* Posts by Malcolm Weir

421 posts • joined 23 May 2007

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US Homeland Sec boss has snazzy new laptop bomb scanning tech – but admits he doesn't know what it's called

Malcolm Weir

@Youngone I'd be really careful about assuming that John Kelly was "clueless" or couldn't be bothered to read his briefing papers, or that his "nerd" remark was meant or taken in bad humor.

I mean, he was nominated for his previous job by a chap called "B. Obama", and confirmed by the Senate for that role (Commander, United States Southern Command).

I detest Trump and most of his cabinet, but I would not underestimate a modern Major General (USMC, Ret), which is what he is.

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His Muskiness wheels out the Tesla Model 3

Malcolm Weir

Optional

Absolutely mass market: I paid only a little less for my diesel VW Passat (of course, once VW pay me the blood money, I'll have ended up spending a lot less, but I didn't know that at the time).

Key for me though is that a range of ~200mi makes the Model 3 a viable option. Charging is not a problem (given I live ~10miles from Tesla Central in Fremont).

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Supreme Court closes court-shopping loophole for patent trolls

Malcolm Weir

Re: Note the vote 0-8

If you're doing business in the US, you have *some* US presence, by definition. If you are not doing business in the US, then the US courts won't get involved (absent some very specific circumstances).

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Malcolm Weir

It's not really that big of a deal, because the infringed-upon have a much lower burden in any patent action, because their claims are in the patent. So discovery motions in an patent infringement are almost always targeted at the alleged infringer/defendant, not the plaintiff.

And if you are suing for patent infringement, you are going to be using a specialist legal team, who probably aren't local to you anyway, regardless of where you are located.

(E.g. the largest IP fight I was involved in was fought in a court in Salt Lake City, Utah, used San Francisco, CA attorneys, and the company's operational HQ was 400 miles south of their in Southern California.)

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Malcolm Weir

No. The "place of incorporation" thing in today's judgement applies where there is such a thing. Specifically, per the judgment:

<Begin Court>

As applied to domestic corporations, “reside[nce]” in §1400(b) refers only to the State of incorporation.

<End Court>

In a nutshell, the Court decided that the "ambiguity" in section 1400(b) (which might be read as permitting one to file either in the state of incorporation OR in any state where they have a substantial presence) should actually be read as a hierarchy: file in the state of incorporation unless there isn't one, in which case any state where they have a presence.

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LastPass now supports 2FA auth, completely undermines 2FA auth

Malcolm Weir

One challenge for those of us (like @Frank Long) who have devised a cunning scheme for generating passwords is that some total toss-winglers arbitrarily set moronic rules in the naive assumption that it improves security by increasing the sample space.

Some of my favorites (read: "some of the first to go against the wall when the revolution comes") include those who only allow an arbitrary subset of special characters: so maybe "-" is allowed, but not "/", "%" but not "$", and so on.

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US court decision will destroy the internet, roar Google, Facebook et al

Malcolm Weir

What about abuse of fair use?

One thing that people are missing is that there *are* circumstances where posting of copyrighted material is permissible: the "Fair Use" exemptions. You (for some value of you) may not like them, and you (for some other value of you) may disagree whether apply in a given circumstance, but who, precisely, get's to decide if the posting of something, say, unflattering _for the purposes of editorial content_ falls into one side or the other?

Consider, for example, a written work created by someone (say, a "letter"), that is then published on a website in order to show that the author was a bit of a plonker. The publishing is clearly in breach of the author's simple copyright. But it's also (likely) fair use. If the argument (that a moderator has a duty to enforce copyright) prevails, then there will be a chilling effect, as anyone issuing threats (legal or otherwise) simply has to slap a "(C) A Litigious Bastard" statement on each page, and they're shielded from their actions...

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Australia considers joining laptops-on-planes ban

Malcolm Weir

Optional

All the folk asserting that you can stuff Mucho Stuff inside a laptop have something of a point, but there's another aspect that they're ignoring:

The US/MiddleEast ban impacts KINDLEs, too.

So some dimwit has decided that large phones (iPhone 7+ sort of thing) are OK, but Kindles are not OK. Oh, and battery packs are OK, as long as they're physically small.

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Italian F-35 facility rolls out its first STOVL stealth fighter

Malcolm Weir

Optional

I'm not clear why anyone is surprised that the FACO is in Italy. It's a simple matter of sending the Italians a spiff to keep their domestic aerospace business (Leonardo) from competing with the F-35. There is a small handful of companies in Europe that offer modern combat aircraft, notably Dassault in France and Saab in Sweden, plus the Airbus conglomerate (the former Aerospatiale, CASA, Dornier and MTU) and . Without a comfortable workshare deal, Lockheed faced Finmeccanica / Leonardo joining forces with one of those, just as they had for the Eurofighter.

If that had happened, not only might Lockheed have lost the 60-odd aircraft sale to Italy, but there was a risk that other smaller F-35 customers (particularly Netherlands, Norway, Denmark) might have gone with a European alternate.

It's also worth remembering that, jokes aside, Italy is the location of one of NATO's busiest bases, at Aviano, which (possibly not coincidentally) is the home of the USAF's 31st Fighter Wing, and the general staging base for any US aircraft flying over places south of Europe...

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'I feel violated': Engineer who pointed out traffic signals flaw fined for 'unlicensed engineering'

Malcolm Weir

Actually, Oregon, remarkably appropriate given the subject!

Or had you missed the fact that Linus moved?

(Also, worth noting that Linus was explicitly and deliberately cloning a thing created in New Jersey and significantly refined in California, in case you've forgotten about AT&T Bell Labs and UCB).

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FTP becoming Forgotten Transfer Protocol as Debian turns it off

Malcolm Weir

FTP sends passwords in the clear. 'Nuff said.

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FCC greenlights small cell free-for-all in the US

Malcolm Weir

Re: Reasonable

No, Richard, this is the FCC saying that cities must prioritize the desires of telco's to stick things on public property over anything else.

Bizarrely, this is entirely contrary to the idea of putting power in the hands of the local authorities. Instead, it is the central government demanding (but not paying for) the local government do things the way they (the FCC aka the Telcos) want.

This is a similar thing to the "sanctuary city" brou-hah-hah: if the feds want cities and counties to provide goods and services in support of federal priorities, then the American Way is to PAY for it. If the feds don't want to pay, then let the local authorities prioritize things however their citizens think best.

[ Biggest lie from the feds about "sanctuary cities" is that they quote the link between sanctuary status and crime rates, without pointing out that the link is strongly contrary to what they suggest: sanctuary cities have lower violent crime than others. ]

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Would you believe it? The Museum of Failure contains quite a few pieces of technology

Malcolm Weir

Optional

The Kodak DCS cameras were anything but failures. Sure they were specialist products (as I recall, $5K and up), but if you wanted a digital version of the Nikon F series, your choice was Kodak.

Up until Nikon released the D3, the best digital solution for Nikon lenses (and lenses are why we have cameras, right...!) was a Kodak DCS Pro. And, to be honest, there are some things the Kodak could do that the NIkon can't, like the embedded radio slave system (a PocketWizard). Sure, the camera body was nothing like as good as the D3's, but there are still times when I wish I'd pulled out the DCS rather than the D3 (battery life is the usual reason why I don't!)

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Good Guy Comcast: We're not going to sell your data, trust us

Malcolm Weir

Re: I'm pretty sure they were behind the bill in the first place

No. Trump is not "legally an employee", as he was a contractor when he did the show. But yes, he is still a beneficiary of royalties from Comcast, so he obviously has an interest in maintaining their health (so they can continue to milk the cow that sends him golden eggs, to mash metaphors).

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Passport and binary tree code, please: CompSci quizzes at US border just business as usual

Malcolm Weir

Re: Is it possible that the poor agents are just trying to get believable reactions?

@elDog: CBP Inspectors are Federal employees. Not contractors. Actually, they are "sworn" law enforcement personnel, just like FBI agents. They get to retire into the Federal Employee Retirement System, and they are (like the cops) a "6(c)" organization, in that you can retire after 25 years of service (or 20 years if you're 50 or over).

Don't know where you get this weird idea that the US has outsourced it's customs staff.

(The same is true of *most* TSA people; a few airports have subcontracted, but the "real" TSA are feds).

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Kylie withdraws from Kylie trademark fight, leaving Kylie to profit from… existing?

Malcolm Weir

Re: Reality TV

I find it grotesque when people blame lawyers for doing their job... and no, he did not get someone off, he knocked holes in the state's effort to get someone. Make no mistake: the state screwed that prosecution (in particular, Judge Ito did).

The state has an enormous amount of power to mess up your life through a prosecution. We all depend on having extremely skillful people willing to try to oppose that power. Sometimes they succeed when abstract notions of justice suggest they should not, , but would you yourself opt for a second-class lawyer to defend you, on the grounds that having good attorneys sometimes allow criminals to walk free?

Thought not.

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FBI let alleged pedo walk free rather than explain how they snared him

Malcolm Weir

To be honest, there is a third: that they believe that there is a good chance that the argument that their warrant was defective will prevail, so that disclosing the details of the NIT would release information and they'd still lose the case (because of the warrant's problems). So if they believe that the warrant-was-not-sound argument is likely to be granted, then they'd lose anyway, so why go all "open kimono"?

Don't forget that law enforcement has good lawyers too... and those lawyers can very easily evaluate the flaws in the government's case without the "help" of defense attorneys!

Yeah, I know this is less exciting than the "our stuff is so secret that we'd walk from a prosecution rather than tell anyone about it" motif, but it seems to me to be more likely.

[ So why bring the case in the first place? It's very possible that the prosecutor knew all about the issues, but was hoping that he could coerce a plea bargain from the defendant without having to follow through on the discovery process; if so, then the defense attorney called his bluff... which is itself quite rare. ]

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Malcolm Weir

Re: School Teacher

Per the High Court, there is exactly one law that is special, in that it devolves power to an organization that is not subject to Parliament's sovereignty.

It is the European Communities Act (1972).

It doesn't take much thought to recognize that the Brexiteers (nee Eurosceptics) are in no small part motivated by the power grab aspect: if/when the UK leaves the EU, they'll have unfettered power... even more so if they can drag us out of the ECHR too.

Personally, my level of confidence in the wisdom and moral courage of Westminster is such that I think this is a suboptimal idea.

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Snapchap snaps back: Snapchat Snapbrats' Snapstats are Snapcrap

Malcolm Weir

Re: Who to believe?

The thing that smells fishy here is that the guy was fired after only three weeks. Taking the employer's side for a moment, even if the employee was incompetent, that seems awful quick and risky (to the employer), because you're supposed to warn and coach and generally make some kind of effort before terminating someone, and it's real hard to jump through those hoops in just three weeks.

Now, the employee could have thrown a tantrum and screamed threats at the management team, but even so, that would generally (in serious businesses) result in him being let go for "personality differences" (or some such) coupled with studiously neutral references (because, in actuality, if he is a prick, then having him work for a competitor sounds like a great idea).

(The only thing I know of that will almost always get you kicked in that sort of time are material falsehoods on your resume: claiming to have a degree when you don't, etc... but no-one sues over that stuff, because they'd never win).

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Florida Man sues Verizon for $72m – for letting him commit identity theft

Malcolm Weir

Optional

Errr... well, nothing apart from that whole pesky value-of-a-quid thing: 4 Jan 2016, £1 = $1.474. 4 Jan 2017 £1 = $1.227. So a barrel of north sea oil will cost you £45.84 as compared to £38.16 had the pound not collapsed in, remarkably, June.

Mind you, only an idiot would assume that the full impact of something that hasn't yet happened has been fully absorbed....

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Xmas software update knackered US Customs computer systems

Malcolm Weir

Nope, your terminology is wrong

The update was to the systems used by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff. This is one of the post 9/11 changes that actually makes sense: there is just one organization handling both the Border Protection (i.e. Immigration) stuff and the Customs (i.e. stuff) stuff.

20 years ago I came across one airport that actually made sense in the way they handled the border formalities: you got off the plane and went to baggage reclaim for your bags; once you have your bags, you went to immigration, and once they passed you, you went out via the customs inspection. If they decided to hold you back at immigration, you had your baggage with you, and the random pace of baggage claim metered the flow of people to immigration.

This was at SFO, incidentally (which has since reverted to the usual immigration/baggage claim/customs routine).

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Screw EU! Apple to fight back over €13bn tax bill

Malcolm Weir

Don't forget sales tax / VAT... or property taxes... you can be sure Apple didn't!

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

Malcolm Weir

Both schemes have the same fundamental problem. Any scheme based on names will... how do you handle companies where two John Smiths work?

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Samsung, the Angel of Death: Exploding Note 7 phones will be bricked

Malcolm Weir

Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

There are ways to prevent the update from happening. So your argument is specious: what you bought was a system that would receive updates to improve the user experience. This is just an improvement, because a phone exploding in your pocket is an experience that can be improved by the mechanism described. If you prefer having your nads scorched, then you can take steps to avoid the update.

The key point here is not that the device is being disabled because it's unfashionable, but because it's dangerous and people expect Samsung to make good damage caused by the thing exploding. So Samsung is *obligated* to make the thing safe, even if that means disabling certain functionality (like, e.g., it working), otherwise Samsung is complicit in the damage caused.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: what about users' data?

What was stated that it would shut off battery charging and wireless functionality. USB target functionality is neither, so one might conclude that the thing will still work as a large thumbdrive...

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Personal safety and a dangerous precident

You won't be traveling around the world using airlines, though.

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Donald Trump confirms TPP to be dumped, visa program probed

Malcolm Weir

Optional

Don't worry: Exxon Mobile will be too busy, as The Cheetos President will have eliminated regulations that "impede businesses". Perhaps he'll make it possible for Haliburton to conduct Environmental Impact Studies (i.e. buy a stamp with "None, go right ahead" written on it).

More regulations to be eliminated are, no doubt, all those pesky pharmaceutical regs, which will have the added benefit of reducing drug development costs. Naturally, there may be a few unfortunate side effects (like vast numbers of awkward side effects)...

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UK Home Secretary signs off on Lauri Love's extradition to US

Malcolm Weir

For me the key problem is that "the crime" (the acts for which he faces trial) occurred in the UK. The victims were in the USA, but the acts occurred in Britain. So (for me) that suggests a British court should be the appropriate venue...

I appreciate that a lot of this stuff gets complicated, because e.g. mugging a tourist to the UK is different from e.g. defrauding someone over the phone long distance.

But consider: if I publish something defamatory on a US website accessible in the UK, then I can be sued in English courts, and if I lose... the US has laws protecting me from collection efforts, because they insist that only libel verdicts issued in a US court are binding (so as to protect rights under the First Amendment, etc). So that seems to support the theory that acts performed in Country A that harm someone in Country B should be tried in Country A, *because* it may be that the act might not be unlawful in Country A because of a legal technicality or a binding precedent or any other reason (even if the act is, broadly speaking, unlawful in both jurisdictions). This fits, incidentally, with the "jury of your peers" thing, too.

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Judge nailed for trying to bribe Fed with fizzy water (aka Bud Light)

Malcolm Weir

Optional

@Phil W, while there may be some who think that her use of a private server was "stupid", there are also many who know that the idea that the government run server might have been "more secure" is naive (hi, OPM... nice of you to let all my personal information -- and that of my wife -- leak to the Chinese), and who know that trying to persuade a government IT department to do something complicated (like setup an email account) may have required enough paperwork to deforest Oregon and enough elapsed time to allow that forest to regrow.

There is a reason why senior elected officials, up to and *including* President G. W. Bush (the notional owner of "GWB42.com") end up on non-governmental systems!

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VW Dieselgate engineer sings like a canary: Entire design team was in on it – not just a few bad apples, allegedly

Malcolm Weir

Re: Disgusted

Oh, dear, Woger, you're speaking from massive ignorance. The UK (and European) standards are _different_ from the US ones, more rigid in some respects and more lenient in others. So nothing that happened with regards to the US VW 'incident' has any bearing on your little taxi rank data point. That said, as always the current status quo is a function of past history, so that when the UK decided to promote fuel economy and low CO2 emissions that resulted in many more diesel vehicles. The US doesn't care about fuel economy and huge parts of the country doesn't believe in CO2 so they have many more ridiculously inefficient petrol engines. Additionally, while EU considers "ultra-low sulphur" diesel to be 10ppm, but in the US it's 15ppm for new engines. And so on.

Meanwhile, the biggest impact on your life caused by motor vehicles is the chance of being involved in a road traffic accident, which are at least twice as frequent in the US as in the UK, in large part due to the increased number of vehicles in use (i.e. the paucity of public transit).

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IBM lifts lid, unleashes Linux-based x86 killer on unsuspecting world

Malcolm Weir

Re: A friend of mine...

It's not an ACR 225 is it, by any chance?

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Inside our three-month effort to attend Apple's iPhone 7 launch party

Malcolm Weir

Re: this isn't going to be popular, but

@James O'Shea.... what makes this thread interesting/newsworthy is not the question of whether Apple grants El Reg access, but that Apple / Ted Miller / Alan Hely *lies*, blatantly, about not granting them access.

The honest/smart/decent thing for Alan Hely to have done is simply to have said something like:

"Sorry, your publication is listed as not being acceptable for 'in person' invitations to Apple corporate events. I'll let you know if that changes. Meanwhile, you can always watch the live streams. Have a nice day."

Done.

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UK IT consultant subject to insane sex ban order mounts legal challenge

Malcolm Weir

Re: ECHR

The "Votes for Prisoners" thing is a clear case of tabloid distortion. What the EHCR actually decided was that the UK cannot impose a blanket ban on voting "because they are prisoners". Any restrictions on suffrage need to be based on specific acts of the individuals whose rights are being restricted, not just where they happen to be located. Otherwise it's a slipper slope towards saying things like "people living in state-owned accommodation don't get to vote" or "members of the armed forces get to vote twice" or something like that.

There is no problem with having a law saying "murders don't get to vote", only "prisoners don't get to vote".

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Malcolm Weir

He'll find out on Sep 22. The judge clearly didn't like the terms of the old SRO, but also clearly didn't feel very sympathetic to the victim. So the delay may be legal speak for "I'm going to go do some research and find out what I can do, because I don't want to toss the old SRO in its entirety but on its face it should be tossed"!

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George W Bush hacker Guccifer to spend 52 months in the big house

Malcolm Weir

Perhaps, but he also deserves 4 years in prison for releasing unredacted data from the hack.

So: Bush Junior's "artwork" is fine, but random cell phone numbers of people who have never held office but happen to be related to a Bush is another matter.

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Penetration tech: BAE Systems' new ammo for Our Boys and Girls

Malcolm Weir

Optional

Err.. Abaco is headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama (it's the old GE Intelligent Platforms group). And CW owns Penny+Giles in Christchuch, Dorset as well as other UK offices. So both Abaco & CW are US companies. For the real UK equivalent, look no further than BAE Systems!

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California to put all your power-hungry PCs on a low carb(on) diet

Malcolm Weir

Mandating 80Plus PSUs gets you most of the way there without impacting the functionality of the system one bit. Going from plane "80Plus" to "80Plus Gold" gets you between 7% and 10%. Figure a high-end uses an average of 500W, so that will save 50W, or more than 1KWh per day.

And actually, in California, it's likely to be more, because that excess 50W came from heat created by the PSU, so chances are that there's an HVAC that would no longer have to deal with it...

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My Microsoft Office 365 woes: Constant crashes, malware macros – and settings from Hell

Malcolm Weir

In the para about MC Escher, I think "whole" should be "hole".

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McCain: Come to my encryption hearing. Tim Cook: No, I'm good. McCain: I hate you, I hate you, I hate you

Malcolm Weir

Re: Clinton who should be in jail.

GWB42.com.... a private email server that members of the government used to communicate about government business, and from which records were "lost".

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You can buy Windows 10 Enterprise E3 access for the price of a coffee

Malcolm Weir

Re: And so it begins

I think it's common in smaller businesses that horrible mismatches of OS versions proliferate. For example, because the previous individuals allegedly "in charge of" such things were incompetent and/or naive and/or dumb, I have a user population using an unholy mix of XP (yes), Win7 Home Premium (Huh?), Win 7 Pro, Win 7 Ultimate, Win 10 Home and Win 10 Pro. Plus various Linuxes, but they don't count for this point.

Now, if I can lease Win 10 Pro for (say) my Win 7 Home and Win 10 Home users I can concentrate on replacing the oldest machines (the XP ones), getting a standard Win 10 Pro license as part of the deal, while postponing the need to pay $200 for a Win 10 Pro license for the others. In a year or so, I'll replace the machines that I had leased the OS for, and I'll be happy without large spikes in my CapEx budget.

Sure, my chaos may not be common, but for me, this is an interesting option!

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Samsung deals out microSD-crushing faster fingernail flash cards

Malcolm Weir

*Really* nothing to see here...

So the 200GB Lexar "633x" microSDXC exists today, works with all SDXC hosts (possibly with an adapter to handle the SDXC->microSDXC thing) and offers the same read speeds (although possibly slower write speeds, but that's down to marketroid blurb).

Yawn!

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Much more Moore's Law: Wonder-stuff graphene transistor trickery

Malcolm Weir

Re: Except...

So... you're a recent arrival, then: the earliest PCs had 8088's and 10MB HDDs!

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Linus Torvalds in sweary rant about punctuation in kernel comments

Malcolm Weir

OK, Stupid...

No. No, it's not trivial. Consider how you'd handle:

printf("*/ or \"/*");

To do it right, you need a lexical analyzer. Of course it can be done, but doing it with bash would be a nightmare.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Well there is a point to this

I think string makes the key point, here: almost by definition, things like driver code can't be self-documenting, because it's dealing with an external blob of hardware that will do weird things that are (hopefully) described in some massive ICD. So while we're all well aware that code with side effects is normally frowned upon, the whole point of driver code is that it has side effects.

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As US court bans smart meter blueprints from public, sysadmin tells of fight for security info

Malcolm Weir

Re: I thought I recognized "Sensus"... We have met the enemy and he is (Sens)us

Are you suggesting that a smart meters include a circuit interrupter (breaker, switch) capable of switching 100 amps or so?

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Still puzzling

Wouldn't it be funny if the UK version of The Streisand Effect became known as The Elton John Effect, for no particular reason (wrote the guy in California).

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Bah!

Dude, which part of PUBLIC RECORDS ACT are you confused about?

He hasn't asked for the secret stuff, he's asked for the PUBLIC RECORDS. Which are, you know, PUBLIC.

This is no science project, it's simply a taxpayer / ratepayer asking a publicly owned entity (Seattle City Light) to provide the RECORDS that it has, in accordance with the law.

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Malcolm Weir

Worth remembering that this is "just" a TRO, as in temporary; to get this, all L+G really had to do was convince the court that they would suffer harm *if* what they allege was true, not that what they allege is in fact true, or indeed even if it is true, whether other factors (like the contract they themselves signed) leave them harmed!

The next stage will be the hearing about whether the guts of the TRO should be preserved as a Preliminary Injunction. What will be most interesting will be the City's position: do they side with L+G, or do they lean on L+G / Sensus to comply with the requirements of the Washington State Public Records Act, because the "slippery slope" of permitting contractors to claim exemptions (for whatever reason) imposes a much higher burden on the City than pushing the contractors to behave themselves.

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US nuke arsenal runs on 1970s IBM 'puter waving 8-inch floppies

Malcolm Weir

Worth remembering that the warheads themselves are getting on a bit, too: I understand the average age of a US nuke warhead is itself more than 25 years... so managing something made in the 1980s with a system build in the 1970s doesn't sound so bad.

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Seattle Suehawks: Smart meter hush-up launched because, er ... terrorism

Malcolm Weir

Re: GEt a bigger "Gun"?

Unfortunately, Washington's anti-SLAPP law was _too_ good, and was struck down as unconstitutional last year. As far as I can tell, they haven't enacted a "fixed" version, so the state of play as of today is that Washington has no anti-SLAPP law. This is probably a fact well known to Landis + Gyr and the other contractors...

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