* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Rap for chat app chaps: Snap's shares are a joke – and a crap one at that

DougS Silver badge

It came from the VCs

All that money they pour in multiple rounds of VC financing, a total of about $2.5 billion. Now they've cashed out for a big profit (especially the earliest rounds) but the company was able to sell new shares during the IPO. So they've built up some cash to survive a few more losing quarters until they figure out how to monetize their userbase.

Shopping for PCs? Ding, dong, the Dock is dead in 2017's new models

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HDMI 2.1 will be in TVs next year

It will be published in a couple months. HDMI 2.1 is required for 120 fps 4K, which LG has already demonstrated last fall and almost certainly will be present on their 2018 OLED product line.

I personally wouldn't buy a 4K TV without 4Kp120 support, doing so would be as dumb as all the early adopter idiots who bought 4K TVs that didn't support HDCP 2.2 and now find they can't watch any 4K programming from cable/satellite providers. ESPN has gone on record saying they feel a higher frame rate (currently they broadcast 720p60 in the US) is more important for sports than higher resolution, so they will probably be an early adopter of this. In fact, given their conspicuous lack of any 4K channel at all yet, I wonder if they may launch at 4Kp120 on day one, and leave it up to providers to downgrade the signal to 4Kp60 for viewers who don't have proper equipment.

If Thunderbolt 3 ports at 40 Gbps can be cost effectively added to laptops, I don't see why HDMI 2.1 ports at 48 Gbps should be a problem.

DougS Silver badge

Thunderbolt to carry video is nice in theory

But monitors with a Thunderbolt input are pretty much non-existent outside of the Apple realm. Hopefully now that HDMI 2.1 removes the reason for DisplayPort to exist, the now useless DisplayPort input on monitors can be replaced with a slightly less useless Thunderbolt input.

Spies do spying, part 97: Shock horror as CIA turn phones, TVs, computers into surveillance bugs

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Re: The continuation of the teardown of US government

Journalists are starting to confirm a few elements of that dossier, and reportedly US intelligence agencies have confirmed many of the details that put a specific person in a specific place at a specific time or saying a certain thing over the phone, so the more outlandish stuff like the golden showers becomes a bit less outlandish every day.

DougS Silver badge

So if they've redacted the actual exploits

What are they doing with them? I'd love to hear them say "we're sharing them with the OEM so holes still applicable to current versions can be patched, and will make them available later" but since they didn't say that I assume not.

Simply redacting them without comment could mean anything from waiting a few weeks and releasing them on their site causing potential chaos, to selling them on the black market, to Assange using them to hack into Trump's Twitter to make him tweet "I wear pampers under my suit to control my wiki leaks!"

Aah, all is well in the world. So peaceful, so– wait, where's the 2FA on IoT apps? Oh my gawd

DougS Silver badge

Re: Goolge can't even get their subsidiary use their own 2FA tools

Plus the dependence on the cloud. Google or Amazon or whatever service your home automation depends on is down? Better hope you still have a non-automated way of opening your front door, or whatever it was you were expecting to do.

Sure, we could replace FTNN, says nbn™, if you let the unwired wait even longer for broadband

DougS Silver badge

Why do think they think the copper will be need to be replaced in 10-15 years?

If they did FTTC there is still copper to the house. If the copper from the node to the house needs to be replaced in 10-15 years, why is that last 50-100 feet of copper exempt?

Now I don't know the details, and if the nodes are not very dense you don't get speeds any better with g.fast than you did with VDSL (about 100 Mb unbonded at 500 meters over an unimpaired line) but that's fixable by adding nodes. Get them to 100 meters and you can do 500 Mb, which is enough for any conceivable purpose unless every member of a large family simultaneously streaming 8Kp120 video becomes commonplace.

US Marines seek a few supposedly good men ... who leaked naked pics of a few good women

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Re: @Treko

When I saw the story on the news here, they said some were taken by/for the women and leaked to the site, others were taken without their knowledge.

Saying the women bear some of the blame because they took the photos and should have known it was possible someone could have shared them outside their control is like saying you bear some of the blame if you killed by a drunk driver, because you were out driving at 2am when you should have known there are always a few drunks on the road.

Watt the f... Dim smart meters caught simply making up readings

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Maybe they need to build an old school meter into the "smart" ones

There's a sanity check that isn't vulnerable to EMI interference. The way to sell it to the utility is to suggest "what if hackers found a way to cause it to under-read, don't you want to be able to verify customers aren't stealing power?"

Stop the press: Journos not happy losing jobs to journo bots, say journos

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No human could write 30 articles a day?

That's one article every 15 minutes in a normal working day. If they were articles about the Olympics, presumably they focused on facts the bot was fed - who medaled in various events, with the winning time/score listed, and a note if any Olympic or world records were broken.

Such articles would be pretty basic - essentially a fact dump is the input, and a human readable fact dump is the output - and could easily be churned out in 15 minutes or less. I assume similar results could be obtained for writing articles based on police reports, court records, press releases, and so on. Do journalists really want to be doing this sort of work in the first place? I doubt it.

I have to think it will be a while before it can automatically write articles about the whole Trump/Russia mess, the upcoming elections in France, the prospects for what will replace Obamacare, etc. since you can't just write those articles based on a fact dump.

Did your in-flight entertainment widget suck? It's Panasonic's fault, claims software biz

DougS Silver badge

Re: How do you make hardware that runs certain software slower?

Your example was Microsoft software adding wait states. That's not the same in any way to having hardware that is somehow able to recognize the difference between one vendor's software and another's to decide when to clock slower, insert wait states or whatever.

DougS Silver badge

How do you make hardware that runs certain software slower?

That seems like an allegation that will require more proof than "our software runs slow on their hardware, so it must be their doing".

America halts fast processing of H-1B skilled worker visas

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Re: why was this called 'discrimination'

What is it with conservatives calling Obama "OBAKA" in all caps? Is this some sort of alt-right dog whistle like that stupid frog and calling people cucks?

1.37bn records from somewhere to leak on Monday

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My money's on Facebook

They're due for an exploit, I'm probably due to change the password I've used on it for 10 years, this would provide the nudge I need.

Euro Patent Office puts itself on Interpol's level, demands access to staff phones and laptops

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Einstein started as a patent attorney

And Hitler started as a house painter. Maybe the next genius to reshape physics is a house painter today, because this guy sure looks like he's in the driver's seat for being the next Hitler!

HMRC emits IR35 tax calculator onto the web for UK contractors

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I live in the US

But for the heck of it I put in answers that apply to me on my contracts here at home. After playing 20 questions, it said I was covered under it, so I guess I'd have to pay more. What is it exactly that you're being made to pay - the equivalent of FICA in the US (for those who know both tax systems well enough) or something else?

I pay myself a salary that falls a bit short of the maximum FICA level so I save maybe $5000 or so, taking the rest (larger than what I pay myself in salary) as a distribution from my S corp. I was audited over something else by the IRS about six or seven years ago and they asked about that arrangement but didn't have a problem with it at the salary level I was paying myself.

It sounds like those not subject to IR35 would effectively be paying themselves a salary of $0 and taking the whole wad as a distribution - which would save me a further $13,000 or so were that permitted here - but I guess it is all or nothing there so you can't do a halfway thing like me to pay part as a salary and take the rest as "owner's income".

I assume that if I diddled around I could figure out what I would need to change in my contracts to insure I fell outside it. So assuming I could get clients to agree to those terms, it wouldn't amount to much. But having never sought a contract in the UK, that might be more difficult than it appears.

User rats out IT team for playing games at work, gets them all fired

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Backups are the easiest thing to get right

Put a script on every server that should be getting backed up to contact a master/monitoring server to let it know what filesystems it can see, and choose a random file in each, that hasn't been modified for at least a day and not crazy large and takes a SHA1 hash. The master server selects a few of those files at random (say one for every 100 servers or so) and does a test restore every day and compares hashes.

It posts to the intranet the list of all servers being backed up and the results of the test restores to those operating the backups every day, so anyone who worries "is my stuff getting backed up?" can see it is, and see the results of test restores to know that backups are actually getting done.

Not saying this is foolproof, and depending on how you handle offsite vaulting that may not be so easy to verify so you may need something different there, but considering the number of times I've seen data loss for various reasons this simple step could address that. i.e. new filesystem was added but it didn't get added to the backups, or a server had been around for three years and was never backed up but those who cared about it had no way to know that, or that backups were running, but couldn't be restored for one reason or another.

Yes, you want monitoring that can report on completions so failed backups can be restarted and so forth, but the above is step 1, because too often if monitoring says "all backups were completed successfully" the backup team thinks their job is done. That's because they don't understand their job isn't to back up data, but to restore data. I consulted at a place with really messed up backups, and even though I was there for storage I spent a few weeks helping their backup team. One thing the data center manager refused to do that I really wish he'd considered is to rename that team the data restoration team, to drive home the point of what their job really is.

Move over, Bernie Ecclestone. Scientists unearth Earth's oldest fossil yet: 4bn years old

DougS Silver badge

Re: 'seeded' from the same extrasolar source

Well, you could prove the existence of a god, but you'd need his cooperation. Disproving is impossible, especially if he started the ball rolling 14 billion years ago and lost interest 13.9 billion years ago. i.e. he exists, but left UniverseSim running and went out to walk the dog around the multiverse.

DougS Silver badge


If we found evidence of life existing on Mars 4 billion years ago as well, it would suggest that Mars & Earth either have a common extrasolar source or is so "easy" that it will quickly spring up almost everywhere that suitable conditions exist.

We'll know if the latter is case as eventually we will have the ability to check the atmospheres of planets outside our solar system.

If we could get down into the ice under Europa, find life, and examine its makeup (i.e. does it have RNA/DNA) we could answer a lot of questions as well, but that probably won't happen in our lifetimes.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Trace of lifeforms 3.7 bln years old

There is commonality between Earth in that geological age and now, at the hydrothermal vents. The environment there is pretty much identical to what it was four billion years ago. Same chemical makeup, same lack of light, and same absence of oxygen in the water.

And finding this is not the same as finding it on Mars around the same time period, because that would prove that either 1) life was not a crazy accident so it is very likely in all Earth-like planets or 2) that both were 'seeded' from the same extrasolar source since there wasn't time for life to travel on a meteor from one to the other so soon after the crust was formed. Either would have far bigger implications than this discovery alone.

If we must have an IoT bog roll holder, can we at least make it secure?

DougS Silver badge

What's the risk of a hacked IoT bog roll holder?

So long as it doesn't have a camera or a microphone (ewww!) the worst possible outcome would be for it to falsely report the state of the roll.

So either you send a janitor to the bathroom unnecessarily (I'm making the hopeful assumption no one would buy this for their home) or you're no worse off than you were when you had "manual" roll checking when the janitors came in to clean the bathroom on their regular schedule.

I guess if someone hacks Trump's White House bathroom, the risk is he might have to press a button to call someone at 3am to bring him a roll, and he'll use his *ahem* downtime to tweet something inane.

Anyone for Virtual Monkey Tennis? Telco tries to sell us on 5G

DougS Silver badge

Re: No point having this in phones

You don't need the ultra high frequency bands to max out at insane speeds. Using more reasonable bands like 3.5 GHz should be ideal, as the antenna can be sited where it has the best reception on the outside of the house, won't move, and isn't restricted to the form factor of a cell phone.

In rural areas you don't have "a street full of 4K TVs", and even assuming 4K takes off the way HD did (which is by no way assured) it isn't that much bandwidth. Netflix is using 15.6 Mbps for 4K, EU satellite companies seem to be using 18 Mbps, Directv in the US is the outlier using 30 Mbps. Even if you had a family of five all streaming a different 4K program on Netflix a 100 Mbps connection would be sufficient.

In built up areas you wouldn't have much need for this, since it would have to be fed by fiber anyway. If you've got that fiber, you can use DOCSIS 3 or G.fast over existing copper from a small cabinet every few blocks. But if you have utility poles, nothing stops you a providing from sticking a tiny lower power 5G antenna on one every block or two, and siting antennas on the houses so they have line of sight.

DougS Silver badge

No point having this in phones

Oh, we will of course have it in phones once it is deployed in large enough numbers, but its main impact will be for home broadband, especially in areas where decent wired broadband hasn't arrived.

Before someone objects about data limits, they'll sell the home broadband on different plans (i.e. you won't be able to put the SIM in your phone) that will have much higher caps.

Amazon S3-izure cause: Half the web vanished because an AWS bod fat-fingered a command

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This is why spending money to go beyond 4 9s is generally wasted

Unless you have ironclad procedures (which would include prepackaged scripts to do all such tasks, so command line access is available to virtually no one) you'll lose your 5th 9 due to human error, 9 times out of 10 9.

Samsung phones, Apple's iPhones are 'overpriced', says top Huawei exec

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Re: It sounds like the old Windows cruft idea

What's their incentive for educating people about the issue rather than solving it with an exclusive feature?

DougS Silver badge

Re: It sounds like the old Windows cruft idea

Well, that's news to me. Never have had any slowdown at all on any of my iPhones. It is obvious why the OEMs like Samsung have little incentive to address this issue, but you would think Google would want to...

DougS Silver badge

In half a year Android can lose half its speed?

How's that possible? It isn't like CPUs get slower or RAM gets full, it would have to be storage related. Surely it uses a decent filesystem like ext3/ext4, and not vFAT for the internal storage, right? If it isn't getting fragmented, how could this slowness occur?

Machine learning to combat Android getting slow with age, that sounds like it might be an alternative fact worthy of the master himself!

Google's troll-destroying AI can't cope with typos

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Re: Google's AI

Since Google's geek army programmed it, that is probably the one misspelling it recognizes.

Who will banish spy-cam drones from US skies? The FAA doesn't want to do it. EPIC disagrees

DougS Silver badge

Re: If some agency does not cough up necessary regulations....

Most places have laws against shooting stuff down, or shooting in city limits period, but since drones communicate using public airwaves that you can use too, there's nothing stopping you from jamming the frequency it is using so the operator loses control and it crashes.

And while the drone owner will claim he wasn't spying on your daughter undressing because you can't prove it, you can claim you didn't jam his drone and cause it to crash because he can't prove it.

Or better yet, since most drones probably have little or no security, a device that could recognize the signals being broadcast to/from the drone to determine its type and allow you to simply take it over - since you'd be closer to it than its operator - would allow you to crash it into your pool to make sure it never flies again, or into the brand new car of the lawyer down the street who will happily sue the drone owner for enough money he gives up his peeping tom hobby.

Infosec white-coats: Robots are riddled with software security bugs

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This could be a good thing

Unless the robots are able to find and fix all the security holes they inherited from us when they become sentient, we'll simply call the blackhats to rescue us from Judgement Day by exploiting a 0 day in the T101 and turn the Terminators against Skynet.

Jesse Jackson to Apple CEO Cook: Hire black

DougS Silver badge

Which product lines are you referring to that they killed off to focus on the iPhone? Missing the iPod shuffle, are we?

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How does Apple compare to other tech giants?

Is there a place that compares them with Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Intel, Cisco and so forth?

44% non-white sounds fairly diverse to me; that's just about the overall makeup of the US. Of course, I'm sure many of the non-whites are Indian and Asian, and black and Hispanic would be seriously underrepresented, but surely that's true at any large tech company, because the latter graduate with a tech-related degree in much lower numbers.

Likewise, 32% female isn't where the overall makeup of the population is to be sure, but I doubt there are any large tech companies that hit 50%. So neither number sounds as dire as the article tries to make it sound, but without the context of how they compare to others one can't say for sure.

DougS Silver badge


Its non-white workforce grew by a single percentage point last year, while white employees increased by two per cent to 56 per cent.

Can someone explain how it possible for the non-white workforce to increase by 1%, and the white workforce increase by 2%? Is there a third category I'm missing that declined by 3%?

AWS's S3 outage was so bad Amazon couldn't get into its own dashboard to warn the world

DougS Silver badge

Re: So what we now know is...

My understanding is that Amazon's cloud is supposed to be redundant. If you hosted on another cloud for redundancy, you made everything more complicated and your odds of an outage probably went up due to that extra complication unless you really know what you're doing.

DougS Silver badge

Ideally you want both

You want local storage so you aren't dependent on the internet (i.e. thieves cut the fiber to your building before breaking in) but also cloud storage so taking the DVR with them doesn't help.

Of course, they could do both, but I'm probably assuming too much intelligence from the average thief thinking they might come up with doing even one of those things...

DougS Silver badge

Shows the folly of IoT

Can't even TURN OFF your oven? Talk about shitty design! If basic functionality like that is dependent on an internet connection, what happens if the manufacturer goes out of business, or simply decides that it is tired of supporting 10 year old products and takes down the cloud site it relies upon?

Too bad the general public that is suckered into buying this useless crap doesn't see news like this. I guess we need something like that to cause a fire that kills children to make the national news before it reaches the public consciousness and the deserved blacklash comes against non-tech companies putting "internet" and "IoT" into their products for marketing reasons without any understanding of the consequences.

Polls? How very 2016. Now Google Street View AI scanner can predict how people will vote

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Re: Pickups predict republicans?

Or a Tesla.

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Pickups predict republicans?

I think pretty much anyone in the US could have told them that without a study being required!

The most l33t phone of MWC: DarkMatter's Katim

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Re: Maybe his physical security

He also takes his totally insecure personal Android phone with him everywhere. Even if he doesn't use it for calls, it could be trivially compromised to provide his location at any time, and perhaps silently enable the microphone when within range of a base station to allow bugging conversations.

DougS Silver badge

You don't even need charging ability in the phone

Have replaceable batteries, and recharge them separately. Then the only port the phone needs is a 3.5mm.

TWO BILLION PCs to sell in next five years

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They are still predicting PC sales to increase

Look at their figure, they show all the drop coming in tablet sales, and PC sales jumping nicely by 2021. They have been predicting the PC sales decline to reverse every year since it started, and have been wrong every year. It can't keep dropping forever, but it could easily keep dropping through 2021. I think best case PC sales are flat. Tablet sales, I have no idea about, I think bigger phones have been eating tablet sales and if they start doing folding phones so the screen gets 2x the size it'll eliminate more potential tablet sales.

Sony: Never mind the phones – look out at what our crazy lab scientists have done

DougS Silver badge

Re: Sony should have ruled the roost

Of all those things you listed, none of them are something the average person would give a shit about. What upsets geeks about Sony only makes geeks unlikely to buy their products. Losing a few percent of their potential customer base is not what did Sony in.

Samsung was the first tier one Android OEM to sell bigger phones, which got them a lot of attention, and they also outspent everyone else combined - including Apple - in advertising. Sony's phones didn't stick out, and they didn't market them effectively (at least not the US, maybe they did better in Japan) and that's why they lost to Samsung. Concern over rootkits and DRM in some of their other products had nothing to do with it.

LUNAR-CY! SpaceX announces a Moon trip-for-two it'll inevitably miss the deadline on

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@imanidiot - uncrewed

The news report I saw on this last night said there would be no crew, just the two passengers, and the ship would be on autopilot for the entire trip.

DougS Silver badge

This is ridiculous

They haven't ever launched anything out of Earth's orbit, they have no experience handling the radiation found there. I'm sure Musk is willing to wave it away, but I should think that they need to run an UNMANNED mission to loop around the Moon and verify everything actually works before sticking people in there. Just because people are willing to take the risk doesn't mean the FAA will permit it.

If I design a big cannon to shoot people across a football field into a big net, and I find a couple people willing to sign a waiver and chance it, should I be allowed to do so, without ever testing even once that everything works as designed?

NASA has already had more than one mission where having actual people piloting the craft made the difference between mission failure/death, and mission success or at least avoiding loss of life. I think there's two reasons his mission has no pilot. 1) he doesn't have anyone qualified to pilot it and 2) he'll use the publicity to help sell self-driving Teslas down the road "we managed to have a self driving vehicle go around the Moon and back, so you don't need to worry about your car driving you across town".

You want a 4-SIM mobe? Never mind why – your wish might come true

DougS Silver badge

Re: Didn't you guys..

Once all Android phones have USB-C, what stops them from making USB-C "dock" devices similar to all the stuff available for the iPhone? Or for that matter, what stopped them from making micro-USB versions of the same?

Why would anyone want a standard format for devices to actually plug directly into the phone, compromising the ability of OEMs to differentiate/improve upon the form factor? If there was always a "chin" / bezel below the screen that would be removed for modules, for example, you would have prevented the possibility to make phones with the screen extending all the way to the very bottom, for example.

ESET antivirus cracks opens Apple Macs to remote root execution via man-in-middle diddle

DougS Silver badge

Re: Less secure?

And now Mac AV pushers have a "critical remote root vulnerability in Mac OS discovered in 2017" to help them sell AV software for the Mac! ;D

US Supreme Court set to kill Twitter, Facebook ban for sex offenders

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"When the Constitution was written, people rarely lived long enough..."

Common fallacy. Life expectancy was much shorter then, true, but that is almost entirely due to infant mortality and childhood disease. If you made it to your teenage years, the life expectancy of someone of reasonable wealth (so they weren't breaking their back working 14 hour days on a farm or in a mine) was very similar to what it is today.

Linux on Windows 10: Will penguin treats in Creators Update be enough to lure you?

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I won't stop using Windows 7 (for the times when I'm forced to use Windows) just to get it, but it might make Windows 10 a bit more palatable.

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Incremental improvements but a few annoyances

DougS Silver badge

Re: An array of lenses?

Lenses/sensors also take up a lot of space - that's why many phones have a bump where the camera is, or a section that's thicker to try to hide the fact they need more depth for the camera. If you have a big array you are going to lose battery.

I doubt the processing is that difficult, it will take more cycles but I should think it is linear with the number of lenses, not exponential. The question is whether it will deliver an improvement large enough that anyone would want it even if the cost, reduced battery life, increased processing and so on could be overcome.

Phones are already more than good enough for most people - we've all seen those "shot on iPhone" photos that are way better than anything 99% of us could take even with a $10,000 camera. All the technology in the world isn't going to make an average person rival a professional photographer. I think we've already passed the point of "good enough" for most of us.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Shrinking the image?

I don't own any pants/jeans/shorts with pockets so small I can't get my 6S plus into them...

But I'm sure eventually we'll get a phone that folds in half. The problem is it will be 2x as thick, and probably it won't get a whole lot smaller I'll bet it gets used to allow unfolding to the size of a small tablet.

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