* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Just how close are Obama and Google? You won’t believe the answer

DougS Silver badge

Re: You see, this is why the United States is such a great country!

A former president will always piss dollar bills if he wants to. Just because Carter isn't raking in hundreds of thousands per speech doesn't mean he couldn't do it if he wanted to. He was a post-Watergate aberration, being elected president despite lacking the ego and greed that's nearly universal in everyone who reaches higher office.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Doubt anyone is surprised by this

Sure republicans love money too but Silicon Valley's social values do not line up with their own so they aren't natural allies like democrats. Google will throw money at republicans and get something for their trouble, but not what they are getting today. Just like oil companies throw money at democrats and get something for their trouble, but they are only truly in the catbird seat during a republican administration.

DougS Silver badge

Doubt anyone is surprised by this

All those millions Google spends in lobbying and campaign donations aren't for nothing. The interesting question is whether Google's special access continues once a republican administration arrives (whether that's next year or 2021)

Given republican distrust of Silicon Valley values, those in the FTC who pushed for an investigation may find a sympathetic ear, and oil and coal companies would be enjoying a return to the hands off approach of the Bush administration.

This problem is larger than Google, it is that certain companies/industries see very different regulation depending on whether they are in or out of favor with the party in charge of the White House. That's what lawmakers really should fix, but congress is hip deep in lobbyist money and the revolving door so that's not likely to happen.

'Panama papers' came from email server hack at Mossack Fonseca

DougS Silver badge

Re: This is a lie

I'm not sure I buy that argument. This firm apparently specializes in hiding assets. There are few legitimate uses for that, but plenty of illegitimate ones like dodging taxes or hiding assets from a divorced spouse.

If you simply want to keep ordinary people and criminals from finding out your net worth, you don't need an impenetrable web of offshore shell companies to do so.

DougS Silver badge

This is a lie

As pointed out, you don't have tons of 40 year old scanned papers coming from an email breach. This is the law firm trying to cover their ass, deciding "we were hacked and we're fixing it" is better for the retention of rich tax dodging customers than "we have a rogue insider but we haven't figured out who it is yet".

It may also let countries with less press freedom suppress stories about it, if the documents resulted from criminal activity rather than a whistle blower. Watch how quickly the story shifts in some countries to talking about the criminal hackers who exposed it, rather than the rich tax dodgers with their pants down.

Hopefully this will encourage insiders at law firms and banks that provide similar services to become whistle blowers and shine further light on corrupt officials whatever country they represent. Obviously this is only the tip of the iceberg...unless you believe that one law firm is connected to all such activity in the world.

George Bush naked selfie hacker Guccifer gets his day in US court

DougS Silver badge

Re: That's not why he's high level

The exposure of Clinton's private email server was accidental, he didn't see that others did once he released emails that showed her private email address and people started digging.

Use of a private email server may be questionable, but it wasn't illegal. Powell and Rice did the same in their tenure as SOS, but since they aren't running for president no one cares to find out (certainly not the republican controlled congress) if they may have sent classified documents over an unsecured system like Clinton may have done, which would be illegal.

DougS Silver badge

That's not why he's high level

He violated the privacy of high level people like Bush and Clinton. Privacy isn't for little people like you me, it is for the rich, powerful and connected elite.

WhatsApp straps on full end-to-end crypto for 1bn peeps

DougS Silver badge

Your move, FBI

Good to see Apple won't have to be fighting the FBI alone if they start pushing against the use of "too much encryption" that hurts their ability to snoop.

Memory and storage boundary changes

DougS Silver badge

Re: 300ms?

I thought the same thing. In my experience the delay of accessing over a SAN is pretty much invisible when accessing data on a hard drive (the 'delay' is actually negative for writes because of the cache)

It only starts to matter with SSDs, but part of that is because no one had to care about latency to a SAN before because when you are waiting 20 ms on a hard drive who cares if the SAN switches are adding another millisecond on top of that?

WhatsApp at BlackBerry? For one thing, BBM's now free

DougS Silver badge

And the end game is what, exactly?

Blackberry moved too slowly. If they'd made BBM available on iOS and Android five years ago, they could become established there back when people were looking for messaging alternatives that saved money. They didn't want to hurt their market for phones so they waited until everyone was on an unlimited SMS plan and alternatives like iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger had become established.

It was obvious people wouldn't be willing to pay for BBM when they were so late, so now they are offering it for free. And this benefits them how? Unless they can use the platform to deliver ads it costs them money but doesn't result in any revenue current or future. Unless they think people will become addicted to BBM and like it so much they'll buy Blackberry phones. Good luck with that!

If they'd switched to Android instead of doing BB10, and included BBM as a free exclusive there and paid product on iOS and Android, they might have a chance of still being around three years from now.

DougS Silver badge

Re: O RLY?

iOS lets you set permissions for whether an app can access your contacts list, so it isn't possible for Facebook to do that. It will ask for permission when you first install the app, but if you say no it will still run. It never snaffled by contacts list.

However, it obviously has done that with some of my friends, because I recall seeing something where it asked me "is your phone is xxx-xxx-xxxx" (which it was) and offering to set me up with the ability to text me if I forget my password. The first time it did that I was a little off put wondering how they figured out my number, but it was pretty obvious in hindsight that unless every one of my Facebook friends who has my number in their contacts refused permission for Facebook to access them that's how they got it. If it was only one friend they might not know if I was the same one, but when they have multiple people having the same number for it is pretty obvious.

So really I suppose it doesn't matter if I let Facebook at my contacts, as anyone in my contacts list who is on Facebook has almost certainly had their number slurped from one of their other friends anyway!

'Devastating' bug pops secure doors at airports, hospitals

DougS Silver badge

Sanitizing input

Sure, you should do that also. But to assume that because you sanitized input you're fine is the height of hubris. There have been many many bugs over the years where input that was sanitized was found to not be fully sanitized or in the right way, i.e. if changes were made to what was being input that caused the sanitizing code to behave differently.

That's why step one is to make it not run as root, so if an exploit happens you don't give away root. Sure, maybe you use non-privileged access as a building block towards privileged access, but that requires finding a separate privilege escalation bug. The idea is to raise the bar for exploit as high as possible by protecting yourself in every way possible, rather than say "my input sanitizing code is perfect, so the job is done".

DougS Silver badge

The service runs as root?

That's just plain laziness on the part of the programmers. There's no need for that, and if they had practiced a defensive approach to security that assumes bugs are likely they could have avoided this. They could have run the service as an unprivileged user belonging to a 'led' group that had access to that device (or have it use a setuid binary owner root:led mode 110 that flipped the LEDs, if root was somehow mandatory to do this)

Sad that a company that designs security hardware understands absolutely fuck all about software security. Sad, but not surprising.

Full Linux-on-PS4 hits Github

DougS Silver badge

Re: Puzzled

Back when the PS3 had Cell it was useful and cost effective for computation, as it provided more performance than contemporary CPUs (at least for certain HPC tasks) and predated APIs to program GPUs.

Now that the PS4 contains a rather ordinary x86 chip and a midrange GPU by today's standards, it is no longer cost effective in any way to buy PS4s for computation. The only reason to run Linux on your PS4 is to say you can, there is no benefit to being able to do so as far as I can tell.

Hawaiki cable to go ahead with US$300 million Au/NZ/US build

DougS Silver badge

Will it be built with NSA spying included?

Or will that be added later, as it falls victim to the "accidental" cable cut like so many others?

Apple Fools: Times the House of Jobs went horribly awry

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Re: Bah!

If the Newton had lived, Apple would have been handicapped by "Newton compatibility" when they came out with the iPhone. Can you imagine compromising its design to include a pen and support for writing those stupid chicken scratches?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Newton

No matter how badly Apple screws up, they'll still be around in 40 years. They have too much money to simply sink without a trace in that time. They certainly wouldn't be relevant if they went back to their 1985-1997 missteps, but they'd still exist.

Is Microsoft's chatty bot platform just Clippy Mark 2?

DougS Silver badge

Reminds me of the 'friendly' CSR chat offers when you visit a site

Perfect example is when I visit my cable company's site trying to look something up. You can't follow more than a link or two during business hours without a dialog popping up offering to connect you to their customer service reps via chat.

Those idiots already have a link for chat on every page, it just makes them look like a desperate and needy wanna be boyfriend who offers to carry a girl's books the second she leaves class, who wonders why she ignores him and crushes on the aloof senior who barely gives her the time of day.

Elon Musk takes wraps off planet-saving Model 3 vapourmobile

DougS Silver badge

Fine for commuters, but not practical as your only car

215 miles is barely three hours of driving once I leave town, and supercharger locations are few and far between if you don't live in a super dense area like southern California or NE corridor.

Reddit's warrant canary shuffles off this mortal coil

DougS Silver badge

Re: NSLs and the First Amendment

If it reaches the Supreme Court anytime soon, and they think they have only four votes, they'd be best served to try to delay it until about next year at this time since it will probably take about that long to get back to up nine justices. A 4-4 decision would serve no one since it doesn't set a precedent for lower courts.

Holding out for a Jobs: Tim Cook still auditioning for position of Apple god

DougS Silver badge

Re: The Apple II was certainly practical

What computer introduced "soon" after the Apple II was offered 80 column text and a floppy with significantly more than 100KB? It was years before you could get either of those things.

Now if you bought the Apple II a few years after it was introduced when it was an old and tired design that was easy to do, but it wasn't like there was competition that got around those limitations back when the Apple II was new.

Done making the big stuff better? The path to Apple's mid-life crisis

DougS Silver badge

Grandiose HQ

Apple wanting to have all its employees on a single campus is not unreasonable, so just building a big HQ is not a crazy idea. Some could argue it is grandiose because of the design, but you rather see another gray concrete skyscraper or campus full of squat gray buildings and acres of parking, as the low cost solution would dictate?

It is no surprise that someone like Jobs, who saw things to improved upon in the design of just about everything, would find ways to improve upon the design of the standard office building. He chose the 'spaceship' specifically to improve upon the standard office building, and while you might not agree with his reasons, that's why he did it, not as some sort of Egyptian style monument to his life.

If your building doesn't have corners, there are no status fights for corner offices. If it is thin enough then everyone is close to a window, instead of being entombed in a space with no natural light. If it has a courtyard in the center there's a natural gathering space for employees to meet and share ideas. There are clearly some advantages to the design, and while I don't know what the low cost alternative of gray concrete boxes would run, obviously they are paying more to build something that's quite a bit out of the ordinary.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Crisis, wot crisis?

Apple's P/E has been in that range since the 2008 crash, despite Apple from then to now selling an order of magnitude more iPhones and managing profit growth every other company in the world would kill for. The market has been assuming the leveling off of iPhone sales would occur every year since, even though it is only finally going to happen in the quarter that just finished (assuming Apple's projections of a YoY decline come to pass)

The fact iPhone sales have leveled off doesn't mean they won't have any successful product. But if success is only measured by another product that successful, I guess they might as well shut down their R&D department now, because matching a product that has been more successful (as measured in profit) than any other in the world aside from crude oil is almost impossible.

That's the problem Wall Street has that will restrict them to this "middle aged" P/E forever. Even if they introduced something very successful, if it only brings in 5% of the profit the iPhone does, even quadrupling its market would only add 10% to Apple's total profit. Wall Street wants companies who can double their profit, not increase it by single digit amounts.

Though quite why Microsoft has a P/E in the upper 30s escapes me. The odds of them growing enough to justify that are lower in my estimation than the odds of Apple finding a new product that makes as much money as the iPhone!

Unpatched stealthy iOS MDM hack spells ruin for Apple tech enterprises

DougS Silver badge

Given the warnings posted above for enrolling, and the fact you can't re-enroll, rather than a real bug it sounds like the researchers in this article are squawking about nothing trying to get attention for themselves. Unfortunately something that's becoming more and more common in the security world, as everyone is trying to sell their services by hyping non-existent threats to make them sound like the end of the world.

And of course if it is an Apple issue, the Reg will happily parrot the researchers "findings" without doing any checking on their own of the details to determine whether it is an actual threat or not, because they know the article will get a lot of clicks even if it is a false alarm.

DougS Silver badge

What sort of 'acceptance' is required by the end user?

Do you text them a link, give them instructions, does it direct hit an API that allows it to pop up a dialog they hit OK on, or what?

Sounds like user education can mitigate the impact, but like malware in email some people will always click on something sent to them even if they don't recognize the source.

'Planet nine' theory boosted by Kuiper Belt Object with odd orbit

DougS Silver badge


Because they aren't measuring light emitted by exoplanets, but rather light reflected by them. That's why we mostly discover planets close to their sun, or really huge ones. The number of planets we've discovered 75 Plutos from their star is probably near zero.

Also, depending on where it is currently, Kuiper Belt objects may be in the way.

Military intelligence, AI style: MoD cosies up to Massive Analytic

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Re: Massive Analytic

I read that as "Massive Dynamic" at first when I saw the story, and did a double take wondering how there was really a company with that name if they'd used it in the series since you'd think they'd sue!

Gartner: RIP double-digit smartphone growth. 2016 has killed you

DougS Silver badge

Re: The way I read that article is that there is massive trouble for Apple ahead

How does lack of growth in the smartphone market indicate trouble for Apple? So they won't keep having YoY growth, the market has expected that from Apple for several years and been surprised that they've continued to grow. The lack of growth has been priced into their stock for years - that's why they have a P/E of 11 versus Google's at 32 and Microsoft's ridiculously and unaccountably high at 39!

DougS Silver badge

Once "msut have" piece of personal tech?

Even with sales flattening, selling 1.5 billion a year makes it still "must have" by any reasonable definition.

Apple's fruitless rootless security broken by code that fits in a tweet

DougS Silver badge

Re: The 9 Billion Names of God

What's your definition of "OS"? The L4 microkernel running Apple's secure enclave may or may not be bug free, but I'm sure it is close, simply because it is so tiny.

If you use a true microkernel at the heart of your OS, and then have a bunch of other layers around it for stuff like networking, disk I/O and so forth that have bugs, do those count as OS bugs? You can't have a useful modern system without networking and I/O, after all. What about stuff like sshd and Firefox that are only needed if someone logs in to it, but are superfluous in an embedded device?

DougS Silver badge

It isn't the end of the world if bugs are found

It looks like Apple has some work to do yet to make it work as intended, so there will be a lot of fodder for Reg articles as new exploits are found, as well as hand-wringing over how insecure Apple's operating systems are by those who use vulnerability counts as a measure of code quality (just to point out: a root only OS with no authentication or encryption would never require security patches because anything that happens is "by design"...)

Since the basic design of Unix/Linux includes only two privilege levels, there are a limited number of possible ways to try to secure it. We've tried allowing unprivileged users temporary privileges (i.e. setuid, and Linux capabilities, which are basically finer grained setuid bits) So maybe trying to limit what privileged users can do is worth a shot. At least this starts from a position of unlimited privilege, so when bugs are found it isn't nearly so serious as finding bugs in setuid programs.

The ideal would be to create more privilege levels, but what you'd end up with would no longer be Unix by any meaningful definition.

Amazon to bad cable slingers: USB-C yourself out

DougS Silver badge

Re: Next: Non-Apple (actually) Approved Lightning Cables

If you want a non-Apple Lightning cable guaranteed to work, get one with the MFi label - which pretty much all the ones for sale nowadays have.

The "bad USB-C cables broke my Pixel" thing is the main reason Apple checks for "real" Lightning cables. Well, unless you are dumb enough to believe that there is big money is selling cables and Apple does it to cash in.

The fault isn't entirely on the cable makers. They didn't follow the standard, but Google left a fuse out of the Pixel C which is why it was killed when the bad cable was plugged into it, so they have to shoulder a little bit of the blame themselves.

DougS Silver badge

What do you mean "Google based the USB-C standard on"?

Google did not create the USB-C standard, the USB Implementers forum did, just like they created all the past USB standards.

Microsoft announces Windows 10 Anniversary Update coming this summer

DougS Silver badge

Will this be when there's a mandatory update for Windows 7?

A mandatory patch that just upgrades without giving you any choice in the matter? The way things are going with them, I wouldn't be surprised. That's why I switched my parent's PCs to manual updates.

That one phone the FBI wanted unlocked? Here are 63 more, says ACLU

DougS Silver badge

And this is what Apple meant when they objected

They might be able to produce a custom OS tailored to just that one phone, but as the cases pile up they'd need to maintain multiple versions of that OS (for the various iPhone models) and track updates of the rest of the OS so there would soon be multiple OS versions of it too.

How much is managing all that going to cost, and how difficult will it be to manage the security of it? More importantly, at what point does the FBI file a case asking to be given a copy of the hacked OS that works on ANY phone, claiming that an urgent national security cases require dispensing with the delay of waiting on Apple to produce a custom version tailored at just one phone.

Oz uni in right royal 'indigenous' lingo rumpus

DougS Silver badge

Can we not agree

That when a population with greatly superior numbers or technology moves into a new area, things almost always go poorly for the population that was already present in that area? This isn't a European thing, this is a human nature thing. While we have written records of what European settlers did in Australia, Africa and North America, we don't have records of what the populations they displaced in those areas may have done thousands of years ago when they first arrived if there were already humans or hominids present, but we can easily guess.

The idea of the 'noble savage' versus the 'immoral European' is just wrong. Human nature is the same whether you are are clothed in animal skins and carrying spears, or clothed in cotton and carrying firearms.

I don't think we need to rewrite every history of western 'invasion' to suit, but merely to point out that in all such cases, bad things were done by those with more power. Had Cook encountered an Aboriginal civilization with WWI technology like powered flight and machine guns, no doubt the Europeans would have been on the receiving end of a massacre if they tried to move in without permission.

DougS Silver badge

Better get on it, the US is going to catch up!

Anyone know our score so far?

Microsoft's bigoted teen bot flirts with illegali-Tay in brief comeback

DougS Silver badge

The problem is defining this as AI in the first place

The issue isn't programming Tay with a sense of morality, because in order to have a sense of morality about what you say you first have to understand what you are saying, which Tay does not. Tay just basically parrots back what others say to her, assuming that the more often something is said the more "right" it is.

Sure, Microsoft could attempt to restrict the bad things she says by blacklisting "bad words" like nazi and nigger, but there is a nearly infinite number of ways to articulate such ideas using different words, so that's a hopeless battle. In order to really do the job, Tay needs to understand what a nazi is and be able to understand when someone is using other methods of referring to the same concept ('heil Hitler', 'gas the Jews', 'white power', etc.) You need to be able to do that before worrying about the idea of what things people may find morally offensive.

We aren't even close to that point with AI yet, so this is a fruitless battle today. Still, you have to start somewhere, but Microsoft might have been better off if they spun off a secret subsidiary to do this so they wouldn't receive the negative blowback.

Zombie SCO rises from the grave again

DougS Silver badge

There's a reason IBM's legal team is sometimes referred to as the Nazgul

The Apple and Samsung legal teams are trifling amateurs by comparison, IBM's lawyers play for keeps!

BMW complies with GPL by handing over i3 car code

DougS Silver badge


I'll bet you could get into the car much quicker with an AK47.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Life in a Call Center

Is there still such a thing as a non-outsourced call center?

Oculus Rift review-gasm round-up: The QT on VR

DougS Silver badge

All smartphones have time real MPEG4 decompression and many have real time HEVC decompression. Hell, the last couple iPhones have included real time HEVC compression, which is far more computationally challenging, without any problem.

I think your views on how hot and power hungry MPEG4 decompression is are a decade out of date.

William Hague: Brussels attacks mean we must destroy crypto ASAP

DougS Silver badge

Re: Requiring ID to buy a phone or SIM

Only a few US states include RFID chips in the driver's license, since there is no federal requirement to do so - at least not yet - so you just get a fake ID for one of the states that doesn't have it. Even in states that do, a checker at a convenience store will definitely NOT be using an RFID scanner to verify driver's licenses and refuse sale if your RFID chip doesn't work.

So no need to care about crypto or RFID in your fake IDs for buying burner phones. Before anyone says "the US isn't the rest of the world", I spoke to the status in the US since that's where the bill to require ID for purchase was proposed.

DougS Silver badge

Requiring ID to buy a phone or SIM

How's that going to help? One of the things reported about the Brussels attackers is that they had access to guy who can make forged documents. You can also order them online through all sorts of places. You don't need a document good enough to fool US border control, only good enough to fool the cashier at the convenience store - who isn't going to care if the ID is fake since unlike with selling alcohol to a minor using an obviously fake ID he/she wouldn't get in trouble for it.

So yeah, I'm sure it will be really helpful to record whatever bogus name the terrorist buying the burner phone used, especially if they are smart and use that ID just the one time. If they have the discipline to use burner phones and delete text messages etc. from them they will have the discipline to use their fake IDs in a similar manner. So such laws will only hurt law abiding citizens and maybe catch some dumb low level criminals. It won't do a thing against terrorists or other big time criminals.

Foxconn pays £2.5bn to swallow Sharp in cut-price takeover deal

DougS Silver badge

May be for producing a new type of screen for Apple

Rumors have Apple switching to OLEDs for the iPhone sometime between this fall and fall 2018, but I think they may never do so. They purchased a company called LuxVue last year that was claiming to have solved production problems for inorganic LED displays. If they have cracked that, it would offer greatly reduced power, increased brightness, and much longer lifetime than OLED.

If Apple wanted to keep that technology to themselves, they need someone to manufacture it for them. Enter Foxconn...

The FBI lost this round against Apple – but it aims to win the war

DougS Silver badge

It will be too late when the FBI tries again

Apple is treating this as a warning shot and has redoubled their efforts to make their devices and user data secure. Now they know they must keep user data secure against even themselves, lest the FBI order them to hack their OS! The next time the FBI tries this on Apple, perhaps with a newer model of iPhone running a later version of iOS that includes these changes, Apple may be unable to help them - even their code and signing keys won't help if its impossible to install a new OS onto a locked phone - which it will be no later than iOS 10.

And others will follow. Some companies may have limited options to do so: Facebook and Twitter can't encrypt regular posts since they have to be readable by the world, or at least hundreds of people. But they might secure Facebook Chat, WhatsApp, and Twitter DMs.

Google and Microsoft will be interesting wild cards. Google should want to secure everything, but securing everything so even they can't read it will ruin their data collection ability, so they probably won't. Microsoft could add a lot of security to the world if they allowed (or especially defaulted to) encrypted volumes for Home versions of Windows. They've previously considered that an enterprise capability, maybe they will rethink that position.

So what then, does the FBI lobby congress for a law that makes selling a phone with that level of security illegal? That would be like their failed strategy of treating encryption as "munitions" back in the 80s and 90s, thinking they could keep the genie in the bottle. If they deny Apple the legal right to sell secure phones, some company elsewhere in the world will (probably with an Android fork that locks Google out of all that juicy data, hurting them too)

Cunning scam: Mobe app stalks victims then emails booby-trapped bogus speeding tickets

DougS Silver badge

Re: @AC the commercial pilot

Found in the first few paragraphs:


Here, proof that NHTSA considers the computer the "driver", which implies no licensed driver is needed (or any human at all, necessarily)


'No regrets' says chap who felled JavaScript's Jenga tower – as devs ask: Have we forgotten how to code?

DougS Silver badge

Re: So, theft is better than failure?

They are open source packages, once you release code open source you can't claim ownership over its use. That's the whole point of open source.

Surface Hub: A Howard Hughes folly, or a cunning Post It Note killer?

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Re: Jumped the shark

I could readily see an architectural firm doing this - at least those in certain higher end markets. The people spending tens or hundreds of millions on a building project for a skyscraper or hospital wing want to feel like they are getting a quality firm that is up on the latest technology. If wasting money on some showy touchscreens that don't really contribute anything over an ordinary big screen TV sharing a laptop presentation makes the difference in a single commission, so be it. The resulting fee pays for the half dozen touchscreens several times over.

It is no different than the image expensive hotels try to project with the high ceilings and marble floors in the lobby that say 'luxury', or the image older banks tried to project of safety and security.

Courts cry over cunning call-center criminals crafting convincing cons

DougS Silver badge

Damn criminals

They're upping their game, so up yours!

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