* Posts by DougS

12862 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Another W3C API exposing users to browser snitching

DougS Silver badge

Re: why

I wonder how much Amazon paid the W3C to come up with this brilliant idea?

How bad can the new spying legislation be? Exhibit 1: it's called the USA Liberty Act

DougS Silver badge

With crap like this

Does anyone wonder why Apple goes as far as they do to encrypt things in a way that even they can't access it? Not only on the iPhone itself, but also with parts of (eventually working towards all of) your iCloud data using Hardware Security Modules that after they program they shred the keycards for so that even they don't have access to the encryption keys they hold.

They know the only way to protect people's privacy is not only to make it so the government can't access your data, but also so that THEY can't access it. Laws like these show the government's true intent is to have access to everything and they'll stop at nothing to get it - even trying to force cooperation from US corporations. The "protections" here are just window dressing to fool the gullible and give congresscritters who vote for it cover, so they can claim "there is citizen oversight".

Russian spies used Kaspersky AV to hack NSA staffer, swipe exploit code – new claim

DougS Silver badge

Re: "no self respecting spook would be caught using Microsoft Windows to do their spying"

For the thousandth time, counting CVEs does not indicate relative security levels. Different companies handle them differently. Apple for instance applies for a CVE number for every single issue they find, even those discovered internally. Most companies do not, and only get CVEs assigned for threats found by outsiders. Also, if you find five different issues in a certain module, some companies will have a single CVE assigned, others will have five assigned.

Finally, Linux has a ton more software included than Windows does. Not only that, but Linux often includes multiple versions (i.e. MySQL, SQlite, and so on...) If you count CVEs in Windows you won't end up counting CVES found in SQL Server, and if you add those in that's only one SQL package.

A company that does a good job of looking for and fixing security issues will look relatively worse than one that doesn't do any investigation on its own, and relies only on outsiders to find and report threats.

Counting CVEs to compare security is sort of like comparing automobile deaths per capita as a way of assessing how safe drivers are in different countries. It completely ignores more important stuff like what percentage of the population drives a car, how many miles the average person drives, the age/safety of the typical car, etc.

Dumb bug of the week: Apple's macOS reveals your encrypted drive's password in the hint box

DougS Silver badge

Re: Why

Because it was a programming bug.

strcpy(stored_hint, typed_password) and NOT like it should have been:

strcpy(stored_hint, typed_hint)

DougS Silver badge

Re: Why, what?

Presumably/hopefully when they blank the hint they'll ask the user to set the hint properly.

This is exactly the sort of bug you'd expect to miss testing. Apple employees doing alpha testing and power users doing beta testing don't need hints, they remember their passwords. The kind of people who forget their password and make use of the hint aren't the type to be testing pre-release software, at least not voluntarily!

RAM, bam, awww ... man! Boffins defeat Rowhammer protections

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Re: Why the emphasis on software mitigations?

What you'd get would be the same as what you have now if you tried to browse the web with Javascript disabled. You don't think that because Javascript can cause theoretical security concerns on the client end that web servers are going to stop using it? That's pretty naive, look at how some STILL use Flash despite attacks that are much more than theoretical and have been an issue for a decade or more - and despite the fact that the entire mobile world and an ever increasing part of the desktop world can't run flash!

Google touts Babel Fish-esque in-ear real-time translators. And the usual computer stuff

DougS Silver badge

Probably eventually they can, given the increasing computing power and storage available on phones. Google is a cloud company though, and don't control the hardware (other than the tiny segment of market share Pixel has) so I wouldn't look for them to do that.

Some might suggest Apple is the more likely candidate, with their emphasis on privacy and an SoC twice as fast as anyone else's. However, even with all the cloud resources Google is able to throw at it, Google Translate is still laughably bad for trying to act as a Babel Fish, cute pre-planned demo notwithstanding. If you doubt that, pick a random Reg sized news story written in another language and let Google have a go at it, and see how poorly it does. It does well enough to kind of get the gist of it, but it hurts your brain to read, and would drive you nuts if you had it speaking that way in your ear!

Even if Apple could match that poor translation ability, which they probably can't, running on a phone instead of in the cloud, which may not be possible, it wouldn't be nearly good enough.

DougS Silver badge

Sounds like a good way to go insane

Having an earbud live translating everything you hear into your language, using the crappy stilted translation Google Translate provides.

Sure, it is fine if you want to communicate basic stuff like telling a cab driver where to take you, or him telling you how much you owe. But it is utter shit for any sort of real conversation. Just try translating a news story written in another language. While you can tell what it is talking about, you're almost certain to end up confused about some basic facts because the translation completely misses something crucial.

We are years if not decades away from a practical Babel Fish. But hey, not being ready for prime time never stopped Google before - they think if you slap a 'beta' label on something it doesn't matter how crappy it is! I'm sure that demo was impressive, but it was canned speech they knew would be properly translated (and hey, how many people there actually spoke Swedish to know how well it even worked?)

Facebook, Google, Twitter are the shady bouncers of the web. They should be fired

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Lack of cynicism?

You can't complain about a lack of cynicism, and then complain about damage to vaccination programs - cynicism is as responsible for that as anything. The problem isn't blind allegiance to authority or cynicism about that authority. People on both sides are picking and choosing what to believe and what to be cynical about.

Liberals believe the authorities are correct when it comes to say global warming, but cynical when it comes to how the west believes terrorism should be confronted rather than the confrontation itself being largely responsible for the terrorism. By contrast, conservatives believe the authorities are correct when it comes to terrorism but cynical when it comes to global warming.

A "healthy dose of cynicism" isn't the fix. If anything, people are too cynical today (and I say that as someone who has always had at least a triple dose of cynicism) because they don't believe anything can be done about most of the problems we face.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Just like the Sun (News of the World) then

I think as much as anything that social media has led to the hyper partisan atmosphere in the US, and apparently in other countries if Brexit, the issues in Spain, and so for are any indication. Yeah, some bad actors like Russia may be helping to fan the flames, but even without that I think we'd still be in largely the same boat.

The problem is the homogeneity of opinion - and "facts" - most people surround themselves with, without even intending to. If, for example, you are a public school teacher, many of your friends will be public school teachers, so you'll have a lot of them as Facebook friends. They tend to be liberal, pro union, etc. so you'll see a lot of similar stuff in your feed. If you are an ex military gun and hunting enthusiast, you'll have a lot of ex military and gun enthusiasts as Facebook friends. They tend to be conservative, pro second amendment, etc. so like the public school teacher you'll see a lot of similar stuff in your feed.

Now many of us might have both public school teachers and ex military as Facebook friends, but that doesn't matter if there are enough people who are seeing mostly liberal memes or mostly conservative memes that over time get pushed further to the extreme. The really damaging stuff are stories from Daily Caller or Being Liberal, that basically try to make people on the "other side" sound not only wrong but just plain evil. With a daily bombardment of that, and seeing your friends "like" it and share it, eventually people just get sort of brainwashed or something.

I don't think this is some evil Facebook plot, but they are complicit in it as its inherent in the design of Facebook. It tries to figure out what you like, and give you more of it. The problem is it seems that the human mind isn't able to properly cope with that, any more than my body could have properly coped with it if my mom had figured out how much I liked chocolate as a kid (still do, actually) and decided to make me chocolate cake for dinner every night.

Web uni says it will get you a tech job or your money back. So our man Kieren signed up...

DougS Silver badge

Not 8.10, its 7.25

That's the US minimum wage, but many states or cities have raised theirs to as much as $15. Unfortunately the US is never smart enough to try to index it to cost of living or set it up for regular increases, so it tends to stay at one level for years until it is clearly far too low, then it is raised a lot over a short time (thus increasing the chances of doing the harm the detractors suggest it will)

Like much in the US it is a contentious political battle, with republicans almost always against any increase, claiming it will cost jobs and cause some businesses to go under, and democrats almost always in favor of a big increase, claiming it will give an economic boost to the poor. In this case, they are both right.

US Senate stamps the gas pedal on law to flood America's streets with self-driving cars

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There's no fear of huge jury verdicts

Rich companies like Google and Uber may be behind self driving cars, but they are being run in separate companies. If they get a billion dollar verdict against them they simply declare bankruptcy. The parent company would have things organized such that they maintain ownership of the IP so they can simply create Waymo II and try again.

Only a lunatic thinks we need no regulations because corporations can regulate themselves. Any idiot who thinks that needs to read up on what happened in the US in the late 1800s and early 1900s when corporations were effectively unregulated, all the abuses they committed, which were the reason we started regulating them. You can argue that regulations go too far in some cases, but not that they are unnecessary. To take such a position is simply willful ignorance of facts and history.

And I say this as someone who considers himself a libertarian. Libertarians believe in individual freedom, and companies being free to experiment with self driving cars without any laws or regulations MOST DEFINITELY impedes on my individual freedom to not be killed by a poorly programmed not ready for the real world autonomous car that runs me down while I'm riding my bike on the side of the road!

DougS Silver badge

The reasons for this should be obvious

Consider the state and availability of public transportation in the US, versus in the UK, Sweden or Switzerland. Consider the typical commute distances in the US versus those other countries, and therefore how many miles per year drivers log in each.

Measuring driving deaths per capita is dumb - you'll find the "safest" country in the world by that metric is probably North Korea!

DougS Silver badge

Good idea to test in gated communities

That startup mentioned that will work in The Villages in San Jose has the right idea. That's a restricted area, where the roads will be known and unchanging, speeds will be low, won't have to deal with construction, being in California won't have to deal with snow, because it is a retirement community pedestrians are much less likely to run out from behind a car chasing a frisbee. Most importantly, since it will be in a limited area they can educate everyone there about these vehicles so everyone will know to expect them.

That's a good proving ground before moving out into the general public. Testing in a city like Phoenix is a terrible idea. Sure, some of the above applies but people can't really "expect" these cars when there will be a few dozen or at most few hundred autonomous cars out of the million plus that traverse Phoenix's roads every day. There will be construction, accidents, widely varying speeds (many of Phoenix's main city streets have a 45 mph speed limit, meaning people are regularly going 60+) and many other obstacles cars at The Villages won't have to face.

Testing before they're really ready is bound to cause a bad accident at some point, and the publicity will cause people to demand putting heavy restrictions on autonomous cars that could set them back by years. Google is risking a big hit to its reputation if one of their cars runs over a kid, they can call that unit "Waymo" and say it is owned by Google's parent Alphabet all they want, all the press will talk about it being a "Google car" that killed a kid.

Contrast that with the positive spin you can put on providing rides for retired people, some of whom can't safely drive themselves. After a year or two of operating safely there, then they'll be ready to move onto bigger challenges. Putting them in one of the larger cities in the US on day one is just dumb.

2019: The year that Microsoft quits Surface hardware

DougS Silver badge

Re: Thin margins are their own fault

My point was that Microsoft was successful at first selling Surface Pro at only premium prices. When they offered a lower priced version, a lot of people who would have bought the premium priced version bought the cheaper one - the main difference being a lower spec CPU and less memory, which for most doesn't matter a bit since they don't have demanding needs. After all, if they needed a powerful laptop they wouldn't be buying a convertible at all, but a full fledged laptop that came in a version with a quad core CPU.

Just because there were cheaper alternatives like the Yoga doesn't mean Microsoft needed to compete with them. You weren't willing to spend 3x as much, but many were as evidenced by the fact Microsoft was selling a fair few of them at 3x the price - until they offered a lower priced version of their own because they wanted to chase people like you who weren't willing to pay as much. Though airlines make a good effort of it, it is really difficult to charge everyone the most they're willing to spend, you either need to charge a lot and lose sales to people who won't pay that much (the Apple model) or offer a range of models and know you'll sell a certain amount of lower end products to people who would have paid you for the higher end product if that was their only choice.

DougS Silver badge

Thin margins are their own fault

The original Surface was basically their attempt to copy the iPad, and it was a miserable failure. No one wanted tablets from Microsoft. So they did an about face with the brand and turned it into an ultrabook on steroids. While it was still "technically" a tablet, it was sold for and purchased as a laptop in almost all cases.

At first the Surface Pro was a premium line priced in Macbook Pro territory, so margins wouldn't have been an issue. Unfortunately some dim bulb at Microsoft decided they needed to move it downmarket, so now you see low end versions for as little as $799. Given the cost of making it so thin and light, there can't be much if any profit at that price. Sure, they probably get a bit more market share that way, but less overall profit - many low end buyers would have bought a better spec'ed version at twice the price if the low end version didn't exist.

Yet another self inflicted wound.

European Commission refers Ireland to court over failure to collect €13bn in tax from Apple

DougS Silver badge

Re: Race to the bottom

I don't know why you qualify the owner as "to a limited degree". Everyone is on the hook, including the owners. Let's say you have a company making widgets you make for $1 each and sell for $2 each. You have an overhead of $250K/yr and at a price of $2 per widget there is a market for a million widgets a year. That means you make $750K/yr, not bad.

Now someone comes along and says widgets make you go blind, and a tax of $1 per widget is added. That means you make them for $1, and sell them for $3 and still make the same $750K/yr, right? Wrong! Unless the demand for widgets is completely inelastic (very rare, and only true of certain absolute necessities or luxury items) you'll sell fewer widgets at that higher price. Let's say the demand for widgets at $3/ea is only 600 thousand a year. So now you have $1.8 million in revenue, $600K in cost of goods, $600K in taxes, and $250K in overhead so the owner's profit has been more than cut in half to only $350K.

In almost all cases, both the customers AND the owners of a corporation pay its taxes. The workers may also pay part of the tax, if for example the owner decides to not pay a Christmas bonus to cut his overhead due to the lower demand for widgets caused by the tax. A tax on the corporation's profits is a more direct and obvious hit on the owner's income, but the same issue with higher price = lower demand will apply if people naively assume "oh, well the owner will just raise prices to cover the tax so he makes the same money as before". In most cases, it doesn't work that way.

I don't understand why people live under the delusion that only the customers pay corporate taxes, and somehow the owners are immune. I guess this is a meme spread by people who want to make it sound like eliminating corporate taxes is good for the average person. The biggest problem with eliminating corporate taxes is that some owners are immune from taxation - i.e. those who live outside your country, or own other loss making companies they can deduct against. If you're OK with those then yeah, eliminating corporate taxes and collecting them when they become income for the owners would simplify the tax system.

DougS Silver badge

@AC - "state aid" for Apple

If we assume the EU is correct that Ireland is giving Apple a special deal no one else can get, it was given to them long ago, before they were as big and rich as they are today. Not saying that makes it right, but it isn't as if Apple came along with a couple hundred billion in the bank wanting the deal. AFAIK it had something to do with Apple locating iMac manufacturing facilities in Cork which employ four or five thousand people. If the iPod and iPhone had never happened and Apple was still a struggling little company just scraping by, the EU wouldn't bother with them because fighting over a few million euro wouldn't be worth their trouble.

Unfortunately this sort of tax shopping happens all over. Anytime Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, etc. announce a new data center in the US, they're getting a sweetheart deal from whatever state it is located in. And maybe a further deal from the city/county as well.

So long as entities have control over the taxes they charge, there really isn't any way to stop it. The government above them can make laws about what is allowed and what isn't, but huge companies have the best lawyers money can buy, who can and will find any loophole that exists. You'd have to write your laws based on 'intent' rather than following the law, and try to recover back taxes for such arrangements that are declared illegal after the fact. That's basically the equivalent of ticketing me for texting while driving that occurred years before the law banning it was passed where I live.

Amazon told to repay €250m in 'unfair state aid' from Luxembourg

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Yes, I'm sure, at least where the US is concerned. Buy a commercial building for $1 million and you'll find you don't get to deduct $1 million from your business taxes, but only 1/39th of that million because it is depreciated over 39 years on your tax forms. Buy an apartment building and it is 27.5 years.

During the stimulus back in 2010, one of the things done was to allow 100% so-called "bonus" depreciation of certain capital expenses, rather than deducting them from your taxes over time. That was to encourage businesses to spend more in the near term and help boost the economy, in return for being able to take the full writeoff at that time instead of over the normal depreciation cycle for the "qualified property".

DougS Silver badge

But this brings up the critical question

HOW do you calculate profit? If Amazon is buying stuff for 10x and selling it for 11x in the EU, that's a profit of x. If they're investing to set up a streaming service in the US, should that really be taken against their EU profits since it has nothing to do with the EU? Also consider that capital costs like building a new warehouse are not charged against taxes, at least not in the US, but rather are depreciated over a period of years...typically 39 years for a building. Not sure how that works in the EU, and it may be different for different countries.

Apple on the other hand is making stuff for 10x, and people are buying it for 30x. So 20x is their profit, right? Not so fast, you have to account for all their development costs but how should those be apportioned? If they have extra costs to handle various languages in the EU, that share may be greater than in the UK where there's less difference between American English and British English versus say Swiss or Czech language. Most of their employees are in the US, so should all that cost be taken only in the US or should it be allocated throughout the world?

Further, Apple has a known wholesale cost, so they can't play any transfer pricing games a company with $0 "manufacturing" cost like Microsoft or Google can play. If a Tesco or whatever in the UK wants to sell iPhones, they'll buy them from Apple at wholesale, let's say 27x, and sell them for 30x, for a profit to Tesco of 3x. So why should Apple be calculating profit based on 20x, when an arms length transaction from Apple, Inc. to Apple UK would sell those iPhones to Apple UK at 27x netting a profit of 3x for Apple UK just like Tesco?

This is why international taxation is HARD. If it was just "revenue - cost = profit" there would be no argument, but determining what 'cost' is ain't so easy.

Snap, crackle ... patch! Apple kicks out iOS 11.0.2 to tackle crappy calls, fix email glitches

DougS Silver badge

Re: Wait? Win!

Whether 'paying the Apple price' pays off in duration of updates and device longevity depends on how much you value duration of updates and device longevity.

Sure, you can buy a higher end Android after the price has dropped a lot six months after release, but you are also six months closer to seeing the last update it'll ever get...

DougS Silver badge

It is interesting that only a "handful" of devices were affected. I don't know how many that is, but I know someone who bought an 8 and hasn't had any static on calls so it definitely isn't everyone. If it were some sort of manufacturing defect that would explain why only some are affected, but that can't be it or it wouldn't be possible to fix with an OS update.

I'd guess there is some component in there that's different for different models, perhaps the DAC, and they needed a software tweak (different hardware register settings or whatever) for the ones that were built with that different component.

They can test all they want, but if they use different hardware on any phones when mass production begins the testing won't catch it. Given the huge production volumes they require, they can't sole source every single tiny part so I guess it isn't terribly surprising.

Intelsat and Intel reckon satellite spectrum could help with 5G's coming capacity crunch

DougS Silver badge

Clearing downlinks in specific areas??

How is that supposed to work? Surely most of the C band downlinks cover the whole US, and thus can't be "cleared" in specific areas.

I guess what they mean is that in certain areas where they want to use those frequencies, they pay anyone with a C band dish to use other means to receive their data, so they can have cell towers use those frequencies which will make C band reception with a dish impossible.

Good luck with that, the reason C band gets such use is because it is much more immune to rain outages than higher frequencies. I guess they can hope everyone using C band in a metro area can get the same thing via fiber, because they aren't going to consider a different satellite frequency at all equivalent.

I'll bet the FCC denies it anyway, there will be a lot of public comment against this scheme - even if you clear off current users once you allocate that frequency to cellular in a given area you also lock out all future possibility of receiving C band in that area. This sounds like a terrible idea, and should be shot down!

Russian suspected of $4bn Bitcoin laundering op to be extradited to US

DougS Silver badge

Rich guy who committed white collar crime? He'll do easy time if he's jailed in the US.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Can't resist as well

The Russian economy is hurting due to low oil prices, like many large producers they thought the high oil prices of 2004-2014 would be permanent if not go even higher, and budgeted on that basis. Between that and the sanctions over Crimea they're starting to feel pain. If you keep money in Russia it risks losing a lot of value if their economy crashes.

Russia knows this so they've been making it more difficult to move money out of Russia, because the more cash that flees the more it hurts the value of the ruble.

Combined with the stability concerns like I ain't Spartacus detailed, someone who has a lot of money in Russia has very good reasons to want at least a good chunk of it out of Russia so they don't go down with the ship if oil prices remain low another five years and Russia sinks.

HP Inc exec: Yes, we'll put a bullet in the X3 device

DougS Silver badge

Re: Killing the OS is definitely a "change in strategy."

Microsoft is at the same point now they were at when they introduced Windows Phone 7, and all the time in between. A mobile platform with a tiny fraction of the market, purchased only by corporates who do the "you can't get fired for buying Microsoft" thing, along with a handful of Windows fanboys.

Microsoft was caught flat footed by the iPhone, but unlike Andy Rubin who realized what it meant and undertook a crash program to modify Android to imitate it, Ballmer laughed at it and thought it irrelevant. By the time people at Microsoft finally realized how relevant it actually was, both iPhone and Android had all the buzz. Smartphones were seen as the new hotness while PCs were old and tired, and a third smartphone alternative would have had to bring something really novel to the table to get noticed. Microsoft's big feature? Live tiles and a bazillion megapixel camera on one model...pretty underwhelming!

They did everything wrong - they got in bed with Intel and their failed mobile chips, and they made a splashy deal with Nokia that turned off other OEMs who knew they wouldn't get the level of support Nokia did. That's probably why Samsung went all-in on Android despite being a big Windows Mobile supporter in the past. Why would they want to take Nokia's leftovers in a niche market when they could own the far larger and growing Android market?

DougS Silver badge

Re: we are not an operating system company

AFAIK they only developed MPE and HP-UX (ported from SysV) in house. All the rest as noted were acquisitions.

The axeman strikes again: Microsoft has real commitment issues

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Re: I think SatNad is acting like a CEO

Don't suppose you have a source for these claims? Especially since El Reg has another article just today claiming that they're going to axe Surface by 2019 because it is losing money...

DougS Silver badge

I think SatNad is acting like a CEO

While it sucks for people using the stuff he axes, he's probably looking back at the books for the past 20 years and seeing all the wasted money. I wouldn't be surprised if it adds up to nearly $100 billion in today's dollars, no lie!

No new markets Microsoft has tried to enter since Gates retired as CEO have been profitable, not a one. They lost money with MSN trying to copy AOL, with Zune trying to copy Apple, with XBox trying to copy Sony, with Bing trying to copy Google, with Windows Mobile trying to copy Palm/Blackberry, with Windows Phone/Nokia trying to copy Apple again, with their advertising buyouts trying to copy Google again, with Groove trying to copy Spotify, with the original Surface trying to copy Apple a third time, the list goes on and on. Everyone one of those lost billions with a 'b', sometimes not even a single digit number of 'b'!

Now I don't know if Groove was profitable or not, but competing against free services like Spotify make that very difficult. It was never going to be big earner for them without the advantage of having mobile users ready to buy into their ecosystem like Apple has with Apple Music. XBox is profitable now, if you ignore all the billions lost in the past, so it is probably safe from the axe. Everything else that started post-Gates is suspect....I wonder if Bing is still losing money? I hope Apple or Amazon or someone buys it if they decide to dump it, I'd hate to see Google being handed a monopoly in search!

Sole Equifax security worker at fault for failed patch, says former CEO

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I wonder if this is even true

This sounds like a system they developed after the fact to insure it wouldn't happen again. Have someone responsible for notifying the right people about the patch, with the sanity check of automated scanning following up in case something goes wrong in the manual process.

Let's say Bob the sysadmin did notify people that 'struts needs to be patched', along with dozens of other patches that were required that same week, not to mention all the ones that came before, and came after. Knowing what you need to patch isn't the hard part, it is having a process down that lets you actually do it in a timely manner.

This is a patch that's critical in hindsight, but at the time it wouldn't have looked very important compared to some. There are SO MANY patches coming out from so many sources, I wouldn't be surprised if this was considered lower priority and was in some stage of application (maybe had been applied on a QA system and was sitting in a CR for eventual application in production) but they don't want to admit that because it makes them look bad.

Developers' timezone fail woke half of New Zealand

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This kind of crap is why I turned off all alerts in my phone

Amber alerts (looking for lost kids) were a nice idea but now they're so overused they're a false alarm 99% of the time, at least around here. Severe weather alerts are issued with any thunderstorm that will have hail or winds over 50 mph, which means they happen all the damn time in the summer making them useless as well even though it might be nice to get one if a tornado was bearing down.

AFAIK the government has never issued a national emergency alert, so hopefully those are reserved for when it really counts (and I'm not sure if that's something the settings in an iPhone can disable) Fortunately Trump is probably unaware he has the ability to do that, otherwise he'd probably send one instead of a tweet some night because he figures if he can't sleep why should anyone else.

Now if only I could disable the stupid alerts on my TV, but Tivo's software doesn't allow you to...

White House plan to nuke social security numbers is backed by Equifax's ex-top boss

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Re: The Trumpcard!!!

Why have space to write religious affiliation when 'Christian' will be the only one allowed? Ditto for political, the only party you can select is 'Republican' but it isn't the republican party of pre-2016. It is 'Republican' as defined by Donald Trump at any given moment.

That's the only way you explain how overnight it went from the party of free trade to the party of tariffs and economic isolationism, and how it went from supporting Ukraine's independence from Russia to supporting Russia's annexation of Crimea. Next week it may be the party of socialized medicine, so long as a health care bill is passed and put on Trump's desk and he gets to claim it "repeals Obamacare".

MH370 final report: Aussies still don’t know where it crashed or why

DougS Silver badge

The data recorders batteries have already run out. We will never find it, unless a ship sinks or a cable breaks right next to it, in the next couple decades before it gets covered up and becomes unrecognizable on the ocean floor.

China cools on Apple's high-priced iBling

DougS Silver badge

Re: Maybe Chinese just prefer to go with their own brands

I think Apple has been and will be more resilient simply because they only play in the high end (well, there's the SE now, but as the article notes that's simply not a consideration for the size obsessed Chinese)

With China's growing economy, there are always people moving out of lower economic classes where they couldn't afford / couldn't justify spending the kind of money that Apple and Samsung charge for their flagships. Once they reach a higher class, some will move to higher end phones and it is reasonable to assume of those, some percentage will choose Apple.

Even if the percentage of "economic climbers" who switch to Apple is relatively small (due to already being in the Android ecosystem, and the inbuilt advantages of non-Googly Android for the Chinese market) the huge numbers of climbers due to China's rapid economic growth and massive population should help minimize the market share impact on Apple. The same is probably true for Samsung's flagships - I'll bet they are seeing more Apple like market share reductions in their flagships, and most of their share loss is in the cheap and midrange phones where Chinese companies are primarily competing.

DougS Silver badge

Maybe Chinese just prefer to go with their own brands

When they feel the Chinese brands can do what they want/need? Trump can't prattle on about how China is killing us and wanting to make/buy American without having other countries say "hey, two can play at that game".

As the article stated, this has been a much bigger problem for Samsung's market share in China, so it would be silly to think Apple would be unaffected.

I would have to think that support for the Chinese languages, and since Android phones there have all the Googly bits removed and replaced with Chinese equivalents that may lead to a better / more integrated experience from a Chinese consumer's point of view versus downloading apps on iPhones or Samsungs.

Forget the 'simulated universe', say boffins, no simulator could hit the required scale

DougS Silver badge

Re: But when no one's watching...

We may not be the observers, but we'd obviously be something important to the observers. Why bother to simulate consciousness in everyone if that's the case? Though its possible I'm the only one with a simulated consciousness, and you all are getting crude approximations - especially amanfromMars 1!

If you think about it though, maybe we ARE the observers. The difficulty in understanding where consciousness springs from would be understandable if its source was outside the simulation. The lifetime of a normal human might be an afternoon for our real selves, and our universe is basically some juiced-up combination of Facebook, the Sims and World of Warcraft. That's why there are so many minor celebrities these days, people got bored of playing slaves, serfs and other downtrodden folk after a while.

DougS Silver badge

The whole point of simulating a universe

Is that you don't simulate the whole thing and waste resources calculating stuff you don't care about. You devote most of your resources calculating stuff that's interacting with things you consider important. Hopefully us, but maybe spiders. Meaning you'd see stuff acting differently whether it was being observed or not and other weirdness. Trees that fell in the forest when no one was around to hear them would NOT make a sound.

Arguing over scale is silly, because not only do you not simulate the whole thing, you don't simulate one as big as the one you live in. Why would you need to or want to? Even if after all that we calculated we couldn't build classical or quantum computers that could hit the required scale that doesn't mean shit. Because that assumes there aren't other ways to build computers we don't yet know about. It wasn't all that long ago that no one had conceived of a quantum computer, so anything that a classical computer couldn't do was "impossible". Even though we can't yet build real quantum computers at any sort of scale, we can at least conceive of the day we when will, and those problems will then be solvable. We have plenty of time to think about other ways to perform computation before anyone actually seriously tries to simulate a universe.

The whole idea we are living in a simulation is total speculation, something that would be almost impossible to prove unless we find a security hole or an easter egg left behind by the developer. So trying to prove that we aren't living in a simulation is equally impossible - more impossible, really, when you consider how difficult it is to prove a negative in general. We can't know what sort of universe our simulation overlords would live in. We have to assume it is pretty similar to our own, otherwise why bother, but it would almost certainly be much larger, probably have a much higher speed of light, and may not even be quantized (i.e. Planck length, Planck time, etc. could be compromises of the simulator and unrelated to the reality of their universe....unless they are living in a simulation as well, of course! :))

Linux kernel long term support extended from two to six years

DougS Silver badge

Re: "bleeding edge" is overrated

Even with a six year LTS kernel that's only the kernel that's taken care of. Exploits are much more likely in vendor driver binaries or shared libraries than the kernel, and this won't help there, nor can those be updated via the Play Store like they're starting to do for the browser and other system apps.

Still, a step in the right direction and Red Hat will benefit since this will fit perfectly with the lifecycle of RHEL releases.

Thomas the Tank Engine lobotomised by fat (remote) controller

DougS Silver badge

Self driving trains are low hanging fruit

The switching is already automated, so basically it just has to stop if it sees something on the track ahead. If anyone is worried about the safety of self driving trains, they'll never trust self driving cars or trucks that have 2D freedom of motion instead of the basically 1D freedom trains have.

Roku tweaks Apple's nose with telly-friendly vid-streaming boxes

DougS Silver badge

This is only for TVs running Roku software

AFAIK no Roku set tops have an ATSC input, so all they could do is tell you what's on broadcast TV - not actually let watch it! There aren't any TVs running tvOS, so integrating broadcast channel guides in this way would be pointless for Apple. The article is truly comparing apples and oranges.

Not sure what Apple's failed deal with Comcast would have consisted of. The Apple TV would have required a QAM input to connect to Comcast's cable system. Without that all it could have done would be to act as a "client" to one of Comcast's whole home DVRs. Not sure what Comcast charges for those, and if paying $150 for an Apple TV would have had payback after a few years of not paying Comcast monthly fees.

Dnsmasq and the seven flaws: Patch these nasty remote-control holes

DougS Silver badge

An interesting issue for routers

Since dnsmasq services aren't exposed to the internet remote exploits to routers (whether commercial or open source) using it aren't a concern. The only way to exploit your router is for an attack to get code to run inside your network - via some type of browser based exploit, perhaps. But to what end? Once your router reboots, the malware will disappear - the malware can't rewrite individual binaries it would have to upload new firmware with all new binaries if it wanted to become a permanent resident on your router.

Configuring your router to reboot daily might be a good idea, to eliminate the chance of becoming part of some long lived botnet sending out spam or whatever an army of low performance devices is used for by black hats these days.

BYOD might be a hipster honeypot but it's rarely worth the extra hassle

DougS Silver badge

For a phone, what do you need besides email and calendar?

I can't imagine being useful to connect to corporate shares or stuff like that, so getting email is all that matters. If your company has Outlook Express, an app like Mail+ on the iPhone (and probably Android) can access your email & calendar without any help from IT (or any ability on their end to wipe your phone, which is a deal breaker as far as I'm concerned!)

It worked well for me when I've had cause to use it. Being able to access corporate IM would have been handy as well, but not a show stopper.

Is it really useful to be able to VPN in and access internal web pages? I've never had cause to want to do so, but YMMV.

Tarmac for America's self-driving car future is being laid right now

DougS Silver badge

@Robert Heffernan

Yes, that makes perfect sense...thanks!

DougS Silver badge


I wonder why anyone thought it would be necessary to include a clause preventing denying a self driving car to those with disabilities. What possible reason would there be to do so, and why they you want eliminate what would be one of their biggest initial markets?

Drunk canoeing no longer driving offence in Canada

DougS Silver badge

Re: sounds like a joke but...

Riding a bicycle drunk could endanger other people, if he was on the roadway and caused cars to have to swerve to miss him. A drunk boater (with a power boat) could collide with another boat and cause injury. But a drunk canoeist can only hurt himself and anyone else in the canoe with him.

Twitter: We also made a shedload of cash from Russia's trolling during US White House race

DougS Silver badge

Re: Considering how much it costs

Social media has a multiplicative effect that expensive TV ads don't. Most people tune those out during the election season, and many actively skip ads with their DVRs. That's mostly wasted money these days, I'm thinking.

"Sponsored" content on Facebook that you have to pay for isn't as easy to ignore, but what really works is when someone can get stuff shared. Friends see something shared by their friends and inherently trust it more (assuming they trust that friend) and will re-share it themselves. You might pay $1000 to run some sponsored content but due to sharing and re-sharing get the same effect as if you'd paid Facebook $1 million.

That's where the really crazy stuff (the lies, conspiracy theories, "fake news", etc. - i.e. the stock in trade of radio "shock jocks" like Alex Jones) is most impactful. People won't bother to engage with a story about Hillary's campaign bus getting bad mileage or Trump's plane killing a bird when it is landing, but the really juicy stuff gets their attention. Doesn't matter if it isn't true - social media isn't restricted by the rules that apply to stuff that runs on public airwaves.

I expect we'll see campaigns move more and more to social media "grassroots" stuff. Instead of getting volunteers to knock on doors and hand out bumper stickers, tell them to share any positive news they see about their candidate, and negative news they see about their opponent on social media. Sure, they'll still run campaign ads on TV but those will probably get less negative - you want to seem like the nice guy in your public persona, and let your volunteers do the dirty work of destroying your opponent. They can share stories claiming their opponent is running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop because social media is the wild west, and that's so much effective than those negative ads on TV that always show a sepia tone photo of the opponent and just slant the truth really hard - but have to have some sort of connection with the truth.

I expect Facebook to become effective unusable in early 2020 as a result - it almost might be worth shorting the stock then, because it'll turn so many people off that when they report their monthly active users in the US Wall Street won't like what it hears. Remember when MySpace was a thing, and then there was so much spam it became intolerable and everyone left? I think the same thing might happen to Facebook, though there isn't anywhere to go so people might just quit it for the year and come back after the next inauguration when the partisan shitstorm begins to die down.

Dot-Amazon spat latest: Brazil tells ICANN to go fsck itself, only 'govts control the internet'

DougS Silver badge

Re: @Jamie Jones

I'm not sure I've ever seen a commercial business using one of the xx.us state codes, it may be against the rules - they probably figured that's what .com was for. By the time the internet exploded everywhere already associated .com = business so they wouldn't use .us even if they were allowed to do so.

Besides, then you run into issues in cities that straddle a state line - which state do they register in, or should they register in both and have one redirect to the other. .com was just easier, at least back when it didn't have 50 bazillion different domains in it.

At last, someone's taking Apple to task for, uh, not turning on iPhone FM radio chips

DougS Silver badge

Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

The chips are there; all the SOB has to do is use his position to get them turned on.

I think it is you who missed the point. Even when the chips are there (they aren't in most iPhones) the FM portion isn't even connected internally. You need an antenna to receive anything. The soonest Apple could start selling phones able to receive FM would be next fall, and then only those who buy the latest model would get it.

Given that they're using Intel chips in many of them, and likely plan to use them in all phones within a couple years there isn't any point in worrying about it. Intel doesn't include FM in their LTE chip.

Trump's tax tease will be a massive payday for Valley tech giants and their shareholders

DougS Silver badge

Yes unfortunately the repatriation holiday was a disaster from that perspective. Previously companies kept some money overseas, but it was mainly intended to facilitate acquisitions or construction they might undertake there. The latter (building overseas manufacturing facilities) is what gave Bush's administration the "brilliant" idea of the repatriation holiday. The logic was if they bring the money home, they'd build manufacturing facilities here. Of course that wasn't true, but it gave them a taste of very low taxes and they were kicking themselves for all the money they'd brought back and paid 35% on that they could have left overseas.

If they weren't able to finesse the tax laws in other countries (all the double Irish, double Dutch and so forth strategies the various companies are using) to pay very low tax rates it wouldn't matter. That is, any money they'd already paid 20% or more on they might as well bring back, because they wouldn't owe any US taxes on it, since foreign taxes paid are a credit against US taxes for money earned overseas. But when most are paying well under 10%, a 20% rate just isn't enough to for them to risk upsetting shareholders by bringing money home only to miss out on far lower rates if Trump makes the same mistake Bush did.

Trump accuses Facebook of bias, collusion with his least favourite newspapers

DougS Silver badge

@Big John - Facebook ads

It is interesting that in digging into this more and more over the past few weeks they've found Russia sponsoring ads in the UK related to Brexit, in Spain related to Catalan, and various other places. But they weren't taking just one side in those cases like they appeared to do in the US election, they're taking ads on both sides. Their goal seems to be to create division - basically since Russia can no longer be as powerful as they were back in the USSR's glory days, Putin appears to be hoping to divide the rest of the world and make his opponents smaller.

They've also found Russians were placing a lot of pro Bernie ads - especially after Clinton won the nomination - trying to divide the democratic party. It seems to have worked at least to some degree, I know some hardcore liberals who sat out the election in protest because they thought Hillary stole the nomination from Bernie (which given what the DNC emails showed, may well have been the case)

The question is, now that we know the game Putin is playing, is there anything we can even do to counter it?

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