* Posts by MacroRodent

1262 posts • joined 18 May 2007

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Waddawewant? Free video codecs! When do we... oh, look, the last MPEG-2 patent expired!

MacroRodent
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Happy

Still widely used

Standard DVD video disks are encoded with MPEG-2, so anyone wanting to create them on Linux is happier there are no patent restrictions now. Not that it stopped us before. Even if mainstream Linux distributions omitted patent-encumbered codecs, they were easy install from alternate repositories.

Btw. Ffmpeg is not the only free MPEG-2 encoder implementation, there is also mencoder, and possibly others.

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Due to Oracle being Oracle, Eclipse holds poll to rename Java EE (No, it won't be Java McJava Face)

MacroRodent
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Re: Lame name options IMHO

"Robusta" could have been nice: it is a variety of the coffee plant, and also associates with robustness, something one wants in an enterprise platform.

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No yolking matter: Google Translate cock-up gives Norwegians more than un œuf eggs

MacroRodent
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Translating a number?

I wonder how that came across. One would assume the chefs wrote 1500 instead of its equivalent as Norvegian words. In a little experiment of translating the egg order from Finnish to Korean, Google seemed to leave that number and variants like 1 500 alone. Hmm, maybe the chefs made the blunder themselves in the original text, and are now blaming Google...

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No Windows 10, no Office 2019, says Microsoft

MacroRodent
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Facepalm

Re: Missing something

with just thin clients and server based applications

Hahahahah.... happened to read this while waiting my remote desktop in the cloud to become available again, due to big outage in the company intranet. Sometimes fixing these takes hours.

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Ugly, perfect ten-rated bug hits Cisco VPNs

MacroRodent
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Re: Security appliances memory errors and programming bugs

What was the name of the CPU and chipset that fails if you try and double free a region of memory?

Uh, it is not the CPU or chipset that fails, but the program. A double free is a common blunder in C and C++ programming, which leads to a crash or other undefined behaviour, which may be exploitable as a security vulnerability.

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You can't ignore Spectre. Look, it's pressing its nose against your screen

MacroRodent
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Re: Arm A53

I'm afraid that does not help much, since what we need is an in-order CPU that is also fast!.

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RIP Ursula K Le Guin: The wizard of Earthsea

MacroRodent
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Re: Six Earthsea books

Of the later series, I found Tehanu good, but wish she had stopped there. The last one spoils the Magic by its explication of the relationship between humans, dragons and the land of the dead, and the writing is not up to her former standards.

Despite this minor grumble, she was one of the greatest, and influenced me much. Rest in peace.

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No parcel drones. No robo-trucks – Teamsters driver union delivers its demands to UPS

MacroRodent
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Re: Horse carts vs delivery trucks again.

Who's going to write the code to allow the AI in the trucks?: humans.

Who's designing the electronics (Chips, circuits, etc.)?: humans

Who's doing the maintenance on the trucks?: humans.

Who's issuing the instructions?: humans.

Actually, many of those jobs can also be automated in the future, so that few if any humans are needed...

Even if not, those employ much fewer people than was needed for driving the trucks: Once the code is written and electronics designed, they can be replicated automatically and with next to no cost.

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Here we go again... UK Prime Minister urges nerds to come up with magic crypto backdoors

MacroRodent
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Re: No is the answer and it remains that way

I'd love to see an algorithm that only works if a "good guy" uses it.

Note I wrote "half-way credible", not "credible". For example, always make the crypto implementation store the user's key on the device or data stream but encrypted with a key known only to the good guys. This may well bamboozle people who forget to consider who all will have want to have these master keys (UK? US? China?), and can they be trusted to keep them secret. (And like you point out, will the custodians remain the good guys?).

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MacroRodent
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Re: No is the answer and it remains that way

making secure crypto that is only breakable for lawful law enforcement is just as easy as staying in EU and exiting the EU at the same time. May does that flawlessly, so obviously that crypto stuff is just as flawless

Actually, it is easy to think of several half-way credible ways of doing that. I mean the crypto breakable by good guys only, not the Schrödinger's Brexit. And politicians, aided by some intellectually dishonest experts, may well latch on one of those and make it mandatory.

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Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018

MacroRodent
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Re: Speculative execution

so we need to program with small local memories and explicit communication between processors to get performance. Using more specialised processors can also help somewhat.

Sounds like the Transputer from the 80's. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transputer

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Samba 4.8 to squish scaling bug that Tridge himself coded in 2009

MacroRodent
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Re: Samba is still relevant? Yea!

File shares do let you use large files without downloading it all when reading and uploading it all when writing. With OneDrive, Dropbox etc your local storage limits what remote files you can use. So the discs are huge these days? Yes, and so is the amount of crap that accumulates on them!

Also, if you need to log file accesses, you can do it with Samba down to painful details.

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President Trump turns out the lights on solar panel imports into US

MacroRodent
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Wonder what the effect will be in the rest of the world?

If this means China will sell the panels even cheaper in Europe, I'm all for it... Maybe pave my entire roof with the dirt-cheap panels, and enjoy the free electricity :-)

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The Reg visits London Met Police's digital and electronics forensics labs

MacroRodent
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Mobira

In case the young uns don't know, Mobira was the predecessor of Nokia Mobile Phones division. It was a separate company, jointly owned by Nokia and Salora (an old Finnish electronics company), but the name changed after Nokia bought Salora.

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Meltdown/Spectre week three: World still knee-deep in something nasty

MacroRodent
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Raise the Itanic!

So far as I can see the only sure way out of this is to not use speculative execution. Welcome back to the Dark Ages of CPU architectures. Things will get very slow...

Or use explicit parallelism with wide instructions, like Intel Itanium...

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MacroRodent
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Software has to pay attention

It looks like CPU hardware will not be getting faster for a while, with the microcode and OS patches slowing down even existing CPU:s, and Intel&AMD having to go back to the drawing board, delaying new releases. So software writers (whether proprietary or open source) cannot now rely on CPU speed growth to mask the bloat new versions introduce. This could actually have a positive effect on software quality.

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Destroying the city to save the robocar

MacroRodent
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Enclosed fairing (Re: Obviously the solution is....)

- an enclosed fairing. The extra weight and wind resistance can be mitigated with an electric motor.

Doesn't work (except in California or other warm climates). Unless it is heated vigorously, it will quickly get fogged in cold weather! The energy required would need either a heavy battery, or some fuel-burning heater. Both pretty much negate the whole idea of a bicycle.

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Linux's Grsecurity dev team takes blog 'libel' fight to higher court

MacroRodent
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Re: Way to damage your own credibility

Yes, disappointing. Many years ago, I even sent the project a small donation, as I was using their patch, and they appeared to be good guys. I wonder what happened?

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EU court to rule whether Facebook should seek and destroy hate speech

MacroRodent
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Simple Criteria

The big question in all this is, who defines hate speech?

I think a pretty clear criterium is, does it advocate violence (either physical or mental) against a person or group. An example. Free speech: "The ABCD religion is so stupid". Hate speech: "All adherents of the ABCD religion should be expelled from the country".

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Uncle Sam's treatment of Huawei is world-class hypocrisy – consumers will pay the price

MacroRodent
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Facesaving indeed

Huawei would give full access to its source code to GCHQ experts in a clean-room environment. It was examined, and pronounced clean.

Completely pointless, since there is no assurance that this code is what actually goes into production devices. (It almost certainly isn't, if only because of bugfixes added after the inspection).

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Meltdown, Spectre bug patch slowdown gets real – and what you can do about it

MacroRodent
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Boffin

Re: also weird

Python is always compiled.

Depends on what you mean by compiled. There are actually multiple Python implementations, but the most commonly used (the one from www.python.org) compiles into an intermediate "bytecode", and then interprets that.

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MacroRodent
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Re: also weird

Answering myself: had a look with a test program and strace on Linux. I did NOT find any extra system calls in the interpreter loop. So there is NO intrinsic reason why Python should slow down more than similar code written in other programming languages.

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MacroRodent
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Re: also weird

It makes no sense to suggest that "Python", as a single thing, can be slowed down by a single amount by these changes.

Depends on its implementation. Python is an high-level interpreted language that may be doing a lot of things not explicitly written into the program code.. A wild guess: maybe the interpreter loop has code that occasionally queries the system time, which needs a syscall. Or polls some file descriptor state. I don't know if any of these is the case, but they are plausible. I guess I right now need to stop talking out of my ass, and go look at the actual (open source) code to see if I can find anything like that.

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Smartphones' security enhancements just make them more dangerous

MacroRodent
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Muddle through

IOW, if Franklin really is right, then human civilization is essentially doomed.

He is both right and wrong. These things are not absolutes no matter what the extremists say. Civilization will just muddle through in the middle, as it has always done.

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If Australian animals don't poison you or eat you, they'll BURN DOWN YOUR HOUSE

MacroRodent
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But how do they spread fires?

Somehow I don't think they steal matches or cigarette lighters.

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Here come the lawyers! Intel slapped with three Meltdown bug lawsuits

MacroRodent
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Pentium I

No need to go all the way to 286. The original Pentium and Pentium mmx did not spekulate. They just executed two adjacent instructions at the same time, if the pair satisfied certain conditions. Fun for compiler writers.

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Woo-yay, Meltdown CPU fixes are here. Now, Spectre flaws will haunt tech industry for years

MacroRodent
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Headmaster

Error?

"This time difference is very small, so by keeping the resolution of the timers that are exposed to JavaScript high enough, we mitigate the ability of the attacker to perform this step."

Isn't it the other way around? To mitigate the attack, the timer resolution must be LOW enough.

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Open-source civil war: Olive branch offered in trademark spat... with live grenade attached

MacroRodent
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Re: The most disturbing thing...

Is that either one of these supposed defenders of "freedom" felt it necessary to implement blatantly anti-freedom bullshit like "trademarks" in the first place

Unfortunately, if you don't get a trademark, someone else will, if you are succesful, and then hassle you with it. In the early days of Linux, there was a guy who had nothing to do with Linux, but trademarked it anyway! This caused a lot of concern for the real project. Eventually this was settled so that Linus Torvalds got the trademark. (see eg http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/2559 )

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Ubuntu 17.10 pulled: Linux OS knackers laptop BIOSes, Intel kernel driver fingered

MacroRodent
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Re: Jumpers

> OMG welcome to the '90's when moving jumpers on the MB* was an absolutely almight b******g p-in-the-a!!**

You did not have to do it very often, and after you got the settings right, you could be sure no mere software could reach out with its clammy fingers to move the jumpers!

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Yes, your old iPhone is slowing down: iOS hits brakes on CPUs as batteries wear out

MacroRodent
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Re: Economy

It ought to be criminal to sell expensive devices without a user-replaceable battery.

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Windows Store nixed Google Chrome 'app' hours after it went live

MacroRodent
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Linux

Re: I use Linux

> I write software for Linux and embedded microcontrollers - on Windows

Well, whatever works for you. With me it is the opposite: I write Linux software and am most productive on that platform. It annoys me no end that the company technology choices force me to hop to the Windows side for various tasks (one of those companies that Microsoft now holds firmly by the balls with Office365 and sharepoint- there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth when they start tightening the screws...).

> Vim or Emacs?

That old canard. Those never were the only choices, and especially not now. I use Emacs since I learned it by heart back when my brain was more malleable, and text-only terminals ruled, but someone now coming from Windows will have no problem finding GUI editors with UI essentially indistiguishable from typical Windows editors (or even the very same code, as in the VSCode you mentioned).

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European court: Let's not kid ourselves, Uber. You're a transport firm, not a 'digital service'

MacroRodent
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Re: So...

I was under the impression that Uber drivers use their own cars. Obviously, if that its not the case, it is just another taxi company.

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Fridge killed my baby? Mag-field radiation from household stuff 'boosts miscarriage risk'

MacroRodent
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Sawing

> but the obvious health benefits of using an axe over a chainsaw (a good workout, no fumes, no horrible noise, fewer unscheduled amputations) are a happy bonus.

The manual alternative to a chainsaw is usually a bow saw, which is also less dangerous for the user than an axe. But felling trees and sawing logs with it is really hard work, and slow. I have done it occasionally, and most certainly would not be able to make a living that way! It really is very educational, shows what a huge productivity increase even simple power tools enable.

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Google asks browser rival Vivaldi to post uninstall instructions

MacroRodent
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Increased my interest in Vivaldi

... as I'm always rooting for the underdog.

However, isn't Vivaldi one of those browsers that under the hood use the same engine as Google's Chrome?

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IETF protects privacy and helps net neutrality with DNS over HTTPS

MacroRodent
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Unwarranted optimism

> That's where DOH reaches into the 'net neutrality debate. For example, if a network provider is using DNS to identify sources it wants to discriminate against, it will be defeated by the encryption.

I'm afraid that is too optimistic. The evil network provider could simply block all https requests towards known DOH servers. Or manage to deep-inspect the packets to detect DOH.

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Intel to slap hardware lock on Management Engine code to thwart downgrade attacks

MacroRodent
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Big Brother

AMD?

Maybe Purism would have better luck petitioning AMD. They might see a market in selling chips that either lack their equivalent of ME, or provide a documented way for OEMs to totally disable it.

OK, privacy and security conscious "hippies" is a small market, but it exists, and catering to it should not cost AMD any extra in new chip designs.

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Berners-Lee, Woz, Cerf: Cancel flawed net neutrality vote

MacroRodent
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Re: I am quite bemused by this

> If the US keeps it "good". If the US ends it "good" - as the undoubted clusterfuck will at least serve as a warning to the rest of the planet.

The trouble is, USian policies tend to leak to the rest of the planet, no matter if they are good or bad.

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Elon Musk finally admits Tesla is building its own custom AI chips

MacroRodent
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Re: Nothing to worry then

> What's the track record of Elon Musk ?

Pretty good. His company created the world's first reusable booster rocket, and the first reusable cargo capsule. I suspect in the long run, the space achievements are what he will be remembered for.

I find him much more interesting than Jobs.

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MacroRodent
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Terminator

...existing drivers pushed to unemployment

The problem is not only that, but the lack of job openings for new drivers (and similarly in all other industries being automated). In the worst case, there will be a horde of youngsters with no gainful employment. Not all can be robotics designers or in other high-skill jobs. This would be a volatile situation. Lots of unemployed young men is one major reason for the mess in the Middle-East, and in other troublespots.

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The sun rose, you woke up, and Qualcomm sued Apple three times

MacroRodent
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"Card metaphor for activities in a computing device"

Sounds like Hypercard. On Apple Macs in the eighties...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMFscTOazS0

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Tom Baker returns to finish shelved Doctor Who episodes penned by Douglas Adams

MacroRodent
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Re: And for those lost episodes.

> Can't we just zoom out* and collect all the TV transmissions from the very beginning?

Judging by the passion Dr Who inspires in scientifically-minded people, this idea will probably inspire the development of FTL travel (or time travel, actually pretty much the same thing).

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'Gimme Gimme Gimme' Easter egg in man breaks automated tests at 00:30

MacroRodent
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Happy

Re: Unprofessional bollocks

> Like this?

..

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg_(media)#Software

Doesn't seem to mention the Easter egg in Windows 3.1, where a certain key sequence ( I have sadly forgotten which) popped up a window with rolling credits of the developers on a movie screen, with a figure standing next to it that most of the time looked like a cartoon Bill Gates, but occasionally the head was swapped to look like a bear. There must be some inside joke there...

I think a "credits" Eater egg like this quite justifiable, given the anonymity under which most developers labour. Might even pay for itself by boosting morale.

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Google aims disrupto-tronic ray at intercoms. Yes, intercoms

MacroRodent
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Re: How quaint

Or simply use WhatsApp or similar on a normal smartphone, which everyone nowadays has anyway, in the pocket or otherwise nearby. Around my house, they all are joined to my local WLAN, so there is no charge for the messages. (Whether or not WhatsApp admins can read the utterly boring messages ("come up for dinner") and VOIP calls is irrelevant, but supposedly they are nowadays end-to-end encrypted).

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Amazon to make multiple Lord of the Rings prequel TV series

MacroRodent
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Turin Turambar Dagnir Glaurunga

> Less obviously exciting is the “previously unexplored storylines”, because Tolkien's deep history of Middle Earth was not his most engaging work.

How about Narn i Hîn Húrin (Tale of the Children of Hurin), which appears as the most memorable of the sub-stories in Silmarillion, and other post-humously published writings? A few years ago Christopher Tolkien finally glued the pieces into a separate book. It could actually make a pretty good film.

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Thousand-dollar iPhone X's Face ID wrecked by '$150 3D-printed mask'

MacroRodent
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Re: When will they learn (@ AC)

> Unless the thief has a "Faraday Envelope" to take the phone to the Specialist's "Faraday Room".

Thief - or police. I recently browsed a book about mobile phone forensics, which pretty much started by presenting the requirement of ensuring the phone cannot be wiped remotely.

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Brace yourselves, fanboys. Winter is coming. And the iPhone X can't handle the cold

MacroRodent
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Deja Vu

I seem to recall some older iPhones also had a problem with cold, years ago. At that time one could smugly point out that Nokia works in winter just fine. I wonder what is the case with the "new" Nokias (really made by HMD), hopefully they don' t tarnish the reputation.

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Android at 10: How Google won the smartphone wars

MacroRodent
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Windows

Re: Horsecrap

A better comparison would be Windows Phone, which was kept well updated, and as far as I know did not suffer from malware. WP 8.1 was possibly the best OS Microsoft ever made. Too bad Microsoft broke everything that was good about it in the phone version of Windows 10: after having now used it for a couple of months, I can say they lost the phone wars deservedly...

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Lord of the Rings TV show shopped around Hollywood

MacroRodent
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Re: "when Sauron was mortal "

> Sauron did actually "die" physically at least three times though...

Also, he did not die in the end of LOTR, either. At one point Gandalf notes that destroying the Ring causes him to diminish so that cannot be foreseen when he will rise again. But he said nothing about Sauron dying off completely (and he should know, being one of the Maiar himself).

In fact, this gives an opening for the new TV series: Sauron starting to build a new dark empire in the present...

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Hardware has never been better, but it isn't a licence for code bloat

MacroRodent
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Boffin

Re: Very good points!

> Shared libraries were very important when your machine had just a few KB or MB of memory, and disk space was small too, but far less important today

There also is another issue here: memory speed has not kept up with CPU speed, even if the amount of memory has grown. This makes fast CPU caches important for getting any kind of performance, but they have not grown as much. With shared libraries, it is more likely the library code is in the cache, than if you have N copies of the library. This also applied to other reasons of code bloat. So code size still matters, but for slightly different reasons than before.

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MacroRodent
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Unhappy

Very good points!

I would just like to add another: Nowadays it is rare that your program is the only one running on your computer, especially on interactive systems. This means all those gigabytes of memory and gigaherz of CPU are not all for your code. If you code as if they were, the user will be very annoyed when switching to another task, finding the machine grinds to a halt for a while. Sadly, most of the stuff on a typical Windows (or Linux!) desktop behaves like this. Frankly, the performance experience of using a 2017 Windows desktop is very much like using a 1997 Windows desktop, except for some added chrome and glitz...

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