* Posts by ForthIsNotDead

702 posts • joined 4 Sep 2009


SPOILER alert, literally: Intel CPUs afflicted with simple data-spewing spec-exec vulnerability

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It's interesting...

...to pontificate about how we got to this point.

I can only speculate: For decades, when it comes to CPU design technology, the prominent driver behind all scientific research has been performance. Whether that be architectural (i.e. predictive branching etc.), or physical (shrinking die sizes), electrical (reducing voltage in order to increase clock speed) - it's all been directed towards making processors faster.

We're in a bad place at the moment, but if a similar amount of effort is spent on security research, we could be in a much better place in a relatively short time period. I'm talking five years, not 40.

The problem is: How much longer does Intel have at the 'top'? ARM are increasingly encroaching into what was previously Intel's product space. We're beginning to see usable ARM product in the server space. Granted, it's not as fast as Intel, but for some applications, they don't *need* to be. The additional power and heat savings are impossible to ignore, also.

Of course, this is all speculation, but I'd be interested to hear other 'Reg reader's opinions.

Bun fight breaks out after devs, techie jump ship: Bakery biz Panera sues its former IT crowd

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Bun fight.

Bread shop.

I love you, el reg.

Amazon Prime Air flight crashes in Texas after 6,000ft nosedive

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I'm going to speculate...

...cargo came loose. They sink like stones once that happens.

Thoughts and prayers to the families. A terrible tragedy.

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Re: We all thought the same!

<snip>Yeah, it's a thing people do, all the time.

Actually, they don't. People generally only tend to die once.

Yay, we got a B for maths. Literally, a bee: Little nosy nectar nerds smart enough to add, abstract numbers

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How do we know...

...that the bees have not simply become 'familiarised' with the image of the correct image (since that's the image they are trained with) and so naturally gravitate (or fly, in their case) towards that one when given a choice, because it is the image with which they are familiar? It certainly shows they have short term memory, but do they have the ability to add and subtract? I'm not (yet) convinced.

Oracle robbed just about anyone who wasn't a pasty white male of $400m, says Uncle Sam

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Wow, fancy that. Web ad giant Google to block ad-blockers in Chrome. For safety, apparently

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There's a simple fix for this problem:

# sudo apt remove chrome

UK.gov plans £2,500 fines for kids flying toy drones within 3 MILES of airports

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Fucking Idiots

So now, small children and their parents, playing with a drone in *their garden* are to be criminalised, whereas the genuine criminals don't and won't give a fuck and will do it anyway.

As will I. I'm going to stop my 8 year old son from playing with his £20 toy drone on our property, even though we live close to Aberdeen Airport.

Court orders moribund ZX Spectrum reboot firm's directors to stump up £38k legal costs bill

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Hey all,

I've had this great idea for a ZX Spectrum hand-held console. It's going to have a colour screen, and come pre-installed with 1000s of games ready to run.

I'm going to call it the Spectrum++

Stop by Indigogo page if you can and pledge a small sum of money. Let's get this thing started!

The eulogising of The Mother Of All Demos at 50 is Silicon Valley going goo-goo for gurus again

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I remember watching this demo a few years and being fairly impressed, but I was left with a kind of 'what is all the fuss about?' kind of feeling. It wasn't until later that I became aware of just how primitive computer technology was back in the late 60s.

The word 'visionary' is oft overused these days, but I think Englebart was a visionary in the true sense of the word. But he was more than a pontificating academic. He was engineering and building these systems with his assistants and students. He was looking at least 20 years into the future (we got the first rudimentart GUIs in the early 80s, I guess you could argue) and was building them in 1968.

One wonders what impact he had, both directly and indirectly on the state of the art of computing in modern times.

Facebook spooked after MPs seize documents for privacy breach probe

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Re: It's got me wondering...


Upvote #1 came from me! Your post made me laugh out loud!



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It's got me wondering...

If there might just be a faint glimmer of hope here.

If the public can made aware of just how pernicious this company is in terms of the effects it has had on society (the world over) could we see a backlash against Facebook to the extent where it becomes unfashionable, or (even better) socially unacceptable to use social media sites such as these? The public needs to be de-programmed from these 'social media' human-tracking psy-op systems.

I recently got a Facebook page. Wow. What a disappointment. I'm now privy to the innermost thoughts, political persuasions, sexual orientations, private lives, and eating preferences of many friends and acquaintances.

I never knew they were such fucking mindless idiots. Honestly. It's amazing how wrong you can be about people, isn't it?

Analogue radio is the tech that just won't die

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I dunno what you're all doing with yer DAB radios. I've got in my house and it's perfect. I've also got it in my lovely Jag and it's perfect there too. Last night I drove from Aberdeen to Durham with Radio 6 Music all the way on DAB and it was perfect. And the sound quality is great - more than good enough for a car, and easily as good as, if not better than FM.

Britain may not be able to fend off a determined cyber-attack, MPs warn

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Who's "they"? Nobody pushed anyone to do anything. The internet was selected as the back-bone because it is a fuck-ton cheaper than all of those leased lines, private wires, ISDN, GPRS links et al. that utility companies pay millions for each year. It's a natural outcome of cost-saving. In addition, some technologies such as PSTN are on the obsolescence path, so there's not much choice (if you want to keep costs down).

That and... well... What is the internet for if it's not for sending data between places? We're not doing it 'out in the open'. We have VPNs and other security measures. For our mobile communications we run our own private APN. It's actually fairly secure. It's the end-points that are less secure, mainly due to aging assets. Some of our SCADA assets (outstations) are 30 years old. Securing them is hard.

The government need to give more freedom on budget handling within CNI organisations. They dictate how much profit we can make (I work in water CNI), and they dictate how much we are to invest. We're left with what's left. We're between the devil and the deep blue sea. We make our budgets in 5 year blocks (AMP periods). This year, we've put in for more than £30 million for RTU upgrades over the next five years. The directors have been put on notice that with new regulations such as NIS, we're not carrying the can for them if they refuse our budget for replacing aging RTU assets.

We'll see what happens.

Microsoft slips ads into Windows 10 Mail client – then U-turns so hard, it warps fabric of reality

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Re: WTF?

Why is it okay for Google and Yahoo, but not Microsoft?

'My entire company is without comms': Gamma's Horizon cloud PBX goes DOWN

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"El Reg called Gamma and a rep in the marketing department told us it is preparing to release a statement detailing the reason for the outage."

So... Gamma are clearly not using their own Gamma Cloud PABX to man their phones, then eh?

I think that tells us all we need to know.

Macs to Linux fans: Stop right there, Penguinista scum, that's not macOS. Go on, git outta here

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As a non-apple owner...

Isn't iOS (or what ever their OS is called) 75% Linux/Unix anyway?

(You can probably tell that I've never owned an apple computer).

Solid state of fear: Euro boffins bust open SSD, Bitlocker encryption (it's really, really dumb)

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There is only one plausible explanation to this. It's a deliberate design decision, probably implemented under pressure from various three-letter around the world in order to gain access to data when they need to.

What else could it be?

'Desperate' North Korea turns to bank hacking sprees to rake in much-needed dosh

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I'm unable to find any credible evidence online that points to the involvement of North Korea. There might be good reasons for that, of course. However, I'm left wondering if "North Korea" is becoming the de-facto excuse to levy when there's no suspects whatsoever. After all, "North Korea" sounds much better than "No fucking clue who did it".

Microsoft liberates ancient MS-DOS source from the museum and sticks it in GitHub

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Ah! So you ARE *that* Richard Speed

The TMS9900 reference confirmed it. We met at a TI-99/4A meet over twenty years ago in Derby IIRC. T. Stevens and R. Twyning (first names redacted for privacy reasons!) are mutual acquaintences, I believe. Good to know its you! I'm the author of TurboForth for the TI-99/4A.

It keeps me out of the pubs.

Very cool article, thanks Richard!

Blueprint of modern construction can be found in a tech cluster... of 19th century England

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Wow! Go Shrewsbury!

As a Shrewsbury born and bred lad, I'm so happy to see this article on my favourite web site! Thanks VERY much to the author for writing this.

Some more information on the Maltings: It was in use a maltings/brewery right up into the late 80s from what I remember. I would walk past it twice a day on my way to school and back (1985-1987). Back then, they brewed Skol lager there.

During WWII, an air raid siren was fitted in the top tower, and this was still in use in the 1970s (I definitely remember it still being in use in 1975/76) as the shift-change siren! You could hear it for miles, all across Shrewsbury. It must have been de-commissioned some time later as it wasn't in use in 80s. I lived on the main road (St. Michaels Street) and we would have heard it for sure!

For visitors: The Maltings stands on the main road heading into the town centre: St. Michaels Street. If you follow this road all the way into the town centre, you'll come to Shrewsbury train station on your left-hand side. Look up. There stands a 900 year old castle, still open to visitors to this day (it's a military museum). Keep going up the same road (it's now called Castle Street, but it's the same road). The road pitches upwards and turns to the right. Look to your right. There stands the huge statue of Charles Darwin, outside (what was then) Shrewsbury School, where he was educated. It's now the public library and worth a visit in its own right. It's beautiful.

Carry on up the road another 100 yards and you're in Shrewsbury town centre. LOOK UP. All the medieval buildings are right there. See if you can find Traitors Gate (where a traitor opened the gate at the river Severn to let the parliamentarians in to do battle with the kings' supporters).

Historically, the town is massive. Make sure you pay a visit to Wyle Cop, and just look at the buildings. Go into the Lion Hotel and have a drink, and ask about the history of the place. It's fascinating.

(I promise I'll shut up in a minute, but it's my home town, and I love it very much, though sadly I don't live there anymore).

For Geeks Guide to Britainers: From the Maltings, if you go in the opposite direction on St. Michaels Street, you'll eventually come to Heathgates. Can't miss it: Big traffic island, and the Heathgates Pub in front of you. Take the first exit on the island on to Whitchurch road. Carry on up the road. Morrisons supermarket is on your left side. When you go past the car-park entrance to Morrisons, immediately after that is the Old Sentinel Works, where the Sentinel company made their steam wagons and road rollers for use all across Britain, and indeed the world. Amazingly, after the Sentinel works closed, it became Rolls Royce (building aircraft engines and the like during WWII right up until the early 80s IIRC, then Vickers Engines, where tank engines and the like were made. TODAY however it is... The Sentinel Works again! A group of enthusiasts have bought the building, and are re-building and renovating steam engines and steam wagons inside the works.

Shrewsbury is a lovely town, and if you go during August, you can visit the Shrewsbury Flower Show (one of the longest running flower shows in the world) which has a lot more going on than just flowers, and has one of the best fireworks displays you'll ever see anywhere in the world.

Tell 'em ForthIsNotDead sent you!

Thanks again to the author!

That scary old system with 'do not touch' on it? Your boss very much wants you to touch it. Now what do you do?

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It's probably cheaper to introduce new hardware and software that produces the same *output* as the legacy system for the same input, but is, well, you know... new.

This simply comes down pragmatic and skilful systems analysis, and careful counselling of the people that use the system day-to-day. Do not allow scope-creep under any circumstances.

The new system will run side-by-side with the old system until all are sure that it is working properly. For example, when it produces end of month, end of quarter, and end of year accounts that all match the legacy system.

It can be done. Just don't rush into it, don't through boat-loads of people at it. Start the project small and quietly, and up-staff when you are completely confident of what needs to be done.

And finally, don't be tempted to throw shit loads of hardware at it. Consider this: If the system you are replacing runs just fine on a dusty old VAX, then it will probably run fine a modern PC. You will not need racks and racks of hardware. I've seen some things over the years are simply inexplicable. LAMP stacks and OOP have a lot to answer for!

Contractors slam UK taxman's 'aggressive' IR35 tax reforms

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It's time...

...to seriously think about leaving the country.

I'm serious. My wife and I are seriously thinking about it. It's got to the point where there is no incentive to run your own business anymore. In fact, if you do, you'll be PENALISED for it.

It sounds like a form fascism (under the true, original definition) or communism to me.

Fuck this place. I don't belong here any more.

Curiosity's computer silent on science, baffling boffins

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Racist Software

The problem has been traced to two software modules. One, running on the main computer (the master) and the other on the science instrumentation platform (the slave). The master is supposed to poll the slave periodically for any new science data and upload it during the next up-link cycle. However, due to problems with cultural appropriation, and passive racist software architecture, these modules have been disabled, er, I mean prevented from running, until a more co-operative architecture can be designed where both ends of the software link can contribute to a more symbiotic data-exchange relationship, based on a mutual understanding and respect of the others' role in the important act of data exchange.

Linux kernel's Torvalds: 'I am truly sorry' for my 'unprofessional' rants, I need a break to get help

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johnmc: "Don't be surprised some day when the equivalent of a PE stamp is required to release critical software components."

We already have it. It's called SIL (safety integration level) and applies to critical software as well as hardware! See IEC-61508 for more info.


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Re: He's Not Sorry...

Doctor Syntax: "That [sycophancy] would be coming from others not him wouldn't it?"

Yes, sure. But my point is, when everyone looks up to you, when nobody takes you to task for a particular thing you say, when nobody flat out comes out and says "No, you're wrong", then you start to believe that you're right all the time, and that everybody agrees with you. But in reality, you're often completely wrong, but no one wants to contradict you because THEY want you to like THEM. That's sycophancy.

Here's an example (just over a minute long) where Linus professes Java to be a "horrible language", and the interviewer, instead of asking him why, asks him for his autograph. Sigh.


When you don't question somebody on their opinions, you de-facto validate them in the mind of the person proffering the opinions.

Furthermore, when you look at the mailing lists, you'll see that when Linus rejects some code or something or other, he'll often start out quite amiably, and only when questioned will he explode into a tirade of sociopathic abuse. How dare His Word be questioned. It's the classic symptom of believing that your own shit doesn't stink. There may also be some burn-out in the mix, the dude's been working his ass off, herding cats for years. I say take some time off with the wife and kids; make love with your wife, cook with her, talk to her, build a tree-house with the kids, and get some perspective.


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Re: He's Not Sorry...

@Doctor Syntax

I've watched quite a lot of his lectures, and he reminds me a little of celebrities. You know, famous actors or pop stars, who have become used to being looked up to by sycophants and have actually come to believe that their own shit doesn't stink.

To be fair, I wouldn't put him in the same category as the out-and-out divas that we see in the pop world, but I get a sense of it. The star-struck sycophancy is there for all to see in the Q&A parts of the various lectures.

Still, he's better than Stallman. With Stallman, EVERYONE thinks he's a dick, except for Stallman himself. At least with Linus, some people genuinely believe he's a great guy.

Whatever, I guess. Some people think I'm a great guy. Some people think I'm a dick.

I am, of course, a dick.

Does any of it matter?

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Re: He's Not Sorry...

I'm inclined to agree. You'll get down-voted, because everyone thinks Linux is really great (and it most certainly is) and conflate liking Linus with liking Linux.

To me, it's perfectly possible for Linux to be really really awesome, and its creator to be a fucking massive cock of the most hideous proportions.

The guy's a massive dick.

Linux is cool though.

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If you spoke to people at work the way he does you'd get fired.

If you spoke to people in the pub the way he does, you'd get your nose broken.

Why is he so special?

If he Aspergers to such an extent that he truly cannot empathise with other humans, then he shouldn't be doing the job he is doing.

Does he treat his wife the way he treats his developers?

What about his children?

Why should anyone have to put up with such behaviour?

Microsoft reveals train of mistakes that killed Azure in the South Central US 'incident'

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Being an old miserable grey-beard type, I have some reservations about this new-fangled Cloud thingy. Something about putting all your eggs in one basket. Simultaneously however, I do marvel at the technology and admire it. It seems that even when your data is distributed automagically across the world by your cloud provider, a major outage such as this can still cause major hassle.

However, from what I am reading, no customer data was lost.

I tip my hat to the engineers, and to Microsoft for being forthright and just telling the truth about what happened. You'll get a lot more slack from your customers, and respect to boot.. Someone made the right call there.

Beer icon, 'cause... well, you fixed it lads, kick back and have a beer.

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Milton Keynes: Come for roundabouts, stay for near-gigabit broadband

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Are you sure?

None of us here (Dyce) have even bloody heard of it. If we get 5MB/S we're really cookin', regardless of the ISP.

Pluto is more alive than Mars, huff physicists who are still not over dwarf planet's demotion

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All planets are plate-shaped.

I saw it on YouTube.

UK-based Veritas appliance support is being killed off

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Nah. Not going to happen. The Core Team will be shut off from dirty scroats ringing up and asking questions. That assumes, of course, that the UK crew that are going to move into the core team aren't just sacked, or quit and go and work elsewhere.

Meet the LPWAN clan: The Internet of Things' low power contenders

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Re: Interesting article

Yes. The three gateways that I'm running are all on TheThingsNetwork, so if your nodes are registered on the TheThingsNetwork, and my gateway(s) pick up your transmissions, the data from your nodes will be forwarded to you wherever you are in the world.

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Interesting article

We're making great progress with LoRa, both LoRaWAN and direct (end-to-end) LoRa communications, using in-house designed and built telemetry units that are very small and can run for years on 4 AA cells. We're using them in the water industry to bring remote un-manned sites into the SCADA system that otherwise would be too expensive to hook up (no mains power on site, maybe no mobile GSM coverage etc).

Just yesterday we were getting signals more than 10 miles, and also pushing signals through dense forests and woodlands.

It works very well.

Ultimately, the uptake of technologies such as LoRaWAN and Sigfox are going to be governed by the amount of data you're allowed to put into the air. We have concluded that LoRaWAN is not suitable for telemetry, because the restrictions on how much data you can transmit in 24 hours is (in our opinion) punitive, and not suitable for telemetry where, say for 23 hours of the day you are just sending routine event-based telemetry (pump on, pump off) but then the pump trips in hour 24 and you don't get notified because too many data events occurred during the day, and you are off the air because you have used your quota (LoRaWAN does not forward data into your network after the end-node has used up its allowance).

To me, this smacks of the shenanigens played out by the mobile operators - making you pay for your data. It actually isn't, it's a means of maintaining space on the airwaves for all devices to have a chance to transmit their data, but as I mentioned, the allowance is not enough for serious commercial applications at the moment. Consequently we are running LoRa systems, but coming into our own, custom developed gateway.

I hoping Weightless will gain more traction because it looks good, but at the moment, LoRa has the momentum (by a very long way) over all the others, though LoRaWAN will not be suitable (I believe) for most applications, unless you have VERY low amounts of data to send per day). I run three LoRaWAN gateways (on TheThingsNetwork), one in Durham and two in Aberdeen where data is forwarded from any device that wants to transmit on LoRaWAN. The gateways are based on Raspberry Pi's and work flawlessly.

Imagine Python fan fiction written in C, read with a Lisp: Code lingo Nim gets cash injection

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Re: Why? - Is it me?

You sir, are a genius. Have a beer on me in lieu of my newly minted, and extremely lucrative career as a 'nim expert'.

beer --->

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Instead of learning yet another fucking language that compiles to C or Javascript (WTF?), why not, er, just learn *those* languages in the first place?

Is it me?

Game over for Google: Fortnite snubs Play Store, keeps its 30%, sparks security fears

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Not playing it...

...even if it's free.

I have better things to do with my time, like teaching my children how to read, write and do math.

You know, having a life instead of wasting it staring into a phone.

ZX Spectrum reboot latest: Some Vega+s arrive, Sky pulls plug, Clive drops ball

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Shitty packaging...

Wow - look at the shitty way it was packaged. Why didn't they just put it through a tumble dryer first?


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Give it 10 years

A boxed Vega+ will be worth a fucking fortune. Like the Jupiter Ace. Ironic really.

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Re: What we need

Faster at what? The Z80 had some more sophisticated instructions, such as LDIR which the 6502 doesn't have. So, if the 6502 was faster, the Z80 was certainly more memory efficient - you could do more per instruction on a Z80 than a 6502. And only putting three registers on the 6502 was just dumbfuckery of the highest order. Shame on Peddle!

Hurrah! Boffins finally discover liquid water sloshing around on Mars

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Re: Should they now update the project's name?

Have a beer! ------>

HPE supercomputer is still crunching numbers in space after 340 days

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Re: "SSDs fail at an alarming rate in space"

My Crucial 128GB SSD failed after 6 years of constant, daily use. And even then, it failed in such a way that I could still transfer all my data off it. It just started running very slowly (very slowly) after about an hour of use. I think it was temperature related. So, I lost no data, and simply replaced it with another Crucial drive.

Money well spent.

Spectre rises from the dead to bite Intel in the return stack buffer

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Meanwhile, in other news, reports are coming in that the Motorola 68000 is unaffected.

I think I've got some in a drawer here somewhere...!

Give Samsung a hand: Chaebol pulls back Arm to strike Intel's chips

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ARM business model

This is where ARM gets to reap the benefits of their business model. The pain of producing their designs at the latest 5nm size is somebody else's problem to a large extent. Intel, on the other hand, build their own fabs to produce their chips, so they need to get the RoI before they can upgrade. Intel, ultimately, are doomed I feel.

IBM fired me because I'm not a millennial, says axed cloud sales star in age discrim court row

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As an independent contractor, there's only two companies that I will not work for under any circumstances:

* BP


Oracle's new Java SE subs: Code and support for $25/processor/month

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1) World + dog baulk at the sudden cost implications

2) Punitive licence audits by Oracle by staff

3) Gradual reduction in (Oracle) Java utilisation over next 5 years

4) Gradual uptake in OpenJVM utilisation over next 5 years

5) Larry throws in the towel, and says fuck it, dumps Java, sticks it on GitHub, and tells everyone to fuck off.

Atari accuses El Reg of professional trolling and making stuff up. Welp, here's the interview tape for you to decide...

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Re: Oh how the might have fallen...

That's very true. Jack Tramiel, as controversial as he was, definitely rescued the company and brought some of the innovation and potential back. However, even under the Tramiels, a lot of the mojo and pure fun-factor that made Atari what it fundamentally was gone.

After the Tramiels, Atari was nothing but a name. A husk. Nothing of the "true" Atari, originally under Bushnell, and latterly the Tramiels, remains. It's a corpse.

The name Atari has changed hands a bunch of times since then, it's nothing more than a brand now, a recognisable name to be used as a marketing vehicle, with no one even remotely associated with the Atari of old being involved, none of that Mojo. Just bullshit, hype, vapour, and lies. Consequently, I feel no guilt whatsoever in declaring: "Fuck "Atari" and the fake hype-machine that they rolled in on.".

The whole company can do one as far as I'm concerned. Even if they do release a working machine, I'm not interested.


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