* Posts by Milton

506 posts • joined 14 Jun 2016

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Chinese web giant finds Windows zero-day, stays shtum on specifics

Milton
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"Perhaps time for Microsoft to ... stick to something they are good at?"

"Perhaps time for Microsoft to ... stick to something they are good at?"

Hmm ... I think you may have backed them into a bit of a corner, there.

Marketing (which M$ is undeniably good at) usually requires something to market, which they won't have if they give up on their principal, time-honoured activity of crimping off logs of vastly bloated, inefficient, unnecessarily complex code reeking with bugs and vulnerabilities—which then lie around attracting the billion or so flies who just luurve that smelly but oh so easy-to-digest badness.

I still find myself mildly surprised that M$ haven't contrived an excuse for issuing their own sui generis version of FBM Linux, a version merely tripled in size with lots of lovely padding for "telemetry" (spying on customers), "reporting" (disguising the existence of bugs), "help" (attempts to sell additional shit), "integrated functionality" (locked-in, inferior, proprietary applications you didn't want) and my favourite "security" (malware filter that permits only M$ shit to infect you).

I guess it's only a matter of time ....

F***ed By Microsoft, of course.

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Facebook previews GDPR privacy tools and, yep, it's the same old BS

Milton
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The only word that really matters: Sucker

Because every single one of you and all the millions beyond could ditch Facebook tomorrow. You, and they did not need Facebook 20 years ago and not a single one of you actually needs it now.

Sure, it has a few useful features beyond the opportunities for endless boasting, bullying and checking how many pointless Likes were attracted by your most recent witless, facile, unoriginal post—mostly around providing an easy way to stay in touch with friends and family.

But like I said, you were able to do that two decades ago and you'd be able to do it tomorrow ... if you weren't a bunch of sorry, drooling addicts with all the self-aware willpower of crack whore.

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Soyuz later! Russia may exit satellite launch biz

Milton
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Re: 2 billion in today's market

Good to see someone's been paying attention.

"Many may scoff at this lofty ambition, but it's one that Russia ceded 40 years ago and one that NASA has squandered over the same time period."[My bold]

More than once I've got the commentard equivalent of an odd look when I've pointed out that Nasa has been the major obstacle to manned spaceflight since the mid-70s. I guess it does sound like an odd comment given Nasa's mission—but still, I stand by my assertion. Nasa has been the misunderstood and unappreciated football of ignorant politicians since 1965, and when you consider the constant interference, changing priorities, budget cuts and sheer stupidity deployed by US politicians, especially the cretins in Congress, it's amazing the agency ever launched anything. The fiasco that was Shuttle (remember the promise of cheap weekly flights with quick turnarounds?—Yeah, that Shuttle) consumed colossal sums in the name of simply bonkers levels of risk-aversity while still managing to kill two complete crews for entirely avoidable reasons, both examples of which led back to fatally compromised design and the gangrenous infection of Nasa's management with political idiots.

A manned flight porgram that was less overtly risk-averse (astronauts are brave people who expect some level of danger, it's a test pilot thing) while concentrating on practical and frequent trips to ever-better orbital facilties would almost certainly (and ironically) have killed far fewer people for much greater results. Now Nasa and the USA are in the crushingly humiliating position of having to beg rides for their astronauts on Russian spacecraft. Truly, impressively pathetic failure for an agency and a nation that put men on the Moon when I was just nine years old.

Which makes this line from the article a teensy bit ridiculous:

There's a bit of realpolitik to consider here, too, because tension between the USA and Russia means the former nation isn't very keen on sending business Moscow's way.

"Keen" or not, the US has absolutely no choice if it wants to keep sending people into orbit.

Yes, Russia is leaving the market because SpaceX is achieving things that Nasa's bureaucracy would have prevented for a century, and Russia expects that it and China will just steal all the data they need and replicate the technology for their own use when they need it. Reaction Engines will come along later with stuff we should have been working on since 1961 (they'll steal all of that data too) and finally—at last!—the world will have access to space it ought to have had 30 years ago.

In the bunker containing the Chinese filing system for stolen western blueprints "Falcon" comes right after "F-35", but the former drawer has a note attached saying "May Be Useful"—while the latter is marked with the Chinese ideogram for "suicide" and padlocked shut.

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Motorola Z2 Force: This one's for the butterfingered Android lovers

Milton
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Hoving?

You may have been trying to say the phone "hove into view" where "hove" is past tense of "heave"—a nautical term, admittedly, but presumably you pay editors for something other than just the contrived "humour" of your headlines ...?

If you do employ anyone literate, perhaps they will have "roded" to the rescue?

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OK, this time it's for real: The last available IPv4 address block has gone

Milton
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Re: I've been trying to get this happening

I salute your heroic efforts. What will actually happen is that as the tsunami waters recede, thick with corpses, the mercifully few politcians left alive will start up their endless litany of "I knew this would happen" and "If only they'd listened to me" with a big dollop of "Only I know how to fix this, trust me" and your choices will be—as usual after a completely predictable and monstrously mishandled crisis—believe them; or cut their throats.

Strangely, human history shows that these greedy, self-serving cretins usually do not get their throats cut but go on to incubate the next colossal disaster.

If you want a short summary of human history and what is fatally wrong with our species, I suggest: "People believe words, instead of actions".

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Cisco, Microsoft and 32 big vendor pals join ‘Accord’ to improve security by doing … security stuff

Milton
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So, more vacuous PR bullshit then

Sounds like a fairly lame minimum-effort wheeze to prepare some camouflage and misdirection so that when Congress and the courts come calling the guilty parties can point at their Accord, and the bogroll it is presumably crayoned upon, to whine defensively "See, we are good guys really, look at all our Good Intentions".

More importantly, it provides some cover for the bit that matters to politicians: slimy fat lobbyists doling out cash to campaign funds, with plenty left over for "fact finding" trips to coincidentally nice locations with expensive resorts—and all the rest of the 21st century corruption bandwagon.

These days it seems you can spot the malign influence of marketurds simply by measuring the facts-to-words ratio of documents. This Accord, seemingly bursting with all sorts of nice-sounding, anodyne phrases and good intentions, evidently lacks fact, scope, concreteness, goals, definable commitments, clear actions, measurables, timetables, specifics of any kind at all ... in other words the Fact:BS ratio is pitiful—signalling a bunch of half-hearted corporate bullshit.

PS: One can't help being reminded, again, that while the world obviously needs lavatory cleaners and prison warders and even, heaven help us, a few lawyers, it still benefits not one jot from the existence of marketing and sales people. I feel sure that persons in fundamentally pointless occupations—or even futilely parasitic careers, like banking—should be able to do something at least marginally useful with their lives instead. Is Africa short of people to dig wells, perhaps ...? It would be a double benefit since, when a former Head of Marketing karks it while digging Well#27 at Mbungbagwagwe, his or her corpse could be immediately repurposed to fertilise the crops. Sharing a plot with the erstwhile CEO of EuroRipoffenLaundersBank.

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Hey, govt hacker bod. Made some really nasty malware? Don't be upset if it returns to bite you

Milton
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"Barriers to entry"

What government cyber-agencies have been very slow to appreciate—possibly because they are, in the US particularly, run using a high proportion of military/ex-military types—is that cyber-weapons have at least one really big difference from the kind you deploy on a battelfield, and particularly in a strategic theatre of operations: the "barriers to entry" are much lower.

I'm borrowing the BTE jargon from industry because it's a half-decent fit in this case; where in context it means "cost, difficulty and time to get into the game".

The military mindset does not like the idea of your latest kit—say, a sophisticated fire-and-froget anti-radiation missile with loitering capability—falling into the enemy's hands, but you're also aware that it can and probably will happen, but also that no matter how much the enemy learns by dissecting your wayward ordnance, it's gonna take him months or years to build his own to the same standard. In general, you're expecting your technical advantage to win you the war before the enemy can catch up, even if the enemy understands that advantage—he can't replicate it fast enough.

The same is demonstrably not true of cyber-weapons. I know how to build a crude fission bomb, but even if I had some enriched uranium or plutonium in the cupboard, it would still be very hard to build a functioning, deployable weapon, especially without kiling myself in the process. Whereas, given a few gigabytes of NSA tools on a disk, I could within days start repurposing it for cunning plans and clever tricks. (If, that is, I was the kind of selfish, greedy, useless, parasitic sack of reeking shyte that writes malware. If anyone reading this is insulted by those words: oh, good.)

In short, cyber-weapons are actually a lot more like germ warheads than conventional explosives. You deploy one today, there's every chance it'll be killing people on your own doorstep next week.

I suspect that NSA in particular has been slow, no doubt fulled by some arrogance, in really understanding the dangers of this particular genie. You can be as clever as you like (yet rarely as clever as you think you are, hm?) and still, your lovingly crafted genie, once out of the bottle, is also out of your control.

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You're a govt official. You accidentally slap personal info on the web. Quick, blame a kid!

Milton
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Contemptible

The government publishes information as legally required by an FoI request. It does so on a webiste, thereby making it available to anyone who wishes to see or download it.

Some idiot forgets to redact private information that shouldn't have been part of the publication.

People access, browse, read and presumably some also download the PDFs. That's why they were published.

One person, wishing to do the same but without necessarily selecting individual documents, uses a simple script to grab the lot.

Questions:

1. Was there anywhere on the website a ToU or T&C prominently displayed, which required all users to read and agree to it?

2. If this is existed, did it specifically say—

2.a. You may not download stuff by any means except individual meat-finger clicks on a link, i.e. don't use any form of scripting or automation to make multiple downloads quicker

2.b. If you notice that we have published something we shouldn't have (if you're alert enough to realise that the government has made a mistake) you must stop reading, and tell us?

Because if not, the already weak case against this kid is even more hopelessly spurious and unfair. Why shouldn't he choose to read information published by the government ... for people to read? Why shouldn't he download it—this is a perfectly common and acceptable activity. It's especially common with tranches of docs published as PDFs. Yanking a bunch of stuff to read at leisure when offline is not even controversial. Every sentient website owner in the world assumes it may happen: if you don't want people using scripts to harvest data—perhaps for bandwidth/cost issues—you set up protocols to stop them, usually by recognising individual IPs or logins and imposing limits. This is all commonplace. It has been commonplace for more than 20 years.

Is there any evidence whatsoever that the guy further extracted or processed the incorrectly unredacted info? That he was harvesting that data specifically? That he was offering it for sale or other dissemination?

If not, I repeat: there is no part of what this guy did that it is remotely abnormal, forbidden, unethical, exploitative or wrong.

All of this, because some typically useless government employee screws up? Because they don't know how to manage a website? It's utterly contemptible.

PS What if a news organisation employee, say a journalist investigating government malpractice or corruption, had used a script to download a shedload of stuff from a government website where that information had been published for open access by anyone? Why, in short, should the use of a perfectly normal and comonplace script be considered, per se, evidence of any wrongdoing?

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Pentagon sticks to its guns: Yep, we're going with a single cloud services provider

Milton
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And in an alternate universe ...

And in an alternate universe ... the fauna infesting the Trapezoid would have long since built and be maintaining a highly scaleable, efficient and secure computing system, on-prem inosfar as many distributed bunkers can be such, with a dedicated workforce of military specialists who have exactly the right attitude to do IT and do it right (much more so than most civilian IT "professionals", in truth). They would hurl your bullet-riddled corpse out the window of a third-floor office on the Acute Angle after you so much as breathed the suggestion that the world's biggest military and custodian of ~3,000Mt of nuclear fire should put any of its data or process on systems it didn't control and which are renowned for unreliability, expense and insecurity. Even suggesting that seemingly anodyne stuff like data from Human Resources Command could be "cloudified" should be enough, in that world—where the phrase "social engineering attack" is actually understood, and taken seriously—to get you five years in Leavenworth.

If any organisation on the planet has an armour-plated case for building its own cloud; well-guarded and fortified places to distribute it amongst; the type of people and training to get it done; and the budget to make it happen: it is surely the US military.

I like to believe that in the parallel world, where people are not all completely, mouth-breathingly thick, the Trapezoid is doing it right. While here, in a universe where a cretinous orange man-child can be President, the Pentagon is following up its almost treasonous mismanagement of the F-35 fiasco with something even dumber and, amazingly, perhaps even more damaging to America's defences: moving to cloud, where the only worthwhile questions will be: First, how completely will the taxpayers be screwed for poor-value pork-riddled rubbish this time? - and Second, will the expensively dysfunctional insanity of this decison become obvious before the (one) chosen provider's systems and architecture become a crumblingly obsolete mess; or after?

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'Uncarrier' T-Mobile US to un-carry $40m for bumpkin blower bunkum

Milton
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What's surprising ...

What's surprising ... is that so far no one has expressed much surprise. The same companies bleating about the virtues of dregulation, the free market knowing best, operating in the customer's interest etc etc etc are yet again found to be lying through their teeth and cheating customers in even the pettiest, and most childishly sordid ways.

The reason governments have to be fierce and fair regulators is the same reason that's been staring us all in the face since the South Sea Bubble: companies (almost all large institutions, in fact) do not have even the rudimentary personal decency of individuals, and rapidly develop behaviours that we would normally describe as psychopathic. The dilution of personal ethical awareness and responsibility that occurs around the boardroom table and among senior managers when their only goal is personal bonus and shareholder return absolutely guarantees that companies will behave as badly as they can get away with.

We have seen this only about 100,000 times in every conceivable industry for 300 years. It's not just tobacco, alcohol, auto, big pharma, internet—every single one of them will rapidly morph from the fancful guff of "Don't Be Evil" to "Rape the Customer in Every Possible Way" as they grow and become ever more entrenched in the un-balanced scorecard of shareholder value.

Regulation should assume that any loophole and dirty trick will be exploited if it is not fiercely policed, and the punishment for misbehaviour shouldn't be token fines: they should be existentially threatening, with criminal sanction of executives where justified.

Capitalists love to bray on about the virtues of competition, while doing everything they can to destroy it, to manipulate markets, to use lobbying to tilt the playing field against competitors, to buy favourable legislation from politicians, to use predatory pricing against rivals and to form cartels and monopolies whenever there's the faintest chance of getting away with it.

If you want a decent, balanced, open and truly competitive free market, then fair, tough, universally applied regulation is the only way to go. (Which is why plutocrats don't like it.)

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Microsoft has designed an Arm Linux IoT cloud chip. Repeat, an Arm Linux IoT cloud chip

Milton
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Ah the sweet smell of corporate hypocrisy ...

... as Microsoft uses Linux as bait to try to catch mugs who can be ensared in its sticky Azure web, thereafter to be plucked and sucked at will.

I predict that if one drops a small bacterium of Irony at Redmond, after a few days' infection the whole place will implode.

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Cisco backs test to help classical crypto outlive quantum computers

Milton
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Re: Encryption is complicated enough already

If there is a consensus on quantum computing (QC) it is perhaps that just as there are classes of problems that QC ought to be very good at, solving quickly compared to classical computing, there are also classes of problems that QC ought not to be good at. Lee D gives a creditable hint of this in his post.

Cryptographic protocols dependent upon factorisation of large primes are a striking example of the "bounded error, quantum" problems soluble in polynomial time which a QC system is expected to excel at (mathematically, "P-type" problems as distinct from "NP-complete" ones). So straightaway there are reasons to worry that a lot of modern crypto, supposedly tough for classical computers (which would have to spend thousands or millions of years trying to break schemes with non-trivial keys) may be relatively easily broken using QC. It is also notable that the class of problems wherein QC's high error rate is less of a performance inhibitor are theoretically more amenable to quantum solutions.

So it is to be expected that if you're looking for schemes that will be hardened against QC, you look for ones dependent on "NP-complete" problems, preferably where the expected high error rate of QC remains a crucial weakness.

A couple of points to note. It still isn't universally agreed that there is a way to reduce the error rate of QC to the point where it will ever be practically useful for anything much. There are respectable experts who are honestly sceptical. But if Microsoft, as reported recently, succeed in their radically sneaky effort to use majorana particles in a QC system, and are correct that this offers a route to greatly reduced error rates, it makes everything we've spoken of much more urgent. QC might yet be highly effective in cracking many modern encryption schemes. Given the lingering uncertainties about the true difficulty of some candidate NPC problems, pace new math discoveries and techniques, that may yet mean our children grow up in a world bizarrely infested with one-time pads—which, tedious as they are, would, managed properly, resist all efforts to break until the end of time. (And I'd note, perhaps wryly, that it's more possible than ever to transport huge amounts of random data in almost infinitesimally tiny packages.)

However, my personal suspicion is that QC will not be fully effective in breaking decent crypto until new math techniques are developed to support it. (Think of advances in graph theory for an example.) It's a mere hunch, but I think that, in an era where we are frequently discovering unsuspected links and deep similarities between what were previously thought to be entirely distinct branches of mathematics, these will prove to be the "magic sauce" that takes QC from "curiosity" to "miracle worker".

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NASA stalls $8bn James Webb Space Telescope again – this time to 2020

Milton
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Re: "Perplexing Apollo Questions for NASA" at FauxScienceSlayer

May I suggest to the Designated Carer of FSS that it's time to review the schedule of this person's medications?

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The only way is Ethics: UK Lords fret about AI 'moral panic'

Milton
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BS Detector redlining on a single article

Mention of Wetherspoons ditching social media got the BS needle going to start with. They are departing from social media because it is where they get continually and thoroughly slated for lousy quality and rotten service. If Wetherspoons found that social media gave them lots of good reviews and appreciation, they'd cling to it like the layer of grease on bad burger. But it doesn't. They have repeatedly demonstrated their ineptitude in using social media, especially when handling the constant litany of criticism, so they've concocted a spurious reason for stopping.

As to the Lords and AI: I suppose they deserve a few brownie points for having figured that AI is 99% over-hyped bullshit that simply does not exist in the form that most people imagine. The notion of "granting personhood" to a machine learnig algorithm is patently stupid and decades premature. The fact that marketurds say something doesn't make it true—in fact, the reverse usually applies. Until you can hold an hour-long real-time conversation with an unassisted "AI" by hi-def video screen and come away believing you were talking to an actual, educated, rounded, emotionally developed person, there is certainly no such thing as "AI". There are simply varying types of machine-learning systems of very limited ability to function in strongly rules-based environments, performing extremely limited and specific tasks.

And let's be honest, there are many people who might not qualify by that test: look at some of those in politics for a start. Would Trump pass a modern Turing Test to distinguish a knowledgeable, mature human being? Our own Prime Minister is such a wretched human being she is actually called a robot.

The Musk-y rubbish about imminent doom shouldn't worry anyone until and unless there's an "AI" that can pass as being at least as obnoxious, dishonest, greedy and frightened as any of the human beings currently running things. If a real "AI" could do a tenth as much damage as the current Tory government, then you can start worrying.

The Lords would do better to spend their time concentrating on privacy and social media, because that, as we keep seeing, is where the real damage is being done. Unfortunately, social media giants can pay expensive lobbyists ....

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UK rocket-botherers rattle SABRE, snaffle big bucks

Milton
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Good news for once

Hugely encouraging news for a nice change! REL, with the Sabre concept, are talking and doing real science, real engineering, with real goals, and right now offer arguably the world's most practically realistic option for SSTO spaceplanes.

It has saddened me that Virgin's pitiful nonsense in the desert has earned so much publciity and investment over the years, when it is little better than "space flight" stunting for rich fools, while REL have had to struggle in the shadows doing the real work.

Hopefully that changes. While Branson's empty marketing bollocks is aimed at selling "Ooh look I'm a Astronaut" merit badges to egotistical twerps (perhaps the same kind of idiots whose frozen corpses decorate the slopes of Everest)—and with luck will never get far enough to start killing punters, whatever the benefits to the gene pool—the money put into REL has a strong, totally plausible probability of flights to orbit reaching commercial airline standards of safety and reliability.

I know people once said the same about Shuttle, but let's be honest, that was a fatally compromised POS, kludged-together firework, before it ever left the ground. The original designs had promise, but after politicians had wreaked their budgetary havoc and Nasa management played their lethal games ... a dreadful and tragic waste of time, money and lives.

The Sabre engine is not just a great concept, it's showing every sign that it could actually work. If you don't get excited at the thought of regular, affordable flights to orbit—able to operate from airports—there's always the option of a four-hour trip from Heathrow to Sydney. Even Economy might be tolerable ....

I have no connection with REL, but wholheartedly recommend anyone interested to go see their website and understand the tech. It's impressive stuff. Read before you dismiss it as just more pie-in-the-sky. They might actually pull this off.

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What a time to be alive: LG and Italian furniture-maker build smart sofa

Milton
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How to know which ones are jokes?

Well? Over the last five years we've had an avalanche of completely stupid and utterly pointless Internet of Shyte "ideas", things of such farcical utility that you barely even bother to laugh any more: an eye-roll is all they deserve.

So how are we to know the difference between some earnest fool actually, genuinely believing that the world needs a "smart" sofa (which sounds, from the description, like a really stupid one) and some other guy, who is completely hip to the wilful absurdity of these fatheads' "thinking" processes, simply making ironic jokes?

Because if the "sofa that dims lights and turns TV on for you" story appeared on April 1st, it would elicit a mighty yawn.

If I am to believe that some crashingly idiotic person—an actual, supposedly educated human being older than eight years—came up with this "Stupid Sofa™" (aka The Cretinous Couch™) as a saleable concept, then I may as well succumb to my long-repressed worry that there is a much greater conspiracy at work, wherein all people born worldwide since 1980 have had the majority of their cerebral cortex removed at birth.

That would, at least, explain a lot—including the IoS; the Daily Mail; the decomposition of western democracy; and absolutely everything about social media.

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'Well intentioned lawmakers could stifle IoT innovation', warns bug bounty pioneer

Milton
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"Well intentioned lawmakers could stifle IoT innovation"

"Well intentioned lawmakers could stifle IoT innovation"

The first three words tend to make the last four irrelevant. Especially if by "well intentioned" the speaker is implying "thoughtful, well-informed, honourably motivated": I think you'll find that the minority of politicians fitting that description finally became extinct between 1980 and 2001.

So a more accurate statement would be:

"Politicians who know remarkably little about anything, and are especially clueless when it comes to technology and science, acting in the interests of themselves and well-funded lobbyists, pursuing narrow political and party advantage for shabby, squalid motives, could stifle IoT innovation ... insofar as this is in any way distinct from their entirely routine misunderstanding and ignorance of all issues before them and the exercise of reflexive dishonesty, hypocrisy and moral cowardice in the essentially quotidian practice of fucking up simply everything that they touch."

Unfortunately as an expectations-settings phrasing, it's a bit wordy to include everywhere it belongs i.e. in every article discussing politicians' behaviour. Perhaps we need an acronym in the spirit of Heinlein's TANSTAAFL? As a starter for two I offer:

People Of Little Integrity, Tiny Intelligence, Colossal Incompetence, Achieving Nothing.

I have no doubt it could be greatly improved upon, and there should be generous virtual beer for the best acronyms to be used as trigger warnings in El reg articles ...

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British government to ink deal for yet another immigration database

Milton
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Process Optimisation Required

The real problem is that the proposed process is ridiculously clumsy and time-wasting. It would be much quicker, cleaner and more efficient to take these simple steps—

1. Drive sacks of cash directly from the Mint to HQ of {Enter Big5-Consultancy Name}.

2.a. Divvy up the cash among the senior management, executives etc.

2.b. While totting up, agree what legislation, information, protection and favouritism {Big5-Con} requires from the Tory Government.

2.b. Also decide which pointless well-paid sinecures at {Big5-Con} will be filled by disgraced/sacked/retired ministers.

3. Take remaining cash to Tory Party HQ as "donations" from {Big5-Con}.

4. Make up the cost by reducing benefits for couples holding down five separate jobs between them but who still need welfare in order to pay the landlord and feed their children, not forgetting to insist that they volunteer unpaid to personally look after and provide nursing care for their elderly relatives with dementia. Move their pensionable age back to 77 in the hope they will die before collecting on the NI and taxes they spent their entire lives paying.

5. Declare the project a grotesque failure due to "unforeseen factors caused by—" {enter worthless excuses here, ensuring that all guilty parties are miraculously exonerated}.

6. Promote the self-important mediocrities involved, not forgetting to issue costumes from the Dress-Up Trunk to the worst offenders (aka get Brenda to issue "honours", so they can put archaic "titles" before their names directly after 'Milk Monitor').

The beauty of this supremely efficient process is that imbeciles Her Majesty's Ministers can move seamlessly onto their next pointless fiasco of ignorance and folly without having to wait for years.

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Azure needs extra security controls before it's fit for government use, says Australia

Milton
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Re: "additional configuration and security controls"

"Uncle Sam can't extract data without them knowing."

I don''t know why Uncle Sam would want the information twice or the trouble of getting it a second..third time. Probably had it for years, more's the pity.

Undoubtedly. I think Uncle Sam got the Aus-Gov.zip file (12.2Tb) as part of a "Beijing BOGOF Month" promo being run in October 2016: Lockheed Martin had burned a server, lost the 27Tb master blueprints and code for the F-35, so the US government forked out $370k for a backup which the Chinese, bless them, had made a few years before.

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Modern life is rubbish – so why not take a trip down memory lane with Windows File Manager?

Milton
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"... but do HATE the flat graphical style of win 10 ..."

"To be honest I use File Explorer just fine but do HATE the flat graphical style of win 10. Its annoying and boring. I really miss a proper title bar that actually changes colour when you deselect a window so you can tell if it has focus or not before you start typing."

I am down to just one program remaining which actually requires Windows, and I have its Linux alternative trained-in and ready for migration when MS ceases final support for W7. I use Linux for everything else so it'll be an easy transition.

But I am not transitioning yet, because W7 (if you're prepared to cope with its miserable security) was the best UI version. Better even than XP's interface. It is easy to use, ok to look at, pretty intuitive ... despise MS as I do, W7 is still arguably the best desktop interface. For those doing productivity stuff on a powerful desktop system, no touchscreen or daft mobile-centric stuff, it is still actually a damn good environment. Sure, I have a ton of cores and RAM to deal with MS bloat. And yes, Linux is technically superior in every respect. But I am actually in no hurry to make this final move.

So it is passing odd that W10 is so nasty, and such a massive backward step, that I am to be driven from MS. Even if I could turn off all the spyware, and even if I could laboriously re-skin the ludicrously inappropriate UI, I'd still have to cater for all the other backward steps, and really, what's the point when I can just leave?

But it seems to me truly, very strange that from its best desktop UI, MS has regressed to something worse and significantly unpleasant to use. One might consider that unpseakable pile of shit, Vista, as a kind of wild aberration, and at least rapidly fixed; but there's no sign MS will ever fix its desktop UI now. We are stuck not only with the junkpile of ugly and unnecessary compromises for mobile, touch and crummy little apps, but with MS's strategic decision no longer to treat Windows users as paying customers, with rights and dignity, but as exploitable assets, like Face-addicts, Twit-zombies and Instag-cretins, to be forever stuck within its OS web, and eternally wrung dry for private data and perpetually nagged to become ever more dependent upon the shonky "cloud", where your private data become ransom-worthy hostages.

Are there any other examples, in say the last 30 years, of a product being replaced with something in almost every way worse?

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Terix boss thrown in the cooler for TWO years for peddling pirated Oracle firmware, code patches

Milton
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The heart of the problem ...

As several posters who did take the trouble to understand the facts have pointed out, Oracle are, for once, clearly in the right, legally. The defendants were selling a product that was not theirs to sell, trousering cash that would otherwise have gone to Oracle. They were not, as some posters have concluded with an unwarranted jump, simply providing alternative support for Oracle products.

The heart of the problem, though, is that Oracle has a somewhat similar position and stranglehold that Microsoft does. By no objective measure does either company provide a product that is best of breed. There are better, more secure, more robust, more efficient OSs than Windows—especially now that Win10 has many of the behaviours we previously associated with malware—and an abundance of productivity software that represents vastly better value for money. Oracle was briefly the go-to RDBMS product, with genuine advantages for the enterprises of the late 80s and 90s, but rapidly fell behind the wave of superior rivals in terms of efficiency, bloat, cost and infrastructural impedimenta. Both companies have splurged on acquisitions, often anti-competitively, Oracle in particular going on to claim "integrated suites" of this is that fashionable TLA which were, in truth, clumsy bodges of poorly glued-together, heavily-marketed dross.

But as was once said of IBM, nobody gets sacked for buying {enter big name here}, so there are tens of thousands of businesses out there paying absurd sums for licences for OS, productivity apps, database and integrated TLA suites which, taken together, deliver pitifully little for the money spent. If you wonder at people paying for MS Word or Excel, who don't even understand 90% of the supposed functionality, using maybe 5% of what's available, do not imagine the equation is any better for companies burdened by the colossal footprint of Oracle.

What MS and Oracle both became very good at—beyond the quotidian business of marketing shit to lazy, uncomprehending idiots, never much of a challenge in the Anglo-Saxon corporate universe—was insinuating their products in ways that would make them very hard, and expensive, to replace. Just as with outsourcing, there are now tens of thousands of businesses which exist primarily as cattle: hosts to be feasted upon and drained by the relentessly munching parasites of MS and Oracle.

It's interesting to consider that the sheer power of modern software, and the kit it runs on, should make it easier than ever before for a business to shift its dependence from those vultures onto FOSS systems. Integration—which is always the biggest hurdle—ought to be easier to achieve now than it ever was. The prospect of finding yourself, in a couple of years' time, paying a quarter as much for something faster, more secure and reliable, should be driving businesses to really exploit the power of modern computing, even "cloud". (Even MS has had to offer *x systems on its "cloud", FFS. Talk about naked, shit-eating humiliation.)

But I don't see the stampede I'd expected, and I wonder why ...

1
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Microsoft Office 365 and Azure Active Directory go TITSUP*

Milton
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Re: How can we learn from this?

'So perhaps the question that really needs answering might be "why does persistent IT incompetence on this scale (and with no improvement in sight) seem not to matter to the people who pay the IT budgets?"'

Because they collected their handsome bonus for "cost saving measures" and left the company before the consequences became obvious. They're the same people who were happy to be sold a bunch of outsourcing crap; the same ones who paid small fortunes for endless streams of suits wrapped around MBAs from three- and four-letter professional-grade-bullshit (PGB) outfits, to be told, during an elaborate Death By Powerpoint, how to synergistically leverage the business process enhancement matrix for maximal mission-driven shareholder return which, strangely enough, meant cutting costs by sacking the very few remaining greybeards who knew how things actually worked.

In short, "the people who pay the IT budgets" have long since learned to trouser the bonus and skip out before the scale of their monumental ignorance and disastrous incompetence become apparent. Many of them have CVs to leave you leave you breathless with admiration, when you know that they have had 20-year careers fucking up every single thing they have touched.

But do not imagine that they are entirely worthless meat: to the saleslizards who work for the aforementioned PGB consultancies, such executives are as a herd of plump gazelle to the gaze of drooling hyenas ... fat, dumb and oh so tasty.

21
2

My PC makes ‘negative energy waves’, said user, then demanded fix

Milton
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"Some wireless mice are fairly lightweight. My preference is for a wireless mouse because even gentle drag from the cord is distracting ..."

BluTackiPedia: of the 10,000 Uses for BluTack, listed at Number #6,741 is "Tack down the rodent's tail at the edge of the desk with about four inches to spare".

I too found the drag of the tail irritating, and found My Malleable Mate was just the ticket.

In case anyone's interested (and you really, really aren't), at #7,173 is "Stop the bloody USB hub sliding all ovet the place", with a late, topical entry at #103: "Secure Faraday-Bacofoil Around Imbecile".

7
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*Thunk* No worries, the UPS should spin up. Oh cool, it's in bypass mode

Milton
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Beancounters and Managers

Some interesting debate about whether beancounters or management are to blame which, with respect, is missing the key point.

Yes, we need people to do the sums even in these spreadsheet days. Beancounters do have a role. But they should never, never, never, ever have senior management responsibilities.

A beancounter is like an office cleaner and should be respected and paid for doing the job. But you absolutely do not let them make important decisions.

10
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Virgin spaceplane makes maiden rocket-powered flight

Milton
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Re: Perhaps?

Not really. The Virgin stuff is as silly and pointless now as it was five years ago. In principle it's the same as a 1970s era Boeing 707 Vomit Comet, just a ballistic arc to simulate zero-g: doesn't go anywhere, doesn't orbit, doesn't produce any tech relevant to real space travel.

If rich idiots want an "Astronaut" Merit Badge for being fireworked up to an arbitrary altitude, more fool them.

There are companies doing real space tech ranging from SpaceX to lesser-known Reaction Engines ... And there's Beardy with his endless puffery and vacuous marketing stunts.

20
11

Are meta, self-referential or recursive science-fiction films doomed?

Milton
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"meta"

israel_hands: 'What fuck is this "meta" shit? Do you just mean a film adaption? Is that not just called an adaptation?'

No, the author doesn't; no, it isn't; and yes, you could simply have looked up a word you don't understand before suggesting that others are talking shit. They weren't.

Wikipedia starts by explaining: "Meta (from the Greek preposition and prefix meta- (μετά-) meaning "after", or "beyond") is a prefix used in English to indicate a concept which is an abstraction behind another concept, used to complete or add to the latter." —and I'm sure you can take it from there.

That said, you're not entirely wrong about Seveneves

'Oh and I really hope they don't bother turning SevenEves into a film. That was the most interminable piece of shit I've had the misfortune to try and read. A pity as Stephenson used to be quite good before he disappeared up his own arse'

—yeah, it is nearly as bad as Anathem for the self-indulgence of a writer who's had enough success to publish whatever he likes. Stephenson is one of those rare writers who can be entertainingly verbose, but Anathem was a deeply unedifying and ultimately boring spectacle of intellectual wanking.

Seveneves was apparently the first novel in history hidden under an endless lecture about orbital mechanics and genetics, and worse, Stephenson's writing betrayed inauthentic characters and shoddy contrivance. Whereas Anathem was unsalvageable, Seveneves might have been rescued with ruthless editing ... as for the idea that either one of them should be filmed: for heaven's sake, put down the camera and run—don't walk, run—for the chopper.

Stephenson's latest effort, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O, might have done well to attract the phrase "welcome return to form" from a kind reviewer, except it was only about 25% of a "welcome return". The concept and basic plot are bursting with potential for a writer with Stephenson's intelligence, who could have turned out one of his signature meaty 1,000-plus-page monsters of wit, insight, humour, commentary, smarts, reflection, wry observation and all the good stuff that we've seen from Diamond Age through Cryptonomicon to Reamde ... instead he outsourced a sizeable chunk of the prose to someone called Nicole Galland, and it is almost embarassingly weak. The whole thing is just one big, fat, tragically missed opportunity: "Hey, I got this idea—here's a napkin with some notes—I can't be arsed to write it ... hey you, over there! Why don't you have a go."

I mean: damn.

13
12

They forked this one up: Microsoft modifies open-source code, blows hole in Windows Defender

Milton
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Vacuum cleaners

"... day Micro$hit makes a product that doesn't suck is the day it starts making vacuum cleaners ..."

Eyewateringly overpriced, overmarketed, shiny, horrible looking, not very good vacuum cleaners?

Too late, Dyson got that particular halfwitted market segment sewn up years ago.

19
7

Spring is all about new beginnings, but it could already be lights out for Windows' Fluent Design

Milton
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Re: Still Not Getting It

israel_hands: "I don't how understand how they can be so thick that they haven't realised this yet."

Microsoft have many degrees of crapness, which they have demonstrated to the world hundreds of times over the last 30 years. Stupidity is not their weakness; but obsessive greed and lust for dominance, which frequently drive distasteful levels of corporate deceit, most certainly are their signature vices.

So I'd respectfully suggest that they are not being stupid per se: they are being greedy and lazy in (a) trying to persuade us that One Size Fits All and (b) consequently selling themselves the same shit: repeat a lie often enough and you start to believe it.

But of course, it remains absolute nonsense. Sure, phones and tablets are getting ever more powerful. But so are laptops. So are desktops. So are servers. The CPU power, RAM, storage and GPU steroids you stuff into each one are even more different in scale than the size of the devices. Even more critically, given the UI is so important, the available display scales in the same way. The idea that the software you'll run on 16 cores of Xeon, fed by 32Mb of RAM and displaying UHD on a pair of 28" screens would be the same you're using on a fingerprint-smeared ten-inch tablet at breakfast, or worse still, the battered five-inch phone you're squinting at on a crowded train ... is simply bonkers.

It isn't just UI issues. For non-trivial processes and jobs, the way you design your code varies from one platform to another: the priorities you set, the compromises you make, the features you sacrifice, the MustHaves vs the Nice2Haves, the security you implement, the transparency you apply, the level of prediction and automation, the way you expect your users to navigate, concentrate, shortcut, multitask, copy, paste, foul up, screenshot, print, typo, wait, react to dialogs, manage verbosity, get distracted ... I could go on, but my point is surely made: the way you architect these things, guide this experience, and how you engineer code to make it all happen, is unlikely to be the same for User Slobb emitting two days' worth of BO in front of a panoply of workstation silicon, as it is for User Fragrant, who's checking the server's up while she waits for her artisanal coffee.

The whole UWP spiel is about reducing MS's workload, simplifying its delivery, saving money, reducing headcount while conning the users into actually believing that One Size Fits, and that this experience—where every platform's software and UI will necessarily be infected by compromises meant for all the others—is better.

It simply isn't better, it really couldn't be, and unquestionably MS knows, deep in its rotted corporate soul, that this is a dirty trick to foist cheapened inferiority off on to the users. But those same users didn't abandon the platform for the Vista garbage; or when Win8 took a monumental step backwards; or when profoundly dishonest attempts were made to force users to "upgrade", thereby ruining many systems' productivity; or when Win10 inflicted a worse UI than any since Win7 while also stealing data in a wholesale invasion of privacy; or any of the other shoddy crap that MS has shat upon them ... so a judgement has been made and is probably engraved on SatNad's bathroom mirror: The Mugs Will Accept Anything.

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4

Badmins: Magento shops brute-forced to scrape card deets and install cryptominers

Milton
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" ... firms in the education and healthcare industries ..."

"Most of the victims among the 1,000 compromised panels belong to firms in the education and healthcare industries, largely in the US and Europe."

Curious that those specific industries are affected—but I wonder if that means they are customers of webmasters who specialise in boilerplating eCommerce sites for those industries? If that were so, it would imply that one or a few web design outfits have not only been stamping out cookie-cutter Magento sites for those industries, they've been including cookie-cutter mistakes too. Perhaps they were so busy massaging CSS to convince their latest client that he's paid lots of good money for a beautiful, finely-crafted shopping cart, that they forgot to do some basic security checks?

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One solution to wreck privacy-hating websites: Flood them with bogus info using browser tools

Milton
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Mutant 59

It's an appealing notion: who doesn't want to make life miserable for the greedy vermin who are constantly clawing private data and manuring the web with their pathetically awful adverts?

I suggest, though, that you need to think really hard before dipping a toe in this pond, because the Law of Unintended Consequences is always hanging around the next corner, aching to cause mischief. Even the amazingly evolved and effective human immune system is prone to going nuts, sometimes for no reason yet known to medicine, and attacking its healthy host. The analogy is only an analogy, but still something to give us pause while asking some pertinent questions.

Who decides what's bad and what's good? How are threats graded? Who approves the algorithms? Are responses proportionate? Who maintains a database of signatures for the immune system to respond to? How will that be kept secure? Which court arbitrates grievances, protests, unfair practices, loss of business, libel? Who determines what's a conventional option versus what's "nuclear"? How will false positives be managed?

I could fill a page with questions (as any fool could, indeed) but the answers better be given some serious practical attention before we go lighting the blue touch paper. (And don't forget the $64k question you always have to ask these days: How soon after starting this programme will politicians, corporates, governments, greedy opportunists and other fundamentally psychopathic entities get involved and completely corrupt its good intentions?) We could grow something in a petri dish, with the best intentions, only for it to turn into Mutant 59.

And there's that troubling term "arms race", which gets used with increasing frequency when talking about computer security. It is very apt, but one should remember where arms races usually lead: disaster for everyone, as all those weapons get used in a spasm of entirely predictable stupidity.

I don't have a magic wand as an alternative, but I will offer this: a key enabler of internet abuse—in which I include spam, malware, advertising, exploitation of user data etc—is that too much stuff is free.

Consider that spam wouldn't even be a thing if everyone had to pay even 0.1¢ per email (and the money could be used to fund all sorts of Good Things). Facebook wouldn't have to abuse its users (the ones Zuck calls "dumb fucks") if instead it made its money at $2/month or whatever. Don't Be Evil wouldn't have to epitomise rank hypocrisy if you paid $1 for every thousand searches. The 0.00573% of websites that are actually worth visiting because they have decent content would charge micropayments for use and not have to befoul our eyeballs with unspeakably shitty adverts. (And Twitter would cease to exist completely because grown adults would abruptly realise the pointlessness of paying to pump up their sad little egos by twatting out snippets of superficial trash.)

The internet is corrupted and ruined by "free". "Free", it turns out, makes people into victims.

The net would be a much better place if it charged a fair rate. Payment makes people into customers: with rights, dignity ... and the expectation of privacy.

14
3

Europe dumps 300,000 UK-owned .EU domains into the Brexit bin

Milton
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Re: No surprise

Doctor Syntax wrote: "It's all about taking back control. But we don't retain any control over what we're no longer a member of."

Phil O'Sophical crayoned: "We didn't have any control when we were a member, and this sort of petty reaction is exactly why we don't want to be a member."

Brexiters, we are again reminded, will say absolutely anything, however wrong and irrational, to "make" their case. To figure whether they are stupid, or liars, or both, is always tricky. Mr O'Sophical above provides another tick in the box.

First: The UK was one of the most influential members of the EU and had a say in everything, just like all the other paid-up members. It is either staggeringly ignorant or a wantonly stupid lie to state otherwise. Just because the Daily Mail says seomthing doesn't mean it's true. Usually, in fact, it is the opposite. I appreciate, though, that this does not much trouble the mouthbreathers who so love to see their petty hatreds and bigotry reinforced.

Second: It's a premature and silly action by some pompous little bureaucrats. It will be negotiated to the point of sense, or at least would be, if the UK had a negotiating team that was not a laughing stock of Tory liars, idiots and hypocrites. We wait with bated breath to see if David Davis even understands what a TLD is.

Third: " ... why we don't want to be member"—nope, speak for yourself, and the 37% of eligible voters who cast their vote based on an avalanche of lies, exaggerations, dis- and misinformation plus their (I must say, understandable) despair over the state of the current Establishment. One must have some pity for those people, since they will suffer more than anyone for their folly, but it is a real pity that even now blind stubbornness prevents more of them from accepting that Brexit is going to be a disaster—of their own making.

In short, it really does not matter how many times you say "la la la" with your fingers stuck in your ears, the tide is coming in and your feet will get wetter than most. Talking contrary crap simply doesn't alter anything ... though it's occasionally good for a rather saddened chuckle.

23
6

The best outsourcers fire themselves

Milton
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"99% of commercial software development ..."

"99% of commercial software development consists of a user interface to put data in or get data out of a DB. If you think that isn’t a commodity you need to put the crack pipe down."

Quite wrong. Your grasp is so shallow that you must be on the board of FTSE500 company.

The majority of significant software development is, and for at least 20 years has been, integration: making all those disparate systems talk intelligently and usefully to each other in the same way that different parts of your business communicate with one another and with external businesses.

Unfortunately, integration has historically been both quite diffiicult (though it's now getting easier, at the expense of some monstrously bloated libraries and insanely overpowered silicon) and also invisible. Whereas a fancy database interface may have the bright colours and graphical bits that Sales & Marketing folks fondly imagine is "value", they cannot see 99% of the underlying nasty, detailed, complicated, fine-tubed plumbing. The idiot who turns the tap arrogantly demands "How hard can it be?" because he knows nothing about how clean, drinkable water gets from a reservoir to his kitchen and he personally couldn't plumb so much as a toilet cistern.

So integration constitutes a Trifecta of Doom: it is critically important; difficult to get right, requiring lots of time and money and skills; and invisible to the generally greedy, lazy, short-sighted halfwits in the executive suite.

Therefore it doesn't get priority. It doesn't get properly resourced. It gets done badly if at all. The software devs get blamed, because they were not given the tools for the job because it, the job, was never understood by the beancounters in the first place.

This among other things brings us to wrong solutions sought by aforementioned greedy twits, and outsourcers are brought in: who send their Sales 'A'Team to schmooze the idiots on the board, knowing full well that in due course, once they've got the work, the actual coders will be a 'D' team. The outsourcers: (a) don't have vital domain knowledge, (b) require extensive micro-management, (c) work to a stifling bureaucracy specifically designed to maximise their revenue at every single turn, for so much as a changed comma in a spec, and are (d) soon using your budget to train their 'D' team staff so that they can charge more for them elsewhere.

In due course, your business ends up as a life support system for the outsourcer. The parasites have so thoroughly colonised and hollowed out the host that to get rid of them would kill you.

17
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Uber self-driving car death riddle: Was LIDAR blind spot to blame?

Milton
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Re: Jaywalking

UK: As soon as a pedestrian has set so much as a toe in the road, they have right of way.

If you are a driver and you seem someone stepping into the road in front of you, you stop for them.

It doesn't matter whether that person is young, old, sober, drunk, suicidal or even Boris Johnson.

You stop.

End of.

15
2

No Falcon Way: NASA to stick with SLS, SpaceX more like space ex

Milton
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Re: It's about government control

"NASA's manned flight loses were entirely down to things that were thought to be reliable or impossible turning out not to be so."

In both cases—Columbia and Challenger—engineers had warned management about potentially lethal problems. Some engineers were horrifed when Nasa management decided to go ahead with the Challenger launch in such cold weather because they had explicitly warned about the cold O-ring risk. Repeated attempts to get DoD assets to inspect Columbia for damage, while in orbit, after the foam impact on its wing, were actively blocked by Nasa management. And it was Nasa managers who wrongly insisted that nothing could be done for the ship's crew if there were serious damage, when in fact, most unusually, on this occasion there was another bird (Atlantis I believe) well advanced in the launch process that could have rescued Columbia's crew.

Two full crews died not because engineers said that the chances of failure were an utterly ridiculous one:billion (that was Nasa managers) but because politics had, as it always does, corrupted the process of honest and intelligent professionalism, and Nasa managers stopped listening to the people who actually knew best.

So your statement would be more correct as:

"NASA's manned flight loses were entirely down to things that were known to be dangerous but were ignored by management for squalid political reasons."

Where politics and politicians are involved—the very antithesis of good, rational, intellectually honest thinking—good people die for nothing. Shuttle's problems were at root designed in by incessant cost-cutting and political interference, as it shrank from a sensible two-lifting-body design to the absurdly compromised firework that ended up killing more than two dozen people.

Musk is far from perfect, but insofar as his outfit remains untainted by Nasa's politics and its woeful progress in manned spaceflight since Apollo, he deserves our support.

60
1

What the @#$%&!? Microsoft bans nudity, swearing in Skype, emails, Office 365 docs

Milton
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" ... stinking pile of billgates"

"What a great steaming stinking pile of billgates. (Hi MS, you'll have to ban that word now)."

Bah, you're just talking ballmers—nothing a kick in the sat'nads won't fix.

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Milton
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So go somewhere else

Cloud services, using someone else's on-line/subscription office products, using an internet giant's email service, using Facebook or Twitter or Google—they're all largely lazy choices which buy you a bit of purported convenience at the expense of being spied upon and told what you can and cannot do.

Not a single one of those options is without an alternative, either free ridiculously cheap or (in the case of Facebook) simply pointless in the first place.

If you won't take responsibility for your own data, don't be surprised if you lose freedom, privacy, dignity and security. No one is offering you a free service for your own good; no one is charging you for a service because it benefits you. Wake up.

4
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Did the FBI engineer its iPhone encryption court showdown with Apple to force a precedent? Yes and no, say DoJ auditors

Milton
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Re: No way for the plods to win

"I've never seen an encryption algorithm that i cant print on a tee shirt, and even though i am primarily a database tech given a few weeks work i would be able to write a (Probably not great) opensource implementation. ... In short the horse bolted in the nineties and no amount of wingeing will turn the clock back."

You might be using some small text that's hard to read printed on cotton ;-) but your basic points are precisely right. Any competent programmer—preferably a paranoid and perfectionist one—could use any of the excellent open-sourced algorithms to produce yet another encryption utility to run on any platform. Add to that some exceptional care ("paranoid and perfectionist") in how keys are generated and stored, how memory is freed, an implementation that is conscious of the risks of subtle attacks, and you have something which can encrypt arbitrary amounts of data and make it inaccessible in any remotely useful amount of time.

NSA have computing power to boggle the mind, and will still take a million years to unpick a properly implemented, sensibly-keyed 256-b AES cyphertext (or Twofish, or many other sound algorithms).

Call it a bolted horse or an unbottled genie, it remains astonishing to see law enforcement/security types still banging on about backdoors and forcible decryption of people's devices: if someone reasonably competent has something important to hide, they will do this, beyond the reach even of mighty NSA.

Ultimately, the approach of western governments to encryption makes sense only if they are really focused on ordinary not-much-to-hide citizens—because the real bad guys left them in the dust a decade ago. Beyond the useful idiots in politics (who perhaps do still believe π=3.000) there are those who know how encryption really works, and one can only conclude that they do, in fact, want to be able to read everybody's data, just Because. The only "because" that makes sense is social control: what else?

Governments are perpetually frightened of citizens (which they should be: it's called accountability), but Knowledge is Power. Those who would have power want to use information for control. So perhaps we should not be remotely surprised that two major inexplicable electoral upsets in supposedly strong democracies have been powerfully contaminated by interference exploiting personal data.

Possibly this is a great example of "Be careful what you wish for".

17
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Java-aaaargh! Google faces $9bn copyright bill after Oracle scores 'fair use' court appeal win

Milton
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Re: Torn

Nolveys wrote:

The best outcome would be for both Oracle and Google to loose. The judge would say "No, you can't copyright an API. Also, you are assholes. Oracle is hereby ordered to pay $80bn to some guy named Bob who lives out in the desert somewhere. Google has to pay Bob $50bn, because you are also a bunch of pricks."

Hmmm. I am making a wild guess here that the commenter's first name is Robert. And that he lives in a remote part of Nevada.

US courts' capacity for eyewateringly stupid decisions are renowned, so, who knows ... good luck.

11
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Facebook supremo Mark Zuckerberg has flunky tell UK MPs: Nope, he's sending someone else

Milton
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Re: The size of Britain versus the the rest of the Facebook world

"If you want get rid of Facebook, start by closing your Facebook account!"

Which is, of course, the only meaningful thing you can do.

But that would involve some clarity of thinking, which is ... tricky ... when you really feel that ever-more-urgent need to check, just this once, just for a second, your FB page, in case there's an extra Like for that blurry photo of your inconsequential cat, who looks identical to a million other cats, doing something that's so side-splittingly funny that there are only 50,000 other pictures on the internet showing exactly the same thing ... which ... cats ... do.

Briefly: Why make arrangements to meet actual friends and engage them in real conversation and sharing of lives, when you could be dependent on the approval of your irretrievably banal shyte by people you've never met? Those Likes tickle your by-now-very-well-habituated pleasure centres like a few molecules of fentanyl: enjoy!

It's up to you to Just Say No, or carry on kidding yourself.

Politicians will not anything about Facebook exploiting you, for two reasons: first, FB employs lobbyists with a ton of cash, and your noble and wise elected representatives do rather like that money (in fact, if they're Tories, they breathe it); second, if you won't do anything about it yourself—why should they?

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Milton
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Why the surprise?

1. Zuckerberg couldn't give a rat's ass about the Dumb Fucks™ unless they start leaving FB in large numbers. Like most addicts since the first taste of poppy 48,000 years ago, they'll make endless excuses to themselves ("I am in control. I could stop anytime ...") and keep on fixing up.

2. The UK's DFs voted, 37% of them, to make the country less engaged, less influential, less effective, less powerful, less relevant and themselves and their country economically vastly weaker. The DFs' representatives, who might reasonably be trademarked as the Even Dumber Fucks™, in Westminster, are busily making a disastrous hash of this process.

3. The EDFs, especially those in the current ruling party, have spent three centuries demonstrating that they are fawning lickspittles of anyone or anything with cash, will bend over forwards and drop their trousers for big business at a moment's notice, and will do everything conceivable to avoid regulation which would benefit the schmuck citizens, even unto prating transparent tosh about "self regulation", "industry policing itself", "market ethics" and whatever else floats into their teensy brains.

4. Given the venality and stupidity of the EDFs and the nicely addicted, shallow gormlessness of the citizen DFs, why on earth would Zuckerberg waste a scintilla of his time posturing in front of such a circus of castrated halfwits? What would be the point? He gets paid more for picking his nose. Sitting in front of powerless commitee of self-important halfwits who have nucleated like a large human booger, will just make his nostrils itch.

5. The US, for all that it is currently "led" by the Dumbest Of All Fucks™ , and under the sway of a laughably hypocritical, deceitful and deranged conservative party, has a history of sometimes severaly punishing bad corporate behaviour and making it stick.

6. Therefore: Zuckerberg will appear before Congress, which has teeth and the wilingness to use them. He'll even fawn over the DOAF a bit, if it protects his cash cow. In front of the cameras he will mouth anodynes and platitudes to a bunch of fat, lazy twerps. Off-screen, Facebook's lobbyists will flaunt the contents of their wallets.

7. In short, he knows who matters now.

8. With luck he'll get one of his flunkies to send Theresa May a postcard saying "Facebook U".

The acronym DOAF did not, as Wikipedia suggests, originate with "Donald, OAF".

Banking excepted, I grant you: but when you understand how banking actually works, it is simply rotten beyond belief anyway. Even former US presidents have pointed out that if citizens knew how banking enslaved and impoverished them, they'd stage a revolution. Good job they are mostly DFs, eh?

1
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UK.gov unveils cyber security export strategy – only thing missing is the strategy

Milton
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Words Vs Deeds

Politicians will say anything, and the astonishingly thick Liam Fox has a track record second to none for spouting self-important nonsense. With the current Tory administration infected by such conspicuous clowns and buffoons as BoJo, Davis and May herself, not to mention the usual retards like IDS, Leadsom, Paterson, the only thing they have is blather and lies.

The idea that anyone of them has more than the most simplistic grasp of IT/net security is hilarious.

So why take anybody their pompous bloviating seriously? They're just idiot, incompetent windbags.

Watch only what they do. For what they say is ... worthless.

10
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Recording Industry Ass. says vinyl and CD sales beat digital downloads

Milton
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Re: You'll thank yourself later on.

Dunno why people disagree with buy-once-copy-forever downloads. I am happy with decent MP3s or MP4a files, of which we now have 103Gb on our server. About half were ripped during a fortnight's CD frenzy 15 years ago (which opened up a lot of space on our shelves). The remainder have accumulated insensibly from mostly Amazon or Google since then as paid downloads. The fact that we can copy them onto a chip/whatever for playing absolutely anywhere, connected or not, is a boon, as is the fact that about once a month the whole thing gets backed up.

Given that most music, especially the modern stuff, is 99.7% absolute shit, we have most of what we really like already. Perhaps if we listened indiscriminately a lot of the time, streaming would make sense?

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More ad-versarial tech: Mozilla to pop limited ad blocker into Firefox

Milton
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To the list of annoying things ...

To the list of annoying things ... may we add sites which, for some reason, insist on repeating the same article several times on the same page? I know El Reg has an article headlined "Painfully Laboured Juvenile Pun Here", and that it appears three down and two across, and then again seven down and one across, and then again ... I've got a pair of 28in UHD monitors here and I do not need to see the same story three times on a single page. What's the point? To emphasise lack of fresh content?

If you're afraid folks with smaller screens will miss stories, well— try writing informative, memorable and engaging headlines. Instead of shit that wasn't funny even the first time, and has become truly off-putting by the ninth appearance.

PS: WIRED used to do the same thing, and even worse, but thank god they put up a paywall. Don't miss 'em in the slightest. I just needed that tiny nudge to take the link off my bookmarks. El Reg, on the other hand, might hook me with a "No ads if you'll micro-pay" scheme, especially the premium offering: "Plus we'll employ adults as sub-eds, if you pay extra"

1
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SpaceX blasted massive plasma hole in Earth's ionosphere

Milton
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Compare and contrast

I periodically wonder if we have missed a trick by forsaking the Orion nuclear launch system in the 1960s. Using modern clean-warhead tech it is quite likely we could orbit ships the size of aircraft carriers for less fallout than a single 1950s nuclear test. Suddenly, achieving a self-supporting Mars base goes from being extremely unlikely and taking three to four decades of sustained launches, to a single mission that plants the equivalent of a small town down in Hellas Basin in one go.

Unlikely as that seems, I'd be interested to know if anyone's run the math on phenomena like the ionospheric damage done by routine firework-type rockets. How does a couple fo dozen fireworks like F9 compare with a single nuclear-pulse Orion launch? Might make for some thought-provoking speculation about the right way to get people off this polluted little mudball and into space properly.

3
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Facebook's inflection point: Now everyone knows this greedy mass surveillance operation for what it is

Milton
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Self-certiifcation for idiots

There is very little that's good about Facebook—or Twitter, or most of the rest of social media sewer—but as a never-user I have finally realised that it has at least one advantage.

For the whole of history, it has been relatively difficult to assess the number of idiots in the population. Yes, you do kind of know, almost by osmosis, that there are an awful lot—just through ordinary quotidian experience, shopping, driving on the roads and such. But, short of scientifically adding up the number of Daily Mail readers and other consumers of drivel-for-children, it's never been easy to come up with a reliable number.

Now, however, Facebook has provided a useful public service and made this one thing so much simpler.

Doing an idiot count in your nation? Just tally up the number of people with Facebook accounts.

27
9

Oracle sued over claims of shoddy service, licensing designed to force adoption of its kit

Milton
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The funny thing about buying Oracle ...

The funny thing about buying Oracle products or services is that, from the moment the ink is dry, Oracle will try every single dirty trick it knows—and there are so many—in order to own you.

52
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F-35B Block 4 software upgrades will cost Britain £345m

Milton
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Submarine palaces for marine fauna

No idea why Potemkine's remark—

... because aircraft carriers can be used against low-tech countries only anyway, or else they would end like submarine palaces for marine fauna

—received downvotes, because he stated a simple truth. Perhaps there are more ignoramuses around here than I thought?

Against a weak adversary who cannot project power against you (think of every country the US has waged "war" against since 1980) the aircraft carrier is useful and will usually remain unsunk.

On the other hand, if western carriers go up against Russian, or conceivably Chinese anti-shipping missiles, submarines and even airstrikes, the life expectancy of a carrier in unrestricted warfare is about the same now as was the case with Cold War predictions: perhaps a week for US supercarriers with large battegroups, and about 48 hours max for the pitiful UK ones with their vastly depleted escorts.

The simple fact is that even a sizeable escort defence cannot knock down every see-skimming missile that's fired at you: some will get through, more and more of them as the conflict wears on, as escorts suffer attrition, and your limited supply of AA ordnance dwindles. You will not prevent every single enemy submarine from sneaking into range (or just lurking till you sail over the top of it), nor will you dodge or decoy every torpedo they launch. Your CAP will not be able (especially if you're handicapped by having only F-35s, with their short range, poor ordnance loadout and lack of a rear view making dogfighting a losing game) to intercept every enemy aircraft before it gets within missile range. Bear in mind that neutralising the carriers is the priority task for your enemy.

Contrary to ludicrously optimistic and untested predictions by the US Navy, even a super-carrier can be knocked out with a single well-placed torpedo under the keel, and a antiship missile does not have to explode directly in CIC to cripple the ship: a big enough bang to shake loose a lot of plumbing is quite sufficient to badly impede a carrier's operations; and how long will it before one of those big bangs severs a few fuel lines? Or knocks out the reactor cooling system? If anything qualifies for a sacred 250-year-old rule of naval warfare, it is surely "More incoming fire will do more damage of more consequence than you imagined in your worst nightmares".

In the Pacific Theatre of WW2, without any missiles being available, carriers went to the bottom with great frequency on both sides—until the Empire of Japan couldn't shoot back, in fact.

The only really fundamental thing that's changed since then is that the US hasn't fought a war against a foe who could threaten its carriers and has therefore become hubristically overconfident.

As to the UK, we ought to know better after the Falklands (where we had to keep the carriers out of range of pretty much any and every threat, or lose the war) but politicial stupidity and short-sighted penny-pinching will always have their way ... our two "supercarriers", if we have to fight against a real opponent, really are just big, fat, dumb floating targets.

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1

Space, the final blunt-tier: Binary system ejected huge 'spliff' asteroid, boffins reckon

Milton
Silver badge

Cringe with shame

Cringe with shame, for—

"Space, the final blunt-tier"

—weak, clumsy and beyond pathetic ... even by El Reg's determinedly, deliberately adolescent standards. Not clever. Not funny. Not challenging. Not worth so much as a wry smile. Simply witless.

I wonder, not for the first time, how your otherwise excellent organ might perform if it employed even a single adult editor?

For the last time, I ask: do you really think that even one solitary visitor comes here for what you fondly, and utterly misguidedly, believe is "clever" punning?

It really isn't.

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BlackBerry Z10 'share-price pump' lawsuit is back from the dead

Milton
Silver badge

Re: Wait, what?

"Sir! We've had over 50,000 returns."

"..So?"

"Well, uh, we only sold 30,000 in the first place. And, um, we only made 40,000..."

(cue Twilight Zone music)

You may be on to something. Lawyers can get fixated on details, ignoring the big picture. Perhaps when we look beneath the "rate of return", as you mention, we will be staggered to find that more handsets were returned than had been sold to a given date.

Why does this matter? Because although the great Stephen Hawking has passed, we had—until now—no proof that parallel universes existed ...

... it was a Blackberry black hole.

(fetches coat)

4
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Linux Foundation backs new ‘ACRN’ hypervisor for embedded and IoT

Milton
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Future in-car computers

"... future in-car computers know when to starve the entertainment system of resources in order to ensure drivers’ or riders’ safety"

I wasn't the only one to be brought up short by that sentence, then. The idea that one computer shares the tasks of critical driving safety with in-car entertainment sounds impressively stupid. I'm not even convinced they should be allowed to share a network.

I submit that as cars become ever more automated and computerised, and as driver-assist gradually morphs into autopilot over the course of time—which then becomes full automated journey management and driving as the cars become integrated with each other and city computer/traffic management systems—the level of required safety and reliability shoudn't be much less than you'd expect in an aircraft.

Now you'd be right to say that planes are special insofar as (a) a total failure doesn't simply mean drifting to an embarrassed stop at the side of the road, and (b) the consequences of a crash are potentially two orders of magnitude worse than for a car ... BUT from a public perception point of view, it's basically the same: every time a car kills people because of a software failure there will be absolute hell to pay.

The safety and security requirements for an entertainment system are so completely different from systems to control steering and brakes that there is no meaningful comparison. You can let lardy, careless Android wheeze and waddle its way round a movie or a website and no one dies, even if the OS is now 10 years old. But that really won't do for systems that will have to distinguish a child from a tumbleweed and decide within a hundredth of a second whether to risk the occupants' lives by deliberately swerving into the opposite ditch.

There's no real reason to be confident that the anti-malware arms race is going to be conclusively won by the white hats any time soon, especially given that with virtualisation, hypervisors, containerisation and the general obsession with loading a multiplicity of OSs and applications on a single piece of tin, we're opening ever more chinks for super-stealthy hyper-powered ultra-sneaky sequestration attacks.

So FWIW my vote is for never mixing business with pleasure. Take a leaf from the airliner handbook: build a bullet-proof OS for car management, keeping people alive, use multiple voting computers to decide critical issues, and keep the fluffy stuff completely and utterly separate.

CPUs just don't cost enough to justify VM-ing a car and taking risks ... not even for an industry as soullessly greedy and dishonest as automotive.

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