* Posts by martinusher

708 posts • joined 24 Feb 2015


Click here to see the New Zealand livestream mass-murder vid! This is the internet Facebook, YouTube, Twitter built!

martinusher Silver badge

Maybe a missed opportunity?

You can't hide atrocities but you can certainly personalize them. Some of the most powerful write ups of mass murders have been a page with the picture and a short biography of each victim. This is so powerful because the victims stop being statistics and start to be people -- friends, neighbors, colleagues, and ultimately, any of us.

So I'd grab that video feed and add a commentary to it -- this 'thing' that he's just shot was actually a person with a name, age and a biography.

We also need to talk about the injured because apart from the emotional scars people who get shot and survive often have life changing injuries -- sure, they're not dead, but they're disabled for period of time, sometimes permanently. The so-called assault rifle is particularly dangerous because it fires high velocity ammunition; the bullet will cause capitation when it hits flesh which destroys a much larger volume of tissue than you'd get from a subsonic bullet.

Welcome. You're now in a timeline in which US presidential hopeful Beto was a member of a legendary hacker crew

martinusher Silver badge

Re: hispanic name?

>he's celtic in a region that doesn't vote for celts....

The history of immigration to the border region isn't just "whites north, others south". A lot of Europeans moved to northern Mexico (the 'banda' music that you find in the western border area is derived from German 'oompah' polka style introduced by immigrants from Germany, for example).

So its quite possible that an O'Rourke could have been Mexican.

Incidentally, one of the major Indian nations that straddles the border in Arizona is called the Tohono O'odham. I don't think they're from Ireland, though.

Overhyped 5G is being 'rushed', Britain's top comms boffin reckons

martinusher Silver badge

If governments really cared about the welfare of the people...

....then they'd open up more bandwidth for WiFi rather than having it tucked in a couple of tiny open bands that were only left license free because they were regarded as useless.

I worked on wireless networking for many years and one thing that always struck me was the gulf between what the technology said was possible and what the marketing department said was possible. The marketing people invariably won out but were always disappointed because ultimately its the technology that makes and enforces the rules. Everything in wireless is a trade-off; you only get the advertised rate under perfect conditions, something that never happens in real life.

The only reliable way to push throughput is to increase bandwidth. That's one area where the solution is political, not technological.

(...and yes, I know we're talking phones, not WiFi, but its basically the same thing, the real difference being that the data used by phones is 'owned' by the carrier while WiFi is open to all, unlike cellular its not something you can easily make money off.)

Don't be too shocked, but it looks as though these politicians have actually got their act together on IoT security

martinusher Silver badge

IoT is already off the rails

This idea that software is inherently full of vulnerabilities and so has to be patched all the time is really a side effect of a relative handful of consumer operating systems. We, the public, have become accustomed to the notion that fixing bugs is a game of 'Whack a Mole' where every fixed bug causes problems elsewhere, opens more vulnerabilities and so on. This might be good eating for product and software vendors but its not the way that we should be treating devices. We can't secure ordinary computers properly so why would we even contemplate spreading the same sorts of vulnerabilities to what are essentially peripherals?

It is true that there are a lot of existing things that lack proper security but they were for the most part designed for an environment where threats were considered unlikely. Securing them should be straightforward provided we can get away from this concept that everything has to be globally accessible by everything else. Experience with 'things' will tell you that you need to trade information volume for information quality, if you don't then you'll get mired in irrelevant data (and there's no point in assuming that 5G will fix that problem for you -- it didn't when connections were wired so its unlikely to economically do the job wirelessly).

Still, I figure that IoT is primarily a marketing exercise mostly implemented in Powerpoint so I'll just keep on doing what I do and wait for something viable looking to turn up....

China still doesn't want iPhones despite Apple slashing prices, say market watchers

martinusher Silver badge

Don't underestimate national identity

Apple products are consumer products closely associated with the US; owning one in China was a status symbol which is why they sold well despite being significantly more expensive than local product. (....ignore the fact that they are effectively a local product for the moment)

Then the US government turns around and attacks China economically and even starts military saber rattling. It tries to quarantine Chinese developed products, it threatens countries that want to join with the Chinese 'Belt and Road' initiative and generally becomes very hostile to the Chinese. So what are self respecting -- and nationalist -- Chinese to do? They'll turn their back on the symbol of America. Apple becomes collateral damage in Trump's trade war.

On youTube you can find films from the ww2 era describing the efforts the Chinese people went to in order to push back the Japanese. One film describes making an airbase for American B-29 planes -- 70,000 people using nothing more sophisticated than hand tools built an airbase in a matter of weeks. The typical Chinese is probably no different from you and I in that they want their version of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" but if you threaten them, especially for no reason, then you shouldn't be surprised if they close ranks.

Trump is a political neophyte that's both very naive and very badly advised. He's got us into a trade war that we can't win. The Chinese may have their own reasons for letting us back off without losing too much face but that's about the best outcome we can expect.

Yelp-for-MAGAs app maker is warned there are holes in its code. Does it A. Just fix the problem, or B. Threaten to call the FBI, too?

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Shooting the messenger again.

That's what we call around these parts "Standard Operating Procedure". MAGAs are a paranoid little bunch, very noisy, very abrasive and quite prone to be threatening, if not downright violent.

There's a lot of parallels with the Brexit brigade -- those pushing for a so-called 'hard' Brexit. That's why I refer to this group as the "Make Britain Great Again" people -- both groups are very emotional, passionate about their beliefs and don't seem to have a clue what those beliefs actually are.

Incidentally, Trump sold those hats, I think they cost about $20 each.

There was yet another net neutrality hearing today in America, and it was all straightened out amicably and smoothly

martinusher Silver badge

If you know anything about US politics....

...then you will know that 'bi-partisan' means doing what the Republicans want. Which typically means doing what their sponsors want (many Republican legislators seem to be openly in the pocket of vested interests).

There's probably a parallel in the UK. Especially as the Conservative Party and the Republicans seem to employ the same PR firms.

UK joins growing list of territories to ban Boeing 737 Max flights as firm says patch incoming

martinusher Silver badge

Re: An already safe...

That's the wonder of Modern Marketing. By referring to this plane as a "737" people just assumed it was another sort of 737 instead of an entirely new plane. Boeing just piggybacks on the reputation of the long established workhorse instead of having to build from the ground up.

Why would I think of it as an entirely new aircraft? Its true that its roughly the size and capacity of the 737 that it replaces but its got a completely different main wing and flight control systems. The original 737 came from an era where planes were flown by people -- there were literally physical connections between the cockpit controls and the flight surfaces. These sorts of planes have to be inherently stable. The design isn't as efficient as we can make these days, though, so the temptation is to use a very high efficiency airfoil and make up the consequent loss of stability with avionics. This is a whole new game, though. (Disclaimer -- I'm not an aeronautical engineer although I do know quite a bit about sailplanes and their high efficiency airfoils; like most of us on this site I also know quite a bit about the pitfalls of software systems design, execution and testing.)

Boeing rushed the 787 into service without fully wringing out the bugs. This resulted in a six month grounding while problem of battery fires was brought under control (fortunately that didn't result in fatalities.) They need to figure one this out, and not just a quick "Hail Mary" patch. It probably won't do much harm to the company long term.

Hapless engineers leave UK cable landing station gate open, couple of journos waltz right in

martinusher Silver badge

Too much paranoia

Based on literally over a hundred years of UK history "two reporters from the Daily Mail" present a much greater threat to British way of life than a random group of wannabe Islamic terrorists.

You really can overdo this kind of paranoia. (Anyway, the fiber's primarily for high speed stock trading; some might say that disabling it would be doing society a service.)

Incidentally, the first "interception of cable traffic" type spy story that I know of was a tale by William de Querx, a prolific writer of Invasion Literature. What we have here are a couple of the Kaiser's spies who have branched a North Sea telegraph cable just off the Norfolk coast -- lots of Boy's Own type stuff, a good read if you like that sort of thing. There's even a Daily Mail angle in some of his stories, like "The Invasion of 1910" which used as a backdrop East Anglian towns with a significant Mail readership. (His vision of WW1 turned out to be nothing like the real thing.)

Another literary quirk -- before he and his ilk discovered the evil Kaiser the Bad Boy Of Europe was Tsar Nicholas II. Plus ca change.....

Small Brit firms beg for 'light touch' as only half are ready for digital tax reforms due next month

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Error control in Making Tax Difficult ???

>What sort of Muppet do they employ ?

I'd guess "a quite well paid one".

Seriously, though, the hallmark of an ex-colonial nation wasn't the absence of government but but an excess of non-functioning government. Countries would take over the old colonial administration systems but instead of adapting it for the needs of the newly independent it became a sinecure for the well connected. The result was a stifling of legitimate business, an outbreak of 'informal' business arrangements (black economy and corruption) because people still had to get stuff done and a general stifling of the economy that left a lot of people poor and an administrative middle class that's primary purpose was to defend the wealth and privilege of the very well off.

Sounds familiar?

Biker sues Google Fiber: I broke my leg, borked my ankle in trench dug to lay ad giant's pipe

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Hairdressers from Croydon

Most people's image of American roads are great stretches of highway snaking through Big Scenery. There's a fair bit of that but you're more likely to come across roads that are badly laid out, erratically signed and poorly lit with a variety of surfaces varying from 'barely tolerable' to 'I don't know why they bother even trying'. The thing is, though, that if you live here you're used to it -- that's why the archetypal US car or bike is a huge, heavy thing with big, fat, wheels -- all the better to ride over the cattle tracks.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: 5mph!

>a general purpose bike which stays fully controllable when the front wheel drops into a ditch..

It all depends on the ditch but a typical dual sport will handle this without a problem. You'd have you ask yourself why you didn't see the obstruction if you were going that slowly. )As for it not being signed it may well have been in his friend's driveway.)

One thing you have to remember on a motorcycle is that you don't want your feet on the ground -- ever -- until it stops. You're not going to be able to control the bike with your feet waving around and you stand an excellent chance of braking something down there if they get caught. Feet on the pegs at all times unless stopped!

What happens when security devices are insecure? Choose the nuclear option

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Protect and Survive

Ah! The Good Old Days. Those who remember "Protect and Survive" might also remember the graphic novel "Where the Wind Blows" by Raymond Briggs. There's a Wikipedia article about this but to give you some of the flavor it tells the story of an older couple who grew up in WW2 (remember, this ts the 80s) so were used to Government advice who used it to build their fallout shelter. They follow the advice in "Protect and Survive" and, well, they don't. They escape the direct effects of a nuclear attack but the fallout gets them. It takes a week or two.

Its quaint now but don't let your guard down -- the Cold Warriors and Strangeloves of this world are forever lurking waiting their chance to arm up (to quote the old song...."there's money to be made supplying the army's tools of trade"). You'll just be 'collateral damage' -- remember the real Civil Defence strategy back then had the government and assorted lackeys lurking under Box Hill with the rest of us bottled up in our cities -- "ducks, for the sitting of".

Dear Britain's mast-fearing Nimbys: Do you want your phone to work or not?

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Stop making sense!

My pet peeve are people who complain about the radiation danger from cell towers mounted on top of streetlights. ("Think about it....")

I blame the education system for teaching people a lot of stuff but not actually getting them to learn anything useful. People just don't understand what radiation is -- how it works, what kinds of risks it poses -- so you get a pile of very articulate (and extremely loud) people sounding off convincingly about stuff they know nothing about. (....and its not as if it is a particularly complicated subject)

(BTW -- I live in the US where cell towers on light poles are common. I don't think they'd be allowed in the UK because of all the dangerous radiation they're emitting.)

(Also -- don't get me started about anti-Vxers!)

Oh no Xi didn't?! China's hackers nick naval tech blueprints, diddle with foreign elections to boost trade – new claim

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Thankfully ..

That reference to "the world's democracies" and the use of the term 'blueprint' are a bit of a giveaway for me that this disclosure is primarily political and probably lacks substance.

Its not that there are legions of hackers out there probing around for whatever they can get their hands on; they're like flies, no matter how fast you swat them more seem to appear. Its what they're looking for. Typically naval blueprints are what you'd steal 100 years ago, today you're much more interested in materials and processes -- you know what such and such an item looks like but you need to know why it looks the way it does, how it enhances performance and how you can make it.

The notion of 'democracies' being some kind of bloc of righteousness is also wearing a bit thin.

The first ZX Spectrum prototype laid bare... (What? It was acceptable in the '80s)

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Just use emulation

>The issue is with Ethernet, or more specifically a half decent TCP/IP stack, which 8 bit micros weren't really designed around.

TCP/IP didn't really get going until the 90s, it wasn't because of a lack of a stack but the absence of a reasonably priced Internet connection. Local area networks were dominated by SMB hosted networking -- PC-NET (IBM), MS-NET (Microsoft) or Netware (Novell). Early Ethernet was also a bit of a nighmware; the triaxial hosted Ethernet proper was very expensive to work with so the most common network you'd find would be hosted oh a daisy chained coaxial or maybe phone cable.

The most common TCP/IP stack was a knockoff of the Unix stack recompiled for a PC. It was usually a crude port sold at very high prices (and may have led to the adoption of proper open source licenses -- it was common practice for people back them to take some code they'd got hold of, change the copyright banner and claim it was their own).

Did you know?! Ghidra, the NSA's open-sourced decompiler toolkit, is ancient Norse for 'No backdoors, we swear!'

martinusher Silver badge

Re: why on Earth give this away for free to everyone on the planet

Two things....

-- The toolset is probably last year's model so its safe to release from a national security perspective

-- The NSA is a publicly funded entity and so all of its work belongs to the public.

This latter provision has proved very useful in the past, more so than many people realize. It could be said that its where the notion of open source came from.

Adi Shamir visa snub: US govt slammed after the S in RSA blocked from his own RSA conf

martinusher Silver badge

Re: So where would they move it to?

>Not China or Russia, for obvious reasons.

I don't follow your logic here. Encryption is mathematics and so is country and culture independent -- the Russians and Chinese working in this field are going to be just like anyone else in the world. The governments of these countries know that this type of conference enhances their prestige and profile so they're probably going to do anything it takes to make the conference successful, up to and including leaving the participants alone.

Its only in the US (and among our hangers-on) that we have the hubris to think that the world owes us a living. For all I know this pettiness isn't a bureaucratic SNAFU but payback because the way that American law works means that no viable crystallographic system can be developed in the US -- the onerous licensing demands make it more trouble than its worth.

Cheap as chips: There's no such thing as a free lunch any Moore

martinusher Silver badge

There's really no need to panic over this.....

These attacks all require attacker to execute code on a system -- typically Javascript -- and require access to accurate timing information. It also implies that sensitive information is held in memory.

This is a typical setup for convenient computer use. Its also highly optional. We don't need to execute Javascript in web pages. We don't need high resolution timers and we don't need to retain sensitive information in memory. If I had a system that had really important information on it then I'd first ask myself whether it needed to be connected to the Internet, secondly whether I should be running general purpose programs on it like Web browsers that expect unfettered access to the Internet and whether I really needed accessible high resolution timers. I'f also be paying a lot of attention to network traffic that was going to unexpected places (probably managing my own static domain service cache that would flag and log any requires to unusual locations.)

We are continually made victims of our own architectural choices -- convenience trumps security. (....and if we weren't all trying to use adware infested web sites then we probably woudn't need multicore high performance processors for everyday tasks....again, convenience over security.)

Huawei 'to sue US' over federal kit block – report

martinusher Silver badge

Re: I'd appreciate some insight please

>Huawei can sue, but they have no chance in hell of winning. It's mostly a PR move on Huawei's part.

I think this suit might be a rather smart move. You have to look at the bigger picture -- the US government is openly interfering in commerce and banking to further its political interests by instituting numerous sanctions regimes against governments and individuals and expropriation of assets. Individually they might not amount to much but put together they paint a picture of an unreliable, capricious, government that won't abide by treaties, agreements or contracts. Huawei may appear to be suing over its product ban but when it loses its going to have a very powerful sales tool -- not only does our kit work and is attractively priced but you won't be left stranded because some American politician or bureaucrat in DC has a bad hair day. (Ask Norwegian about how much leaving a brand new airliner in Iran for a couple of months cost -- screwed over because of sanctions.)

As for the network security issue, Huawei had just one word on the subject -- PRISM.

Sanctions and other economic warfare tools have to be used judiciously. We in the US seem to have forgotten this, or otherwise grown so arrogant that we feel that the world has no other choice than to dance to our tune. This level of hubris is inviting disaster.

Correction: Last month, we called Zuckerberg a moron. We apologize. In fact, he and Facebook are a fscking disgrace

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Dumb fscks?

The email exchange that was published as part of a recent Parliamentary inquiry wasn't just interesting for the actual material but also revealing of the culture within that company. The need to both monetize information and to find new sources of information to monetize means that the company sails very close to the edge of legitimacy -- it has absolutely no qualms about working in legal grey areas, it will do anything it thinks it can get away with (and has a large cash war chest to deal with situations where people do try to hold it accountable).

I have no idea whether its the exception or the rule these days. I know that a lot of the old-fashioned companies that I've worked for prided themselves on their ethical behaviour, they thought it necessary to conform to societal norms. Maybe these newer companies are just mining stored value like hedge funds except that the value they're exposing and selling is the standards of conduct in a civilized society.

Huawei to the danger zone, ride into the danger zone... Chinese giant denies America's secrets theft, fraud charges

martinusher Silver badge

Huawei fights back

Full page advertisement in today's paper (Los Angeles Times)....

"Don't Believe Everything You Hear, Come and See Us....

It remains to be seen whether anyone does -- our legislators and other government functionaries have got themselves into a bit of a bind where they have to rely on innuendo and FUD because there's nothing concrete to back it up. We in the technical community know that they're making fools of themselves (and by extension, fools of us since they're supposed to be representing us) but they're primary skill is CYA so they're never going to do anything that runs even the slightest risk of being proven wrong.

Demand for HP printer supplies in free-fall – and Intel CPU shortages aren't helping either

martinusher Silver badge

You can't keep selling ink at such ridiculous prices and expect people to keep paying

Quite apart from people not printing as much as they used to, there's just no need for hard copy, HP ink prices are so high that it was only a matter of time before people found alternatives. I've given up on ink-jet printers because the miserly amount of ink you get in a cartridge dries out if you don't print regularly. I'll just use a laser for the occasional print jobs and leave it at that.

The biggest uptick in demand for software devs by bosses is for... *rubs eyes* blockchain engineers?!?

martinusher Silver badge

Re: "A 2017 Stack Overflow survey singled out Perl as the most hated coding language"

That's a weird conclusion, IMHO. Perl is a very usable language for the things that Perl was designed to do. I don't consider myself a Perl programmer but I do write scripts in that language and its pretty easy to work with -- its flexible, its efficient and the code can be made readable, it does the job. The only complaint I have with it is that the notational short cuts are really only for the pros; if you don't do Perl all the time and you want to be able to maintain your scripts then its better to avoid them, no matter how elegant they may seem to be.

Decoding the President, because someone has to: Did Trump just blow up concerted US effort to ban Chinese 5G kit?

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Let's see

>First you have to detect and prove the 'influence'.

To quote a news article from today about the trade show in Spain....this is one of the Huaeiw bosses speaking...

“PRISM, PRISM, on the wall, who is the most trustworthy of them all?” Guo said, in a reference to a U.S. data gathering program. “If you don’t understand that, you can go ask Edward Snowden,” he said, referring to the former National Security Agency contractor who exposed the program in 2013.

The truth is that all state actors are willing and capable of abusing your kit so you need to have an active program in place to defend against it. (Of course, this won't help with those secret court orders that you're not allowed to tell anyone about -- although there are workarounds to this if you're motivated).

martinusher Silver badge

Who Indeed?

>Who is going to do this catching up?

We've been in this rather peculiar state where there's both a chronic skills shortage and ongoing corporate drives to thin down the workforce, offshoring it where practicable. Suddenly we're expected to find people to develop state of the art communications systems as well as all that whizzo new military hardware that's being demanded by the Pentagon. (One local company reported it was looking to hire "10,000 engineers" -- seriously.) To add to our problems we're not that welcoming to foreign workers; our wages aren't that competitive any more and our visa system is driven by a lottery where even if you do get a work visa there's no guarantee that it will be renewed when it expires.

Ultimately I can blame this on the "Smiling Curve", the notion that the profir in business is in product conception and marketing, not actually making things. This may well be true but it masks and unfortunate reality -- the people charged with the boring stuff like manufacturing may well want a piece of the other the curve and will be a good position to grab it.

How politics works, part 97: Telecoms industry throws a fundraiser for US senator night before he oversees, er, a telecoms privacy hearing

martinusher Silver badge

We have the best Democracy money can buy

There is a lesson here for the EU since its still not fully formed.

The Federal government started out with a relatively limited scope -- provide for the common defense, manage uniform standards of trade between states and so on. A bit like the European Community, in fact -- the early United States was more like a customs union than a federation. These days its morphed into a monster that doesn't really do that much for us any more except absorb the lion's share of taxation, create fiat currency, run an enormous military machine and generate laws that the States are supposed to enforce. (Sounds familiar?)

We do have checks and balances but it remains to be seen if they're up to the task. My guess is that its marginal these days because people are getting so blatant. (One thing that works against us is that in the bad old days we had strict media ownership rules that preserved a significant measure of independence among the media; this has been rationalized out so we now have media empires that act as corporate propaganda outlets. There's a bit of pushback against this -- people have noticed that stories are not only consistent over a broad range of outlets but don't seem to match the facts but the response has been patchy, prone to manipulation and now is likely to be censored if the platform is a social media outlet.)

martinusher Silver badge

Re: I was in Brussels last week.

So the EU is just the same....does that make what's going on the US right?

China's tech giants are a security threat to the UK, says Brit spy bigwig

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Royal Navy Task Force

Have a heart -- it took a lot of effort to build that one ship. Heaven only knows where the sourced the components from since the shipbuilding industry in the UK has been run down to the point where its effectively non-existent. Its either going to be "only about 20% home made" or alternatively "home-made in the North Korean sense". Just marvel that it floats.

>with somebody else's aircraft?

They could just be decoys like the models used in WW2. Personally, I'd like to see an array of Swordfish on the deck, somehow it seems a fitting complement to the 'send in a gunboat' mindset the Gareth fellow seems to possess.

martinusher Silver badge

You realize that "Made in America" doesn't actually mean what it says?

The one thing we can be fairly certain of about Hwahei's kit is where it was designed and manufactured. Its not that the company necessarily wants to design and make all its products in China, its just its rather difficult to outsource development and production from somewhere that's already a prime outsourcing destination. Assuming I want to buy kit that's made in America (or the UK, for that matter) where's the guarantee that it was designed and built in those countries? There's an excellent chance that no matter where the company was headquartered the design, coding, production and testing and validation will have been done at various locations, many of them offshore. The process isn't that much different from building any other complex product -- cars, for example.

Until our security experts, government ministers or any of their ilk understands exactly how the supply chain works I'm going to continue to regard their pronouncements as something between meaning blather and total BS.

You're on a Huawei to Hell, US Sec State Pompeo warns allies: Buy Beijing's boxes, no more intelligence for you

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Economic warfare

>Right now that is an equally apt description of the US, China, Russia...

American exceptionalism isn't just an observed phenomenon, its something that's openly discussed here by our politicians. We're not that good at self-examination which is why you can have leading figures in the Administration openly trying to bring down an elected President in Venezuela so that they can install their own hand picked one and claim its 'restoring democracy'.

The difference between the US and China and Russia is that the latter two countries have a sense of national purpose and government policies that enable that purpose. The US has to resort to slogans because there isn't any coherent policies. (Brazil I'd class differently -- its current government appears to be a bunch of murderous gangsters -- its at war with sections of its people which isn't a very good way to try to run a society.)

Linus Torvalds pulls pin, tosses in grenade: x86 won, forget about Arm in server CPUs, says Linux kernel supremo

martinusher Silver badge

Its easy enough to make portable code for a single execution processor -- like you say, you just flip around the makefile macros and you can compile for anything you've got a code generator for. I think the problems appear when you try to exploit features of the overall processor subsystem (multiple cores, cache manipulation and so on). You can end up with exquisitely optimized code for a specific architecture. This may be what Linus is talking about.

BTW -- I was under the impression that x86 processors were microcoded (from time to time the test/load instruction becomes exposed which is a very Big Deal -- its like the greatest trade secret inside Intel). Given this, I wonder what the actual processor architecture looks like?

Secret mic in Nest gear wasn't supposed to be a secret, says Google, we just forgot to tell anyone

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Don't be........

>The action of Google was blatant in reading the SSID and the data load for the packets. They also stored the packet data for later analysis.

If you know how the protocol works this is entirely reasonable. Most people aren't aware of anything under the LLC layer, they think that wireless network traffic looks like Ethernet. It doesn't, its just presented like that at the driver interface to simplify interfacing it to the rest of the stack. There's a whole lot of information under that layer, information that's broadcast because -- believe it or not -- the protocol broadcasts traffic, it doesn't send it on some exclusive channel. Your network is identified by the BSSID, not the SSID -- that's the text broadcast by periodic beacon frames (if you've got them turned on), its how you get that list of every AP in the vicinity to choose from on your computer. The user data is normally encrypted these days so its not a whole lot of use.

I fear that between this little commotion and the current "They're spying on us" 5G scare story we may be approaching peak ignorance. I expect governments to have access to the best information possible when they make decisions but apparently our governments don't, they're vulnerable to any snake oil salesman with a glib line and a slick patter.

Europe-style 5G standards testing? Consistent definitions? Who the fsck wants that, asks US mobe industry

martinusher Silver badge

How can this be true if we're leading the market?

In the Business section of our local rag, the Los Angeles Times, there's an article headlined "US Leads Early in 5G Race". It builds on content from Cisco's annual "Visual Neworking Index" report. So we in the US can breath easier (so continues the article) because we've got the Huawei dragon tamed. And so on (fade in thunderous applause, chants of "USA! USA!" and visions of a sea of MAGA hats......).

As someone who's "in the trade" I can't help being a bit skeptical. The last decade or two have been rough on engineers -- not the Silicon Valley apps developers but the regular grunt sort that do the infrastructure development -- with corporations offshoring facilities and laying off talent in the never ending search for higher profits. (I haven't visited a Cisco campus for quite a few years now but the last time I went to one in the Bay Area it had a distinct ghost town feel to it -- hollowed out workforce in buildings that had obviously seen much better days.) This doesn't bode well for the future and while I'm not prepared to concede the race just yet I do feel that no amount of fancy marketing materials can substitute for engineering and manufacturing capability.

This will have a familiar feel to people from England. When I first started work the UK had a fairly robust engineering sector that was capable of developing advanced technologies. This got hollowed out in the search for profits -- companies separated their defense work from their commercial work and pretty much left the commercial sector to wither on the vine. Companies were struggling with limited investment caused by exaggerated expectations of profit, they merged and eventually collapsed due to their inability to deliver globally competitive product on time. There was no shortage of talent, it was just systematically abused so much of it found better work overseas. In the US this cycle was only just beginning when I arrived so I have been lucky to get many decades of good eating off it.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Why bother with 5G if you cannot get 1G right?

A few years ago I was visiting relatives in the back of beyond -- rural Saskatchewan, Canada. My brother noted he got better 4G service there than in the wilds of West Sussex. It was certainly consistent compared to the service I'm used to in the more remote parts of the US (even the 'not so remote' parts -- just go a few hundred yards off the Interstate and coverage drops -- no sense in wasting power on areas that won't return the max profit, is there?).

WWW = Woeful, er, winternet wendering? CERN browser rebuilt after 30 years barely recognizes modern web

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

I trace the decline of the Web - and the Internet in general -- to the rise of so-called 'push' technology in the mid to late 90s. Before this webpages gave you the information you asked for, maybe with a couple of advertisements but really 'just the facts'. Once 'push' took over marketing everything went crazy because it was really about downloading stuff onto your computer -- suddenly it wasn't "your" computer, it belonged to anyone who could con you into letting them have at it. It wasn't just the webpages that were bothersome, the rather flawed user model that presumed that a web browser was the same as the person using it allowed a conduit for all sorts of malware. The various solutions to this problem haven't addressed the fundamental issue -- push technology -- but instead have applied successive layers of Band Aids to mask the problems. The result is a seething cesspit of bloat and inefficiency (and its not just the browsers -- communication is also abused, clagging up the Internet with needless traffic).

Still, as we all know, you can't say 'No' to Marketing. You just put up and shut up and eventually if you're luck you get to retire (and bit a fond farewell to the lot of 'em).

BTW -- I would like to reserve a special place in Hell for whoever thought it was a good idea to incorporate web elements into email.

Solder and Lego required: The Register builds glorious Project Alias gizmo to deafen Alexa

martinusher Silver badge

We're technical sorts, not Luddites

I don't understand this 'bash the kit' mindset. If you don't like the things don't buy them. If you do have one or more then there are plenty of ways to neuter them if you want, anything from using their 'mute' button to just unplugging them. (The mute button, which I notice nobody has mentioned, switches off the microphones. The interface shows an angry red ring -- my wife says that ladies don't like being ignored.) They represent a huge advance in computer peripherals, something that makes a generic sci-fi movie from a year or so back look really dated. As technical people we should be delving into the technology, understanding its capabilities and limitations and learning how to work with it....not necessarily the Amazon flavor but as a generic technology.

Oh yes, while we're on the subject of Big, Bad, Corporations I notice a lot of articles about cloud computing, containers and the like. Doesn't everyone know where this stuff is really running? Amazon, for example, might like to sell us everything in the world but where they really make money is AWS.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: I'm curious...

>Allegedly because, obviously, they'd encrypt your requests.

All web traffic is encrypted these days.

Revealed: Numbers show extent of security fears about security biz Kaspersky Lab

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Pattern?

I thought that the reason for banning Kaspersky was simply that they had annoyed the NSA by finding the Fed's super-duper spying software. This was even before the whole Snowden business and the tools leak. We all knew that the NSA was up to something but it took Snowden to reveal the extent of the hacks.

Unlike many I'd guess that Kaspersky is more of a nuisance than an asset to the Russians. It must have occurred to the Russians years ago that their systems were likely to be hacked -- after all, they had plenty of home grown hackers going at everyone's systems. They might be on the inside track for Trojan discovery but if they're anything like other intelligence services from time immemorial they'd keep very quiet about it because if there's one thing better than knowing what your adversary's up to its them not knowing you know. They'd want a Kaspersky not to go digging among the pro stuff but just to occupy itself with the latest credential stealing phishing attack -- they'd need to be good, but not too good (just like the run of the mill AV companies, come to think of it).

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin

martinusher Silver badge

Re: They're great!

>I have one in my garden, which doesn't belong to the National Trust.

We've got a couple in the garden. A little one on a pedestal that gives a digital display and a big one on a wall that's a standard vertical dial with a gnomon. The wall one is quite large and keeps pretty good time according to the nearby radio corrected clock.

The problem with sundials is that they don't work that well indoors in an office environment or in cars. You also can't easily interface them with computers -- its possible but a bit pointless since the computer is likely to be able to keep better time than the sundial.

Return of the audio format wars and other money-making scams

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Hmmm...

>The trick is to design an audio amp that cancels out the crappiness of the op-amps in it. (Hint - negative feedback.) Then use decent power FETs for the final stage output.

That's very 1970s thinking, if you don't mind me saying so. The problem with this approach is that the finite bandwidth of the forward part of the loop introduces artifacts which don't show up with a sine wave (you'll get ludicrously low THD numbers) but rather show up as "Transient Intermodulation Distortion" or "why does my Sinclair amp sound like crap?". People didn't tumble to this for years mainly because they didn't have the testgear or circuit analysis tools to show it, they just knew that certain amplifiers sounded great (including most valve amplifiers) while others didn't. (Valve amplifiers have a more linear and much lower gain forward path.)

Its all moot these days, though. Quite apart from modern semiconductors having effectively infinite bandwidth by audio standards most modern amplifiers are class 'D' -- digital, with PWM output. We're well past the point where a commodity processor can handle all the functions of signal collection and conditioning. Its really life coming full circle -- early transistor amplifiers started out life as servo amplifiers, military project designs 'repurposed' at home by enthusiasts, with modern audio amplifiers just being repurposed, and downrated, servo drivers.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: MiniDisk? Bah!

>78s encode the sound vertically.

Er, no. They're side to side just like long playing records (and 45's). They just use a very wide groove. There was an attempt to market 'hill and dale' records -- I think it was Edison's company that pushed it -- but it never caught on. Another feature of 78s is that each company had its own compensation curve rather than the standard 'RIAA' curve used with LPs so if you were an early audiophile you'd have either extra controls over the compensating filter or an adapter for your favourite brands.

(The original name for LP format was 'Microgroove'; its an example of the prefix 'micro' predating our modern world. Its actually older than 'transistorized'.)

BTW -- You can get away with playing a mono record with a stereo needle but not the other way around. A mono stylus has a round tip, the stereo one is elliptical; the mono stylus won't fit in the stereo groove properly so is likely to damage the record.

Another BTW -- If you're a true 78 lover then you won't use steel needles on your gramophone but rather wooden ones -- the thorns of a prickly pear cactus sharpened before each use with a gadget that's driven off the turntable. (No -- I am not joking....I knew a fellow that was a serious collector who used one of those pencil sharpener type gadgets.)

Why does that website take forever to load? Clues: Three syllables, starts with a J, rhymes with crock of sh...

martinusher Silver badge

Its not just the scripting

The protocol used to load web pages is a kludge, and a bad one at that. At its root is the practice of carrying out protocol exchanges over a stream protocol, something it inherited from FTP which is maybe tolerable for the occasional file transfer but is utterly unacceptable for general use as its grossly inefficient and none too reliable.

But then, as I've learned over many years of working with this stuff, programmers just don't seem to care. They just grab resources without thinking of their impact on the system (or the network) and when performance comes up short they witter on about "Moore's Law" and grab yet more resources. Its always the user's fault that you need what would have once been a high performance supercomputer just to open and display a web page.

The rot isn't confined to web pages. All this bloat has spread to the cloud, its management and to the so-called "Internet of Things" (or, as someone aptly put it, the "Internet of Vulnerabilities"). Its a mess but its one with so much momentum behind it that I have no idea how we are to unwind it. Maybe we should start by redesigning web protocols (I believe that Mr. Berners Lee has suggested this) -- they were a kludge, they're messy, unreliable and insecure and could very easily be cleaned up and made a whole lot more efficient.

Even the JS fiasco is preventable. Just start with a decent user model, recognize that anything that comes in from 'outside' needs to be sandboxed as its own user with very restricted capabilities. It won't happen, though, because Marketing needs that cross site capability to snoop on the user...so the arms race continues....

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Every web site should...

>for analytical purposes

That's a very polite name for 'spyware'!

We all know that the reason for all this scripting is to track the user, the data is then used to tune the advert ecosystem. The problem up to now has been that browsers don't directly identify users and (I'm starting to have my suspicions about the new Chrome engines) so programmers have to use algorithmic workarounds to simulate the effect of accurate tracking (sometimes with amusing results).

The fix for the average JS programmer is to learn a real language and get a real job. JS has its place but it must rate as one of the most abused languages ever.

How do you like them Apples? Tim Cook's iPhones sitting in the tree, feeling unloved by the Chinese

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Huawei

>when patriotic Chinese will want to support their own brands.

Its not helping Apple that the patriotic Chinese option is not only as good or better technically than the Blingfone but also a good bit cheaper.

Redditors start flinging Pooh after mega-forum takes cash from Chinese behemoth Tencent

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Reddit blueit

>plus no propaganda will be permitted...

Do the words "Integrity Initiative" mean anything to you?

Prez Trump orders Uncle Sam to step up AI efforts – we all know the White House knows a lot about artificial intelligence

martinusher Silver badge

It has that 'clutching at straws' feel, unfortuantely.

One of the reasons I left the UK for the US many years ago was that at the time the 'white heat of technology' really meant 'if you invent something in your garden shed that can make us money we will be only too pleased to exploit it for you'. There was systematic under investment in technology -- civilian technology -- which was mirrored by the appalling wages that companies were prepared to pay engineers. The US seemed a lot different, and it was, because of the ready availability of capital. However, all wasn't quite as wonderful as it seemed, there was still this undercurrent of doing everything on the cheap that hobbled work in the UK, but at least the wages were a lot better.

Fast forward a few decades and those systematic under investment chickens have come home to roost. Yes, the US still has an enormous capability compared to the UK but its gone pretty much down the same route, the signs of trouble being a chronic 'hard' skills shortage and a focus on derivative products that can be built quickly with minimal investment with the hope of making a killing. The appearance of unicorns, in fact. This hollowing out can be attributed to outsourcing and its going to take some time to reverse this trend, especially as the US isn't quite as attractive to the highly skilled as it was decades ago. Like the UK of old we're now excelling primarily in marketing -- we know how to talk up a product, to package and sell it but our intentions often outstrip our capabilities.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: AI

>yeah. Y'know some Americans are stupid enough to believe Hillary Clinton?

Nah, not "stupid". Its a case of the lesser of two evils. Its a bit like Thatcher/Major and Blair. You know you're going to get shafted so its just a matter of who's got the lube.

Ivan to be left alone: Russia preps to turn its internet into an intranet if West opens cyber-fire

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Can anyone bother to explain

Russia is quite easy to understand if you just know a bit of its history. It has been invaded many times so while it would like to be at peace with the west and be just another nation it has to keep its guard up. Our own enmity towards it is difficult to explain; its never posed much of a threat to us except as a clash of Empires (the British were concerned about clashes with Russia over the North West Frontier -- Afghanistan -- and used to refer to Tsar Nicholas as "The Bad Boy of Europe" before Kaiser Willie took over that spot).

Managing a nation's Internet is a logical step. The global Internet that we know really isn't Global, its American -- it started out life as a DARPA project and its been largely developed in and managed from the US. This didn't matter much in the early days but now its a critical part of a nation's infrastructure its only natural that it will get defended like any other part of the national infrastructure. Its also natural to assume that it will be -- has been -- weaponized by both private and national interests so it will spawn a whole slew of defensive and offensive mechanisms. I'd expect this trend to continue with not just the infrastructure but also the applications running on it -- the Americans, in particular, have weaponized commerce and banking with their wholesale use of sanctions regimes so its natural that other nations will take defensive measures that include making their own regimes that are beyond US control.

(I'd suggest this is no different from any other new technology. Powered flight took a few years to morph from an interesting toy to something that needed to be managed at a national level.)

It's OK, everyone – Congress's smart-cookie Republicans have the answer to America's net neutrality quandary

martinusher Silver badge

Re: I've always wondered...

>... what about cases where paid prioritization is in the consumer's best interests?

Difficult to say but AT&T may be able to help you out a bit. They've already figured out the tariff model for carving up broadband. Their take is more the "airline seat" model, its all about how to take this finite resource and get the most out of it. ("Yield Management") Like airlines they'll be looking for the smallest planes crammed with the most passengers that are paying the highest fares they can get away with. The fact you're having a miserable experience -- well, what are you going to do, complain?


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