* Posts by DrXym

4316 posts • joined 18 Jul 2007

Ever feel like all your prayers go unheard? The Catholic Church has an app for that

DrXym Silver badge

Your piousness is all gone!

Wait for 8 hours for it to replenish or use Hail Marys to boost it now -

A Hail Mary - $1.99

A confessional of Hail Marys - $4.99

A church of Hail Marys - $19.99

A cathedral of Hail Marys - $59.99

A Vatican of Hail Marys - $99.99 BEST VALUE!!!

What a cheep shot: Bird sorry after legal eagles fire DMCA takedown at scooter unlock blog

DrXym Silver badge

Re: Who remembers the cue cat?

"I don't think this is cost-effective. What Hackaday reader doesn't have a set of security-screw bits? [...] And if the case is filled with resin, just chuck the case with the board and fit a new case."

Have a look at how the board is housed - https://boingboing.net/2018/05/25/drinkbot-anyone.html. Pour epoxy into that thing and some special screws for good measure and you've easily created 10x as much effort for an attack. Someone would have to hacksaw the box off, drill out sheared heads, splice wires and replace it with another unit. Nothing will stop a determined attack but it would definitely put off casual attempts.

Personally I don't understand how this business stands to make any money and I don't care if they get hacked or not. It's just an easy and cheap way to mitigate an attack and I wonder why they never bothered.

DrXym Silver badge

Who remembers the cue cat?

The cue cat was a barcode reader that was given away below cost with the expectation people would order stuff from magazines. Instead people hacked it for their own purposes, bankrupting the company and its dumb idea.

This has shades of that. Especially if they're so laissez faire to leave these things laying around the place. They could possibly mitigate against this attack by pouring epoxy into the case that houses the board and using non standard screws. At least that way anyone expecting a cheap scooter has a lot more work on their hands to make it work.

Of course, thieves might not be interested in the scooter anyway, so much as for the parts it contains - battery, motor, wheels etc.

World's first robot hotel massacres half of its robot staff

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Next week on "Some things are bleeding obvious"

"We ask if self driving cars are the wave of the future. Also whether kazoo marching bands are an effective way of being lulled to sleep"

No plain sailing for Anon hacktivist picked up by Disney cruise ship: 10 years in the cooler for hospital DDoS caper

DrXym Silver badge

Judges always question defendents who say they want to represent themselves and lay out the likely consequences of doing it. Even the US allows people to avail of a public defender if needs be. And even if they represent themselves, the judges tend to give them a little more slack and assistance in making their defence, providing they don't go all sovereign citizen or something equally insane.

DrXym Silver badge

What a hero

Launching a DDOS attack at hospitals caring for sick children. That's pretty low by any standard regardless of what contorted, ego driven reasoning made him do it.

Linux reaches the big five (point) oh

DrXym Silver badge

It's normal development practice because Linux kernel doesn't have an ABI. Changes to the kernel source can and do break modules including drivers.

The easiest way to mitigate that is to ship the module / driver source code as part of the kernel package so that when you build the one, you build the other and they remain compatible.

Encryption? This time it'll be usable, Thunderbird promises

DrXym Silver badge

PGP is better than the alternative

In the early days of Outlook / Netscape Navigator, they adopted S/MIME for encrypting messages.

Sadly this doomed encryption almost from the very beginning because:

1. The user interfaces for using encryption were awful, barely afterthoughts

2. S/MIME uses certificates with rsa asymmetric encryption and it was SLOW

3. Obtaining a new cert/key was a massive pain in the arse and usually involved paying money. A tax on security.

4. Keys expired every year, compounding the pain.

So it was a garbage implementation of a garbage crypto mechanism.

By contrast most PGP extensions to email apps were relatively sane by comparison - create a key for free, use it as long as you like, add other people to your web of trust. It all fits relatively naturally with email but as extensions the experience never felt fully integrated (despite being easier than the built-in crypto) so few people bothered. And using crypto always felt like standing above the parapets - you must be up to something to be using crypto rather than it being the default for everyone.

And these days with webmail, any chance for secure encryption by default is long gone. Even if the transit of email is secured, even if the viewing of the email is secured, the actual email itself isn't. Google (for example) can and do read emails, ostensibly for beign reasons, e.g. so they can remind you about your upcoming flight or whatnot, but who knows what else they do or who else they allow to see it.

Found yet another plastic nostalgia knock-off under the tree? You, sir, need an emulator

DrXym Silver badge

Re: Seems a bit odd

My point is the one product should contain both ROMs and sets of workbench disks rather than splitting it out like that.

DrXym Silver badge

Seems a bit odd

Splitting the product into two editions like that - a 1.3 and 3.x kickstart version.

I would have thought it better to sell one product for a low, impulse purchase price especially since they're competing against free. After all it's not hard to download ROMs or workbench disks, or dists like Amiga In A Box which simplify setting up WinUAE.

Nobody in China wants Apple's eye-wateringly priced iPhones, sighs CEO Tim Cook

DrXym Silver badge

Surprising people still buy iPhones at all

They were never good value and at this point they're so far out of whack with what people would consider affordable that it must be impacting on sales.

Unless somebody is locked into the Apple ecosystem, the price must be a strong disincentive especially when Android phones retail for a fraction of the cost and even flagship models are distinctly cheaper than Apple's offerings.

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

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Looking forward to seeing who gets arrested

I bet when they arrest whoever it is, it'll turn out they have some long standing grudge against the airport. Maybe they're a local farmer unhappy with a compulsary land purchase, or somebody aggrieved about the noise of aircraft, or someone who missed their flight. I expect the police are already sifting through the crazy files looking for potential suspects.

I hope it was worth it for their safe because given the scale of the incident they'll be in prison for several years at least.

Corel – yeah, as in CorelDraw – looks in its Xmas stocking and discovers... Parallels

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Not surprising

Corel has always been the final resting place of the also-ran software that they acquired from some failing business.

I still recall installing Corel Office on a PC a very long time ago and being confronted with an eclectic mix of rebranded Borland, Wordperfect Corp and other random software. Each with its own look and feel, support tools and quirks. Naturally this involuntarily mashed together budget suite ran as seamlessly as you might expect.

Virgin Galactic test flight reaches space for the first time, lugging NASA cargo in place of tourists

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The Ryanair of space travel

When they say they'll fly you to space they actually mean 20 miles away.

Razer offers freebies to gamers who descend into its coin mine

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So the deal is people use their hardware and their electricity to generate wealth for others and in return they receive "points".

Ecuador says 'yes' to Assange 'freedom' deal, but Julian says 'nyet'

DrXym Silver badge

Ecuador should show him the extension they built for him

"Go on Julian, it's right through that door over there..."

Tesla autopilot saves driver after he fell asleep at wheel on the freeway

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Re: Not actually a first

Tesla's autopilot can't even cope with stop signals, or junctions. Turning it on in any kind of urban environment is an invitation for something horrible to happen.

And this isn't just isolated to Tesla. Even the best autonomous vehicles in the world suck. There is too much hype and too little consideration of how they'd handle situations that a human could solve easily but are essentially intractible to a machine.

DrXym Silver badge

Erm NO

Tesla's autopilot is supposed to disengage and slow the vehicle if the driver is not demonstrating attentiveness. So no, it didn't save this guy's life. It endangered lives by continuing to function even when it shouldn't have.

Tesla's system is simply broken. Drivers can fool it by placing weight on the wheel and can take their hands off for up to 30 seconds which is WAY too long, encouraging all kinds of unsafe activity and inattentiveness. If it were fit for purpose the car would require drivers wiggle the wheel, or perform some mandated task every so often that can't be fooled and they would bleep if hands were off the wheel for even a few seconds.

They're still treating driver engagement and attentiveness as an afterthought. This story merely demonstrates that. The next time it happens, the outcome might be vastly different.

Oi, Elon: You Musk sort out your Autopilot! Tesla loyalists tell of code crashes, near-misses

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Re: Hardly surprising

The interesting thing about autonomous vehicles is that the risk of inattention was identified years ago. Studies have shown that the less you give the driver to do, the more likely it is that they're not paying attention in the split second they REALLY need to be.

Unless the car is completely and totally autonomous in all circumstances, it has to force driver attention. Either by requiring the driver to do things that signal attentiveness, or by monitoring their behaviour, or both.

DrXym Silver badge

Hardly surprising

Any software engineer worth their salt could tell you the immense difficulty of capturing analogue data, modelling it, and translating that model via a set of rules into an action. And repeating that continuously in real time. The more variables and ambiguity that are present in the input, the more likely it is to screw up in the output. In a 2 ton vehicle going at 70mph along a road with other traffic, that could be positively fatal.

I wouldn't trust any autonomous mode unless it requires an alert and attentive human being at the wheel and forces their attention. At least that way the human can veto or correct the car's actions.

This isn't exclusive to Tesla. Any autonomous vehicle that claims it can drive itself in limited, or unlimited circumstances still requires oversight. Otherwise it will do something dumb and/or dangerous and there will be no human paying attention to stop it.

'Cuddly' German chat app slacking on hashing given a good whacking under GDPR: €20k fine

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Not the only one by any stretch

I remember trying to log into a site (a primary school magazine/blog thing) clicking the "I forgot my password" and receiving an email telling me my password as plaintext.

I use throwaway passwords for trivial sites so the damage wasn't big but I could well imagine that there are many sites like this and many users who use the same password across multiple sites.

Washington Post offers invalid cookie consent under EU rules – ICO

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Re: At least you can visit the site

Washington Post may be owned by Bezos but it does not follow that Amazon is going to be fined or punished for what is a US incorporated and independently operated entity. Something that it does within the jurisdiction of the United States. In fact if you read this article you would see that.

DrXym Silver badge

At least you can visit the site

Annoying interstitial or not, it's more than can be said for a LOT of websites in the US. In particular none of the Fox websites work, nor many newspaper websites.

I really don't see what the problem is with simply treating EU visitors like US ones. They're not under the jurisdiction of the EU legislation so what is the problem?

OnePlus 6T: Tasteful, powerful – and much cheaper than a flagship

DrXym Silver badge

Dumb dumb dumb

Dropping the headphone jack was a stupid metoo decision. How much real estate did they save from the measure? How many cents did it save? The answer to both is "minimal".

This was an opportunity for them to say "we're lead by what our customers need and want, not by the whims of the market to save a few pennies". They blew it.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: If you can stomach the nagware and price, it may be Droid of the Year

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I don't know why people buy these

The hardware is nice but the software is superficially attractive but has *horrible* usability. As for the lack of a headphone jack, they should hang their heads in shame.

Dollar for dollar, crafting cryptocurrency sucks up 'more energy' than mining gold, copper, etc

DrXym Silver badge

Re: Virtual money has real-world consequences

That's already happened to some degree. It's relatively easy to start up a new crypto currency, mine out the easy coins and then sucker people into "investing" in it. Cryptocurrency has shades of ponzi, pyramid and pump & dump schemes.

Woke Linus Torvalds rolls his first 4.20, mulls Linux 5.0 effort for 2019

DrXym Silver badge

Bring back the old Linus

There was absolutely nothing wrong about the way he conducted himself. He was forthright, pragmatic, principled and even when he went into rant mode he still backed up the rant with reason and logic. One of the reasons Linux even is the thing it is these days is because it had a strong leader at the helm who wouldn't suffer second rate code or bullshit in his project.

With the 6T, OnePlus hopes to shed 'cheeky upstart' tag and launch assault on flagships

DrXym Silver badge

Re: No headphone jack

I have a OnePlus 5 and I have no intention of buying a newer model if they're going to cheap out by removing a headphone jack. There is zero technical reason for this - it consumes a miniscule amount of space and it costs pennies.

The only reason to remove it to cynically force people to buy bluetooth earbuds. To hell with them.

Official: IBM to gobble Red Hat for $34bn – yes, the enterprise Linux biz

DrXym Silver badge

Lucky Red Hat!

Now RH workers can experience the delights of strict working hours, strict working attire, bullshit inhouse software for their daily routine (yay Lotus Notes!), petty rules designed to bump up the attrition rate, and the ever looming threat of mass layoffs.

I ship you knot: 2,400-year-old Greek trading vessel found intact at bottom of Black Sea

DrXym Silver badge

Re: I wonder if the sails are intact?

The BBC site says the wreck was powered by sail and oars so the answer was probably no.

Is this cuttlefish really all that cosmic? Ubuntu 18.10 arrives with extra spit, polish, 4.18 kernel

DrXym Silver badge

Ubuntu's decision to put the menus at the top of the screen was a usability disaster. I could see how it might make sense on a very small screen where vertical space matters. But for most desktop users, it just makes it a pain in the arse to use menus.

Likewise the decision to hide scrollbars. Hiding them may make sense on small screens, but if you have the space, it just increases the effort to scroll things.

It was smart to finally dump Unity for GNOME shell. I'm not sure about the decision to go back from Wayland - perhaps for a LTS release it makes sense but they should be doing their best to take X out of the baseline and defaulting back to Wayland would hasten that transition.

Pixel 3 XL reveals innards festooned with glue and... Samsung?

DrXym Silver badge

Re: What is the point of a thin, glass backed phone

"These things are both stronger than they appear to be and are just fine if looked after. I'm not saying glass is the most sensible choice, it's not but it does look good."

I'm sure it does look good, but the reality is people put their phones in bumpers so they never see the back. So they've gotten a phone with a case compromised by material and being thin for no reason.

Glass also tends to shatter when subjected to shock. Glass covers may have contain a layer of laminate to stop them flying apart but they still turn into crazy paving. Plastic absorbs shocks better and is more likely to just dent or have a localized crack.

The reason glass, or aluminium are used as build materials are to make the phone appear to be expensive, to justify the higher price point. Not for any practical benefit.

DrXym Silver badge

What is the point of a thin, glass backed phone

It's so fragile that the very first thing an owner needs to do is buy a phone cover, bulking it out and protecting the glass andnegating any reason for doing in the first place. Just make thicker, more rugged phones out of plastic FFS.

Android creator Andy Rubin's firm might think its phone is Essential, but 30% of staff are not

DrXym Silver badge

I really liked the look of the Essential phone

Personally I thought it was a very interesting phone. One of the first that I know of that had a "notch". It even had a notch even before people claimed Apple invented it.

Sadly the price turned out to be a major turnoff. It would have sold like hotcackes if it were OnePlus priced.

Huawei's Watch GT snubs Google for homegrown OS

DrXym Silver badge

All modern kernels provide the underpinnings that a smart watch requires and stripped down would have similar memory and power footprints. There is nothing special about QNX which would make it magically work better than the same watch running a Mach, Linux, NT or some other kernel.

What matters *far* more is what the operating system above the kernel is doing with itself and the active display on the device. The display alone might eat up 80-90% of the power.

Leaked memo: No internet until you clean your bathroom, Ecuador told Julian Assange

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"I don't think the Swedish prison was the issue rather the Swedish extradition treaty with the US."

As opposed to now where his self-inflicted situation has merely deprived him of his liberty for those years and any extradition/sentence (if they are forthcoming) will be consecutive to that. Great plan.

If he had promptly surrendered to Swedish authorities his likely rape sentence would have be a year or two (assuming convicted) and even if he'd been extradited to the US and sentenced, then chances are he'd be through the better part of that by now. Instead he has all that to look forward to.

Your RSS is grass: Mozilla euthanizes feed reader, Atom code in Firefox browser, claims it's old and unloved

DrXym Silver badge

Re: Feedbro

Correction - a lot of unmaintained addons no longer work. And as you say, if you need to use them, then there are browser forks where you can do it.

Of course your fork will have worse performance than the mainline because the reason Firefox changed to WebExtensions was so it could run across processes for better security and performance. The old API assumed the entire UI was single threaded which is no longer the case.

DrXym Silver badge


It's an extension for Firefox. It's MUCH better than the integrated and rather crappy RSS bookmarks anyway since it opens a nice 3-pane window where you can arrange all your feeds and preview them.

I'm not sure where the hate for Firefox comes from BTW. It's extensible so there is little reason to encumber it with things if they can be done by an extension.

Microsoft reveals xlang: Cross-language, cross-compiler and coming to a platform near you

DrXym Silver badge

Not a new thing

Lots of languages can "bind" to others, usually by providing the means to link to static C libraries or call C functions dynamically. Usually this entails somebody or some tool producing a bindings file which allows the caller to understand the structs and functions used by the implementation.

I suppose if it were possible to export a language neutral definition of an API as part of the build, then theoretically any other language could consume that definition without somebody having to write a bunch of bindings.

I should note this wouldn't be the first time Microsoft have tried this. It used to be possible to import a type library (.tlb file) into C++ and call OLE objects whose interfaces were automatically produced by the compiler. It wasn't necessary to know what language implemented the objects because it was all COM/OLE.

Apache OpenOffice, the Schrodinger's app: No one knows if it's dead or alive, no one really wants to look inside

DrXym Silver badge

Re: The only thing going for OpenOffice...

You turn it off from the File | Options > Autocorrect settings. I expect the majority of people want the default behaviour. LibreOffice has autocorrect too, but not for that.

While Powerpoint has its own annoyances, Impress is just replete with lots of little things like this - lack of snap alignment, lack of positive feedback when dragging and dropping connectors, flickery UI, a profusion of buttons all over the toolbar and right hand side (e.g. the toolbar has thirteen(!) toolbar buttons for shapes and lines to do what the Shapes drop down does in one on Powerpoint). It just goes on.

That doesn't mean it is unusable but it feels janky, complicated and visually noisy compared to PowerPoint. And usually for no reason. Same too for the other apps in the suite.

I think the first and foremost goal for LibreOffice 7.x / 8.x should be usability, trying to remove all this "sand" and making a product which is slick and usable.

DrXym Silver badge

The only thing going for OpenOffice...

... is its name. LibreOffice is not a good name. It was still a good thing when it was forked though. Sun/Oracle were terrible stewards and pure frustration forced the hand of external devs who wanted to land substantial improvements but couldn't.

Even so, I think LibreOffice is losing its way somewhat too. It should be focussing far more on usability, task-centric design and forgiveness than it does. A trivial example - type "* Hello", or "1. Hello", into Powerpoint and it automatically becomes a bulleted / numbered list. In Impress you have to manually fiddle with paragraph settings make this happen. Annoyances like this are all over the place - it's death by a thousand cuts.

Google now minus Google Plus: Social mini-network faces axe in data leak bug drama

DrXym Silver badge

Hang on

It's terrible that Google didn't find this bug but if their review found it was never exploited, then why not just fix the issue and move on?

As for why G+ didn't take off, I'd suggest because it did nothing better than Facebook or Twitter and in some regards was very annoying. I used it a few times, but it kept bugging me to fill in more information about myself, link to people, say where I went to University etc. Unskippable, permanent nag boxes in the feeds. That's the kind of annoying crap you pull when your service is indispensible, not when you're desperate to get users to your platform.

Holy smokes! US watchdog sues Elon Musk after he makes hash of $420 Tesla tweet

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Re: Conspiracy theories

And yes indeed, the stock price tanked. 10% down.

Imagine if the company had a CEO who knew when to keep his damned mouth shut.

DrXym Silver badge

Conspiracy theories

What is interesting is how True Believers are already framing this as some kind of conspiracy when the truth is so much more mundane.

Musk got himself into this mess with a really dumb tweet. There was no concrete plan to take Tesla private, and the only reason he tweeted at all was to screw over some short sellers.

It backfired terrible, and probably made the short selling even worse. The stock price hasn't recovered since and I suspect today's news will see it tumble again when the markets open.

'Incommunicado' Assange anoints new WikiLeaks editor in chief

DrXym Silver badge


He can walk out any time.

Amazon Alexa outage: Voice-activated devices are down in UK and beyond

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Thankfully I'm not affected

I tested my lights and my alarm and they still respond to finger commands.

A story of M, a failed retailer: We'll give you a clue – it rhymes with Charlie Chaplin

DrXym Silver badge

My perspective

I've walked into a Maplins, seen something I wanted to buy, seen the price of the item and walked out again without buying it.

Simply put they were too expensive. Not just high-street-markup expensive, but taking-the-piss expensive. Sometimes 5-10x markup, especially on cables and AV plugs.

If their clientele were idiots then maybe they'd have gotten away with it, but I suspect most of them were technically proficient and quite capable of looking up stuff on the internet and ordering from there instead. Even their own website was expensive possibly because they were scared of cannibalizing store sales. Dumb idea.

HP Ink should cough up $1.5m for bricking printers using unofficial cartridges – lawsuit

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Re: Epson

I had an Epson printer which used chips and it would "randomly" brick 3rd party cartridges and refuse to read them again.

It was one and only time I used a printer with chipped carts and I will never repeat that mistake.

Deliveroo to bike food to hungry fanbois queuing to buy iPhones

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And after the food

I wonder if there is a gig economy company that delivers a bucket for them to crap in and takes it away afterwards.

Flying to Mars will be so rad, dude: Year-long trip may dump 60% lifetime dose of radiation on you

DrXym Silver badge

Career != Lifetime

Headline says one thing, article says another.

However I expect for astronauts in space the "recommended" max dose is not reflective of the max dose that people on earth. Even people like flight crew probably wouldn't get anywhere close to it.

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