* Posts by hellwig

484 posts • joined 3 Mar 2016


I don't hate US tech, snarls Euro monopoly watchdog chief – as Google slapped with €1.49bn megafine

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Tip of the iceberg

Other than Microsoft and Google, has the EU acted against any other US company?

This one seems like a legit violation. Blocking out competitors is a bad thing (ah, reminds me of the Intel/OEM collusion time period).

I still disagree with many other judgments, such as Google being penalized for showing its own services on its own webpages. If you don't want to see Google's stuff, do NOT go to Google.com in your web browser and then search for things. And if Google is your default engine and you don't know how to change it, maybe try googling it, ah shit, you just can't win.

Super Cali optimistic right-to-repair's negotious, even though Apple thought it was something quite atrocious

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Next on the list

Yes, but those cheap-ass farmers don't buy new tractors every year, so poor old JD had to do something to protect the bottom line.</sarcasm>

Don't get the pitchforks yet, Apple devs: macOS third-party application clampdown probably not as bad as rumored

hellwig Silver badge

Re: and the re$t...

Yep. I caught this statement in the article: [Apple] clearly wants to discourage reliance on unsigned apps due to the potential security and privacy risks. AND the fact that they can force people to use their distribution and payment methods, as on iOS.

Problem for Apple is that MacOS is no where near as popular as iOS. Apple lost it's "advantage" when it switched to x86 processors. If they switch to ARM, they won't be gaining any performance back. Apple computers will be isolated boxes used only for dedicated purposes, not the general purpose PCs they were founded to be.

We don't want to be Latch key-less kids: NYC tenants sue landlords for bunging IoT 'smart' lock on their front door

hellwig Silver badge

Still gonna charge for door unlocks.

I bet they'll still get hit with a $20 door unlocking fee IF they can find a phone to call it in (in theory, they don't have their own smartphone on hand).

My first day in a locked-front-door apartment was fun, went out to get my pizza and bam, locked out. Luckily I had a ground floor apartment and left a window open.

Qualcomm wins Apple patent case, loses Apple patent case, wins Apple patent case, loses Apple patent case...

hellwig Silver badge


Surely, we learned from the cold war that you can't go overboard with the nuclear option. You keep building nukes until one of you can't afford to do it anymore, then the other person is the winner.

Apple understood, when it told other companies to stop paying Qualcomm. Qualcomm went to the courts to hit Apple where it hurts.

Seems par for the course, not sure who will go under first, my bet is on the no-longer revolutionary Apple.

Nice 'AI solution' you've bought yourself there. Not deploying it direct to users, right? Here's why maybe you shouldn't

hellwig Silver badge

Negative Reinforcement

Punish the AI for mis-identifying something. It'll learn real quick not to do that anymore, that is, if it's truly intelligent.

'Java 9, it did break some things,' Oracle bod admits to devs still clinging to version 8

hellwig Silver badge

Re: I'm still using Java 1.4

But that's the thing, Java is not being distinguished between the language itself and the distributed libraries and the run time environment. As far as I know, all old Java code will still "compile" (they haven't altered the syntax), but the issue is incompatibilities with other libraries.

And that's what Oracle is also licensing. They have no control over the language, but if you want their implementations of common libraries in their JDK and JRE, you have to abide by their licensing rules, or find something else.

It's the same with other scripting languages (yes, I went there). The advantage of Python, Perl, Node.JS, etc... is the collection of default libraries and the distribution network of others. I mean, for chrissake, if you had to write bare Python, you'd never do it. Important Whitespace? HAH!

Artificial Intelligence: You know it isn't real, yeah?

hellwig Silver badge

And Facebook wondered...

Why it couldn't create a software algorithm to provide relevant impartial news and social media posts? The fallacy of the modern nerd is thinking they're smarter than everyone else despite evidence to the contrary.

"Just because Einstein couldn't rationalize his theories on relativity without the cosmological constant, doesn't mean my Hemp-based dating app can't solve the mysteries of the universe!".

Behold… a WinRAR security bug that's older than your child's favorite YouTuber. And yes, you should patch this hole

hellwig Silver badge

I mean, if you're on the bleeding edge of compression related technology, sure. However, I think 99% of users can just get by with whatever 7z does support.

For LTS/archiving purposes, I'm sure there are all sorts of fancy algorithms. For sending a collection of documents to your co-worker, most people will just use .zip.

After outrage over Chrome ad-block block plan, Google backs away from crippling web advert, content filters

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Who are we kidded by?

Exactly, what constitutes abuse in this space?

Google provides API

Someone creates plugin

User must install plugin

User users plugin to customize browser....

Where is the abuse?

This isn't something unscrupulous third-party actors can push out (this isn't a vulnerability with websites). Sure, you need to trust the plugin creator, but Google assumes some of that responsibility by being the only host for "trusted plugins" (thanks Google!, keep uninstalling my work's remoting plugin EVERY DAMN TIME I relaunch you).

The abuse referred to is, as mentioned, the abuse against Google by users.

Amazon triples profit to $11.2bn, pays ZERO DOLLARS in corp tax – instead we pay it $129m

hellwig Silver badge

Yep, when your local government complains that companies like Amazon don't collect sales tax (or didn't used to), what they are actually saying is they want YOUR money. That's not Amazon's money.

Just like the electric car tax rebates the US was giving out, those were for THE COMPANY, not the buyer. But sometimes, the corporation is actually nice enough to pass that on to the customer (or not collect sales tax).

But make no mistake, only the people pay taxes, not the corporations and certainly not the rich politicians making the decisions.

Use an 8-char Windows NTLM password? Don't. Every single one can be cracked in under 2.5hrs

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Maximum Password length

If you let people use longer passwords, then you can't synchronize your older, legacy platforms (which seems like a bad idea to begin with). I remember having to choose a short SSO password at an employer because of some rules they had for their legacy Unix systems.

Never mind that naked selfie scandal... Brazil lights the, er, kindling, dot-Amazon saga roars back into life

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Interesting but...

Just typical corporate paranoia. If they don't buy .amazon, someone else might, and then when someone goes to <something>.amazon instead of amazon.com, they won't get Amazon's website (as if that would happen).

"do nothing" is exactly what ICANN was counting on when it opened up the gTLD process. Mega-corporations would buy dozens or hundreds of TLDs in desperate attempts to head-off competition, where instead everyone should have just ignored the pointless process and told ICANN to shove off.

I wonder if this will eventually fall afoul of E.U. regulations. Imagine trying to go to <localretailer>.amazon, and being redirected to Amazon's site (again, not that anyone ever would). Seems anti-competitive. I mean, if they argue that going to google.com, searching for something, and seeing, alongside your results, similar offerings from Google is anti-competitive, imagine going to <store>.amazon, and not even seeing the results you wanted. My god, those poor E.U. businesses!

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

hellwig Silver badge

Clientside Loopback Protection.

When I'm worried about hackers, I just unplug my main NIC from the router and plug it into another NIC on my PC. This keeps data flowing while not being worried about external interference. I haven't been hacked yet. Although I'm typing this at work because I can't seem to access El Reg (or any internet) at home anymore.....

World's favourite open-source PDF interpreter needs patching (again)

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Hardly surprising.

I was all ready to blame Adobe (why are their formats also so complex and insecure), but yeah, at the end is says:

[Ormandy]'s still wary of the whole thing, writing that "untrusted postscript needs to be deprecated ASAP"

Still, if someone said "PDF" is insecure, no one would bat an eye. Executable code, web hooks, WTH does Adobe think PDFs are for?

Oracle robbed just about anyone who wasn't a pasty white male of $400m, says Uncle Sam

hellwig Silver badge

Russia, India, Brazil, China, too much cheap labor

I worked at an engineering company here in the US that staffed it's workforce with about 80% offsite foreign labor and few dozen onsite Visa workers (hundreds of people for this particular project/product). There were a few of us US citizens left to oversee the work (I'm sure that was a contractual requirement with the various customers).

To facilitate the sheer number of different places that the work was distributed, each foreign site would send a few people over to the US to help with the interactions (language barriers, etc..). Of course, the company didn't get appropriate work Visa's for these people, so they were technically here on a travel Visa, and therefore couldn't do anything actually considered work. No idea what was in it for the people who made the trip? A free trans-continental flight and hotel room? Not sure this was entirely above-board, but I can only imagine the bonus some higher-ups must have gotten for doing the work with foreign nationals working at a fraction of the cost and who would apparently do anything, including travel to the US without getting paid.

At that particular job, I was actually working as a contractor for a US-based Indian contracting firm. Not sure how all that actually worked out (the whole ordeal was just stressing), but I get the feeling I was one of the few US citizens they employed in the US. I do know the few contractors actually there on a work Visa (i.e. legally) made far less than I did.

This is one of the few things I agree about with the current president, too many work Visas. I'm fairly sure the quality of higher education in the U.S. is better than in India. That whole excuse about not having enough domestic talent never sat well with me. If nothing else, the cost of the Visa's should be applied to scholarship funds to educate more Americans to replace the apparent glut in the talent pool


Look out, kids. Your Tinder account is about to be swamped by old people... probably

hellwig Silver badge

What, pray tell, was the reasoning here? I assume their internal data showed them a twenty-something woman getting "super liked" by her dad's friends tended to turn them away from the service? The fewer attractive women you have, the fewer men paying to use the app. So if the creepy old dudes want to play, they have to pay extra to offset the losses their actions are causing to the user base (and Tinder's income).

I'm sure the fact that older women were caught up in this debacle was either accidental (are their user numbers more Ashley Madison like, 90%+ males? maybe they didn't anticipate any female users even noticing this) or maybe they knew if they charged men more than women they'd get caught in a gender-based lawsuit even faster?

Of course, maybe this was a socialist experiment. Older people tend to have better, more stable incomes, and therefore Tinder was simply taking advantage of that extra income. Well, actually, they would have to redistribute the wealth in some form to be socialist, I suppose this would still just be a capitalist reason, with a socialist white-wash.

Apple hardware priced so high that no one wants to buy it? It's 1983 all over again

hellwig Silver badge

Look and Feel

which was famously inspired by a visit paid to Xerox PARC in 1979 by Steve Jobs

What happened to respect for the design of a competitors product? Oh wait, this was before he was a billionaire, was it? Ah....

$24m in fun bux stolen from crypto-mogul. Now he fires off huge fraud charge. Like, RICO, say?

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Isnt this what hardware wallets are for.

This sort of thing isn't even two-factor authentication though. Where was the "known" factor? The user name, phone number, address, etc.. is not privileged information. Sure, forgetting a password is common, but using only half the system (sending a single code to a device, and not requiring a password) defeats the entire purpose.

Using SMS for 2FA is risky yes, but this was 1FA, even worse.

If anything, something like this should use an SMS code AND an emailed code AND secret questions. Sure, you can phish for that info, but at least it requires more than just bribing some part-time AT&T employee to swap SIMs.

Really, shame on the crypto bank here.

Oh snap: AWS has only gone and brought out its own Backup

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Get burned?

So anti-competitive behavior is fine as long as you aren't too successful? I know that's Apple's business model (find a cool app, put that feature in the OS, then ban the app).

What is the percentage threshold that has to be reached? At what point is it unfair for Amazon to offer their backup service on the front page as you sign up for AWS, when you have to search the internet to find competitors for the BACKUP service (obviously there are AWS competitors)? And of course, if you use Google to search, and Google has the AUDACITY to offer their own product, they will be the ones to get fined. It's ridiculous.

hellwig Silver badge

Cue the EU...

So, doesn't offering your own competing service up front violate antistrust laws? If Microsoft isn't allowed to "prefer" IE/Edge over other web browsers, Amazon can't "prefer" their own backup service over competitors, can they?

Or does the EU only care about Microsoft and Google?

Ahem, Amazon, Google, Microsoft... Selling face-snooping tech to the Feds is bad, mmm'kay?

hellwig Silver badge

Capitalism and Corporations

Corporations only exist to make profits. That's literally their only goal. They usually produce a product or provide a service, but that's just a means of gaining profits.

So of course Amazon, Google, and Microsoft will take on these tasks, the governments are paying after-all.

Why do these companies bother doing business in places like China in the first place? Money. There's money in China and they want it. There's no universal law that says every company must operate everywhere. Google could just as easily leave the Chinese search engine business to Chinese companies, and not bother with the hassle of filtering their results. But if someone is going to make money off of search, it's going to be Google (according to Google).

So condemning a corporation for seeking profits goes against the very nature of capitalism. You might as well condemn the Sun for shining.

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Amazon didn't respond / Google declined / A Microsoft spokesperson promised

You and they forgot the fourth monkey: do no evil. Wait, haven't we heard that from someone?


South Korea reckons mystery hackers cracked open advanced weapons servers

hellwig Silver badge

Makes you wonder why the western world doesn't sanction China for supporting sanctioned North Korea. Oh wait, money.

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile US pledge, again, to not sell your location to shady geezers. Sorry, we don't believe them

hellwig Silver badge

The danger of mass data collection.

Joe Cox was able to pay a bounty hunter $300 to have someone's T-Mobile US phone number tracked and located

Proponents of the data collecting habits of Google, Facebook, et.al., and even the apathetic folks who don't see the danger, this is the danger.

It's easy to say no giant corporation cares about you so who cares if they buy your data or not, it's not the corporations you need to worry about. It's about where that data eventually ends up. Since Facebook, Google, blah blah, all know exactly where your phone is at any time, any of their partners who has access to that data could offer similar stalking services. Heck, I'm not a Tor user, there might already be such services out there. Facebook wouldn't even know about it, since apparently they don't keep track of who does what with any of their APIs.

It's the weekend. We're out of puns for now. Just have a gander at China's Moon lander and robo-sidekick snaps, videos

hellwig Silver badge

Recursive Surface

As the lander kept getting lower, it was disorienting that the craters kept getting bigger, and then newer smaller craters kept appearing, then kept getting bigger. More and more and then bam, landed. Those must have been small craters at the end.

AT&T (sucks) upgrades folks to 5G (Evolution) that isn't actually 5G

hellwig Silver badge

You have AT&T uVerse in the UK too?

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Not sure about the US

There could be some official interaction depending on the definition of 5G. If 5G defines a specific communication standard that AT&T's 5GE does not meet, it could be considered false advertising by the FTC (FCC? not really sure who does what anymore with Pai). Additionally, if the standards body trademarked 5G, they might be able to sue AT&T for misusing the trademark.

But I'm sure AT&T lawyers know this (IANAL), and probably have some B.S. excuse pre-made for just such occasions.

It'll soon be even more illegal to fly drones near UK airports

hellwig Silver badge

Re: "Fire in a cinema".

It's 2018, there's not a single cell-phone video of the drone? I can't believe that.

FYI: Twitter's API still spews enough metadata to reveal exactly where you lived, worked

hellwig Silver badge

That data is useless anyway, why keep it?

What good is 5 or 10 year old location data (I'm assuming the first twitter iPhone app did this)?

So many people move, change jobs, change doctors, this wouldn't be terribly practical to advertisers trying direct targeting. So, why does Twitter keep it around? Probably because they don't know what is and isn't valuable. Collect everything and see if someone wants it, what could possibly go wrong?

Excuse me, sir. You can't store your things there. Those 7 gigabytes are reserved for Windows 10

hellwig Silver badge

Windows Needs 8GB to Install these updates....

I had to track down and find all kinds of rogue files on my HP 2-in-1 to clear up 8GB on the 32GB internal storage. Not sure why they now think they only need 7GB for updates, temps, etc...?

The one thing Windows needs to fix is their f*cking SxS (side by side). That system is NOT as efficient as they think it is. Also, make it easier to purge AppData and ProgramFiles, I found 6GB of crap in AppData stored by an application I long ago uninstalled.

You can blame laziness as much as greed for Apple's New Year shock

hellwig Silver badge

Apple has nothing left

The original Apple was created by Jobs and the Woz in a garage. Apple Computer Co. was helmed by Jobs and the tech led by Woz until 85. Then Apple went through a series of blunders and nearly went out of business, saved by an investment from a Microsoft desperate to avoid ant-trust issues. Then, Apple brings back Jobs, releases OSx, moves to x86, releases the iPod to HUGE success, releases the iPhone to even greater success, becomes worlds richest company. Then Jobs dies. And since then we've gotten what, the iPencil?

Apple has nothing left, there will be no next new big thing from Apple after the iPhone, they'll end up drifting to the wayside.

Dark matter's such a pushover: Baby stars can shove weird stuff around dwarf galaxies

hellwig Silver badge

I'm correcting my correction....

The universe is too heavy, must be DARK MATTER!!! But wait, it's expanding way too fast to be that heavy, it must be DARK ENERGY!!!!

Everyone is just busy trying to prove or disprove the cosmological constant Einstein proposed. Maybe ignoring his flawed equation and re-examining facts is required here?

Remember when we thought Newtonian physics could explain all aspects of the known world? Seems to me we might not have reached the pinnacle and we look a little silly just throwing out all these ideas.

Basically, Dark Matter and Dark Energy were created to "explain" some unexpected observation, and now the community just thinks we need to define what those Dark things are. Well, maybe we took a step too far, and we still need to understand the observations before naming the culprit. You look awfully foolish arresting Grandma's killer when it turns out she just had a heart attack.

Detailed: How Russian government's Fancy Bear UEFI rootkit sneaks onto Windows PCs

hellwig Silver badge

Lojax exploits a known race-condition in Intel's flash memory controllers

So my AMD system is perfectly fine? Cool.

Insiders! The good news: Windows 10 Sandbox is here for testing. Bad news: Microsoft has already broken it

hellwig Silver badge

Pretty sure IE will be shown as an escape vector any day now.

If a "lone" application like IE can break the sandbox, it's not a sandbox at all. If the idea is to run applications in an isolation environment that basically mimics the external environment, IE should have broken windows too, not just the sandbox. Clearly IE is doing some so low-level that the virtualized environment couldn't handle it. That tells me it's low enough that it will probably expose the primary system to the sand boxed environment somehow.

Otherwise, why can't I just use the sandbox without trying to launch IE?

Until Microsoft kills IE and permanently divorces it from the underlying OS, Windows will NEVER be secure.

Marriott: Good news. Hackers only took 383 million booking records ... and 5.3m unencrypted passport numbers

hellwig Silver badge

WTF do they do with Passport IDs?

I'm not sure the policies at work that require a hotel to record identifying information. Did my payment go through? Good, give me the damn keys and mind your own damn business.

Create a unique identifier that only works in one place (i.e. your customer database). Hashed and salted appropriately, you CAN identify someone with that information without storing it plain text like a damn idiot.

Oh I'm sure they have some facebook like philosophy of "collect whatever we can, it might one day prove useful", yeah, to the people who hack your system you morons.

Until now, if Canadian Uber drivers wanted to battle the tech giant, they had to do it in the Netherlands – for real

hellwig Silver badge

US Courts will Eventually see the light of day

If I recall, Uber only won the case against classifying their drivers as independent contractors because some old coots who haven't done society the service of dying out of their appointed judgeship couldn't understand that Uber uses phone apps to tell drivers what to do instead of actual physical people.

"A computer telling people what to do? Why, a computer that powerful would be the size of the pentagon, contain enough copper wire to tether the moon to the earth, and require the power equivalent of 5 suns!!! Where would one even find that many tubes and switches? Do we have enough trees left to make all the punch cards?".

More nodding dogs green-light terrible UK.gov pr0n age verification plans

hellwig Silver badge

from 1 to up to 50

1 to 50 sites per year? I do not think the UK government understands HOW MANY porn sites there are. 1 to 50 sites per second? Sounds about right.

Can't unlock an Android phone? No problem, just take a Skype call: App allows passcode bypass

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Hmmm


But I was wondering this myself. It's seems odd that Google trusts all apps to not allow access to data while the phone is locked. Leave it up to every single vendor to not break the security mode?

Agreed that this wouldn't be allowed in the Apple-verse, but at the same time, Apple's solution is to make the phone less usable. I love widgets on my lock screen and home screen. But those widgets should NOT have the ability to launch other applications while still locked. Definitely something Google/Android needs to fix.

hellwig Silver badge

Re: They fixed it!

Huh, interesting point. Maybe the FBI or NSA tried to force this backdoor on Microsoft. That might be giving Microsoft too much credit, and I suppose the biggest reason it's probably not correct is how many people would even bother to install Skype on their Android phone in the first place? Is it really that large of an attack vector outside of corporate handsets?

hellwig Silver badge

Not for long

My company switched to Skype, and now we're switching off (probably back to WebEx). Skype eats up so much bandwidth, it crippled our networks. The company thought they could replace most phone calls with Skype calls, but most people make video Skype calls.

Anyway, apparently those wonderful cost savings (it's FREE!!!!1111!!!!), didn't work out in the end.

Google-whisperers beat reCaptcha voice challenge with 90% success rate

hellwig Silver badge

Could stop working at any time....

Assuming Google gives a damn.

Considering the bots Google employs to scour the internet, something tells me a completely fool-proof Captcha isn't their highest priority.

Um, I'm not that Gary, American man tells Ryanair after being sent other Gary's flight itinerary

hellwig Silver badge

Not everyone likes a +

I remember when GMail first came out and supported the + sign, not every web form allows you to enter a + sign. Apparently whatever idiot programmed those forms just went with what they thought were the rules, without bothering to look them up (on a related note, I've never come across date-related code in my profession that correctly computed a leap-year, so sad).

Huawei CEO defiant on security claims, vows to be so good, 'no market can keep us away'

hellwig Silver badge

"Our product is so great, everyone wants it, including the Iranians"

Yeah, see, I don't think you understand why you were being punished. If you don't show contrition, the government IS going to keep pursuing the matter.

Oregon can't stop people from calling themselves engineers, judge rules in Traffic-Light-Math-Gate

hellwig Silver badge

Oregon arrests new mothers for unregistered Nursing

It's almost like context matters in some of these circumstances. Could zero-tolerance be flawed somehow?

Scrubtastic end to 2018 as SpaceX, Blue Origin, Arianespace all opt for another day on Earth

hellwig Silver badge

Small-sat specialists Rocket Lab

I think you meant space-based trash disposal company Rocket Lab. Small sats will be the end of space travel, thousands/millions of the things clogging up space.

In theory, you can rope-in a large satellite and steer it out into space or into the atmosphere (heard some Japanese, or was it Chinese?, company was looking into this). How are we gonna clean up all these tiny things?

Is Google purposefully breaking Microsoft, Apple browsers on its websites? Some insiders are confident it is

hellwig Silver badge

This is just an HTML5 problem.

Remember how poorly every browser performed on the early HTML5 compatibility tests, and how EDGE was actually released touting it's HTML5 performance (while still lacking extensions and whatnot)?

Sounds like this is just something HTML5 supports that is hard to anticipate or work around.

Now, maybe Google did this on purpose, or maybe not (I read a blog post where someone had to lay an empty div over a video player to work around issues with IE, so it sounds like it's still Microsoft's fault). But if HTML5 allows it, only the HTML governing body is at fault here.

You're legit and you know you are... Thanks to chanting racist footie fans, linking to dodgy stuff isn't necessarily illegal (well, in Europe)

hellwig Silver badge

Re: Good English law

So linking content IMPLIES fact? Oh boy, I can only imagine how people in the UK handle Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc...

This is like "The Invention of Lying". Since no one had ever lied, everything was trusted, regardless of how ridiculous it might seem to an outsider (yes, a meteor is going to destroy the earth in the next 30 minutes unless you have sex with me). Apparently the UK trusts the Internet in the same way? No one would ever lie on the internet, so EVERY single thing linked to by a webpage MUST be fact?

I mean, I know that's how people in the US react to facebook posts come election time (thanks Zuck!), but in your country, it's LAW?

And if everything is guilt by association, then wouldn't Jobbik be legally liable for the action of the drunken fans through association (being racist dicks), regardless of any actual intent? Once someone posted on the internet that the fans were part of Jobbik, it became immutable truth!

hellwig Silver badge

Drunken *Soccer* Fans

You meant Soccer.

HCL picks up Notes, spanks total of $1.8bn at Honest John's IBM software sale

hellwig Silver badge

Notes sold off to Indian Firm, Microsoft twitches... no... it was just the wind

I interned with the Exchange Server team at Microsoft in the early aughts. They were proud of having won the email and workgroup collaboration war against Notes.

I have to think these days they don't even recognize it as a competitor anymore.


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