* Posts by DougS

12862 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Amnesty International accuses tech giants of battery bastardry

DougS Silver badge

Posts that begin with the word "cue"

Are written by trolls trying to beat other trolls to the punch. The Reg should just silently drop any posts that begin with "cue". Let the poster think it was posted and show up when he reads the site, but don't show it to anyone else.

DougS Silver badge

Tracking the origin of minerals

I have read (probably from Tim W actually) that it is possible to track the origin of certain minerals very precisely since different locations will have slightly different ratios of impurities or isotopes. I don't know if cobalt is one of them, and in some cases mixing with minerals sourced from "good" places may disguise that, but it isn't necessarily an insoluble problem in all cases.

You would still need a commitment from the end consumers (companies like Apple and Samsung, not you and me) to conduct third party audits to verify the agreements are being followed, but would help.

Then the problem is, what are those people going to be doing if not mining? The ones who are slaves, or effectively so, have no choice. Others do it because they have no option, no other way to earn money, or it is the least bad way to earn money out of several depressing choices. If they die of starvation in three months instead of cancer of 30 years, have we really improved their lives? Yeah, feel good about stopping them from working with dangerous poisons, but there's two sides to the story.

Adblock Plus blocked from attending ad industry talkfest

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@Martin Summers - paying for the content you consume

The industry needs to figure out a workable micropayments scheme, or some other way than ads to support web sites. There no incentive to do so as long as advertisers are willing to pay sites to place popups, popovers, ads that move around and cover the content you are trying to see, ads with close buttons that don't actually close the ad, ads that flash or make noise, ads from shady sources that try to install malware, etc.

Site owners have no one to blame but themselves, no one would bother blocking ads if they were unobtrusive - no one ever had someone clipping the ads out of their newspaper or magazine or was otherwise really annoyed by them (other than those postcard-sized inserts that would fall out of the magazine) because the ads were unobtrusive. Unfortunately site owners got greedy and wanted more money, so they accepted in-your-face ads they knew their readers would find very aggravating.

At first they were pop ups, the equivalent of those damn inserts in magazines, but that was enough to get the ad blocking industry started with pop up blockers. Missing that newfound revenue they accepted worse and worse ads until browsing without an ad blocker became impossible on many sites. Unfortunately that led to collateral damage of responsible site owners who didn't go that far, but what are you going to do?

So fuck 'em. Let the content providers who rely on advertising alone go under. That will incent the content industry to come up with a micropayments scheme that is sustainable. I don't want to see the Reg go under as a result of this, but if that's what it takes to get a proper solution in place that isn't reliant on an arms race to make ads more and more annoying, then so be it.

It is NOT MY PROBLEM if my blocking ads causes problems for the site owners, just like it is not my problem if me skipping ads on a DVR causes problems for the networks. I'm sure you are one of those who argued against DVRs because fast forwarding through the commercials is stealing! If they didn't have such long and frequent commercial breaks fewer people would bother to skip them. I watched something on BET recently and there were some commercial breaks that were nearly 10 minutes long (no, I'm not kidding or exaggerating!)

Trump's new thought bubble: Make Apple manufacture in the USA

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Replying to multiple posts

Manufacturing in the US - if Apple reaches the point where they want to do it in an automated fashion, instead of having people put together all the fiddly bits, then it doesn't really matter much where the factory is located. Obviously bringing that sort of manufacturing back to the US wouldn't bring a whole lot of jobs either. I suspect that as automation grows, more manufacturing will come back to the US, but any jobs they create will not help those lower skilled people who were displaced when manufacturing jobs started leaving the US.

Trump - he knows what he's doing, and he's pandering to the "angry white man" contingent of the republican party that blames everyone else (liberals/Obama, illegal aliens / non-whites, China, congress, etc.) for their own problems. Trump tells them he'll make America great, bring back jobs, build a wall to keep out illegals, and so forth without regard to how he will do these things or if they are even constitutional. I have to admit I thought he'd stick his foot in his mouth and flame out long ago, but his supporters like that he speaks his mind. Say what you want about him, he doesn't have speechwriters like everyone else, and he's becoming more polished as far as how he conducts himself (though he still says outrageous things) so he looks to make a serious run. I think if he's elected he would probably be forced to govern from the center. We had an actor as president in the 80s and survived, could a real estate tycoon be any worse?

Corporation tax - while it is the too high in the US, the democrats won't lower it without removing loopholes that allow some companies to pay nothing or nearly so, and the republicans won't allow that because it would mean raising taxes on some corporations that contribute (tax deductible!) to their campaigns. In the end it doesn't matter, because the money Apple and others holds overseas is taxable, just not today.

Moving corporate HQ - while it is doable the PR hit especially for a company like Apple would be massive, so it is not something likely to happen. I agree there's no way they'd move to China. The way that US drug companies have been moving overseas is via a reverse merger. They get "acquired" by a European company and the merged entity has its HQ there. I put quotes around acquired because the acquirer is much smaller thus the name reverse merger. I think simply moving overseas may trigger taxes due on overseas cash first which is why you never see successful US multinationals move their HQ out of the US.

DougS Silver badge

Apple won't leave for China

He'll stop Apple from moving by building a wall around China. And having the Chinese pay for it!

At least until he finds out China already has a wall, which the Chinese did pay for (or maybe people China conquered paid for it, I'm really not sure...)

Eight-billion-dollar Irish tax bill looms over Apple

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Re: Actually there will be ZERO cost for Apple to pass on

Apple keeps their overseas cash in conservative dollar denominated investments, mostly US T-bills. They do this to avoid exchange rate fluctuations causing large changes in the value of their overseas holdings.

So yes they earn interest on it, but it is pretty small. The interest is taxable income when brought back into the US (at 39%) and inflation erodes the value of the dollar one or two percent a year, so there's maybe a 1% gain in real terms per year after taxes and inflation. They would need to hold that money offshore another decade before the difference amounted to 10% of that $8 billion tax bill.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Actually there will be ZERO cost for Apple to pass on

Yes, but in the end that money WILL be brought back into the US (unless Apple figures out how to do a reverse merger like all those pharma companies are doing) When it is repatriated they will pay the difference of 39% and whatever they have paid on it. It doesn't matter to them if they have paid 2%, 12.5% or 30% on that money, they will have to make up the difference to Uncle Sam. So any savings by getting out of the $8 billion tab to Ireland is a short term savings only. If they pay it they reduce their "deferred taxes" balance sheet item by $8 billion and it doesn't change their financial picture at all.

DougS Silver badge

@AC - 39% vs 100% of $8 billion

You're missing the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction, and how overseas taxation works.

If Apple makes $1 in the US, they owe 39% on it. If they make $1 overseas they owe 39% on it in the US, but only when it is brought into the US, and they get to take a tax CREDIT for the amount paid overseas.

So if they brought in $1 that had been taxed at 10% overseas, they'd owe 29% (39-10=29) on it. Since Apple has so much money overseas, if they brought it all home tomorrow they'd owe far more than $8 billion in US taxes on it. So it is irrelevant to Apple whether they pay that $8 billion to the government of Ireland or to the government of the United States.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Apple would love Siesta

Apple has 5000 manufacturing employees in Cork. I think they make iMacs there.

DougS Silver badge

@Naughtyhorse

Is your "lol" because of how high 39% is, or because you think that Apple wouldn't pay 39%? If its the latter you need to learn the difference between marginal and average tax rates. Apple most assuredly pays 39% on the last dollar they make, and billions more before it. They don't pay 39% on every dollar because they have some deductions and credits against income that lower their average tax rate.

This isn't like GE and other large banks (yes, GE is essentially a bank) where they can use financial engineering to pay a rate near zero. Companies that can't do that and have little in the way of credits pay very close to 39% for the average rate. If you don't believe me, look up Walmart's tax rate - it is 37-38% most years.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Actually there will be ZERO cost for Apple to pass on

Penalties can only be charged when there is wrongdoing. These deals are not being done in a back alley with companies handing a suitcase full of cash to the head of a country's tax department with a handshake agreement "we'll look the other way when you pay less taxes" like some third world company with rampant bribery.

It is the EU that is forcing the issue here, not the individual countries. Ireland has loved this arrangement as it meant many US companies domiciled there for tax purposes and paying taxes in Ireland instead of another country. Ireland is not going to levy penalties on Apple for following an agreement Apple had with Ireland's government, and if they did Apple would easily win in court when they produced the paperwork showing the agreement they had reached. If that agreement is eventually decided to be invalid, Apple is not liable, any more than I can be put in jail for doing something that was legal at the time I did it and only made illegal later when a new law was passed.

If there were a penalty (though like I said I don't see how that would be possible) then Apple couldn't take a tax credit against US taxes for it. You can only take the credit against taxes paid, not fines/penalties or interest. However, even though it wouldn't be a tax credit it would still effectively be deductible. Whatever a company was fined overseas they'd pay with overseas money. That would mean less money to bring into the US in the long run, so less US tax liability.

DougS Silver badge

Countries outside the EU are not useful for holding the money made in EU countries, you can't divert that income out of the EU to a lower tax country. The EU is going to have their pound of flesh, basically the member states were upset that one country was being allowed to lowball them on the tax rate.

That's actually quite smart, as opposed to the US where states and cities are allowed to offer incentives without limits to get a company to locate (or relocate) within their borders by giving breaks on property taxes and occasionally other taxes, based on the promise of job creation. Where I live a department store that was in one city for years was enticed to move to that city's suburb (only a few miles away) thanks to a $15 million property tax break. They weren't looking to move, but who's going to pass up $15 million if it is offered to you? Now that city collects its share of the sales tax revenue, so they'll come out ahead in the long run - until the first city does the same thing to steal a business away from the second one...

That sort of thing creates a race to the bottom, so the EU is smart to put the kibosh on this. If they didn't, maybe Italy decides to lowball Ireland's corporate tax to try to bring some business in, and Spain goes even lower and then Greece says "screw it, we'll go to 0% corporate tax" figuring that at least the companies that move there will create a few jobs (Apple in fact employs 5000 manufacturing workers in Ireland, if they were enticed to move those to Greece it would provide a bit of good news for Greece's terrible economy)

DougS Silver badge

What accomodating EU country?

It isn't Ireland that is doing this - they were happy with the deal they made with Apple (or at least they were when Apple was far smaller back in the 90s)

It is the EU making Ireland do it, because they claim the deal Ireland made with Apple violates EU tax regulations. I don't know if the other companies have the same deal Apple does, but AFAIK they also have deals that the EU will have a problem with. Apple's is the most egregious in terms of dollar amounts and perhaps also in how good of a deal it is, so it is a good one to go after first. Once the precedent is set, the EU will force Ireland to go after the rest and they'll probably pay up quietly because there won't be any point in fighting with the precedent set.

If the EU makes Ireland follow EU tax regulations then there won't be a better deal to be found elsewhere. Probably the companies will stay in Ireland, because it won't be worth the cost of moving, unless there are other factors that make them want to be in Luxembourg or whatever.

DougS Silver badge

Actually there will be ZERO cost for Apple to pass on

Foreign taxes paid are taken as a tax credit against US taxes. The reason Apple and other US companies keep money overseas is because it allows delaying the payment of US taxes. They are still due, just in the future when they bring the money into the US. They all hope that will be done at lower rates than today's 39%, but in the meantime they wait. They even get the benefit of whatever interest they can earn on the money, since they won't owe interest on the US taxes as they are not payable until the money is brought into the US.

If Apple has to cough up an extra $8 billion in Irish taxes, that means its future US tax liability drops by an identical $8 billion. So no need to raise anyone's prices, or do anything except pay the $8 billion out of the giant pile it was already holding overseas (or more likely just divert the next $8 billion it would have added to that pile)

Microsoft herds biz users to Windows 10 by denying support for Win 7 and 8 on new CPUs

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Re: @DougS

The aggressiveness with which they are trying to force people to Windows 10, and once in Windows 10 to give up personal information, leads me to believe that they are, or if they aren't today they will tomorrow. If the bulk of the install base is forced onto Windows 10, and they change the EULA when it forces you onto 10.1, what recourse do you have? Especially if your PC isn't even CAPABLE of running Windows 7 should you wish to go back?

Microsoft brought this upon themselves by making Windows Update act like malware, and now using the worst lock-in tactics of the past to not allow computers sold later this year to run an OS that will still have several years of full support life remaining. For all the hate directed at Apple in some quarters, what Microsoft is doing here is so far beyond that that in less than a year Microsoft has regained its crown from Apple of "most hated company at El Reg" (just look at the post counts on these recent Microsoft articles vs Apple articles, and the nearly uniformly negative tone...that was not the case a year ago)

I don't particularly dislike Windows 10, I might even have considered upgrading to it if it was just a better Windows 7 that undid the folly of Windows 8. But the way Microsoft has been acting since Ballmer left has quickly eroded the goodwill they earned with me - grudgingly at first, when Windows XP turned out to be the first Windows I ever used that didn't crash constantly on me (at least after the first couple service packs) and later with Windows 7 which was the first Windows good enough that I sometimes forgot I was using a Microsoft product at all!

DougS Silver badge

So here's how you get around it

PC OEMs will demand pre-Kaby Lake CPUs from Intel, because their enterprise customers will demand PCs that can run Windows 7, because enterprises don't upgrade to the latest Windows just because it is out. They want the fewest transitions possible, which is why most of them skipped directly from XP to 7, and will probably skip directly from 7 to 10 or 11.

Even those skipping directly from 7 to 10 don't want to go to 10 today when 7 still has so much life left. Those upgrades are very disruptive and expensive, and can take a year to roll out from start to finish (not including testing/pilot deployments)

If Dell won't sell Skylake based laptops to enterprises because Intel won't sell Dell Skylake CPUs, I think a lot of enterprises will simply halt their upgrade cycle. If they do that look for 2015's nearly 10% drop (which is the fourth consecutive year) in PC sales to be a drop in the bucket compared to what 2017 looks like when Intel is trying to push Kaby Lake and a lot of enterprises do not want it due to its crippled inability to run Windows 7.

I would be very worried if I was running a PC OEM. That market is already dropping like a rock, it does not need Microsoft increasing gravity from the current 9.8 m/s^2!

DougS Silver badge

@Erik4872

Their justification seems to be that people are fine with Apple and Android phones phoning home

Fixed that for you. In case you missed it, Apple is actively marketing iOS as an alternative to Google's snoopy and information selling ways, at least in Tim Cook's statements. They aren't making ads that say that, but privacy is a difficult concept to sell to the general public.

The important difference between Android and Windows is that you don't pay anything for Android. Selling your personal data is the trade you make for having a wide selection of cheaper phones thanks to the Google developing and giving away Android to the world at large. Paying more for iPhones is the trade you make for keeping that personal data safe[*].

Microsoft wants to have it both ways, making you pay for Windows, and collecting money from selling your personal information. People may be "fine" with this based on Android's market share, but how many consumers really know that's the choice they are making by selecting Android, or even if they did/do believe the price premium of an iPhone is worth it to avoid that?

[*] Not claiming Apple collects absolutely no personal information, but what they collect isn't to feed a massive worldwide hungry advertising beast that is never sated like Google's. Apple makes so much money from selling iPhones that they'd probably lose money trying to sell personal data like Google, because if they did those who consider that an important differentiation with Android might figure "what's the point in paying more for an iPhone" and that loss would outweigh whatever extra cash they could make from selling people's personal information.

Apple evacuates European HQ after bomb threat

DougS Silver badge

Re: GCHQ/NSA?

Yes, but you don't need to call in a fake bomb threat and get physical access to the factory to plant a bug in the firmware. Apple isn't writing iMac firmware at the factory.

DougS Silver badge

Re: GCHQ/NSA?

They don't turn off their security cameras during an evacuation, so they couldn't go in without any chance of detection.

Also, Apple makes iMacs at Cork. You can't change the hardware manufacturing to plant a bug in each one that comes off the line even with physical access for half a day, the best you could do is planting a bug in the ones that were on the line at the time. But it would be MUCH easier to intercept the shipment once it leaves Apple and you can target the particular one ISIS is buying or whatever to bug, rather than trying to do them en masse in a shotgun approach hoping to get the one that matters.

Anyway, a software bug is better, as it can be later removed and leave no trace. Surely the NSA has OS X zero days to go along with its zero days on every other OS known to man.

Facebook is no charity, and the ‘free’ in Free Basics comes at a price

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Re: Who could possibly be against free internet access?

You want to use Facebook on iOS (or Android 6.x) so you can disable access to the camera and mic. I would never use it on anything where you can't.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Who could possibly be against free internet access?

Walled garden is hardly strong enough language here. If Apple has a walled garden, what Facebook is offering here is a prison yard with 30 foot high walls topped by two layers of razor wire and guard towers at hundred foot intervals each with two men operating 50 cal machine guns and flamethrowers!

KeysForge will give you printable key blueprints using a photo of a lock

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Preventing break ins is impossible

As AC says, whatever you do to make it harder at one point merely serves to persuade them to try something else that is now the easiest method.

For the casual burglar that's enough, he'll go down the street to someone else's house. If he's targeting your house and you make your door impregnable he'll go through a window or even a wall - unless your home has reinforced concrete walls, it is surprising easily to saw through (including brick walls, as the mortar joints are very easy to cut through)

All you need is a location where you cutting a hole in the wall isn't likely to be observed by the neighbors and a time when the sound won't be heard (wait for a thunderstorm or really windy day) Or heck maybe even if you are observed if you're quick once inside maybe you don't care if you know you can beat the response time of the police!

Happy 30th birthday, IETF: The engineers who made the 'net happen

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jake is Al Gore?

Who knew?

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OSI model

That's an interesting example of a standard that never served as a model for real world implementations (other than Notas Badoff's company I guess) but serves only as a model for telling us what layer all the switches, routers, content firewalls and other network products operate in :)

DougS Silver badge

Re: Open was an anomaly

Proprietary protocols are often built from open ones. i.e. many proprietary protocols are encapsulated in HTTP or XML.

I don't think the move to less open protocols has anything to do with mobile devices. There were plenty of proprietary protocols in use on PCs in the past - AIM being a perfect example. The reason is that in the past the internet was non-commercial, so there was no incentive for proprietary protocols. Who was going to invest in creating a proprietary email protocol that bests SMTP or IMAP?

There were only two sources for protocols, the IETF and people who wrote programs to fit a particular need - IRC being a great example of this. Since there was no commercial profit motive, the protocols were open because the source code was open.

Once the internet became commercialized a profit motive created a reason to keep things closed. Why should AOL open up AIM - keeping it closed gave them millions in additional revenue from people who would have left AOL if they could have used other clients to connect with their friends who used AOL. That's the reason Facebook is closed - if it was an open protocol to connect with their servers, third party clients could be written to block ads aka "sponsored content".

Comet halo theory for flickering 'alien megastructure' star fails

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Re: A theory

The idea that they would reject an F type star due to its short lifetime seems pretty unlikely to me. You have to take a longer term view than humanity to build a structure around a star, but you don't need to think in terms of billions of years to do it!

Also, isn't the most likely place to build it around your OWN star? After all, Earth is where we keep most of our stuff. Home is where you always build your first megastructure. Later if you go looking for new sites I'd argue you'd build around very young shorter-lived hot stars - no life to worry about disrupting, and the hotter the better in terms of how much energy it provides you to build your fleets of berzerker robots, computers to answer the ultimate question or whatever it is super-advanced civilizations do with their free time.

DougS Silver badge

100 years doesn't seem unreasonable to built a megastructure

They would be building it in an automated fashion, and probably the first step would be having the machines that do the asteroid mining/processing and those that do the construction self-replicate. There would be some optimal amount of time for that self replication to proceed to minimize the total construction time, which would imply that once things got going on the construction of the actual Dyson ring/sphere it would move very quickly.

It is too bad that IR ruled out the megastructures. Though there's something about that explanation that bothers me. Something appears to be blocking the light from the star. Anything that does so, is absorbing a lot of energy that must be radiated as IR. The only way it doesn't is if it is so thick the energy hasn't reached the 'outside' yet or if it is using physics we don't yet understand.

What can block such a large percentage of light from a star but not radiate IR? It would have to be a perfectly reflective mirror...not sure if physics says such a thing is impossible or not, or what the purpose would be for building one.

Updated Android malware steals voice two factor authentication

DougS Silver badge

Why is voice more secure than SMS for passing one time codes?

They both travel over the same networks, I fail to see the security benefit in banks switching to voice, and see a definite increase in annoyance.

Russian Pastafarian wins right to bear colander

DougS Silver badge

Re: sociologists ... who get to decide what is a religion and what is a cult.

Wearing a colander on your head isn't the same as claiming Pastafarianism as a religion for the purposes of taking tax deductions (on what, raw spaghetti and colanders?)

It is funny that what started as a lark at Christian conservatives now serves the goals of anti-Muslim Christian conservatives. They hope that if government officials reject the wearing of the colander in official photos, they will also reject the wearing of the burka or hijab.

Malware 'clearly' behind Ukraine power outage, SANS utility expert says

DougS Silver badge

Re: Yet more cyber-hacker-terror-bullshit ..

We need someone to hack the US power grid and cause some havoc before it will be taken seriously. Politicians occasionally mention it, but they aren't forcing change. The power companies won't because the cost to correct the issues cuts into their bottom line. They probably figure when it becomes a national priority the government will be providing money to secure things - and unfortunately they are probably right.

DougS Silver badge

Re: If you do not want to fight with missiles...

I think when one is not familiar with another country/culture it is easy to mentally homogenize them into one entity. I live in the US so I'm familiar with the various groups and their leaning/motives. Thus I would know that if an abortion clinic was bombed it is probably white evangelical conservatives, not ISIS. Likewise if a black church was bombed it was probably the KKK or similar racist group.

But while I know about the Sunni/Shia conflict I don't pretend to understand it well enough to grasp the nuances when something happens over there that a resident of Iran or Iraq or Saudi Arabia would easily see. In this case, Ukrainian utilities were attacked so it is easy to assume it was "Russia" that did it.

But as pointed out it could be officially sponsored by Russia, sponsored by some branch (like when the CIA does things the rest of the US government isn't kept in the loop on) or Russian nationalist hackers. It could be some Ukrainian hackers who don't support their current government (i.e. the pro-Russia side, which is usually ignored in western media) It could even be a wildcard like the Chinese or North Koreans wanting to stir up trouble for their own reasons, or the US or other western power wanting to make Russia look bad to weaken Putin.

Unfortunately that homogenization is why you see extremists in the west equating Islam to terrorism. If you aren't familiar enough with the players, it is easy to paint them all with the same brush, so it easy for people to believe - especially in the US where a lot of conservatives seem to pride themselves on thinking America is the only country that matters and remaining ignorant of the rest of the world as a point of honor. ISIS of course does exactly the same thing, telling their followers that the entire western world is waging war on not on Al Qaeda or ISIS, but Islam.

Skype now translates in real-time into seven languages

DougS Silver badge

Re: Any commentard reviews?

There's no reason to think it would be any better than Bing's translations. Even ignoring the difficulty of flawless speech to text conversion (something even us meatbags aren't perfect at despite decades of practice in our mother tongue) once it has the 'text' if Skype was better at translation than Bing they'd update Bing's algorithms to use Skype's. Or vice versa if Bing was better.

So try Bing (or Google) and discover how easy it is to get funny or just plain bad results, and assume Skype will be the same. Put in a sentence, get the translation, put that translation in going the other direction and see if you can still recognize as meaning the same as your original sentence.

That doesn't make it useless, if I needed to call someone in Italy who I knew spoke no English, and he knew I spoke no Italian, Skype translation would probably work well enough for simple tasks like booking a villa or something. If my translation said "I would like to book your horse" or "I would like to ride your villa" he'd know something is amiss and after a few laughs and phrasing the requests differently I'd get my meaning across.

It wouldn't do for negotiating an important business deal, but that's not what it is intended for. Maybe in 10 or 15 years it will be useful for that, too.

Boffins baffled by record-smashing supernova that shouldn't exist

DougS Silver badge

Re: exponents....

Who says we're God's favorite? If we have the 12,302,234,241st best planet in terms of resources and 23,234,599,914th brightest star, maybe we're pretty far down the list. The planet where Exotica Gallumbits lives would likely be a lot higher on the list, because that's where God goes on the 7th day to rest after he makes a new world!

DougS Silver badge

Aptly named, since some life forms probably died from it

Did they choose the letters in ASASSN-15lh or was that a happy coincidence?

Aircraft now so automated pilots have forgotten how to fly

DougS Silver badge

Pilots will soon only be needed for taxiing

Don't laugh, that's the most difficult bit for a computer since pilots have to read signs about which runway is which, planes are sometimes where they aren't supposed to be, etc. I suppose some good GPS maps of the runways and computer vision could lick that though.

By comparison the air is much easier since ground instructions are all based on heading and altitude and it would be simple to just have that input directly from the ground into the autopilot. Yeah yeah there's still a potential problem if another plane is where it shouldn't be in the air due to pilot error or ATC error, but you don't need zero crashes, just fewer than manually flown planes.

The Day Netflix Blocked My VPN is the world's new most-hated show

DougS Silver badge

I wonder how

If I used a VPN with an endpoint in Australia, how would they know I'm connecting from the US? Ping times? If so, that will be a problem for people on satellite internet. For VPN services they could just block them outright, but what if I owned a house in the US and overseas and had my wireless routers running OpenVPN to connect them? How exactly are they supposed to figure this out?

If they've solved this problem, maybe for an encore they can solve the problem of people sharing Netflix passwords, which other than limiting streams I'm not sure how they manage. That seems like a much bigger drag on Netflix's revenue than people who are watching content out of region by using a VPN.

No escape: Microsoft injects 'Get Windows 10' nagware into biz PCs

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@JeffyPoooh - micro USB charging socket

So if the EU had forced Apple to do that, how smart does that look in retrospect, now that micro USB is going to disappear on phones pretty soon in favor of USB-C? All those phones would be stuck with technology frozen in time until lawmakers were able to act and correct their mistake.

To think about it another way, what if lawmakers had required a 3.5" floppy in PCs? How many years after that became obsolete would it be before they'd dump that requirement? I'd guess maybe 2010 they might have finally acted.

DougS Silver badge

Re: we need a class action lawsuit ...

Even if they aren't crippled, what about retraining costs and lost productivity when your employees have to re-learn how to do things that don't work quite the same?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Simple to disable

Can you expand on this, posting some instructions for those of us who don't know what the "getwx" folder is or where it is?

Though if Microsoft is willing to change registry entries every 12 hours to prevent those who change them to try to stop Windows 10, and has made this folder undeletable, I'm sure if this method catches on they'll have that folder recreated when missing, or "better yet" make Windows 7 machines check for that folder on boot and blue screen with some cryptic error if it is missing.

DougS Silver badge

@JeffyPoooh - lightning connector

I know you said "no rebuttal possible" so you are already as close minded as a Trump supporter standing by the wall with a gun ready to defend the USofA from illegals, but I'm going to try anyway.

If Apple was trying to use this to "extract revenue" why would they license this to allow others to sell MFi cables? Considering you can buy them for only a few dollars, if Apple is collecting a royalty on them it couldn't amount to more than a few pennies. The idea that this could extract "several extra billions of dollars" is ridiculous. Even if Apple was the only one who sold these cables (as anyone will readily admit the ones Apple sells are very overpriced) exactly how many cables do you think the average iPhone owner buys in a year or in their life?

When I bought my iPhone 5 and wanted a few extra/spare Lightning cables (one for my laptop bag, one for my suitcase when traveling, for next to my bed) to replace the old 30 pin connector spares I had, I found they were pretty pricey. Not unexpected since Lightning had just been introduced. So I waited a few months, and then bought a bag of three off eBay for $10.

Wait until all the Android users have to replace their micro USB cables with USB-C cables. Without paying those MFi license fees, they might be able to get them for less than I paid. I'm gonna feel SO ripped off by Apple if it turns out I paid several dollars more than them!

DougS Silver badge

Re: Surely you could run those mission critical apps in a VM

So you run it in a VM, and you keep a gold image of Windows 7 to keep copying back to that VM at regular intervals as Microsoft screws you over and over again? The comparison with battered wives is an apt one, someone should send the cops around to jjcoolaus's house for a welfare check!

2015 was the Year of the Linux Phone ... Nah, we're messing with you

DougS Silver badge

Re: Linux vs ZX **

This is such a stupid argument. People using a ZX or Atari 800 or whatever may have dealt with the machine at a lower level and learned to program it - maybe even learned assembler, but the fact that a much lower percentage of computer users know how now is NOT a failing of today's PCs and a strength of the past. They had no choice back then, because they were about 0.0001% as useful as today's PCs and smartphones!

One could equally argue that being able to buy a 6502, Z80 or x86 CPU is a bad deal because back in the day you had to use a breadboard and wire circuits yourself. The 80s_coder guy has definitely chosen an apt name, but he should had grumpy_old_fart to his handle for truth in advertising!

Technology marches on, and making it easier to use computers as tools without being required to know how they work makes the world a better place. We don't need 7 billion assembly programmers, any more than everyone who drives a car should need to know how to maintain it let alone how to make the steel that is used to build a car.

Human progress is not based on everyone learning everything that was done before them - if you had to do that it would have already halted because DaVinci was probably the last guy who was at an expert level in most fields of science. 80_coder might be a whiz when it comes to computers, but I doubt he has a similar level of knowledge concerning biology for instance - and since we are biological organisms I'd argue that understanding biology at a low level is one hell of a lot more important than understanding Z80 assembler!

Nest thermostat owners out in the cold after software update cockup

DougS Silver badge

Re: Nest already outdated

How can a thermostat control rooms individually, unless you have electronically actuated dampers in the ductwork to send heated/cooled air only to where it is needed?

Zoned heating/cooling is hardly new, but the expensive part isn't the thermostat and per zone temperature sensors it is the much more complicated and expensive ductwork - especially for a retrofit!

DougS Silver badge

Re: Google a.k.a Alphabet

Maybe this is another reason for Google and Alphabet to split. Liability reasons when they start selling self driving cars. They won't able to take the EULA / shrink wrap license dodge with automobiles!

DougS Silver badge

Re: This should be considered safety critical software

Well theoretically yes, but it isn't like your house can suddenly get cold enough to kill you while you are sleeping. You'll know the thermostat has gone out.

I'd be much more concerned with pipes freezing, which can happen while you are sleeping if it is very cold outside. Kitchens in particular often have pipes against exterior walls, and wouldn't take much of a gap in insulation for a pipe to freeze when it is below zero outside even though your house might still be in the low 50s when you wake up (i.e. wake up not dead, just upset when you get the heat working again and your kitchen floods)

DougS Silver badge

Mechanical backup

The backup is 'replace the working thermostat you disconnected to install your Nest', followed by 'return your Nest to place of purchase for a refund as unfit for purpose'.

DougS Silver badge

Learning how long it takes your house to warm up

My Honeywell programmable thermostat does that as well. If I set it for 60 at night and 65 at 8AM, it reaches 65 at 8AM by figuring out how long it takes to warm up. Don't act like Nest made some major advance there!

DougS Silver badge

Nest apologists

There is ONE main function every thermostat must do to be fit for purpose. Nest failed on that. They deserve to go under as a company.

The whole idea that you can actually save money with them is laughable anyway. If you have a pattern of when you are home and not home, if Nest can learn it SO CAN YOU! Then you can set your 7 day programmable thermostat. You can also turn down your programmable thermostat on a hold temperature before you leave on vacation, while your Nest will have to figure out for itself that you're gone.

The only way a Nest could save anyone 200 pounds a year would be if they previously either had a manual thermostat with a single setting for 24x7, or they had their programmable thermostat set several degrees higher than their Nest keeps the house and they just never realized they would be comfortable at a lower temperature. I used to keep my house warmer, until one winter when I tried dropping a degree a week to see when I felt 'cold' and found I was comfortable several degrees cooler than I had previously kept it. Saves a few bucks and fewer problems with winter dry skin since the furnace isn't running as much.

Can't believe people are still defending Nest after that huge fiasco! Obviously they didn't test their updates very well - it isn't like a PC where there are thousands of hardware configurations! Not sure why would they ever deliver any updates during the winter anyway. Do it in the fall and the spring only. Or hell, even the summer. If you get a bum update in the summer and lose your AC, it can be uncomfortable, but losing it in the winter could mean burst pipes and thousands of dollars in damage! But I guess Nest doesn't care, they have a EULA which they think absolves them from all responsibility. Someday someone needs to test these EULAs in court.

2015's horror PC market dropped nine per cent

DougS Silver badge

Re: @Cavehomme2 - those Windows Surface type devices

Ah OK thanks for the clarification. That seemed a bit too close. Those numbers would likely make Apple the #1 PC vendor worldwide by revenue, however.

Stephen Hawking reckons he's cracked the black hole paradox

DougS Silver badge

Re: @h4rm0ny

It makes the dynamics of the coupled X,Y and black-hole system non-D, at least under any time reversal symmetric dynamics.

Which I specifically pointed out in my post, and said that the people questioning the loss of determinism are doing so under classical determinism which has no time reversal symmetry requirement.

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