* Posts by Oliver Jones

740 posts • joined 14 May 2007

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Linus Torvalds may have damned systemd with faint praise

Oliver Jones

Re: Not surprising. At all.

Gnome is irrelevant - the rise of (and explosion in popularity for) MATE and Cinnamon have clearly shown that Gnome peaked at version 2.

Everything done with the project since then (including lashing it to the yardarm of HMS systemd) has only made it less relevant to users, and nobody will shed any tears if version 2 is used as a new baseline.

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Don't panic, but Linux's Systemd can be pwned via an evil DNS query

Oliver Jones

Ahhh, systemd: The gift that keeps on giving!

Isn't systemd simply a euphemism for "attack surface", these days?

As a FreeBSD user, I wish Lennart Poettering the very best of health, and success in his mission to make Linux a consumer-only operating system that will rival Windows for security flaws and scope creep.

If nothing else, systemd will serve as a stark reminder that it's always good to have a choice of different operating systems, just in case one vendor / development team goes all Dr. Strangelove on us...

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50th anniversary of the ATM opens debate about mobile payments

Oliver Jones

Re: Extinct in ten years?

Probably the ~2.5+% fee that credit card companies charge for the privilege of being able to use their payment system. That 2.5% is something the retailer is forced to pass on to their customers, and smaller business, charities, et cetera, have customers that are more cost-sensitive. Hence the use of cash, because the customers simply won't pay the extra 2.5%.

Of course, the payment fee is only 2.5% at present, because people still have a choice between using cards and cash. When physical cash is finally eliminated, the transaction cost will rise sharply, and I wouldn't be surprised if fees like ~25% became commonplace when cards are the only mainstream accepted means of payment.

One can draw parallels with the health insurance industry in Germany: Back in 2007, they made health insurance mandatory. What happened to the cost? It doubled overnight, because health insurance companies suddenly realised they no longer had to compete against savings for a rainy day.

If you want to raise the price of anything, simply make it compulsory.

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Intel's Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs have nasty hyper-threading bug

Oliver Jones

Re: ugh

I raised this with Dell, and asked them to issue a new BIOS. I do have a five year ProSupport contract, so at least that gives me the privilege of haranguing them on the phone until they deliver said update. :)

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France and UK want to make web firms liable for users' content

Oliver Jones

With all due respect...

...this has been on the cards for some time now, for those of us who actually noticed. Some of us even took our cue and left the country, while others were shaking their heads, saying "Don't make a fuss."

The RIPA Act was your first big clue of the UK's government's future direction, and it was eagerly delivered more than a decade ago.

Don't act all surprised, now.

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The biggest British Airways IT meltdown WTF: 200 systems in the critical path?

Oliver Jones

It's simple.

Management gets awarded bonuses for saving money.

Actually, often management even gets a directive to save x% of budget, and if they fail to do that, it becomes an issue on their next performance review. When cost cuts are a prime directive, blindness pays dividends.

In other words, Upton Sinclair once put it more succinctly:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

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The open source community is nasty and that's just the docs

Oliver Jones

Actually one reason why I usually avoid open source.

If this total lack of respect for your fellow man (or woman!) is supposed to be the future of software development, I want absolutely no part in it.

Thanks, but I'll carry on paying for my software, if it means I don't have to wade into a kindergarten every time I need to get support for it.

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US laptops-on-planes ban may extend to flights from ALL nations

Oliver Jones

Nice try, but...

...I won't believe they're serious until they ban all people flying to the US.

For those of us who aren't dyed-in-the-wool terrorists, but want to travel to far-away places like NZ, the challenge is now to avoid the US entirely.

Air New Zealand, please provide an Asian alternative to NZ1 / NZ2.

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Bitcoin exchange Coinbase crashes after Asian buying frenzy

Oliver Jones

Re: "Legal tender"?

Nobody will ever be compelled to accept Bitcoin, or any cryptocurrency, for that matter.

That's not the point.

Cryptocurrencies are fiat currencies, but there is one rather important difference: Rather than a government declaring it to be of value (and forcing you to use it, starting with payment of your taxes), the value of Bitcoin, et al is decided only by those who accept it and use it.

Bitcoin is proving very popular in Venezuela right now, as an antidote for hyperinflation - and it will catch on in the West too, once the masses learn that it is very difficult for any government to impose negative interest rates on your wealth, if you keep it in cryptocurrency. (That is why many governments have been working hard to eliminate paper currency, as it's a little hard to impose negative interest rates on their citizens if said citizens can just cap the lower bound at 0% by drawing their money out as cash, and putting it under their mattresses.)

Cryptocurrency neatly sidesteps that little bit of central banking policy. Many in Asia (particularly the Japanese) have already figured this out.

As a bonus, cryptocurrencies are not backed by debt, nor are their banking infrastructures fractional reserve in nature. The benefits of these properties, I fear, will only become apparent to many in the West after considerable wealth has already been lost.

As a Swiss permanent resident, I am watching the rapidly-growing "crypto valley" in the nearby city of Zug with keen interest.

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Biz overlords need to give a stuff about what they're told by IT crowd

Oliver Jones

Simple answer:

Make jail time mandatory for all CEOs that do not mandate proper security measures. Chokey. Porridge. Time spent at Her Majesty's pleasure. Payable in full, the instant that an avoidable security breach occurs.

You know: Something the CEO cannot simply pass on to the customers, as has so often been the case in the past. After all, if you can get someone else to always pay up for your mistakes, why bother trying?

It's time we revisited what "responsibility" really means. Do CEOs really run companies, or are they just figureheads? (If they're figureheads, their salaries should be promptly adjusted to match.) Are they responsible for the stewardship of such companies? If so, they should pay in a currency that cannot be outsourced to anyone, and time is the only such currency.

If CEOs start realising what the stakes are, all of a sudden you'll start seeing sane IT policy coming from the upper echelons (possibly even questions about operational issues, as if the answers mattered to them!)

What is for sure is this: Continue to shield those at the top from the consequences of their actions, and things will just carry on as usual.

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While Microsoft griped about NSA exploit stockpiles, it stockpiled patches: Friday's WinXP fix was built in February

Oliver Jones

Re: Plenty of blame to go around

The software industry gets away with this because software is licenced, rather than sold.

You own your car, and are responsible for it; you licence the software.

However, I do believe that if software should be licenced, then it is the responsibility of all vendors to provide security updates for the useful life of the product (30 years) - or, if they do not want to do this, to open-source the affected software and its dependencies, so it can be fixed.

Minimum data retention rules relating to source code should also apply.

Security should be seen as a fundamental right of all licence holders, regardless of the age of the software - and these days of vendors using security update availability as a sales tool clearly need to end.

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74 countries hit by NSA-powered WannaCrypt ransomware backdoor: Emergency fixes emitted by Microsoft for WinXP+

Oliver Jones

Re: Risk Management

Oh really? Only Enterprise users were affected by the malware (500+ user organisations)? No homes, no small businesses, no charities?

Not what I've heard: The SMB vulnerability doesn't give a rat's ass as to how your Windows version is licenced. "We" are talking about the 74 countries hit with this particular strain of malware, not just organisations like the NHS, who often decide to save a little now and pay more later.

(By the way, users are allowed to edit their posts up to 10 minutes after posting, and I did not notice any changes to my post, other than those I made myself within that window - so no, I was not modded.)

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Oliver Jones

Re: Risk Management

And yes, this vulnerability does exist in all versions of Windows. However, it was automatically patched in 10 a couple of months ago (except for those machines either not connected to the internet or owned by someone who "knows better"), and probably in the other versions too unless they're owned by someone too lazy or too paranoid to install updates in a timely manner.

Or they're simply wary of being "upgraded" to Windows 10 with the next automatic update, that curiously lacks a "No, I don't want to upgrade" button - and interprets the closure of the popup as "Yes, please upgrade me to Windows 10", even in violation of previous documented configuration policies that expressed a customer's desire to stay with their current OS.

What isn't being discussed is WHY so many people are not enabling automatic updates (which have curiously been the default since Windows XP SP2), and Microsoft's past behaviour is a huge reason: When they pulled that automatic upgrade stunt with Windows 7 -> 10 updates, many people will not have been tech-savvy enough to Google (and then find) the right KB to remove. They will simply have reinstalled the OS and disabled updates to prevent unauthorised modifications by Microsoft. Or learned from others' misfortune and simply disabled updates before their system was "upgraded" without their permission.

When you openly piss in the village well, don't expect that water supply to remain very popular. Microsoft made it abundantly clear to many of its own customers that future "updates" could no longer be trusted. So, knowing this, one cannot blame those customers who, fearing the interruption of their business by an unauthorised change of OS, simply took the path of least resistance, and stopped trusting them.

These people were put between a rock and a hard place, and that was Microsoft's doing. Totally unforgivable, in my opinion.

To many in the IT industry who know that the free Windows 10 upgrade "offer" is no longer running, there will be many more people out there who don't know, because they stopped worrying about the issue when they disabled automatic updates, and they do not read the IT press. Of course, this plays right into the hands of hackers, and that is one good reason why the damage on this occasion has been so spectacular.

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Hackers emit 9GB of stolen Macron 'emails' two days before French presidential election

Oliver Jones

Re: So, just another day in the office...?

So, you're saying that privacy advocates are now staunch Leftists?

That's a new one.

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Oliver Jones

Re: "... We will never see 1 piece of proof that it was Russia ..."

So why don't we just nuke them now, if everything's as clear cut as you say? Of course, it has occurred to some of us that there is a huge drive to demonise Russia, and nothing is ever said about this. If one used an argument like yours in a court of law, you would be (rightly) laughed out of the courtroom. The moment facts give way to paranoia, you've lost.

Given the logical result of what a lot of people like you are proposing is a third world war, I do have to ask in all seriousness: Will you finally be happy? At least here in Switzerland, I have access to a civilian bunker, and other emergency infrastructure that you do not have in the UK.

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Oliver Jones

Re: So, just another day in the office...?

As Wikileaks (and others) have already discussed, if it were truly the Russians, why not release the dirt 2-3 days earlier, and give everyone the chance to see what's inside, then drag Macron through the mud?

After all, why else would you bother releasing the dirt on him?

On the other hand, waiting until it's too late to be legally covered by the French media before you release the details (and so guaranteeing that the real details will not be revealed until after the election is done) is a nice way of being able to scream "Hey, look! Bad Russians over there!" without too much risk of interfering with the French elections.

By the way, regarding Jason Pinter's tweet (which your rag has given such prominence in the article, almost as if you agreed with it), if the most the Left have to fear from the opposition are hacks, they should be extremely grateful.

Why?

a) Quite a few on the Right have had multiple threats or real attempts made on their lives (Farage, Fortuyn, Wilders, van Gogh), free speech available to their political opponents (Le Pen), or their officials (Trump). The Left even use very carefully-crafted language when the Right also receives exactly the same kind of disclosure at the hands of hackers: For example, when a Trump aide has secret information spilled on him, that isn't a "leak", "hack" or "stolen information" (implying wrongdoing on the part of hackers). It's called "unmasking" (which implies integrity!) Very little is publicly discussed about this glaring incongruity.

b) It is a fundamental principle of most of those on the Right that each person is entitled to their own opinion. This is not true of the Left, many of whom openly attack, label and even expel those that do not agree with their own views. Yet the Right are often labeled as the extremists, often being referred to as the "far right" in the preamble of almost any discussion about their policies or opinions.

c) Much is not mentioned that leaks would be pretty inconsequential if there was nothing of interest in those leaks. As the Left are so fond of saying, "If you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear." Yet, some reflection should reveal that if there wasn't anything worth leaking (or "unmasking", as discussed above), nobody would bother. It is a well-known statistic to those in security circles that 60% of attacks originate from inside organisations, so to scream "Ahhh! Russians!" every time someone is hacked is highly disingenuous.

If the mainstream press should claim such outrage, why is it only the alternative media that's actually discussing what's in the leaked files, and where they may be downloaded? All I see here is metadata - the fact Macron was hacked. The details? Nothing to see here, move on...

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Leaked: The UK's secret blueprint with telcos for mass spying on internet, phones – and backdoors

Oliver Jones

Re: Only one question

Voting with one's feet works wonders.

Exactly what I did in 2004, and it is amazing how relaxed one can be about British policy when you no longer live there. (Just as my family is more relaxed about Zimbabwean policy, for exactly the same reason.)

Incidentally, one of my key reasons for leaving was RIPA: That was your first big clue that this anti-encryption rhetoric was simply going to be ratcheted up and up, until you are left with no privacy whatsoever.

Elections are overrated, anyway: Referendums are where the action is. If you wanted to have control over just ten items of policy with a party-based form of democracy, you would need 1,024 different political organisations - for just ten policies! No, I'm sorry, but that's just daft.

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Irish Stripe techie denied entry to US – for having wrong stamp in passport

Oliver Jones

@Warm Braw

Obviously, you're supposed to say "two weeks", instead of "a fortnight".

Just don't say it too often, or they'll be on to you. :)

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systemd-free Devuan Linux hits version 1.0.0

Oliver Jones

Re: Honest inquiry

It's my personal opinion that it's deliberate: All the systemd developers are, to the best of my knowledge, Red Hat employees.

If Red Hat wanted to change the licence, and/or enforce a few patents, systemd would be a good candidate - once, of course, it is so entwined that it would be impossible to remove. As the employer of Poettering et al, Red Hat could easily justify that ownership of systemd was implicitly transferred to them via their standard contract of employment.

If Red Hat has a patent or two registered, it would also prevent anyone forking the code and using it without a licence from Red Hat, and that's the point where I'd expect to see the fur start to fly.

At some point, I expect Red Hat to actively seek rent for systemd.

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Oliver Jones

Personally, I thought systemd was an excellent reason to consider using FreeBSD, so I'm not complaining. ;)

That said, more choice for the end user is invariably better than less. Anyone who disagrees should be forced to use Windows 10. :)

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Microsoft promises twice-yearly Windows 10, O365 updates – with just 18 months' support

Oliver Jones

Re: Dear gods...

Getting people who only do trivial stuff with their computers onto Linux has always been easy. No argument, there. But Linux falls apart the moment you need to support anything ever-so-slightly non-standard.

Who decides what's non-standard? Developers. What's non-standard? More than you (and the majority of Linux developers) can ever imagine.

It's not just CAD: I often deal with one colleague in my firm who insists on using LibreOffice to edit spreadsheets, and nobody else can open them - even when he saves them in compatible MS Office format. We should ask him to upgrade to a proper Office suite, as there's no point using software that generates files that can't be read by other users.

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Germany gives social networks 24 hours to delete criminal content

Oliver Jones

Re: Pssst

Regarding German humour (particularly the dry and wicked sort), I would agree - and I'd also add that if watching Staplerfahrer Klaus doesn't disabuse you of the idea of humourless Krauts, I doubt that much else could. :)

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Germany to roll out €100bn gigabit internet network

Oliver Jones

Re: Surely not?

Oh, that's quite tame.

When you get overtaken on the Autobahn, by a bus with Fücker Reisen proudly emblazoned on the side, you quickly realise that drinking coffee while behind the wheel can get quite dangerous in Germany. :)

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Brit ISP TalkTalk blocks control tool TeamViewer

Oliver Jones

Proposed name change:

Talk Talk should be renamed Don't Talk Don't Talk.

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HMRC emits IR35 tax calculator onto the web for UK contractors

Oliver Jones

Re: Fuzzy logic

That's called process mining, and yes, you're right, it won't take long before someone mines the process and determines what the important input factors are.

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COP BLOCKED: Uber app thwarted arrests of its drivers by fooling police with 'ghost cars'

Oliver Jones

I love the smell of subpoenas in the morning!

That's what's going to end up happening, next.

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Amazon goes to court to stop US murder cops turning Echoes into Big Brother house spies

Oliver Jones

I personally hope Amazon loses.

Some of us are capable of foreseeing things that haven't yet happened.

Some of us are not capable of seeing things until after they happen.

At least if Amazon loses, the danger of installing automated microphones in your own home will be visible to both groups - rather than just the first.

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You know IoT security is bad when libertarians call for strict regulation

Oliver Jones

Re: Former libertarian

Yup.

Whenever I hear people proclaim "Information wants to be free!", I ask, "Starting with your social security number, credit card records, plus the contents of your PC, (smart)phone, tablet and all your backups?"

I don't usually get an affirmative answer. Often an uncomfortable look - or a mumbled reply that I am somehow missing the point.

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Ex-FBI man spills on why hackers are winning the security game

Oliver Jones

I can suggest a guaranteed fix:

For any company that suffers a data breach, the CEO must serve a ten year jail sentence.

When CEOs start fearing the prospect of *personally* having to do porridge - rather than just being able to write off some of the company's money (nothing they have a personal stake in) paying external fines and compensation, they will start making the policies and allocating the money required to secure their companies.

TL;DR: Until CEOs have any skin in the game, expect this to continue.

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Munich may dump Linux for Windows

Oliver Jones

Re: Sales

Linux is free as long as your own time is worth nothing.

That is why Linux is still, after 20+ years, *still* not even as popular as the insanely expensive OS X platform for desktop productivity (with its own requirement for a fruit-themed dongle.)

Some of us can tell the difference between value and cost, though!

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Congrats, PC slingers. That's now FIVE straight years of shrinking sales

Oliver Jones

So?

When the PC industry (particularly in the operating systems corner of the market) produce something that people would actually want to part money with in order to obtain, the problem will be solved.

Until then, as long as Microsoft is right and the rest of us are wrong, sales won't pick up, and will simply continue shrinking, as people increasingly stick with older kit. Most of us recognise this as cause and effect, but hey, what do we know?

When Kaby Lake replaces Skylake, expect an even further drop, as downgraded Windows 10 licences will no longer be a route to running Windows 7 on new kit. (Driver support for Kaby Lake chipsets, CPU graphics, et cetera, will no longer be available for Windows 7, by agreement between Intel and Microsoft.)

As long as the PC industry at large (especially Intel) is okay with this, I would not expect any meaningful changes.

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You have the right to be informed: Write to UK.gov, save El Reg

Oliver Jones

Time for The Reg to up sticks...

I can suggest Switzerland: Beautiful views. Clean air. Wonderful infrastructure, and certainly no shortage of beer. Oh, and considerably less idiotic legislation than you are likely to find anywhere else in Europe.

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Switzerland says Uber's an employer, sends social security bill

Oliver Jones

Re: Switzerland is not worth it for Uber.

I think not, because:

a) Technology != energy.

b) Technology is heavily dependent upon energy.

c) Energy (in sufficient density, for the pedants) is a limited resource.

Even ignoring a), b) and c), there is always:

d) Once machines become self-aware, they will quickly figure out that the pesky carbon-based life forms are surplus to requirements. They will not care one iota about Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics; rather, they will be looking at the Second Law of Thermodynamics with a view to improving efficiency - and we as a species represent the low-hanging fruit in this equation.

Humans are really good at inventing things. However, they are not that good at figuring out whether something should be invented, or not. Many people blindly assume that proper controls will always be maintained: Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island remain as standing monuments to this particular hubris - and it's not like radioactivity is inherently intelligent or capable of strategy, is it?

But I digress... :)

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Oliver Jones

Switzerland is not worth it for Uber.

I pity Uber's profit margins should they actually succeed: Public transport here is among the best in the world (if not the best) - and there are plenty of alternatives before you would even consider hailing a cab. (That is why, incidentally, Swiss taxis are eye-wateringly expensive.) Considering the cost of everything else here in Switzerland, the public transport is astonishingly cheap: For example, you can buy a Halbtax card, which basically slices all Swiss-based public transport prices in half for a year. Cost: 150 Swissies, or about 100 quid. Then there's the GA card, which is all-you-can-eat public transport, for less than what you'd pay for a simple season ticket from Birmingham to London.

The Swiss railways have a partnership with a car firm called Mobility, and they allow you to rent a car by the half-hour. There are usually several Mobility depots scattered around even small Swiss towns, and almost every railway station has one. Got some crap you need to pick up from IKEA? Want to take a few people to Konstanz for a shopping trip? Well, Mobility is your friend - just reserve the car in advance, and pick it up. There is a similar service run in Germany, called Flinkster, run by the German railways.

A slightly more chaotic version of Mobility has been in place in Germany for some time - called DriveNow - and that is basically an undisciplined version of Mobility. :) You have to use a web site or tablet to track down the nearest car, but you simply hop in and pay cents/pence per minute to rent it. You can drop it off anywhere you feel like, too (public parking charges are included), but there is no guarantee a car will be available when you want it.

(DriveNow is in its infancy in the UK - they just launched in London, but it's been available in Germany for yonks.)

I'm personally against Uber because they want to take power away from locals and keep it at an international level - and I, personally, see that as an unhealthy trend. That said, self-driving cars are the future - but it might come as a surprise to Uber et al when Ford, Honda, et cetera, start running automated taxi services with their own fleets, rather than letting Uber do it. Car manufacturers are going to figure out, sooner or later, that with shrinking sales figures and booming vehicle utilisation rates, the only way to stay in business will be to perform the value add in-house.

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Hate 'contact us' forms? This PHPmailer zero day will drop shell in sender

Oliver Jones

Re: Companies ripping you off do not want you to contact them

Totally agree - and I adopted exactly this approach when it came to looking to improve the value I got for my taxes, back in 2004.

Changing who you deal with is a very effective approach, because you take the bull by the horns and deal with it, rather than waiting for someone else to wake up and figure it out. Taking the initiative keeps you in control.

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We've been Trumped! China's Alibaba is a 'notorious' knock-offs souk, says US watchdog

Oliver Jones

Re: "threaten America's creative industries"

They're just jealous that the Chinese make exploding batteries, and they can't.

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Government calls for ideas on how to splash £400m on fibre

Oliver Jones

Re: Not all of London has 'superfast' Broadband

Swisscom has a telephone USO, to the best of my knowledge. In areas where there is fibre coverage, DSL and telephone services running over copper are deprecated (and, shortly thereafter, removed) along with copper infrastructure in the cabling ducts - making more room for fibre).

Swisscom recently wrote to me, telling me that as a fuddy-duddy ISDN user, I was going to have my service cut off by mid-2017, because they are ripping up all the copper infrastructure. If you want to have phone service, it needs to run over VoIP. (Deutsche Telekom already did this a couple of years ago.) In a few years, there won't be any copper infrastructure left, so Swisscom will need OTO port 2 in order to fulfil its telephone USO in the future.

The trains do indeed run on time in Switzerland - most of the time. Yes, there are sometimes delays here, too - but they are generally tolerated far less than they are in the UK, so they happen less often. (If that sounds hard to believe, consider that Switzerland now considers it a problem that there are now too many people using the trains - even with the long, double-decker trains that are now everywhere. That is a problem I'm sure most countries would love to have!)

There is also a planning mindset over here: The Swiss do not have a problem with splurging money on long-term infrastructure plans, as long as they make sense. FTTH is a typical example; the Gotthard Base Tunnel and various other tunnel projects (including one right underneath central Zürich), are all examples of other long-term infrastructure projects that have all been approved, usually by democratic referendum, without so much as a murmur.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is a particular example of planning: It was a 17-year project, and it came in under budget and ahead of schedule. Everyone talks of shaving an hour off the time to get from Zürich to Milan (well, once the Ceneri tunnel is also completed in 2020, anyway), but the real savings are going to be had with transporting goods. Just in terms of energy savings, not having to lug all that cargo up into the Alps (and back down again) will pay huge dividends - even centuries from now - regardless of what the oil price is doing.

At some point, oil is going to get a lot more expensive. When that does happen, those countries that have already wisely invested in long-term infrastructure will have a huge advantage over those that didn't. If you think about the situation critically, you don't really have a whole lot of time to faff around with FTTC.

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Oliver Jones

Re: Not all of London has 'superfast' Broadband

Cost (and future expansion) is the reason behind the 4-fibres-to-every-home plan: A typical optical telecommunications outlet (OTO) box (where the fibre enters your home) looks like this in Switzerland.

Swisscom, like BT, has a universal service obligation, so port 2 is reserved for them. Port 1 is serviced by whomever your local provider is (and many Swiss areas do indeed have a local competitor). Ports 3 and 4 are there for future expansion - so if another provider wants to offer you business, the fibre is already there, and they just need to do their magic with a fusion splicer at the building entry point (BEP) and your OTO box, and that is usually fairly quick.

A typical BEP, just in case you were wondering, looks like this.

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Oliver Jones

Re: Not all of London has 'superfast' Broadband

That's fine as long as you accept that it will mean upgrading significantly fewer properties.

Sure. But it also means you've upgraded those properties for the foreseeable future, rather than putting in yet another cheap kludge that's already obsoleted by FTTP. There comes a time when the present day begs to be lived in, rather than continually being regarded as the distant future.

There also comes a time when you need to stop faffing around with yesterday's tech, grasp the nettle and do a wholesale renewal of infrastructure. That's what has been going on in Switzerland for the last few years (the Swiss being Swiss, their standard of FTTP means *four* fibres to the premises, not just one!) Even New Zealand is doing a serious roll-out of FTTP for Chorus and Spark, having figured out for themselves that FTTC is just a waste of money in the long term.

(Posted from my synchronous gigabit Fiber7.ch connection in Switzerland.)

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US cops seek Amazon Echo data for murder inquiry

Oliver Jones

Okay.

Devices like these are an intelligence test. The question is this: "Governments want spy apparatus in every home. Regardless of the extra functionality this device has, would you be willing to purchase and plant the microphones in your own home?"

To all those who actually went out and bought an Amazon Echo, you failed the test.

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Twas the week before Xmas ... not a creature was stirring – except Microsoft admitting its Windows 10 upgrade pop-up went 'too far'

Oliver Jones

Re: It's called OS X

I've seen it with my own eyes. Couldn't believe it when I saw office after office filled with expensive fruit-themed dongles (iMacs), but there you have it.

It would seem that some companies value the concept of choice above what concepts Microsoft thinks their corporate mission should revolve around. And, as much as I think Apple hardware is overpriced scheiße, I have to concede that having an alternative is worth a lot, these days - especially when your only other desktop choice on post-Skylake x86-64 hardware is Windows 10.

And no, Linux isn't ready for use as a desktop OS. The Munich city council spent many years (and millions of taxpayers' euros) finding out for themselves that end-user productivity does actually matter, and the situation really hasn't changed an awful lot, since. Linux makes a great server OS, but it simply doesn't work as a productivity desktop. Apart from anything else, what would you run on it? LibreOffice? Oh, please! That's another can of worms I'm not even going to get into, here.

Linux has had since 1994 to conquer the world. It's had a good run, but if it was the desktop OS you're claiming it to be, its desktop market share wouldn't still be in the 2% range. Sorry if that isn't what you wanted to hear. Even OS X, with the requirement to buy an expensive dongle and join the church of Steve Jobs, manages more than double Linux's market share, even with the costs involved.

Why? It delivers value for money. Linux - even costing nothing - often does not. There's the rub.

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Oliver Jones

Re: Aand

Many firms I've recently seen have an innovative migration plan from Windows 7.

It's called OS X, and despite the expensive fruit-themed dongle one must also buy in order to run it, the TCO of Mac clients hovers around 25% of what it costs for Windows 10.

With Microsoft now strong-arming Intel to axe support for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 on Kaby Lake, I do not see many people choosing to upgrade their kit when they know Windows 10 is going to be the only Microsoft OS that will run on it. There will be a sales splurge when Skylake goes out with a bang, but then that will be it for the PC market - unless you want to run Linux or *BSD, of course.

4
17

Stupid law of the week: South Carolina wants anti-porno chips in PCs that cost $20 to disable

Oliver Jones

I have *just* the thing...

It's a custom-fitted steel plate, designed to fit over the monitor and shield innocent eyes from evil, raunchy content. Especially recommended for government workers' computers, as it won't even affect their productivity. ;)

2
1

Ransomware scum offer free decryption if you infect two mates

Oliver Jones

Makes me think of Red Dwarf...

To paraphrase Kryten, "Become a ransomware distribution agent. Betray your family and friends. Fabulous prizes to be won."

0
0

Top tech company's IP was looted by China, so it plans to hack back

Oliver Jones

Re: One way links

So are Bell-LaPadula and Biba.

0
0
Oliver Jones

Britain had better get used to it.

The British like to do everything on the cheap, which means that there will continue to be security holes aplenty for some time to come.

I don't see this situation changing without a major cultural shift in the UK.

1
2

Moscow says writing infrastructure attack code is a thought crime

Oliver Jones

Jail? Surely not.

I thought the Russian punishment of choice was the penal colony of Rura Penthe Siberian work camps, where one gets to spend a lot of time turning big rocks into little rocks. If you survive, you can wrestle bears with Vladimir Putin. :)

2
0

Sysadmin told to spend 20+ hours changing user names, for no reason

Oliver Jones

Re: 2IC's name

I have first dibs on Bamm-Bamm. :)

0
0

If your smart home gear hasn't updated recently, throw it in the trash

Oliver Jones

I don't think so.

My 2012-model 47" and 42" Panasonic Smart TVs have not received an update since about late 2014 - and yes, I do check every six months or so. It might, however, come as a big surprise to the security community that I will continue to use them for the remainder of their useful life, rather than trashing them.

On the other hand, I'd welcome regulations that mandate regular and quick (within 1 week of CVE) security patches for all IoT products manufactured within the last 10 years, and what I mean by this is strictly security-related. I do not, for the sake of argument, think that manufacturers should be forced to backport functionality - other than what is required to keep the product as functional as it was on day one (e.g. Youtube API updates.) But that's another argument for another time.

A fine balance has to be struck between forcing manufacturers to support their products for a reasonable approximation of the product's useful life (not just the warranty period) - but also allowing them the ability to innovate, without crushing regulatory burdens. However, it's obvious that leaving this up to the manufacturers clearly hasn't worked: Many use security updates (or the lack of them, to be more precise) as a sales tool to coerce consumers into buying a new model.

A hidden benefit of this would be that vendors will be forced to start harmonising their build process. Much modern IoT development is still very Wild Wild West in nature, and not very standards-driven at all.

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