* Posts by dew3

26 posts • joined 10 May 2016

Developer goes rogue, shoots four colleagues at ERP code maker


A link to my favorite rant about how most Americans argue badly about guns:


Spoiler: Ken White (the author of the linked post) dumps on both sides. It is really a rant on how Americans are terrible about discussing and/or regulating rights.

The post was good enough that a cleaned-up-language version was published by the LA Times newspaper.

Non-profits push back against Big Cable's bumpkin broadband blueprint for America


Re: Local governments often lack the required sophistication...

"In the US, the lowest tier of geographic government are the counties. "

"In many, probably most, areas of the US cable monopolies were established at the municipal (city, town, borough, village) level, not county. "

I doubt either of these are correct. Different states in the US have different local government setups.

I have lived in states where pretty much anything important is done at the county level, except in the biggest cities.

Where I currently live is the other extreme, about half the counties have been legally dissolved as governmental entities, and most everything is done at the state or local municipal level. Smaller towns often pool services, especially schools, with regional agreements.

While most towns/cities in my current state have individual municipal cable contracts, even here a friend in a very rural part of the state (with crappy internet choices) is working on a 12+ town regional agreement to create a tax-funded regional fiber district/agency. I'll also toss in - my small local (and not especially wealthy) town does not have any "monopoly" agreements - it has agreements with both Comcast and Verizon fios, and both require 100% residential coverage (My house is 50' from the road, but because Verizon screwed up when laying trunk lines, I have ~1100' fiber from the box on a pole on another road to my house.)

So in summary I am skeptical of any generalization.

Judge bars distribution of 3D gun files... er, five years after they were slapped onto the web


Re: Where is the NRA?

"You would expect the NRA to be screaming bloody murder, but they remain silent..."

Approximately 5 seconds of google-fu shows the NRA issued a public statement almost a week ago... probably took less time to find it than it took to type your rant asking where it was.

“Many anti-gun politicians and members of the media have wrongly claimed that 3-D printing technology will allow for the production and widespread proliferation of undetectable plastic firearms. Regardless of what a person may be able to publish on the Internet, undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years. Federal law passed in 1988, crafted with the NRA’s support, makes it unlawful to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive an undetectable firearm.”

Not a great response (IMO) but hardly silence.

Make Facebook, Twitter, Google et al liable for daft garbage netizens post online – US Senator


Re: Hmmm

"As I understand the First Amendment it only protects one from Government Censorship, not private censorship as on a forum Etc.. "

Absolutely correct. It is a bit fascinating how so many USAians seem to think a constitutional provision that starts with "Congress shall make no law..." can somehow prevent private people/companies from making decisions to moderate content on their own property.

PC recycler gets 15 months in the clink for whipping up 28,000 bootleg Windows 7, XP recovery discs


Re: Can someone please explain

"So where does a small offence (I think it's called a misdemeanour?) go? Straight to District circuit or some "lesser" court that isnt listed on there?"

USAland has two completely independent court systems.

Probably 95%+ of all trials are in state court systems. State court organization varies by state; many have municipal (minor things like traffic offenses), county (arrestable offenses and minor lawsuits), and state courts (major crimes and large-amount lawsuits) as well as various appeals courts. The state I currently live in has a unified court system run entirely by the state - organized as minor district courts, various specialty courts (family law, juvenile courts, etc), superior courts (major offenses/suits) and appeals courts. As an extreme example of variation, Louisiana has a mixed British common-law and French civil-law system.

If you violate a federal law, or for a variety of across-state-lines reasons, you can get into federal court. There are district courts (one to a handful locations in each state - so you see courts like "the Southern District of New York"), mostly regional appeals courts, and the US supreme court. There are also lower-level "magistrate judges" who can handle various hearings for district court judges, and can also preside at misdemeanor federal trials.

Petty PETA rapped by judges over monkey selfie copyright stunt


re: copyright

"Why's that then? I didn't see any assignment of copyright to Slater, just an order saying the animal couldn't sue to claim that it held the copyright."

If, as Slater originally claimed, the monkey randomly wandered up and snapped a bunch if pictures including the famous the selfie, with this ruling there simply is no copyright. If that is true, when Slater made the picture public, it became "public domain" and anyone can freely use it. Of course Slater now claims he intentionally set up the shot, which confuses things a bit. If Slater wants to keep control of the picture, he probably has more legal fights ahead to see if a court recognizes his copyright claim.

BTW, contrary to another commentard's claim, the general rule in the US is that the person who pushes the camera shutter button does have copyright (look it up). If a photographer sets up a shot but has someone else push the camera button, at best that photographer can claim joint copyright with the button-pusher. The rule he is conflating is "work for hire", which usually overrides that intellectual property ownership rule and generally gives employers ownership of things like copyrights and inventions created by employees & contractors. But to be safe most serious professional photographers are careful to also have contracts that clearly spell out who gets the copyright - just like most R&D tech companies redundantly have developers sign specific, 'your employer owns your inventions' contracts.

Here is a slightly entertaining take on the subject (from 2014): https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/03/paging-bradley-coopers-lawyers-you-might-own-ellens-famous-oscar-selfie/358758/

Uber breaks self-driving car record: First robo-ride to kill a pedestrian


Re: @Yet Another Anonymous coward

>"Everywhere in the US, pedestrians have the right of way.

> Everywhere. Even if they are not in a crosswalk."

>>Citation needed? Counter example (Vermont Statutes Annotated)...


There are many ignoramuses in the US who assume because "they do it this way in my state" that it must be the same in every other state. That is often not true. Only a small minority of US states give pedestrians the right-of-way outside a crosswalk. A US state-by-state overview is at:


Blackout at Samsung NAND factory destroys chunk of global supply


Re: The maths don't add up...

"More importantly, if a brief blip COULD have cost you 10% of the month's supply, why do you not have generators to stop that happening?"

The short answer - this isn't a datacenter, or even a car factory.

A chip fabrication line (fab) is a huge power user - typically 50-75MW. If this plant is big (as it appears to be) it probably has multiple active fabs - so any power source will not be that little diesel generator you have out back, it will need to be big enough to power a small city. It means spending probably $US40M+ per fab on those backup generators (back-of-envelope calculation - 60MW x ~US$700 per KW for big NG generators), which makes it a bit less of an obviously good idea. I'd have to see the actual cost of the shutdown to have an informed opinion.

If this is Samsung's only big NAND manufacturing facility, I'd say (as suggested in a previous comment) the bigger fault is having an "all eggs in one basket" supply chain.

Tech giants' payouts go to everyone but affected citizens. US Supremes now urged to sort it out


RE: A better solution

Errr, no.

Some kinds of litigation automatically includes "reasonable attorneys' fees" which is a per-hour-fee times hours worked. With other kids of litigation, the plaintiff can often ask for those fees as part of the suit. Some plaintiffs also just pay out-of-pocket (no %, just fee for hours worked).

But most/all of the "attorneys get X% of the proceeds" (usually called a contingency fee) is a number negotiated between the plaintiff and their attorney(s), where the plaintiff pays nothing if they lose, and end up paying much more than a normal per-hour attorney fee if they win.

The person/company being sued (if they lose) should not get stuck with a bigger bill just because plaintiffs decided to use a contingency-fee arrangement, or worse, if they did a bad job negotiating an appropriate % with their lawyer(s).

Maybe there could be a max %contingency for class actions (probably a good idea given how greedy many/most class action lawyers seem to be), but I'd still be careful of the iron 'law of unintended consequences'. And anyway, all that is kind of irrelevant in this case, as even without those lawyer fees each victim would still get less than 1$US. Which brings us to the real problem - in the US too many class action lawsuits are all about enriching class action lawyers and have little or nothing to do with compensating victims.


Re: Ninth Circus

"It should be noted that the US Ninth Circuit Court is the most overturned District Court in the entire jurisdiction of the US Federal Courts."

It should also be noted that has not been true for years. The 6th circuit has been the most overturned for a while; the last time I looked the 9th was 3rd or 4th place.

In addition, it should probably be noted that by definition, in the US a federal "circuit court" is not a "district court". A federal circuit court is the appeals court for the federal district courts in a region.

"It is so bad that there has been serious discussion about breaking up this court and forming two new Federal Circuit Courts."

There has been serious discussion about breaking up the 9th for decades. 1% of the discussion is from right wingers who complain about the judges and politics. 99% of the discussion is because the 9th circuit is not only the biggest circuit, it is so big it has 50% more cases than the next biggest circuit (~12,000 per year, vs. ~8,000 in the 2nd biggest 5th circuit).

Here we go again... UK Prime Minister urges nerds to come up with magic crypto backdoors


Re: Mrs May is TAPS (thick as pig . . . )

"Isn't there a single person in No 10 who can explain that this kind of secret cannot be kept secret?"

You have probably never worked for a medium/large company, or government, or at least have not had to deal directly with very senior management/officials.

PM May almost certainly has no one who reports to her, nor anyone who reports to her reports, with any crypto background, and possibly no one with any hands-on tech background.

Some outsider or low-level functionary who comes in with a claim like that is easily dismissed, as obviously boffins find solutions to previously impossible problems all the time, so how can it be true? Anyone who disagrees is not a "team player", so all those direct and second-level reports nod their heads wisely in agreement, and the claim is ignored. Happens all the time. Hans Christian Anderson even wrote a story about that "team player" managerial mentality, called "The Emperor's New Clothes".

Biker nerfed by robo Chevy in San Francisco now lobs sueball at GM


RE: My understanding

"Consider a vehicle that slows to make an illegal u-turn and is struck from behind -- Both drivers are fault,..."

Not in the four US states I have lived in, the car behind is (almost) always 100% at fault for any rear-end collision. No 50/50 for liability unless you could not reasonably have avoided the collision - like black ice or no brake lights in the front car. The U-turn car is also separately guilty of a traffic violation (and might get cited for that).

But, contrary to claims from some rather confused commentards here, US traffic laws do vary somewhat by state (in the state I currently live in you can legally pass on the right, but only on freeways or if the car being passed is making a left turn), and it is possible what you say is true in some states.

That said, I'll guess if you can make a legal left turn on that road, then your claim of contributory negligence (that the car in front is legally partially at fault for being rear-ended) won't fly in most of the US, as any car behind should reasonably expect a car in front of them might slow down to turn regardless of the reasons for that turn.

Remember those holy tech wars we used to have? Heh, good times


Re: I feel old today...


I should add, I suppose my comments are not so much a ding on the author (missing those old wars didn't really detract from the article) but my surprise how long ago those things were that someone can write an article about "the old days" without any of those things.


I feel old today...

Ouch, this is the first tech article I can remember that actually makes me feel old.

The passionate "religious wars" in tech started (and named as such) on the USENET (not Slashdot) in places like comp.arch, and was about EBCDIC vs. ASCII, 32 vs. 36 bit, big-endian vs. little-endian, VMS vs. Unix (vs. TOPS-10/20). And later, RISC vs. CISC. The database ones were Oracle vs. Sybase vs. Ingres vs. Informix vs. DEC Rdb. Someone writes an article about the old technology religious wars, and is so wet-behind-the-ears, he misses mentioning every one of them.

Woo-yay, Meltdown CPU fixes are here. Now, Spectre flaws will haunt tech industry for years


RE: need a whole new architecture

"what we can do is develop brand new CPU and subsystem architecture that isn't saddled with baggage of backward compatibility and all the inherent flaws it keeps. We can't just keep bolting on to 8080 or ARM RISC as it's a house of cards, these things were not designed for modern internonnectedness."

A whole new architecture was already tried. Billions of $US were spent on it. It is called "Itanium". Rumour is it does not suffer from these security issues. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader whether it will now dominate the CPU market.

A close relative has been on a couple of those US government blue ribbon technology panels. He enjoys recommendations like these and keeps them in a special pile marked "To fix this issue, first we boil away all the water in the oceans..."

WD gets court order: Toshiba can't block access to shared database


Re: That's an Imperial Gb not the fancy metric Gb

The bit about why disks use multiples of 1000 is creative revisionism. Until the mid-late 80s disk vendors normally used multiples of 1024 for disk sizes. When disks got into 100s of MBytes, drive manufacturer marketing departments realized they could sell their drives (especially PC drives to nontechnical customers) with bigger numbers using 1000 bytes/KB than 1024. Put simply, why sell it as a 95MBytes drive when you can sell it as a huge 100MByte drive?

There was a bit of "they are lying!!!" complaints in trade press and the old USENET, yet obviously it stuck. But it was all about marketing and money, not convenience or natural counting.

Largest advertising company in the world still wincing after NotPetya punch


Re: Address the real software vulnerability

Richard Clark... was not cabinet-level appointee (he was one of several dozen "special advisors") and left government in 2003, making it rather hard for Obama to retain him - and no, Obama did not rehire him later. Presuming he said that (I cannot find the quote anywhere), and without defending Microsoft or its virus-magnet offspring Windows, Clark was a professional manager with approximately zero technical/IT chops; I always took anything he said on any technical subject with a quite large grain of salt.

AES-256 keys sniffed in seconds using €200 of kit a few inches away


Re: So, to clarify...

"Interesting, but not exactly a major real-world threat."

...said the power plant operator, certain that his systems were not vulnerable to computer viruses because they were air-gapped from the network. Then someone found a really nice USB stick someone dropped in the parking lot...

The target isn't going to be data center servers, but laptops in coffeehouses, Apple pay, et al.

Let's go live to the 3rd circle of Hell – and see what Comcast and Charter are screwing up



A few years ago when Verizon laid their FIOS lines here, there was a mysterious series of Comcast cable line cuts in the area - just Comcast wires, none of the old copper Verizon phone lines or other lines. I had DSL and had no outages; a nearby sister with Comcast lost service a dozen or so times. By complete random coincidence, the vandalism mostly stopped around the same time Verizon was done putting in their FIOS lines.

Canadian sniper makes kill shot at distance of 3.5 KILOMETRES


"Previously, the longest kill shot by a sniper was 1300+ meters - around 1 mile"

Not even close. The previous record was 2707m (almost 1.7 miles). Craig Harrison of the UK Household Cavalry.

Worried about election hacking? There's a technology fix – Helios


Money does drive electronic voting

I am not as cynical as some, but the adoption of electronic voting in the US was certainly driven in part by money. There was the mess in 2000 in Florida, followed by hundreds of millions of $$$ raining down from the federal government to upgrade voter systems. In 2000 electronic voting machines were a very expensive solution looking for a problem to solve, and suddenly they were affordable. Everything is "cheaper" when you are spending grant money, and electronic voting companies were like a monorail salesman in a certain Simpsons episode.

The other part that drove electronic voting was access - handicapped rights groups and immigrant rights groups joined hand-in-hand to demand the computer-based voting machines because they make access modestly better - video screens can expand text for the visually impaired, and once you have translated the ballot to another language, there is no extra printing costs to keep enough ballots on hand in each language. And it is hard for many politicians to say "no, it costs to much" to such groups.

The cost? My community spends ~$14K per optical scanner for paper ballots (one per precinct) which last 15-20 years, ~$1.5K per machine per election to program the chips, and around $2K per precinct to print ballots (plus staff, etc). We spend $50 per voting booth (heavy folding cardboard) that last 8-10 years; we have 50 booths per precinct. We also have one booth per precinct at a table with a fancy magnifying reader (~$500) to blow up the paper ballot for the visually impaired. We get initial vote counts 2-5 minutes after the polls close (excluding write-ins).

If we had computers, that is $3K-$5K per voting machine. Several $hundred per election per machine to program - less per unit than our $2K/optical scanner because of volume, but much more in total, OTOH no printing costs. The voting booths would be wood or metal due to weight, which aside from cost (not sure how much, but I'll guess ~$250/booth), means more storage space between elections and more labor costs to set up/tear down. And after 10-12 years, the machines are near their end of useful life (http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/222470-states-ditch-electronic-voting-machines). Since they whole setup is so expensive, you buy as few voting machines per precinct as possible, which means longer lines than paper ballots - which can yield (somewhat ironically) less access. My state requires a minimum of one precinct per 6,000 residents, so pick a community size and you can do the math to guesstimate the cost. The bottom line is, if paying out of local taxes, very few communities would choose electronic voting over paper ballots.

And if you lose power or have other technical problems, those paper ballots can be counted by hand. With electronic voting machines you're screwed (and that has happened).

Could US appeals court save us all from 10 years of net neutrality yelling?


An "en banc" panel in the US 9th circuit is not "the full Ninth Circuit". The 9th circuit has 29 judges, and an an banc panel is the chief judge plus other 10 randomly chosen active judges from that court.

In any other US federal courts of appeals, an en banc panel is indeed all the active appeals court judges in that circuit.

Silicon Valley VCs: We're gonna make California great again – on its own


re: Texas

"The point on states splitting with Congress' approval is the sticking point here - Texas' clause allows them to do so without."

No, it does not. Maybe you should read the &%^$#% thing before commenting - even the educated in Texas understand that "under the provisions of the Federal Constitution" means that they have to follow the same process as any other state that wants to split into pieces. Stop perpetuating an ignorant myth.


"I thought when Texas joined there was some sort of written agreement that allowed the state to secede?"

Err, no.

"Or was it just to be able to break up into five smaller states?"

Yes, kind of.The resolution adding Texas as a US state does say that Texas can be split into as many as 4 additional states, with a comment that any split has to follow the US federal constitution. But that provision was just a meaningless marketing stunt added to impress the ignorant commoners in Texas. The US constitution has always permitted existing states to be split into multiple states if both that state and congress agree - and it has happened a few times (e.g. Maine, West Virginia). The provision didn't add any special new rights to Texas. But that meaningless provision has grown into a "Texas is so very special" myth perpetuated for 150 years by Texan ignorati.

Bill Gates cooks up poultry recipe for Africans' paltry existence


Re: Thinking it through

"Its not hard to dump overproduction - it costs 30p to ship a phone from China to the UK. I cant imagine it costs much more to get a load of frozen chickens over to Africa."

It is hard to think of an appropriate response without disparaging your imagination. A frozen chicken will take up 4-8x the space of a phone in a box. That means it will start by costing several times more - volume is everything in distance shipping of dry goods. But even more important (and also apparently missed) - a frozen chicken is frozen. You cannot use a cheap, standard shipping container; a freezer container costs 3-4x more than one used for cell phones (factor that capital cost into the price), and because it is expensive you will want it back or will have to sell it at a loss at the endpoint (more cost), although you will might try to ship something the other way if you can (what frozen exports are there from Africa?). A freezer container will have less internal space - insulation and compressors take valuable cargo space, so yet higher cost/unit shipped. And you need power almost the whole way - you cannot just stack that container with the cell phone containers on the ship, and you cannot leave it for a day sitting unplugged in a stack on the dock - so shipper will add on a big premium to keep it powered.

So with just a little imagination I can easily believe £2+ per chicken for shipping.

Ireland's tax arrangements are as clear as a pint of Guinness


Re: "...funnelling royalty payments for intellectual property..."

"When corporations export their untaxed profits under the guise of "IP Royalty Payments", then slap a 33% Import Duty on the "Imported" IP rights."

Wouldn't it be more straightforward to simply not allow IP royalty payments as a tax deductible expense when paid to an offshore entity in the same corporate structure. I've long wondered why some local EU countries haven't tried that. Maybe cap the total deductible IP royalties on top of that in case someone creates a different, more clever offshore IP tax scheme.

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