* Posts by Simon 15

31 posts • joined 3 May 2011

Intel adopts Orwellian irony with call for fast Meltdown-Spectre action after slow patch delivery

Simon 15

Yes, this is definitely a massive f**k-up by processor manufacturers and although Intel is by far worse affected let's not forget that AMD, Arm and pretty much any modern CPU that uses preemptive/speculative execution are vulnerable too.. If you were paranoid you might even speculate that such a 'feature' was added deliberately.

Although news of the problem did make it to the mainstream media, this was a few weeks ago and probably wont be mentioned ever again. I'd say 95% of computer users are still completely oblivious to the issue and wont make the connection even when they do get pwned. Intel will get away Scot-free as per usual.

Simon 15

Re: What about homebrew computers?

Yourself, as you are the 'manufacturer'... I would expect that you should be able to download a BIOS update for your motherboard (when/if available) which will contain the relevant microcode to patch the processor. If you are using Linux then you can also update the microcode manually if you so wish, this link describes the process (https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/microcode) there are ways to do the same thing on Windows too.

1 in 5 STEM bros whinge they can't catch a break in tech world they run

Simon 15

Re: The smug, dismissive way this article is written kinda proves their point

Absolutely spot-on, blind hiring practices would be the perfect solution here as discrimination, be it positive or 'standard' is discrimination nonetheless. Organisations or events that are exclusivity for one ethnic group are equally discriminatory yet many of these do exist such as the National Black Police Association, Music of Black Origin awards to name just a few. Can you imagine how unacceptable it would be to have a National White Police Association or Music of White Origin awards? Anything that discriminates between two otherwise equal persons on the basis of race alone, is, by definition racist and abhorrent.

The problem always seems to arise when companies are given targets to meet for the number or people they should be employing from a particular demographic and this is where this racism occurs as one group of people are treated more favourably than another based on the colour of their skin alone. In my view (which I consider to be entirely logical) it should be the person who is the best skilled to do the job who is employed regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexual preference creed, colour or disability. I'd much rather have a black heart surgeon operating upon me if she was the best applicant at interview rather than a white male. The point is, race, along with any other irrelevant characteristic simply shouldn't enter into consideration.

I think that the fact that we have organisations and industries that are predominantly 'white' or 'male' raises several interesting questions. Unfortunately much of the time the key assumption is that this disparity is caused by discrimination, i.e. "The company favours white males because we don't like anyone who isn't Caucasian even if they are clearly brilliant in their field." This is a very lazy and illogical conclusion to make but one routinely bounded about without any thought, of which the most recent example I can recall is the BBC reporting that a higher percentage of black males were being referred to the NHS for mental health assessment and therefore the NHS was inherently racist. If I take this logic to an extreme I could therefore claim the NHS was also sexist as 100% of admissions to the postnatal ward were female. It's clear to me in both of these examples that the observable effect of a disparity in demographic is caused by reasons other than racism/sexism. This doesn't mean than racism and sexism don't exist (they clearly do) but they simply do not explain the observed effect. Clearly more women than men are admitted to the post-natal ward because they are the ones that give birth to children. Would it be too far to speculate that more black males are referred to the NHS for mental health issues because they are more prone to mental issues than the white folk? Racist! I hear you cry, but once again you have judged me based on the observed effect rather than the underlying cause. I'm no expert but I would suggest a more socio-economic reason for this disparity, perhaps more black males have incredibly stressful jobs?

As with far too many issues in today's society, it is almost impossible to have a reasonable discussion about the underlying cause of many of these disparities without upsetting those unable to distinguish between cause and effect. Even our greatest minds are unable to make suggestions that dare to offend modern sensibilities. James Watson, a Nobel prize winner for his and Crick's discovery of DNA has now been shunned by the entire scientific community for daring to suggest that there may be actual differences between racial groups and genders. He is now considered to be a 'racist' (a bit like the 'communist' tag of the 1950's) even though his suggestion was based entirely on the observable evidence. If I recall my history correctly, Galileo was treated in a very similar way when he dared to suggest that the earth wasn't flat. Just because you don't like what someone is saying, it doesn't mean they are wrong.

May I now dare to speculate that the reason why most tech companies employ far more white males than any other demographic is that, one the day, they were the best applicants for the job? This doesn't mean that the companies being racist, it's just the way it was. There may well be (and often is) discrimination further down the chain that has resulted in fewer ethnic minorities applying for the position (poor education, housing, opportunity) and it is this underlying external cause which needs to be addressed at source rather than warping employment practices to retrospectively compensate for it. All 'positive' discrimination does is discriminate against the demographic of people who are unfairly blamed for causing the problem in the first place! Two wrongs don't make a right...

Here come the lawyers! Intel slapped with three Meltdown bug lawsuits

Simon 15

Re: Should Intel (and other chip makers) be held responsible for hardware flaws?

Answer: Yes

Perhaps if Intel doesn't have sufficient expertise in designing and fabricating processors they should outsource the job to another company such as AMD or Arm therefore leaving them to focus on their core business instead which is of course.... doh!

Pastry in a manger: We're soz, Greggs man said

Simon 15

Re: Spineless of them to give in

I think it was the network that censored it rather than the south park creators themselves. I'm assuming you're referring to the prophet Mohammed here too as he was the most prolific paedophile by our modern civilised standards. His youngest wife, Aisha was just six when they were married but to be fair he did wait until she was nine before he sealed the deal.

Not that other religions are any better, but are there any worse?

Google puts the last coat of polish on Chrome 61

Simon 15

Always ask the question "What's the worst that can happen?".... Most of the time it's exactly what will happen.

Scottish pensioners rage at Virgin cabinet blocking their view

Simon 15

Re: Silly really...

Simple. The people who buy from them are even dimmer still... It's the 'talk talk' effect - no matter what you do to your existing customer base if you sell your product cheaply enough then muppets will always buy it.

Interestingly enough the average life expectancy in Renfrewshire is 82.8 years so this problem would appear to be somewhat self-limiting, I'd tell her to give it a year and see what happens.

UK's lords want more details on adult website check plans

Simon 15

Re: Any Ideas?

Yes, a good idea, I'm sure it's been done before. Destroying things we find offensive or might just harm children is the solution! Can we start with religious texts first? They seem to be the most harmful of all publications.

Simon 15

King Cnut

At least King Cnut knew he couldn't hold back the inevitable tide. This bunch of cnuts don't have a clue.

Apple sings another iTune following Brexit as prices rise by up to a third

Simon 15

Re: Bright ideas - not

Feel free to leave, I'm sure Europe will take you in.

Idiot brings gun-shaped iPhone to airport

Simon 15

What a tool....

As an armed police officer my split-second decision would be to pop him in the head and ask questions later.. But only if he was white of course.

'Bitcoin creator' Craig Yeah Wright in meltdown

Simon 15

Re: Of course

He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy.... Clearly has psychological issues too.

Wasps force two passenger jets into emergency landings

Simon 15

Re: I'm torn...

Either that or they prove that if god (assuming christian) does exist he really just isn't *that* nice.... The genocide of the flood seems to support this supposition. I'm not sure how an all knowing being can keep making so many serious mistakes but then again he does work in mysterious ways!

Our fear of spiders seems to be irrational, they catch insects that we usually consider pests. I think people are really just jealous that they have so many legs.

Simon 15

Re: I'm torn...

Either that or they prove that if god (assuming christian) does exist he really just isn't *that* nice.... The genocide of the flood seems to support this supposition. I'm not sure how an all knowing being can keep making so many serious mistakes but then again he does work in mysterious ways!

Raspberry Pi 3 to sport Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE – first photos emerge

Simon 15

Good luck trying to get one!

If it's anything like the Pi Zero then you'll not be able to get hold of one for at least six months after it's released.. Don't believe me? Have a look, bet you can't find a single zero for sale from an authorised partner. Since the original Raspberry Pi the foundation have repeatedly failed to predict the level of demand for their product and then to adjust manufacturing output accordingly. I predict they'll make exactly the same blunder here.

I'm not criticising the extremely noble aims of the foundation but they really do need to get someone on board who understands business. I'm not sure why they are so hung up about getting the boards produced in the UK when the key thing to ensure is that demand can be met and customers (including schools) can actually purchase your product! This isn't just good business sense, it's good common sense...

So here's my prediction: They release the product, it sells out very quickly and they claim they were "surprised" by the level of demand. Then rather than increasing production capability they insist on producing the product at the same single plant in the UK who clearly can't keep up. Six months later it'll still be impossible to get hold of one without paying twice the official price from an ebay scalper. Any fair criticism posted on their forums will be deleted.

Haters going to hate, but let's see what happens....

Reminder: iPhones commit suicide if you repair them on the cheap

Simon 15

Re: Hardly a surprise

But the thing is that you are free to do all of these things if you so wish as your property should be yours to do with as you please.

For example when I change the oil filter on my car I'll use the cheapest 'decent' brand I can find. It might not be the same brand as the one I'm replacing but it does the job as they are all built to a minimum specification. The car is my property and it's my decision to do what I like with it, heck I could even use cheap crappy filters from China if I wanted to. It would be a poor decision but it would be *my* decision and I'd be responsible for the consequences when the engine inevitably overheats. What would be unacceptable to me is if the car would completely refuse to start unless I used a specific filter dictated by the manufacturer or, even worse the very act of changing the filter myself caused the car to initiate a self-destruct routine and exploded on the driveway this depriving me of its use.

To me it seems that Apple are once again screwing their customers over. It's bad enough that the product is sold at such a markup to begin with (I'll ignore the child labour) but if you dare to use non-authorised parts then they'll destroy your device under the guise of security. I'm quite certain this constitutes a deliberate act of depriving the owner from both the utility and value of their property which could therefore be argued in court. A warning message such as "your device may have been compromised by performing unauthorised repairs" would be perfectly reasonable however.

The underlying problem with Apple is that they are brilliant at business and this is usually bad news for their customers. They certainly have the money to fight off any legal action in court and make bringing a case against them prohibitively expensive for even a Korean multinational let alone a regular individual. They do sell (admittedly) good quality products but way above their natural market value by creating desire, restricting supply and so on. Sadly half the population are below median average intelligence and lap this up in exactly the same way they do for SUVs, 4x4s, red wine, gym membership, curved TVs, audiophile equipment, gold plated HDMI cables etc. And of course once you've shelled out for a 24 month contract at £50 a month for an iPhone you'll then naturally feel the need to defend your poor decision making when challenged by someone who's purchased a comparable Android device directly from China for a fifth of the price. I think most people are also inherently insecure and want to be popular; follow the latest trends; look cool/hip; demonstrate their perceived wealth/status to others and so on. There also seems to be a sense of security/reassurance in buying something that is expensive just because you can, Stella Artois (aka wife-beating juice) for example...

Sadly the proportion of the population who can grasp these concepts is somewhat limited and diminishing on a daily basis. The majority are happy being to be told what to do and will accept this in the same way they always do - "War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength."

Bijou Linux autopilot takes to the skies

Simon 15

Re: Pi Zero availability

18th Jan 2016 - Still out of stock from all major suppliers..

Have just ordered a batch of 20 ESP8266 development boards instead. I would have purchased at least 10 Pi Zeros in preference here but they're not available. I know the Raspberry Pi foundation has more altruistic aims than most other 'businesses' but what a crazy situation to be in where there is such massive demand for a product that you can effectively afford to turn down custom.... I wish I was in a similar situation.

They are sitting on a gold mine here, swallow the pride and shift production to China. Heck, even sell it for a higher price and give it another name (Raspberry Chi Zero?) and I'd still buy loads of them. I'm actually hoping it wont be long until we see unofficial Chinese clones on sale, Banana Pi Zero anyone?

Simon 15

Re: Pi Zero availability

Same problem here... Have been looking to buy one (or a dozen) since they were released but everywhere is perpetually out of stock. I know with the original Pi financing the production was an issue but I'd have thought this wouldn't have been the case any more. Perhaps the £5 computer really is too good to be true?

Do we know if they are still manufacturing them in the UK now? If so, my suggestion would be to shift production back to China where they can produce the volume required to satisfy demand. It really irks me to see a business loosing money from such a basic oversight, especially when they must have known from experience that the product was going to be in very high demand. Perhaps selling them for a slightly higher price of £6 (+20% pure profit!) would have allowed for a greater speculative investment in production.

Queue a thousand replies below telling us who's got one already... Good for you and yes, I know I can get one on eBay for £20. That's not the point.

Want your kids to learn coding? Train the darn teachers first

Simon 15

I'd love some training!

Training in schools and especially colleges (where I've worked for the last ten years) is quite 'sparse' to say the least. I've recently returned to working in school teaching again after seeing so much tax-payer's money being haemorrhaged on shiny shiny technology (think iPads for staff and 72" touch-screens used only to display). I'd also suggest that there's a considerable deal of corruption and thereby misuse of any allocated funding in most FE institutions, very little ever seems to filter down to the drones working on the chalk-face.

I'd consider myself reasonably competent at programming what with having a Software Engineering degree (1st class of course - anything less is a certificate of attendance) and spending much of my own time working on hardware/software projects and thereby using a range of different programming languages. However I am quite unique and most of my ICT/Computing colleagues across the country are more geared towards the ICT (Using Computers) side of things and simply don't want to spend their weekends learning exception handling in Python.

Another major problem in education is that we are absolutely abysmal when it comes to educating/training each other. In my previous job the college paid a significant amount to have a trainer deliver some rudimentary CISCO network training to a small group of staff when they had an experienced CCAI (me) in the same room already working for them but for some reason hadn't realised this.... Ho Hum. This is just one of many examples. Schools are even worse, there are many teachers who are still terrified to turn on a computer let alone use one. I'm not sure what the answer is, but just throwing more money at the problem wont solve anything.

Five lightweight Linux desktop worlds for extreme open-sourcers

Simon 15

Re: Painless?

Are you perhaps living in a warmer climate than the original poster? :) If so lucky bugger..

In the UK the temperatures average at around 26C (78.8F) in summer with the maximum currently recorded as 37.4C (99.3F).. I too keep a cheap server (Fujitsu Primergy TX310) in the loft (attic) and it runs 24/7 without problem. All the temperatures are always well within tolerance and considerably lower than my high-performance desktop system with the fancy graphic cards etc.

Gwyneth Paltrow flubs $29 food stamp dare, swallows pride instead

Simon 15

Re: Soup (is good food...)

It's not difficult at all! The problem is that everyone is just too greedy and eats far more food than they actually require.... I sit at a desk most of the day and therefore don't need the thousands of calories that my ancestors doing much more labor intensive jobs did. There is a massive variety of soup commonly available from your local supermarket and I certainly don't ever feel 'bored' or limited for choice.

The benefits of a low calorie diet are very well documented as much research has already been conducted. Searching for 'Newcastle Diet' is a good starting point and there's a huge wealth of evidence showing how chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes can be reversed by an ultra low calorie diet. It's all just common sense really so I'm surprised that it seems to upset so many people! Eat a well-balanced, nutritional diet that provides just enough calories for your daily needs and you'll do well. Eat too much, too little or too much of any one single type of food and it's going to be bad for you... What's so difficult? Fruit and veg = healthy, chips and pies = not healthy..

If you want to find out more about how you can eat less, save money and live longer then the BBC Horizon episode 'Eat, Fast and Live Longer' is an excellent starting point.

At the end of the day we are all too greedy and eat not because we are hungry but to replace something that is missing in our lives or for the sake of enjoyment. It seems a bit sad and shallow to me and I suppose it perhaps explains why we have such an obesity problem in the UK.

Simon 15
Happy

Soup (is good food...)

I spend less than £20 a week on my food out of choice not because I need to.. I eat/drink soup five days a week as part of a highly restrictive calorie controlled diet. Just one 600ml pot of fresh wholesome soup a day and as much water as I want free of charge from the tap at work. That's a total cost of £5 for the week leaving me to splash out with the other £15 at the weekend! Woo Hoo!

I'll spend £6 for a decent meal on Sunday including some meat for protein, chicken fajitas, spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne, chicken curry & rice and that sort of thing. The Morrison's meal-deal (£6) is a winner here.. With the remaining £9 I'll stock up on bread, frozen peppers, onions, pasta, rice, butter and perhaps even some bacon if I'm feeling extravagant! Once again the delicious water from the tap in my kitchen is (almost) free.

Is it really that difficult? The evidence suggests that I'll probably live longer too :)

HP Stream x360: Flippable and stylish Chromebook killer

Simon 15

Bring back netbooks!

We threw them under the bus but netbooks were great so it's good to see that they're coming back in a slightly different form!

I personally don't need a touchscreen or a fold-back display and would prefer more memory a replaceable battery, bigger hard-drive (~500GB) and 8 hours from a single charge so the Acer E3-116 Netbook from Argos (£220) was the perfect solution for me :) I'd certainly recommend it and it's surprisingly well built for an Acer product. However if you really want the touchscreen then the HP is a great deal as it's got the same processor which does seem to run Windows 8.1, Windows 7 and Ubuntu 14.04 rather well. I think the biggest limitation is probably going to be storage space but I suppose a 32GB SD-Card is cheap enough these days.

SanDisk launches 200GB microSD card

Simon 15

Re: Too Small?

Ah you see that's just too organised for me! It's a pain in the backside switching microSD cards between phones, taking them out, storing them in the full sized SD 'caddy' putting that somewhere safe, finding the correct MicroSD from the draw, taking it out the caddy inserting it in the phone etc. I just want to be able to eject one card (preferably without having to take the phone apart) and slot the new one in without having to feel like I'm playing Russian dolls with my storage. As I get older I'm also finding it increasingly harder to manipulate such tiny and fiddly components and usually end up dropping them at least once.

Why not just make the card a reasonable size in the first place? If we continue our obsession with this sort of miniaturisation then before long you'll be able to fit 1TB on a card the size of a pinhead but not be able to find it amongst the lint in your shirt pocket!

Simon 15
Gimp

Too Small?

Now that we're reaching the point where such large amounts of data can be saved on something smaller than the size of my thumbnail I have to question if MicroSD is actually too small in terms of physical dimensions.

I know that smaller is usually better in technology but the diminutive size of MicroSD means that they are just *too* easy to lose. Normal SD cards are better but still a bit too small in my opinion whereas the old smart media cards were just about right. I've lost so many MicroSD cards over the years and suspect that they've ended up in the hoover.

It is just me or would a physically larger memory card actually be a good idea? Keep it thin and light but make it big enough so that it doesn't get lost in all the sharp & painful drawing pins and other assorted cr*p at the back of my draw. I really don't want archaeologists 200 years from now finding part my pr0n stash.

Gimp mask just because...

BOFH: Don't be afraid - we won't hurt your delicate, flimsy inkjet printer

Simon 15

I have a HP LaserJet 4M+ also purchased for £10 from a local business who didn't needed it any more. I've had it 8 years and it's still going strong... Best of all it still works without having to replace the ink/toner every time I use it even if print jobs are *days* apart!!

Sex offender wins case against Facebook vigilantism

Simon 15
Devil

Brass Eye

Genetically, paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me....

'Inexperienced' RBS tech operative's blunder led to banking meltdown

Simon 15
Linux

Re: Major error?

Not quite, it seems to have been: sudo nohup rm -rf / > /dev/null &

Student's Linux daemon 0-day triggers InfoSec Institute outcry

Simon 15
Facepalm

Re: If you have local access ...

And *IF* you have physical access. For those people who might be running wicd on a server with multiple non-root users then this is a significant issues, the fact that it was found when using BackTrack is irrelevant, misleading and poor journalism. The vulnerability exists within the widely used wicd daemon itself and therefore affects Linux in general not just BackTrack!

Tesla X e-SUV to sport monster touchscreen on the dash

Simon 15

It looks like they must have driven it into the garage with the doors up/open in that fist picture....

Archos 32 Android media player

Simon 15
Heart

Re: San Fran?

I have the Orange San Francisco and it is incredibly easy to unlock, flash and root which is good as the Orange branded default ROM is quite lethargic.... I'm currently running Android 2.2 but there are also stable 2.3 ROMS out there that I might upgrade to at some point.

For the price I'd say that the SF going to be incredibly hard to beat unless you *really* want a dedicated music/video player. The main advantage of the Archos seems to be the CPU which is considerably faster than the 600MHz one in the SF (although this can be over-clocked to some degree and seems perfectly fast enough to me anyway). Another downside could be the battery life which isn't brilliant especially when using a WiFi connection, although if I was just playing music I'd turn any data connections off.

I think you can get the SF for around £95 from Orange now (+10% extra discount for NHS workers and other selected groups) so it's pretty good value although the screen is now TFT-LCD rather than the original AMOLED (although it's still capacitive rather than resistive of course) and provides 480x800 resolution which is twice that of the Archos as is the memory (512mb Vs, 256mb). It can also take 32gb Micro SD cards so considerable room for expansion if you have a reasonably large music collection...

I personally think the Archos is pretty good value but doesn't really come close to the SF as a general purpose device (perhaps because it's not) especially when you consider the screen resolution and expandability. There's also a pretty well established development community for the SF which is always a good thing. Not sure if the Archos has GPS either... I'm guessing it doesn't.

Of course, you can also make phone calls on the SF which can be rather useful if you only want to carry one device around with you :) I spend £10 a month on giffgaff goody-bags which is roughly a quarter of what many of my friends are paying for their 18-month iPhone/HTC Desire contracts....

Yep, I love my San Fransisco :)

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