* Posts by vtcodger

278 posts • joined 13 Sep 2017

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Boffins build blazing battery bonfire

vtcodger
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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.

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vtcodger
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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.

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

vtcodger
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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.

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

vtcodger
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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

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

vtcodger
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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?

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Surface Book 2 afflicted by mystery Blue Screen Of Death errors

vtcodger
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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

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

vtcodger
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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.

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

vtcodger
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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.

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

vtcodger
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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.

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

vtcodger
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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.

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vtcodger
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Re: Bigger problems here?

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

IPv6 will fix that

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

vtcodger
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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?

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

vtcodger
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FWIW

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.

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

vtcodger
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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.

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

vtcodger
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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.

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

vtcodger
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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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New era for Japan, familiar problems: Microsoft withdraws crash-tastic patches

vtcodger
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Re: People should stop using calendars...

Any application that internally uses the calendar for datetime is badly coded ...

As ever, programmers have to deal with flaws in the real world. One of those flaws is that user facing code mostly has to use the times and dates that people use.

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Microsoft: You looking at me funny? Oh, you just want to sign in

vtcodger
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Re: I Don't Get It...

then how do they know it's you

They don't? The FIDO device is analogous to a door key that opens the door for whoever has it, not to a rent-a-guard who checks your face against the photo on your badge?

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LastPass? More like lost pass. Or where the fsck has it gone pass. Five-hour outage drives netizens bonkers

vtcodger
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Another Day ...

Another day -- another cloud problem. Anyone see a pattern emerging?

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A 5G day may come when the courage of cable and DSL fails ... but it is not this day

vtcodger
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Re: Points to consider

For everyone (*). The whole "massive MIMO" thing effectively means that each user has their own dedicated cell. ... Fixed wireless replacement services will also have the advantage in that the "mobile" being targetted by the beam steering is actually a house, and therefore not normally that mobile

That'll be nifty if it actually works. And it sounds like a nightmare if it doesn't work so well and users interfere with each other in weird and unpredictable ways. Time will tell I suppose.

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vtcodger
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Re: Points to consider

Trust me on this. If 5g actually gives you more bandwidth, Google will increase the size of their map pages proportionally because they know that you secretly enjoy sitting around waiting for their pages to load.

(I think it's something in the drinking water in Silicon Valley ...).

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Behold, the world's most popular programming language – and it is...wait, er, YAML?!?

vtcodger
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Re: If YAML is a programming language...

Yes spreadsheets are tools that perform data manipulation and transformations including some iterative and statistical operations. Some more elaborate spreadsheets embed traditional programming languages to do heavy lifting -- VB for Excel, Python for OpenOffice. So yes, Excel might qualify as a widely used programming language. So does SQL I suppose.

I find that thought depressing.

Thanks for starting my day off wrong.

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vtcodger
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Re: Whitespace

Python has plenty of brackets () [] {}. They can be, and frequently are nested. And of course they have to be properly matched. It just eliminates a few of the outermost brackets that clutter up other languages.

I'd hate to read the code created by those who object to the use of whitespace to block code.

On second thought, I have -- from time to time -- read code created by those who don't use whitespace for blocking. Figuring it out is not much fun.

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We asked the US military for its 'do not buy' list of Russian, Chinese gear. Surprise: It doesn't exist

vtcodger
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Nonexistent

The Register asked the Department of Defense if anyone cared to elaborate on the criteria for being added to the non-existent list. We've not heard back. ®

Why would The Register expect the criteria for updating a nonexistent list to be anything other than nonexistent?

Seriously, since World War II the US government has had more procurement regulations than anyone can possibly keep track of, much less comply with. As a result, the rules are ignored or are applied more or less randomly. It seems plausible to me that there is, somewhere in the federal bureaucracy, at least one do not buy list. Could be several. All will be assiduously maintained. But since no one knows where to find them, the content will not be consistent and compliance will be spotty.

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Microsoft slips ads into Windows 10 Mail client – then U-turns so hard, it warps fabric of reality

vtcodger
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Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

With every iteration of their free product, features get dropped.

Think of using Windows as being like owning an elderly car in roadsalt country. Every Spring when temperatures rise and salt water attacks the vehicle's joints, a few parts fall off.

Actually, I don't really quite understand why features vanish. It's not like old features increase raw materials cost or some such. Seems to me like the more normal problem is feature bloat. The subset of features one needs and uses slowly gets buried in cruft becoming harder every year to find and use.

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US China-watcher warns against Middle Kingdom tech dominance

vtcodger
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Re: Oh really ?

I'm pretty sure that we had (ultrasonic?) TV remotes in the 1960s, but that was a long time ago and I could be off by a decade. Anyway, they worked and weren't much different from modern remotes from a user POV. And I don't remember when "instant -on" came to TVs. Maybe not until the 1970s. So maybe in the 1960s we had to wait for the TV to warm up -- not much different than waiting for a modern TV to boot. OTOH, modern digital signals take much longer to sync than analog signals did, so channel surfing was faster and easier half a century ago.

But analog signals had poor resolution? Yes, they did. Have you looked at typical TV programming. Why would anyone care much about resolution? And the analog signals propagated better. I need an outdoor antenna and an amplifier to watch "local" stations, I could get a perfectly OK analog signal from on rabbit-ears 20 years ago.

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vtcodger
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The Chinese Century

I think the real problem here is that this is NOT the "American Century". It's going probably to be the "Chinese Century". That's going to be a real shock to the aging schoolyard bullies who dominate America's political right. As well as the crazed collection of establishment stalking horses and single subject fanatics who dominate our political left.

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vtcodger
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Re: Oh really ?

As far as I'm concerned, IoT is a world of badly implemented useless or bad ideas.

badly implemented Sadly, pretty much 100% true.

useless In some cases, yes. I think "products whose utility is vastly overestimated" might be more accurate. There are, I think, use cases for Internet connected locks. But they probably aren't something that we all need.

bad ideas I think maybe they are only bad if they are forced on us whether we want them or not. e.g. I don't want a smart TV. They are hard to use and rarely provide me with any capability that I want or need beyond the channel select/volume controls that we've had since the 1960s.

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Douglas Adams was right, ish... Super-Earth world clocked orbiting 'nearby' Barnard's Star

vtcodger
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Re: Getting a proble there?

What if your vacuum is 100% - meaning: what if you hit something/something hits you at that speed?

It doesn't matter whether you hit it or it hits you. Even a tiny object like a Helium atom is going to have a lot of kinetic energy at relativistic speeds. IIRC Arthur C Clarke put a big block of ice out in front of his probes in "Songs of a Distant Earth" -- which remains about the only well thought out description of interstellar travel while complying with the laws of physics.

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vtcodger
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Re: Getting a probe there?

I suggest you direct your excellent questions to Elon Musk who will provide a collection of facile and only mildly improbable answers as well as an opportunity to invest in his new Barnard or Bust company, a free (after shipping and handling) flamethrower, and a 97% off if you promise to stay over a Saturday night round trip coupon for the Barnard Express that BoB plans to launch in 2027. I suggest that you pass on the flamethrower. It can only get you in trouble. But keep the coupon. It might actually have some value someday although I can't see how.

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Another 3D printer? Oh, stop it, you're killing us. Perhaps literally: Fears over ultrafine dust

vtcodger
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n before g

"formign"

How many times do we have to tell you in before g unless you're talking about gnomes

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Microsoft lobs Windows 10, Server Oct 2018 update at world (minus file-nuking 'feature') after actually doing some testing

vtcodger
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Re: A good update?

"Yeah, we'll see..."

Clippy is reported to be finding your lack of faith disturbing.

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vtcodger
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I used to drop long lists of defects off at the trade shows to the various vendors asking them to fix their software.

That probably made you feel better. And I doubt it did any harm. But did they actually fix anything?

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Just a little heads up: Google is still trying to convince everyone that web apps don't suck

vtcodger
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Re: The browser is the limitation

Just because Google want to develop these API's doesn't mean everyone can suddenly start using them.

Good point. And it's worse than that. Inevitably, every browser will implement the APIs differently when they do implement them. Great. More buggy web sites. Exactly what an internet that barely works on good days doesn't need.

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vtcodger
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I have to ask myself WHY? And the only reason I can come up with is because it's much easier for Google to spy on you if you're using one of its web applications than if you're not.

Web applications are legitimately useful for collaboration. But that's not a very large market. There may be some other reasonable usages, but nothing comes immediately to mind.

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vtcodger
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Re: But surely anything better than an "app" for everything ?

I think physically, keyboards, mice, and decent size screen are going to be with us for a while. But ultimately, in the workplace and before that in the home, the concept of "the desktop" as a dedicated PC capable of doing the heavy lifting is fading away.

Maybe .... sort of ... Little personal computing boxes get more capable every year. And that'll presumably continue. The problem is the User Interface. What good would it be to have "desktop" or mainframe or supercomputer computing capacity in a unit the size of a pea, if I don't have a decent way to communicate with it? And it with me?

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YouTube supremo says vid-streaming-slash-piracy giant can't afford EU's copyright overhaul

vtcodger
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Re: Too hard

"Google is arguing it shouldn't have to obey the law because it is too difficult."

Naw. It's more like a community that decides to ticket/tow illegally parked delivery vehicles being warned by a delivery company that if they start doing so, no one will make deliveries in their community.

Presumably, the EU -- if it stands its ground -- will not get copyright holders paid(more). Instead it'll result in some Europeans using proxy servers/VPNs to view You-Tube and many more no longer viewing the videos. Legally I imagine that either the European clients or the non-European proxy/VPN or both will be breaking the law, but I can't envision it being enforced except maybe selectively.

Personally, I've never thought You-Tube videos of commercial performances were remotely legal. But neither do I think that -- in the very long run -- Copyright laws are workable in most contexts.

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Western Digital: And when I pull the covers off, behold as NAND becomes virtual DRAM

vtcodger
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sounds nifty but complicated

Anybody want to bet that in about four years we'll be frantically loading patches to get around the then recently discovered MEMORYTRICK exploit that allows anybody within six blocks to extract your passwords, encryption keys, PINS and pornography from your virtual memory using nothing more than a crystal set and a sharpened swizzle stick?

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Bruce Schneier: You want real IoT security? Have Uncle Sam start putting boots to asses

vtcodger
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Re: 6 years (and counting) for a fridge

I was curious, so I did some research. The cost of coolant looks to be only a very small part of a rather complex procedure. Assuming R-134A, the Freon to regas a home fridge costs only a few US dollars. BUT you need a good vacuum pump, and soldering equipment, and a new drier unit, and probably a supply of dry Nitrogen gas. AND, you need tools and gauges and plumbing fittings. AND you need to know what you are doing. AND any moisture in the system is likely going to result in a fridge that doesn't cool. It's likely going to take a few hours even if you know what you are about. Many more hours if you don't.

Bottom line. The gassing operation that probably costs the manufacturer less than $10 for parts, materials and labor when the fridge is built is probably going to cost you many hundreds of dollars to replicate if repair is needed. In theory, you can do it yourself for much less money. But it's going to take a lot of time and you're likely going to need some luck.

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Bloke jailed for trying to blow up UK crypto-cash biz after it failed to reset his account password

vtcodger
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Note to self: always have someone else open packages in the middle

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Windows XP? Pfff! Parts of the Royal Navy are running Win ME

vtcodger
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Re: RE: And how do you KEEP it that way? ...

My understanding is that the US Navy at least is possibly the most conservative organization on the face of the planet. Their motto might well be If it isn't broken, don't even think about fixing it On top of which, every ship is uniquely configured and has a plethora of weapons, navigation, climate control. etc systems and subsystems wedged into any corner where space, power, and cooling are available. I doubt they would upgrade Windows in a weapons or navigation subsystem even were upgrades available. Windows XP or MSDOS 6.0 or whatever will go away when, and only when, the ship is in the yards and the entire entity it is running in is replaced for some reason.

Sailors who want to get home safely surely are not going to hook their ride up to the "cloud"

Read Arthur Clarke's "Superiority" to see the reasons why. https://www.baen.com/Chapters/1439133476/1439133476___5.htm

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Guess who's back, back again? China's back, hacking your friends: Beijing targets American biz amid tech tariff tiff

vtcodger
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They're foreign. They must be idiots

My first question would be what, exactly, the Chinese are supposed to be stealing. Knowledge of how to build high speed trains? China has 27000km of HSR trackage. The US has a few hundred km. Same story in many other fields. With a few exceptions -- fighter jet engines, cutting edge semiconductors -- Chinese technology genuinely seems reasonably competitive with the West. If not better.

My feeling -- The folks pushing this story are the 21st century equivalent of the mid 20th Century experts who claimed that Japanese technology was entirely derivative and besides which Japanese had genetically weak eyes that would be ineffective in aerial combat. Turned out that the Mitsubishi A6M ("Zero") was a better fighter than its American/British counterparts and that the Japanese pilots had no trouble at all targeting American, British, and Dutch ships in late 1941.

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Windows 10 Pro goes Home as Microsoft fires up downgrade server

vtcodger
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Re: Really the Home versions of Windows are evil and the price difference etc Home / Pro is evil

Besides which, Microsoft apparently doesn't remember what kind of license you have/had anyway.

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vtcodger
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Re: Just go Linux "Take my Linux ... please!"

"Linux, so good we can't give it away for free."

As opposed to :

"Windows, the OS for those whose life includes insufficient aggravation?"

Personally, I concluded decades ago that I'm not smart enough to use either OS properly. But unix turned out to be easier to tame. At least for me.

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SMBs: We don't want to spoil all of this article, but have you patched, taken away admin rights, made backups yet?

vtcodger
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Red Queens Race

but I doubt things can really be a lot more simpler than they now are.

Well, one could simply unplug the cable connecting their computers to their ISP, fill the port the cable plugs into with quick setting epoxy, and go back to using paper and voice lines for communicating with banks and such. That's old fashioned and quite unstylish as well as genuinely impossible for many businesses. But where it is feasible it dramatically shrinks the attack surface, moots concerns about OS vendor spying, and obviates the need for and risks of dealing with continual questionably well tested OS updates.

The problem as I perceive it is that Computer security for the past two decades has been a Red Queen's race. Run as fast as you can just to stay even. Participating in a red queens race generally is a poor idea if one can opt to sit back and watch. I see no sign that any real progress is being made. If anything, things seem to be getting worse although that might be an artifact of recent laws requiring disclosure of computer breaches in a timely manner.

When (if) things actually look up, it'll be easy enough to harden your system then rejoin the connected world. If you choose to. And note the order. It's important. Harden first. Then connect.

I await the inevitable flood of downvotes. I would point out to the downvoters that if you folks knew what you were talking about, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion.

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Dollar for dollar, crafting cryptocurrency sucks up 'more energy' than mining gold, copper, etc

vtcodger
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Re: Ending in 2140?

"Probably the sensible answer would be to lower the transaction requirements and make more Bitcoins available in future."

In other markets, that is known as watering the stock. Purportedly the term derives from the practice of ranchers inducing their cattle to drink large amounts of water before selling them by weight. The problem is that watering financial stock tends to dilute the value of existing shares and thus is unlikely to be popular with current owners of the cryptocurrency.

On the other hand, it has yet to be demonstrated that owners of cryptocurrency have a whole lot of sense.

(It's my vague understanding that there is actually a provision in bitcoin at least to make mining easier when it becomes excessively difficult. But I may have that all wrong.)

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Foxconn denies it will ship Chinese factory serf, er, workers into America for new plant

vtcodger
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Mushroom

This may well be entertaining

Starting up a factory isn't all that easy. And starting up a factory where all the tooling, training materials, instruction manuals, etc are in Chinese in a place where the number of folks who can read Chinese is likely close to zero is probably going to be a lot harder. My initial thought was that of course Foxconn is going to have to bring in folks from the homeland to get things going. And just to make things harder, this whole thing is highly politicized and a lot of the concept seems kind of nuts. There may be some brilliance hidden in all this somewhere, but it's hard to see where.

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Apple replaces boot-loop watchOS edition with unconnected complications edition

vtcodger
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Re: 176 Mb

Pfaaagh! 176 Mb is only 122 or so floppies worth of code. Barely enough to display "Hello World" given current best practices.

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vtcodger
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Re: A very Apple like bug

Without contesting any of the points made -- they're probably all true to some extent -- how is it possible for makers of really complex equipment like a modern automobile to build products that function at all? I think perhaps there is a bit more to the story than that QA is really difficult.

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GCSE computer science should be exam only, says Ofqual

vtcodger
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Re: In my experience

"the schools teaching computing don't have enough to run the exams"

In my experience, the problem is that a significant fraction of the programming universe lives in a world of constant "progress" where computers are shiny new multicore pentiums (pentia?) connected by IPv6, using gigabit ethernet from a reliable supplier and running the latest version of their favorite programming language on the latest version of their favorite OS. (This is obviously a world with standards that are actually followed, no security issues and few or no budget constraints).

But another fraction lives in a world of hand me down computer equipment, no budget for much of anything and, 10 Mb ethernet connected, if they are lucky, to slow DSL lines. In that world, folks figure that just about any version of C or Python or Perl or HTML is good enough to learn the basics. Which is good because that's all they can realistically provide.

I can imagine that concocting a single test process that can work across that full range is very difficult. Maybe impossible.

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