* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Facebook 'fesses up to running an ideological echo chamber

DougS Silver badge

Depends on what is done with the "cross cutting" content

I see friends on either end of the political spectrum occasionally sharing "cross cutting" content with outage (typical of the conservatives) or sarcasm (typical of the liberals)

t isn't changing their minds; simply reading content that challenges one's viewpoint doesn't affect that viewpoint if your mind is already closed.

Uber and car makers jockey for Nokia's 'HERE' maps – report

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Re: Article Error: Missing Context

I don't understand why that would be a threat. Cars aren't commodity items like PCs and never will be. Today the automakers do very well selling cars that can't drive themselves. If everyone used a freeware "OS" for the car they'd compete in exactly the same way as they do today.

The only threat is that if one or two of the automakers got way ahead of the others in making self driving work well, but the freeware was "close enough" to the best software it would dilute the value of the investment those companies had made to get ahead.

I'd really hate to contemplate what you'd have to give to Google in terms of personal data or watching ads to get free self-driving software. Will they collect data on how many fast food drive throughs you go through for health clubs to push ads at you, while McDonalds tries to make sure your next drive through has a big yellow M over it?

Red-faced Germans halt NSA cooperation after Euro spying revealed

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"Socialism" in the name

Irrespective of where they belong on the left/right scale, having "socialist" in the name does not mean they actually are socialist. Ever read 1984?

Ex-NSA security bod fanboi: Apple Macs are wide open to malware

DougS Silver badge

Well, this article talks about a lot of ways that you could exploit OS X, not that it is actually happening. And some of it is retrospective, i.e. "until recently all Mac security software packages downloaded over unencrypted http connections" so he's listing stuff that's already been fixed.

Granted, not checking that signed applications stay signed to prevent local modification is a hole that should be closed, but Windows doesn't do this either and while Linux supports signed updates I'm not aware of any distro that signs the binaries and enforces the check. Apple is still well ahead of those because OS X and especially iOS utilize signed code far more broadly. Assuming they fix this issue it'll also fix the shared library issue he brings up.

It is good to point out issues, but calling out that anti-malware software on OS X isn't capable of detecting or defending against the sort of stuff nation-states create is irrelevant. The same is true for Windows, that's why when stuff like Stuxnet and its descendants is discovered, it is years after it was initially deployed. No one can detect that stuff - that's the whole point of it, with nearly unlimited budgets you can always stay several steps ahead of the AV world's and operating system's ability to detect it.

It costs much less to find a hole to exploit than close all exploitable holes, so when you put a nearly unlimited budget on the search for holes you always win because you only need to find a few to win while Apple/Microsoft/etc. would need to find them all to win. You basically have to accept that you can't defend against the likes of Stuxnet no matter what OS you run. The fools who think using that KGB phone or OpenBSD will protect from spooks at that level will find that out in short order if a large government has a reason to target them enough to deploy that level of resources.

Would you trust your DNA with APPLE? HealthKit lined up as genome data trafficker

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Why Apple

This is all about reducing friction for getting involved in such efforts. If you have the data in HealthKit, and researchers have various projects going on they issue a "call for volunteers" via HealthKit, it is easy to get involved. Today the bar is a lot higher, both for people who want to help advance science and researchers who want to get access to volunteers.

This could be done on a website or app, but it is a lot easier for Apple to get the critical mass needed to make this successful than it would be for almost anyone trying to start a website with the same purpose. While Apple's security will never be perfect, keeping the data encrypted on your phone makes it more secure than if it was kept on a website where it is available to hackers the next time there's a 0 day for Apache or IIS.

Hey! Want a FREE TOASTER that makes BITCOIN? What? You DO?

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Re: Free Leccy

The solar panels cost far more than just buying the electricity would over the short lifetime of one of these bitcoin ASICs.

Building the world's biggest telescope array - with machines that don't yet exist

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Even if they were able to use GPUs, which were a win for Bitcoin until they went to ASICs. Sad that a shady "currency" is getting custom hardware support and not real science...

Nothing BEATS a good anti-trust investigation, eh, Apple?

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Re: And Mail?

I don't understand your complaint. Apple lets you use a different mail app but you think it is a "fail" because you don't like where that preference is changed? Microsoft didn't let you change the default browser at all until they were forced to do, and things didn't work right when you did so. Your comparison is a FAIL.

Netflix wipes blood of Comcast/TWC from its blade, charges toward AT&T/DirecTV

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Netflix is really stretching here

They claim they're an "upstart"....have they checked their market cap? They've been around over a decade as the previous poster mentioned - that's a couple centuries in Silicon Valley years!

They're also worrying about something theoretical for AT&T they think might possibly happen. Yeah, they might become a major broadband provider, IF they make all the massive investments they say they plan to make. I guess Verizon is just planning on letting AT&T own the wireless broadband market? Same for Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular? AT&T will not be without competition, and where they offer broadband now they are not without competition - because every market where they offer DSL there's a cable company offering internet too.

The coming of fixed wireless will mean rural customers will have more broadband competition than most city/suburb dwellers by the early 2020s.

PEAK PC: 'Most' Google web searches 'come from mobiles' in US

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How long before the FTC starts sniffing around?

65% of desktop market and 92% of mobile market - with the mobile search market now larger than desktop? That's 80% overall and climbing fast - similar to Microsoft when the FTC first started looking at them. It would sure be a lot easier to break up Google Search from "everything else" Google does than it would have been to split off Windows from everything else.

Certainly their conduct in the way their search monopoly always prioritizes their own properties (maybe not #1 rank every time but first page every time) is much like the way Microsoft leveraged their Windows monopoly to help Office / Server sales to the tune of many billions each (and tried to help Windows Mobile, MSN and other products that were so terrible even a monopoly couldn't help them)

Mars needs TRAFFIC COP to stop probe prangs, says NASA

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Re: "... the odd orbits we've selected ..."

To some extent they were 'selected' by fuel limitations to get the orbiter out of Earth's gravity, to Mars, but stopping at Mars. Different orbiters were launched at different points in Earth's and Mars' orbits, taking different amounts of time to get there, so the delta x / delta y velocities relative to Mars were different. It is easier to brake into an eccentric orbit than into a circular orbit.

Plod wants your PC? Brick it with a USB stick BEFORE they probe it

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Re: would it not be better to...

For an SSD? A few milliseconds to trim the entire range of the partition in question. Big advantage for SSDs in that regard, erasing a hard drive partition requires actual writes and if you're doing Really Bad Stuff, a half dozen overwrites to be sure.

DougS Silver badge

"Plausible deniability"

That's easy, have a separate partition from which you run a VM where you do all your "day to day" stuff. A nice innocuous gmail account where you collect spam and get notifications for Amazon shipments, ordinary web browsing where you post stuff to the Reg and surf for a bit of porn, have a few apps installed like Turbotax and do your taxes there.

Since you'd be using it on a daily basis it would look 'fresh' but the other VM where you do Bad Things would disappear without a trace by the time police get their hands on it.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Automatic bricking...

You can have the encrypted data syncing to the cloud via a VPN that goes to TOR back through another VPN and back through TOR. If the USB device tied to your wrist is removed the encryption key for the hard drive is dropped and the contents of the SSD are instantly erased. That will also save you if something happens to accidentally trigger it. They won't be able to find out about that encrypted copy on the cloud because the hard drive will be erased.

If you're clever you can resist arrest just enough that they tase you, and your lawyer can claim the Taser in close proximity to your laptop erased the SSD.

Zuck'ed up: Facebook opens up free internet in India – but bans HTTPS

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Data gathering and ad insertion

That's why they won't support HTTPS or more complicated delivery stuff like Javascript and iframes. If it is encrypted they can't sniff the traffic for data mining, if the delivery isn't simple they can't insert their own ads into it (maybe they'll even replace someone else's ads, depending on how India's laws are written) So yeah, it is "free", depending on your definition of free...

Facebook doesn't like Google recently catching up to it in terms of evil, so they're making a big move to stay well ahead!

Tesla Powerwall: Not much cheaper and also a bit wimpier than existing batteries

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Anyone have specs on the Powerpack?

That's the 100 kwh commercial version. They've been pretty forthcoming with the specs on the Powerwall, but I haven't seen anything on its bigger brother.

Good luck displacing Windows 7, Microsoft, it's still growing

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Windows 7 is popular because it is easy to pirate

Makes it a good replacement for all those pirated XP licenses, which probably accounted for a fair bit of the remaining percentage of XP users when it went past its sell by date (yes, I know some corps still hadn't completed their upgrades, but they were the exception rather than the rule)

Admittedly I haven't looked into it too hard since I have no interest in Windows 8, but my understanding is that it is much more of a pain to pirate. Maybe they realize they went too far in that respect, and are offering middle ground with the free Windows 10 upgrades for legal or non-legal versions of 7 and 8.

Meet the man who inspired Elon Musk’s fear of the robot uprising

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Three wishes

The bit about the paper clips and making humans happy reminds me of genie stories, which always have someone wishing for something with the result not quite what they expected.

I think the whole thing could be neatly solved by having "people in the loop" that control the AI's survival. If a certain percentage of the humans in control believe the AI is doing more harm than good, it will be automatically shut off. To insure the AI doesn't get too clever for its own good and try to influence them, the AI should have no way of knowing who they are. In fact, maybe they shouldn't know who they are! If/when we get to true AI on this level we'll probably already have some type of brain implants for memory/intelligence augmentation, a random sampling of the implants would exercise control over a given AI.

Shields up! Shields up! ASTRONAUTS flying to MARS will arrive BRAIN DAMAGED, boffins claim

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Falcon Heavy

Can lift 20 tons to GTO in a single trip, so only 20 trips if that's where the final assembly was done. I'm presuming as much assembly as possible would be done in LEO to make it easier for astronauts to get to/from to do the work. Then the ship can boost into GTO, load the water, and go forth.

Burger me! Microsoft's chainsaw rampage through sacred cow herd

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The problem with the Atrix, and Android in general, is that you get a Linux desktop. Not saying that is useless (I'm posting from one) but it is less attractive to the market than running OS X or certainly Windows would be. If you just want to browse or do basic word processing, it is fine, but the further you stray the less it will meet your needs.

Plus doing it in 2011 would have left it ridiculously underpowered. I think only the iPhone 5S reached the minimum where they would be feasible (would require more than the 1 GB of RAM it came with)

Maybe Apple should buy AMD, build a couple dormant x86 cores into the iPhone SoC, and fire those up when docked, along with some additional dormant RAM. Support this only in the 'Plus' version since this would raise the cost. Then they wouldn't need ARM builds of OS X apps and could also run Windows apps under Fusion.

DougS Silver badge

@Dave 126

It might cannibalize Mac sales somewhat, but it would increase iPhone sales which Apple makes more money from, so I doubt they'd be bothered. They've had internal ARM ports of OS X for several years at least (probably the source of the rumors about Macs switching from x86 to ARM) so I'll bet this is being played with, even if it isn't a product ready to launch. The ability to continue your work on a different device is just another way to work, but supporting that doesn't mean they can't offer other options.

One thing Apple believes is that they should cannibalize their own markets before someone else does it, and it won't stop people with more heavy duty needs (photo/video editing, etc.) from continuing to buy proper Macs. An iPhone could handle browsing, word processing and other Office related tasks, but wouldn't be suited to stuff that stresses even a high end x86.

If someone rings you up, you click on the 'accept call' dialog that pops up using your mouse, and use the built in mic/speaker in the phone, or possibly in the keyboard/mouse. There isn't any requirement to stop the OS X interface to take a call, you can run any app while on a phone call (iOS supports full multitasking like OS X, they just don't expose that to third party apps presumably to prevent them from chugging away in the background and killing the battery)

There are wireless HDMI standards but they are fairly power hungry, and running the OS X GUI and applications is likely to be pretty hard on the battery so a wired connection to the monitor that allows the iPhone to suck power from the monitor makes a lot more sense.

DougS Silver badge

I've been expecting Apple to do this for a couple years now

All they need to do is compile the OS X runtime for ARM64. iOS uses a slightly cut down OS X kernel, so everything you need is already there. Then have the OS X dev tools output x64/ARM64 fat binaries which OS X tools already have support for. Plug your iPhone into a monitor, use a bluetooth keyboard/mouse, start the "OS X" app and there you go!

UK exam board wants kids to be able to Google answers

DougS Silver badge

Re: This is a good idea

That forum would be trolled often enough this would be a bad bet for the "dumb/lazy students with spare cash" you seem to think will all take this route.

DougS Silver badge

This is a good idea

Most comments seem to be against this, but in the real world this is how they'll be looking up information. Testing in this way will force them to be better about how they Google, what sites they consider valid and why, etc.

Not all tests have to be this way, but some should, just like you want people to understand some math without a calculator but also know how to use a calculator since no one is going to do long division by hand when they have a calculator available.

Samsung back on top of smartmobe market

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Samsung's seasonal patterns

I doubt the GS6 moves the needle enough to be noticed, as it is a minority of their overall sales. The Note is released in the fall, and there are price cuts on their flagships a few months after release that some people probably wait for so even the high end product sales are probably spread fairly evenly between the four corners.

Apple is so seasonal because they only update their product line once a year, and they don't go on sale.

NetApp's all-flash FAS array is easily in the top, er, six SPC-1 machines

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Re: Really??

Submission is voluntary, like EMC they have chosen not to bother with this test. The best benchmark is running your own load - if you are spending enough and have something relatively standard that can be replicated without too much effort you can often get the major vendors to benchmark your load on their hardware (at least EMC and HP have been quite willing to do so in my experience)

ONE BEELLION Windows 10 devices?! OH REALLY

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What reason is there to upgrade from Windows 7?

The only thing that will push that is the 2020 date for EOL for Windows 7. Might as well wait for Windows 11, if it sucks the option of upgrading to Windows 10 is still available.

Intel has ambitions to turn modems into virtual servers and reinvent broadband

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Re: This matters for the future of video delivery

Consumers mostly don't own their cable set tops anyway (at least they don't in the US) so the cost isn't for them. It would give customers a LOT more flexibility not having to have a separate set top for every TV, and it would nicely integrate & unify all the different video delivery methods to your TV.

I know satellite is a bigger market in Europe than it is in the US, and consumers own their own hardware, but the existing hardware would still work (aside from format changes where they obsolete MPEG2 only hardware at some point etc.) You could buy the satellite gateway to get new capabilities, but you wouldn't have to.

DougS Silver badge

This matters for the future of video delivery

Look up CVP-2, that technology (or its successor or one similar to it) will be the method of video delivery within the home in a few years, whether it comes from the internet, cable, satellite, Blu Ray player, etc.

The DOCSIS support matters because cable TV as we know it going away. The 6 MHz (8 MHz in Europe I think?) RF channels with QAM modulation and multiple MPEG streams for the different channels contained within will be replaced by an all IP delivery system based on DOCSIS 3.1. You'll have a single cable gateway device with ethernet/wifi/MoCA out that will provide both your internet and your TV. Smart TVs with CVP-2 client functionality will access it directly and look the same as if you had an external cable box, older TVs will have an external box but it will be small/simple since it will essentially be network in / HDMI+HDCP out with the smarts & interface provided by the gateway box.

Intel knows this will be a big market, and they want to own it. There is zero advantage to having x86 in this market versus MIPS/ARM, though, so they'll have to compete to win. They'll have to beat not only stablished players in the set top market like Broadcom, but also hungry newcomers like Qualcomm who will no doubt be trying to make up for loss of share in the mobile market.

I'm sure Microsoft will try to insert themselves in there somewhere, and insist there's a reason we want to run full Windows on the gateway or something ridiculous like that. Had this happened 15 years ago they'd probably have succeeded, and we'd all have to have a WMC PC as our gateway.


DougS Silver badge

Re: Obsolete? Upgrade?

Upgrades are irrelevant. The user will need to replace them someday, just like any other $300-$500 consumer good. No one thinks their smartphone will not be obsolete in a decade, no matter how many cores or megapixels it has today.

The interesting question is what about the gold Watch that costs $10K and beyond? I wouldn't be at all surprised if part of the deal for buying one is that you get very cheap (maybe even free?) swaps to the latest on a regular basis. Maybe they can swap out the guts (in case you have custom engraving done, etc.) but more likely they require trading the old one (to recover the gold) and give you a new one. If someone pays $10K for something that has $150 worth of electronics and $2000 (or whatever) worth of gold, they can afford to keep replacing that $150 of electronics for a lot of years and still have made great money on it.

Though people who would spend that kind of money might not be too concerned about getting their money's worth - customers for the gold Watch who might drop more money in a nightclub in a single night, and more money in a single bet at a casino may not be too concerned about buying a new one every year for the full $10K+

SECRET PROTOTYPE iPAD 'stolen from RANDY Apple employee'

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Re: 5 days ?!?!??!

The "something he didn't want Apple to know" is probably the prototype. He may be worried that he no longer participates in testing prototypes in the future given how this theft was pretty much his own fault.

US Congress promises death to patent trolls in bipartisan law scribbling

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Re: Does nothing...

It is harder to get agreement on how to fix that. It is simple to say "stop awarding bad patents" but putting that into a law isn't so easy. Sure, the real fix is "no software patents" but there are too many stakeholders who don't want that to happen.

Apple BIGGER than the U.S. ECONOMY? Or Australia? Or ... Luxembourg?

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Check the laws

Can't buy shares in US companies (and definitely not Apple) using overseas cash. That counts as repatriation according to IRS rules. Buying shares in companies that have no presence in the US is OK, though doing so as an investment (rather than an acquisition) I'm not sure about.

As a shareholder, I sure as hell don't want Apple spending a 12 digit sum on foreign acquisitions just to avoid taxes!

DougS Silver badge


They can't leave the money overseas forever. They, and every other company making a lot of overseas cash, stockpiles it overseas waiting for another government tax holiday providing a lower tax rate for repatriation. Which is why the first tax holiday was such a terrible idea for the economy long term, even if it provided a short term boost at the time.

That money belongs to the shareholders, and is reflected in the stock price. If I sell my stock, part of the price I'm getting is the new share owner holding his own small share of that loot. So it still contributes to the US GDP (at least for the proportion of Apple stockholders who are from the US) albeit indirectly.

Acer introduces a REVOLUTION in tablet tech: The PENCIL

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Using a pencil is great

Until someone doesn't have one, uses a pen, and scratches the screen. They can warn against that all they want, it will still happen.

Ruskie hackers nab unclassified Obama emails

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Re: Keyword: Unclassified.

His full schedule is classified, but there will be emails flowing about specific meetings. If you know he's meeting with someone in Munich on a certain day, you know about a planning trip in advance and can guess what he might be talking about (i.e. Ukraine, EU economy, etc.)

DougS Silver badge

Re: Keyword: Unclassified.

If you don't understand why Russia (or China or Iran) would have a great deal of interest in the schedule of the President of the United States, you're an utter fool. You personally may have no interest in it, but that's among the list of reasons why you didn't try to hack his email.

MONSTROUS iPhone sales are CANNIBALIZING iPads, gabbles Apple CEO

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@Adam Inistrator

"Riding more on goodwill"? Seems I heard the same arguments eight years ago when everyone laughed at Apple for thinking they could enter the phone market and compete against established players like Nokia, RIM and Microsoft with their own smartphone. They really thought it was funny when Jobs suggested that Apple might someday have 1% of the mobile (not smartphone, mobile) market. They currently have over 10%.

DougS Silver badge

@Rik Myslewski - "peak Apple" retraction

Why should they retract it? Either they will eventually be right, or The Reg will disappear before they're right. Either way, no need to take it back :)

ESPN sues Verizon: People picking their own TV channels? NOOoo!

DougS Silver badge

Re: You CAN give up ESPN...

Sorry, you misunderstand how must carry works. Must carry forces cable companies to carry channels only if they are freely offered - no cost and no strings attached. The minute they charge for carriage (and all the major network affiliates now do, because the networks now charge them for the programming they provide) they are freed from must carry.

Additionally, most ABC affiliates are independent, and not owned by ABC. So Disney can't bundle your local ABC station with ESPN. The bundling Disney does is simply to lump ESPN in with the Disney channels and other channels they own like ABC Family. The only leverage Disney has here is to say "take all our channels, or you get none of them". Sure, half the subscribers might say "that's fine, I don't care about either channel, but for a big cable company with millions of subscribers, that's millions of customers fleeing because they consider not having ESPN a deal-breaker and to a lesser extent parents wanting Disney channel for their kids.

The Apple Watch: Throbbing strap-on with a knurled knob

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Geek toy

This makes it different from every other wearable so far how, exactly? There's the fitness bands for fitness geeks, Apple Watch for fashion geeks, Android wear / Samsung gear for unfashionable geeks, and Google Glass for self centered ubergeeks.

'Use 1 capital' password prompts make them too predictable – study

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Re: Anyone?

Because automated password guessing attacks probably account for 0.1% of successful hacks, as opposed to the large majority of hacks that have nothing to do with whether you have a great or terrible password, and the remaining minority of hacks where your encrypted password (along with that of thousands/millions of others) are stolen and subject to leisurely dictionary attacks.

So how should we tax these BASTARD COMPANIES, then?

DougS Silver badge

Taxes are what gives fiat money value

The reason we've been able to move off the gold standard to fiat money standards is because of the power to tax. If there were no taxes, why would you need dollars or pounds or other government backed money? You could barter, use bitcoins, gold, or balls of fluff from your belly button to pay someone for something - whatever they are willing to take.

While I'm sure that appeals to die hard Randists, the economy loses a lot of its efficiency when everyone doesn't agree on a common medium of exchange.

Hubble hits 25th anniversary IN SPAAACE – time for telescope to come home

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Seems a bit short sighted

Just because we don't have a cost effective way for astronauts to service the JW now, doesn't mean there won't be a way a couple decades down the road. Presumably it is being designed for a long service life, and technology will advance during that time. Would have been nice if it could take advantage of a mid life kicker...

Ransomware crims drop Bitcoin faster than Google axes services

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Re: Stop paying the ransom

I imagine that's easy to say until you are one of those who is hit and you have a choice between paying a modest sum or losing your entire business.

Most people in the west would argue no random payments when discussing ISIS kidnappings, but if it was your wife or your son they held you may be willing to pay whatever they ask and screw the consequences for whoever they might kidnap in the future.

SUPERVOLCANIC MAGMA reservoir BUBBLING under Yellowstone Park

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Covering the US

Magma can't flow for hundreds of miles. If a supervolcano blows, it is explosive like Krakatoa was. It would release many cubic miles of ash, so more of it would settle near the volcano, less the further east (following the jet stream etc.) I recall suggestions of maybe a foot of ash here in the midwest, maybe that will be upgraded if the reservoir is bigger. Kind of a downer for agriculture, I would imagine.

The good news is that the rest of the world would share in the bounty, as enough ash to at least cover your car in a nice layer would settle in Europe, and block a good portion of sunlight for years worldwide. Ice fairs like in the 1600s could return to the Thames - probably year round.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Not just Yellowstone.

Hawaii isn't a Supervolcano, just a regular one. No chance it will go boom Krakatoa style, it'll just keep doing what it has been doing for thousands of years and adding more valuable real estate in a desirable zip code.

Can't wait to bonk with Apple? Then try an Android phone

DougS Silver badge


You don't give any data to Apple, the credit card number resides on your phone only, and they don't gather any data on purchases. Nor does it cost you anything, the 0.15% comes from the bank (part of what they get from the retailer)

But I agree with you that bonking a phone is no improvement at all over bonking a card. For that matter the only reason bonking a card is an improvement over swiping a card is because swiping gives the retailer your actual credit card number, which is subject to theft/fraud, rather than a one time code as chipped cards and Apple Pay do. If not for that I'd much rather swipe since the "N" in NFC isn't as near as it should be if fraudsters use a directional antenna and skim cards in your wallet as you walk by.

ZOMBIE Google Glass 2 FEEDS ON Italian BRAINS, says specs supremo

DougS Silver badge

Given Luxottica's huge retail markup

Version 2.0 probably won't be cheaper than 1.0. Luxottica's margins make even Apple envious!

Comcast, Time Warner Cable in crunch talks with FCC, DoJ over $42bn mega-merger

DougS Silver badge

More sourceless rumors

A week ago the rumor was that approval was imminent. Both can't be true, and I see no reason to give this one any more credence than the other.

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