* Posts by PghMike

70 posts • joined 28 Feb 2011

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Refactoring whizz: Good software shouldn't cost the earth – it's actually cheaper to build

PghMike

Re: More babblings from Mr Fowler

No, these trends he’s talking about are over 50 years old. Fred brooks wrote about them when writing about what went wrong writing software for the ibm 360, in the 1960s

PghMike

Plan to throw one away ...

... you will anyway

Mythical man month iirc

NASA rattles the tin for an extra $1.6bn to keep 2024 lunar hopes alive

PghMike

Let's build a wall, *on the moon*!

Let's combine two of Trump's dumbest ideas. We now have a purpose for building a wall, and a place where it will not mess thing up.

Microsoft Azure: It's getting hot in here, so shut down all your cores

PghMike

Auth services affecting multiple regions

Apparently a lot of login requests get forwarded through the South Central region, so other regions may be affected. I'm sitting here in Pittsburgh and some things are messed up on some networks.

At last: Magic Leap reveals its revolutionary techno-goggles – but wait, there's a catch

PghMike

Theranos

I'm reading Bad Blood (about Theranos) and it strikes me how far people went to convince themselves not to notice that Theranos was a scam.

And that's what this sounds like, too. They refuse to answer reasonable questions. That's usually because they know the real answer is worse than you can imagine.

You're a govt official. You accidentally slap personal info on the web. Quick, blame a kid!

PghMike

Just piling on

The Nova Scotia government is just showing how technologically incompetent they are by prosecuting someone for enumerating public documents.

Hopefully the prosecutor will drop the charges if they can find someone in New Scotland who knows anything about web servers, and can explain it to them.

Apple: Er, yes. Your iCloud stuff is now on Google's servers, too

PghMike

Data is encrypted, so why is this even interesting?

The article says that the data is encrypted, as does Apple's own articles. So, google isn't going to be mining it for personal data. Google is just providing storage for opaque bits.

Fermi famously asked: 'Where is everybody?' Probably dead, says renewed Drake equation

PghMike

Re: Too little info

and reading other commenters, an even more obvious question -- why would a civilization keep broadcasting radio waves? We're going to be all Internet for communications in a few years.

PghMike

Re: Not useful

You have to start somewhere, but you also have to recognize when you haven't gotten anywhere.

Why we think we'll be broadcasting *anything* 100 years from now is a mystery to me.

PghMike

Re: Not useful

What's the probability that technologically competent life will arise on a planet?

PghMike

Too little info

There's so little we know of our own civilization that extrapolating to extra solar civilizations is a joke. Two questions make that pretty clear:

1 -- If humans disappeared today, how long would it take for another technologically advanced species to arise? I don't mean intelligent -- it is quite possible that dolphins or whales are more intelligent than us. But neither one has managed to build a telescope or a radio. AFAICT, it took 4.5 billion years for a civilization capable of building a radio to arise on Earth. It has been about 120 years since the first radio transmissions.

2 -- How long will humanity, or our direct descendants, exist at least at a level capable of broadcasting radio.

We don't know the answers to these questions, and they're about us and Earth. It would be even harder to extrapolate these answers to other worlds.

Deep in remote Oz, an antenna has 'heard' the oldest stars

PghMike

I'd make sure that you're not receiving reflected FM radio from some other path than you've accounted for.

Astro-boffinry world rocked to its very core: Shock as Andromeda found to be not much bigger than Milky Way

PghMike

Re: dodgy maths?

Do people still use British trillions?

MY GOD, IT'S FULL OF CARS: SpaceX parks a Tesla in orbit (just don't mention the barge)

PghMike

Kudos on the headline

Although surprisingly, 2001 was 17 years ago.

We translated Intel's crap attempt to spin its way out of CPU security bug PR nightmare

PghMike

Re: AMD not vulnerable

AMD probably check the current ring # allows a read before doing a speculative read. If the speculative path fails at that point, no data has leaked from the kernel.

PghMike

Re: Old is new again?

The Sparc may or may not be vulnerable, but I don't think this explanation covers it.

The Intel issue comes from a speculative code path loading data into the L1 cache from mapped but protected memory. This has nothing to do with TLBs -- the real question is whether the kernel address space is accessible to speculatively executed instructions.

Intel's error came from allowing a speculative load to proceed even when the ring # was wrong to allow the access to complete.

You can't find tech staff – wah, wah, wah. Start with your ridiculous job spec

PghMike

Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

Yup, even remembering exactly what the interface is to a string package you haven't used for a year takes a search for me. Javascript, Objective C, C++, C, and Python all have slightly different versions, and I'm just not going to remember the parameters to substr in something I haven't used in > 12 months.

Footie ballsup: Petition kicks off to fix 'geometrically impossible' street signs

PghMike

There'll always be an England.

Big Tech slams Trump on plan to deport kids

PghMike

Re: Not quite.

The ones that were born here aren't covered by DACA -- they're US citizens by birth.

That being said, I agree with the rest -- these people came here as children, and most have known no other country. We should show some decency and let them become citizens.

Assange offers job to sacked Google diversity manifestbro

PghMike

A job in the Ecuadorian embassy?

I'm just curious where this cool job is :-)

Has AI gone too far? DeepTingle turns El Reg news into terrible erotica

PghMike

CMU's tingle program, reborn?

Perhaps I dreamed the whole thing -- Google's been no help here, but I recall a TOPS-10 program running at Carnegie Mellon, called "tingle" that, when run, would generate a nerdy pornographic one liner, of the sort "Shove a DECtape up my ass, I need to obstruct justice, cried the President!"

That would have been late 1970s through the early '80s. Anyone else remember that? Bueller?

Bye bye MP3: You sucked the life out of music. But vinyl is just as warped

PghMike

Indeed 320 KBits/sec does the trick for me

Several years ago, I took a track from a Decemberists CD, encoded it at 64Kbits, 128Kbits, 256 KBits, 320 Kbits, both MP3 and AAC, along with the original song's bits, and then made a new CD with the resulting songs. Played it on my decent component stereo (probably cost about $2000 in today's USD). 64Kbits definitely sounded flat, and I thought that 128 was still perceptibly worse than lossless. Both 256 Kbits and 320 Kbits were indistinguishable to me from the original CD. So, I've been happy with 320Kbits rips since then; 256 would probably be fine, but I figured a little extra wouldn't hurt.

Actually, I did a few other things as well -- some classical piece I've forgotten, and something from Phillip Glass. All basically behaved the same as the Decemberists.

With regard to MP3 or AAC, I really couldn't tell any difference once I got to 256 Kbits or above.

$310m AWS S3-izure: Why everyone put their eggs in one region

PghMike

inter-region transfer costs aren't free

You pay about 5-10 cents/GB for transfers between regions. You even pay 1 or 2 cents per GB for transfers out of one availability zone into another in the same region. So redundancy isn't free.

That's probably another reason it doesn't get done as often. But I suspect the biggest issue is the complexity, and dealing with additional latency when going between regions.

PDP-10 enthusiasts resurrect ancient MIT operating system

PghMike

weirdest UI ever

One thing you should know, if you'd never used it, was that the ITS "shell" was a binary debugger.

You'd login by typing "mlk$u" where "mlk" was your user name, and "$" was the Escape character. No password was required (or even allowed; thanks RMS). You could then type something like "4/" and see what's in location 4 (which was a register on the PDP-10). There were ways of running commands like macsyma, too (":macsyma", i.e. put a ":" in front of the command line).

Even stranger, you could type $$^R, and it would unprotect the OS, so that you could patch the running kernel from your shell.

I am not making any of this up.

PghMike

There may have been others, too, but I definitely ran pip on TOPS-10 systems when I was in high school in the early '70s.

Why I just bought a MacBook Air instead of the new Pro

PghMike

The thing is, I like OS/X. But I have to admit that I'm also disappointed with the choices Apple made. I've using a late 2011 MacBook Pro, which I've upgraded to 8GB of memory. I've been holding off putting a new SSD disk in it, since I was hoping I'd be able to get a really light MacBook Pro 15". And I guess I can -- the new 15" model is 1.6 lbs lighter than what I'm using. But it's expensive, and I still have to see how badly they've messed up the keyboard. And I need dongles for everything.

But I'm half tempted to go down to a 13" display, and if I do, I'll go to the one that doesn't have a touch bar, and save $300.

But I think I'm also going to have to at least look at what the Linux ecosystem looks like these days.

Mobile data is getting slower, faster

PghMike

Re: India LTE Coverage

These guys almost always talk, when you read the fine print, about covering N% of the population.

PghMike

T mobile US speeds

Sitting here in a building in Pittsburgh, and measured 49Mbps download (T Mobile). Yesterday got 33Mbps at this location. I almost always get LTE speeds > 15 Mbps.

T mobile has a smaller coverage area than some, but I certainly don't see speeds like 2 Mbps; measured speeds are way higher.

Apple crumbles: Mac sales slump while Dell, HP Inc, Lenovo shift PCs

PghMike

Apple's #s should be dropping

Everyone knows that the current Macbook Air / Pro machines are due for a refresh. I'm typing this on a late 2011 machine Macbook Pro, which works fine; there's certainly no reason why I'd buy a replacement for it now when I expect a new, lighter, version within 6 months.

I *should* buy a large SSD for it, but have been holding off, thinking that perhaps the next rev of the Macbook Pro will be cool enough to make it worth upgrading.

If Apple wants its sales to improve, it'll have to ship new hardware. And not just a home use machine like the (relatively) new 12" Macbook.

Flying Spaghetti Monster is not God, rules mortal judge

PghMike

Made up religions

I'd like to see the judge's take on Mormonism, Moses's burning bush, or the virgin birth, for that matter.

Mud sticks: Microsoft, Windows 10 and reputational damage

PghMike

Windows 10 -- why so broken?

I don't use Windows very often, but my wife calls me in when there are problems with her work machine. I was surprised by how badly Windows 10 handles the basics: it is far more buggy than I would have expected. To wit:

1 -- We haven't been able to configure it to run two displays at once. She has a largish Acer VGA display that worked fine with Windows 8, but when plugged into Windows 10, didn't appear to work, at any resolution. As a matter of fact, you can't even see the display in any of the configuration programs (why are there two?)

I assumed I needed a specific driver (but why not get a default configuration from a *VGA* display). However, by accident we booted it with the cover closed, and then it used the big display! But stopped using it when you open the cover.

Really, supporting a laptop screen + a VGA display shouldn't require any special configuration in 2016.

2 -- My wife has had to install printer drivers nearly a half dozen times, just to print on an HP 6180 ink jet printer. Again, is this rocket science?

Her personal macbook required zero manual configuration to use either of these devices.

Why Tim Cook is wrong: A privacy advocate's view

PghMike

Apple is mostly right

You portray Apple's position as black and white, but it really isn't. Apple is being asked to spend their own money breaking into their own OS. No matter what they do, there'll always be *some* attack that can work against even future phones, even if it requires taking the phone apart atom-by-atom.

Apple is saying "No, we won't do this," and wants to stop now, even though the costs are probably not prohibitive today for a single iPhone 5C.

In other words, Apple doesn't want to be ordered to spend their own money to subvert their own security. It will *never* be *impossible* for them to get keys out of a phone. But it will be increasingly expensive, time consuming and likely have an increasing likelihood that an error will accidentally destroy the data on the phone.

Confused as to WTF is happening with Apple, the FBI and a killer's iPhone? Let's fix that

PghMike

bad precedent

I think Apple's most concerned about setting a bad precedent that it can be ordered to work to remove the security protections it inserted in iPhones. Right now, the request is that they generate firmware that sends keys to a piece of hardware without extra rate limiting. In 5S and later phones, there's a secure enclave that makes it much harder to do the passcode testing, since the enclave itself performs rate limiting.

But in the future, Apple MIGHT find itself ordered to make use of any bugs it later discovers in the enclave, or even to physically modify an enclave, to allow the same types of attacks on a more secure phone. And they might be required to turn over the resulting firmware to the FBI to use on other phones (along with keys to allow the FBI to sign it for other phones). Apple no doubt wants to stop from even starting going down this slippery slope.

Also, note that although the keys used to encrypt flash data are highly random AES keys, those keys are protected only by the passcode, and for most people, those passcode are way too small (4-6 digits). So, while someone who's really careful could make it very hard for the FBI to break into a phone, even with Apple's help, a novice (99.99999% of Apple users) would use a passcode from a much smaller space, conceivably small enough that with Apple's help, and a few bugs in the enclave here or there, the FBI could break into the phone.

Most significantly, this level of detail is way too technical for nearly everyone following this story. To them, the question is going to be a very simple "Are iPhones secure from the government, or are they not?" Apple wants the answer to that to be "Yes, they're secure."

Boffins' gravitational wave detection hat trick blows open astronomy

PghMike

how do you measure a change of 1/10,000 of a proton diameter with a laser?

Optical lasers wavelengths are in the few thousands of angstroms (angstrom = 10^-10 meters). But a proton is 10^-15 meters in diameter, and 1/10,000 of that is 10^-19 meters, or one billionth of a photon of visible light.

So, how can you use such large photons to see such a small change in length?

Also, how do you know the size of the black holes involved, at such a distance?

T-Mobile USA’s BingeOn is a smash hit. So what now?

PghMike

Binge-on obviously doesn't violate net neutrality

The 480p that video gets reduced to is still better than decent quality, and it's very nice to be able to watch Netflix or whatever even when your hotel Wifi is crap.

No one is being held up for cash to get binge-on's benefits, and users can disable it if they want. As far as I can tell, it is just an automated tool to do something that I used to wish to be able to do anyway: reduce the bandwidth used by a video stream when using 3G/4G/LTE.

The risk of violating net neutrality is that smaller companies might not be able to afford to pay off someone like Verizon for good access to its customers. That's not a problem here -- anyone can participate in Binge-on, and it doesn't cost the server's company any extra money.

Now VW air-pollution cheatware 'found in Audis and Porsches'

PghMike

Discovered by the EPA

Wow, so VW didn't come clean about the Audi and Porsches, they waited for the EPA to discover the same software was running on these other cars. Did VW really not realize that all VW owned brands will be tested?

Honestly, VW should have its imports banned for sale in the US for 5 years, just for stupidity.

Internet daddy Vint Cerf blasts FCC's plan to ban Wi-Fi router code mods

PghMike

Re: VHS vs Wifi

This is a pretty foolish argument. Anyone who's prepared to do all of that can just build a radio.

PghMike

Bozos at the FCC know that these are just one form of computer, right?

I hope those bozos at the FCC figure out that routers are just low power computers. If someone really wants to violate the FCC regulations, they can just buy at small PC, Raspberry Pi, a dumb storage appliance, or pretty much anything, and drop their own kernel on it. All they're doing with these regulations is making life harder for people just trying to get some decent router software.

The FCC should concentrate on people who actually violate their regulations, not worry about "pre-crime."

Google Chromecast 2015: Puck-on-a-string fun ... why not, for £30?

PghMike

Love my chrome cast (V1)

I use it with Plex for ripped DVDs, Netflix, Hulu (Plus), HBO Go, Amazon Prime videos (via Chrome tab casting, which works quite well, even with a 2011 Macbook Pro doing the casting), CBS.COM (for Colbert, also via tab casting), FXX and Vudu purchased videos.

It's cheap, it fits into a TV that has no other reasonable connections, and it works well for everything but Apple media. So, I don't buy Apple media.

Of course, those losers at Amazon don't provide a native iOS casting app, but tab casting works well enough that I really don't mind.

Rights groups: Darn you Facebook with your 'government names'

PghMike

I've never seen this

I've signed up for FB accounts with made up names by linking them with gmail.com accounts with the same name, and I've never had to provide FB my "real" name.

I can't be the first person who thought of using gmail.com emails with FB.

Bezos' BAN-HAMMER batters Chromecast, Apple TV

PghMike

Chromecast still the winner to me

I'm still pretty happy with Chromecast. It works fine for Netflix, Hulu and Youtube (of course), along with Vudu. There are a few things on Amazon I like to watch on the big screen, and tab casting work better than ever these days, so that's just what I do.

It isn't that hard to buy a Chromecast from a Best Buy (in the US). So, I doubt Amazon's behavior will have any effect, except to make people wonder how crappy the FireStick must be if Amazon feels this will materially help it.

CHEAT! Volkswagen chief 'deeply sorry' over diesel emission test dodge

PghMike

lawsuits on the way, no doubt

I'm guessing that the recall will significantly hurt some aspect of the cars' performance -- otherwise why do the hack in the first place. So, I'm guessing that there'll be a bunch of civil lawsuits against VW for this.

Conceivably, even the US DoJ might file criminal charges, but I'd be surprised if they do -- Obama's DoJ seems to think that crimes committed as an executive of a large corporation don't merit prosecution.

NetApp falls into loss-making territory as yearly revenues drop 10 per cent

PghMike

7 mode vs. C mode

It isn't surprising that current 7 mode customers aren't migrating to C mode -- it requires a full data copy of any volume switching modes, last time I checked. That's way too much upheaval to put a working storage infrastructure through.

C mode sales are pretty much all new sales, and NetApp directs the same customers who would have been buying 7 mode systems to buy C mode systems for their new filers. The real question is how the sum of 7 mode + C mode sales are growing, or shrinking. That tells you how NetApp's traditional business is doing.

Pretending it is good news on its own that C mode sales are growing is silly: of course C mode sales are growing; the sales are starting from a relatively small installed base.

Virtually no one is using Apple Music even though it is utterly free

PghMike

Apple Music still very confusing

My old way of using iTunes involves having a bunch of music local to my iPhone and Mac, and streaming anything not present from iCloud. All that still comes for free -- you can stream the music you've purchased on any iDevice.

When Apple Music was released, the streaming option disappeared until I signed up for Apple Music. But even today, a lot of my ripped CD music in my iTunes library now shows up as "Apple Music" even though I don't have iTunes Match. Fortunately, it appears that this "Apple Music" isn't DRM'd (at least, VLC can play them); some are even MP3 files!

The iTunes store app on the iPhone is a nightmare. My youngest (sharing the same Apple ID) bought Taylor Swift's 1989, and iTunes shows the songs as downloadable on my Macbook, but on my phone, the iTunes store app doesn't seem to know that I own it. The phone's Music app offers me an option to "make available offline" but I don't know if that means downloading a DRM'd version that'll go bad when I drop Apple Music, or if it is downloading the iCloud version. I guess I won't find out until the subscription runs out, at which point I suspect Apple's support phones will be ringing off the hook.

Finally, what's the deal with the "Beats 1" radio station? Does Apple really not know that there are literally hundreds of thousands of free Internet radio stations, many of which are more interesting?

Moronic Time cover sets back virtual reality another 12 months

PghMike

don't care if he's rich

I'm not sure that being a billionaire is sufficient compensation for having that picture distributed around the world. And while I realize that I'm over 50 and so can no longer judge the ages of youngins, he doesn't look like a dorky 22 year old, he looks like a dorky 12 year old.

How did Oculus marketing ever let something like that happen?

So what the BLINKING BONKERS has gone wrong in the eurozone?

PghMike

Re: HOW IT WORKS *

The US has *political* union, which the EU does not have. The Germans hate sending their money to others; that's why they're refusing any debt reduction to Greece.

In the US, OTOH, the bluest states have citizens who, for example, are fighting politically to expand Obamacare, which will pump more money from the richer blue states to the poorer red states.

So, much as we make jokes about Alabama and Mississippi, we're trying to give, not loan, them money. Call me when your typical German *wants* to do that for Greece, Spain and Italy.

Crap crypto crackdown coming as FBI boss testifies to US Congress

PghMike

Re: Why am I reminded of this?

Nice! And a perfect example.

PghMike

Comey's an idiot

Comey couldn't even make it through the Diff, Rivest &al paper? It was written specifically for a guy like him with no technical background. He's an embarrassment to our government.

Cupertino GIVES IN to Taylor Swift, will pay Apple Music royalties

PghMike

Well, as Jerry Garcia once said, "Well, you can't please everyone."

I think Apple saw a pile of bad press about how a company with $200 billion in the bank decided it had to screw some musicians out of 3 months of revenue.

Kudos to Ms Swift -- her statement pretty much guaranteed lots of bad press for Apple if they continued their plan to rip off musicians.

Taylor Swift boycotts Apple Music over no-pay-for-plays shocker

PghMike

I'm with Ms. Swift

Apple has something like $200 billion dollars in cash sitting around. It's a shame that they want to refuse to pay royalties to artists, effectively asking the artists to subsidize Apple's frontal assault on Spotify and other streaming companies.

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