* Posts by vtcodger

202 posts • joined 13 Sep 2017

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Mobe networks battle to bring comms back after Hurricane Michael smashes US Gulf Coast

vtcodger
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Re: You'd think the Air Force would move the $150 million apiece fighters out of the storm's path

Apparently, there were 55 F-22s stationed at Tyndall AFB. 33 were flown out to Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, OH. The rest apparently were not flightworthy for one reason or another. It's not surprising that some couldn't be flown. It's probably not prudent to hastily slap an engine or landing gear back into a $150,000,000 airframe that is under repair. But I'm a bit surprised at the number they couldn't fly or chose not to fly.

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vtcodger
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Amen, We've lived with underground utilities for 25 years and have some experience with outages -- Power (4 times - one unknown, 1 "backhoe", 2 due to inadequate repair of the backhoe damage), Cable TV (1 - corrosion, 1 due to snowplow plowing above ground distribution box), Telephone (2 -backhoe), Natural Gas (0 thankfully), Water (several due to breaks in the distribution piping that required shutting down water to the neighborhood). Much better than overhead wiring, but repair is MUCH more difficult.

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Amazon's sexist AI recruiter, Nvidia gets busy, Waymo cars rack up 10 million road miles

vtcodger
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I'm not so worried about Waymo's customers

Unlike some other companies, Waymo's approach to autonomous vehicles seems serious and responsible. I wouldn't be surprised that their customers are every bit as safe in a Waymo driven car as a car driven by the average human driver. Maybe more so. What I am concerned about is collateral damage to pedestrians, pets, objects is situations that don't quite fit the actual and simulated situations that Waymo has tested. I doubt a really comprehensive test suite is possible no matter how sincere and skilled Waymo's testers are.

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Yale Weds: Just some system maintenance, nothing to worry about. Yale Thurs: Nobody's smart alarm app works

vtcodger
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Re: PJ Morgan Rollback

"have a key ..."

A key? How 20th century. How about a 18th century solution -- a brick or cobble through the window?

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Now this might be going out on a limb, but here's how a branch.io bug left '685 million' netizens open to website hacks

vtcodger
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"the security issue was actually within a toolkit, called branch.io, that tracks website and app users to figure out where they've come from,"

And this is needed because without it users might retain some small degree of anonymity?

Anybody besides me developing an uneasy feeling that this whole internet thing is going to end badly?

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The Obama-era cyber détente with China was nice, wasn't it? Yeah well it's obviously over now

vtcodger
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Re: China

It's my impression -- perhaps incorrect -- that the Chinese have a high opinion of profits as well.

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Russian rocket goes BOOM again – this time with a crew on it

vtcodger
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"What are the downsides to abandoning the ISS aside from a gap in the science data?"

Probably no or minimal downsides. Those with long memories may recall that Skylab in the 1970s was a manned orbiting station that was occupied for short periods to perform experiments, but was left unmanned much of the time. No particular reason -- other than the fact that a permanent crew is presumably assumed in planning -- that the ISS couldn't operate in the same mode. Temporary destaffing is probably -- like most things involving humans in space -- a political decision that may not involve a lot of logic.

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I find your lack of faith disturbing, IBM: Big Blue fires photon torpedo at Pentagon JEDI cloud contract

vtcodger
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"But the beltway bandits are pulling out all of the stops to kill the contract or force multiple awards."

Exactly. In everyday English, IBM's complaint is that one kid gets the whole humongous pie and they are pretty sure that kid won't be them.

The important question for taxpayers incidentally isn't who should get the pie. It is, "Is this job actually doable?" If it isn't it'll cost a fortune and stretch out for a decade or three no matter who gets the contract.

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Microsoft deletes deleterious file deletion bug from Windows 10 October 2018 Update

vtcodger
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Re: Bad user!

"I just ignore 'My Documents'"

Good news then. Now you can use it again if you choose. Most likely, it's empty.

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vtcodger
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Re: *** Be careful *** Also new in 1809, changes to Disk Cleanup Tool,...

A different take:

Computer operating systems -- all of them -- are very complex and nearly impossible for most folks to administer.

What Microsoft seems to be trying to do -- automate system administration such that normal users don't have to worry about it -- is entirely reasonable and worthy of financial reward. Sadly, what they are trying to do is also extremely difficult. And they don't seem to be doing it very well at all.

Screwing up system administration is easy and in Linux, it's free. Who needs to pay Microsoft to lose their files?

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World's largest CCTV maker leaves at least 9 million cameras open to public viewing

vtcodger
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Tedium

Not that I'm in favor of insecure CCTV cameras, but have you folks ever spent any time actually looking at the output of a security camera? Typically it makes watching grass grow look exciting.

I submit that for the vast majority of CCTV cameras, security simply isn't a reasonable concern. No one cares and no one should care.

For too many of the fraction where securing is desirable, the toolkit for securing them is going to be utterly incomprehensible to the folks doing the installation. That seems to me at least as big a problem as shipping an insecure product.

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US may have by far the world's biggest military budget but it's not showing in security

vtcodger
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Re: Patching strategy

Can't say for sure, but based on my limited experience, the last thing most high ranking officers want is more problems. They are quite a conservative lot and their jobs come with more sufficient problems. The constant (often broken) updates that IT folks think of as necessary improvements probably look to them more like aggravation than assistance.

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vtcodger
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Re: How long have processors *connected* to a network been part of miltiary systems?

Well, yes ... But there are DOD systems and there are DOD systems. I'm hampered by not having worked with that stuff for decades, but I doubt it's changed all that much. So, A few points:

1. Access to military systems is rather tightly constrained. Try walking onto the nearest military base without paper orders, or some other valid reason for being there.

2. Combat systems are unlikely to be connected to the Internet. That'd break rules about security. And they are, of necessity, designed to operate in an environment with limited and noisy communications.

3. Many military systems require extensive training to use them. That doesn't preclude hacking I suppose, but it makes it a lot more complicated.

4. There are, or least used to be, elaborate rules for dealing with classified data. Basically, you can freely introduce unclassified data into a classified environment, but any data generated in a classified environment has to be rigorously scrutinized before it can be released into an unclassified environment. Clearly, you can't just plug a dsl modem or whatever into a classified system.

5. There is, I'm told, a secure equivalent to the internet. I know nothing at all about it.

6. Non-combat systems -- personnel management, etc probably are connected to the internet and presumably have all the problems they would experience in a similar business environment. And maybe some additional problems.

BTW, I read the report. I don't think it's bad, deficient, or inaccurate. But I found it very difficult to relate it to what I saw in the three decades I spent working with US military software. The one thing that did resonate was a concern about security problems with the software development and maintenance environment. Likely there are real problems there.

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Microsoft yanks the document-destroying Windows 10 October 2018 Update

vtcodger
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I wouldn't be at all surprised that the folks who did the update told their managers what would probably happen and were told they were paid to code, not to be system architects.

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vtcodger
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Re: find out what the recovery process is going to be

It's UNDER the ANYKEY. Just lift the ANY key up and it'll be there.

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First it came for your desktop, now Windows 10 1809 is coming for your Things

vtcodger
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Re: Is anyone actually using this?

"I understand it is indeed widely used, and so was its predecessor Windows CE."

Windows CE was a complete and utter failure in the mobile market. When last seen its mobile market share was said to be way less than 1% Why would one expect it and its progeny to do better in the embedded junk market where presumably even less is demanded of the OS?

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vtcodger
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Re: Is anyone actually using this?

"Windows? Small, fast, compact, embeddable ..."

Windows 3 maybe. Three decade downhill slope from there on the simple elegance front. But I suppose elegance isn't everything.

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The secret history of Apple's Stacks

vtcodger
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Workspaces

How do Stacks/Piles/Fences compare to Workspaces -- which Unix/X-Windows has had for about three decades? Personally, I think I'd find using a PC without workspaces (virtual desktops) or something similar to be extremely confining.

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Uncle Sam gives itself the right to shoot down any drone, anywhere, any time, any how

vtcodger
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"US Government's stance: Shoot now, ask questions later."

The intent is probably entirely reasonable. There have, for example, been documented instances of drones unintentionally preventing water tankers from dumping water on wildfires. It's a drone. Who exactly does on ask questions to? Shooting the silly thing(s) down -- likely easier said than done -- seems pretty reasonable if the drone constitutes a significant public nuisance.

Whether the regulation will be abused? Who knows?

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California cracks down on Internet of Crap passwords with new law to stop the botnets

vtcodger
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Unless your household heating is exceptionally good and you ignore the pleas of authorities to turn the heat down at night, the middle of the night is likely to be the coldest part of the "day". Cold batteries generate less voltage than warmer ones. The warning beeps are probably based on battery voltage.

Obviously, what you need is an internet connected battery warmer in each of your smoke detectors. And apparently they need a password and regular software updates. Fortunately, the geniuses in Silicon Valley will probably solve this challenging problem Perhaps they will come up with an IOT smoke detector that can be programmed to only beep when no one is around to be bothered by it.

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vtcodger
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IPV6?

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vtcodger
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Internet connected toothbrush? Of course it's a bizarre idea. But apparently you actually can buy one for about $200. And if I try, I can come up with a very few somewhat legitimate use cases. Maybe a controlling mother making sure her kid brushes his/her teeth (or at least turns the gizmo on) while at summer camp.

Overall, with the exception of routers, some entertainment devices, and surveillance cameras, I think most of this junk is probably useless or worse. But apparently my (and your) opinions don't count. It's going to be made, touted, and possibly even actually purchased.

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vtcodger
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Given that your IOT connected toothbrush likely has a rather limited UI -- one button -- entering a password may be challenging. Changing that password, even more challenging.

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vtcodger
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Re: Where's the master list of passwords kept ?

Password is the same as the serial number.

Bet on it.

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Microsoft gets ready to kill Skype Classic once again: 'This time we mean it'

vtcodger
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"It's easy to blame GDPR. What next? Blame Brexit?"

What the hell, blame any one of Hillary Clinton, Fake News, Iran, Russia, millenials ... your choice.

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Why are sat-nav walking directions always so hopeless?

vtcodger
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Re: Too many apps

Those of us who live elsewhere usually use the sun as a reference. But I suppose you work with what you have. I take it that in England, that's the wind.

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US JEDI military cloud network is so high-tech, bidders will have to submit their proposals by hand, on DVD

vtcodger
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Rules and Regulations

It's been many decades since I worked on a US government proposal. But back in the day, even the most modest proposal had to be delivered in physical form to a specific place by a specific time. If any portion was classified it would have had to be handled according to appropriate rules -- double wrapped, properly marked on the inner wrapper, delivered by hand or registered mail, hand receipted so that a security audit of the submitter could establish where the numbered copy went. And it would have had to be accompanied by half an inch of properly completed forms attesting that if granted the contract the submitter would fully comply with thousands of health, safety, workplace policy regulations; wouldn't discriminate in employment, wouldn't pollute the environment, would use no product produced in Cuba or North Korea, etc,etc,etc.

DVD sounds to me like a step forward.

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Amazon Alexa outage: Voice-activated devices are down in UK and beyond

vtcodger
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Happy

Alexa deserves a break

My God. Can't the poor, overworked woman take a few hours off now and then? Maybe we could arrange for Alexa to work a 164 hour week. And bring Clippy in for four hours on Sunday afternoons.

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Cookie clutter: Chrome saves Google cookies from cookie jar purges

vtcodger
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"Do they think...?"

Most likely thing is that they don't think at all. I would guess that every personal computing device at Google is permanently logged into a wide variety of Google services. It'd be aggravating if they had to log back in constantly, so they don't clear their own cookies. The notion that folks outside of Google might not want to be logged into all that stuff permanently probably never crosses their minds. That's the way large organizations tend to work.

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vtcodger
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"Why do people still use Chrome?"

Because some websites won't work right with other browsers? I don't use chrome myself, and put up with a lot of websites not working very well although I do use a lot more profanity than I used to. My perception is that between security issues, javascript, vendor misbehavior, government misbehavior, and miscellaneous lunacy, the Internet is rather closer to total chaos than most folks realize. But maybe I'm wrong. I am sometime.

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Some credential-stuffing botnets don't care about being noticed any more

vtcodger
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Re: Maybe just

Look folks. I really don't care about securing my password for Slashdot, The Register, or a multitude of other non-financial sites. Neither do many (I suspect most) other users. The password/account logic is imposed by the sites for their convenience, not mine. For them I reuse the same password within the limits of obscure and often conflicting length and content rules So does my wife, my kids, and (I suspect) damn near everyone.

Fifty plus years of computer work tell me that attempting to educate users or to force them to do things your way is pretty much a complete waste of time. I really believe that "crap" and reused passwords are part of the universe we live in. They aren't going away.

User authentication is a huge problem. It's a problem that will, I think, quite likely eventually limit the utility of the Internet. Basically, the problem is that a website that is actually secure -- for example the US treasurydirect.gov -- is going to be horribly difficult to access and is likely to have other problems as when multiple individuals need to access an account.

Do I have an answer? Nope. If I did, I'd be working on a business plan, not posting here.

But I do think you folks should recognize that passwords don't work very well and, as far as I can see, probably can never be made to work much better than they do now.

(Interestingly, one organization that I actually need to interface with has a website that is perpetually broken in one way or another, but has something I'd thought to be unlikely -- an automated phone system that actually works. FWIW, It authenticates me by date of birth and postal code. Not great from a security point of view, but not awful, and better, considering the medium and all, than passwords).

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Fallover Friday: NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank go TITSUP*

vtcodger
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Re: Its really not that difficult.

Sadly, even very simple, clearly defined, systems can be quite difficult to understand. Check out this example. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feynman_sprinkler Large collections of digital logic are rarely either simple or clearly defined,

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You're alone in a room with the Windows 10 out-of-the-box apps. What do you do?

vtcodger
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"You're alone in a room with the Windows 10 out-of-the-box apps. What do you do?"

Find the host/hostess, mumble something about lovely party, but you have a prior commitment, and leave?

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Buried in the hype, one little detail: Amazon's Alexa-on-a-chip could steal smart home market

vtcodger
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Re: I would refuse to buy ANYTHING with built in Alexa

"I'm sure nothing bad would happen if someone was able to hack into my microwave and make it turn on and stay on with nothing in it."

Well, I CAN attest that there was a thermal fuse in ours that blew after the potato that I'd intended to cook for 6 minutes was about 15 minutes into its conversion to charcoal. (Extra zero on the cook time.) But the oven was really never quite the same even after I replaced the fuse.

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Scottish brewery recovers from ransomware attack

vtcodger
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Re: offsite backup

All really good advice. But be aware that, as with many other things, what's simple in concept may not be so simple in practice. For example, it'd take a good part of a week to stash a copy of my PC hard drive to the "cloud" over my suburban US DSL line. And I don't have any video data. Folks (including businesses) in neighboring towns have even slower connections BTW. Moreover, tying up the home data pipe with a massive, days long, upload is likely to annoy the other folks that reside here. Therefore my home system offsite backup is on a usb stick in the spare tire well of my car. THAT only takes about five hours to build

One very likely wants to encrypt offsite data. Easy enough, if one does something like tar-compress-encrypt on high level directories. Why tar? Because I really don't want to deal with data recovery from a file system with tens of thousands of files with obsfucated names. Rsync isn't going to work very well. Solvable? Yes, I think. I haven't actually tried to integrate rsync into the workflow. Easy? Not so much I'm pretty sure.

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vtcodger
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Re: Customer caught

Also, an offsite backup wouldn't be a bad idea. Buildings do burn down or washed away. Offsite backup is likely to be a PITA to do, so it may only get done weekly or monthly. But losing only a few weeks worth of data will probably look like a blessing when confronted with the loss of all the configuration information and data that the company owned other than what can be recovered from surviving scraps of paper and a random selection of files and eMails from personal machines.

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Fat chance: Cholesterol leads boffins to discover world's oldest animal fossil – 558m years old

vtcodger
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Re: Just one thing I don't understand...

"how the hell did he know where to look?"

Typically, one would look at the talus as the base of the cliff for clues as to what sort of fossils (if any) are exposed in the cliff. If something promising is found, one would try to figure out which layer it came from. In this case, I'd guess they found nicely preserved Ediacarian fossils, or fragments thereof at the base of the cliff, figured out which exposed bed was the source, then rappelled down the cliff to mine fresh, unweathered material. That's only a guess.

Paleontology can be a rigorous and perhaps at times somewhat dangerous avocation.

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HP Ink should cough up $1.5m for bricking printers using unofficial cartridges – lawsuit

vtcodger
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Re: My printer

My God man. Who told you our secret ink formula? You can expect to be hearing from our attorneys.

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30-up: You know what? Those really weren't the days

vtcodger
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Re: Yellow and blue

Actually, we old timers punched cards. ... Fade to scene of a dozen gaijin and Japanese programmers frantically moving hundreds of boxes of punched cards from computer room floor to tables as typhoon driven floodwaters slowly infiltrate computer center. Yes, that happened.

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vtcodger
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MY thanks to Ms Stob

I'd like to thank Ms Stob for making me realize that I've been avoiding drag and drop for three decades. Didn't like it in 1988 and don't like it now. I have no idea why.

And I'd also like to thank her for letting me know that I'm not the only one who finds git to be baffling. Not that I think get is bad or evil. I just don't grok it. Fortuitously RCS is sufficient for my needs.

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Flying to Mars will be so rad, dude: Year-long trip may dump 60% lifetime dose of radiation on you

vtcodger
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Re: Radiation

Radiation is far from the only problem. I think provisioning a trip that takes many months with no hope of resupply may be a far greater issue. Back in the days of exploration, ships carried some hand tools, nails, rope, canvas, metal parts, and figured they could find food, water and wood for repairs along the way and make/improvise anything they needed. They didn't always come home.

An interplanetary vessel is going to include huge quantities of sophisticated electronics, composite materials, etc, etc, etc. Fixing anything that breaks en route is likely to be a major challenge. And due to the complexity of providing food, air, and water to the astronauts, there is going to be lots that might need fixing. A one or two year trip to Mars is going to be a far more complex task than a quick round trip to the Moon.

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Microsoft: Like the Borg, we want to absorb all the world's biz computers

vtcodger
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Re: I have just one question

Perhaps I'm misreading it, but I think the vision is that you send Microsoft a (whopping great) check every month and every three years or so a bunch of big boxes shows up on your doorstep. You open them, take the computers therein to your desks/counters/workstations, unplug the old computer, plug the new one in (along with the network, keyboard, mouse) and turn the power on. In a week or three, a truck shows up to collect the boxes that now contain your old computers and carts them off to Niceragua where they are given away to schools. Microsoft handles ALL the details for you.

Perhaps I misunderstand.

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vtcodger
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Re: Testing

"And how exactly would the customers applications be tested to ensure that the patches work before they nuke the entire organisation ?"

I don't think this is targeted at users who have significant local applications. The target audience is probably businesses that have relatively simple needs that can be met by Windows, Office and maybe a select few business tools from associated vendors who work hand in glove with Microsoft.

**I** wouldn't touch this unless and until it's been in place for about a decade and has a vast numbers of actual, satisfied users. I don't expect it to play out that way because it requires MSFT to do a really difficult job really well. They aren't stupid, but I doubt they are smart enough to make this work. I doubt anyone is smart enough to make it work.

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NUUO, do not want! CCTV webcams can be hacked to spy on you

vtcodger
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Re: CCTV?

While someone might buy CCTV cameras to monitor day to day activity -- to detect shoplifting for example -- they might also buy them to monitor for vandalism, theft, etc when no one is around. That implies sending the signal to somebody who will watch for suspicious activity in the wee hours of the morning. Some of these things are probably going to be on the internet. Conceptually, there should be a properly configured firewall between the camera and a bored hacker in Budapest. But in practice a lot of them won't have firewalls at all, and some that do will have misconfigured firewalls.

What to do about that situation ... I haven't the slightest. And neither, really, does anyone else.

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Microsoft pulls plug on IPv6-only Wi-Fi network over borked VPN fears

vtcodger
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Re: Why do we need IPv6

"But do you really think we should have left our grandchildren with a network limited to 4 billion addresses"

Actually, given the current state of communications security, that's exactly what I think. I do NOT want to spend my life defanging badly designed household utensils that probably shouldn't have a network interface in the first place. It's apparently only a matter of time before my can openers won't open cans if they aren't connected to a network. IPv4 at least makes it hard for them to call their maker and very hard for their maker to cold call them. I think that's good, not bad.

I also think that communications security is an enormously difficult problem. The current "solutions" are laughable. AFAICS, they mostly just randomly break stuff. I do not expect security to improve very quickly.

I will give you that the IPv4 addresses are poorly allocated and I'd support a well thought out and realistically implemented program of yanking back portions of the overly generous initial block allocations and making them available to latecomers.

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vtcodger
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"Really? I never heard of 'Lasse Haugen' before. Why should I, or anyone else, give a damn about his opinion?"

Indeed, I'm getting on in years and my memory is not what it once was, but I really can't recall when it was that I asked Mr Haugen for advice about how to configure my computer. Or advice on anything else for that matter.

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vtcodger
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Two questions if I may

"And yes, yes, yes, before you point it out, The Register is still not IPv6 compatible either. We're working on it. Really. "

1. Why are you working on it? What benefit(s) do you expect?

2. If IPv6 is such an easy, natural option, what's preventing the Register from rolling it out tomorrow?

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Leeds hospital launches campaign to 'axe the fax'

vtcodger
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Re: @vtcodger

You're correct, it's twisted pair all the way to the house. I know because the street construction guys severed it -- twice -- while rebuilding the street a couple of years ago. I had reason to look into how the US POTS telephone network works once. Robbed Bit Signaling and stuff like that. I'm amazed that the system works at all, much less well. But for the most part if does seem to work pretty well except for some pathological cases.

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Boffins ask for £338m to fund quantum research. UK.gov: Here's £80m

vtcodger
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Fortunately we'r talking quantum here.

Surely there is some sort of quantum effect that allows one pound to do the work of four?

Let's see, if we define quantum size as 500M pounds isn't 80M exactly the same as 338M?

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vtcodger
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"My in project experience is that pork barrels are not found in the US alone."

Maybe now, but Trump's gonna fix that.

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