* Posts by vtcodger

312 posts • joined 13 Sep 2017


White House and FCC announce big, broken solutions to America's pitiful broadband

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Oh, great

What a crock of shit. I'm never going to be able to ditch Comcast, am I?

Not until your Public Utilities Commission grows a pair and yanks Comcast's operating license. ... And, in the unlikely event that happens, they'll probably be replaced by some company that's even worse.

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

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Re: Tax

The median Amazon wage was $28,446 last year. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/08/24/thousands-amazon-workers-receive-food-stamps-now-bernie-sanders-wants-amazon-pay-up/?noredirect=on) Not a lot in a high cost of living area like New York City. Maybe the locals are exercising better judgment than their leaders in deciding to pass on 25000 probably mostly low paying jobs from an outfit that seems more than a bit predatory.

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The Wall

No, No. Mexico is paying for the wall. They're just a bit late with the payments. Give 'em a bit of time to pawn Baja California or something. They'll come through.

It's now 2019, and your Windows DHCP server can be pwned by a packet, IE and Edge by a webpage, and so on

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Job security

You remove low paid, low skilled checkout workers. They are replaced by fewer, but much higher paid engineers, designers, installers ...

A number of prominent economists agree with you. Of course, economists haven't had much credibility for about 50 years because their predictions tend to have a lousy track record. On the average, one is probably better off treating them as C Northcote Parkinson suggested dealing with the guy whose predictions are always wrong. Ask them what to do. Then do something, anything, else.

vtcodger Silver badge

Job security

Assuming that there are only 1,000,000 significant security bugs in Windows, at 75 bugs a month, the system should be perfect sometime around March of 3230 A.D. Of course, that assumes that no new bugs are introduced in the meantime. Want a secure future? Learn to sysadmin.

AI gets carded, China and US agree on robot wars, Amazon claims Rekognition is just fine

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What could possibly go wrong?

there won't be any humans in future wars

Boy does THAT sound like the premise for a negative utopia novel. "What could possibly go wrong?" taken to a new and horrifying level.

Accused hacker Lauri Love to sue National Crime Agency to retrieve confiscated computing kit

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Reasonable action?

I suppose the reasonable and rational thing to do would be for the police to copy the hard drive(s) in case they ever need whatever evidence might exist there, then give the equipment back to him. It is after all, his. Anyone want to bet on that happening?

LibreOffice patches malicious code-execution bug, Apache OpenOffice – wait for it, wait for it – doesn't

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Re: Someone please explain...

It may be unusual to use a scripting language in a text document. I can't recall ever doing that or even wanting to do that. But let me assure you that the folks that control your budget are not going to be pleased if you don't give them a scripting tool in their spreadsheets.

No, sir.

Not pleased at all.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Tried Libre about 3 weeks ago....

Is the nomenclature different in leap year? e.g. Office 366 ... 365 ... 364 ...

OK, it's early 2019. Has Leeds Hospital finally managed to 'axe the fax'? Um, yes and no

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Problem ?

If faxes work, and folks are used to them, what's the issue?

The issue is that much of the human race prefers illusion to things that actually work. There are some real problems with fax. It's slow, Isn't always provisioned with paper when it should be. Thermoprinted paper used in inexpensive fax machines fades over time. Etc, etc,etc. OTOH, the shiny digital solutions preferred by many tend to be costly, complex, not to be interoperable with other shiny digital solutions. etc,etc,etc. They have a bunch of problems of their own.

Personally, I belong to the "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" school. But some things really do work better after proper repair. The optimum way to deal with an older technology is probably to ask first if it really needs fixing, and second if there is a tested, widely deployed, solution that actually fixes real problems and doesn't come with unfortunate side effects.

Bug-hunter faces jail for vulnerability reports, DuckDuckPwn (almost), family spied on via Nest gizmo, and more

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Re: SS7 hacked?

Telphone network hacking goes back about 70 years to the time when automatic devices started to replace rooms full of operators manually patching calls through complicated switchboards with a zillion jacks and a lot of cords with plugs on the end. Recommended reading: Secrets of the Little Blue Box by Ron Rosenbaum published by Esquire in the very early 1970s. Full text is at http://www.lospadres.info/thorg/lbb.html

One suspects that it's easier and more lucrative now that everyone and everything is cloudy.

Sprint subscribers: What do your updated iPhone and Tonga have in common? Both are cut off from the world

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Re: Break?

For a lengthy and entertaining primer on undersea cables, try Neal Stephenson's lengthy WIRED article http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/4.12/ffglass_pr.html Is it accurate? Probably not. It is, after all, 25 years old. But it is a very good read.

Wow, fancy that. Web ad giant Google to block ad-blockers in Chrome. For safety, apparently

vtcodger Silver badge

.There are other good choices available. ...

Perhaps, but fewer and fewer every year. If one doesn't like Firefox much either, the options seem to be becoming quite limited. Thanks to Javascript (Yechhh) and the insistence that we must all use https, even venerable tools like links can no longer access many sites.

I'm thinking that in not very long at all, one's choice for Internet browsing is going to be down to chrome or firefox with maybe some variations in colors, imagery, and menus. Many view this as "Progress" (toward what destination?). Personally, I'm inclined to view it as the Internet going to hell in a handbasket.

Surface: Tested to withstand the NFL. Microsoft firmware updates? Not so much

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I'm a bit confused. I'm 98% certain that Patriot's coach Bill Belichik quit using his league provided Microsoft Surface a couple of years ago and went back to older technology. His ostensive reason -- " their [sic, but probably a typo by news sources as Belichick was "speaking" at the time] just isn’t enough consistency in the performance of the tablets." And indeed, sideline shots during Patriots games sometimes show the coach with a clipboard(?) and pencil(?). See https://www.theverge.com/2016/10/18/13320664/bill-belichick-patriots-microsoft-surface-tablet-nfl

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

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Re: As a dev system?

I had the opportunity to play with a Lisa for an hour or so shortly after it was released. My take away -- the one I used was incredibly, unusably, slow. And that was in a time when expectations were not high. I had a similar experience a few years later with Windows 2 run from floppy disks. Those systems may have been of interest as a harbinger of things to come. But as tools to do actual work, they seemed pretty much useless.

Say GDP-aaaRrrgh, streamers: Max Schrems is coming for you, Netflix and Amazon

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I have a gut feeling that the proposed "similar to GDPR" bill is going to be silently tabled.

Barring some sort of digital disaster that moves our legislators to action, I wouldn't expect significant privacy legislation in the US before 2021-2022 at the soonest. The self-immolation of the Republican Party assisted by the Democrats enthusiastic Molotov cocktail bombardment will probably paralyze the government this year and the 2020 election will do the same next. Privacy is a complex issue. If our legislators can figure out that they actually have to think (for a change) before passing privacy laws, it'll take a few years to get a law passed and placed on the President's desk for signature.

US midterms barely over when Russians came knocking on our servers (again), Democrats claim

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It's what spies do?

Seems to me that the Russian equivalent of the NSA would be sadly remiss if they WEREN'T regularly trying to break into the DNC and RNC servers, as well as a wide variety of state, US government,US military, law enforcement and Military Industrial Complex servers. That, I believe, is what intelligence agencies do nowadays.

However, I suppose any weird scenario on could conjure up COULD be in play. I can't imagine what the point of the court action against Russia is, but that doesn't mean there isn't a point buried somewhere in the murky depths of international law and the US legal system.

Or maybe the Democrats are just trying to somehow score political points against a President and political opposition for whom they have roughly zero affection.

I used to be a dull John Doe. Thanks to Huawei, I'm now James Bond!

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As I understand it, all you need to get into the spying game on behalf of everyone's favourite inscrutable superpower is to own something with a Huawei logo on it.

Cash is a bit tight at the moment. And I've never been able to figure out anything a smart phone might actually be useful for. But spying sounds like fun. Can I maybe use a felt tip pen to convert my old Nokia Trakfone into a surrogate Huawei device?

Iran satellite fails: ICBM test drive or microsat test? Opinion is divided...

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Ironically, Google Maps or Open Street Map should be orders of magnitude better than sufficient for targeting a nuclear warhead. It's only when you try to deliver a conventional payload to a specific target without vaporizing its neighborhood that you need high precision satellite imagery. There are, however, numerous rationales for operating spy satellites that don't involve nuclear weaponry.

Sadly, the record shows pretty clearly that one can't trust the governments of the US, its military allies, Israel, Russia, North Korea, China, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc, etc, etc to tell the truth about much of anything. I doubt Iran is very trustworthy either. Who can one trust? Maybe the Swiss, but what incentive do they have to share their secrets (if any) with anyone who isn't paying for the information?

Come mobile users, gather round and learn how to add up

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Re: Itchy Chin

In Python 2+2 = 4, "2" + "2" = "22" and "2" + 2 generates an exception "TypeError: cannot concatenate 'str' and 'int' objects" Forgive me, but in what way is that not perfectly reasonable?

Jeep hacking lawsuit shifts into gear for trial after US Supremes refuse to hit the brakes

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WTF is the entertainment system able to talk to the engine management system at all?

- Vehicles already have way too many wires threaded around through holes and in nooks and crannies. Separate data buses for entertainment, emissions, engine management, ABS, etc would add more wires. More complexity. Less reliability. Higher repair costs

- The entertainment system, pathetic though it may be, has by far the best User Interface in the car. Do you really want to try to decode which tire needs air by entering an inquiry in some Morseish code using the ignition key (if you have one) then counting flashes of the dash lights? That's pretty much exactly what was done to read engine management/emissions codes prior to the advent of OBD2 connectors in 1996.

Sharing the bus and UI hardware/software probably isn't something that most engineers would be overly happy about. But it's probably the least bad solution.

Gyro failure fingered for sending Earth-gazing Digital Globe sat TITSUP (That's a total inability to snap usual pics)

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When building spacecraft, adding a backup means increasing weight

On top of which, my understanding is that satellites have rigid weight budgets imposed by the desired orbit and the capabilities of the launch platform. If your camera comes in 2kg over what you'd planned for, you don't just write a check for the weight overage. You cut weight elsewhere. Perhaps the planned backup gyro has to go.

Stormy times ahead for IBM-owned Weather Channel app: LA sues over location data slurp

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I'll have the super large bucket of popcorn

it's not yet clear how many reside in California

I expect that data is available from IBM ... For a price.

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

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: There's disposable income then there's

Hold their resale value? If I buy a £120 quid ...

Sure. But will that cut rate Android gidgee BEND? Betcha not.

It's all a matter of of what your priorities are.

China's loose Chang'e: Probe lands on far side of the Moon in science first, says state media

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Re: Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards

Might it not be a good idea to find out what's actually there before planning to colonize that rock? My guess is that what's there is nothing worth spending impressive amounts of money on in order to put humans up there. Robots can do the exploration better and cheaper.

Probably in future centuries some combination of need and reduced costs will justify humans in space. AFAICS, men on the moon or, worse, Mars, aren't likely going to happen in this century. At least not for more than an incredibly expensive photo-op. For that matter, why are substantial resources being wasted on the more or less pointless ISS? My opinion. Go back to the Skylab concept of a manned lab that is occasionally used when enough meaningful experiments that require direct human overersight are ready to be run. Spend the money instead on unmanned probes like this one, and on exploring the largely unexplored 70% or so of our planet that is permanently under water.

Congratulations to the Chinese for doing something in space that is actually cost effective.

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

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was fined in 2016 for calling himself an engineer in correspondence with state officials and doing math.

Really now. Can you imagine the chaos if we let just anyone wander in off the street and start doing math?

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Great for this Engineer

But what really gets my goat is people calling themselves "Software Engineer" when they have no academic qualifications in Software Engineering, nor membership of a professional body.

I can't say that I've ever been overly impressed with academic credentials per se, or, in many cases, with people who tout them. However, there's are bigger problems with "software engineering." For one thing, there is very little actual core information about software other than descriptions of programming languages and some discussion of algorithms. With a few exceptions -- cryptography, what else? -- there's simply no body of solid body of theory on which to base practice engineering. For another, few software practitioners have actually read many, or even any, of the core documents documents that do exist -- Hamming, Knuth, etc.

I think it may be symbolic of the state of "Software Engineering" that only three and a fraction of the planned seven volumes of "The Art of Computer Programming" have ever made it to the publishers.

EU politely asks if China could stop snaffling IP as precondition for doing business

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: so just like the US before 1914 then ?

Someone has stolen their trick of stealing IP to become a world leader.

We (the US) largely gave up stealing IP many decades ago. For example, we passed on the opportunity to grab the tooling for the VW Beetle after WWII. So did the British -- on the grounds that the car was "Ugly and noisy". http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20130830-the-nazi-car-we-came-to-love

(But we did grab Werner von Braun and much of his rocket team from Peenemunde.)

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Have the cake and eat it

The problem is more one of access to the Chinese market. That's 1,300,000,000 consumers many with some amount of disposable income. Average Chinese income looks to be about $10000 USD per year. That's real money, not PPP. It's a big market and growing at a respectable rate despite the efforts of President Dingbat to spread chaos and disharmony across the planet -- a process known as "Making America Grate Again"

Average Chinese incomes appear to be only a fifth of American, so probably China should still be given some special treatment. But it may be time to start slowly phasing special treatment out. After all, China will likely have the largest economy on the planet within a few years and it does seem a bit weird for an economy that size to get special treatment designated for the "least developed countries"

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: @TheSkunkyMonk

China doesn't make things better, they just make it cheaper than the competition, ...

Replace "China" with "Japan" and that's pretty much word for word what American companies were saying in the 1960s and 1970s. And the 1980s as well right up to the point where the Regan administration "negotiated" a "voluntary" agreement with Japan to limit the number of cheap, high quality, Japanese vehicle imports that were destroying the US auto industry.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the same happen with Chinese products sometime in the next decade or so.

Suunto settles scary scuba screwup for $50m: 'Faulty' dive computer hardware and software put explorers in peril

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Fuck!!!

when they introduce self-drive cars; you just know it will not end well for too many unfortunate people.

Let's try to keep some objectivity here. Autonomous cars are surely going to have accidents and are going to harm people and stuff. What is at issue isn't whether they sometimes harm people and property but whether they do less harm and damage than cars driven by people. Keep in mind that autonomous vehicles are not just a tool for getting drunks home safely when the pubs close. For the elderly, visually impaired, infirm and seriously ill., the benefits of reasonably safe autonomous vehicles seem very great.

There are companies -- Waymo(Google) for example -- that seem to be extremely conservative in their approach and which so far have a really good safety record. I don't know whether they can achieve acceptable levels of safety in all sorts of driving conditions. I doubt they know. Probably no one knows. But it's probably worth giving them a chance.

There are other companies -- Uber and Tesla come to mind -- that seem to me to have demonstrated sufficient disregard for reality and common sense that yanking their driving licenses permanently seems to me to be advisable. If/when they need vehicle autonomy, they can buy the technology from someone whose first priority is safety rather than profits.

IBM: Co-Op Insurance talking direct to coding subcontractor helped collapse of £55m IT revamp project

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At its heart, the Co-Op's suit claims that software written by IBM subcontractor the Innovation Group had so many "deficiencies" that it was not fit for purpose – and had missed its deadlines.

Broken and late? Isn't that pretty much current state of the art/best practices for every software development methodology? Why did the insurance folks expect anything different? Not that I don't wish them luck with their litigation. AFAICS the only thing that might reign in the rampant overpromising and outright lying by software vendors is being held financially liable for their failure to keep their promises.

vtcodger Silver badge

At its heart, the Co-Op's suit claims that software written by IBM subcontractor the Innovation Group had so many "deficiencies" that it was not fit for purpose – and had missed its deadlines.

Sounds like current "best practices" to me. What are the insurance folks whining about? Surely they didn't expect a working product delivered on schedule?

Vitamin Water gets massive publicity for new flavor: Utter BS

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Re: Food for thought

"the authoritative Amish America website.'

The whaaaat?

Would that be the same people as this one http://ludditelink.org.uk?

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Balls

I'm not sure we'd want an actual sphere. Maybe a cylinder with rounded edges. The problem is that if the floor under the storage tank moves at all -- e.g. earthquake or subsidence -- the tank is probably going to try to move. Since it will likely weigh 500kg or more, typical interior walls -- at least in North America -- probably won't constrain its motion much, We'd probably prefer that our hot water storage tanks stayed put.

My parents had one of those big tanks as part of a solar hot water installation. Per code -- doubtless written with typical tall, thin domestic hot water tanks in mind, that storage tank was securely strapped to an interior wall. It was pretty clear that if that tank decided to move, the wall was going traveling with it.

vtcodger Silver badge

Lots of choices

There are dozens of energy storage options out there, and many look great on paper. In practice? Often not so much. Lithium-ion's strong point is high energy density which is very important in a vehicle smaller than ,say, a cargo ship. But it's not necessarily a big deal for a fixed installation. In point of fact the preferred utility grade storage option is often pumped storage which is quite cheap (a few cents per kwh) if you use it a lot, have lots of water available, have suitable topography and don't mind losing about a quarter of your input energy to various inefficiencies. Pumped storage has very low energy density.

A storage vessel for molten Silicon? Let's put it in your backyard, not mine. Same for Sodium-Sulfur storage which is actually in use here and there.

Expired cert... Really? #O2down meltdown shows we should fear bungles and bugs more than hackers

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: V2X

We've been told that the low-latency modes of 5G are required for V2X (vehicle-to-everything)

V2X is going to be necessary for smooth traffic flow -- negotiating permission with oncoming traffic to make a left turn (for those of us who drive on the right)/right turn (for those who drive on the wrong) for example. And it's probably how the folks that are repairing yonder bridge are going to tell your car that that area that looks like a hole in the pavement is in fact a hole in the pavement. It's not clear that it needs a lot of bandwidth or especially high speeds. But it probably does need latencies never more than a few hundred ms. And of course it needs standards that are unambiguous and are actually adhered to.

Pencil manufacturers rejoice: Oz government doesn't like e-voting

vtcodger Silver badge

Exactly. Paper ballots are auditable (i.e. recountable). It is VERY difficult to devise a paper-free scheme that can be sorted out after the vote if (i.e. when) something goes wrong with the vote tallying.

Fortunately for those elsewhere, we here in the US have tried the experiment of embracing electronic voting without really thinking through the consequences. The bottom line: Generally electronic voting works, but there are lots of ways it can fail. And once it fails it can be really difficult to sort things out. If they can be sorted out.

What does seem to work reasonably well is paper ballots that are machine read and tallied electronically. If the tallying process breaks down somehow or questions arise about the integrity of the count, the ballots can be counted by hand

Customers baffled as Citrix forces password changes for document-slinging Sharefile outfit

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Re: Quick, more boiling oil!

"So they're 'protecting' users who do dumb things like re-use passwords ..."

Perhaps the users are trying, in the only way available to them, to communicate to you what they think of complicated password based authentication schema.

Let me ask the inevitable downvoters one question.

Are your ideas of how to do things working?

Surface Book 2 afflicted by mystery Blue Screen Of Death errors

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: I'm certain now

"No large corporation with the amount of money they have could be this cack-handed"

It's clear that you've never dealt with Comcast.

Or IBM in the time of OS/360-JCL for that matter

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

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Arrested for being drunk

"Pity they can't actually do that, nor ever will."

Of course they'll be able to drive the blind or blind drunk home. WayMo's test vehicles can probably do that today. The issue is whether they can do so sufficiently reliably in all conceivable driving conditions to avoid collateral damage. Or at least get the level of injury to innocent bystanders down to socially acceptable levels.

FYI: NASA has sent a snatch-and-grab spacecraft to an asteroid to seize some rock and send it back to Earth

vtcodger Silver badge

Someone else's problem

Fortunately "we" have 150 or more years to figure out what happens when a "rubble pile" asteroid -- if that's what Bennu actually is -- encounters the Earth's atmosphere. I suspect that the actual result may be a really spectacular light show as the object breaks up into millions of pieces that then burn up. But I could be quite wrong.

Space policy boffin: Blighty can't just ctrl-C, ctrl-V plans for Galileo into its Brexit satellite

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As far as I can tell, Japan's QZSS seems to emulate an extra GPS satellite for Japanese users. If I understand correctly the unique feature is the use of elliptical orbits designed to keep at least one satellite high over the home islands at any given time. Since the signal is coming more or less straight down, vertical resolution is much improved and multipath problems in urban areas should be much reduced.

It's nearly 2019, and your network can get pwned through an oscilloscope

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Why is insecurity 'inevitable'?

"RaspberryPi model B inside a spare corner of the case and use it as a built-in network front end. For very little money this would provide a firewall and a reasonably capable login mechanism"

That'd likely work. For that matter, the scope's OS clearly has some sort of TCP/IP stack running. It may be that all it needs is proper configuring. And maybe for lab equipment it's worth the cost of hiring a network professional to secure the equipment or of training someone in the lab. (Although setting up a proper firewall and all isn't all that easy and a Chemist, Engineer etc pressed into service as a network engineer is likely to make securty mistakes that no one will notice). But none that solves the general problem of configuring network connected home routers, toothbrushes, bathroom scales, light bulbs, etc.

Aside from which, I suspect that many lab folks are going to feel that having to log into their oscilloscope (using what input device?) is a requirement imposed by a deranged mind. I'm not all that sure they would be wrong.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Bigger problems here?

"It's unlikely to be on a public facing connection."

IPv6 will fix that

OneDrive Skype integration goes live aaand... OneDrive falls over in Europe

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"As for the shared file itself? It remains sat in OneDrive."

sat = safe? Or has the English language once again moved beyond me?

Blockchain study finds 0.00% success rate and vendors don't call back when asked for evidence

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As of 1400Z this morning, the price of probably the best known (and most hyped) blockchain application -- Bitcoin -- was at $3984 -- down a bit from it's peak around $17900 in December of 2017. I'm told that there are those who think the market is seeking the stuff's true value which is very likely $0.

One thing though. What are all the miscreants who have been devoting their energy to "mining" cryptocurrencies with other folk's resources going to switch their efforts to if the cryptocoin markets collapse? My guess would be something neither legal nor beneficial to society.

We all fall together. Azure MFA takes a tumble for the second week running

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Microsoft is to be congratulated

I should like to thank Microsoft for taking a first concrete step toward a universal 32 hour work week.

A rumble in Amazon's jungle: AWS now rents out homegrown 64-bit Arm server processors

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"do you want your secret hardware backdoor to be American Intel or Chinese ARM?"

Surely you can have both -- along with Russia, North Korea, Iran, Israel, Google, Microsoft and God knows who else.

OTOH, Why any of those entities would think spying on me is a productive use of their resources is beyond me.

Talk about a cache flow problem: This JavaScript can snoop on other browser tabs to work out what you're visiting

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Re: Practising Safe Hex

One day this is going to reach a point where it's indefensible for companies like Google to persist with Javascript as a technology

I truly hope you are right, since running arbitrary code provided by poorly controlled third parties is obviously a REALLY BAD idea from a security POV. But the fact that it's a bad idea doesn't seem to have much impact on Web Developers. (As an internet user, Web Developers are not my favorite people). There's also the fact that a lot of sites that deal with maps or text editing or such actually need scripting unless and until alternate approaches can be developed.

My guess is that if things get bad enough, there will eventually, in the face of much protesting, be a ban on running third party scripts. I have my doubts that'll work well enough to provide us users with adequate security. And it will cause a lot of short term problems. But it would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Time will tell.


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