* Posts by Tom 13

7611 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Play the Snowden flights boardgame: Avoid going directly to Jail

Tom 13

Re: I wouldn't put it past the States to snap up

And well we should.

Lawyers however have special legal dispensations. They are permitted to use the law to protect their clients to the fullest extent of the law.

Which is why I still contend that if he were the patriot he claims to be, he would never have gotten on a plane to Hong Kong. First flight would have been to the mainland with his girlfriend for a vacation. He would have leaked the information to journalists and had his ACLU lawyers lined up right afterward. Then when charges were filed against him, his lawyers would have escorted him from his undisclosed location to the court house where not only the DA but the whole press corp would have been waiting his arrival. Good publicity was his best defense and he shot it to hell when he fled to Hong Kong. Now that he's in Russia you can stick a fork in it.

Tom 13

Re: he wants his messages to be undiluted with accusations of actual espionage.

Too late for that. Telling the Chinese the NSA hacked them is espionage. It might be good espionage (whistle blower) or bad espionage (traitor), but under law it is espionage.

Tom 13

Re: Airspace

The key word here is "airspace" which has a technical international definition, and yes, the country controls its own airspace. If you fly outside the airspace like the US did with the U2s for a while the only risk you run is whether or not you get shot down. But those are pretty much all military planes (IM3 not withstanding) anyway, and that's a different playing field. Commercial flights necessarily go through either national or international airspace.

Tom 13

Re: head full of juicy secrets

He was barely at the NSA for 30 days and was a sysadmin, not an analyst. There are no juicy secrets in his head, only on his laptops. All the spy agencies know that.

Which is probably the best protection he has with the Russians (and had with the Chicoms). If their questioning inadvertently kills him, they don't get the good stuff they want. Old hands you can count on to be calculating their plan to survive and so have some leverage. Noobs doing it for patriotic reasons are completely unpredictable.

Tom 13

Re: terrible political fallout if they openly displayed the Bad Old Days

You mean worse fallout than publicly supporting the Syrian Scourge? Damn that's strong Kool-Aid you've been swilling. You'd best hope there really is a UFO coming with that next comet.

Tom 13

Re: he would be arrested within hours

WTF? He walked off with data from the most secret spy group in the worlds first hyper power and he wasn't expecting that when the story broke he'd be in danger of "being arrested within hours"? This is weekend D&D 101: Think through your plan before your punch the ancient huge red dragon in the nose. And even with a superb plan, it's probably not a good idea if you're a first level character.

Tom 13

Re: Private , he going to have to go private

Private airplane is probably the worst of all moves. If you assume as everyone seems to be doing that the military-industrial-intelligence complex is out to snuff him, one manpad is all you need. Bonus points for blaming it on global terrorism and upping the threat level.

If you're trying to get him out quietly, a military sub is probably your best option. Of course that has high risks too, but only if you assume the Soviets/Russians don't want him to arrive safely at his destination and don't already have copies of the data he stole.

The best route would probably have been a direct flight from Hong Kong, or even more preferably Hawaii before the story broke. Of course that would have required a bit of minimal planning beforehand. Not the sort of thing the Hero of the World is expected to engage in before standing up for our privacy now is it?

Samsung: Psst, EU regulator. About that $17.3bn fine... let's talk

Tom 13

@Chris 19

Having once been involved with a company that was all about creating intellectual property that manufacturers would license to manufacture products, that sounds quite reasonable to me.

The price my firm was looking for was 3% of OEM* plus $100,000/quarter. And the time frame for that asking price was the early 1990s. If as part of the licensing deal Samsung got other patent rights back from other vendors, those other vendors would be paying significantly less cash than 2.x%, but I would expect the overall capital value to Samsung would be similar.

*For Apple OEM = retail so there is no markup from the OEM manufacturing point.

Tom 13

Re: Do you honestly think the EU regulator is so stupid

Given the nature of large governmental organizations, and more pointedly, many of the rants I've seen on El Reg from freetards?


Tom 13

@Rampant Spaniel

If the royalty for the patent is negotiated as part of the standard getting the patent, your proposal sounds quite reasonable to me.

Unfortunately that means it also follows that it will never be adopted.

Windows 8.1 start button appears as Microsoft's Blue wave breaks

Tom 13


M Gale's post is pretty well thought through, and indicates familiarity with alternatives shells for Windows.

The relevant point is that Linux is designed to implement various shells as a feature, not a bolted on afterthought that is likely to break with each new revision of Windows no matter how minor. Sort of like they did with Lotus 1-2-3 and then Quatro Pro until they finally ensconced Excel in that position.

Tom 13

Re: And what do tablet users do with a desktop OS on a tablet?

I don't give a crap what the hell you pansy ass tablet users do with your tablets. Keep your frelling hand off my desktop. Steve Jobs was a dictatorial bastage, and even he wasn't damn fool bastage enough to try to force a tablet OS on his users.

Maybe, maybe if you're a brilliant developer you can have common kernel for your desktops and your tablets and save some development costs. But the fully assembled OSes are vastly different animals and need to be differentiated. If you aren't a brilliant developer, or at least haven't hired a few to oversee your OS development work, you'd probably better keep them separate.

IBM axes nearly THREE THOUSAND staffers in North America - union

Tom 13

Re: didn't get where it is today by firing the best

There's a faulty assumption in that statement: The ones who got the company where it is today are still running the show.

HP and Kodak have had similar problems. Dell has a chance to avoid it because the guy who got them where they are is still there. Although whether he stays seems to be in question at the moment.

Windows 8 hype has hurt PC makers and distributors - Gartner

Tom 13

Re: Did Gartner explain...

Gartner did warn Win 8 would be less successful than MS was hyping. As for their predictions, they are still at the mercy of what the businesses they talk to tell them. If they order too much stock, Gartner will predict they will shift too much stock.

Tom 13

Re: Can we have some new stories please?

Maybe when they release Win 8.2, but more likely we have to wait for Win 9. Until then things look incredibly bleak.

Tom 13

Re: Vista worked like a re-skinned XP.

That's being way too generous. I had dual boot XP 32-bit/Vista 64-bit, 8G RAM, Quadcore CPU, Raptor drive for the OS and separate drive for data. I worked mostly in XP because Vista was such a dog. Vista drive failed, bought a new one. Win 7 was out at the same time. Picked up Win 7 to reinstall the new OS part. Hardly ever use XP anymore. Mostly I boot to it to make sure it is patched. The difference is in the quality of the OS.

Tom 13

Re: Vista. ... beast, ... could be slimmed down ...but *only* if you bought new hardware.

Damnable lies!

I bought new hardware. Good new hardware. Hardware good enough that I needed 64-bit to take advantage of it. Vista still sucked. Win 7 made it usable. Even though by that point I was running a 3 year old system.

Tom 13

Re: I don't think the problem is just windows 8

But much of it is. I passed on another hardware decent $400 laptop again today because it came with Windows 8. If it had come with Win 7 I probably would have pulled out the plastic and gotten it for Dad.

Finance CIOs sweat as regulators prepare to probe aging mainframes

Tom 13

Re: Make It So

Part of the problem there is getting geeks like us to talk bean counter. We tend to focus on "the router is no longer supported" or "the core switch was outdated when we bought it" and can't/don't convert it to "if you don't upgrade this we run the risk that when this fails, which it will, it will cost the business _______ dollars per hour/day/week. In addition we can also enhance support for _______ (fill in an appropriate current business objective) by ____________." Unfortunately, it's up to us to cross that divide, because the bean counters can't.

Tom 13

Re: is that the system will fail at some point.

Yes indeed. Usually multiply compounded my incompetent management. Case in point:

A former employer had moved into a new building. As part of the move in and DR plan, a generator was in place in case of power failure. One day we came into work and found there was a leak in the restrooms on the floor above the one with the servers. At the time, nobody was particularly concerned that in the path of the leak was the switchbox for the server room. And at some point in the morning the inevitable finally happened: all the magic smoke escaped from the switch panel. At which point we think everything switched over to the UPSes. As we exited the building, they made sure to turn on the generator. After management finally determined we wouldn't be allowed to return for the rest of the day the Sr. Sys Admin made the long trek home to remote in and manually shutdown the servers. There shouldn't have been a problem as the generator was rated for 24 hours service and had a full tank. When he got home all the servers had already gone down hard. It seems that with the fire department finally on the scene, the building maintenance guys decided it was too dangerous to have juice flowing to the server floor and manually threw the switch for the generator to OFF. Upon return we discovered yet another problem. When the specialist had been in to setup the SAN array, he didn't write the configuration to the BIOS, so nobody knew what the actual configuration was supposed to be. So everything had to be restored from backup.

I've never understood why the water wasn't a critical issue first thing in the morning.

Tom 13

Never been a bank employee

But one of my very first service calls as a wet behind the ears tech riding with the boss during my first week of work was to a bank.

It seemed their Fed Funds computer had a drive crash late in the afternoon the previous day. So they'd missed settling with the Fed once already and if it wasn't fixed by CoB that day they'd be looking at the sorts of violations and fines that get CEO/CFO full attention.

So the boss arranged for a vendor to drop ship an IDE drive to the bank. They called and we headed over. We were escorted to the cubby hole where the computer sat. It had an amber screen. I think it was a Compaq, complete with metal case and those annoying Torx screws. As I pulled the heavy lid off I said "Boss, I think this is a 386. Might even be older." After we peeled the compressed layer of dust off the motherboard (it came away in one contiguous sheet) we determined it was in fact a 286. With an MFM hard drive. Which meant even though we had a PCI adapter for the IDE drive, there weren't any slots for it. So we decided to try copying off the data so we could fdisk the MFM drive to see if that fixed the problem. At which point we discovered the drives were low density 5.25s. With the old style connector, so that even though we had a high density 3.5, we could use that one either. Luckily the Boss still had some 5.25 in his case and we were able to copy everything onto the disks he had. The fdisk fixed the drive problem and we were able to reinstall DOS and get the system working again.

We told the bank manger that we couldn't guarantee how long it would stay up, so he needed to arrange to replace the system soon even if it did mean spending more on the new hardware encrypted communications card than they would for the new PC.

If they let a system as important as that go for so long without an upgrade, I can't imagine how difficult it is to get really expensive ones upgraded.

Boffins create tabletop ANTIMATTER GUN

Tom 13

Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

But we want to be able to make an earth-shattering kaboom!

US trade commish kicks off patent-troll-nixing plan

Tom 13

Re: hints that the Commission will look at claimants being an actual tech company,

No it doesn't. It looks exactly the way M Gale responded. And I'm one of those knuckle draggin 'Merkins who collects lots of downvotes on this site.

My hypothetical example would be:

Suppose a Brit (we'll call him Mr. Smithe) has an idea as he's sitting in traffic on his commute home from London that improves some element of our communications network. Even though he works as a gardener he works on it, proves it works, and starts to license it. Then Apple (chosen because neither MS nor Google actually manufacture phones) decides to incorporate that improvement in their phones. Since Mr. Smithe doesn't have any commercial interests in the US, he won't be able to sue. And given this scenario, he should damn well be able to sue. I wouldn't begrudge him punitive damages either.

Galaxy S4 way faster than iPhone 5: Which?

Tom 13

Re: "fast enough"

I'll start with the standard stock warning that past performance is no guarantee of future earnings.

What the higher price from Apple has gotten you in the past is a stable platform. If you wanted to keep your phone for 4 years you could. The cost was a performance hit. As a lot of hardware vendors have been finding out in the PC world, most people just want something that works, not necessarily the fastest latest toy to one up the Joneses. But yes, if you do want to always own one of the fastest toys on the block, buy a new Android at least once every 2 years. No skin off my nose either way. I had an Android HTC that worked well on the rare occasion when I had 4G signal, tolerably when I had 3G, but I was still paying too much so I traded it in for a flip phone that pretty much just makes a rare phone call.

US Supremes sit on hands in $625m patent case, hand Apple victory

Tom 13

Re: Patent System

On this particular issue I have to admit that the only thing that scares me more than not fixing the system is letting the clowns (with apologies to all actual clowns who work at circuses etc.) currently in Congress write a new one.

Media phone-hacking? Tip of the iceberg, says leaked police report

Tom 13

Re: Banking regulators knew bad **** was going down in the banks

No, Bank regulators FORCED bad **** to happen at the banks.

You won't be able to fix the problem if you haven't identified the correct source of the problem. Yes, you do still need the ability to do something about it afterward which we still don't have, so perhaps it is a moot point.

NSA hacked China's top carriers in hunt for SMS data - report

Tom 13

Re: They had problems picking up the IRA

Most of us had no problems with them being picked up. In fact, most of us would have preferred they just shot them and saved the rest of the expenses. It was your buddy Ted "Lifeguard" Kennedy who kept getting in the way. You know, protector of the people and advocate for universal health insurance.

2012: second costliest year for weather and climate-related disasters

Tom 13
Thumb Up

Re: Wait!

Hey! Stop rewriting my previous posts under AC!

Tom 13

Re: twiddling with the inflation figures do you think is going on here?

At least twice as much as is going into keeping the CPI or Unemployment numbers artificially low over the last 5 years. Particularly since they explicitly compared 2005 dollars and 2012 dollars without a correction as stated in the Reg article.

Tom 13

Re: Blame the climate/weather or stupidity?

The New Orleans disaster had a very large City/State government and Army Corp of Engineers component to it. Exactly the kind of disaster that happened was predicted by one of their universities because of the way the canals were laid out to facilitate traffic. Not entirely the ACE's fault since they did try to get the City and State to fund corrective actions. But both localities put off the changes because they didn't have the money to make them. As far as I know, although they have built "stronger levies" the actual fixes proposed decades before Katrina hit remain unfunded.

Also, having visited once, some parts of the city were reasonably well designed with the expectation that at least once in your life your house would flood. I am of course talking about the really old buildings from around the time the city was being rebuilt the first time, not the new ones which ignored the wisdom of the old houses.

Tom 13

Re: Here are some ideas, just for fun:

1) Shipping is still cheapest by, well, ship. It's difficult to drive ships on land. Therefore you can't really do away with coastal cities. By definition, all coastal cities are susceptible to being obliterated, particularly by hurricanes.

Points 2 & 3 directly contradict each other.

4) You can't build large reservoirs because that will destroy wildlife habitat. It's an EPA thing.

5) US agriculture has already minimized water usage frequently using satellite imagery. Trying to catch natural runoff is likely to cause even more environmental issues down the road.

6) No cities in tornado alley, no cities in major flood plains, no cities on the plains where they would be subject to drought and emptying water aquifers, and the EPA won't let us build cities in the forests. WTF do you expect us to live?

I'm all for useful ideas and criticisms. But please, the old adage about putting the brain in gear before the mouth applies. As a practical implementation of point 1) I'd limit government bailouts for flooding disasters. If you have private insurance to cover the cost of the rebuild, fine. If not and you live inside the flood plain, I might be willing to give you half of what you lost so long as you rebuild outside the flood plain.

Oh and (not directed at Trevor) but perhaps part of the reason billion dollar disasters seem to be on the rise is because they aren't engaging in even the most basic economic practices like giving the numbers in constant dollars instead of inflated ones.

Using encryption? That means the US spooks have you on file

Tom 13

Re: NSA: uhhh..

Nope. It's:

Another Canadian!

Tom 13

Re: Otherwise the data will be used e.g. to interfere with voter registration

Ah yes, the racsist canard. Oh, and there's the confirmation: Homosexuals, trade unionists, feminists, too. In other words, none of the people who've actually been illegally targeted by the current regime in the known scandals. Oh, and let's not forget the outright lie that There is minuscule voter fraud of illegal votes being cast given the results of Democrats in New Jersey being thrown into jail on just those charges, or precincts near Chicago and Philadelphia where 105% of the total population voted even though we rarely exceed 50% of registered voters casting ballots even though we barely have something 45% of the total eligible voting population registered.

Tesla unveils battery-swapping tech for fast car charging

Tom 13

Re: Electric cars are not green miracles

Yep. This electric car mania reeks of the human Tesla's obsession with wireless transmission of electricity. If he'd managed to make that work, maybe there would be a place for an electric car.

Michael Dell: 'Cash in your shares, we are in a mess'

Tom 13

Re: help the continued dominance of office,

Er, no!

MS was in the midst of keeping themselves out of the pokey. If Apple had gone under at that point MS really would have been a monopoly in the PC world. It was worth pocket change to give Jobs 3% of the market and avoid permanent government regulation.

Angry punters slip contract shackles in T-Mobile crystal ball bill rumpus

Tom 13

Re: re Fixed Contracts

I don't know about the pain part. I had a two year contract with Sprint that initially specified unlimited data. About 6 months before the contract was up they killed the unlimited data part of my plan. So I killed my contract. I wasn't getting as much use out of the phone as I was paying for anyway. Out cost less than my monthly bill, plus I got a rebate for returning the phone. ('Merkin, so plan included a discount on the initial phone purchase.) Obviously YMMV.

Rise of the Machines: How computers took over the stock market

Tom 13

Re: Radical solutions needed

Small tax on what exactly? The total value of the transaction? Or just the profit from it? What if the transaction results in a loss? Can a loss be used to offset a gain? Over what time period?

Under the current US tax regime, I think the answer is a bit simpler. Go back to using the time a stock is held to determine it's eligibility for the capital gains tax rate. If it hasn't been held for at least 6 months, it gets taxed as income rather than capital gains.

I also don't see the need to have physical paper for the certificates, and especially don't see the need for the person who owns them to keep them. Many years ago I dabbled in the market, never had a certificate. Lost my shirt of course and haven't been able to get back into at the personal level since. But I held all the stocks I bought for more than 30 days. So that doesn't actually get you where we need to be.

In fact, I'd say right now the biggest problem with the stock market is something they keep selling us as a Good Thing(TM): Mutual funds. Granted the intended idea was a good one. But the way it has actually worked out is horrendous. The volatility of the market isn't just down to HFT, it's also down to too few people trading too many dollars. Even the richest person on the planet doesn't throw around the kind of money a mutual fund trader does.

Google staffing boss: Our old hiring procedures were 'worthless'

Tom 13

Re: You'd expect the brighter ones to be better at the job AND better at the brainteasers

No I wouldn't, but then I've picked up the balls and dropped them instead of simply reasoning that it's obvious the heavier one falls faster.

Intellectual brightness (what brain teasers focus on) at best has no correlation to practical problems and likely has an inverse relationship to it. I've met too many academically brilliant people who can't function outside of their cloister. If you're an HR person or company president who finds the oddball who is good at both, grab hold of him and keep him on your payroll. He'll probably turn out to be worth more than your current company capitalization.

Tom 13

Re: engage me as a person and have a laugh,

That's sort of how I landed my first IT job. I still remember the one of the two questions that really landed me the job:

What color shirt are you likely to be wearing on the day the toner cartridge explodes in your hands?

I don't recall the exact wording on the other one, but I think it was along the lines of what happens to the data headed to the printer if you reboot the printer. The exact way it was worded led me to answer it with "Obviously, they fall into the bit bucket."

A couple years later the boss told me the real question that landed me the job was that from the work I did a job back, I knew what a GFCI was. He hadn't heard of them before doing a remodel of his house. Apparently since I quickly flipped out the answer as though everybody would know this, he thought I knew way more than I actually did despite my attempts to dissuade him from that viewpoint.

Tom 13

Re: If your first thought was "well a golf ball

If that isn't your first thought, you are incompetent and the interview should end there. This sets the outer parameter for the number of gold balls. While there is a certain sense in which the remaining questions are important, I'd have to concur that it is mostly in an intellectually masturbatory sort of way - it's meant so show off how clever you are.

Tom 13

Re:Their streetview team was trained by the stig.

You sure about that? I heard it was Clarkson.

Stay away from the light, Kodak! Look, here's $406m to keep you alive

Tom 13

Re: Hubble telescope

You've got some bad data in there somewhere. The mirrors for the Hubble were tested with jigs before launch. Problem was, they built the test jig wrong.

Oracle: We WON grey market software and Solaris support case

Tom 13

Re: Authorised Oracle ..

Probably. But Red Hat are required to release their OSS whereas the same does not apply to Oracle's proprietary code.

IT mercenaries and buy-to-let landlords are my HEROES - here's why

Tom 13

Re: All this jolly talk in the media about prices

might make one think that the recession is over, but the reality is that trading was down by 95-98% in the 2 years leading up to the crash and is still well down on "normal" with almost all the trading occuring at the top end of the market.

But in some sense that's the real question isn't it? What is "normal"? Is normal the housing market prior to Bears, Leahman, and AIG? Is it what we had while the baby boomers were growing up? Or is what we see now the real normal because there was both a real bubble plus we're downsizing as the boomers retire? Even if it is well below what we were doing a mere decade ago.

The rest of your points are spot on too.

PC makers REALLY need Windows 8.1 to walk on water - but guess what?

Tom 13

Re: Not only does W8 work beautiful without touch

Yep, it works so much less mouse you get to drop endings from words!

vEry guDly 4 U!

Tom 13

Re: Not just wait till Xmas.

That actually depends a bit on the economy. If people in the consumer segment feel flush with cash, yeah they will operate that way. But if they don't, they'll limp by on the old system until it is Christmas time and give it as a gift to their SO or kids. Also, the manufacturers tend to put things on sale which also ought to drive up consumption at least relative to the rest of the year. That didn't happen.

Tom 13

Re: Yes the OS is irrelevant.

Not completely irrelevant. Yes, the hardware is the prime motivator and it has improved in quality and the need for speed increases has diminished greatly.

BUT, if you do want/need a hardware upgrade, does the OS entice you or repel you? I've looked at a couple of sales now and when I saw the Win 8 sticker, backed away as quickly as I could. I want an OS that for me, works at least as well as Win 7 did. Win 8 isn't that OS.

Washout 2012 summer, melty Greenland 'nothing to do with Arctic ice or warm oceans'

Tom 13

Re: Global climate "science" isnt science

Actually you can get a fair bit of real since out of just observational science. Astronomy would be the prime example here. But it does require that what you are engaged in is actual science as opposed to using government mandates to spread your gaia worshiping with Bill Murray al a Ghost Busters acting as your front man (i.e. "Back off man, I'm a scientist.").

Tom 13

Re: You need around 30 years to be able to talk about climate

I see. Since we're closing in rapidly on the 20 year mark that's been used for the last 30 years, you've moved the goal posts to keep the Warmist faith alive.

Tell you what. I'll see your 30 and raise you another 1000. When you have hard data covering that time period, come back and talk to me again.

Tom 13

@Tim Roberts 1

Why is it that every time somebody points to a single season in which there is a problem with AGW we hear "climate =/= weather" but every time there is a single season which supports it we hear "see, AGW is destroying the earth!"?

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