* Posts by Peter Gathercole

2924 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

Apple accuses HTC of iPhone tech theft (again)

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
FAIL

Why not? Because they are not American

and he probably does not have Chinese patents that cover this. I do not believe that there really is something as simple as a World-Wide patent, it is only applicable to those countries that have signed up to WIPO. This is not the whole world.

He may be able to get infringing devices blocked from being imported to the US, and maybe Europe, but that is all.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Technique, not apparent effect

The text indicates that what is being patented is the technique for having three components interacting in a particular way. These are the OS, a device manager and a display manager, so it is not as simple as saying "my laptop did this 15 years ago". This could very easily have been the display hardware with no involvement from the OS, and I am not even certain that earlier versions of Windows had each of these functions as separate components.

It is clear, however, that what Apple are trying to patent is the udev functionality from Linux when applied to display devices. I agree that the patent should have never been granted.

Ubuntu daddy in patent class of its own

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Thumb Up

MBR is just a bootstrap

plenty of prior art there, so I doubt it is patented, at least not by Microsoft. PDP/11's used second-stage bootstraps in the 1970's, before the PC was invented, and I'm sure they weren't the first.

What is more important is the disk label which dictates the partitioning. I believe that Microsoft invented this, although there are other partitioning formats out there. Probably about time it was re-worked. 4 primary partitions, one of which can be a kludge to make it a container for extended partitions is lame.

I presume that 2/100 CAD is 2 Canadian cents. Never seen it written like this, but then I am a Brit.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Stop

H.264

If we interpret every patent issue as black and white, we run the risk of loosing sight of what Linux has to do to become accepted.

Now I don't like software patents, and I do understand the licensing constraints on H.264, but it is currently not clear that the Google WebM codec will become accepted. Canonical have just covered all of the bases, which should allow Ubuntu to play in all parts of the media world. They have done this at their own expense (if any money a commercial company spends can be regarded as their own), and probably won't see the money recouped from the people who are most likely benefit.

What the Linux community have to accept is that an ordinary user (by this I mean someone who wants to buy a system, open the box, plug it in and use it) just will not use a Linux distro if every time they go to a web page it is a lottery as to whether their system will allow them to see and hear the media there. This is such a fundamental requirement that I sometimes wonder what many of the of the commenters are thinking.

If they are expecting the Open Source movement to really be able to overcome the might of Microsoft, Apple, et. al. with sweeping changes by just being there with a small share of the market, they are deluding themselves. Lets get a successful distro out there, and then use that as a lever to change the world. The bigger we can make it, the more likely we are to have an effect.

Google's Wi-Fi snoop nabbed passwords and emails

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Unhappy

Missing a step

In your analogy, you've missed out a step, and that is turning on your tape recorder to record it so that it could be re-played.

But in principal, I agree with what you say. If you walk around with a directional microphone recording parts of everything you can hear, is this currently illegal?

My firewall records the first couple of hundred bytes of every stateful connection that runs through it. Am I likely to be sued by my kids because I can see some of their IM sessions? If someone illegally uses my wireless network, and I capture their credit card details, are we both guilty of illegal actions?

The problem is that the law cannot keep up with the speed of technological change. The result is that the courts are asked to rule on outdated laws, ruled on effectively by technology outsiders, and are asked to make reasonable precedent judgements.

It may be that it is not illegal to not encrypt your access point, and that it may not be illegal to receive unencrypted traffic (I hope this is the case, because an unintended consequence of using your network is that it will read the headers of all packets in order to know whether to discard it) but it is illegal to record it, but it must be seen as being pretty foolhardy to not take reasonable steps to secure your access point.

There is merit on almost all of the arguments made on this forum, but it is quite clear that the whole situation has so many ambiguities that a reasonable consensus cannot be achieved.

Pakistani lawyer petitions for death of Mark Zuckerberg

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Unhappy

@Trevor Pott

I cannot claim anything like the amount of expertise you appear to have, but having read your comment, I am not sure I totally agree with your conclusions.

Yes, it would appear that representatives of these cultures are attempting to use the western originated international tools, but I don't think that they fully understand them..... yet.

One of the primary cultural differences is that Islam is without borders. Muslims have allegiance to their god above all other things. This leads them to think that if they consider something an absolute wrong, it must be wrong anywhere in the world.

If they totally understood the western world, they would also understand the futility of the action that they are taking. Whether this would stop them, I don't know, but it shows that they have a way to go.

What scares me, and I am not trying to in any way be biased against any person, religion or philosophy, is the slow infection of western style democracy by a creeping change. It would appear that this could extend all the way to the International bodies like the UN. Until recently, I felt that the UN was primarily a forum for discussion, but with the actions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, it has become more heavy handed, with individual countries trying to force the UN's to take specific actions. This is a mistake, and if the UN becomes heavily influenced by Islamic states, could backfire on the so called western countries.

What also worries me is that the world of Islam is fragmented, and this can often cause frictions even in Islamic states (think of the Shi'a and Sunni tensions in Iraq). Having this happen on a world scale could be disastrous.

I do not want to live under Sharia law, and I don't want it imposed on me by any external body or agency. Could I paranoid? It's possible, but I don't think so. Could this be an irrational fear? I think that this article answers that question. Am I becoming radicalised, I hope not, but I am beginning to get worried about my own state of mind!

Stop the World! I want to get off.

Apple's fresh Mac mini stripped naked

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

What worries me

is the use of desktop-and-server class processors in something that is built more like a laptop.

If the heat pipes that carry the heat from the GPU and processor becomes less efficient with time (as I believe they do), I'm sure you will see these cook themselves, as there is no direct cooling of the metal above the processors.

I've seen this happen with laptops using AMD mobile processors. They just break due to getting too hot once they get to a certain age!

Hybrid CD vinyl unites warring tribes

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Coat

5" 'single'

If played at 45 RPM, that will probably be about 3 minutes of music (remember, singles used to be 7", and the inner 3 inches or so were the label, that some turntables won't track). At 33 RPM, you will get more (and not have to change the belt position on a Rega P1), but the quality of 33 RPM singles was always questionable.

To put it in perspective, Bohemian Rhapsody only just fitted onto a 7" single at about 6 minutes long, and some copies skipped from new because the grooves were too close together. My original 7incher sounds awful compared to the album.

You will need something to fill the hole in the middle, though. A standard autochanger hub is the wrong size.

Bring back the 12" LP! So much more space for the cover art.

Adaptec disappearing down rabbit hole

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@James85

The AH1542 was an ISA card, and most of the jumper settings were setting the base address and IRQ. There really wasn't a better way, because ISA was a limited architecture never intended for server class systems (too few IRQ lines and no interrupt sharing).

This was the main reason PCI, MCA EISA and Plug'n'Pray were invented. Definitely not Adaptec's fault. People just remember it more with SCSI cards than anything else, but the same issues were there with sound cards, network cards and a multitude of other adapters that weren't around when the PC was originally thrown together (I deliberately avoid saying 'designed' because I don't think it ever was!)

Critical and unpatched, Windows XP bug is under attack

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@AC re. numbers and AT&T

And this is a surprise? It's quite clear that Vista did not cut the mustard for corporates, and 8 months is not enough time for an organization to test, plan and implement Windows 7 (believe me, it's not).

And why should AT&T even consider it when the end-of-life for XP support is published as 2014?

I would be more worried by people still with NT4 and 2000 in their organizations.

Google code hints at Chrome OS Dellbook

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Flame

FFS, How much do we trust Google

Cloud applications, cloud storage and now cloud printing.

Just hope "Do No Evil" never changes. I would hate for a serious commercially sensitive or security document to be snooped while it is passing through the Google print servers because someone knows no better about how their computer talks to their printer. Such information could be worth very large amounts of money.

An just think if a glitch ends up sending it to someone else's printer entirely!

Internet 1 - England goalkeeper 0

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

From what I saw, I disagree with Connor.

and I've seen the footage so much it is now boring.

He was not directly behind the ball, he was slightly (about a ball radius) to the left (wrt. his point of view). As a result, it hit his right hand around the heel of his palm, bounced up and over that hand while acquiring forward spin, which was enough to carry it over the line while he scrabbled after it.

I am not a keeper, and am not really that interested in football, but IMHO, unless you can be certain that you can scoop the ball safely into the body, the best thing to do is to smother it to the ground.

It may be that the speed and bounce of the new ball might have made a difference, leading him to underestimate the height at which the ball reached him. I know that while my wife was watching one of the games, I heard a comment about how many of the long-shots appeared to be going wide, which the commentator said could be a result of the bounce and speed of the new ball.

I don't really know why I commented on this, given that I could take or leave the World Cup. Must just be because it's on. Why isn't there a who cares shrug icon?

Microsoft sneaks Firefox add-on into Patch Tuesday update

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Troll

@AC re. Microsoft Free

What does Microsoft have to do with either USB or WiFi. They are industry standards developed by Intel and the Wi-Fi alliance respectivly.

I do not use ndiswrapper for my wifi, the code is native Linux. Ditto the USB support. The same is true for the printer and CIFS support. No Microsoft code anywhere.

I suppose that you could mean the FAT filesystem on a USB storage device (which is not necessarily written using Microsoft code), but that presupposes that the FAT patent preventing re-implementation is beyond challenge, and in actual fact you are using FAT on your USB key at all. It is perfectly possible to format your USB key with a different partition table, and put Ext2 on it, or use it un-partitioned, again with a non-FAT derived FS on it.

As far as I am aware, the only Microsoft software running on my laptop is the Windows instance inside VirtualBox. This is my choice, and I can completely remove this when I want. I also have a system at home built from recycled bits of other systems that as far as I am aware has exactly no Microsoft code on it. It has no VM or Wine, nor does it have the WMV codec's or MS Core Fonts. If it does have some MS code, then I could be in trouble, because I do not have a Windows license for it!

I suggest that you actually read about what MS make.

Cheeky Chinese punt mini Android-based iPad

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Keep up.

These have been around on eBay for a couple of months. There are even some people who claim to ship them from the UK rather than Hong Kong or Singapore.

There are videos on YouTube of them in use, although they appear to have Android 1.6 or 1.7. Seem slick enough, and to my mind, are a much more usable size that the iPad.

Google geek slammed over XP exploit

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Flame

@Giles Jones re. 8 or 9 yo OS?

Yes the OS is this old, but even if you consider Vista GA as being the point when vendors stopped shipping XP (which it wasn't), there are computers less than three-and-a-half years old that were shipped with XP. This is not old for a consumer device, and is less than the accounting depreciation period for some companies.

MS cannot, if they have any morals (debatable), stop supporting XP without providing a reasonably priced upgrade option. (I believe that they leagally have to provide support for 10 years after ship date for any kit shipped to the US DoD or other government agencies anyway)

Also remember that for non-gaming users, the amount of computing power required by ordinary home or office users topped out at around the 1.8GHz Pentium D. Beyond this, the extra power is just providing gloss. This means that many people with 2+GHz Pentium 4 or Athlon XP 2000 have perfectly usable systems that do not need to be replaced yet, and with the correct maintenance and care, could run for many more years.

Any other line is just buying into the *blatant* consumerism that is driving the retail electronics market at the moment, leading to increased consumption and greater waste disposal and recycling problems that we face.

Google Caffeine jolts worldwide search machine

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
FAIL

I think the image is changing throughout the day

Earlier is was an aerial picture of a field of flowers.

I must admit that if they continue to do this, and force you to create a google account to fix the background, I might revert to Altivista as my default search engine!

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Alert

Alarming image when I read Caffeine

I imagine thousands of Google employees rushing around shuffling paper, each quaffing copious amounts of Jolt Cola!

Apple lifted 'make web go away' button from open source

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

LGPL perchance

Check the license that the libraries you refer to are published under. There has been some very careful work to make sure that all of the foundation libraries required to compile applications are published under the Lesser Gnu Public License that explicitly allows linking non-GPL'd code without requiring you to publish the source.

Final Fantasy XIII ate my Playstation

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Happy

@AC

I was talking about the number of typed characters, rather than the number stored in memory.

I had thought of using auto and the abbreviated commands, but thought that would just be too geeky!

If I remember it correctly, it should be:

AUTO

REP.

*M.ON

*M.OFF

UN.FA.

<ESC>

R.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

BBC Basic if you please

Come on!

10 REPEAT

20 *MOTOR ON

30 *MOTOR OFF

40 UNTIL FALSE

RUN

This is BBC Basic after all. None of this GOTO business.

(OK, I know it's one more line, and about 12 more characters, but just look how much more elegant it is)

Sky snaps up Virgin TV channels

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Terminator

Doh!

It is now only a matter of time before the NewsMedia juggenaught gobbles up ITV.

Virgin set up their channels to make sure they were not completely dependent on Sky for popular content. How things change.

I must admit to being interested to see what happens to the joint Virgin/BBC channels. I really cant see the Murdochs putting up with working with their acursed enemies.

All hail our Murdoch Overlords!

Steve Jobs – Apple's not business, it's personal

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Alert

System type and location.

So how does Flurry Analytics work? I don't know, but I can make a wild guess.

On casual inspection, the Browser User Agent string (unless changed or obscured) will give you a reasonable idea of the browser and OS being used, and the IP address of the device/NAT gateway will in give away the identity of the company for anyone who has a fixed IP range registered with IANA (Apple appear to own the class A address "17", and with a little digging, it should be possible to work out which of several probable gateways on the "17" network a device is connecting from).

This will allow you a good guess of company, location and device type. If you happen to have access to a web site that is being visited (say, Google, or one of the banner advert sites), then you can drop tracking cookies in the browser to make a stab at tracking individual systems.

OK, I admit that this is a simplistic view, but this is the result of a five minute think over a cup of tea. If someone with real forensic networking skills applied all of their knowledge, I'm sure that you could get much more information, and this is without dropping a single piece of code on the system. Allowing yourself to use a java applet (OK, not on an iPad) would almost certainly allow you to find out much more about the system running the code.

Chances Steve is just p*ssed about his developers not obscuring the User Agent string!

Drinking coffee offers no real benefit, say eggheads

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

This from someone who drinks Diet Coke!

'Nuff said.

Freeview HD sacrifices surround sound for World Cup scramble

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

What do you expect

The red button channel has a lower data rate than the BBC channels (about 1/2 of the average bitrate that BBC One has for example).

This is because it was intended as a data channel, and is used to carry additional video as a convenience. That's why it is the red button, not BBC 5.

Approaching space object 'artificial, not asteroid' says NASA

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Unhappy

Not hyperspace

The beer and peanuts were for the matter transference beam that got them onto the Vogon Construction ship.

"... is green, yes."

Queuing for an iPad? Why?

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
FAIL

@JEDIDIAH

...in this case postscript, PDFs younger brother

No. Older brother, or possibly even father.

HTML5 'unhinged from reality,' say Javascripters

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Linux

@myself

In re-reading the license (link in my last update), I suddenly noticed the following in the licensing costs section.

"For (a) (1) branded encoder and decoder products sold both to end users and on an OEM

basis..."

and also

"For (a) (2) branded encoder and decoder products sold on an OEM basis..."

In both cases, the operative word is "sold". Does this mean that an H.264 codec *given away for free* escapes this licensing condition?

If it does, then this gives the Open Source community a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Of course, it still leaves the media providers conditions in place.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Stop

@rhoderickj. Read the license!

Your Open Standard is open provided that you can prove that your codec (specifically the encoder part) has not been distributed more than 100,000 times in a year. Once this has happened, someone has to start paying license fees to MPEGLA (see the license at http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/avc/Documents/AVC_TermsSummary.pdf). This is regardless of how it is distributed (direct download, torrent, viral spread). I believe that the important term here is 'branded', which will identify a particular implementation of the encoder for license purposes.

They will almost certainly come after the project owner(s) on SourceForge or whatever repository they have used, to collect.

Anybody engaged in such an "Open Source" implementation of an H.264 encoder, once it hits 100,000 copies in a year should be prepared either to disappear, or fork out large amounts of cash if their code becomes popular.

This means that although the writers may consider it open, MPEGLA almost certainly don't, and have the right to collect or prosecute in the US.

Of course, it may be possible to have an open source decoder, and make that a separate product from the encoder. This would enable the decoder to be downloaded for personal use as many times as needed, while being able to control the number of people using the encoder. The onus would still remain with the project owners to track and if necessary limit the number of uses of the encoder.

Additionally, it is possible that if you host the project in a country that is not encumbered by software patents, you may just be able to evade the US legal system, but you had better not be a US citizen, or resident in a country that has a 'special arrangement' extradition treaty with the US!

BT quotes pensioner £150,000 to get broadband

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@AndrueC

OK, the equipment may have been upgraded, but the premises which contain the exchanges, and a vast amount of the last-mile copper, all the telegraph poles, and the wayleaves agreements, and also many of the streetside connection boxes were in the original deal.

Not only has BT been able to use all of this without having to pay anyone, they have actually been able to achieve a capital gain on buildings which used to be exchanges, but have actually had the service consolidated into other nearby exchanges (think how much more compact digital exchanges are compared to the Strouger exchanges that have been shut down), and sold on. I was also told some years ago by someone in the telecommunications industry, that BT actually made money from ripping out the copper based long distance network, scrapping the copper, and replacing it with fibre.

If you were a new player, how much would it cost to put the last mile infrastructure in and buy the buildings for the local exchanges (especially in cities). We had an approximation when the cable infrastructure was put in 20 years ago (by the way, it was not Virgin, it was the small companies that merged to become NTL and Telewest that did the installation, and this is not Virgin Media by another name), and it was expensive then, and effectively bankrupted them. Think how much it would be now! (that's why they are experimenting with fibre through the sewers).

I Married a Monster from ISO 9000

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

That dross

is now call ITIL, and is mandated on UK Government projects.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Methinks

that too many of the readers will have difficulty working out the hymns that you so expertly para-phrase!

I do think that security audits can also be a bit of a trial. Can we include them in the hell reserved for ISO 9000 auditors!

No refunds for ID card pioneers

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

I think that...

ID cards for non-EU nationals are still on the cards (pun intended!)

LimeWire knackered by US courts

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Stop

Whining?

I'm *NOT* defending LimeWire. If you have read any of my other posts mentioning copyright infringement, you will spot that I say frequently that I buy my media, even downloads, and only in very exceptional circumstances (such as the material not being available on any download service or purchasable in shops or online) would I even think of downloading it. I am not a registered LimeWire or MP3 or torrent search site user, and I resent you implication that I am.

But what I am actually saying as if you take the extract quoted in the article at face value (and not qualified by the caveats in the actual ruling), then it could be used to prevent a service from being available even if it has acceptable uses, merely because it *could* be used for unacceptable purposes. The qualifications in the ruling clarify this, but the article did not.

As I said in my reply, I commented on the article, which did not have the qualifications of the actual ruling. But I was trying to make a point about overly-wide judgements that could be used to block legitimate uses of the Internet.

Many of the people who comment about so called fretards are shortsighted enough to have a protocol blacklisted or blocked merely because it *can* be used for copyright infringement. The current favorite is bittorrent. Bittorrent as a protocol is content-neutral, but can and is being used to distribute copyright material. I've heard many people state that the protocol should be banned, even when it can be easily demonstrated that one of it's original uses (Linux distribution) is still in use.

If you are able to successfully make the case that Bittorrent as a whole should be blocked, then by implication, so should any other mechanism that *could* be used to distribute copyright material against the copyright. Because Bittorrent, Kazaar, eDonkey, eMule and any number of other protocols grew up as unregistered protocols, to take this to it's ultimate conclusion requires you to block all but allowed protocols on the Internet so a new protocol cannot be developed. So, no ftp or SSH on the internet, and no new innovations with new protocols.

For an analogy. you do not prevent someone from sending photocopies of books through the post by shutting the postal service down. Content neutral protocols on the 'net should be the same.

From your tone, I take it that you approve of whatever the courts and primary legislation turn out, regardless of whether it is just or moral, or if it infringes on personal freedoms. I suggest that you look at the wider picture, and hope that we never get to the world you appear to want.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Unhappy

My bad.

OK, I neglected to read a link from the original article. That's a fair criticism of my comment, but I stand by my dangerous precedent title, especially when used in contributory copyright infringement. I just chose a bad example. BTW, as far as I can see (I've not actually read the complete Grokster ruling, just the LimeWire one), I would say that Andrew Orlowski's comment on FTP client software (note he quotes client rather than server) is his interpretation, as I cannot see a reference to it in any quote or summary of the judgments.

Having actually now read the judgment for this case, which includes summaries of the Grokster ruling, it is clear that the article has cherry-picked very selective statements, one of which I picked up on. By this is a TINY part of the ruling, and one which actually appears to be in dispute as to whether the SONY-BETAMAX judgment is applicable to P2P services with regard to alternate legitimate uses. There appears to be a lot of 'mostly' qualifications that are woolly and open to interpretation.

The problem is that the text of the ruling is detailed and long, and it has been summarized to death, leading important associations being missed out.

So. I'm sorry I did not do due diligence, but that is a danger in using news sites and commenting when you don't have the time to read all referenced material.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Badgers

Dangereous precident(s)

The Lawyers will have to look at the wording of this judgment carefully. The way I quickly read it, any technology that facilitates location and downloading of copyrighted material could fall foul of the way it was worded.

If the critical part was the filtering, then any service that allows a partially wildcarded search including words such as mp3, avi, mpg may be covered by this.

I'm thinking search engines in particular, but even things as mundane as an FTP server could be seen to be covered by "providing direct infringers with a product that enables infringement".

You would have to ask whether ARPA and UC Berkeley are also liable for laying the groundwork for the Internet as a whole!

Google blames developers for lousy Android battery life

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Phone memory

Generally speaking, phones do not really have backing storage (a filesystem to most people), but the objects that you drop onto the phone reside in the same memory as running programs. This makes the way that apps use memory different from, say, a PC, that has RAM for programs that are running and a disk for those that aren't.

On a PC, programs are copied into RAM from the disk, and then executed. When they stop, they are unloaded from RAM, freeing up the memory.

On a Phone, when you have a program (or app) loaded into the phone, it resides in the same memory space as it does when it is running. This means that when it runs, it runs in-situ, and does not need to be copied anywhere. The effect of this is that *EVERY* app that you load on your phone occupies memory, regardless of whether it is using CPU or not. (for evidence, see what memory is detailed in the specs of, say, an HTC Desire which lists ROM (which cannot be changed) and RAM, but does not differentiate between dynamic and flash RAM, because it's all the same).

Of course, an active app may also have a working data set for information that is it using, and this can be dropped if an app becomes inactive, but I don't think that this is the way that phones work (at least, my Palm Treo doesn't (although the memory model for this could be considered archaic), it keeps all the data even if I have not used an app for months, and even through a soft reset.

You may have a file-system like interface to the available memory, for convenience when using the phone as a storage device on a computer via USB, but in reality, this is just a presentation layer to the way that the device actually manages it's memory. The only memory that is really a filesystem is probably the SD card that is plugged into the memory card slot.

BYW. This is just me extrapolating what I know from Palm devices, and it may be that it is different on the iPhone OS and Android, but I do not believe this is the case. I'm prepared to be corrected by someone with internal knowledge of either OS, however. I look forward to hearing.

Carmakers boost e-car noise standards for vision-impaired

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Stop

I can hear quite well...

...but I have been startled by a hybrid running on electric as I looked round while crossing a road. It's uncanny how quite they can actually be. And this was in a quiet rural town with little background noise apart from the birds!

And on the subject of noise, it is in the interests of the car manufacturer to reduce wind and tyre noise, as these are both energy drains on the vehicle.

Many vehicles are quiet below 20 MPH, which is the speed they will be traveling where most accidents of this type will happen. Hybrid/Electric vehicles at this speed can be nearly silent. Go and find a Prius in town (I'm not suggesting a G-wizz, as these are mainly found in London, and I am not capital-centric), and listen to it when it is running on electric.

Personal data export clauses now in force

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Thumb Up

Wow.

Something sensible from Europe. How unusual!

Microsoft fluffs boffins with supercomputer promise

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Gates Horns

Comments have missed the point

Microsoft are suggesting that they can apply cloud techniques to HPC problems, which makes it new and different.

It also illustrates that they have absolutely no idea about how large HPC shops work.

Not only is the number of processors important (which cloud can address), but I/O performance and homogeneous data access is also required for most large problems. This requires significant I/O power, and localization of the data to the processors. Cloud at this time cannot provide this, unless the dataset can be compartmentalized and shipped around the cloud. Using traditional decomposition techniques also requires processors dealing with their part of the problem to exchange data very rapidly (talking about microsecond latencies here) with the processors handling the adjacent cells, also a problem if the compute service is geographically distributed.

About the only way you can achieve this using cloud techniques is the way that SETI and the other collaborative projects work by breaking the work down into discrete chunks, which is not suited to large problems like climate, nuclear blast or materials modeling.

But in theory, there is no reason why Windows can't handle this in the future with the correct tuning, but you have to ask, why would anyone bother? Unless you're Microsoft, and can't bear there being a market that you are unable to dominate!

Sir Paul McBeatle: 'Me, I'd love Beatles to be on iTunes'

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Hindsite is a wonderful thing

but having lived through (albeit at a young age), what the Beatles did in the 60's was ground-breaking. It may not appear unique or novel now, but it was then. It is a matter of perspective. I wonder how old the people making the Overrated comments are.

I do not like the Beatles/Stones/Beachboys who's-the-best arguments, because all of them have merit, and there are many more contemporary bands that produced worthy music, but the Beatles were THE wedge in the door that made the record companies look for other talent. This is in the same way that Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly were in their time.

Sometimes the music was pretentious, sometimes twee, sometimes just plain weird (I still can't get my head around Revolution #9 on the White Album), but it was often first of it's type to market. They had the power and influence to put on vinyl what other artists could not, getting the audiences to listen to new types of music. But it was popular then, and even now.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
IT Angle

It's complex

..because the rights include the sheet music, the right to perform and the recordings.

I *think* that it was the sheet music and the right to perform the songs published on Northern Songs that was sold (and if I remember my history, it was NOT any of the Beatles who made the decision to sell, it was Allen Klein and the board of Apple Corp. who were in control. The members of the Beatles had a 50% share in Apple Corp, but crucially the casting vote in any split decision went to the Chair of the Board.)

I believe that Sir Paul has since bought at least some of these rights back, even though they always had retained the right to perform the songs themselves.

The ownership of the recordings always remained with EMI, and was one of the cornerstones of their profitability. It is interesting to note the rash of new mastered copies and compilations that appear to be hitting the shelves in the run up to the copyright on the recordings expiring. Is this one of the things that is bringing EMI down?

And Rik. Why the obfuscation about their names. What's wrong with Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Richard Starkey?

Pirate Bay resurfaces after German legal depth-charge

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Stop

Lawyers.

Lawyers do not make laws - thank god.

That is left to governments (which may have non-practicing lawyers in them unfortunately), and policed by the police, and ruled on by the legislature.

The lawyers are just skilled combative debaters, with a penchant for the law.

'Completely useless' Windows 3.1 hits Google's Android

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Happy

Here I am!

Long filenames on UNIX appeared in the Berkeley Fast Filesystem in BSD 4.2 around 1983. In AT&T releases up to SVR3, you still had the original limits of 14 characters overall, including dots or other characters (UNIX does not and never had the concept of a three character extension).

Around 1987, when SVR4 (and soon after, OSF/1) appeared, pretty much all UNIX vendors either had, or had plans to drop the original Version 7 derived version of UFS for one based on BSD FFS.

So yes. UNIX had it before Win95 AND OS/2.

Non-Flash video surges onto the web

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Linux

@Ian

Damn. Trying to be too clever for my own good. Of course I meant Theora!

Actually, I was not agreeing... at least not directly. As I read the license, H.264 is a cash-cow for the alliance, and is in no way is free like Ogg/Theora. End users are unlikely to have to pay according to the terms and conditions of the license, but content providers and codec suppliers will be without any doubt. In addition, it can be a throttle on the acceptance of free software.

As I tried to point out, this puts it on a collision course with the Open Source purists, meaning that people like RedHat and SuSE are unlikely to include support for it in their distro's. because if they ship (or even make available) more than 100,000 copies, they become liable for considerable license fees, with no way of recouping these from their end users. This *may* be OK for the larger distributions (although I doubt it myself), but puts an onus on any distribution supplier to track the use of their distribution.

Given the viral nature of Linux distribution (download it, burn it, give copies to your friends, distribute it via torrent etc.) it becomes impossible for any distro supplier to do this. Maybe you could track new systems appearing on the 'net through some spyware, but can you imagine the furore that would result!

What would happen is what happens now for MP3 and DVD, that the distros are shipped without H.264 support, with easily available instructions on how to add it from repositories outside the control of the distro owner. This will be a serious barrier to the adoption of Linux by people who just expect their computers to work out-of-the-box. This is why Canonical have bitten the bullet, and paid for license, because they want to be able to ship 'it just works' versions of Linux.

So this a sticking point, and will just enforce the notion that Linux can never be mainstream.

I defend my FUD comment, because putting a notional Sword of Damocles over the head of anybody who uses Theora is just that, notional. Unless you have explicit evidence of patent infringement, of course. As I pointed out, there cannot be any proof that any piece of software does not infringe someone else's patent, and this applies to H.264 as much as Theora. The only difference is that the Mpegla consortium that own the H.264 patent have a larger set of resources to fight any action, with money and additional patents to enter into cross-licensing agreements with anybody prepared to take them on.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Interesting point

Too many people concentrate on the fact that Flash is used to deliver video, and forget that it is actually a multimedia scripting language that does so much more than just video. It was never intended to deliver video, that is just an interesting sideline that became possible when systems became fast enough to do it.

I don't like Flash even knowing this, but HTML5 and H.264 will not do the interactive applications (I've come across Flash newsletters and estate agent brochures) and games that Flash delivers. I've even come across a comic book delivered as a Flash download.

The only thing I have seen that comes close is Silverlight, and I think that even the harshest critic of Flash will probably not dump it in favor of Microsoft's propriety alternative (and yes, I have tried Moonlight, which always seems 1-2 major releases behind), and I have not seen any statement about Silverlight being supported on iPod/Pad.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Stop

@Ian Davies

1. Is there a guarantee that the the licensing of H.264 will be renewed using the existing Ts&Cs with known changes? Well, yes, but the charges are clear, inflation of 10% per 5 years renewal is almost guaranteed, and it is the case that currently people like the BBC and Sky are *currently* liable to license charges for videos over 12 minutes long, and it is quite possible that Canonical will be liable to license charges if and when they ship over 100,000 copies of Ubuntu in a single year (which is why they have entered into an agreement).

The same is true for a rival to Apple who may ship over 100,000 media players using H.264 in a year.

2. There is a HUGE difference between *knowing* that there is a future patent/Licensing claim, as is the case with H.264, and suspecting that there may be but don't yet know, as in the case of Vorbis (I don't think that the Ogg container is likely to be patent encumbered, at least nobody has been talking about it yet).

If you play this FUD card, then you must acknowledge that any piece of shiny new software is a potential patent infringement, because that is the way that the patent system works. It is not possible to know every nuance of every patent still in force, and absolute proof of lack of infringement is not possible even if you pay megabucks in patent searches. It is still possible that someone may claim that H.264 infringes on a pre-existing patent.

This shows the essential weakness of the patent system, that it is impossible to prove a negative (it is always easier to prove that something has happened, as opposed to that it hasn't, and never will).

The FSF do have a war-chest for defending Open Source projects published under the GPL, although it is the case that Vorbis is dual licensed under LGPL and the BSD License. I'm sure that if there was a challenge to Vorbis, this would grow, especially if commercial organizations start using Vorbis more than they currently do.

Google: Street View spycars did slurp your Wi-Fi

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

WEP yes. WPA, probably no.

WEP can be cracked if you gather enough packets (but 90 seconds when you are in range is probably not enough time, even if you engage in aggressive packet injection).

WPA/PSK, you have to gather enough packets during the initial key setup using the fixed key. This is very short. Once the keys start changing dynamically, you have very little hope regardless of how many packets you snarf, because by the time you have enough, the key you are trying to crack has changed. And if you are using WPA/TKIP with a Radius server, for example, you do not even have the initial window of oportunity.

I realize that what I say here is simplistic, and there are known attacks for both PSK and TKIP, in general they take 10's of minutes, and I don't think that the google cars or bikes were traveling that slowly.

Facebook founder called trusting users dumb f*cks

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Badgers

Implied trust

It is the case that there is an implied trust in anybody to whom you give your information, whatever it is.

I think that what Mark said is quite true, although a bit strongly worded (this is subjective, as many people, especially when they are young, use the f word freely in everyday speech without any specific meaning). I mean, why would you trust someone who you don't know with any sensitive data?

Anybody who believes that a third party does not have the ability to abuse their data is clearly too naive to be allowed to use such systems.

And in my mind, this extends to people like Google and other cloud storage organizations . Do you really trust them with all of your documents and emails about *everything*? What recourse do you have if your sensitive or commercially valuable IP leaks, whether intentionally or by accident? If they could be sued for loss of reputation, or damages through commercial loss, I'll bet that they would all close down, or become subscription services bound both ways by contract very quickly.

Green Berets to get Judge Dredd computer smart-rifle

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

GITS?

You sure you don't mean Saito or possibly Major Kusanagi with Sniper software rather than Batou? He's more like heavy infantry, where size is more important than accuracy.

RHEL 6 - your sensible but lovable friend

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Boffin

Double-edged sword

When I switched from Red Hat (original, not RHEL) to Ubuntu as my main distro, it was exactly this dilemma that bothered me. I was not looking for an Enterprise release specifically, merely one that I would not have to upgrade every 6-9 months, but which would remain current enough that I could still get packages to compile.

Fedora became too volatile, and (I'm afraid), I was not in the market for paid support, which made RHEL unattractive to me.

I selected Ubuntu (then fairly new, I jumped on at Dapper), and have mainly stayed on LTS releases although I did put Jaunty on a netbook.

My experiences are that Enterprise or LTS releases have good and bad points.

If you remain too far behind the curve, it actually becomes quite difficult to add compile-from-source applications, but you do get good availability and stability. As my day-to-day system is a laptop which I used to plug in all sorts of miscellaneous hardware to try to get working (I was ahead of the releases for WiFi, 3G broadband, TV adapters, HomePlug adapters), I needed to be able to take what was currently being worked on, and try it. This became impossible if you fell too far behind the mainstream.

If, however, you follow the curve too closely, then for a period of time after an initial upgrade, you may have stability and functionality issues. Like many users, I had quite a challenging time when PulseAudio became the preferred sound system.

My answer is to remain on the previous LTS release until the new one is 3-6 months old. This allows you to remain fairly current, but avoid many of the teething troubles. I'm looking at Lucid on one of my systems, but will not switch from Hardy yet.

Of course, many enterprise systems will be installed for specific applications, rather than for general purpose use. For these, upgrade the system in line with the application. Once you have it stable, leave it for as long as you can (security updates excepted), and only consider an OS upgrade if the application requires it, or the OS drops out of support.

To all of the people who are complaining about major applications changing with upgrades, what the heck! Just put your favorite on *in addition* to the new one. They are likely to still be in the repository in most cases, and work as before, unless the package owner upgrades it significantly (I still rue the day that xmms became xmms2).

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