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. :)
718 posts • joined 14 May 2007
Talk Talk should be renamed Don't Talk Don't Talk.
That's what's going to end up happening, next.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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... :)
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.
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.
They're just jealous that the Chinese make exploding batteries, and they can't.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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. ;)
To paraphrase Kryten, "Become a ransomware distribution agent. Betray your family and friends. Fabulous prizes to be won."
So are Bell-LaPadula and Biba.
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.
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. :)
I have first dibs on Bamm-Bamm. :)
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.
I would expect the average American to say that war is a hoot - they have never had to deal with one on their own territory: It is always someone else who has to deal with the loss, damage, chaos, and the depleted uranium. If only wars could be so convenient for everyone, we should surely have more of them.
(And no, 9/11 doesn't count: A real war involves much, much more than the loss of a few buildings in a limited urban area - and usually occurs over a protracted timescale that implies extensive humanitarian and economic costs as a result.)
The moment the first nuke is dropped on the US, however, I expect that tune to change pretty sharpish. Problem is, by that point it will already be too late.
If the West is truly determined to turn Russia into an enemy, I don't think anyone will be disappointed with the outcome. Whether any of us will survive to see that outcome is, of course, another question: Be careful what you wish for.
Microsoft hires a lot of people like Joel Spolsky, who think that offering the user a choice is merely a symptom that the UI designer has failed at their job.
This attitude has really permeated everywhere, and it's software Communism: Our way or the highway!
It's not just Microsoft, either: I have also seen this approach taken with many open source projects, too. KDE 4? Gnome 3? It's not for nothing that Mint was born - there were simply enough people fed up with having "cool stuff" shoved down their throats that they neither wanted nor needed.
For my part, I like PowerShell. But it's unsuitable as a default command line, for exactly the same reasons that UNIX / Linux systems still have a statically-linked (and therefore less dependent) subset of binaries in /sbin.
It doesn't require physical access to the machine if your Linux box is hosted in a VM, or the "cloud".
Of course, if your VM is accessible by an attacker, that already means you're doing something wrong, but a premise of good security is that one should generally design layers that don't assume unbroken security in outer layers.
Not long after IR35 came into force, I took the hint and left the country in 2004.
To those contractors who don't flinch at the idea of keeping their skills up to date (and learning another language), I would highly recommend it.
Nothing an EMP won't fix.
Too many people forget how quickly available technology levels can go down, as well as up. I just hope Trump is serious about maintaining decent relations with the Russians: War isn't in any of our interests.
Actually, the "eu" syllable maps fairly consistently as "oy" in German, viz:
"Deutsch" - "doych", not "dewch"
"euro" - "oy-ro", not "ew-ro"
"zeugnis" - "zoy-gniss", not "zew-gniss"
By the way, if you try to buy a Lufthansa ticket from, say, Cologne to Frankfurt, you'll get a train ticket also: There is even a designated Lufthansa coach on the train, where they serve you the "in-flight meal". But it makes sense: Cologne to Frankfurt is about 63 minutes by ICE - by the time you have spent 30 minutes checking in, and another 35 minutes buggering around to get a take-off slot on the runway, the train would already have arrived at the destination.
Swiss public transport is fantastic. Central Zürich is one of very few places in this world, where:
a) You see a lot of Lambourghinis, Ferraris, Maseratis and Teslas, on the road, and they're a familiar sight at any time of the year - rather than a surprise.
b) You actually find yourself thinking "You poor bastard", every time one of them passes you.
I initially picked Germany, instead. Better women, better cars, better beer - and the trains don't smell. At least, not as much as the French ones do. :)
Still, even after ~8 years in the Fatherland, my (German) wife and I decided that Switzerland was more to our liking, even though the locals always sound like they're trying to bring something up from the back of their throat whenever they speak. (Depending on the region, it can sound like anything from quite mild to downright scary.) I suspect that if I'd paid more attention to learning Dutch instead of German, I'd probably have been better off. Still, ende gut, alles gut.
One thing I don't miss here is my car: Driving in central Zürich is more painful than a root canal. Anyway, considerable transport infrastructure has been built, so you don't have to worry about driving. That lends itself to more nights on the town, without having to worry about quaint old concepts like designated drivers.
I learned this important lesson in Germany: Always use a tax advisor (called Steuerberater - ("shto-ya-ber-ah-ter") - in German). Even if they cost you 1000 euros, they will save you more than the cost of having them do the paperwork. Here in Switzerland, I continued with the same practice, although the local word for that is Treuhand - ("troy-hand") in Schwiizerdütsch. Gotta love red tape!
The SS-N-19 is even due to be obsoleted: It will be replaced with the 3M22 Zircon within 5 years, and that will be capable of Mach 5. Good luck intercepting one of those. In the meantime, the 3M-43 Klub is a more modern alternative, and the Klub-K variant can even be launched from a cargo container.
Then there's the VA-111 Shkval, which exceeds 200 knots underwater (it's a supercavitating rocket-powered torpedo). These have been in the Russian navy for yonks (the Kursk was sunk in 2000 by a bunch of these torpedos leaking propellant chemicals, due to lack of maintenance.) Of course, the Russian navy was in dire straits back in 2000 - but things have changed considerably, since.
Iran also has its own variant of the VA-111 Shkval (named the Hoot), too.
Perhaps this is why the anti-Russian rhetoric is being stepped up to hysteric proportions: The US knows it cannot afford to wait until Russia has weapons in place that make its entire Navy obsolete overnight.
But a war with Russia will be unlike any war the West has ever fought.
This has nothing to do with thinking the world owes anyone a living. It does, however, have more to do with the fact that many outsourced workers enjoy substantial tax benefits not available to British workers.
I like working in Switzerland, because I work on a level playing field - and I compete very well, here - despite having had to pull my socks up and learn German to a level I can usefully work with.
We don't subscribe to overcrowding, either: Indians are invariably shocked when they come here and think they can cram a family of 3 into a 1.5-room apartment (by Swiss standards, that's a studio flat), and the landlord simply shakes his head and says "No. For a family of 3, you will take at least a 3.5-room flat, and if you don't like it, I have 80+ other people waiting behind you - and they are more than willing to accept my terms."
Try finding a flat in Zürich, and by the time you have experienced your first Besichtigungstermin, you will understand the true meaning of competition.
Couldn't afford one on a paperboy's salary. Got a Commodore 64 instead, which I later traded up for an Amiga 500, then an Amiga 1200.
Of course, when I saw the opportunity to buy a brand-new in box A5000 Alpha in 2006, I jumped at the chance, and haven't regretted it since - but Torvalds is right: More needs to be done to make the ARM platform a serious contender, and that starts with building workstations. Unfortunately, too many vendors are keen to restrict programming information, and that just ensures ARM will be restricted to niche (if popular) segments, like mobile phones and embedded devices.
The ARM segment looks rather like the home computer segment did in the 1980s: Take the 6502 CPU, one I'm probably way too familiar with - and look at the different implementations, from Acorn's BBC and Atom, through to the Commodore PET/C16/+4/C64/128, the Atari 400/800, the Apple II series, et cetera. All have different boot code, different ways of interfacing to hardware, different system calls (only the Commodore series attempted a serious effort at making certain system calls portable across their range via their 0xFFxx kernel jump table, but the C128 used a Z80 to boot the system!)
IBM's Project Chess was, to the PC, what ARM needs right now. Failing all else, I'd settle for an MSX, metaphorically speaking. :)
I actually went full Clinton since at least the late 90s: The problem with having ISP e-mail is one more dependency than I need. If I was at all concerned about secrecy, I might not host it in the Yew Ess Aye, but rather closer to home (not in my bathroom closet, though.) But that's another project for a rainy day.
As far as I'm concerned, an ISP is a data pipe - that's all it ever will be to me, and if they don't provide the service I expect, they should expect to have their business swiftly replaced by a competitor. I can't very well hold their corporate feet to the fire if I have an e-mail account that relies on them, can I? :)
Real world, as you define it, may vary from country to country: All three properties I rent have FTTH, with two properties already enjoying symmetric gigabit internet (the other slumming it with symmetric 100Mb internet).
But then again, I don't live in the UK - so your real world may vary. :)
Show me the last mile for fibre infrastructure in the UK, and I'll admit you might have a point. Or are you saying that, just because you have copper for the last mile, there's no point bothering with anything else that might compete with it?
Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is typical in Britain. It's also why you have been left in the dust! It's a miracle you're not still using Morse keys to communicate...
By the way, CityFibre is exactly the kind of setup you describe at the top of your last paragraph: They are a wholesaler, and other companies (even including BT, in theory) are the ones selling services, running on CityFibre's infrastructure, to the customer.
...place a large contract order with CityFibre for all government offices, and make it worth their while to install FTTP, as has been done in a few cities already. Wherever open competition to BT does not exist, create it: Set up crowdfunding in cities if you have to - I'm sure you'll find plenty of people who would be interested in pre-ordering faster internet services.
Make it clear that monopolies will not be supported with taxpayer funds. In the end, if you keep on supporting BT, you will just make it easy for them to continue refraining from investment in fibre. The beast needs to be starved: Only then will it start to care about improving value for money.
And 80Mbps is pathetic, by the way: Here in Switzerland, symmetric gigabit is a reality for many (Fiber7.ch) - and we're just a pathetic little country with 8 million people. Britain should have managed 1Gbps for the mainstream yonks ago.
Aren't you tired of living in the past? Wouldn't you like access to affordable and fast first-world technology infrastructure?
Move to Switzerland: We have it all - low regulations, loads of pretty mountains for storing your data in, and more symmetric Gigabit FTTH connectivity for SOHO than you can shake a stick at.
The rest of the world moved on from this, ages ago. Stop punishing yourself: Isn't it about time you joined the rest of us in the present day?
I wrote off Holmes when she said "The minute you have a back-up plan, you've admitted you're not going to succeed." Or, in other words, the "put it all on 18 black" school of business strategy.
Kind of ironic, really, considering the circumstances Theranos now finds itself in.
Still, I do hope her investors have an "easy come, easy go" attitude regarding their investment - and a good sense of humour: They're going to need it.
If you are unhappy with the level of supply, the tried and trusted solution is to raise your bid. If you're of the opinion that supply is just fine as it is, then don't do anything - including complaining about supply. ;)
systemd-free Devuan Linux hits version 1.0.0
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