* Posts by JBowler

67 posts • joined 27 Sep 2009


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


Title too long:

So you grandstand your most extreme proposal and then implement something no one would have accepted otherwise.

This is simple politics via openness; broadcast the most extreme version of what you want to do and wait until unpaid polling organisations like El Reg tell you what you *can* do. I can suggest analogies but they would get me banned.

Microsoft sends a raft of Windows 10 patches out into the Windows Update ocean



There were problems installing some updates, but we'll try again later. If you keep seeing this and want to search the web or contact support for information, this may help:

2018-11 Update for Windows 10 Version 1803 for x64-based Systems (KB4023057) - Error 0x80070643

Dev's telnet tinkering lands him on out-of-hour conference call with CEO, CTO, MD


rm -rf complet with following symlinks

For those of you out there who don't speak UNIX, that post is a Troll.

Zip it! 3 more reasons to be glad you didn't jump on Windows 10 1809


Probably the only reliable OS on the planet

Congratulations to MS, they have finally got to the position in the OS world that they occupied in the word processing (app) world 20 years ago. Everyone finds every bug instantly.


Pity there aren't any competitors any longer.

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This suggestion has been deleted by a moderator

Microsoft gives Windows 10 a name, throws folks a bone


Re: use of 'goto'

It's a necessary techinque in a deficient language.

An error exit is an exceptional condition and, given that language designers haven't yet found a way to prevent exceptional conditions being written, exceptions are the way to deal with that. "goto error_exit;" is a sad C epitaph.

Once or twice I've felt I needed to use goto in C, but I've spent all my life rewriting more famous people's brown stuff.

This is only a comment on your own response; basic is fundamentally steampunk and I completely get that. Of course basic can have exceptions as well; it's an interpreter.

John Bowler


And there lies death

True and Office (I think I can still call it that, right, not MS Office?) believed (in so far as a group of individuals can believe) that the break point was 90%. If only 10% of users need (maybe 'want' these days) it (split infinitive, bloody hell, I can split anything) then if you try to provide it you will die.

Office, evidently, is still alive. I think it actually did 99%, but based on the comments on this thread it was apparently 101%.

Free stuff whacks out at 50%, like you suggested.

John Bowler

Microsoft devises new way of making you feel old: Windows NT is 25


Acorn looked at the white paper pre-1993

I worked there then, I was asked to look at the MS white paper on NT; what I said was that it had all the right words but there wasn't enough info to tell whether the code worked the same way. The sub-geniuses (to be polite) at Acorn didn't follow up, so the next thing I heard was when an ex-Acorn employee was working on the 68k port, sometime after I had left the sinking ship. The ARM port could, and should, have happened at the start of the '90s; if the management had actually followed up as opposed to BS'ing it WOULD have happened then because MS really did have the shyte.com It would have happened; back then I cared.

So far as I can tell (I later worked for MS, but not in the OS division) NT seems to have lost and found its way several times since then. It is a damned good micro-kernel but it is beset by the *F*F*F* shell; Windows Explorer (apparently a pseudonym for DOS 3.0) takes it down every time. BUT that is an application. You can do everything you want (and quite a lot that any sane OS vendor doesn't want) if you escape from the Win32 API.

Then there is NTFS. I LOVE NTFS. Sorry, I probably shouldn't say that in public.

John Bowler jbowler acm.org

Another data-leaking Spectre CPU flaw among Intel's dirty dozen of security bug alerts today


Duh, a 256 byte auto array?

Better example, please.

Trump's Supreme Court pick will decide critical tech issues for decades – so what are the views of the contenders?


Interesting analysis, given that it's Brett Kavanaugh

Has corporate american learned to ride Trump, or have the GOP decided not to fight the abortion fight before the mid-terms?

So far as I can see anything that comes out of the current administration is opportunism, so I think the abortion fight allowed corporate america a way in to buy their own seat in the court.

Google weeps as its home state of California passes its own GDPR


Why did McTaggart drop it?

I think that must be the question of the forthcoming election; apparently he dropped it because he doesn't think that he could certainly win the ballot measure. I understand that, but it is that lack of guts that will kill us all in November.

What's all the C Plus Fuss? Bjarne Stroustrup warns of dangerous future plans for his C++


Re: C and C-style C++

Indeed, match the language to the application.

Perhaps he would have achieved more communication and less grandstanding if he had said "Algol 68".

For that matter, still less obscure than the Vasa or, indeed, the Mary Rose, "CPL", for which famously (in the right circles) BCPL was intended as the compiler-compiler and BCPL was, of course, the antecedent of B, then C, then C++.

Aseembler is only necessary for the bootstrap - surely that is the legacy of UNIX? C more appropriately encodes the only very slightly later requirements of assembler.

IMO the missing link is not a language but the ability of system level programmers to encode compute intensive tasks into C APIs which can be called from Python.

Alas, system level programmers always were the dumb ones.

Internet luminaries urge EU to kill off automated copyright filter proposal


Fair use is easy

Fair use requires selection, so if I post a video and it contains a sound track part or all of which is copyright any copyright infringement algorithm is checking the VIDEO, not the sound track. The video is copyright too, but by the original producer.

If the mechanism recognizes the copyright of the *UPLOADER* then the uploader will have a copyright entry and if someone disputes fair use then it is easy to chase that guy down and have a wet T shirt fight in the mud pit most lawyers languish in.

But the *UPLOADEE* doesn't care, because the video is apparently fair use and, anyway, THIS CAN BE MADE TO WORK, it just requires NON DENIAL by internet luminaries. It is a problem that has a solution and, with that solution, every person who uploads a video or a commentary or who, like me, posts a comment like this, can claim their copyright.

[Copyright is not a license, it is just the right to grant a license.]

John Bowler


You just need a fingerprint algorithm

Upvoted: producers upload signatures of their work, upload-receivers generate a test hash which is matched by a central database against the uploaded signatures. If there is a match there may be a problem. An exact match (the upload-receiver can trivially generate the publisher signature) is an immediate block.

Fraudulent signature submitters are easily traced (like, obviously, if you submit a signature you need to have contact information to receive any ROYALTIES) and anyone who tries fraud from that angle is very likely to end up in court.

The guys who rip off other peoples' work might claim to be aggregators. Sorry. Don't like aggregators, sounds like alligators to me. Aggregation is not protected use of copyrighted work.

Other guys with smaller scroti might claim to be commentators, but, honestly, fair re-use of a copyrighted text, sound or image requires selection of the content and that will certainly defeat any current day fuzzy match algorithm.

Three Chord Wonders will, of course, continue to hire expensive graduates to claim that their three chords are copyright, but, once again, the fuzzy match algorithms cannot be fooled because if they were every tune would be a copyright violation of every other tune. Those guys can go fight it out in the mud pits they desire.

John Bowler


The internet luminaries could simply submit an RFC for a signature/validation protocol

Or maybe they couldn't, as they are going somewhat moldy.

A solution needs to allow simple registration of copyright, via posting of the reliable signature of original material (text, sound, image, conforming XML combination of the preceding) to a central database (which may be freely replicated) which is used by upload-receivers to validate content.

Validation (i.e. the upload-receiver end) is not hard. They already do this is so many ways and it is just AdBlock plus (running on this site as I type, 3 ads on this page blocked so far).

The issue is correct recognition of copyright data via a signature; that is an INTERNET problem, not a legal one. If we can't do it we deserve to be put out of business, or have our rather generous pension relocated to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the case of the moldy ones. The issue is that the signature is not something like dSIG or message hashs, which only recognize identically the original data, it is a fuzzy match like face or fingerprint recognition. The upload-receiver has to transmit sufficient information (the uploaded data is sufficient but over the top) to the database so that the negatives and positives can be relatively reliable. I trust no moldy old fool will tell me this can't be done; bees can't fly and 5GHz 28+ core processors can't exist, I've heard it all before.

Now I put pretty much all the stuff I publish in the public domain, so I don't give an airborne enjoyable experience, but if I ever did start publishing anything that I don't currently publish I would be sending signatures to that database immediately.

SoftBank sells off more than half of Arm China for a bargain $775.2m


Re: they sold a license to the Chinese state

>As I understand it Arm Technology China is the Qualcomm of the Chinese world

I think that hits the nail on the head. Given the problems the US administration has invented with Qualcomm it must be attractive to Chinese investors to have a licensee for ARM which is not directly involved in the US. Particularly as ARM is now controlled from Japan so subject to a more rational eastern approach to deal making; not without the ubiquitous and lugubrious US influence but at least inclined to give it less significance than the Europeans.

Cutting the US and Europe out of the equation makes sense. I can't see that the price is low; it's just a licensee isn't it?

German court snubs ICANN's bid to compel registrar to slurp up data


ICANN is the epitome of malevolent bureaucracy

Over the years I've battled with domain registration hurdles despite, pretty much forever, having had a registration within the system. It's broken; shred the RFCs, they are just being used to extract money and prevent service.

Take a look at the whois information for apple.com; a company who, surely, would want to distinguish administrative and technical queries. This comes from:


This is what you get if you copy'n'paste the email addresses (as plain text, without the HTML). I have javascript blocked by default and it is blocked on this page:

Registrar Abuse Contact Email: email@cscglobal.com

Registrant Email: email@apple.com

Admin Email: email@apple.com

Tech Email: email@apple.com

If you use a whois query directly, however (i.e. not a web browser, open a command line and type "whois apple.com"; I did this on a gentoo machine; OpenSUSE on Windows simply doesn't show the information) you get:

Registrar Abuse Contact Email: domainabuse@cscglobal.com

Registrant Email: domains@apple.com

Admin Email: domains@apple.com

Tech Email: Apple-NOC@apple.com

You can see for yourself what they actually display as; the second list, not the first. The HTML reveals that the emails displayed are pictures, here is one:


Well, ok, you can't see that can you! Clever trick eh? It exploits the ability of PNG images to encode semi-transparent images. The PNG image has two "colors" in it, one is black, the other is transparent. The transparent parts display the word "domains", but only if you view the image over a non-black background.

So why on earth would Apple/ICANN go to such lengths to obfuscate information that is readily available to someone like me who hasn't progressed out of the Bourne Shell?

Because they think they are really clever.

Half of all Windows 10 users thought: BSOD it, let's get the latest build


Opinion stated as fact (or bad English)

"The speed at which the update has been flung at users reflects perhaps misplaced confidence in Redmond in the quality of the 1803 build"

That's a statement. The word "perhaps" is in the wrong place. You are stating that Microsoft has "perhaps misplaced confidence". I don't know whether you deliberately produced this piece of non-English to attempt to mount a post-truth (Trumpian) defense of a fact that you can't actually prove or whether you just can't speak English.

John Bowler

US Senator Ron Wyden to Pentagon: Encrypt your websites


He get's my vote, and I'm a registered republican

Wyden has been consistently pushing tech issues, and pushing them in the right direction. He got my vote in 2016 and, so far, he is going to get it again in 2022.

In the US we rely on the Senate to push the Federal government in the right direction - the senators have six year terms compared to the president's four and they tend to gravitate to fixed and fairly representative positions as a result.

Whatever the "abolish the government" part of the Republican party may say there are real parts of the government that can actually be fixed and, in that respect, it's not different to the UK government. Government website security *and* accessibility are real issues that have to be fixed in both countries. That really is the job of the Senate in the US (not sure who is responsible in the UK, last I knew you were using Round Tuit's).

About to install the Windows 10 April 2018 Update? You might want to wait a little bit longer


Re: Killed my laptop, reinstalled Windows, and now 1803 is in the queue again!

Change the updated settings to the big business ones:

Settings/Windows Update/Choose when updates are installed

select "Semi-annual Channel" from the drop down. I did this to my wife's SP4; she is Chinese and needs a working Chinese IME. She is still on whatever it was prior to 1709 (the release that broke the IME). Works for me, Microsoft aren't paying me to test their software and neither are Big Business paying. Time to change that Microsoft?


Why would anyone install a 3rd party replacement for core OS functionality?

Like, duh. Protecting the core of the system against attack is the responsibility of the OS vendor. After some delay Microsoft now does this (unlike certain fruity people, and Linus).

I had a Surface Pro4, it updated fine (this machine; my serious compute machine, still hasn't volunteered me). The SP died some weeks afterward because, I believe, of a failed fan; it's out for $450 support (replacement). Nothing to do with W10, something to do with MS's mistake of putting moving parts in the "high" end machines.

The probably permanent Cortex(?) "SP" replacement (Microsoft no longer do numbers, watch out Linus; no numbers are even cheaper) upgraded itself today while I was setting it up. I had to kill it during one of the "don't turn me off or I will die" moments, but then that is to be expected with a modern OS; if it can't survive that what good is it?

Bottom line, as we say over here, don't throw gasoline (petrol) over someone else and blame them for catching fire.

US border cops told not to search seized devices just for the hell of it


An important decision for all US citizens

Yep. Prior to this anyone within the regulation distance of a US border, 100 miles, could have their computer ceased and searched:


(Convenient map on that page.) So, I *live* within that orange zone. In principle border control could take the computer I'm writing this on and search it. Given that Windows Hello and, indeed, Android and iPhone biometric verification can be used to open a computer or phone given just a couple of cops holding your head, or hand, sufficiently still that was a pretty great risk.

Of course no one in the UK gives a damn; you guys just get locked up until you reveal the password.

John Bowler

Every major OS maker misread Intel's docs. Now their kernels can be hijacked or crashed


Ah, the challenges of having an ICIS (Insanely Complicated Instruction Set)

Of course, ARM Ltd are going that way too but fortunately for ARM the historical architecture was simple; they're just making it more complex, whereas Intel of course are trying, but failing, to go in the opposite direction.

Maybe there is a lesson, not a political one like "RISC", but a real one, like "start from scratch every 30 years". Intel started disclosing iAPX publicly at the start of the '80s and the first ARM chips were available at the end of the '80s.

Personally I like CircuitPython and I can't see a reason for having a processor that does anything more than implement whatever CPython requires, but that's just me.

John Bowler

Cambridge Analytica dismantled for good? Nope: It just changed its name to Emerdata


A new name is definitely required

How about "Oxford Analytica"; it can probably be purchased quite cheaply but it may be somewhat obvious as they seem to have copied the name in the first place.

Alternatively, "Oxford Analytics", slightly more medical, but closer to the business model ("big data").

How about "Harvard Anal", as so many other commenters on this web site seem to be obsessed with one of the university's alumni.

My consultancy fee in this matter is $1fm, please round down; I charge reasonable prices (unless you ask me to write software).

BT pushes ahead with plans to switch off telephone network


Gee, yiou brits are so backward

This happened years ago in the US. Of course no one told any of us, but then concepts like "transparency" and "an explanation of why you can't send faxes" are so alien to us.

Asking BT, which, remember, Thatcher effectively castrated, to behave as a semi-charity is ridiculous (as in the ob-comments, not the article). That was what Thatcher intended of course, but she is a total whatever.

BT already is routing all calls via VoIP; you cannot tell, I cannot tell, Scottie canne tell, it's just a fact.

"999" calls depend solely on accurately identifying the point of origin. You can do this with GPS, you can do it with cell tower triangulation, you can do it by simply being told where the originating device is located.

You CANNOT do it by believing in Thatcher, or whatever it is you guys believe in; I can't seriously believe you actually believe in the life giving properties of copper buried in the ground.

John Bowler

They forked this one up: Microsoft modifies open-source code, blows hole in Windows Defender


Would this be a fix for a compiler warning message?

Like the famous GCC (I know they don't use GCC) signed/unsigned comparison warning? The one that causes Open Source software maintainers (who shall remain nameless) to mindlessly change signed integers into unsigned? (Because unsigned overflow is well defined in C and C++ so the compiler doesn't by default warn).

Why a merged Apple OS is one mash-up too far


Hum; so you like Apple?

Body, body, dead body.

Sysadmin left finger on power button for an hour to avert SAP outage



>1996? I doubt that. Probably 1997 or 1998 for you.

You know Steve, the Cynic, then, Anonymous Coward?

>ACPI only got released in December 1996

Duh..... duh..... Like, someone developed it dude.

Quoting from Wikipedia just proves you work in a troll farm for putin.

I don't know Steve, the Cynic, but I do know what I was doing in December 1996 and it certainly wasn't released until some time in 1997.

Kernel-memory-leaking Intel processor design flaw forces Linux, Windows redesign


ARM slowed down to help Intel marketing department?

Is Linus dumping Shyte on ARM because he doesn't know what an ARM processor is?

Don't shame idiots about their idiotically weak passwords


Who says dumb passwords aren't secure

Hum... I was recently watching an old "modern" beeb Sherlock Holmes esipod in which our Sherly was trying to guess the 4 digit password of The Woman. He had three tries. While he was trying, which took most of the esipod (seriously) I kept on shouting "1234". Well, think about it; if you have three tries and you know that the crimorist is really intelligent (or so) would you try a dumb password? After all, there's also "1111" and "9999" and you don't want to try the last one only to be told, over the exploding phone, that it was "0000".

Works for me, I'm out there on the innernet databases of people with really dumb password (sic). Not on a site I care about of course (I think the one in question was Forbes) but the fact that I actually use randomly generated 63 ASCII character strings on those sites which allow it (I use LastPass) doesn't mean that if I am faced with a UI which requires a 4 character pisswod (even if it includes capital letters, as in the beeb esipod in question) I have any chance of security. 4^36 anyone? Oh, only three tries...

But yes; the problem is not the user (me), it's the idiot software engineer savants who should know better. (Honest, me? Write software? What, NO!, you must be thinking of some other John Bowler with the eponymous password.)

John Bowler

Official: Perl the most hated programming language, say devs


The thing I hate most is the thing I program in most

Nothing's perfect and the more you get used to it the more you find to dislike. The only exception I've encountered is awk (NOT gawk, the one-true-awk) probably because it is incredibly simple and either does what you need or doesn't (in which case you have to use something else so don't grow to hate it.)

Putting "assembler" in the poll is just about as useful and informative as putting ASCII in there would have been. I program in ASCII all the time and it sucks.

John Bowler

What's that, Equifax? Most people expect to be notified of a breach within hours?


Corporations are not expected to be honest

Indeed, required NOT to be honest.

Marketing is required to cover up problems that would otherwise cause the share price to tank; that means marketing is REQUIRED to lie. It isn't an optional extra.

Anyway, who are you trying to fool? Obviously Equifax, while it certainly lies, has no responsibility whatsoever to the people who they rate; they are the PRODUCT not the CUSTOMER. The customer is the company that wants to know if the beef is good, the beef is the person with the credit rating.

Stop winging, live with it or change it.

Unloved Microsoft Edge is much improved – but will anyone use it?


Excellent browser

The recent update disabled all extensions, which caused a micro-moment of confusion but is laudable; I only have one enabled and that is LastPass.

Still works way better than Chromplexity and the others are gash.

Apple’s facial recognition: Well, it is more secure for the, er, sleeping user


Re: Like fingerprints

This is why recent Android revisions have required PIN entry after a restart; previously the fingerprint was enough. If you obey the rules and shut your phone down on take-off and landing the US border control cannot open your (Android) phone. There is a risk because they have jurisdiction within 200 miles of the border, but this is a border control issue; every other law enforcement authority in the US requires a search warrant first.

John Bowler

Confirmed: Oracle laid off 964 people from former Sun building


Re: I need new glasses..

Solaris is SPARC, SPARC is dead.

I toiled several years trying to deal with porting SUN's shyte to ARM (2 and 3 - this was the end of the '80s). SUN did not want to produce software that was portable, they wanted to sell SPARC; the supposedly portable aspects of stuff like NeWS was badly thought out and laughable. Well, Acorn was, in that sense, laughable too given that they bought it (as in paid money).

The total misunderstanding that Intel have any hegemony is also laughable.

I remember the words of one of the guys in Acorn who had a microphone hanging from the ceiling of his office (It wasn't connected to anything; he liked to screw with the idiots); something like "one in every washing machine". That stuck with me until I worked out the repost; "three on every desktop".

Think about it.

There are not just three any more, there are probably at least 10 in every Intel workstation. (10 ARM cores; it's clear some people haven't worked it out so my apologies.) At least 2 in every cellphone (never forget the graphics engine) more in every camera (remember you have to put an SD card in those; one in every SD card).

This has been true for 10 years, "3" has been true for 20. The fools who design washing machines in the US still don't always put one in, sad (but the guy who said it didn't understand how incredibly stupid we can be in this country.)

As for the original article, so what? Who gives a damn how Oracle repurpose their very valuable office space?

John Bowler

Hell desk to user: 'I know you're wrong. I wrote the software. And the protocol it runs on'


Re: The cynical term: "Human Resources..."

"Soylent Green"? Like the Woody Allen look-alike in the video; will Harry Harrison post a comment and do a Marshal McLuhan on you?

Although What Allen thought he was referring to escapes me; McLuhan just kept repeating himself until people understood.

Aiming for the maximum downvote here; please support: out of work Troll with no Bridge.

John Bowler


Re: HR Fail

Oh how I wish I'd lived in the days of Brown Envelopes, but I'm interstitial; in my days in the UK you just got ****ed, there was no opportunity to take it and leave (this was Thatcher).

Now I'm in the US but I'd got(ten) conditioned to be honest; well, it doesn't help being an immigrant and feeling obliged.

On the original topic. Sorry, I just get an incredible buzz when someone talks about software I wrote. I really don't care what they say about it, but then I've given up trying to support it so maybe that's my bad (as we say in the US.)

John Bowler

H-1B visa applications from India plummet (and Trump can't claim credit)


More analysis required

Ok, but when I was employed by Microsoft (on an H visa) Microsoft started developing facilities in Europe and Asia. The argument, as I understood it, was that since so they were getting so many people from there why waste time and money shipping them to the US?

So, ok, Tata is a great capitalist and he will exploit any opportunity he sees, but now, with many more companies following the MS example, maybe Tata Consulting is simply shifting its labor to the local market?

This can be analyzed much better should anyone wish to do so; there has been a big growth of intellectual property companies in India and other places. My hypothesis is that this is what is changing the H visa figures in the US.

Those figures will drop through the floor and the elected US government will claim responsibility until some time after everyone realizes what a disaster this is for the US.

John Bowler

First-day-on-the-job dev: I accidentally nuked production database, was instantly fired


The problem is staring you in the face

El Reg posted a bullet list form to say who was responsible.

Clicking on one entry on the form cleared the previous entry.


Think about it.

UK.gov tells freelance techies to slap 20 per cent on fees as IR35 tax hike looms


Ho, ho, Santa Claus has come to town

Just laughing. Come to the US, then you guys can evade tax because your country doesn't enforce it (we fired the IRS employees to prove it, and that was Obama).

"Self" employeed? Seriously, have you so much disrespect for your "self", if, indeed, it ever existed.

For those of you who want to learn, CA (tr: California, not the more sensible guys) has been trying for years to enforce this through various similar (copied by you maybe?) legislation. It's a hard uphill battle in the US, but I think it is a downhill bobsled in the UK.

BT installs phone 'spam filter', says it'll strain out mass cold-callers


Wot, no Google Voice?

Seriously, you don't have Google Voice? I do, everyone knows my 'phone number (and my email, and my address). No problem; no spam calls, well maybe there are but they disappear without my ever hearing them. Not only that but when someone telephones me a selection of my telephones (mobiles, computers, SIP devices) ring (what selection, I admit, seems to be down to Google), and if I don't answer (which happens if I don't immediately recognize the name) Google sends me an email with a transcript (which can be hilarious) of the message.

I remember after my mother died being in her flat in Lincoln and encountering one of these spam calls. No problem, telephonus disconnectus. I have a perfectly adequate UK number which connects to me via my voip; apparently you Brits think phoning overseas is expensive, so I set up a Tiverton number to get phone calls from various people involved in my father's estate. They never used it though, I don't think anything meaningful is every said on the 'bone so that makes sense.

John Bowler

Soz fanbois, Apple DIDN'T invent the smartphone after all


First smartphone: 1992

The EO 440, which, I admit, was more a phablet (a la el reg), had a cellular capability; sure you could do voice. but the system was set up to also allow interactions over the cellular network via it's decimal communication system (aka you pressed numbers on the telephone, but it did it for you).

Remember: this is BEFORE the WWW.

So Nokia liked this, even though AT&T had big money in EO. (Technically, Nokia was investing in GO, a doomed Bay Area Company, while AT&T was investing in EO, a similarly doomed AT&T wipe-out; EO swallowed GO because AT&T said it was good to eat and then chocked to death because EO's executive in AT&T had failed to meet his targets.)

So EO had phablets, but it also had, in development, a smartphone; the EO220, aka "Loki", (the 440 was nicknamed "Thor" and the 880, which was a big <senseid>, was nockgnomed "Odin". The 220 was pretty much everything a smartphone would be.)

Of course Nokia got clockwise-#8'ed (though they did Sue, though the wrong people.) The Engineering Misdirector #8'ed off while accusing people of being "rats leaving the sinking ship" and became something associated with Marketing and the Newton (more his capabilities I think.)

The intelligent people got new jobs with old companies; perhaps the most intelligent went to work with Sun, on Java. This was 1993; you have to think very carefully about where Java was then.

And there were no more smartphones until Nokia recovered, late, from being #8'ed by AT&T, and developed the best smartphone operating system in the world, which then died. So now we are left with Dinosaurs, and this was all before the big sweaty black turtleneck presented his Product.

That is my opinion.

Upset Microsoft stashes hard drive encryption keys in OneDrive cloud?


You've convinced me!

Ok, on a new machine with a TPM Windows Home will make your files unreadable without Microsoft's help. I thought every manufacturer did that? Nothing new there, except maybe MS did it right.

So, if you want your files secure against your own government then you have to encrypt them, unless, of course, you are in the UK when, in fact, you aren't permitted to do that (i.e. if you do it then you will be sent to prison until you stop being antisocial).

But in the US it's still easy, isn't it? You just encrypt the files. Your mysterious third party sponsor provides you with an encryption device and software to undo this when you need to access the files, and when you need to decrypt your emails to find out what your orders are, but that all just works.

It's just a lot more difficult for the govmint; first you get the court order to have MS disclose your recovery key, then you discover that, you T-word you, you encrypted your data before having MS encrypt it again. So that's a delay of at least 30 minutes until the US govmint is in the same position as the UK govmint but without the option of sending you to prison for ever.

Meanwhile I only want to know with regard to my Quicken file, but wait, that's already encrypted! Ok, not very well, gubfr thlf jbhyqa'g xabj rapelcgvba vs vg uvg gurz jvgu n qnzc purdhrobbx, but, I realize, it doesn't matter: you have to be the US govmint, you have to actually want to decrypt my Quicken file and you have to have the resources to do it (it's not quite as easy as the comment.)

Gee. That would probably be the IRS, and they might then be motivated to explain how to fill in a US tax return. That would be worth the money.

John Bowler

US watchdog lobs balls of red tape at spy-in-the-sky drones


Written by a lawyer not a computer programmer

I read it this morning (west cost time), piece of ****. As a computer programmer I would never let a piece of software go with an unresolved reference (well, ld would stop me):

* First-person view camera cannot satisfy "see-and-avoid" requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.

Yeah, yeah, US Telegraph English, but I can forgive that. The problem is that the scare-quoted phrase not only is not defined, but the five letter sequence "avoid" only occurs once in the document. Obviously some person with a level stick for brown stuff inserted this at the last moment and equally obviously no one actually proof read the document.

FAA, get some computer people and fire all the lawyer people. Oops, you are all lawyers, set to be presidents yet.

Bottom line you cannot analyze this as a logical, consistent, document. All it actually says is "you will be a pilot we currently approve or you will pass a test which maybe, sometime in the distant future, we will get round to organizing at great expense, to you."

Now I am actually a fully conformant regulated hobbyist drone; I have my card to prove it. Sorry, drone operator, too much beer. But I can't, apparently, fly my hobbyist drone above my own property to look at my own trees because I am also a commercial grower of trees.

So I'll sign up for the test, for which I will probably have to drive 1000 miles (can't fly anywhere from where I live), I'm already vetted by the TSA and would I like to be 16 again [not: much more fun being 55].

Supreme Court okays troll toll increase


Read between the lines

As is said in comments on comments below, Roberts is asking Congress to step up to the plate.

The fact that this won't happen is nothing whatsoever to do with bias in SCOTUS: read; unaminmous!

It's been said before, but here in the US we have the best government money can buy.

Walmart sues Visa for being too lax with protecting chip cards


Re: Zip code for non-US cards

Take your *debit* card. Find a US bank ATM that will accept it (ask your bank for locations first), withdraw the max (typically $300; the US bank rips per transaction not per amount so favours low transactions). Do this every day you are in the US. Pay cash. Cash is always welcome, up to $9,999.99 and in $20 bills and no more.

That's what we do, for far less valid reasons.

BTW I have to thank my mother and father (both UK) for this approach, so I can only assume that it was part of the standard advice given by whoever to older travelers from the UK. Finding the right bank can be a PITA but they both managed it, even in that benighted capital of dubious technology Seattle.

One day we will have security for everyday people but we will probably no longer be the USA.

John Bowler


Re: Zip code for non-US cards

Yep. So here's a real story; my story. I live in a part of the US (SW Oregon) that one local musician's bumper sticker (a US custom) stated is "where Deliverance meets the Grateful Dead". So I don't buy gas in the Valley, I buy it in Grants Pass (seriously).

And I used to buy it in a gas station heading home.

One day I checked in and was, yeah, asked for the Zip code. 97531. Duly Bank of America charged the expected 18 gallons; I drive a Subaru . On the same day at the same time they charged me for another 24 gallons. Well, the Dude had a problem the first time he ran my card, I gave it to him again (you are permitted to call me a doofuss at this point; next time it happened at a different gas station in GP I gave everyone a really hard time, double checked transactions on my mobile and had the lead guy on the gas station give me a piece of paper - more so he remembered than any other reason).

So, originally, I disputed that 24 gallons. No luck; BofA told me I was there (yep, I think I said that) and that therefore the charge was valid.

Lesson; I will never go to that gas station again. My wife still insists on using the BofA card but I think I've managed to cut it to next-to-nothing per year.

Not very helpful, but if you visit the US ask your credit card company for a TEMPORARY CREDIT CARD for the purposes of the visit. It's pretty easy to provide these; Visa already do it for online transactions in the US.

John Bowler


Only debit cards!

The US does not issue chip'n'PIN *credit* cards, only *debit* cards. So...

When a US debit card is run *without* the PIN it is billed as a credit card (for the store) and lots of steel-rice-bowl types (as my Chinese wife would refer to them) get humongous amounts of cut out of this. And the store gets Ripped.

For years issuers of US *debit* cards have encouraged their recipients (often with money) to run them as *credit* cards. This is Walmart's response; it has nothing to do with security and it doesn't change a single thing about US credit cards (which don't have a PIN, full stop, end.)

John Bowler

Woz says 'Jobs started Apple for money' – then says it must pay 50% tax like he does


He lives in California (Los Gatos) so he is a CA tax resident; top tax rate 55.8%

The math for a CA resident who is a millionaire is:

Federal tax: 39.6% (Obama repealed W's gratuities)

Medicate: 2.9%

Social Security (Pension): 0% (it stops at $118,000 income)

California: 13.3% (CA introduced an excessively-rich tax and a millionaire tax!)

Santa Clara (County): 0% (I don't think they've started levying an income tax, they didn't when I lived there, just a sales tax).

Los Gatos: 0% (I think).

TOTAL: 55.8%

Simple, eh? Note that employees only "pay" 1.45% medicare, but their employer's pay the other 1.45%; self employed people pay both halves. I don't know if CA cities and counties can levy income taxes, normally in the US they only levy purchase (sales) and wealth (property) taxes, but some cities levy income taxes.

There are marginal effects that raise and lower the rate (particularly the limitation on Schedule A deductions) but by the time you hit millionaire status they've all worked themselves out. (After all, the highest ever US tax rate was over 100% in the 1990s, but only very poor people ever suffered from that misfortune.)

Most rich USians assume that state taxes are deductible on Schedule A, reducing the effective rate of the federal tax (by a factor of (1-state)), but the Schedule A limitation kills that for millionaires, so the number in the end should reduce to simple addition.

Windows 10 with Ubuntu now in public preview


Is this really the POSIX subsystem brought back from the dead?

If it really is a subsystem, in the sense of the POSIX subsystem that was killed off at the end of the last millennium, it certainly isn't Linux (no kernel; Linux is the kernel) and it certainly doesn't map the Linux system interface to Windows; it would be implementing it in the NT Kernel, just as Windows is implemented by the NT kernel.

It's easy to test (using NTFS of course):

$ echo "test" >foo

$ ln foo bar

$ echo "more test" >>foo

$ rm foo

$ cat bar

If the last command outputs "test\nmore test\n" then it is the good old POSIX subsystem. Oh, BTW, I was able to crash MS Office back in the late 90s by doing this:

$ ln test1.doc test2.doc

Then try to open test2.doc from Word. Word, or maybe Windows, had some deep, deep issues with hard links; they simply cannot be created from Windows but are fully supported by NTFS.

John Bowler


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