* Posts by steelpillow

557 posts • joined 16 Jun 2016


Application publishing gets the WebAssembly treatment

steelpillow Silver badge

When your front end is your back end

"The company ... is awake to the potential for servers to run in browsers too."

"Browser" seems a bit of an understatement. More like incorporating native web rendering into your OS. Just replace file: calls by http: calls and carry right on. I do hope it's https or the attack surface will be horrifying.

Sorry spooks: Princeton boffins reckon they can hide DNS queries

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Honest question: how does this differ in its security model from NAT over TLS? Both approaches rely on a client-end gateway to mask/translate the user IP, both give a level of encryption across the standard infrastructure.

Googlers revolt over AI military tech contract, brainiacs boycott killer robots, and more

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Paranoid lunatics...

@ Boris the Cockroach

Removing humans from the maintenance and repair bureaucracy will take a heck of a lot more than a microsecond.

steelpillow Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Paranoid lunatics...

...love to breed paranoid lunatics.

We won't change human nature before killer bots arrive.

And the only defence is your own bot-killer bots.

Soon it'll be one ridiculously expensive killer bot force facing up against another.

Knock yourself out against a comparable enemy and you become defenceless against the next one.

Paranoid does not mean stupid. Let's just hope at least three asshole nations develop roughly equal production capacity.

Guess we'll have to be one of 'em, just like we have all the other WMD shit too.


Ass-troplastic! Printing parts from p.. er... human waste

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: The traditional spacefaring approach..grow fresh food,

"...in the ISS..."

You forget, my rather short-sighted friend, that the ISS is parked in Earth's front driveway. A Mars expedition will be away from home for a period measured in years.

Hydroponics for soil and LEDs for sunlight are already used on Earth for growing urban salads in old tunnels. Even the water has been through several sewage farm on its way to the supply pipe. And for crops that dislike hydroponics, my neighbouring farmer habitually takes processed solid human waste off the sewage farm's hands and drills it into the ground as fertiliser (I always pray the wind will blow the other way). Oh, yes, and it has all been done in the lab too. (Except the praying bit. Probably.) Just add a centrifuge (aka wheel) for gravity and your are on your foodie way to Mars.

steelpillow Silver badge

Ain't it th' truth...

"We have been struck by space junk and lost our air, Sir, everybody is now in space suits."

"Quick, print off some new structural plating and secure the hull."

"We don't have enough plastic for such a big repair, Sir."

"Get Cookie to brew a stinking hot curry, then."

"But we're all in space suits, Sir."

" * "


steelpillow Silver badge

What a load of crap

The traditional spacefaring approach is to recycle human waste and carbon dioxide to grow fresh food, thus avoiding the need to lug a small supermarket, a nutritionist's dispensary and a nuclear-sub grade CO2 scrubber along with you.

This idea is, figuratively as well as literally, a load of crap.

Co-op says IT upgrade project going swell since axing IBM

steelpillow Silver badge

Not so co-operative bank

Shame to see yet another people-owned bank gobbled by the sharks. Where do I stash my pension fund now?

Microsoft Office 365 and Azure Active Directory go TITSUP*

steelpillow Silver badge

What a great advert for ...

... Chrome OS? except, limited choice of desktop workstations

... MacOS? except, stupidly expensive

... Linux? except, blinded by choice and FUD

Hubble sharpens measurement of distance to ancient cluster

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: 7800 Light Years?!

"So this other galaxy is inside the Milky Way?"


1. It's a globular cluster not a galaxy. *

2. The Milky Way is wide but it is also thin. Look out of the main disk into the third dimension. The cluster orbits the galaxy along with the other halo objects.

* "This globular cluster is small but that galaxy is far away" (with apologies to father Ted)

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

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Still Not Getting It

Some things can work well, for example if you know the physical screen size you can then select an appropriate stylesheet. But even this basic technique has lacked support from system vendors, who have never demanded screen size to be a standard piece of system info.

Bake that into everything, so plugging your smartphone into a 52" TV will automatically pick up the new size and update the choice of stylesheet - with UI-integrated user override if that was not what you wanted, of course - and things could move forward.

In my dreams :(

Linux 4.16 arrives, keeps melting Meltdown, preps to axe eight CPUs

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: In other IT news..

"and added a "Use middle finger and swipe to reboot" option for tablet users.."

Shouldn't that be "Extend middle finger and jab vertically upwards to reboot"?

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: And so fairwell blackfin, cris, frv, m32r, metag, mn10300, score, and tile.

One wonders why Linux was ever ported to them in the first place.

Red Hat is in the pink: Cracks $3bn revenue run rate as subs take off

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Re: Why

"Im just surprised that the corporate lawyers and MBAs have not managed to get their foot into the door and 'MBA' the org."

They have to a large extent. But the idea of open licensing has always been so baked into the Red Hat marketing USP that even the MBAs have had to learn to live with it (they may not understand software but they understand a marketing USP). Some stuff - last I looked it was all about a scheduled updates service - does get closed off, but too much of that soon gets the fur flying. Imagine a Ford or General Motors MBA trying to make the company force three-wheelers on its customers because they are cheaper to make.

steelpillow Silver badge


Red Hat understand that they do not sell software, they sell a business service. Linux just makes that easier for them.

They understand that free/open licensing is not about the code, it's about the business model.

Microsoft loves Linux so much it wants someone else to build distros for its Windows Store

steelpillow Silver badge

Raise your WINE glass and wet your WSL?

What are the chances that WSL is not quite as free of WINE code or IP as MS want to believe?

Meet the open sorcerers who have vowed to make Facebook history

steelpillow Silver badge

serverless chat

The only reason chat needs a server is so that people can leave "call me" type messages for friends who are offline. Otherwise, your chat client could perfectly well manage your friends list, chat session and message/media silos of choice through suitable protocols/APIs. You might as well resort to email for those offline pings, then the chat system itself can be serverless.

OMG! A genuine use case for serverless? I may have to eat my hat.

Just when you thought it was safe to go ahead with microservices... along comes serverless

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Is it just me ?

"So, the https endpoint..."

"You mean server?" butts in the PFY

"No, this is serverless."

"Then what services the https request?" I ask.

"Nothing does, Simon. The endpoint API consumes it."

"He means services it" mutters the PFY



"What about security?" I ask idly.

"Yes, security will be a big issue for serverless."

"You mean, folks will need experts in serverless architectures and will pay top notch for infosec work."

"Er, probably", he wobbles a bit and his eyes flicker.

"That is where your career progression comes in, isn't it? You're so sick of coding overblown back ends for overblown backsides that you're willing to play the suits at their own linguistic acrobatics."



Heck, this stuff writes itself. (With apologies to Mr. Travagila)

No, Stephen Hawking's last paper didn't prove the existence of a multiverse

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Cognito ergo universi?

"Too many make the error of assuming an observer has to be intelligent or conscious. A cloud of gas will also observe anything it bumps into, whether you believe observation creates something or just discovers it."

Apart from the rather obvious instance of pointy-haired managers, this is wrong. John Von Neumann showed that an inanimate instrument does not collapse the quantum wave function of the impacting object but assimilates it, quantum superposition and all. There is no "wave function collapse," and hence no certain measurement, unless a conscious observer is watching. Hence Schroedinger's cat paradox. The transactional interpretation attempts to get round this by invoking a complicated "handshake" process, but is not widely accepted.

steelpillow Silver badge

Boundary conditions

If only a round conformal structure is tenable, this is consistent with Hawking's previous suggestion that "the boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary".

But how can the “end of the world brane”, as a boundary condition, then be anything other than an undistinguished point in spacetime, in the same way that the beginning was famously depicted in "The Universe in a Nutshell"?

The trouble with this sort of thing is that the imaginary aspect of Time appears in the equations of both relativity and QM but we have no idea how to interpret that as an aspect of actual reality. As Einstein observed, physicists tend to make bad philosophers.

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

steelpillow Silver badge

Since when was a cyclsit a "pedestrian"?

And since when did a monitoring meatbag escape responsibility for the actions of the bot they are monitoring?

Another day, another self-flying car pipe dream surfaces

steelpillow Silver badge

Earliest flying car

Well, Popular mechanics can't be believed. Henson and Stringfellow's Aerial Steam Carriage was not a f lying car but a fixed-wing aeroplane, it had no road capability. The earliest I know of is that of Gustave Whitehead, born Gustav Weisskopf, who is best known for his supporters' claim that he flew before the Wright brothers, around 1901. The contentious machine was actually a flying car with folding wings and Whitehead drove it to its intended takeoff site. What happened next depends on whose side you are on...

China to offer recoverable satellites-as-a-service

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Oak heatshields

Oak is a particularly fire-resistant timber because it is very strong and dense so that it chars rather than burns, forming a protective layer of charcoal that keeps oxygen at bay. This is recognised (or certainly used to be) in the UK Building Regulations for fire resistance and it makes oak a more economic building material than you might expect. Run that up to Mach 20 or whatever and it becomes an ablative or sacrificial material similar to that used on the original American X-15 sub-orbital rocket plane. Oak is kinder to the environment than that disgusting and toxic chemical brew, too. I don't know about the weight though, that would add a lot to the fuel costs.

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

steelpillow Silver badge

Tribute to Yoko

"Doesn't 'Acorn' have an O in it?"

"'O'? No."

"Don't you think the owners of the old Acorn trademark might sue you?"

"Oh, No."

"Look, they just have."

"Oh, Noo!"

steelpillow Silver badge

...great aks grw

"Given the way the name is supposed to be pronounced I have to say I think it's odd that there isn't an ARM version..."

Running a virtualised RISC OS of course.

No confusion to be had there, then.

Nest reveals the first truly connected home

steelpillow Silver badge

"Smart security system"

Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

Whois? More like WHOWAS: Domain database on verge of collapse over EU privacy

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: An open registry of who owns domains is important

Upvote for talking 98% good sense.

But the "private registration" options are least available to those who have most to lose by becoming visible. You won't hide your domain ownership from the authorities, no matter what. Answer: if you really need to be invisible, don't register a domain but piggyback off someone else's and be prepared to move at the drop of a hat, just like in the physical world.

And "normal" vs "honeytrap" email addresses are way above the technical or attention limit of most people. The best answer is to make spamming globally less acceptable and harder to do, and that seems to be - very slowly - gathering institutional support.

Somebody in reply has suggested that sociopaths might visit you in person. The solution is to use a proxy registration option.

Airbus ditches Microsoft, flies off to Google

steelpillow Silver badge

It's official, then

Google is the new Microsoft.

Not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Former Google X bloke's startup unveils 'self flying' electric air taxi

steelpillow Silver badge

Stick it alongside Elon's underground bus, Larry, and go home.

I have seen a lot of bright aircraft designs come and go. If your ambition stretches only to short-range, low and slow air taxi stuff, then a conventional helicopter is simpler, cheaper, more practical and more efficient.

Three dubious innovations in one:

* Bizarre configuration is inherently less inefficient.

* Electric batteries cannot deliver power-to-weight for endurance and economic utilisation.

* Autonomous cars are not working out easy to do, never mind aircraft.

Any one of these is enough to kill the project. This thing is just an impractical toy, it really is.

Elon Musk invents bus stop, waits for applause, internet LOLs

steelpillow Silver badge

What goes down...

How about going up instead of down? No messy tunnel boring, no slow lifts to wait for. You could call it ... an Airbus.

Rant launches Eric Raymond's next project: open-source the UPS

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Off-the-shelf vehicle batteries do make more sense. The use case is similar: long periods of nothing, short periods of massive drain, for low cost and moderate weight. The automotive industry has chucked BEEEELIONS of $$$ over DECADES, at better batteries for low cost and light weight. A backyard UPS project is never going to do better.

Good news: Apple designs a notebook keyboard that doesn't suck

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Prior art

Science of Cambridge Mk 14, back in 1977. Sinclair, Francis & Altwasser's bolt-hole while they brewed up the ZX 80.

Windows 10 S to become a 'mode', not a discrete product

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: pwned again

"Citrix receiver is a remoting tool. The app would be running on a Citrix server, not the Windows 10 S machine."

Yes of course. Nobody has ever uploaded malware to a server and attacked a remote client from there.

Mind you, it's a bit academic if both S customers decide not to go the Citrix route.

steelpillow Silver badge

pwned again

So, take one locked-down device with S installed. Hook into Citrix or Upgrade paths. Download malware to taste.

And what about those minimal-hardware Chromebook competitors, will they just brick when that happens?

IBM's homomorphic encryption accelerated to run 75 times faster

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The logical outcome is a hardware accelerator.

Let's hope the chip doesn't feature a Management Engine malware magnet.

ESA builds air-breathing engine that works in space

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A problem to be overcome is the size of the solar panels. Add them and your aerodynamic drag increases, needing more thrust to stay in orbit, needing more solar panels, creating more drag...

Will be interesting to see if it is practicable to break this vicious circle.

Mobile World Congress: 5 buzzwords, an homage to Windows XP and a smartphone snorefest

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Thumb Up

Planet Gemini

is said to have an external Voice button, similar to the old Psion Series 5 dictate button. I used to use that feature almost more than the keyboard. On Gemini, it is said to activate the voice assistant.


Functional and secure in one go. Now that IS revolutionary.

I just love the way this Riddiford guy thinks.

BOFH: Honourable misconduct

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Re: I think I even have a script for that.

"I've been trying to sell a TV series based on the BOFH for ages now"


Has a section devoted to film media. You'll need to recruit a Director and Producer and stuff, though.

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: I think I even have a script for that.

You stole my post!

Dropbox to let Google reach inside it and rummage about

steelpillow Silver badge

If only...

If only Dropbox keep Google out of user accounts which are NOT paralleled by Google Drive storage, that will be no problem. Once you opt-in to Googleshit you get what you deserve. But Google are apt to have a One Account to Rule Them All and In the Darkness Find Them approach to their services, so sign up to say Google Books and you could find your Dropbox scraped clean. Any assurances that won't happen?

Paul Allen's six-engined monster plane prepares for space deliveries

steelpillow Silver badge

On your own

The lower end of the one-off space launch market is pretty small. SpaceX gave up on the original Falcon1 as soon as the Falcon9 appeared, because it only got a trickle of orders and piggybacking on the spare capacity of a Falcon 9 turned out far cheaper. I think Pegasus are going to hit the same wall. What this beastie needs is a 250-ton second stage tailored to shifting the heaviest possible load into low Earth orbit. And only Stratolaunch will be willing to restrict their first-stage options to the present beastie. They may well have to go it alone.

Facebook recruits Nokia to trial and standardise Terragraph wireless tech

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Thumb Up

Now is not soon enough

Living in rural UK and suffering BT wet string cos nobody cares about bumpkins, I just want a broadband network like this NOW. Hope it gets a smooth passage.

Hey Facebook, if you can adopt my parish for the trial rollout, I might even stop dissing your other, social network.

DropEverything! DropBox DropsDocs to DropStocks

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Thumb Down

Re: Drop?

As 1 of 489 million free users I can confirm that the gap between free and paid is too stonking huge. I sync/backup about half my stuff through my free dropbox, the rest onto (don't laugh) a USB stick. Dropbox really needs to pick up on (see what I did there? >groan<) an intermediate personal/pro service for say 100G and affordable pocket money. Might just tilt the playing field towards profitability.

My fear is that now, IPO > Corporate takeover > no time for the small fry. So no entry-level account without bloods strings attached, while the best support desk I have ever had the pleasure to call on will be starved of its lifeblood in the name of cost-cutting. This IPO stinks of the traditional dot-come-buyout megabuck disaster.

Lloyds Banking Group to splash £3bn on tech

steelpillow Silver badge

How secure is my financial information?

"As secure as our cloud contractors can be arsed to make it, Sir."

Better check out a few other banks and move my account across before it's too late, sigh.

The Gemini pocket PC is shipping and we've got one. This is what it's like

steelpillow Silver badge

Decisions, decisions...

Debian or Salifish? Aaaargh!

I can see that I am going to want the Google Assistant voice button a lot when the case is closed. Things like, "OK Google, call my bank". That means Android.

But when I open it I am going to want Linux a lot. Things like, ">! *?@*!!!<, launch bash, $ dropbox start" or "$ apt-get-install pdfmod"


UK local gov: 37 cyber attacks a minute but little mandatory training

steelpillow Silver badge

Not doing it

Local councils are so strapped for cash, they are steadily winding down all the things that they are not legally required to do - one has already crashed through the bottom and there are several hot on their heels. Unless the law says that somebody will go to prison for not "doing cyber security", nobody will do it.

Crunch time: Maplin in talks to sell the business

steelpillow Silver badge

Maplin Sands of Time

Maplin started as a mail-order supplier to electronic hobbyists, back around the time nearby Maplin Sands hit the headlines as London's designated Third Airport and main operating base for Concorde. That's where the name comes from. Must have been the mid-Seventies?

I used to marvel at their huge range and low prices. They knocked RS, Farnell and all the surplus shops lining Tottenham Court Road into a cocked hat. Anyone remember ElectroValue?

Then the shops started appearing and at the start of the home computer craze, not to mention CB radio (anybody remember the "ten-four rubber duck" bit?), they were riding high. But then we stopped buying components and bought ready-made computers - and games. The competition hotted up and they never really found a new niche.

Still, while there's life there's hope.

You can resurrect any deleted GitHub account name. And this is why we have trust issues

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Design flaw?

That would be fine, except..."

I don't see that. When you create a GitHub account you sign up to its Terms and Conditions. They can be amended to set out the revised withdrawal process, specifically that material will remain for say a week or a month before being purged. Posting of copyrighted material constitutes release of the material under said terms. Any file altered under the new terms will constitute acceptance of them for the whole file. A little bit of coding to implement different algorithms for files with different datestamps, and bingo! Job's a good 'un.

If a third party is demanding takedown, there must always be a reasonable time period for this to be implemented. Just make sure that the GitHub delay squeaks within such a reasonable period.

Astro-boffinry world rocked to its very core: Shock as Andromeda found to be not much bigger than Milky Way

steelpillow Silver badge

"It completely transforms our understanding of the local group,"

And it will completely transform the mystery of Dark Matter. Up to now, only about a third of the calculated dark matter has been identified (gas, dust, rocks, rogue planetoids, etc). The remaining two-thirds is a topic of hot speculation about New Physics. Now, in Andromeda at least, that missing dark matter is, well... totally missing. There is no problem to solve. I wonder how other galaxies will now stack up.

You won't believe this: Nokia soars back into phone-flinger top 3

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Not surprized

"Microsoft clearly had no idea how valuable the Nokia brand was"

I think they did, they paid enough for it. What they didn't realise was how worthless their own brand was. No substitute at all, especially when the new OS turned out equally worthless - again.

Nokia/HMD are so-o lucky, not many Micro$haft dinners ever get thrown back up. I really wish them well.


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