing full-well those are not the terms. If that changed in the way you ask, then licence fees would rise drastically for the sake of minorities, inefficiently. I have no interest in watching the latest medical drama or comedy series. But the BBC makes money from selling those DVDs to people who do. If the BBC can't make that money from those sales, then that translates into higher costs for me for no gain. Basically, the licence fee is the flat fee for broadcasts, those who want enhanced service (watching old shows whenever they want), pay for it by buying the DVDs without my having to subsidise them getting an enhanced service that I don't want. The BBC is not Sky. If they make more money out of something that doesn't translate into higher dividends for the shareholders because it's a public institution. It translates into increased internal investment in the BBC - more shows, better special effects for Doctor Who, etc. Sure, we the licence payers paid for the production of the material, but it's a two tier system - the amount we pay is offset by how the BBC is able to sell programs on DVD later on, or resell to the USA or Australia, etc. When you argue for perpetual on-demand online re-broadcast of programmes for all British citizens who ever paid a licence fee, you're demanding both increased costs for the BBC and you're arguing that the full cost of production of these programmes be paid up front with increased licence fees rather than subsidised by those who want more than everyone else specifically paying for the DVDs and their extras, later on.

You sound like you work for Newscorp, who delivered the Conservatives constant good press during their election in return for their future war on BBC funding. Rupert Murdoch, is that you?

(As a side note, how do you break down what someone gets or doesn't get depending on when they paid their fee and for how long they paid it. Someone pays their licence fees for years and then gets nothing when they stop? Another person pays licence fees for a year and during that time has everything whilst the person who paid for the last two decades and then stopped has nothing? We track who had a licence fee when and what was in production at the time?)

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h4rm0ny
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Headmaster

Re: i think i shall stick to my currant set up......

Well, I'm sure you have your raisins.

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h4rm0ny
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"How does resale work?"

Well it's not a storage system, it's a rights system. So in theory, there should be no technical barrier to transferring your right to someone else's account. But I'm not aware of any way to do this on the site that I have my Ultraviolet content associated with. They'll probably postpone a system of reselling for as long as possible.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: No such thing as UV DVD

Because for millions of people, it's a hassle to have to rip a DVD (let along a Blu-ray) and then set up their own media server which they must make accessible to the world (and still keep it secure) and set up the streaming / DNLA / Whatever software on that server and on the client so that they can watch the movies. Instead of simply logging into their UV account through a number of different providers, and hitting play.

I bought 21 Jump Street on Blu-Ray recently (good film) and it came with a UV "copy". Entered the code online and now I can watch it anywhere whenever I want on any device. All that from just tapping in the code on my account. Compare the hassle of entering that data online with all the set up of the former and you'll see why UV is a great service for many people. Even those like me who are capable of ripping a Blu-ray and setting up all the media streaming if we want to.

And then there's the instant availability when you buy it, too. For years, piracy advocates were arguing that they pirated because product wasn't available digitally, instantly, in the way they wanted to buy it. And that they wanted to be able to play it on any device they owned or at a friend's place. Well now all of those criteria are met. If it follows music with MP3 purchases, then we'll see that a number of the pirates were telling the truth and they will shift to buying their content, and that a large number will simply come up with even more contrived justifications for piracy.

I've used the UV service. And it works very well.

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2

Sarah Brightman plans International Space Station gig

h4rm0ny
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Paris Hilton

Re: Would I be wrong...

Yes. Sarah Brightman is one of our most nuts singers and it's nice to see her putting money into Space travel rather than any of the numerous things that pop starlets normally burn it on. Like it or not, her paying to visit the ISS helps nudge us all that one step closer to commercial space flight.

Paris because she recently co-starred alongside Ms. Hilton in a film about organ repossession in a dystopian future as a blind opera singer with hologram projectors for eyes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZcxUaPpZPM. Like I said, she's nuts.

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Iran says its infosec defences foiled oil hack

h4rm0ny
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Re: Patience mode: on (And again ...Morons that can't read an article...)

"What leads you to this conclusion?"

I've had decent discussions (if not very polite ones) with Matt before on the subject of the rights and wrongs of wars. He has been able to correct me in some cases and at least make decent arguments in others. He's certainly capable of making a decent argument. However, 'you criticise Israel, you must be hate Jews" personal attacks, are not amongst them.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Patience mode: on (And again ...Morons that can't read an article...)

""...... The success or not of the attack......" Ah, but maybe this was just a diversionary attack whilst the Eeeeevul Jooooooos parachuted Gremlins into their facilities...."

That is truly pathetic. That you characterise any criticism as anti-Semitism. It's one of the basest ad hominems. Jewish is not the same as Israeli and one of the lowest cards the Israeli government and its supporters repeatedly plays, is to suggest at any opportunity that the two are the same. This is done - exactly for the reasons that you have just used it - to avoid actually engaging in the argument and instead dismissing it as motivated by prejudice. There is no shortage of Jewish critics of Israeli foreign policy. Are they angry about "Eeeevul Joooooos" as well? Mockery is not argument and nor are personal attacks implying anti-Semitism.

"So, would you prefer it if Bibi had sent cruise missiles rather than allegedly sending skiddies?"

And along with Ad Hominem, we can add False Dichotomy. Yes - Israel is forced to attack other countries infrastructure by virus as their only means of avoiding being forced to send missiles. Of course.

You're smarter than that, Matt.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: Patience mode: on (And again ...Morons that can't read an article...)

"If the networks were indeed airgapped, the supposed attack would be impossible. Therefore, there would be no story"

The story is that Israel are alleged to have attacked Iran's infrastructure again. The success or not of the attack doesn't affect whether or not it took place. If you wont read the article before posting, at least read it after people start calling you out on not having read it.

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Lenovo unfolds smaller Yoga tablet-laptop hybrid

h4rm0ny
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I'd like it to be lighter, but this is a strong candidate for me to buy simply because the Surface Pro wont be out for months. I've held off buying a new device for long enough. I don't have the patience to wait much longer.

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Microsoft: Pirates at high risk of malware infection

h4rm0ny
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"HAHAHA! Own goal from Microsoft there."

Why "HAHAHA!" ? Every infected PC is a victory from criminals that rip others off or use the infected machine to spam you or DDOS businesses. Activity that costs us all either directly or indirectly. Why celebrate when a flaw is found in an OS or piece of software? You're basically a football fan for companies, aren't you?

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h4rm0ny
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Re: HEADLINE

And this insight into the inner discussions of upper MS management is confirmed by...?

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Linux on ARM breakthrough to take away Torvalds' arse pain

h4rm0ny
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Facepalm

Re: But wait

Linux is the "least-used OS on the planet?"

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you a new advancement in surgical science - the world's first successful brain donor.

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Microsoft to devs: Bug users about security … now!

h4rm0ny
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Pint

I really like the amount of effort MS are putting into supporting and assisting developers with guidelines and how-tos. I've been seriously impressed with what they're coming out with over the last six months. Beer for MS for really turning things around.

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Kernel crimps make Windows 8 a hacker hassle

h4rm0ny
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Re: The reason malware won't work

"That's what we were all moaning about. Now that it's come back to bite them and can be used as a sales metric, they suddenly want to fix all that?"

Yes, they want to "fix all that." And they seem to be doing a good job.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: The reason malware won't work

"More likely it's everything to do with Microsoft taking us back to the 80s by removing multitasking "

This is incorrect. I have multiple active MUI applications running right now quite happily. You may be thinking of how applications are "tombstoned", i.e. frozen when not in use, on Windows Phone 7. That's fairly reasonable on a single core mobile device with hard limits on battery life, though inconvenient in some cases. The restriction is changed on WP8 so that, for example, you can have a VoIP application running in the background and alert you on an incoming call. But this never applied to Win8. Not sure where you got this from.

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h4rm0ny
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Re: All very well until someone gets the keys to the castle

"The TIFKAM sandboxes sound even more fun - are they seriously saying that I can't open a particular data file with two different TIFKAM applications?"

Depends what you mean by "data file". All files contain "data". If you mean what is generally meant - a file with user data in it, then no, they're not seriously saying that. Sandboxing in this case refers primarily to processes, not files separate to the application that may be written or read to. The rest of the objections in this post follow from this misconception.

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'It's not a post-PC world: Just a post Windows one, maybe'

h4rm0ny
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Re: windows is a niche OS or Is 'Touching' just for perverts?

"I used a work's Apple machine years ago, it was what I called the crashmatic. It fell over at least once a day, several times most days"

But that was true of Windows and Linux too, back then. Okay, Linux was somewhat more stable but any DE you ran on it kept crashing. You can't fairly compare Windows 7 (which has been very solid for me) with Apple in the mid-Ninties, just as you can't really compare the current OSX with Win98.

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10 million iPad minis to 'outshine' their big brother this quarter

h4rm0ny
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Re: with Availability on the 25th

"h4rm0ny - I can't say I agree... There will still be thousands of articles about the Mini. Look at all of the press a white iPhone gets almost a year after the release of the same damn phone in black?"

Ah, well though, online sites have to get their clicks somehow. If the only thing with mainstream appeal released that month is an iPhone of a different colour, then you'll get a dozen articles about the significance of white or black. But there's a finite amount of time that a human being can spend online (except for MMPORPG players, of course) and if you've met your quota for interesting stories with a genuine difference, then it's going to significantly eat into the space you dedicate to trivial differences in other products.

Note, I'm not disputing that a lot of press gets devoted to minor things from Apple. I'm just opining that it's because they have an interest in bigging up these minor things to generate page hits. If that job is done, well....

(and I'll re-iterate because things get tribal on El Reg. for some reason, that me saying a change in screen size is a small thing isn't me saying it's not worth having or that an iPad isn't a great piece of engineering. It's just me saying, it's a small change, not a large one).

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