* Posts by Tom 13

7611 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Be prepared... for your Scouts-loving sprog to become tiny spin doctor

Tom 13

Re: Four of the six look respectable.

The sad part is that when I was in the Scouts we did fundraising. Not like they do today which is essentially just another slick marketing deal where you mark up some brand name good by twice the retail price and beg for money from people because it's for Scouts. No we went out and sold tickets for subs or grilled half chickens. Our leaders went out and bought the supplies. We made the subs and or chicken and we delivered/sold it as appropriate. Subs were always delivered, chicken was always picked up. I learned a neat trick with the chicken sales. We'd sell as many tickets as we could ahead of time. Markup was about 50% from our costs. We'd use all the money from pre-sales to buy as much supplies for the grilled chicken (roll and slaw tossed in) as we could. Then we'd sell the extras to whoever stopped by the grilling spot on the spur of the moment. Thus increasing our profit by 40-50%. Usually for 1 chicken sale, 1 sub sale, and our January candy sale plus regular monthly dues we could fund the troop for the whole year.

So it wasn't that we weren't learning it. We just didn't get a badge for it. And we did REAL work for it (with the exception of the candy sale which was pretty much structured like the stuff is today).

Tom 13

Four of the six look respectable.

But the bad in the two that don't outweighs the good in the four that are by at least double (2B > 4G).

Murdoch says Microsoft needs 'big clean out'

Tom 13

Re: WTF!

Assuming you are the same AC above my comment, my first words of advice to you are to learn about El Reg threading. I was responding to the first post on the thread.

I didn't regard your post as worthy of comment.

Tom 13

Re: WTF!

They may not have invented Windows or even DOS, but they certainly were key to the creation of the relevant technology market. Yes, they leverage IBM's clout to do so, but if it had been solely IBM I don't think we'd have the IT market that we do today. Remember, this whole market is the result of one very important accident: IBM didn't think PCs would ever rival mainframes or minicomputers, so their original PC was done on a shoe string budget that meant no patents and lots of off the shelf tech from other vendors. But if IBM had written and owned the OS? Not so much.

'I was like, yea!' 5-year-old found his Xbox so easy to use, he hacked it

Tom 13

Torvalds might be a foul mouthed asshat

and probably do need to update the kernel to block the error.

That doesn't change the fact that he was way more right than wrong about this.

And hopefully as word of Torvalds' take down spreads, the jackalope causing the problems loses clout for *his* pet project. Which is probably more of what Torvalds was aiming at than actually keeping patches out of the kernel proper.

India second only to US in Google user data requests

Tom 13

@ Gray Ham

I had the same thought. Given their population size I would expect them to be at the top of the list since China doesn't exactly ask Google for their data. Per capita data would certainly be more accurate for who is most likely to ask for data as part of a police investigation.

USB reversible cables could become standard sooner than you think

Tom 13

Re: and a lot faster than the introduction of USB 2.0 back at the turn of the century

But not quite as old as you feel when you realize you've forgotten five of the standard RS-232 wiring patterns you use to be able to recite without reference drawings.

Tom 13

Re: Obsolete technology...

I thought it was (90 degrees)*(1d6)...

Tom 13

Re: Doh..

No! Your OTHER right up!

Tom 13

Re: using it to charge small electronic devices

Not as laughable as you assert.

I once had a real problem with a scanner that drew it's power from the USB port. Scanner worked just fine on the desktop where we tested it. User had at laptop she used at home and brought it in for us to hookup the portable flatbed scanner. Scanner installed just fine, then utterly failed to work. Turned out the ultra-portable laptop didn't provide power on the USB channel. Comms worked just fine so it would see it and install it, but there wasn't enough juice to run the motors for the scanner head. Both ports were full sized because this was before USB connectors started making RS-232 look sedate and staid by comparison. We resolved the issue by having the client purchase a powered USB hub to daisy chain the laptop and scanner.

Snowden lawyer PGP email 'crack' flap: What REALLY happened?

Tom 13

Re: Cryptome allegations

You proceed from a false assumption. Cryptologists work not only on creating secure encryption, but also work on breaking them. So whether or not you leak it depends very much on which side of the fence you are working. Comsec will invariably involve both types even if it is because the breakers infiltrate the creators.

Apple sued in Texas troll territory for iMovie patent infringement

Tom 13

I wonder if the unnamed complaintant

is a front for Samsung?

Oracle smacks JD Edwards help site with cease and desist order

Tom 13

re: documenting a schema really protectable?

Depends on how Oracle documented it and JD Edwards got the information.

If the information is circulated as an unpublished but copyrighted trade secret, and JDE got it that way, then certainly. I use to work for a company that did just that. Weird shit, but legal.

Did make it a bit of a bear trying to take samples for my next job though. I think we only had one document I produced that was published. Ironically it was laid out entirely as tables, which was what caught my next employer's eye as tables were their biggest challenge in their publishing environment. I was more proud of the other stuff, but...

Tom 13

Re: the fat margins that enable

I doubt that. I suspect more of the little sites would generate even bigger gross profits.

Vint Cerf wanted to make internet secure from the start, but secrecy prevented it

Tom 13

Re: then pick up the pieces.

Two problems with that thinking:

1. They'll never finish blowing each other up. So there's never an easy chance to come in and pick up the pieces.

2. In the interim it tends to bread militarized terrorists. Which is exactly the sort of thing the civilized world doesn't want.

Like I said above, that it may be the least bad option doesn't make it a good one.

Tom 13

Re: want to win in Syria?


Probably neither. As far as most of the people calling the shots are concerned the best outcome is if they just keep kicking the crap out of each other.

Best theoretical outcome is a representative democracy with fixed rights along the lines of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness including ownership of private property. But doing that requires more heavy lifting than anyone is willing to do. Frankly, the US is the only country that's successfully pulled it off twice (runner up goes to you Brits who almost pulled it off in India). Even then it wasn't alone but as the lead (Germany and Japan). With Germany and Japan we had better raw materials from which to start. Syria would be an even longer, harder slog and therefore won't happen.

Sadly, given the best theoretical answer won't happen, the powers that be may be the least bad option. Which still doesn't make it good.

Tom 13

Re: Irrelevant

Not irrelevant. Actually very important. It means that even though the agency has overstepped and needs to be reigned in, they aren't the demon you make them out to be. Because Snowden IS under the thumb of an authoritarian regime that just overthrew a democratic government in YOUR backyard. And given the whole lot of you are dependent on natural gas from the despotic government, you're abandoning them just like the Vichy French.

The truth is, Baker and Appelbaum have equally valid points and you have to find a way to address BOTH of them if your intent is to protect a representative, civilized society.

US Supreme Court declines to hear NSA mass phone-slurp case

Tom 13

It would be helpful if El Reg were to accurately report the facts in this case

instead of misrepresenting the fact to fan the flames of hysteria.

Scotusblog correctly notes that Klaymen et al claimed only SCOTUS could hear the case. Given normal practice Klayman's route was always very risky. Department of Justice contended lower courts could hear the case. Setting aside my feeling about the current head of that department, so long as a lower court can hear the case, SCOTUS prefers to go that route since it gives more latitude for the complete airing of conflicting theories. There is nothing unusual or conspiratorial in that.

So now the case should go before a lower court. If the lower court rules it does not have the authority to hear the case, Klayman et al. can appeal that decision to SCOTUS. At which point SCOTUS can either take the case or rule from the bench that the lower court does have authority and should proceed to hear the case.

Frankly I think we're better off with SCOTUS ruling that while Congress can setup specialized courts for narrow and specialized areas, that when it comes to fundamental rights that have been specifically enumerated for protection in the Constitution any court in the US has the authority to hear the case.

USA opposes 'Schengen cloud' Eurocentric routing plan

Tom 13

@ Arnaut the less

We spy on you, you spy on us. Biggest difference I see is your guys are a bit better at it than ours are. Or at least they haven't outted themselves yet.

Tom 13

@ Nuno trancoso

Actually the data centers are cheaper than black ops. It's part of the reason we switched to them. Also, they tend not to have the same compromise issues. Granted Snowden changed that a bit, but only a bit. Even if he made off with tens of TB of data, there's 100s left and none of it is suspect from the spy's point of view. Whenever you run black ops you always run into issues of trust. Hence the tendency to select sociopaths who don't care even though in theory you're trying to weed them out.

Tom 13

Re: Eurocentric

Pointless as well. The NSA was specifically created to eavesdrop on electronics in places other than the US. Compromise a couple of installation points there and voila!

If you want your data kept private there's only one way to do it: encrypt it end to end at which point it doesn't matter whether someone is listening along the way. In the past this was an expensive overhead proposition for computers. I don't think it should be quite as much problem these days. The other bit is, you need to encrypt more of the traffic. Right now encrypted traffic draws extra scrutiny. You need at least 50% of the transit traffic to be encrypted, which means it needs to be the default instead of a drop down change.

Tom 13

Re: @ Elmer Phud - "If you can drive there it's reckoned to still be U.S."

Nah, they have to speak English as well or at least something that reasonably resembles it. Which means Toronto counts as part of the US, but not Quebec.

Torvalds rails at Linux developer: 'I'm f*cking tired of your code'

Tom 13

Re: my 2 cents

The only small bit I'll grant Linus's critics on this thread is that it sounds like there are alternatives to systemd. Thus there is a certain sense in which the kernel needs to protect itself from this kind of idiocy. That does not remove the fact that it remains idiocy.

Tom 13

re: fired for workplace bullying in just about any major tech company.


But when was the last time a major tech company actually produced a product that was fit for purpose?

Tom 13

Re: Open source

Probably more like 100 words of softness. Love him or hate him for it, the one thing that stands out about Linus is he does not tolerate fools, even when he himself has been foolish.

Tom 13

@ browntomatoes

Not a code writer of any sort, but my reaction would be just that: only the kernel gets to write to that space, nobody else. After that everybody else can L1nus-off and it shouldn't matter.

Tom 13

Re: where I can get a manual for English.

I believe the following work is widely regarded as definitive on the topic:


Although the following seems to be a local favorite:


and if your not up for either of those, you could always resort to the reliable:


Tom 13

Re: Every language has rules.

Minor nit:

Rather than saying there are limits to what people need to know, I'd say the threshold for basic understanding is fairly low and can mostly be learned by listening and reading without formal training.

Otherwise spot on.

I'd also note that English does make it rather harder to notice some of the distinctions you learn in formal training. Therefore learning a "foreign" language in a formal setting, especially the Romance languages helps one understand the English rules better. I've forgotten almost all of my Latin, Spanish, and German, but my enhanced understanding of English remains.

Tom 13

Re: coding @AC 2014-5-5 SometimeOrOtherPerhapsElRegCanRestoreTimestampsPlease

No, 'English' when used to describe either the language or the people originating from England is a proper noun, not a pronoun and is therefore capitalized.

The danger of being the pedant, which I now risk as well, is to make sure you are not in error when making a correction.

If the word is written lower case I believe it refers to the spin one imparts to a spherical object in sports or leisure activities. For example, one might impart english to a cue ball in pool to make a trick shot. Of course, that might be a local idiom and non-standard usage.

Tom 13

Re: coding

I am reminded of what friends who have gone to Japan to teach English have said:

"I speak real English. I can construct an entire sentence out of nothing but the word f*ck in all it's various word forms with the occasional use of the intensifier 'mother'."

A statement which is both sad and true at the same time. And by that standard, Torvalds has quite mastered the language.

Tom 13

Re: coding

Jah, Jah.

ein bisschen, aber


Yo no hablo Espanol.

Five-year-old discovers Xbox password bug, hacks dad's Live account

Tom 13

Re: WTF!!

I wouldn't call it unsupervised, more like lightly supervised. It's not like he realized it because he got a credit card bill for stuff he didn't buy. He saw what the kid was doing one of the times he was using it. So maybe it will call for a bit more supervision in the future, but he wasn't completely AWOL.

Tom 13

Re: passwords should not be breakable by a five year old child

Except the kid didn't break it, he circumvented it. It was an elegant hack in both the new and old senses of the word.

Why won't you DIE? IBM's S/360 and its legacy at 50

Tom 13

Re: what counts is reliability

Yep. And even with IBM guaranteeing the backward compatibility part, at NASA in the 1960s I hate to have to do the compatibility cross-checking to certify a new mainframe just to have the latest and greatest gizmo.

Greenpeace reveals WORLD'S FILTHIEST CLOUDS – and the cleanest may shock you

Tom 13

Apple 100% green juice?

Don't make me laugh. With what's going on in China there's no way in hell that's true. But that's what the political tree-hugger do: ship their real pollution elsewhere.

Hey, Michael Lewis: Stop DEMONISING Wall Street’s SUPERHUMAN high-speed trading

Tom 13

Re: crash was caused primarily by bad mortgages. @ Tom 13

Yes, this being El Reg I expect to rack a good few down votes.

And I do quite understand there was a fair bit of knock on afterward. With the slick players making money on the scam, everybody else joined in too.

It's been a while now, but I read an article once about a company that specialized in profitable NINJa loans before the bubble. There's a particular segment of the employment market where you have people with unpredictable yearly incomes and small base salaries. Think really high power commission salesmen. If the sale comes through they pocket a couple hundred thousand, otherwise bumpkiss. So they want to buy a house, but their official salary is only $50,000/year and you can't count the bonus because that's not recurring. So they came up with alternate criteria for analyzing these individuals and giving them loans. Most important was the meeting with bank officers in which they personally appraised your character. And because they were high risk, and good at their assessments, they made good money and never were in risk of bankruptcy. Everybody else saw what they were doing and jumped in for the profits without knowing the secret formula with predictable results. IIRC the NINJa specialists also weren't a commercial bank, just a private lender assuming all the risk.

Tom 13

Re: Here's my problem

The only people who can't succeed are those who are too stupid to try in the first place.

My investments are up around $15,000 over the last year on a relatively small investment (making between 10 and 15% over the last few years) that has been consistently added over time. I project that by the time I actually do retire, I should be able to do so on my investments.

Well, technically one account. I've got a couple of others I didn't check on. One consistently returns 6-8%, the other should be in the same range as the one I checked. I've forgotten how much is invested in the second account so I can't estimate the raw return. It's the one my current employer is handling while the one I checked is my own IRA.

Tom 13

Re: Let's see if I understand this correctly . . .

You fail your maths.

Assume I start with $100 (or pounds if you prefer) and I make a 7% profit when I sell. If I perform 1 mere 100 transactions on the last transaction you have cost me $14,024.89. Over all of the transactions you've cost me over $186,000. That close to 3 years of my current salary! I used 7% as a below long term market average for the return. I picked 100 out of my ass, but given how many stocks my mutual funds invest in, that is a low number. ALL of that cost must be passed to me, probably with a 10-30% markup for the people managing the fund for me.

Tom 13

Re: Think it through

Don't even have to go that far. Is every decision you make based on your best financial outcome? If not, the model is doomed no matter how well it may be able to predict small changes over a short time in a limited realm.

Tom 13

Re: (or 0.2% or whatever, just not 0.005%)

Except that you need to get out to .005% before the cost becomes negligible to me as a small investor. The cost rations on my money market accounts vary between .10% an .26%.

Tom 13

Re: 0.5% should be invisible to a long-term investor

So you've never invested in stocks and are completely clueless about it then.

Your quoted rate is 2 to 5 times more than the current cost margin on my money market funds. Given I'm invested across about 7 funds each with hundreds of stocks in each fund, there's no way that is invisible to me as a long term investor.

Tom 13

Re: HFT limits trading to those who can afford the technology.

No it doesn't.

HFT only affects HFT, except that it brings down the overhead cost to the buy and hold trader. Which is precisely the point Tim is trying to highlight. Because I only pay the .002 spread instead of the .200 spread when I buy stocks for my IRA, I gain .198 on each transaction. Over time those totals add up. Even if I was manually day trading, because my response time is much greater than the HFT, I'm outside their range of influence.

Where Tim is wrong is in his undying religious commitment to the socialist planning gods. People are more than materialistic consumers. The fundamental building block of socialism is that they are ONLY materialistic consumers. In fairness, this tends to be a problem with the "capitalism is always pure and good" acolytes as well. The truth of the market is that it is an amoral bastage who provides more of whatever you are buying. But because he provides more of what you are buying regardless of what it is is the reason that moral people CAN advance. Put anyone else in charge and you're stuck playing by somebody else's religious/philosophical view point.

Tom 13

Re: crash was caused primarily by bad mortgages.

Proximal, but not root, which is the biggest problem with trying to fix what caused the market crash. The root cause was that the politicians FORCED the banks to make bad mortgage loans and racism is still at the heart of the problem. Despite sound methodological studies which show banks do not redline based on race but only on actual loan risk the politicians continued to demagogue the issue and force banks to make loans to black people who shouldn't have gotten them. But if they left it to only black people who couldn't afford them they could be sued for reverse discrimination so they also got extended to other people who couldn't afford them. That left the banks holding loans they knew were no good which is a violation of their fiduciary responsibility to the stock holders of the bank. Again a suing offense. So they looked for a way to offload the bad loans and hit upon the MSB. Which would have worked if the MSBs had been priced appropriately and the risk assessed properly. But the risk wasn't assessed properly. It was assumed that because an MSB consisted of nothing but mortgages it was in the same risk class. And it was handled that way until some German company tried to collect on an MSB that didn't pay their note on time by foreclosing. At which point the property owner defended by saying "but you don't own the mortgage." Which the courts properly held they did not. So the MSB holder dumped their holdings to convert it to other reliable assets.

And THAT is when the bottom fell out. Because 20 years of making lots of bad mortgage loans had been spread all over the market in MSBs. And the payment came due all in one week.

We've played around the edges trying to shore up the banking system. But the fundamental problem still hasn't been repealed: The US Congress still requires banks to make loans to people who can't afford them or face being charged with racial discrimination.

Tom 13

Re: a lot of capital and end up with much less

The Hunt Brothers and the silver market being a clear case of that.

More interestingly, for all the bitching about them having privilege, everything they did was legal and everything was done at slow speed. Until the regulators decided to stick it to them and everything collapsed faster than it was put together.

Tom 13

Re: Perhaps I did not explain it

Oh, you were clear enough. Some people's prejudices simply cannot be fixed by telling them the facts.

Money? What money? Lawyer for accused Silk Road boss claims you can't launder Bitcoin

Tom 13

Re: Excellent points

What Rob was or was not paid in is irrelevant.

All that's relevant is that BitCoin are readily convertible to and from cash, which at least until the fall of the two biggest exchanges, they were.

BlackBerry ditches T-Mobile US after iPhone advert spat

Tom 13

Re: customers are die-hard loyal to a specific carrier.

Maybe, but probably not. In the case of T-Mobile, certainly not.

Case 1 for loyalty: Carrier has some sort of customer loyalty program that gives them more rapid or less costly phone upgrades with a sustained contract. Or possibly a contract that has a free replacement phone clause if the phone is broken or stolen. In this case, not so much a case of customer loyalty to brand as customer getting the best deal, but the marketing twits will still read it as customer loyalty.

Case 2: Punter lives in an area where only 1 or 2 carriers provide reliable coverage. Here in DC it use to be that if you wanted cell coverage in the underground Metro tunnels (light rail) you had to be with AT&T (IIRC otherwise it was Verizon, main point being only 1 carrier had relays). In theory all of the carriers are supposed to permit other cells to call on the network if you are roaming, in practice, not so much. There may be decent technical reasons for the 'not so much' but from the punters point of view it all that matters is his expensive cell phone is a useless brick.

As far as I can tell, T-Mobile doesn't fall into either of these categories. I hear people around here talk about AT&T, Verizon, or maybe Sprint if hard pressed. Never T-Mobile.

How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example

Tom 13

Re: there really should be an Air Gap between

He never said there wasn't. In fact, given the XP machines running the CNC equipment are running NetBEUI and modern communications really depends on TCP/IP, I'd bet they are.

Tom 13

re: _wants_ to work on XP. I

Somewhere there are enough unemployed programmers who will take the job. MS just has to advertise for it.

Maybe their real fear is if they turn it over to such a group, one of them might be energetic, brilliant, and a born leader who can breathe new life into the old OS. Which could sort of put the kabosh on their corporate road map.

Tom 13

The mathematics of the situation aside,

Given how hard they pushed for the subscription model on their flailing Windows 8, I find it surprising ironic they aren't willing to consider a subscription model in the one place where they might actually be able to sell it.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019