* Posts by John Savard

1775 posts • joined 18 Sep 2007

China crams spyware on phones in Muslim-majority province

John Savard
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Obvious Comment

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. This, therefore, is a violation of that portion of the Eternal Law of God as embodied in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America among other places in the laws of other civilized and democratic nations.

It's a pity China has nuclear weapons, as it is clearly overdue for regime change.

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I've got a verbal govt contract for Hyperloop, claims His Muskiness

John Savard
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Re: Please complete this sentence Elon:

...the paper it's written on.

Groucho Marx

I was wondering if someone would remember it, and I see it's in the first post!

EDIT: It turns out my memory is wrong. The quote is attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, but in fact, he said of a trustworthy colleague that "His verbal contract is worth more than the paper it's written on", which later got garbled into the incorrect quote.

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China's censorship cyber-missiles shoot down pics flying through WhatsApp, chat apps

John Savard
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The simple solution is to ban all countries with human rights issues, political prisoners, political press censorship, and so on, from the Internet and from international trade. Cut them off from access to modern technology.

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Hey, remember that monkey selfie copyright drama a few years ago? Get this – It's just hit the US appeals courts

John Savard
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Obvious

It should, of course, be an open and shut case; only the human photographer can hold the copyright. A monkey pressing the shutter release button, for legal purposes, should be precisely equivalent to the shutter release having been triggered by a gust of wind or a falling leaf.

And, indeed, the principle that animals are part of nature, while humans are accountable for their actions, and have rights, and are part of the social and political sphere, is well-established in our laws as well as our culture and our religious faiths.

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An AI can replace what a world leader said in his video-taped speech. This will end well. Not

John Savard
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Blame Disney

After all, creating a younger Carrie Fisher by means of CGI - and a living Peter Cushing - is likely to have inspired these researchers to recognize that the technology to do this kind of thing was now available!

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Web inventor Sir Tim sizes up handcuffs for his creation – and world has 2 weeks to appeal

John Savard
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A Thought

It's so much easier to copy a digital file than a physical book that I can't see how we can get to a world without DRM.

Sure, Hollywood could change its business model. There is a lot of amateur content available on the Internet the creators of which saw no need to paywall. But a lot of people seem to prefer the stuff that was produced with a big budget and hyped with an expensive advertising campaign, many of them enough to pay for it.

The ethical response should be clear. In the case of computer software, instead of more pirated copies of Microsoft BASIC... we have Linux.

Look at the fan-made videos based on Star Trek. If people can do that, going the whole nine yards, and making up stories about one's own characters... isn't that much harder. We've already got lots of webcomics online.

The movie and recording industries exist, and while they may be unreasonable in many ways, their belief that they need DRM to survive is not unreasonable. I don't think that one can win a fight to tell them they can't have it. But maybe it's time for a movement to harness the creative energy that's already out there in amateur and fan-made work into a movement similar to the open-source software movement that gives people the option of ignoring Hollywood, the same way that Linux lets them ignore Microsoft.

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Behind the scenes of Slovaks' fight to liberate their .sk domain

John Savard
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Remember Tuvalu

I think it's entirely understandable that the people of Slovakia don't want to see the .sk domain ending up like the .tv domain - owned by a private company that sells domains within it at high prices to people who want to make web sites related to television or providing streaming video. They want to be sure that they can, at reasonable prices, register their own sites ending in "sk" just like people in Britain can do so with sites ending in "uk" or people in Canada can do so with sites ending in "ca".

It's not at all clear to me from the article if their worries are justified, or if the controversy is due to a false campaign of hysteria aimed at an updated system of domain registration that is essentially the same as what we have now in Canada or the United Kingdom since the Internet became too big to be an academic preserve. The article takes the latter position, but I didn't see enough of the crucial facts in it to tell if its conclusions are valid.

Because of that, I'm left with the impression - which may be unfair and mistaken - that the article was put together in a rush to support a particular pro-free-enterprise ideological world view. If you want to win converts, if you want to be respected as a trustworthy source, you have to do a more thorough job of assembling and presenting your facts.

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Tremble in fear, America, as Daesh-bags scrawl cyber-graffiti on .gov webpages no one visits

John Savard
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Concern, if not panic, is warranted

You never know. Next time, they might modify the site so that it injects ransomware into people's computers.

Sites should be designed so that they can not be hacked. Period. Ever.

These sites were not so designed. That mistake should not be repeated.

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Microsoft admits to disabling third-party antivirus code if Win 10 doesn't like it

John Savard
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Re: '34 years of development - Windows 10 is the result'

It certainly is true that if any new operating system is going to supplant Windows, it would have to be a new standard. One that third-party software developers can write software for.

And Linux isn't a standard when there are so many different distros. Can a binary run under Linux?

There's Linux for the x86 and for the ARM. There's Gnome and KDE.

In fact, though, one can assume that x86 is the "standard", and, as well, currently most modern applications only need some features from either Gnome or KDE that aren't in the basic Linux operating system itself. So if those two desktop environments could be unified, a common standard that Linux distros could support could be achieved.

Possibly BSD rather than Linux should be the basis for a "new standard", since one thing it will really need is good security.

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Software dev bombshell: Programmers who use spaces earn MORE than those who use tabs

John Savard
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Re: Of course there's a right answer!

It is true that if you tried embedding a tab character in a program on punched cards, you would have to manually overpunch the 12-5-9 combination.

But an 029 card punch does have the equivalent of a tab key. You just have to wrap a special punched card around that little drum behind the door with a window in it, putting holes where you want the tab stops, and press... what was it called, the "field skip" key? Ah, just "skip". And you would use "mult pch" to get a 12-5-9.

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John Savard
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Illegal Characters

I don't know about the computers you use, but just try and put a card with a 12-5-9 punch in it in a FORTRAN IV deck, and see what happens!

I realize these newfangled C compilers running under that Unix operating system recognize the ASCII control character "tab" as a form of whitespace, but this has not always been the case historically.

Even at the present time, if one has code with embedded tab characters, one has to be sure that the text editor one uses with such code has been told to present a tab as the right number of spaces so that the code will look normal. Naturally, of course, that is not a problem if one only ever uses the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that came with the compiler, or some third-party one specifically intended for such use.

Come to think of this, the pay disparity may be explained by this. Programmers fresh out of school, who use only the software that holds their hands while they program, are paid less than the crusty old veterans who adopt conservative practices that will allow them to get work done even if all they have is a command line or a card punch!

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EPYC leak! No, it's better than celeb noodz: AMD's forthcoming server CPU

John Savard
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Can AMD be bought?

If a purchase of AMD by another organization would not void the agreement under which AMD is allowed to use Intel patents, I would be inclined to suggest IBM. In fact, if IBM, AMD, and Apple were combined under a single ownership, the resulting firm might have a chance of holding its own against the Wintel duopoly.

AMD would make x86 server, laptop, and desktop chips. And offer the same technology in alternate SKUs with the PowerPC and z/Architecture instruction sets instead, as instruction decoding makes up a small part of a CPU. Presto, no longer the problem that forced Apple to move to the x86, and so the reborn Amigas could safely stay with the PowerPC.

Apple would have management that made sense, instead of emphasizing the "insane" part of "insanely great". However, the iOS part, as opposed to the Macintosh, should be left in a successful separate company, as the fit with IBM's core business would not be a good one.

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Uber sued after digging up medical records of woman raped by driver

John Savard
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Odd

Obtained medical records? Why isn't he being extradited to India for criminal prosecution there?

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Five Eyes nations stare menacingly at tech biz and its encryption

John Savard
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Phrased Correctly

Why, it is true that the privacy of a terrorist is of no importance when set against public safety.

Now, if they could find a way to take away the privacy of terrorists without taking it away from everyone else, there would be no problem.

Having police who can be trusted tapping phone lines does not seem to me like a terrible problem in itself. Generally speaking, in democratic nations, the police have had a good record of not using the ability to do insider trading, steal credit card numbers, engage in blackmail or voyeurism, and so on; they really have been just using bugs and taps to find real criminals.

The problem with encryption restrictions, though, is that to enforce them one limits what people can do with their own computers - and they make people more vulnerable to criminals doing eavesdropping. The thing to do is find other ways to address terrorism.

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Silicon Graphics' IRIX and Magic Desktop return as Linux desktop

John Savard
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Screenshot

The screenshot looks like plain old fvwm.

I wonder if it comes with a Fortran 90 compiler that's better in some way than the two open-source ones currently available.

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Afrinic shuts down IP address shutdown over internet shutdowns

John Savard
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Obvious Cause

Obviously, we wouldn't have this sort of problem if IP addresses in Africa were allocated somewhere quite beyond the reach of African governments, such as in the United States or Britain.

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Intel to Qualcomm and Microsoft: Nice x86 emulation you've got there, shame if it got sued into oblivion

John Savard
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Briar Patch

It is true that legacy x86 software is one of the things that makes Windows so attractive, compared to Linux or the Macintosh.

But Microsoft also wants to encourage people to sell applications through the Windows Store, and to write them in managed code for the new post-Windows 8 interface formerly known as Metro.

So if Intel manages to hobble x86 emulation on Windows for ARM (cases concerning z/Architecture emulation on the Itanium come to mind as a precedent) this may not be a total disaster for Microsoft.

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When can real-world laws invade augmented reality fantasies? A trial in Milwaukee will decide

John Savard
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My take

While the content of virtual reality games can and should enjoy First Amendment protection, wandering around a public place with your nose stuck in a smartphone or tablet, at the risk of bumping into people, constitutes action, not speech, and is properly subject to regulation.

That the kind of regulations proposed could indeed make VR gaming of the type seen in Pokemon Go impossible may indicate that they're unreasonably onerous, but that is an area where quite rightly the courts are loath to second-guess legislators.

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The internet may well be the root cause of today's problems… but not in the way you think

John Savard
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Thoughtful

This is indeed a very thoughtful article about a serious problem. The Internet does help people isolate themselves from reality, by listening only to the views of the like-minded.

One could jest that obviously we need to get people watching TV instead. The television licence fee that Britain has obviously should be abolished to help that along.

As for government finances and personal finances: paper money is like a cheque; what corresponds to real money for a government is foreign exchange - or gold. Our current treaties for encouraging international trade make it hard for governments to prevent the nation from spending more than it earns except by contracting the economy and throwing people out of work.

If money good for buying imported articles had to be counted separately, you could stimulate the domestic economy no end, and keep everyone employed, without endangering the balance of payments. This system has even been tried successfully on occasion, although it does come with its own set of problems.

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Hotel guest goes broke after booking software gremlin makes her pay for strangers' rooms

John Savard
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Signatures

There is a simple way to prevent things like this from ever happening.

For the bank to take money out of her account, and give it to the hotel, it should have required that the transaction be authorized by her.

So when she uses her bank card to pay for her room for a day, a signature is uttered by her card for that specific transaction. And only she can make her bank card utter a signature, so there is absolutely nothing the software in the hotel can do to generate any additional transactions on her account.

Apparently, instead, the bank is actually trusting a merchant who can merely identify a card holder to take as much money as it likes from that card holder's account. That should be regarded as daft, even if most merchants do have large investments that they protect by being honest.

Of course, that would eliminate credit cards functioning as damage deposits and the like, but we got along well enough before there were credit cards.

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Trident nuke subs are hackable, thunders Wikipedia-based report

John Savard
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Re: 100% speculation, fiction and bullshit

I'm glad to hear that they are taking... basic elementary precautions. Hopefully, they are also doing a lot more, in addition to what you have described, as well. Then we could all sleep well at nights.

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John Savard
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Quite right, but...

While the report in question says nothing new, it actually does make a valid point. While the computers on board those submarines can't be hacked directly, they are connected, when they are maintained when the submarines are in port, apparently to ordinary Windows-based x86 computers that are even connected to the Internet. If that is indeed the case, there is at least a potential for an attack.

The maintenance computers ought not to be connected to the Internet. And they should be running some other operating system besides Windows.

But that's just a first step. Obviously, it's not a panacea is what they're doing is installing updates... delivered to them by memory stick from another computer that is connected to the Internet, to get it from the people who wrote them, also on Internet-connected computers. Even if those computers were running Linux instead of Windows, that's no guarantee.

What to do? And memory sticks can be hacked. Develop the software on computers with no Internet connection, and ship the updates by burning DVD-ROMs?

I think one compromise can be safely made. Put encrypted files on the DVD-ROMs, then use an ordinary computer on the Internet to send those from where the software is written to where the submarines are. Of course, if the receiving computer is hacked, even though the encrypted files can't be tampered with, the DVD-ROMs could be poisoned somehow.

However, presumably a computer running a hardened version of BSD and used for maintaining nuclear submarines will have autoplay turned off.

Still, maybe a long malformed file name could exploit some vulnerability, so that's not a complete panacea, but perhaps other precautions are possible.

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Apple gives world ... umm ... not much new actually

John Savard
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I Was Impressed

I guess the old adage about a pessimist always having pleasant surprises applies here.

Given past performance, I was expecting something almost completely ho-hum. Instead, Apple announced significantly improved and updated hardware for most, if not all, of its product lines. The Macintosh will once again be up-to-date instead of sadly out-of-date.

Of course, exciting new products would be better. For me, though, it would be even better if Apple stopped being Apple (as if that's going to happen) and offered far more choice and upgrade options. So you could choose the CPU and the size of the monitor independently, and add of-the-shelf RAM whenever you felt like. Oh, and bring back OS 9 PPC and 68k emulation as a standard feature for new computer purchasers, while you're at it.

That would make a difference. A touch screen? That doesn't begin to get me excited.

Since that won't happen, even if Apple had decided to surprise people by switching to, say, the AMD Threadripper, I still wouldn't have been motivated to consider buying their products. Regarding, as I do, Apple as a lost cause, I am no judge of whether a WWDC is exciting or lacklustre.

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The hold is filled with storage news! Grab a bucket and BAIL

John Savard
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Infiniswap

What, nothing about Infiniswap, that now makes it practical for nodes in a supercomputing cluster to use the unused memory in other nodes as a fast swap file (if I understood the article correctly)?

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‪WannaCry‬pt ransomware note likely written by Google Translate-using Chinese speakers

John Savard
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The Dragnet Closes

Well, at least this seems to let North Korea off the hook.

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UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

John Savard
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Neither Facebook nor Google is the NSA. If I put stuff on my Facebook page, obviously Facebook has to be able to display it on that page in a decrypted manner. A smartphone needs a backdoor for the government to read everything in it. A social media site doesn't.

Of course, that's probably just my failure to understand the issues discussed in this article.

I think it is reasonable for the government to prohibit Internet businesses from making it convenient for jihadis to communicate covertly, at least if they're handling messages in cleartext. Of course banning people from encrypting their own communications is intrusive legislation to be avoided; but it's not clear that anyone is actually proposing that all E-mail services scan every E-mail to ensure no encrypted text has been cut and pasted into E-mails, or anything like that.

Facebook doesn't supply encryption products, even if it might encrypt data for other people. Anyone who expects a third party that encrypts data for others to keep it secret from police investigations - or even for them to insist on a warrant before handing it over - is not only unrealistic, but wrongheaded. Companies, as good citizens, should be eager to help find terrorists or pedophiles or whatever.

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Supreme Court closes court-shopping loophole for patent trolls

John Savard
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This raises a good point. Since those companies can still be sued in the U.S., any foreign country wishing to export its products to the U.S. will still have to run the East Texas gauntlet. Soon, Americans will have to buy smartphones, laptops, and other high-tech gear that is made in America only! So Donald Trump will be able to say that he has created a huge number of jobs in America.

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Kill Google AMP before it KILLS the web

John Savard
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Re: "But was this a story about a driving licence or visa application type copy cat site?

The "site with xl at the end of the address" - somebody registered that domain. Somebody either put that site on a hosting service, or obtained the IP address for his own server.

So the police should be able to track the party down. If it turns out the site is hosted in an uncooperative jurisdiction... like Russia, for example... then it can simply be disconnected from the Internet, with the OECD nations refusing to use any Internet backbone to which that country is allowed access.

So if the police can't collar the responsible party, and extract every penny of her money from him or her, there should still be consequences, as automatically as night follows day.

There probably won't be - but if we had done things like that, the Internet would be a very different place.

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What is dead may never die: a new version of OS/2 just arrived

John Savard
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Obscurity

Well, there's a lot of useful Windows 3.1 software.

And I don't suppose anyone's going to bother writing a lot of OS/2 ransomware. That, and the loss of control over one's computer with Windows 10, makes it very tempting to consider this.

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Do we need Windows patch legislation?

John Savard
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Eternity

As far as I am concerned, a vendor releasing software is obligated to ensure it is free from defects.

That means there should not be any exploits, any buffer overflows or race conditions or any such thing anywhere in that software.

The obligation to correct defects in a product that should never have been there in the first place should never expire. Although perhaps some limit, acknowledging that software does eventually become obsolete, might be considered.

Perhaps 99 years - the same time as the copyright expires? Provided the vendor releases, or has released, the source code by then?

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Ransomware scum have already unleashed kill-switch-free WannaCry‬pt‪ variant

John Savard
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But

Isn't the good news that the vulnerability it uses has now been patched even in Windows XP? So they're not going to find too many more victims out there, even now that they've overcome the other hurdle thrown their way.

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Hackers emit 9GB of stolen Macron 'emails' two days before French presidential election

John Savard
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Re: So, just another day in the office...?

Russia under Communism perpetrated aggression against the Baltic states, the nations of Eastern Europe, condemning millions of people to life under tyranny as a result. Of course those countries will not think fondly of Russia, just as France doesn't think fondly of Germany.

To say it is somehow a hostile act, to which Russia has a right to retaliate, to help these countries rebuild and maintain their independence in future makes no sense.

One or more innocent people have died in Georgia and the Ukraine, independent sovereign states, as the result of actions by Russia. The only proper and just result is for Putin to be sent to Georgia to stand trial, and to meet the same fate as Hideki Tojo, while Russia is placed under occupation until such time, like Germany after World War II, democratic institutions are securely established and there is no longer a threat of future aggression on its part. Helped, of course, by removing nuclear weapons capability - and any significant conventional weapons capability - from the country.

But since Russia now has nuclear weapons, justice cannot be done in any practical way for the time being.

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Windows 10 S forces Bing, Edge on your kids. If you don't like it, get Win10 Pro – Microsoft

John Savard
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Re: Confused

Found my answer on the Microsoft sales page for Windows 10 Home. No, it's not locked to Bing and Edge. But the Home version will not connect to a work network or a school network.

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John Savard
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Confused

What about Windows 10 Home? Or Home Premium, or whatever it's called with Windows 10. Are they locked to Bing and Edge too, if you have to upgrade all the way to Pro?

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Gamers red hot with fury over Intel Core i7-7700 temperature spikes

John Savard
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Alternate Measure

Instead of changing how my fan works to come up to speed more slowly when the chip's temperature rises, which could put the chip at risk, wouldn't it be safer to just have the fan running at maximum all the time, so when a sudden temperature spike comes, it will be taken care of?

If the temperature spikes are, as Intel says, within the operating parameters of the chip, then that should take care of the problem, except, of course, for the noise and power consumption of the fans.

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Chip design chap arrested for using photocopier

John Savard
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Charges

Giving advanced technology to Red China? He should be facing espionage charges, not just commercial trade secret charges.

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Bullyboy Apple just blew a $500m hole in our wallet, cries Qualcomm

John Savard
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Amazed

If the manufacturers withhold patent royalty payments, then how can they possibly manufacture? Won't the police raid their plants and shut them down, just as if they were making pirated DVDs? And not all the lawyers Apple could hire should be able to change that.

Of course, patent law didn't always work that way, which was why RCA was able to manufacture radios using the superheterodyne principle without first paying, in full, whatever patent royalties Edwin Armstrong chose to charge - leading to his tragic premature death.

But I thought it was changed now, otherwise patent trolls wouldn't be able to make money out of patents that ought to be invalid. That, not being a nonpracticing entity, should be the test of whether one is a patent troll; inventors should not have to own manufacturing plants to assert their rights.

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Come celebrate World Hypocrisy Day

John Savard
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Copyright Itself May Not Be the Problem

I do reject the theory that legal protection of intellectual property through copyrights or patents is a natural law human right. It's a monopoly created by the government because it was considered useful to encourage the creation of more artistic works and inventions, and so it is perfectly legitimate to debate what the appropriate extent of these protections should be to achieve the maximum social benefit.

Why there is such an anti-copyright movement lately, though, isn't because of a nefarious plot by Google or Facebook to brainwash everyone into supporting their plans to enrich themselves at the expense of the little people.

Instead, I think it's obvious that it's like this: the Internet made it harder to enforce copyright law. And so we have new laws, like the DMCA in the United States, that have become intrusive in limiting what people can do with their own property.

The music industry wanted to have a law passed to require people to have a license to own a tape recorder back when they first came out.

That's not promoting freedom.

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John Savard
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Hockey, Baseball, and Music

I remember when I was a wee lad, I occasionally read letters to the editor in the local paper saying how unfair it was that a baseball player made more money than a doctor, as the latter clearly did more important work.

But this ignored the fact that a baseball player could entertain thousands of people at once, while a doctor could only heal one person at a time.

And, in any case, in sports, the team owners make a lot of money, and player salaries are small in comparison.

But, on the other hand, the baseball and hockey and football players in the major leagues aren't that much better than those in the minor leagues. The reason their games draw in so much money has to do with the established reputation of the leagues, the large stadiums they play in, and so on. So it could be argued that the team owners deserve their big share of the revenue.

There are a lot of people out there who can sing almost as well as Britney Spears. Once again, though, the visibility provided by having a major label record contract contributes a great deal to the revenue stream generated by her recordings.

If the money generated by books, musical recordings, and movies went mostly to authors, performers, composers, actors, and scriptwriters, then it wouldn't be hard to see that copyright laws empower the individual. Since, instead, large companies, that often have contract terms with people in these categories that limit their ability to negotiate freely, are getting much of the money, this is why copyrights are questioned.

But it's not clear that the situation is genuinely unjust, or a natural free-market result, so it's unclear that there is a "right target" if copyright is the wrong target.

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Having a monopoly on x86 chips and charging eyewatering prices really does pay off – Intel CEO

John Savard
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Another Thing

Given that the immense cash flow generated by their x86 monopoly has allowed Intel to build the biggest and best fabs around - so that they can make newer, shinier chips to get people to upgrade more often - if ARM suddenly took over, Intel would still be positioned to make the best ARM chips that money could buy.

So their dominance in processors could well outlive the dominance of the x86 ISA, even if the engine that created that dominance would be gone. And, of course, the x86 architecture is protected by patents, not by copyrights, so, given that AVX-1024 or 128-bit addressing may not really be needed for general-purpose computing, even if the Wintel duopoly remains in effect, someday it will be possible for anyone to implement the x86 architecture commercially.

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John Savard
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Headline

I didn't see a reference in the quoted portion of his comments to demand for the x86 architecture, or anything else that might be construed as a reference to the advantages of not having competition - until recently, with Ryzen - for that ISA, such as a comment on synergy with the Windows operating system.

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Why Firefox? Because not everybody is a web designer, silly

John Savard
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Re: Thread Hijack - why did that planet story get taken away?

The story is still on The Register. You will have to click on "Older Stories" to see it now, and it has a picture of the interior of a space ship instead of a picture of the Sun, plus some minor wording changes, from the cached page you point to, but it's still there.

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PACK YOUR BAGS! Boffins spot Earth-size planet most likeliest yet to harbor alien life

John Savard
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Story Still Here

In the comments on another more recent news story, one about Firefox versus Chrome, people are claiming that this story was pulled from The Register. But it's still here, it's just not on the front page because other newer stories are there.

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RIP Bob Taylor: Internet, desktop PC pioneer powers down at 85

John Savard
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I remember using AltaVista before this "Google" thing started getting popular.

And, of course, we're all immensely indebted to him for our computers with graphical operating systems and for the Internet.

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US military makes first drop of Mother-of-All-Bombs on Daesh-bags

John Savard
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Caves!

They should have used poison gas instead. This form of attack exhibits a serious disregard for the conservation of speleological resources.

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Boffins fabricate the 'most complex bendy microprocessor yet'

John Savard
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Re: "Disulfide" forsooth!

But the U.S. never kept its promise, it's still "aluminum" even here in Canada.

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John Savard
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Optimism

I remember reading somewhere else that a new substance - I think it was molybdenum disulfide - was a potential alternative to graphene as the successor to silicon. So there may be potential to get fabrication of circuits working well enough to permit useful microprocessors to be built in this fashion soon enough!

Ah, yes, it was molybdenum disulfide, and it allowed smaller transistors (1 nm as against 5 nm for a critical feature) and operation at higher temperatures (220 degrees C) compared to silicon, and it even compared favorably to graphene in some circuit parameters. There was another thing that was preventing usable transistors from being made, but that was overcome.

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'US falling behind China' in semiconductors but storage startup promises to kiss it better

John Savard
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Wrong Worry

The U.S. should be worrying about the fact that it has fallen behind Japan in supercomputing. It may find it even more worrying that its lead over China is shrinking, but it has not fallen behind China, nor is doing so imminent, as there is more to a country's level of supercomputing technology than the aggregate number of processors one happens to have tied together under a single roof.

Of course, China's latest supercomputer apparently has caught up with the U.S. sufficiently to be something to take seriously for solving a wide range of real problems; but that won't be changed if the U.S. starts building bigger or better supercomputers, since that's an absolute, rather than a relative, milestone they've achieved.

Actually, it's even worse. If one makes a bigger supercomputer just for the sake of doing so, without a real need for one, one is just providing something new for China to copy, which makes the problem worse. Admittedly I think that there are plenty of American scientists who would indeed find a use for as big a supercomputer as could be made, so that may not be a problem at all.

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Ex-IBMer sues Google for $10bn – after his web ad for 'divine honey cancer cure' was pulled

John Savard
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A web search turns up falafel and cinnamon as alternate candidates, besides cumin oil, for the secret of the pharaohs. As for the soul of Kashmir, I've come up empty, but his web site does claim his cure is protected by patents, which means he disclosed his invention.

Ah, but his site mentions that Thymoquinone is contained in his preparation, and that indeed comes from the seeds of the black cumin, which does solve that part of the question.

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Patch Qubes to prevent pwnage via Xen bug

John Savard
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The mention that Qubes 4.0 would change how it did virtualization encouraged me to do a web search for more details.

It turns out that HVM simply means full virtualization, standing for "hardware virtual machine", with PV being paravirtualization. Also, I found a page on the Qubes site, dated November 30, 2016, noting that the Qubes development group was experiencing a funding crisis - and a posting by Marek Marczykowski-Górecki from December 5, 2016 noting that the status of Qubes 4.0 was fairly good, with most of it working, and only a few things needing to be cleared up.

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