* Posts by Henry Wertz 1

2396 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

Google's stunning plan to avoid apps slurping Gmail inboxes: Charge devs for security audits

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


OK... I am thinking if these APIs are so privacy-busting, they should not be used by anyone. Charging that kind of change (and then excluding apps who are trying to abuse your private data for profit) should make sure these APIs go properly unused.

LibreOffice 6.2 is here: Running up a Tab at the NotebookBar? You can turn it all off if you want

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: I thank all the developers

"Why should Word documents become corrupted/unopenable in the first place?"

Well, .DOC was at times not a file format in any real sense of the word. If you had "fast save" turned on, for instance, it pretty much would stick a small header at the start of the file, then just do a raw RAM dump of the RAM that would contain your document. Nice and fast, at load time it can just load that RAM dump back into RAM and there's your document. BUT, of course, that means once some newer version of Office had enough internal changes, some lucky bastard at Microsoft would have to work on code to either shuffle the RAM dump around enough as it reads it to make it compatible with the newer office version, or interpret what is in this RAM dump so it can load it into the newer office. I suspect since OpenOffice would have NEVER had the option to load the RAM dump back in straight they probably ended up with a more robust .doc interpreter.

OOXML ("Open" Office XML) was kind of a greasy ploy against open office and the ODF (Open Document Format), but also legitimately gave Office an actual file format rather than some nasty RAM dumps.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: 646464

" I expect soon popular software will be so full of "all the world's 64-bit" assumptions that keeping compatibility with 32-bit gets too laborious."

Surprisingly, no. It's JUST 32-bit x86 that seems to be being dropped en-masse. If you follow good programming practices and use your size_t, htonl() etc. then you really don't have to worry about word size or byte order. It's JUST x86 32-bit that is being dropped en-masse; those distros that support ARM seem to plan to ship both 32-bit and 64-bit ARM ports for the forseeable future.

When Canonical announced their drop of 32-bit x86 Ubuntu ISOs, they provided quite a good reason; their stats indicated under 1% of Ubuntu users were on 32-bit x86 systems, and furthermore the vast majority of THAT 1% were running 32-bit Ubuntu on 64-bit x86 chips (i.e. they probably downloaded the 32-bit ISO by mistake or because they weren't sure which one to get.) They also pointed out the 32-bit x86 systems are either 10+ years old, or slightly newer low-spec Atom netbooks; therefore they recommend running a lightweight distro (which are generally now doubling down on 32-bit x86 support now that some mainstream distros are dropping it.)

US lawmakers furious (again) as mobile networks caught (again) selling your emergency location data to bounty hunters (again)

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Can anyone explain why the FCC was shut down

"They shutdown in January, but why? FCC is an independent agency funded through regulatory fees. How does the partial federal government shutdown affect their ability to work?"

The US has a broken political system, the political polls only pretend there are two political parties (ignoring all 3rd parties), so so does the mass media. This ensures parties other than the main 2 parties gain little to no influence. Imagine the situation you'd have in the UK if the Torries and Conservatives were literally the only two parties, so when they start to bicker over something there is no one else in office to tell them to quit bickering and get something done, nobody else in office to force a vote one way or the other, and no "other" choice to vote for at election time to show dissatisfaction with this situation.

During government shutdowns in the US, fully automated web sites are shut down ahead of time, outdoor memorials and monuments that are unstaffed anyway are fenced off to make sure nobody can enjoy them, and many other petty and childish behaviors. I'm sure many of these were members of one main party or the other thinking they'll go ahead and make that shutdown as painful for the public as possible.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Okay... simmer down.

"When 'location' data is merely historic data, the FCC doesn't have any jurisdiction over this."

100% false. The rules specifically say the A-GPS data is not to be sold, and only used for emergency services. It does not magically become exempt after it's aged for a few seconds or minutes. You know there's no distinction between current and historic data right? Taking your argument to it's conclusion, all voice and data traffic spends several milliseconds going through network switch packet buffers as it traverses across the phone company network, therefore it's all historical and exempt from privacy laws.

Anyway, if the FCC refuses to do their job, it may be time for a nice set of civil suits. I think it'd be VERY easy to find judges that take a dim view on companies selling data, explicitly against the law, to shady and secretive third parties.

Phased out: IT architect plugs hole in clean-freak admin's wiring design

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Wiring limits

Youre right, 100mbps is plenty. But I've seen this, a cable goes bad and it negotiates down to 100mbs... trouble being you then also get like 20 or 30% packet loss and maybe 1mbps throughput depending on what went wrong with the cable.

Tesla inches toward GPL compliance in low gear: Source code forcibly ejected into public

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

not unusual

"The code dump does not include installation instructions and lacks some details about how to build the directories for the root filesystem (initramfs)."

Not a GPL requirement, and actually not too uncommon. I've seen this plenty of times, some source tree that is typically a patched up kernel, C library, and busybox... no patch files compared to the base kernel etc., no build instructions, no info on what kind of file you should end up with (i.e a single bzImage, kernel + ramdisk, directory tree ready to put onto a filesystem, ...) or how to put it on the device. If they *include* these instructions, they'll package it up as a BSP "Board Support Package" along with a compiler and so on; it's usually devices that they have no intention of you updating that leave all that out.

Google does this with the chromecast -- it's basically got a kernel source tree and a chrome tree (there's a whole kitchen sink of miscellaneous stuff in the chrome build tree...) but no config info, and I'm pretty sure there's some files missing you'd need to build a bootable system. (I'm also pretty sure the chromecast is locked down so you'd need some signing key to update the firmware on it anyway.)

'Facebook takes data from my phone – but I don't have an account!'

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

system apps

"That is interesting because I have both Facebook and the Data Manager disabled on my Android phone. I am not sure if that actually helps but I am able to disable both."

Yeah, I think the difference is on your phone, they shoveled^H^H^H^H pre-installed these as apps. On the phones where this can't be disabled, they improperly stuck these on as SYSTEM apps. Since system apps are supposed to be performing important system functions, the GUI doesn't allow disabling them (most people wouldn't want to disable for instance the phone dialer or settings menu.)

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

What a load of crap

"Facebook insisted to The Register that no personal info is being trafficked, only things like the operating system version and device type that Facebook uses to keep the app updated."

What a load of crap. I've done some Android software development; Google Play's software developer portal ALREADY tells the developer what makes and models of phone or tablet have the app on it, OS version, screen size, RAM and storage specifications, and so on, and Google Play Store can already use this information for updates. It lets the developer specify to install different APKs (android packages) based on OS version, screen size, phone versus tablet, RAM, etc., as well (i.e. phone versus tablet version of an app, or a game where it may have smaller or larger textured depending on device capabilities.) Facebook's app has zero reason to send the info they claim they are sending; frankly, FB should not be getting **ANY** information from anyone who is not actively using their app.

Honestly, if I bought a phone and it had FB junk on it, I'd try to root it to excise that garbage. If i found it could not be rooted, that phone is going back to the store for a full refund.

Braking news: Tesla preps firmware fling to 'fix' Model 3's inability to stop in time

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

"According to the UK's Highway Code, the typical stopping distance locally is measured at 73 metres, 240 feet or 18 car lengths."

But who knows when that was updated? US legal minimum is 200 feet from 60MPH, but as far as I know this was set based on the technology available in the 1950s. I can tell you a 150+ foot 60-0 is very poor (after all, per the article a pickup truck can outbrake it!) These days, 90-100 foot 60-0 is an outstanding braking distance, a lot of cars (*cars*, not SUVs and trucks!) have braking distance 100-110 feet with even 120 feet being a bit long. I've had 3 or 4 cars without even 4-wheel disc brakes (rear drums!) and several of those mid-sized, that would still stop around 110 feet.

"Braking distance is more seriously affected by how much G you can subject the user to than anything else."

100% false. I've had plenty of cars that can stop the *wheels* from 60MPH in 1 foot -- that's called locking up the brakes. The tires have a grip limit that definitely limits your stopping distance. Also, the brakes do turn all that kinetic energy into heat, most cars that can stop from 60MPH in 110 feet or so, I think you'd find the rotors and pads would overheat and slip if you got tires on there that could stop from 60MPH in like 20 feet.

I must say I find the performance of this Tesla alarming for 2 reasons -- 1) The whole concept of over the air updates, especially ones that will change important driving charcteristics of the car... I would find it quite alarming to start up my car one day only to find the brake responsiveness had been fiddled with overnight. 2) The dismissive attitude Tesla gave over this, "Ohh, ABS calibration." "Ohh, we got ours to stop in 130 feet" and "Ohh, well, that was an early model." Well, 130 feet is a poor stopping distance for something being sold as a high-performance vehicle. Standing on the brakes on dry pavement in a new vehicle should not give you 130 feet in one and 155 feet in a second copy of the same vehicle, don't try to pin that on motor trend, that's a problem. And ABS calibration should have been done by early production.

NASA dusts off FORTRAN manual, revives 20-year-old data on Ganymede

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Jupiter's magnetic fields

Referring to Jupiter's hydrogen core as a metal is not jargon. The pressure at Jupiter's core is *extremely* high, and under high enough pressures the hydrogen behaves as a metal by the usual chemistry standards. I can assure you astronomers don't consider hydrogen to be a metal, only high-pressure metallic hydrogen.

Crypt-NO-coins: US city bans mining funbux on its electrical power grid

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

market solution

They should not ban crypto miners, they should set a commercial tarrif such that drawing huge amounts of power is uneconomical for them.

Less than half of paying ransomware targets get their files back

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

I actually am surprised

I actually am surprised. Call me naive but I thought there was (as it's called) honor among thieves, that they would actually cop up thbe key once paid. I also assumed this just do to simple self-interest, that people will stop paying if they getg the word that they won't get the key anyway.

A smartphone recession is coming and animated poo emojis can't stop it

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


Keyboard!!! LG, Samsung, Motorola, etc. are like "nobody is buying keyboard phones", while Blackberry can't make the two Android keyboard phones they are making in stock.

Keyboards alone of course wouldn't fix a sales slump singlehandedly, but if Motorola, Samsung, LG, and Apple quit copying each other and ending up with almost the same phone (LG, Sammy and Apple here even have started airing almost identical advertising...), if they did things to make their phones different maybe people would be interested in them?

Got some broken tech? Super Cali's trinket fix-it law brought into focus

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Two comments...

Well 3.

1) Want better repairability? Don 't buy Apple. I mean, I saw a complaint a while ago about "phone vendors" not using standardized connectors, they do except for Apple.

2) That said I'm all for this rule. I do realize in actuality some other vendors phones are getting somewhat less repairable as new models come out.

3) The farm equipment situation? I heard it was pretty dire -- fuel injection computers locked down like a slot machine, no documentation on even what the "check engine light" codes mean, I'm pretty sure they were even doing ink cartridge style crap so the tractor would not even let you install for instance aftermarket fuel injectors if the originals went out.

Intel didn't tell CERTS, govs, about Meltdown and Spectre because they couldn't help fix it

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

screw 'em

So, really, I'm no believer in so-called "responsible" disclosure, I'm for public exposure of flaws. I'm all for some class action lawsuits for the time between when they found out about these flaws and when they disclosed, selling known-flawed chips without so much as an errata notice sure opens one up to liability.

That said, once they decided to hide this flaw, screw CERT, they wouldn't be helpful.. and Congress? F--- 'em. I've seen no sign of anyone in Congress ever being even vagvuely technologically competent. Intel is right, telling them all would have been zero help.

The e-waste warrior, 28,000 copied Windows restore discs, and a fight to stay out of jail

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


Yup, should have been putting Ubuntu on them instead. Ran into this at years back... highers up are like "Sure you can put windows back on these machines", and we pointed out the license prohibited it (the enterprise agreement invalidated the individual licenses, and it was prohibited for us to automate the reinstall either way making it far too labor intensive at the volumes we were dealing with.) We ended up shipping them blank.

US senators vow to filibuster FBI, er, NSA's domestic, errr, foreign mass spying program

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


First off, good on them and I hope they get more senators to join their filibuster. I find it unbelievable that any politician can actively support unconstitutional spying programs like this and stay in office.

That said -- really, out of that list, at least Patrick Leahy and Rand Paul are really libertarians, they ran as republican and democrat to get into office (successfully, they've both been there for years.) The US has a broken political system, with a near-one-party system. Since these parties combine people that should (in a working political system) be members of probably half a dozen parties, you can or course find some reps and dems with polar opposite political views, and you will find "far left" and "far right" individuals in them. But you look at party line, both parties to avoid "alienating their base" have nearly the same political platform really -- by British standards, the reps are center-right but very near center, the dems are center-left but very near center.

Of course, both blame the other party for all problems. For example, both parties lie and claim they want to fix the federal budget problems, which are entirely the other parties fault. But, in fact both parties actually for increased gov't spending and tax cuts.

I have no idea why both parties have whole handedly decided they should ignore the Constitution and civil rights. But, that's the rub -- I can care about my rights as much as I want, without any 3rd parties it's highly likely as elections come up the choice I have will be two people who don't give a damn about rights.

The big two issues causing this -- polls, and debates.

Polls -- personally I've been polled twice -- the first time, the pollster asked which candidate I was voting for, then named the democrat or republican, and they hung up when I said I was voting 3rd party. The second gave a choice of "press 1" for some republican, "press 2" for some democrat, "press 9" for someone else. When I hit 9 it said the choice was invalid and hung up. It's kind of a vicious cycle when the media uses polls that usually don't even had 3rd parties as a choice, they therefore don't mention or include 3rd parties, so it won't even occur to most of the public to look into them then.

Debates -- just 1 example, there was a big row during a few of the early presidential debates this last time around, because they excluded some 3rd party candidates due to low poll figures, but had probably half a dozen main-party candidates for each main party, several of which had actually polled lower than the excluded 3rd party candidates.

Captain Morgan told off for Snapchat lens: That grog be aimed at kiddies

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


"Snapchat is usually associated with youngsters sharing self-deleting photos with each other,"

You'd think so wouldn't you? Inexplicably, the couple people I've seen that seem to be constantly sending each other snapchats with a seemingly endless variety of filters are like 25-35 years old.

Social network smacks back: Accusers say it helps recruiters target age-groups in job ads

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

not sympathetic

not sympathetic to facebook. Safe harbor is important. But... If they have it set up so job ads can be posted with age as a filter (other than maybe "over 18") when that is specifically illegal, then I'm not sure just trying to shift liability onto posters is going to fly.

Comms-slurping public bodies in UK need crash course in copy 'n' paste

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Mediacom did this

Our local cable company, Mediacom, did this. I had my cable internet shut off several times . When I finally went in in person to find out what the hell, it turned out A) they had been sending the "copyright violation notices" to the wong address (mistyping it every time) and b) the ip address not only had never been assigned for me (dynamic dns kept a log of what IP I had), it was for a town hundreds of miles away! I cancelled service on the spot and got DSL.

UK teen dodges jail time for role in DDoSes on Natwest, Amazon and more

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

prohibited activites?

So the article mention the Isrealis getting into trouble for (among other crimes) "prohibited activities." Sounds vague 8-) Reminds me of the episode of Corner Gas: "What are you writing me a ticket for?" "Unspeicified violations."

Lap-slabtop-mobes with Snapdragon Arm CPUs running Windows 10: We had a quick gander

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


I think you are underestimating the per-core performance of these ARMs. Comparable to a P3? Umm.... I've thrown Ubuntu onto my (Tegra K1-based) Chromebook, and per-core performance (it's a quad-core) is roughly between a Core 2 and an i5. This uses older 32-bit ARM cores, compared to the Snapdragon, I'd expect it to be faster. Honestly, I've done light video editiing, video encoding, photo editing, compiled software, and done android software development (in addition to lots of web browsing and video playback) with no complaints.

I'm glad these are coming out, so I can get one (probably used), strip Win10 the hell off it and put a nice ARM distro onto it.

Get ready for laptop-tab-smartphone threesomes from Microsoft, Lenovo, HP, Asus, Qualcomm

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

done it

Done it -- I have an ARM Chromebook that I basically never use ChromeOS on -- I run an updated "Chrubuntu" (Chromebook Ubuntu, that I updated -- other than the chromebook kernel and video drivers -- to Ubuntu 16.04). As much aso commentors are poo-pooing it, a system like this is actually quite nice. Mine's basically a Nvidia Tegra K1 in a notebook package. That's a quad-core ARM (with 5th low-power core the system switches to under light usage) and a Nvidia video chip (even supporting CUDA). The performance is quite decent (and I'm pretty sure the Snapdragon's a newer, faster ARM). And, it's nice to not have to worry about topping upt he battery (12 hour battery life under heavy usage, and 18 under lighter usage.) If I'm in a 72-degree room and run the cores full-tilt the hottest spot on the case MIGHT hit 80. Under any normal use the case doesn't seem to heat up at all.

Of course, I'm running Linux so most software is already ARM-native... whereas Windows has absolutely no tradition of having Windows software for anything but x86. The big trick will be if enough ARM softawre comes out, it'd probably get old to run absolutely everything under emulation. With that said, I do have qemu on there and have run a handful of x86 binaries. Performance under emulation with qemu's not great but is useable in a pinch. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft didn't have a faster emulator, they did buy Connectix (makers of Virtual PC, which ran x86 software on PowerPC Mac) years ago so they likely do have emulation experts on hand.

As for pricing -- $10? Yeah right. But, there are plans here int he States where you pay some massive up-front amount (like $80-100) for "unlimited"* but can add lines for $20 a pop. I suppose if I had one of these that's what I'd end up doing, add it for $20 to an existing plan.

*"unlimited" usually means up to 22GB, then your data is "deprioritized", i.e. if the cell site is not slow you'll get full speed, but if it slows down you'll be slowed down before everyone else.

'Urgent data corruption issue' destroys filesystems in Linux 4.14

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

difference here though...

"If MS had this data corruption bug in Windows there would be dozens of commenters here telling how "Why isn't MS testing their crapware", or "MS is letting end users test their crap", with everyone upvoting each other.""

And rightfully so, usually; gentoo it's typical to either run very recent or bleeding edge versions of almost every package. You would not have seen this bug running any typical Linux distro. People tend to make comments regarding Microsoft's mistakes (and upvote it!) when people run the regular release of Windows, update it, and run into big problems; not when they are running something like the Win10 bleeding edge channel and run into problems.

Tesla launches electric truck it guarantees won't break for a million miles

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Fnar, fnar

"US pronunciation would be "see my", not the British one of "semmy""

Nope, I can assure you in the US "semi" is pronounced the funny way, either "semmy" or "semm-eye" just as I've heard people pronounce "semi-deatched" on the few UK shows I've seen that term used.. But it strictly means lorry here -- I don't actually know if us US'ians actually have a word for a semi; as far as I know you've either got wood or you don't here.

Welcome to the Rise of the Machine-to-Machine. Isn't it time to 'block off' some data ducts?

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Security problems

I think quite succinctly, one of the big security problems at present is the trend to run absolutely everything over port 80.

In years past, your web server would be on port 80 serving up web pages. That custom service you wrote would be on another port. That other machine-to-machine service? Another port. So, it was completely normal to restrict some port, either entirely (if it's expected to be only be used on the local machine) or to whatever machines are supposed to use that particular service, along with rate limiting and so on. Now? The regular web pages, custom service, and other machine-to-machine service would most likely all be running over port 80.

This is by no means some insurmountable problem, most web servers can certainly be set to block URLs by pattern (and so block certain services) based on requester, throttle based on requester, and so on, and they should for services that aren't meant for dog+world to access.

'Windows 10 destroyed our data!' Microsoft hauled into US court

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Probably do have permission...

"Microsoft had no permission to change the OS on a machine, which amounts to unauthorised access."

Uncertain. If you are using Windows 7, 8, or 10, have you actually read the license? Some of the terms are quite heinous. My recollection is that the license gives them the right to modify the software on the system in any way they see fit, with or without notice, and they disclaim the software actually being able to do anything.

That said, the fact that they would keep hassling people over and over to upgrade (not a "never ask again option") I *do* hope they get the book thrown at them.

Bloke whose drone was blasted out of sky by angry dad loses another court battle for compo

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

may be legal?

"Un fortunate jamming device are illegal to posses and use in the US."

Possess? I think you can possess any kind of radio device you want, as long as you don't use it. Use? The blanket "it's illegal to use" is usually talking about cellular band jammers. The rules for these bands remote controls use? Typically fcc rules say devices must tolerate interference, and must not intentionally generate interfeference. But in most bands, there's also a power limit where if you are below that limit, your device can do whatever it wants. It's entirely possible you could jam a drone if it got close enough AND stay fully within FCC regulations.

Oh my God, 911 is down. Quick, call… aaargh!

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Free market fail.

"The FCC should walk into AT&T headquarters tomorrow and arrest every senior level manager, not fine them. 911 should always work. Always. Multiply redundant impossible to fail *always* because it's one of the areas in technology where failure is *not* an option. Failure = people die. "

I agree this kind of thing is inexcusable, but thats why they fine millions of dollars an hour even when an outage covers a limited area. Arrest? Sorry but that is overkill. You should realize, data centers with multiply redundant power (I.e. two independt power lines going into the building), battery backup, and generator backup STILL have seemingly inconceivable failures because of the interconnect connecting all these power sources failing (usually with a nice electrical fire); or a data center orders multiply redundant connections, only to find that some bozo actually ran several connections using the same physical fiber optic fiber and not redundant at all. Redundancy should be a cure all but it isn't.

That said, AT&T wireless has cut corners now and then in the past... if it was do to that then perhaps some jail time is in order (negligence).

'I'm innocent!' says IT contractor on trial after Office 365 bill row spiraled out of control

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

I suppose it depends, but I would have avoided the situation

I think this has been said... but I suppose it depends. I think this has been said, but if the service was paid through him, and they were delinquint, I think he was within his rights (although, see below, I would avoid this kind of situation entirely...). If it was not paid through him, he's in the wrong; users of any cloud service really must consider what happens if they lose access to that service (and it sounds like they did consider that at least to some extent since they say they lost no data.) If The gov't (including local gov'ts like this) do have a nasty habit of using criminal charges in cases where anyone else would use a civil suit.

When I was doing contract IT work with a few business partners, we made quite sure that a) Subscription services ("cloud" backup, dynamic dns, e-mail and web hosting) were paid by the client directly to whoever provided the service. We were paid for our services, not to pass some money onto a 3rd party. b) They had copies of all notes we made*; whether they knew how to use it or not, a future IT vendor would find them useful. In other words, we followed the general principal "if the whole IT group got hit by a bus, the customer should not be screwed."

*Notes we gave them included changes we made from stock config on routers, access points, etc.; network maps; device documentation for some devices (for instance one site had a PBX where they had the "end user" manual so it just said to call a PBX vendor for changing half the stuff; we found the real manual with all the info and gave them a copy); administrative credentials (for computers, online services, routers, access points, and whatever else); and miscellaneous notes (for instance, noting one high-end HP network printer they had that dropped off the network several times a week and had to be power cycled, HP never released non-buggy firmware for the darned thing.)

Thanks, Obama: NSA to stream raw intelligence into FBI, DEA and pals

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


" Quite why this needed to be rushed through in the dying days of the Obama administration remains to be seen."

Because it's fascist, and goes against basic American principals. Obama has hated freedom, especially right to privacy, all along (based on his record) and this goes along with that. By slipping things like this through a) At the last second and b) via Executive Order, he can (at least try to) bypass any discussion or review of unconstitutional actions such as this.

NASA wants to sell International Space Station to private enterprise

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

What he said..

I agree with what Tom64 said... there is the issue of the station being international. US, Russia, ESA (European Space Agency), Japan, all have modules on the station. But if they all decide they are not going to be using the station sometime in the 2020s (not too unlikely, given how MIR held up it'll be getting a bit rough by then), they might as well sell it rather than just mothball it if there are interested buyers.

BlackBerry chief: We don't have to make phones to make phones

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

One thing they can specialize in

There is one thing they can continue to specialize in -- phones with keyboards!

I mean, really, I looked recently to see what phones with keyboard I could get, I've got a Stratosphere II (Android 4.1 phone with LTE). After I found VZW's website doesn't have a choice to filter by keyboard any more, I did some Googling. A review that went over the "top 10" on all 4 of the biggest US carriers had a BlackBerry Priv (which does look nice, it's running Android rather than BlackBerry 10), another BlackBerry, a 3rd BlackBerry, like 1 other Android (with a 640x480 screen and Android 4.0..., lower spec than the Strat II...) and a couple "feature phones" (calls, text, and pictures only.)

Some people now have the solution of having a phone, tablet, or "phablet" and a plug-in keyboard. That's fine, but I don't want to have to carry around accessories with my phone.

Blackberry should think about this -- it's unfortunate that the BlackBerry itself (i.e. a phone running BlackBerry OS) has become niche. But the "Android phone with keyboard" alone is a distinguishing feature for them; they could make a flaghsip phone (as they are now), mid-range, or low-end and not have to worry about it being "yet another Android phone" and not stand out.

If there's enough current BlackBerry OS users too, it would make sense to keep getting customers from that niche too, they could make sure BB runs on the same hardware and get 2 for one.

Facebook ‘glitch’ that deleted the Philando Castile shooting vid: It was the police – sources

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


"IF it's true that the police deleted it, that's the most incriminating fact. Unless they had body cameras, the best evidence we'll get is a cop car dashcam video that the police can explain away with "he pulled a gun!""

They did have body cameras; "mysteriously" they all failed.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

What should change?

"That being said, an argument could be made as to which gun killed the poor guy if him having a firearm prompted the officer to shoot him."

No the argument can't be made, there's no question the officer killed him with his gun. These types of trigger-happy officers will decide your wallet looks like a gun, a pack of smokes looks like a gun, a phone looks like a gun. A few years back locally, a police officer shot someone through the heart who was in their own art studio (at midnight) talking on the phone. Initially he claimed he thought the phone was a gun, then said he saw the door open, decided to just go in and flinched when someone was standing right there.

Several things need to be done:

1) This "police having other police's back" type nonsense has to go. Comradery and so on? Yeah, this is fine. Covering up for officer misconduct? This has never been a good thing, it has always tarnished reputations of departments involved (due to rumors and so on); it's now the 21st century, so these coverup attempts will be completely unsuccessful, and it won't be rumors tarnishing the department but proven fact of misconduct and coverup. (In the art studio example, there was no attempt to cover up.)

2) Make sure officers do follow their training. Some few will just plain be dirty, and they've got to go. Some aren't "dirty" but just don't have the temperament for it, they're too high-strung. Plenty of others just don't quite follow procedure... which doesn't usually lead to any problems, until it does. (In the art studio example, the officer went in alone when procedure was to go in with backup; both for officer safety, and to keep the officers calmer (since they have backup) and so less likely to make mistakes.)

3) The mentality. There are definitely some departments with an "us versus them" mentality; the police tend to not be respectful toward the public, the public know what they'll get interacting with the police and are not respectful either. The officers tend to be rather high-strung and nervous ("us versus them" remember); the public knows if they are stopped they'll be treated like a criminal, so they're nervous. The police are trained to be suspicious when the person stopped is nervous, so this makes them more nervous... On the other hand, there are departments that take "protect and serve" seriously, they want to reduce crime while recognizing they shouldn't interact with the general public as though they are all potential criminals. They treat the public with respect, and are (usually) treated with respect in return. It makes their job easier and less stressful, and they stress the public less. I'm happy to say, locally the local PD and the state patrol both tend to be reasonably friendly.

Get ready for Google's proprietary Android. It's coming – analyst

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

I'm not understanding these reasons

Will Google do this? I don't know. I don't understand the reasoning why they would though:

1) The "API" argument. OK, so Google ends up owing billions to Oracle. a) Would changing anything in 2017 affect those damages anyway? b) Are they going to rewrite an entire new API from scratch then? In one year? Keep in mind, they can't just "close source" the same API -- they still will be shipping an implementation of it, which I assume would be enough to get them in trouble with Oracle anyway -- and if a judge is stupid enough (hey judge, if you decide this you are STUPID!) to decide API itself can be copyrighted (so you can't clean-room implement it...) then, well, you can't write Android software without an API of some kind. So they can't just close source the existing API and have this actually help anything with Oracle.

2) The "faster updates" argument. a) Many many phones, the vendor simply does not bother to do anything in terms of updates; either they ship none, or maybe a minor version update, like "x.y.0 to x.y.2". I simply do not see how it being closed source versus open source helps this in any way; many vendors simply can't be bothered to release updates at all, and in other cases, they do some nasty things ^H^H^H^H customizations to bring up Android to begin with, and don't want to have to do it again to make it run on a newer Android version (the first couple LTE-supporting phones I had had this problem... Android didn't really support LTE yet, so the data support for switching between EVDO, HSPA, or LTE was like some vendor-custom hack that would then have to be reimplemented from scratch for each new Android version.)

3) I'm just not seeing the advantage. If they are not having problems (businesswise) of vendors taking base Android and putting their own stuff on top, then what's the difference if it's closed source? It'd be a lot of trouble to reimplement for something that's not causing Google a problem.

4) Tweaks and optimizations? This argument just made no sense to me -- if you want people to find little tweaks and optimizations and improve your code, to improve battery life, and so on, closed source is not the way to do it.

5) I'm ignoring the "people want Android because it's open", "don't be evil", etc. arguments, I don't disagree but others have covered this argument more eloquently than I could.

On the other hand, I can see wanting an ART that is not dependent on AOSP -- you see this with Cyanogenmod, on some phones where they can't get a rebuilt kernel onto it... the Android userland will be pretty specifically tied into a certain kernel version. For instance an old phone I had, you could get a CM7 onto it to upgrade it from 2.1 to 2.2, but that was it, newer Android runtime would not work with that kernel. It would be nice if a newer userland could run on an older kernel, and could help some phones that do not get updates otherwise to at least be able to get a 3rd-party update (i.e. Cyanogenmod) even if the vendor doesn't release one.

US Cellular joins Google Fi

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

That's actually a fairly big deal

That's actually a fairly big deal, a lot of the area that US Cellular serves has very poor Sprint & T-Mobile coverage; the overall area USCC covers is pretty large.

Oooooklahoma! Where the cops can stop and empty your bank cards – on just a hunch

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Licence to steal is a good way to describe this

"Licence to steal" is a good way to describe asset forfeiture laws as they currently stand in the US, not just this card skimmer. The theory behind this law, the police would hold onto profits related from a crime during trial, they'd have their day in court, if found not guilty the person gets their stuff back. Edit: The description in a few of the links people have linked to make it clear this law is full shadiness, that the police can seize money and hold onto it without filing any charges.

In practice, that can be how it works if the police in an area are honest (in my local area, for instance, I haven't heard of any problems; the sheriffs are elected so if the police misbehaved they would be replaced). But it's a law that almost seems to be designed to be abused.

Two major problems with this:

1) The law says these are supposed to be proceeds from crimes (i.e. if some movie-style drug kingpin has been a kingpin for 5 years, and bought his fancy sports car and mansion within the last year or two, they were probably bought with drug kingpin money.) What happens in practice, in big cities the police routinely steal peoples cars, they'll find (or plant) $10 of something or other in there *OR JUST DECIDE YOU HAVE A "SUSPICIOUS" AMOUNT OF CASH! (This amount doesn't have to be like a briefcase of cash or something, I've heard of people getting the full harrassment over like $50.) Of course (per what you see in the article) the police will now take even a broken tail light as an excuse for this kind of thing.

2) The obvious greed factor -- individuals and departments that would never break or bend the rules (i.e. taking bribes or what have you) view this as a legal method of bringing reveneue into the department, you can get your department money for funding nicer, newer equipment, and pull in sports cars and so on for them? The police in some cities here love to show off Corvettes and so on that they have seized, then they paint them up in police car coloration. Police here in the US will take assets, and then expect those who they just took all their money from to hire a lawyer to get it back. This includes cases where they raid the wrong house, even those people will not automatically get those assets back. Of course, they're supposed to hold onto assets until after trial, but it's happened before and will happen again where people have gone to trial, been found "not guilty", then find out the police already auctioned there stuff off for like 10 cents on the dollar (more money for the police coffers don't you know?)

I wonder if anyone who has had their money skimmed by this thing has ever tried going to the card company and filing a dispute? After all, the police didn't take your money, this private company paid the police 92.3% (7.7% cut remember) of the money they saw on your card, and *the privacy company* drained the card. They probably have to follow the same card processing rules as everyone else.. it simply wouldn't occur to most people to file a dispute when it's the police skimming your card instead of some random scammer.

Surveillance forestalls more 'draconian' police powers – William Hague

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

What a numpty

So, later on, Lord Hague says: “Organisations wouldn’t leave doors open all night at the company headquarters but they are doing that in cyberspace," just after talking about how these same companies (along with everyone else) should be unable to use encryption without flaws built into it. With no sense of irony. Oh yes, that faulty encryption sure locks those doors up tight.

Keep in mind, ladies and gentlement, those who talk about "balancing" your privacy mean they don't want you to have any, and those who talk about "balancing" your rights just want to take those pesky rights away.

BlackBerry boss mulls mid-range Androids

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Android phone with nice keyboard?

I guess my question is, if they are going to be selling Android phones, will they make one with a nice keyboard? That alone would make them stand out, there's simply not that many Android phones with any kind of keyboard on them.

Bash on Windows. Repeat, Microsoft demos Bash on Windows

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Should work well

"Looks like it. Windows NT has always had the ability for multiple subsystems like this. That was one of the cool design features of NT back in the day. This was how it ran Win16 and OS/2 apps in the beginning after all. It was part of the original design work for NT3.1, but largely just got pi$$ed away when Ballmer decided they didn't want compatibility with anyone other than themselves in the naughts."

I think rather than using an updated POSIX subsystem (or a new subsystem), this is trapping Linux syscalls and implementing them using equivalent Windows syscalls (and additional code as needed.) This should work pretty well actually.

qemu's "qemu user" emulation simulates CPU and then maps syscalls (I've used this and it works reasonably well.) When I started using Linux, the kernel had several syscall mapping tables for several contemporary UNIXes to run their binaries (Linux for MIPS had SGI Irix support for instance, which from what I read at the time did work reasonably well.) nestedvm simulates a MIPS-I in java, traps syscalls and implements them with equivalent Java calls. This has to run crosscompiled binaries but also works surprisingly well.

Interesting times indeed.

BMW complies with GPL by handing over i3 car code

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

"Is there still such a thing as a non-outsourced call center?"

Yeah, Mediacom (local cable company) has this. It's nice, they have what they call a "virtual call center". They have local call centers throughout their service area (typically you're within 50 miles of it, in my case it's about 2 miles away.) But in case of heavy call volume (like severe storms, tornados, or hurricane knocking out service in a large area) the calls from (mostly) people saying "hey, my service is down" will spill over into other call centers instead of putting them on some collosal hold queue.

PC World's cloudy backup failed when exposed to ransomware

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

My guess...

My guess at one explanation that would actually make the seemingly contradictory claims all fit... perhaps this system does keep previous file versions that are under 30 days old. So, you have a file that uploaded months ago, then the encrypted one uploaded recently. That means the old file is over 30 days old and would not be retained. Of course the way it should work is that it'd keep that previous version for 30 days after it's been replaced, but none of these descriptions specifically say that.

Microsoft did Nazi that coming: Teen girl chatbot turns into Hitler-loving sex troll in hours

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

I'm amused

I must admit I'm amused; 14 hours from a neutral base to a raving nazi that likes to sex chat.

Six charged for 'hacking' lottery terminals to spew only winning tickets

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

"They tampered with the machines."

I'm not sure that they did. It sounds like a software flaw that involved no tampering to me -- you tell the machine to print a bunch of tickets, it shows the print queue apparently including which are winners, and allows queued tickets to be cancelled. I think "rigging" a machine is more vague though and includes things just like this, finding some software flaw that tilts the odds unfairly in your favor and using it.

"They cancelled tickets after first finding out whether or not they would be winning tickets, which is inherently fraudulent, whatever scheme or mechanism they may have used to do so"


Mud sticks: Microsoft, Windows 10 and reputational damage

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Several reputational issues:

I think there are several reputational issues (given here in no particular order), which individually might not have been enough to give WIn10 it's reputation, but added together give it quite the bad reputation:

1) The "software as a service" as discussed in the article. To be honest, I think for general populace they aren't too aware of the "software as a service" model as yet, since they see the choice as staying with Win7 and current PC, upgrading to WIn10 or buying a PC with Win7 (if they can) or Win10 on it. But, the disquiet among the technical press kind of filters down as a general bad impression.

2) The nagging upgrade stuff. I've read all about how pesky this is; honestly letting the user know a Win10 upgrade is available is fine, but making it show up as frequently as it does, and going to the effort to make it show up when the user tries to disable it, is ridiculous. This annoys both technical and non-technical users, and people who might have tried Win10 if offered less obtrusively are going to now stubbornly avoid it.

2.5) I would have done two things here -- let people know the upgrade is out but not so pesky a manner. It would be nice to have a USB live version (it could still do the Win7/8/8.1 licensing check then go to live), so the user could take it for a spin before they install it.

3) Privacy issues. Once some people hear about the optional features (like OneDrive or Microsoft login) that would send your files to Microsoft, or hear about the pretty lengthy privacy policy... they hear it second or third-hand as "Windows 10 sends all your files and everything to Microsoft."

4) "No reason to upgrade." I put this in quotes since I know Win10 is a bit faster on most benchmarks than Win7 (and cut a little RAM usage). I'm assuming most of these people actually WOULD benefit from upgrading. But (just like happened with WinXP) a lot of people see their system running fine and don't care to rock the boat.

I've been surprised hearing from some otherwise non-tech-savvy people that have such a strong negative view of Win10 (either due to privacy concerns or just hearing in a general sense that it's bad), they plan to use Win7 as long as possible then try Linux (this among people who I didn't think would have heard of Linux.)

That all said, I think for people using Win7, and planning to continue using Windows, WIn10 is fine. Vista deserved it's reputation, Win10 really doesn't. It's a tricky position for Microsoft, they were going to already have a hard time going to "software as a service" (after all, who wants to buy a computer then expected to pay to use software that came on it?), but now they'd have to try to repair Win10's reputation somehow AND do that? Tricky. I wonder if they'll have to backtrack on this "no more Windows versions" thing and put out Win11 at some point just to shake WIn10's reputation (really they could just pick Windows 10 build whatever, change any "Windows 10" on wallpapers and graphics to "Windows" and have the same build as an update to Windows 10 users and for new Windows 11 installs.

Facebook, WhatsApp farewell BlackBerry

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

3rd party app

"Face10 works but it isn't free. (Native Blackberry app but uses the Android API)"

I was wondering if a Blackberry app couldn't just use a supported API. Apparently yes 8-)

Microsoft's equality and diversity: Skimpy schoolgirls dancing for nerds at an Xbox party

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


Yeah... I think there's a long tradition of having booth babes at these shows. Clearly they are there to be eye candy, but generally they would be dressed up to resemble characters in the game, or wearing a shirt with the logo on it or something. Just having some random hired dancers show up and start dancing on pedastals seems sleazy.

Domino's trials trundling four-wheeled pizza delivery bot

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Let me tell ya...

Well let me tell ya... I was at a friend's place and he ordered pizza delivery from a place that was probably a block away. He asked me if I thought a 30 cent tip was good and I was like "No, not really, here let me chip in". He said "No I've got it" and tipped him 30 cents. I'm pretty sure they'd send him the drone if they had one 8-).

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