* Posts by DougS

12862 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

'Unikernels will send us back to the DOS era' – DTrace guru Bryan Cantrill speaks out

DougS Silver badge

Moore's Law spoiled developers

They got used to doubling performance every couple years, and when that ran out for single threaded code they got extra cores.

Moore's Law is still (mostly) working, but those extra transistors help less and less each generation as even the gains from extra cores have their limits.

But these developers who grew up around that the last couple decades don't know anything about optimizing code, so something has to give if they can't get faster hardware. They'll get the smart guys in the room (the ones designing operating systems and hypervisors) to figure out a shortcut to get them more performance. Too bad it is only a one time boost, and the developers who need it the most are by definition the worst ones who will write code that will crash the 'unikernel' in no time flat.

I anticipate that aside from reading The Register I will never encounter the word "unikernel"; certainly not in my world doing enterprise architecture.

Berlin takes down ‘for sale’ sign over top Nazi’s love nest

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Poor presentation

Trim the bushes, powerwash the building. It has no curb appeal. If the inside is as poorly maintained as the outside, no one they are having trouble moving it. They need to get one of those Beverly Hills power realtors on the case to figure out the backstory of the person who will want to buy it, and stage it to fit that person's desires. Spent an afternoon talking to one of them once, it is amazing what they go through but for 3% of a $10 million sale I'd be willing to put in a little work too!

Google patents robotic 'mobile delivery receptacle'

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Re: Is it just me?

Are you new? This is how all patents are written. They are full of language describing several potential ways to implement the patented function, then the patent lawyer's favorite weasel words "but not limited to" come out to capture all the other ways you were too lazy to write down (since patent lawyers aren't paid by the word, even though you'd think so after reading a few) as well as all the ways you didn't think of but want to sue someone else for later.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Amazon is going to start caring about packages getting stolen?

Because people are looking for additional reasons to complain about the flying drone deliveries when it is a stupid idea on its own even without added worries about package theft.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Would a...

Yep. The main reason mail theft isn't a bigger issue is because it is a federal crime in the US to tamper with the mail. Maybe Google will use that massive lobbying apparatus to make it a federal crime to tamper with the Google walking mailbox when it carries the package from the drone to the garage.

Why not give Amazon the RF code to your garage so they can open the door and fly right in, drop off the package, then close the door behind itself? *runs off to patent office*

Apple growth flatlines ... Tim Cook thinks, hey, $80bn is still $80bn

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@Dave 126 - next big thing

You have every material thing you THINK you want. Today. Back in 2000, did you want a pocket computer with full web, email, calendar and IM access available almost everywhere that doubled as a phone, camera/camcorder, GPS, world atlas with maps of every city and every road, alarm clock, music player with most/all your entire music collection, plus other functionality and oh yeah a million third party apps at your disposal?

If you say yes, I'm going to call you a liar - yeah sure you'd want what you have now if offered it, but back in 2000 if you imagined the form factor such a Swiss Army knife device would have you would imagine it bulkier, include a keyboard etc. That product you imagined would have remained a niche product only geeks and PHBs wanted like the pre-2007 smartphones (that could do all of these things, just not all in the same product and definitely not in a desirable form factor)

When self driving cars become ubiquitous you won't want to go back to the car you have now any more than you want to go back to the cell phone you had in 2000. Some other products you have now might evolve beyond recognition like phones have, or disappear into some other product. When you look back in 2030, you will have and consider to be necessities things that you don't have today and if you were given their specs now might not want because you wouldn't know how they'd work or how they'd improve your life.

I'm not saying Apple will be the one to provide these things, but someone will. To say you have ever material thing you want today when you don't have to go back too far to find something you consider vital today that didn't exist then is ludicrous. As bad as that patent commissioner who supposedly claimed (but probably didn't) that "everything worth being invented has been invented" over a century ago.

DougS Silver badge

Even if Apple comes up with another hot idea

Finding one that can really move the needle when they are starting with such massive revenue and profit would be almost impossible.

A car could move the needle, but they'd need to sell a lot of them. Anyone think Apple could sell 100,000 $80K or 200,000 $40K cars a quarter? That's what it would take to bump their revenue by a mere 10% - and those figures would indicate way more success than Tesla has ever had.

I think there's a chance they will have one more record busting quarter with the iPhone 7, since it will be the new non-S version, but beyond that Wall Street is going to have to get used to the idea that while Apple produces profits that can only be dreamed of, they will have stopped growing. Poor, poor Apple, having to squeak by on a mere $50 billion a year in profit. Wall Street ought to sell sell sell, who the hell wants that?

It is already trading at a P/E of under 11, so the "lack of growth" is already priced in - the market as a whole trades at a much higher multiple. Google trades at 33, which is kind of ridiculous since they haven't exhibited growth nearly deserving of that multiple. Even worse staid old Microsoft trades at a multiple of 35(!) despite the fact everyone knows the PC market is in decline (except Wall Street I guess, who must believe Gartner and IDC's endless promises that the decline is over)

Medical data experiment goes horribly wrong: 950,000 records lost

DougS Silver badge

Re: It sounds like they were not found during an audit

I wasn't suggesting leaving drives in desk drawers was a smart practice, but misplacing it in their own offices versus knowing it was lost outside their offices, and that's different than knowing it was stolen.

Knowing it was misplaced inside their offices = lack of care common to 98% of enterprises and 99.9% of governments, it very likely won't result in data compromise (only if it was stolen by an insider)

Knowing it was lost outside their offices = concern over why it was outside their offices but at least if someone finds it they probably won't realize what they have so data is unlikely to be compromised

Knowing it was stolen = red alert concern since someone clearly knew what they were taking and your data WILL be compromised the only question is how badly you'll be screwed

DougS Silver badge

It sounds like they were not found during an audit

So probably just misplaced in someone's desk drawer, but if they are portable drives one would hope they'd use encryption. If they were, I'm sure they would have said so, so one can conclude they were not.

Safari iOS crashing: Suggestions snafu KOs the Apple masses

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Not sure why but it didn't affect me

I am running 9.2.1 and have suggestions enabled. The mention of resetting your DNS settings means it is probably a combination of factors that is required - that might explain why it made it past Apple's testers.

Also interesting that it hit now, I can't remember which day iOS 9.2.1 has been out at least a week I think. Has it been happening since day one and took this long to make the news, or did it start later?

Hot-patching method melts security hole in Apple's App Store

DougS Silver badge

All apps get it, there is no setting to enable/disable an app from accessing the clipboard. If an app was able to get through the approval process with malicious code in it, it could run in the background. Then if it could get the OS to wake it up whenever the clipboard contents changed, it could grab a copy of what was in the clipboard. Might get a few nude pics or perhaps a password being cut and pasted from a notes file once in a while for your trouble within a mountain of endless millions of worthless pastes

Of course that is something that the app review process is supposed to protect against, so an app that did that directly should be denied. But using this secret "patching" process the code to do Bad Things(tm) could be dynamically loaded into an innocuous app turning it malicious after approval.

As I posted above, I think this JSPatch functionality is a security hole in iOS that will be corrected.

Adding a separate permission for clipboard access would tighten things down in case another way around the approval process was found, or Apple missed something during an approval, though perhaps I'm being too paranoid. It isn't as though you have any protection/permissions for the shared clipboard in any other OS I've ever heard of, but that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a good idea for someone to become the first.

DougS Silver badge

Re: A payoff, or a runaround?

It sounds like this is not something Apple intended or supports. These guys in China discovered a way around the walled garden, and like any other security hole it will be corrected in a future iOS update that will break JSPatch functionality.

Apple CEO visits EU regulator to discuss tax bill

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@Naselus

They don't "regularly throw open tax holidays". They did it once, back in Bush's administration. People were worried too much money was being held overseas, they wanted it brought back to stimulate the economy and job growth which was still in the doldrums after 9/11. A bunch of money was brought back, it is generally accepted that it had little or no impact on economic growth or hiring - it was mostly used for stock buybacks or paying down debt.

The longer term result was that instead of only some companies holding money overseas, now almost every company does, so the pile is a lot bigger. Giving in with another tax holiday would be exactly the wrong thing to do - at least not at the very low rate they did before. It would only encourage companies to try even harder to keep their overseas earnings overseas, and maybe even try to find legal ways to turn US income into offshore income and make the problem even bigger.

DougS Silver badge

Yes, it is like the fines for pirating music. If they catch you pirating 1000 tracks you "could be liable for up to $150 million" based on $150K per song in the US. No one will actually end up paying that much.

It will be negotiated, and whatever Apple pays won't cost them anything in the long run. When they finally bring that money in from overseas, the foreign taxes paid on it are a direct credit on US taxes due. So unless they are able to bring it back into the US at a massive discount from the standard 39% rate, every dollar they pay in taxes overseas is one dollar less they will owe on it in US taxes when they repatriate it. So Apple doesn't care what they end up paying, other than the fact this will be a bill due today rather than some unknown future likely years away when they bring the money back into the US (so it will cost them the interest they could have earned on that money in the meantime)

DougS Silver badge

Re: Apple products support more than 1.4 million jobs across Europe

There are 5000 employees in the factory in Cork, I don't know if they have any other factories in the EU but there might be a few more about. There are Apple stores all over the EU, which account for tens of thousands.

The bulk are probably software developers who develop for OS X and iOS. Most would be part time - some guy with a full time job who develops iOS apps in his spare time and makes a few thousand bucks a year off them if he's lucky. But Cook didn't say "full time jobs", or that they were Apple employees.

I'm sure it is not counting someone who is using an iPad at work, that's ridiculous (and if so the number would be far higher, considering how many using iPhones at work as their BYOD)

DougS Silver badge

Not really

Ireland still charges only 12.5%, and that isn't being questioned by the EU. Only the special arrangements that Apple and others have that allow paying even less.

If Apple is forced to pay 12.5% for all their Ireland profits, so long as that is the lowest rate in the EU, it still makes sense for them and all their high tech buddies to funnel their EU profits through Ireland. The UK will still get screwed to the extent that profits earned in the UK are moved to Ireland to avoid the UK's higher rate.

The example with Google in the articles today is perfect. The UK is allowing Google to calculate revenues in the UK based on advertising revenues from UK based companies. Nothing stops Google from asking a company "hey can you set up an Irish subsidiary to pay us, so that revenue counts as Irish and we can pay at Ireland's much lower rate?" Result: the UK gets screwed. At least with Apple they are selling directly to the consumer, so it is easy to count up the revenue they are earning in the UK.

How costs are accounted for is another problem, but at least there are well established methods for Apple to do so (i.e. the wholesale cost they charge an electronics shop to buy iPhones that are sold to consumers at retail) whereas with Google it is much more difficult - what percentage of their servers account for UK advertising, and what percentage of their overall R&D should be claimed as a cost for UK advertising?

Stop the music! Booby-trapped song carjacked vehicles – security prof

DougS Silver badge
Mushroom

WMA

Wow, Microsoft somehow managed to create an audio format that allows embedding executable code? Only they could be that stupid!

DougS Silver badge

Re: why?

They talk because it made something easier, or someone thought "this could be useful someday".

The engineers designing cars never considered that they'd be remotely accessible someday. The guy that said "hey let's allow your smartphone to be able to control your car's entertainment system" never considered (or even knew) that it might have a path to everything.

They need to include a firewall that blocks everything, and only lets through very specific things that have a good reason and have a well defined API (so no buffer overflows, malformed requests, or kids named drop tables find their way in)

The problem is, wouldn't it be nice if instead of plugging into the ODB port you could access that data dynamically with a smartphone app via Bluetooth? That's fine, so long as you can only read it - require plugging in for any writes, even a simple "clear fault code".

Google UK coughs up £130m back taxes. Is it enough?

DougS Silver badge

@AC - liability shield

Yes, it lets you take more risks, but more risk isn't automatically good. Companies that don't make good on their debts raise the cost of credit for everyone. Paying more for being a corporation and getting that liability shield allows the corporation go bankrupt without creditors coming after the shareholders, but has a cost that everyone bears, and they should pay it for it somehow.

DougS Silver badge

@a_yank_lurker - who pays corporate tax

one the consumer/final purchaser ultimately pays all the taxes levied on the manufacturer, distributor, retailer, etc.

Sorry, but that's absolutely 100% wrong. There is no simple answer, which is why this is not a simple topic. Not everyone has the ability to raise their prices to cover an increase their taxes - not if your product is something that's essentially identical to everyone else's (like gasoline/petrol) You can't simply charge more to make up for an increase in taxes, because that may be counterproductive if a lot of your customers go to the station down the street. Gas is gas, there's no reason to pay a pound more to fill your tank just because the station's owner got a big tax bill.

In some cases the consumer pays the taxes because the price is able to be raised when taxes are raised. In some cases the owner/shareholder pays the taxes because the price is not able to be raised when taxes are raised and therefore the owner must accept less profit. In some cases the employees pay the taxes because the price is not able to be raised when taxes are raised and instead of forgoing profit the owner doesn't give his employees a raise or fires one of them and makes the others work harder.

It is probably very rarely 100% of one and 0% of the rest, but more likely some combination of the above. Which gets hit the hardest depends on the demand curve for that product, the ability of consumers to go elsewhere for the same or similar product, and the ability of employees to find a better job.

It is nowhere near as simple as seem to think it is.

DougS Silver badge

Why you can't abolish corporate tax

If companies always paid out their profits as dividends that would be fine. You could tax the dividends at whatever rate you feel should be taxed, and ignore taxing the corporations and save tons of hassle. The dividend rate would be important, because one of the reasons for double taxation at the corporation and personal level for corporate income is to pay for the liability shield the corporate structure affords its shareholders (versus a sole proprietorship or partnership where the owners have unlimited liability)

The main problem though is what if they don't ever pay dividends to allow their owners to avoid paying the taxes? The value of the stock would increase over time to reflect the greater assets (cash or whatever they used that cash to buy) and the owners could choose when to take their money by selling the stock, instead of getting regular dividends and regular tax bills. Especially in places where the long term capital gains rate is lower than that of normal income, that would basically guarantee the rich getting richer at even a faster rate (than they already do) than the poor and middle class do - who can't choose to delay taxes or get a special lower rate on their income.

Look at Berkshire Hathaway. It is a huge holding company (would probably be considered a hedge fund if Buffett had started it in 2002 instead of 1962) that consists of many dividend paying stocks like utilities and railroads. However, Berkshire Hathaway has never paid a dividend. It uses its excess cash to buy more companies, thus the stock is now $200K/share. In all those dystopian futures were one or a handful of corporations own everything, what would be the best way to get there? Don't tax them at all, so they keep buying up other companies until there are only a few, or one, remaining. Think of the lobbying power large corporations have today, even though there are thousands and thousands of multi-billion dollar corporations in the world. Imagine the power they'd have over governments if there were only five, or one. They'd own the governments, own the military.

The other problem, even if they did pay out their profit as dividends, is what about shareholders who live overseas? Do you make them pay US taxes on dividends from a US company? If you do, non residents might prefer to own shares in companies based in countries that have lower or no taxes on dividends, causing less investment in the US and a weaker dollar.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Who Knows Tax Law?

The reason is simple. Everyone wants the simple tax where you list your income and calculate your tax easily with one or several percentage rates (depending on whether one believes in a flat tax or progressive system)

The hitch comes because most people believe certain levels of income and certain things should be exempt from taxes, or taxed at a different rate. Or the government wants to encourage certain behaviors like saving for retirement or your kid's college education, upgrading your home to be more energy efficient or use renewable energy, giving money to charity, etc. Once the door has been cracked open to deductions, there will be more and more of them as time goes on. Some of them, even if well intentioned, will end up allowing certain people to pay little no tax, so when that comes to light that's seen as a problem by those who are paying full whack and the tax code must be fixed to prevent that. And eventually you end up with the mess we have in the US, and you guys over in Blighty no doubt have as well.

For corporations it is a lot more complicated, because you can't tax based on revenue. Well, I suppose you could, but that would pretty much eliminate all low margin businesses like grocery stores or restaurants, where expenses are typically 90%+ of their revenue. So once you accept that you must tax on profit, the question is: how do you calculate profit? Well easy, revenue minus expenses, but then people get clever and say certain things should be expenses - if you buy a new car for your business expected to last years they'll want to depreciate it over its expected lifetime instead of taking the full cost off this year's revenue. CEOs are getting paid too much so you only allow deducting the first $1 million of salary, which leads to them getting compensated in other ways with options so you have to come up with even more complicated rules about how to handle stock based compensation.

Then it is further complicated by that fact that many companies do a lot of business overseas, where they have their own tax laws and companies have to file taxes in many different countries, and something that is a deduction in one country is not in the other and vice versa so minimizing your tax burden becomes a super complex problem that is worth paying people a lot of money to solve. When things are that complex of course loopholes will eventually be found.

And that ignores the problem of companies lobbying for favorable tax treatment, or doing special negotiations for special treatment like Apple did with Ireland.

DougS Silver badge

WTF is this "antisemitic propaganda" you keep going on about?

There was nothing about Jews or Nazis in the article at all, you must have reading between the lines down to an art form.

[To the sane people: yes I know he's a mindless troll, but I'm curious to see how he can stretch logic to such a breaking point]

Google and HMRC face Parliamentary grilling over £130m tax deal

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"Based on UK-based advertisers"

So if an advertiser is spending a billion a year with Google, maybe Google suggests to them "can you create a subsidiary in another country to buy our ads so that billion won't count as UK revenue?" They'll have their lawyers look through the list of all the countries in the world and figure out the one where the tax rate would be lowest (i.e. where they can make the best sweetheart deal for themselves)

The only proper way to do it is to calculate the value of the advertising shown to people inside the UK. That is simple for them to calculate with the amount of data collection they do - they know within whose borders you are when they deliver you an ad, and how much that ad is worth on a per impression or per click basis, because that's how they base their billing to advertisers.

Probably Google lied and claimed that it is too difficult to calculate revenue in that way, so they were let off with this fantasy about revenue from UK based advertisers. If a UK company simply opened an Irish subsidiary to pay Google for their advertising needs, Google would be charged at most 12.5% (and that was only if tricks like the double Irish didn't exist and other loopholes/deals) instead of whatever rate the UK is supposed to charge. And the UK would then get nothing - which they deserve for having such stupid/corrupt officials in government.

This is such a huge loophole you could fit an A380 through it. I'm sure it was very obvious to everyone involved, and if someone paid close attention to the Linkedin profiles of whoever was involved in HMRC, I'll bet within a year they indicate a job change to a lobbying firm that just happens to do work for Google - at a nice half million pound salary, no doubt.

Davos 2016: It's now all about technology, but what actually happened?

DougS Silver badge

Probably the financers have gone somewhere more secret

The masters of the world don't want to talk about their plans for crushing the little people in front of the press, after all.

Apple's Tim Cook rocks up at Vatican - one week after Schmidt

DougS Silver badge

Re: "Leader of world's biggest religion meets the Pope"

As an iPhone owner since the 3gs days and Apple stockholder since before that I'm sure some here would consider me a member of that religion. However, since I laughed too I guess I wouldn't be considered a fundamentalist - that requires the additional ownership of a Macbook, iPad, iPod, and Watch.

I have always said that if you wanted to end most of the world's wars and conflict, killing all the fundamentalists in all religions would be a good start. It would hurt the value of my stock, but not seeing mindless Android/Apple fanboi wars all over the damn internet would be worth the hit, as would the quick resolution to a good portion of the problems in the middle east.

Google forked out a whopping $16m on govt lobbying last year

DougS Silver badge

Lobbying is far from the only type of political donation

Google has their own PAC, which contributes directly to various candidates and is covered by various disclosure laws. I'm not sure how much more that adds, but that that's an important second type of funding.

Lobbying is just paying people who are mostly ex congressmen / congressional staffers to talk to their former colleagues about laws their clients want passed. What Google wants may overlap to a large extent with what Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and IBM want, so a lobbyist who gets funds from all doesn't say "here's what Google wants" he says "here's what I want". The congressman may not even know on whose behalf he's working for (not that Google cares, as long as they get what they want) These direct contributions are basically giving them money they spend on getting themselves re-elected.

There's a third type of money too - other perks that aren't listed in FEC disclosures but congressmen etc. have to disclose separately (at least in some cases, though I'm sure there are ways around it) i.e. if Google's CEO takes a few Senators to Ireland on some type of loosely defined 'fact finding mission' where they just happen to believe a few important facts might be found in a five star hotel and on some of the world's top golf courses. Now that's a bribe.

There's actually a fourth type which is a special type of PAC that doesn't have to report where the money came from that the Supreme Court opened up a few years back. No way of knowing if Google (or Apple, or Facebook or whoever) has these because there is no transparency. They can't give money directly to a candidate but they can run ads to support their position. So if they wanted more H1-B Visas they could run ads in support of that and let you know which candidates have the "right" and "wrong" position on the issue.

Unfortunately lobbying is just the tip of the iceberg. Its just that it has the most stringent reporting requirements so it is easier to put a number on and write a story about.

Pentagon fastens lasers to military drones to zap missiles out of the skies

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Re: I sure hope we never make this work

Maybe so, but unless you can be sure you are tracking EVERY last missile sub and are able to kill it before it can launch, that's not something you want to hang your hat on.

DougS Silver badge

Re: I sure hope we never make this work

Yes; I should have made clear I was talking about second tier nuclear powers - not the US, Russia and China. But countries like North Korea and Pakistan would be more vulnerable to nuclear strikes if a nutjob like Ted Cruz became president and the US military had (what they thought was) protection against ICBMs.

DougS Silver badge

I sure hope we never make this work

Being able to stop missile launches would just embolden the idiots who think military action is the first and best solution to any international problem. With no fear of counterattack, suddenly nuclear strike becomes an option to them.

More likely the solution will be imperfect or defenses will be found and it will just create another arms race. We'll see ICBMs that can't be shot down, and/or building dozens of decoy ICBMs launched for every actual one. As well as anti drone drones patrolling the skies over silo sites - which would inevitably shoot down a manned airplane by accident (or "by accident") at some point.

Oracle blurts Google's Android secrets in court: You made $22bn using Java, punk

DougS Silver badge

Almost all that $22 billion is from ads

The figures I was able to find shows Google making about $60 million in revenue from the Play Store in Q1 2015. So it is unlikely to add up to more than a billion or two since it started, or less than 10% of that $22 billion in profit.

Another source showed Google claiming last year they'd paid $7 billion out to developers. That would imply $3 billion in profits since they take a 30% cut, but since Google pays a share of that revenue to carriers to encourage them to support Android they probably get less than that so that also points to a number of no more than $2 billion or so.

That leaves $20 billion in profit from ads alone.

Brit boffins brew nanotech self-cleaning glass

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Screw skyscapers

I want this for the windows on my car, especially the windshield!

New open-source ad-blocking web browser emerges from brain of ex-Mozilla boss Eich

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Re: I would give it a try once its stable

Unless he was forced out by Mozilla's board, I don't see what one has to do with the other.

DougS Silver badge

I would give it a try once its stable

But I really wish they'd used Firefox as the base instead of Chrome.

Facebook Messenger: All your numbers are belong to us

DougS Silver badge

Re: Why would someone want to use a 'messenger app' at all?

Facebook? Secure?? They data mine those messages, I hope you don't send anything you don't want them to know and sell on to random third parties to potentially haunt you in "sponsored content" down the road.

iMessage actually fits the bill for your list better than Facebook Messenger, until you get to cost. Still don't understand why Google didn't provide a similar capability to Android. It is probably too late now, they're all used to using Messenger or Whatsapp...and that all that juicy data is being mined by not-Google.

DougS Silver badge

Why would someone want to use a 'messenger app' at all?

We already have text messages, email and - if you must - Twitter, which each fit different roles in terms of immediacy, audience, message size, and link/attachment flexibility.

What does Facebook Messenger bring to the table? Nothing. The only reason it is installed on so many lower end phones is because SMS isn't always free. If Android had included a built in SMS replacement ala iMessage, Facebook Messenger would have never reached the install base it currently has in those low end phones.

Boffins: There's a ninth planet out there – now we just need to find it

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Re: Planet?

The orbit clearing requirement assumed planets with orderly orbits that transited the same area over and over again. No one expected something like this. I'm sure it will get an exception for the orbit clearing requirement and will otherwise easily qualify as a planet. You can't claim something 10x larger than the Earth is a 'dwarf', it would make no sense.

Waving Microsoft's Windows 10 stick won't help Intel's Gen 6 core

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Re: Two and a half times the performance of a v5 laptop, three times the battery life...

2 1/2 times faster in a benchmark that uses whatever new AVX instructions it adds that no one needs, no doubt.

Intel is unhappy that the PC market is cratering, and hopes that lies and hyperbole will get people to upgrade. Honestly, a 10 year old PC is totally fine today if you make sure it has enough RAM and replace the hard drive with a SSD.

Europe's satellite laser comms system set to shine

DougS Silver badge

Re: buy why?

If gold is able to absorb more energy than it emits, wouldn't putting a gold coin out in the sun eventually cause it to melt? At some point it must reach a temperature where its IR emission equals the energy it is receiving from the Sun.

Inside Intel's CPU-level multi-factor auth (and why we've got deja vu)

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Re: Its Still Software...

The OS (Windows, Linux etc.) can patch the lower-level OS running in the secure environment. The code is signed/encrypted to (hopefully) prevent bad actors from doing so, but if the key was compromised, or willingly given up, or grudgingly given up (after Intel receives the corporate equivalent of the rubber hose treatment) then All Hell Breaks Loose.

If the NSA has the encryption key for that secure environment they just need a zero day exploit on the system and they can install their own code that runs below the OS capable of reading any memory it wishes and sending/receiving network packets without the OS knowing. You'd have a permanent bug built into your PC that would survive a reinstall and work even if you boot a read-only OS off a DVD or USB stick.

Better yet (if you're the NSA) if Intel is cooperating, it could be built in at the factory, so every CPU Intel ships would be a ready to activate NSA bugging device. I might already have built into my new Skylake CPU I bought last month. Neat!

Of course going that far, Intel would run the risk of a rogue employee leaking this information, or being exposed if the encryption key was leaked/hacked and someone disassembled the code and discovered the secret. That would sure help AMD's market share!

For pity's sake, enterprises, upgrade your mobile OS - report

DougS Silver badge

Re: Apple

How old of an Apple device are you talking about? Apple delivered the last update for the 3gs (introduced in summer 2009) in spring of 2014 - that's nearly five years. The current release iOS 9.x is supported back to the 4S which was introduced in fall 2011, so that is 4 1/2 years and counting. How long are they supposed to support it in your mind? Apple is doing better than any of the competition in providing updates for phones/tablets.

PCs can't be updated forever either - Linux distributions are slowly phasing out support for 32 bit hardware, Microsoft will do the same with Windows before long. The lifetime of a PC may be longer than a phone but still isn't infinite.

Apple backs down from barring widow her dead husband's passwords

DougS Silver badge

Re: Just write it down

The problem with a typewriter is that he'd have to type from scratch whenever he changes his passwords (surprisingly he said he does, so I guess at least some of these sites are forcing him to do it)

The reason I suggested a USB stick was so he'd have a copy he could modify - he would still print out copies for all of us like before, just now they would be human readable. If the USB stick failed, he'd just have to retype, that wouldn't be the only copy (though I'd probably have him give me an electronic copy also so he'd have a backup)

DougS Silver badge

Re: Just write it down

My dad did this for my mom, with passwords for banks, credit cards and retirement accounts, and provided copies to my brother and I in case they were both in a car crash or something.

Not that any of us can read his handwriting... I was going to suggest typing it, and then updating the copy as needed, until I realized that would provide quite a juicy target for malware that made its way onto his PC. The proper way to handle that is to keep it on a USB stick (and hope that LibreOffice doesn't keep temporary files laying around on the PC after editing such files) but that's getting pretty complicated for him.

He uses his PC for email, bridge and paying bills...I'm already worried he'll get malware that will steal his passwords when he logs in to his credit card or retirement account, but the idea of having him login to those from a VM is a complete non-starter - he'd never understand that. If only Bridge Baron ran on Linux, I'd update his PC while he was away on vacation and tell him it was a new version of Windows - he'd never know the difference :) Maybe I should see how it runs under VMware Unity mode.

As with every good idea, there may be unintended side effects...

How to get root on a Linux box, step 1: Make four billion system calls

DougS Silver badge

Re: typo

I consulted on a SAP deployment for a multi billion dollar defense contractor where the root password was (same on all servers in the entire environment) "P@ssw0rd". It was back in 1998/99, but still...

DougS Silver badge

If someone is able to run arbitrary code on your server

You are already hosed. There will always be some sort of a hole. That this is a kernel hole makes it more interesting, but it is probably not the attack of choice since monitoring might catch the spike in CPU activity it would cause (though it could be patient and do it over a day or two)

That's why code signing, even though hated by a lot of people, is such a useful defense. It doesn't prevent all attacks, but it does prevent all of the attacks that begin with "step 1) run this arbitrary code on your target" (unless you have step 0 "defeat the code signing checks")

UK can finally 'legalise home taping' without bringing in daft new tax

DougS Silver badge

Good thing they waited until 2016

When few people are burning anything to CD any longer!

Microsoft: We’ve taken down the botnets. Europol: Would Sir like a kill switch, too?

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Devil

Windows already has a kill switch

When Windows Update forces the upgrade to Windows 10, many upgrades will fail and brick the PC. PCs that are infected with malware are more likely than the rest to have upgrade issues that result in a bricking.

Thank you Microsoft, may we have another!

Afraid of getting your iThing pwned? Get yourself iOS 9.2.1

DougS Silver badge

Remote code execution, but only when run locally on the device?

The Register must be using a definition of "remote" I have not previously encountered...

Let's get GDS to build a public blockchain, UK.gov's top boffin says

DougS Silver badge

Re: What problem does a blockchain solve in government?

It doesn't solve any problem the UK government has, but you have guys like the poster above you who wants to suggest this in his job interview so it looks like he's "up on the latest tech" (or more likely because he's been involved with bitcoin and is familiar with the tech so if he can get it established he'll be the SME and firing-proof)

The only real problem the blockchain solves is double spending when you have a lot of untrusted actors using anonymous money. Governments don't have any problems with money being spent twice, or unauthorized people spending it (the many layers of approval required to buy anything takes care of that problem fairly effectively) This is lucky since government money is already spent poorly the first time in a lot of cases, spending it twice would add insult to injury!

Snowden bag-carrier Miranda's detention was lawful – UK appeal court

DougS Silver badge

@ToddR

Judges may irritate part of the government of the day on a weekly basis, but only on subjects where the main parties have a difference of opinion so someone wins and someone loses.

On subjects like this, where all the main parties are pretty much agreed, the courts almost never rule against them. There was no chance they'd rule otherwise in this case for that reason.

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