* Posts by DougS

12862 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Wisconsin badgers Apple to cough up half a billion dollars for ripping off chip designs

DougS Silver badge

Re: Wisconsin court rules in favour of Wisconsin U

Or the defendant would need a presence in east Texas. Pretty sure there's an Apple Store in Dallas, Houston or Austin (probably all three) so UWisc could have sued there if they wanted.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Wisconsin court rules in favour of Wisconsin U

If Apple appeals it won't matter, the appellate courts are assigned by districts so if there was any 'home field advantage' in the ruling it would be sorted there. I think people assume there is more such favoritism than there really is. While judges are human, they try to be impartial.

It is interesting that they sued in their home court instead of east Texas, this is the first major tech patent case I've seen in a while that wasn't east Texas or California.

Sensor-rich traffic info shows how far Silly Valley has to drive

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GPS could be more accurate if companies wanted it to be. The main limitation is a more accurate time source. There are chip scale atomic clocks: a couple years ago when Apple bought a small California fab from Maxim used for making MEMS and similar devices, some speculated they'd use it to develop custom devices to make iPhone's positioning a lot more accurate.

An atomic clock combined with higher precision MEMS devices able to manage accurate dead reckoning travel are what would be needed. If they made a quarter billion such devices a year they could probably make them pretty cheap - maybe not quite as cheap as the MEMS they buy now (from NXP I think?) but making them themselves would give them an advantage very difficult for others to match.

Anyway, phone based GPS and MEMS may not be as accurate the sensors in a car that know its exact speed but it is more than good enough to tell whether a car has hit a traffic jam. You don't need to know where you are to the foot, and traffic jams are indicated by a prolonged slowdown, not a blip. If it senses slowing and other phones around it sense the same thing, what other conclusion could there be?

I use a GPS based app on my iPhone to track my bike, and it works quite well. Granted I'm never traveling more than about 35 mph, and averaging 15 mph, so much slower than a car, but it does a pretty good job of tracking speed and even elevation pretty well - I see pretty consistent results of similar speeds on similar hills, similar elevations indicated. WIthin 10% or so, which is plenty accurate for figuring out a car has hit a traffic jam.

DougS Silver badge

How is this something smartphones can't do?

Phones have accelerometers that can tell if they are slowing down or stopped, and a GPS to know where they are. If they send that info home then your phone can quickly learn there's a traffic jam a few miles ahead and recommend a detour if necessary.

The only problem is that you don't want the GPS running all the time in your phone sucking down the battery, so not all the phones will be reporting it...

Reminder: Spies, cops don't need to crack WhatsApp. They'll just hack your smartphone

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What stops Apple and Google from buying a copy of this software?

They can find out what bug is being exploited, and fix it. At least for iOS, the software would need to be updated constantly as the holes are patched with each release, and eventually they'll run out.

Sure, the company may try to verify that the buyer is a legitimate law enforcement organization to avoid selling to others, but set up a front company in some far off place and it'll be difficult to verify one away or another...

Firefox doesn't need to be No 1 – and that's OK, 'cos it's falling off a cliff

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Re: Google isn't neglecting the web the way Microsoft did with IE

It was definitely a hard time to be a Linux desktop user, but fortunately there were almost no videos worth watching so running into WMP or QT videos wasn't an issue. The "best viewed with IE" thing didn't bother me, except where it was true and the site really did look like crap on Mozilla!

Ironic that Flash was Linux's savior from the hell of proprietary video. If only they had separated Flash the streaming player from Flash the UI, all those security holes would have infected the UI and the streamer might still be useful.

DougS Silver badge

@Chris 155

Wow, quite the Microsoft apologist here. First you try to conflate Apple with Google on "siphoning up information", then you claim the only reason Microsoft is doing it is to improve the product (versus evil Google and Apple which aren't so kind and wonderful as Microsoft)

Pull the other one!

DougS Silver badge

Re: Google isn't neglecting the web the way Microsoft did with IE

Google doesn't want market share so they can try to embrace/extend their own web standards like Microsoft. They want market share so they can collect information on every site you visit all the time, all the better to sell you out to advertisers and make them more money. Different motivations.

It is important to have an alternative that isn't selling you out to Google (or Microsoft) so Firefox needs to stick around. But Google's monopoly abuse lying about Firefox being 'insecure' versus Chrome is basically their standard business tactic these days, making it harder and harder for Firefox to compete on a level playing field.

Hopefully we'll see more monopoly investigations of Google and even bigger fines - that's the only thing that is going to get them to stop this. Fining them half a quarter's profits isn't enough.

DougS Silver badge

Re: more needed than ever

Which spyware in iOS would that be? Apple is not collecting your personal information to stick ads in your face like Google is with Android. Well, unless you believe conspiracy theories that Apple's privacy policy is a lie and that they are collecting personal information on users just to be bastards, even though they have almost no presence in the online advertising world that would allow them to actually use that personal information.

Amazing new algorithm makes fusion power slightly less incredibly inefficient

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Re: Optometrist Algorithm

My optometrist has all that stuff you describe and he's just in a normal office, not in a hospital. Except that several years ago he replaced the probe that touches your eyeball with something that does the pressure test by blowing a puff of air into your eye. Still a bit annoying, but at least it means you no longer need the numbing drops!

DougS Silver badge

Re: Optometrist Algorithm

I've never figured out whether I want to tell him "better" is more accurately formed letters or higher contrast letters. Sometimes the choice is between a perfectly formed 'E' that's got medium level contrast, and an 'E' that has a slight aberration that's got very high contrast. Which is better for actual vision?

iRobot just banked a fat profit. And it knows how to make more: Sharing maps of your homes

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Re: I have a proposal for a new business model (which I generously won't patent)

You mean like Apple? Now maybe that doesn't hit point '1' for you due to price or other reasons, but they don't do 2 & 4, and only do 3 if you configure iCloud.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Thanks iRobot...

Well I think it is pretty safe to say that if it doesn't have any wifi/bluetooth - i.e. no networking - it might be able to collect a bunch of data but it will never be able to transmit it back home...

An 'AI' that can diagnose schizophrenia from a brain scan – here's how it works (or doesn't)

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Re: Impressive analysis but

Don't worry, in a few years we'll have moved on to the next buzzwords, and not everything will be cloud, AI or IoT.

DougS Silver badge

Re: the elephant in the room

This type of screening shouldn't be used as a diagnosis, but it could be used as a filter to identify people who should get some additional screening.

Well, in theory at least...I doubt giving everyone a brain scan in college (when symptoms of schizophrenia tend to show up) will become part of a normal physical, but who knows? If it could be made more accurate and could be shown to predict schizophrenia before symptoms show up, it might help as at-risk patients and their doctors could be more prepared and begin treatment at an earlier stage.

Certainly worth more of a look, as a larger training set might increase accuracy, and a longer term study could show whether it is predictive or can only diagnose after symptoms have presented.

Take that, gender pay gap! Atos to offshore hundreds of BBC roles

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Re: What offshore staff?

"1 decent on-shore staffer". What percentage of on-shore staffers would you say are "decent"?

It isn't really a 3 to 1 ratio, it is almost 1 to 1 the problem is that the percentage of "decent" off-shore staff is a lot lower than the percentage of decent on-shore staff. Couple that with the fact that decent off-shore staff are in such high demand that they can get huge salary bump by moving to a different provider every year or two taking their institutional knowledge with them, and you get the real problem with off-shoring.

If only it was possible to fire all the less than decent on and off shore staffers, those who are left would probably get as much done not having to clean up the messes left by the incompetents!

US spies hacked our phones over the air, claim pipeline protesters

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This is another reason Apple needs to get away from Qualcomm

I have no idea if these scare stories about iPhones turning on and transcribing conversations are true. But Qualcomm controls the baseband software in the iPhone and every other phone using Qualcomm cellular IP, so they could make it do this and the phone's OS couldn't stop it (though I don't see how the phone's owner would know it is happening since it couldn't display anything on the screen)

Apple's plan with Intel is to eventually license the IP and include the cellular block on their SoC, rather than buying a chip from Intel. And they'd be able to write their own baseband software (or more likely modify Intel's software) and could insure that no built in telco/spook backdoors are present.

Creepy tech tycoons Zuck and Musk clash over AI doomsday

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Re: Safer cars. Is it possible to make a low light optical sensor better than my eyes?

It is impossible for Vantablack to be "invisible" to radar. It may be transparent to radar, but there is plenty of metal in a car which is most assuredly NOT transparent to radar. Are you an investor in VantaBlack or something? Sounds like you have falling for the marketing hype.

If it was really possible to make it invisible to radar we'd be coating military planes in it which would no longer need stealth designs (which reduce but do not totally eliminate radar signature) as you could paint a B52 with it and make it invisible to radar if your gullible faith was correct!

DougS Silver badge

Re: Safer cars?

VantaBlack isn't going to absorb radar or sonar. I imagine its capabilities are overhyped, and it just absorbs a lot of a laser's output, very unlikely it would absorb 100% of say those high powered green lasers idiots point at airplanes.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Slavery

Why would you use sentient AIs to do mundane tasks, when you don't need them for it? That would be like hiring a Nobel Prize winner to mop your floor.

This is a non-issue, because we don't even have anything close to proper AI yet and we already have computers doing mundane tasks. The only thing preventing machines from replacing every janitor in the world isn't the need for more intelligence, but rather better/cheaper robotics.

If we do get sentient AI we'll still have all the non-sentient machines around to do those mundane tasks like mopping, driving, making crazy tweets about fake news, etc.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Follow the money...

No doubt Musk wouldn't hold back any of his researchers, because he'd tell himself he's smart enough to control it. He's one of those egotistical bastards who assumes that anyone who disagrees with his viewpoints "just doesn't understand". We seem them everywhere from academics, to business, to politics. Yes, he's had a lot of success, but that doesn't automatically make him a genius, anymore than Zuck or Jobs were automatically geniuses because of their success.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Safer cars?

Why can't they detect anything with VantaBlack? Are you saying self driving cars will use visible light only? That would be stupid, given that we can make sensors using sonar, radar, and infrared that WOULD detect such a car. It is only idiots like Musk who are trying to rush self driving technology before it is ready selling cars with such limited perception that can be fooled by tricks of the light.

Even if you do cover your car in it, unless you don't plan to see out of it you'll still have some glass, so it wouldn't be completely invisible at night even painted VantaBlack. Heck, it is light enough even in rural areas where the Milky Way provides its own light that you'd still be able to see the contrast of the darker car against the lighter areas reflecting the faint starlight.

I was in such a place last month, and was easily able to see the contrast between a gravel road and grass, and grass and surrounding dark green vegetation, despite having only the Milky Way - no Moon or artificial light of any kind. Obviously it is possible to make a low light optical sensor better than my eyes, even though it would be dumb to limit a car in such a way when that's not necessary.

DougS Silver badge

Devaluation of the term 'AI' is what causes people to believe that a self driving car would necessarily possess some "kind of AI".

The true general AI smarter than humans Musk is arguing about is so far in the future neither he nor the large majority of those reading this will have cause to worry about it in their lifetime. If ever.

Want to visit your loved one in jail? How about Skype instead?

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Almost all contraband is brought in by the guards

They control the visitor interaction (if there is any at all) and search inmates thoroughly where they are allowed contact with visitors. Jail employees are bringing in the drugs, I wonder what excuse they'll have when using Skype/Facetime doesn't reduce the incidence of contraband one iota?

China crams spyware on phones in Muslim-majority province

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Re: Obvious Comment

Actually that's not quite true, depending on when South Africa got nuclear weapons. But that was purely economic pressure.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Obvious Comment

The West has never tried regime change in any country possessing nuclear weapons, for obvious reasons. So China doesn't have much to worry about on that score.

DougS Silver badge

So someone should make a fake app

One with the same name, that looks from a casual police perusal to be the real app, but doesn't actually send your data to home base.

For bonus points, create malware that replaces the real app with the fake one, so people have plausible deniability if caught with the fake one that they deliberately installed!

Adobe will kill Flash by 2020: No more updates, support, tears, pain...

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Re: Why wait?

Which equipment are you referring to? Not saying there isn't such a thing, just that I've never seen it.

Besides, how the absence of updates prevent this very expensive equipment from working? Keep it off the internet and you don't care if Flash is secure or not. Would you even want to update the flash on it, since that alone might break something?

DougS Silver badge

Why wait?

Seriously, they could just announce that they will only produce security updates through the end of this year, and the laggards who have stuck with it all this time can move on. If they haven't paid attention to all the years of security and performance issues and stuck with it until now, Adobe giving them until the end of 2020 isn't any different than giving them to the end of 2017. They're going to sit on their hands and do nothing until at least July 2020 anyway, because they don't care.

Intel loves the maker community so much it just axed its Arduino, Curie hardware. Ouch

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At least Google puts a 'beta' label on stuff it is likely to kill

Intel keeps looking for another PC sized market, but they will never find it. They missed their one chance of this century so far by ignoring mobile until it was far too late.

House fire, walk with me: Kodipocalypse now includes conflagration

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Oh noes!

Most TVs sold today similarly have a 2 pin plug, better stop watching legal sources too!

ALIS in Blunderland: Lockheed says F-35 Block 3F software to be done by year's end

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Re: "Block 4 is said to be already in development"

The same is true for all large/complex software. You don't think developers only start working on new features to add to Linux when Linus opens up the new version to merges? Or that Microsoft's developers didn't start development work on the Creator's Update until last year's update was released?

Taxi app investor SoftBank said to be driving at multibillion-dollar stake in Uber

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Yandex + Uber: 59.3% + 36.6%

Which equals 96.9%. I wonder where the other 3.1% went? Probably a bribe to Putin and his cronies...

Quad goals: Western Digital clambers aboard the 4bits/cell wagon

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Re: Cheaper, multilayer, SLC would be nicer for me

Do you actually require several complete drive writes per day? Most people think they do a lot more writing than they really do. Check the stats collected by your OS and you'll probably be shocked at how little writing you actually do versus how much you think you do.

US vending machine firm plans employee chip implant scheme

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Re: Surprising so many in Wisconsin are accepting this

Even if everyone had this, why would the voting machine need to identify someone to cheat? Just randomly turn a small number of votes for candidate A to candidate B. Done. The identify of the voter whose vote was changed is irrelevant.

Which is why I keep saying we need 1) a paper trail of every vote to allow for recounts and 2) mandatory recount of a few percent of precincts that are randomly chosen, with full statewide recount conducted if a difference larger than say 0.25% is found in any precinct.

DougS Silver badge

Surprising so many in Wisconsin are accepting this

I wonder what percentage of their total employees those 50 represent, and if the company offered them anything for doing it? Maybe half priced soda for a year?

Wisconsin has a healthy number of evangelicals, who you would think would be against this sort of thing with the whole 'mark of the beast' business. I wonder if any of their employees with those views are getting this, or looking for another job worrying that they will soon make this mandatory? Or blaming Obama for it?

One thing's for sure, this little Wisconsin company is getting worldwide attention - free advertising!

DougS Silver badge

Re: So are they going to pay for the operation to have the chip removed?

It wouldn't HAVE to be removed, they could just invalidate it in the company's systems, and presumably it wouldn't be hurting anything left in your hand. Or wherever it migrates to.

If one was going to get an RFID implant (I'm not) you wouldn't want it to be 'installed' by a particular company. If they become popular for banking, starting your car, entering your house, unlocking your phone, identifying yourself at customs etc. are you supposed to stick a dozen of them in there? If a company has a problem and their DB of RFIDs is compromised they need you to add a 13th??

There would need to be some sort of standard so you could have one that can be programmed to install multiple certificates and remove compromised ones - there'd need to be an app for that, I guess!

Expect the Note 8 to break the bank (and your wallet)

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Not saying it is new technology, but neither are we seeing anything "cost 2x the amount" or even a 25% markup. There are rumors we might see such a markup, but they are rumors only.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Note 7

If you want a physical home button you are going to have to stick with older and older tech. All high end will soon be all glass front, and not long after that all mid range phones.

Maybe some will put a 'home button' on the side, or let you squeeze for home, but if you want a physical button on the front face of the phone you are gonna be SOL.

Buying outdated tech will also help you with your price complaints, but you will be forced to accept a "less than perfect phone" unless you think the Note 7 was the pinnacle of phone design and nothing in the future will ever improve on it (well except for "doesn't explode")

DougS Silver badge

What old tech are you referring to? Everyone keeps pushing screen quality/resolution, wireless/cellular standards keep progressing, batteries are improved a little bit each year, and so forth.

If Samsung was selling an S3 and Apple the iPhone 5 like they were back in 2012, sure the price should go down. But people would be upset about not having LTE, or 802.11ac wireless, or Bluetooth 5 or whatever they're up to now and so forth.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Don't worry

The rumors have gone from "over $1000" to "over $1200" to "over $1400". I'll bet these rumors are as credible of the rumors of the original iPad costing over $1000 that turned about to be way off. It is probably another $100 step up from the 7S plus, so with 256GB it can top $1000, but no way it will be $1200 let alone $1400.

FUKE NEWS: Robot snaps inside drowned Fukushima nuke plant

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Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

Are they actually planning to dismantle it, or will they try to entomb it like Cernobyl? If they dismantle it, they have the problem of transporting and storing many tons of highly radioactive waste. If they entomb it they don't have the transportation problem, and the storage problem consists of "let's keep this stuff where it is as much as possible".

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Re: Orange

Perhaps Simpsons green looks rusty orange in the lighting condition in those pictures?

systemd'oh! DNS lib underscore bug bites everyone's favorite init tool, blanks Netflix

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@AC "have to live in a box"

Yes, every DNS server you use is able to collect your personal information. Maybe you can't know which ones don't, but you absolutely DO KNOW which company has the most effective data collection and which already has tons of data on you and is always looking for more to correlate on you.

That's why I'd never use Google's DNS. I'd choose to use one from Microsoft, Amazon, maybe even Facebook, before I'd use Google because they have less personal information about me and it is easier to avoid them being able to correlate my DNS lookups with other personal information they collect on me.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Alternate

And why would you want to encourage others supply Google with information about every address they resolve? You can choose to be an idiot if you want, but don't recommend it to everyone else as a "fix".

I've got a verbal govt contract for Hyperloop, claims His Muskiness

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Given that this will become a terrorist target, the security in the stations will probably be every bit as intense as at airports, so one wonders whether you'd really save time versus just driving to DC. At least I don't need to pass through security to take my car out of the garage!

DougS Silver badge

Re: A disastrous idea

Who thought he was "crazy" for trying to land and re-use rockets? We already know how to land a rocket, we did it in 1969 with people on board a quarter million miles away. Yes, doing it with a taller rocket that tips more easily means you must be a lot more precise, but hopefully nearly fifty years of technological advance helped Musk along in that.

Plus, if he's not 100% in getting rockets to land for stage re-use it costs money but doesn't cost lives. That's a bit different from if he's not 100% in mitigating every possible catastrophic failure mode of Hyperloop. I have no idea who is right in what you're referencing above (and haven't watched those videos) but obviously they won't do it without addressing those issues, or believing they have. The problem is the failure modes that weren't considered, like Tepco locating generators above what they believed was the maximum tsunami height at Fukushima.

DougS Silver badge

He's becoming PT Barnum

All about showmanship and self-promotion. Just shut up and build the damn thing, if you can. No need to make a bald faced lie that you have "verbal approval" for something that will take massive eminent domain takings, years of planning, years of court battles, and years of construction (in the unlikely event he gets that far)

If it does get built, he'll be an old man by the time the first passengers are able to ride on it. Getting permission to launch your own rocket is child's play compared to what he's contemplating here.

User filed fake trouble tickets to take helpful sysadmin to lunches

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There are two sides to the coin

Sure, there are customers who have stupid problems that are their fault but they still blame you and never apologize. There are also customers who have real problems that are not their fault yet they still apologize anyway.

They say we're too mean to Microsoft. Well, how about this... Redmond just had a stonking year. And only 8% tax. Whee!

DougS Silver badge

Blame congress and the lobbyists

They write the tax laws. Should Microsoft say "hey, we're entitled to a rebate but we're just going to leave it out of our tax forms and let the government keep that money?" For those who answer "Yes", please tell which how much extra taxes you pay each year by skipping deductions you're entitled to.

This is where the arguments for lowering the corporate tax rate and eliminating loopholes comes in. In theory, if you were actually able to do that, some companies like WalMart that pay at pretty much the top rate because their business doesn't match existing loopholes well would pay less, while other companies like big banks and tech firms would end up paying more because they'd lose some of the deductions they are able to take today.

We all know that loopholes will never get removed - a few obvious ones will but only if there are backup loopholes they can use, or new ones inserted. The lobbyists who will actually write the law will make sure of that. Then congress and the president will tell us how great the new tax plan is and "everyone will pay their fair share" and it'll magically pay for itself by increasing growth, and it'll be like Bush's tax cuts - increasing the deficit and the fat cats will get even fatter!

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