* Posts by John Savard

1971 posts • joined 18 Sep 2007

Why millions of Brits' mobile phones were knackered on Thursday: An expired Ericsson software certificate

John Savard Silver badge

Re: No sympathy whatsoever.

That sort of thing costs extra. And there's no good reason why computer systems shouldn't just work, forever, perfectly. Like the Sun keeps shining each morning. After all, the underlying physical circuitry doing the computations is highly reliable. All that's required is that the software be written correctly, once, the first time.

Now, hard drives have moving parts, though, so one does have to allow for them failing. Trouble is that vendors have failed to offer an inexpensive, easy, and convenient method of backup. This is why desktop computers don't routinely come with tape drives for which the tapes have a capacity even close to a terabyte so you could do a complete backup to a handful of them.

John Savard Silver badge


Well, this shows that making the operation of software dependent on certificates that can expire is a bad idea, as it creates an additional point of failure.

I suppose, though, that these software certificates are needed for some security purpose, as there is an opportunity to introduce unauthorized software to the systems in question.

It's official. Microsoft pushes Google over the Edge, shifts browser to Chromium engine

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Does this mean that Chromium is on a BSD license instead of a GNU license? Or is Microsoft paying money to Alphabet to get a commercial license?

Peak tech! Bacon vending machine signals apex of human invention

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Learned Something New

I thought you guys in the UK had to import your bacon from Denmark! I remember buying some Danish bacon that was available in Canada, and found it just as good or maybe even slightly better than our own product, so if UK bacon is as good as that, it probably stacks up to American bacon as well.

Wow, what a lovely early Christmas present for Australians: A crypto-busting super-snoop law passes just in time

John Savard Silver badge


I can only guess that the Labor Party leadership was simply terrified that a terrorist attack might happen in Australia over the Christmas holidays.

Since there is obviously a minority government, or what the opposition Labor Party liked wouldn't have mattered, perhaps when Parliament comes back into session they could just table a bill to repeal this whole mess if amendments aren't forthcoming.

Former headteacher fined £700 after dumping old pupil data on server at new school

John Savard Silver badge


Why on Earth would he risk detection by placing data on the server of a school concerning students who are not at that school?

One would have expected him to do any processing on that data he felt he needed to do for "professional reasons" on his computer at home.

Intel eggheads put bits in a spin to try to revive Moore's law

John Savard Silver badge


Followed the link in the article:

"MESO uses a multiferroic material that's both magnetic (like a common permanent magnet, the atoms are aligned) and ferromagnetic,"

isn't quite correct. The reason that a change in the electric field can change the magnetic dipole moment is because the material is both magnetic... and ferroelectric.

John Savard Silver badge

Other Good Consequences

Even if Moore's Law coming to an end doesn't lead to ingenious new architectural ideas, it will have the result that computers won't become obsolete every few years. This would make it easier to justify spending the money on getting a good one.

Or one possible result might be computers that could be upgraded incrementally by adding more CPUs. So you start with one 8-core CPU, then you put in another one, then you get two and add them, and you've got 32 cores to do your bidding.

IBM's Ginni Rometty snipes, er, someone for being irresponsible with data, haven't a clue who

John Savard Silver badge


Of course this was all in fun, but given what we often read here and on other tech sites, I think it could be fairly supposed that Facebook and perhaps even Google were among the companies she was thinking of. Although Google's record with personal data isn't all that bad.

Some posts here have noted that if people urgently try to get the government to Do Something about this, the cure may be worse than the disease. True, but if these companies don't clean up their act, how will that be avoided?

Of course, I've chosen not to use Facebook, even though I may be misunderstanding the media coverage, and perhaps its little slip-ups aren't of a sort that would affect me very much.

China doesn't need to nick western tech when Google is giving it away

John Savard Silver badge


Android is, to some extent, a modified version of Linux.

Google may have given away platform access to China, so that their own companies could make and export Android phones, instead of simply being a supplier to Apple for its iPhone.

But it didn't give away technology to China; China''s supercomputers aren't better able to design thermonuclear warheads for the Chinese military because of secrets learned from Android that you wouldn't find in Linux or BSD.

Maybe that statement uses an excessively narrow definition of "technology" (some code in Android actually does something, as opposed to defining an API, so there is the technology of just-in-time compilation which Android may exemplify particularly well), but I think that the article, as it stands, is not in a condition to convince many people of the point it is making.

Tech sector unites in attempt to avoid Oz's anti-crypto push, again

John Savard Silver badge

Re: Insufficient Background

If Wikipedia is to be believed, the government is a coalition of three parties, with 74 seats; Labour, the opposition party, has 69... but there are also another 7 seats held by "cross-bench" parties; so the government is outnumbered 74 to 76, so as long as both Labour and the other parties that have not declared themselves as with or against the government all resolutely oppose this bill, it will not pass.

I'm not sure how likely that is; I can hardly see the Greens voting for it, but that's only one seat accounted for.

John Savard Silver badge

Insufficient Background

Not being an Australian myself, I'm not immersed in their politics. So I don't know the most basic fact to determine whether or not this bill is likely to be made into law: is Australia currently under a minority government or not?

Bloke fined £460 after his drone screwed up police chopper search for missing woman

John Savard Silver badge


The story doesn't say whether the missing woman, despite this, was eventually found, and found alive. That makes a difference as to whether the charges reported here are appropriate, or he should have faced vastly more severe charges instead.

John McAfee is 'liable' for 2012 death of Belize neighbour, rules court

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Re: Extradiction unlikely

This is true, but the circumstances recounted by the article do indicate very strong grounds for suspicion that McAfee had an involvement in the death of his neighbor of such a nature as to warrant criminal charges. So why hadn't he been extradited back to Belize back then, to be charged with murder and held without bail until his trial?

Data-nicking UK car repairman jailed six months instead of copping a fine

John Savard Silver badge


Given the harm caused to customers here, it should not have been necessary to depend on a fortuitous circumstance that permitted charges under the Computer Misuse Act to impose jail time. So the Data Protection Act urgently needs to be amended to provide for prison terms and criminal conviction as well.

France: Let's make the internet safer. America, Russia, China: Let's go with 'no' on that

John Savard Silver badge


Your headline is so unfair! Russia and China are going with no on making the Internet safer. America is going with no on not making the Internet safer, but saying we did.

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

John Savard Silver badge

One Benefit

That's one way to protect your systems from Sasser and Blaster! And no doubt before this article was published, they enjoyed a great deal of "security by obscurity". But now that this vital national secret has been spilled by The Register, obviously they'll have to switch operating systems. OS/2, anyone?

Has science gone too far? Now boffins dream of shining gigantic laser pointer into space to get aliens' attention

John Savard Silver badge

Re: Giant laser attached to a telescope blasting into space...

Do you mean me? I lived in Canada, and I watched it, at least when it aired on premium cable.

The PCIe bus is coming, and everybody's jumping... New York to San Francisco, an NVMe disco

John Savard Silver badge


I was wondering if anyone else would have guessed the source of that headline.

Tiny Twitter thumbnail tweaked to transport different file types

John Savard Silver badge

Invalid Zip?

In Windows, renaming it to .zip at the end doesn't work - at least not for Windows itself. 7Zip, though, will process the zip file, with two warnings: the data is offset, and there is extra data after the end of it.

Yahoo! $50m! hack! damages! bill!, Russian trolls menaced by Uncle Sam inaction, computer voting-machine UI confusion, and more

John Savard Silver badge

Re: Russian front

It's not a fantasy that in Russia today opponents of Putin are subjected to various forms of repression, and it's not a fantasy that Russia committed armed aggression against Georgia and the Ukraine. That the United States, what with Trump as President, is not what it used to be is just another addition to our worries.

Memo to Microsoft: Windows 10 is broken, and the fixes can't wait

John Savard Silver badge

Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

To be fair, the design of CP/M was also ripped off - from the PDP-8 operating system OS/8. The fact that the Copy command was called PIP (Peripheral Interchange Program) is the smoking gun.

SQLite creator crucified after code of conduct warns devs to love God, and not kill, commit adultery, steal, curse...

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Not Open Contribution

If SQLite is written by a group of friends who are not seeking other developers to share their load, then indeed one can't complain that what has happened violates other people's rights. Also, the article did note that they're willing to make exceptions for people who feel uncomfortable with parts of the code of conduct.

None the less, I think it's entirely legitimate to react to this as a joke in extremely poor taste.

If one removes the rules in that list that are explicitly religious in nature, or which are appropriate to members of a monastic order, there would not be all that much left.

However, that being said, I would have no objection to a Benedictine monastery releasing open-source software. The shock is largely at unexpectedly finding something that one would have expected to be a secular institution adopting non-pluralistic values.

Does Google make hardware just so nobody buys it?

John Savard Silver badge

Re: "V-Moda Forza Metallo"

It's not quite that bad. After all, Poul Anderson was able to write "Uncleftish Beholding".

Mozilla grants distrusted Symantec certs a stay of execution, claims many sites yet to make switch

John Savard Silver badge

Bad Decision

Obviously those sites will switch quicker once nobody can visit them.

However, I have noticed in Firefox that now sometimes when I visit a site with a bad certificate, I can't just click on a button and see the site anyways. If they hadn't changed that, there would be no issue, and they could distrust the certificates right away without causing a negative impact on users who are blocked from sites they need to access that are not infected, just out of date.

Oh no, Xi didn't! Chinese spymaster cuffed in Belgium, yoinked to US on aerospace snoop rap

John Savard Silver badge


Surely he was nabbed by Belgian police, not the FBI. An FBI agent in Belgium is also known as a "tourist". Although I suppose a visiting FBI agent working with the Belgian police could indeed be officially deputized by them.

UK space comes to an 'understanding' with Australia as Brexit looms

John Savard Silver badge

Re: RE: Mooseman

Well, unfortunately, the way things are now, if Britain leaves the European Union, it will also be thrown out of the Common Market. British voters were promised that this wouldn't happen when they voted in the referendum. How is it democratic to deceive voters and then tell them they're stuck?

John Savard Silver badge

Re: RE: Mooseman

My understanding, based on the reports I have seen in the Press, was that, going into the Brexit referendum, the British public were assured that leaving the European Union would not have significant economic consequences for the British people, because an agreement would be easily reached so that Britain, like Denmark, would remain in a customs union with Europe. As this has not happened - and, indeed, British Prime Minister Theresa May is now on record as stating she would find a continued customs union unacceptable, as beyond her "red line" - Brexit at this point would not be what many of the voters authorised, and so another referendum, to determine if the majority of British citizens in fact want to leave the European Union under the actual circumstances that exit would entail is entirely reasonable.

John Savard Silver badge

Re: Fake news

If Australia did exist, since time zones and all that pretty much mean that if the Earth is flat, it has to have the North Pole in the center, then because of the difference in time zones between Sydney and Perth, it would have to be considerably wider than it is usually given credit for.

So Australians are uniquely positioned to prove the Earth is round.

John Savard Silver badge

Re: Makes absolute sense

Actually, it does make as much sense as partnering with any other friendly country, since no doubt the UK is looking for a global positioning system usable by its naval vessels (and aircraft, and anything else) even if they're on the other side of the world from Merrie England.

John Savard Silver badge

Canada, you say?

Ah, this means that Canada has an opportunity to become part of a satellite navigation system that the United States can't turn off on us, by joining with Australia and the United Kingdom? I must write my Member of Parliament so that he knows about this opportunity!

On the seventh anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, we give you 7 times he served humanity and acted as an example to others

John Savard Silver badge


Many people feel that it is improper to speak ill of the dead. If they deserve it, as apparently Steve Jobs richly does, at least politeness demands that we not use the anniversary of their death for that purpose.

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

John Savard Silver badge

Appropriate Limitations?

It's pretty obvious that if you see a drone with a bomb on it, you don't have time to get a warrant. So what would be reasonable to look for is after-the-fact recourse if a drone was operating legally and there was no reason to be suspicious of it.

IBM won't grow, says analyst firm while eyeing flatlining share price

John Savard Silver badge

Good News

This may be bad news for IBM, but ultimately it could be good news for everyone else.

At some point, potential revenue from mainframes will shrink enough so that IBM will lose its fear of cannibalizing those revenues. Then, they might make the System/360 architecture, in its modern form of the z/Architecture, available in desktop and laptop computers.

Decoding the Chinese Super Micro super spy-chip super-scandal: What do we know – and who is telling the truth?

John Savard Silver badge

Still Reason to Worry

Oughtright lies from the companies involved would be unprecedented, whereas the Bloomberg reporters believing someone who was mistaken that SuperMicro was the unnamed target is highly plausible. But that would mean it did happen, just to someone else we don't know about.

Trump's axing of cyber czar role has left gaping holes in US defence

John Savard Silver badge


I thought the NSA was supposed to be doing this, and a cyber tsar was just wasteful duplication!

A story of M, a failed retailer: We'll give you a clue – it rhymes with Charlie Chaplin

John Savard Silver badge


Gross profit of 50%? That is outrageous. A business ought to be able to be viable with a gross profit of 2% and, indeed, in order to offer competitive prices to consumers, in many lines of business, it should scarcely dare to aim for anything much greater! (All right, 2% is characteristic of grocery stores, and something as high as 20% is actually reasonable for firms selling large-value items like computers or washing machines.)

And out of that 2%, it should be able to pay all the interest on whatever loans it might have, with most of it left for dividends to the stockholders.

Of course, some of it would also be used for expansion.

That is what a properly-run business looks like.

So if a firm could stay in business despite tacking on a 50% markup - no, a 100% markup - on its products, instead of being squeezed down to a much lower level of profit in order to actually sell anything, this means the marketplace is not competitive enough, and the government should start intervening.

Watt the heck is this? A 32-core 3.3GHz Arm server CPU shipping? Yes, says Ampere

John Savard Silver badge

Locked Up?

I was aware that IBM manufactired, and offered for sale, data centre servers built around the PowerPC architecture.

I don't know how many of them are in use, so it perhaps is entirely possible they haven't made a dent in an x86 near-monopoly. Obviously, the x86 world will be the most competitive, and likely the cheapest. Until, of course, ARM's entry.

Pluto is more alive than Mars, huff physicists who are still not over dwarf planet's demotion

John Savard Silver badge


I'm sure that people stopped listing Ceres, Juno, Pallas, and Vesta among the planets of the solar system long before 1957. All asteroids are still also called by the name "minor planets", thus their orbits are listed in documents called the "minor planet circulars", but the Solar System had nine planets, not thirteen, after Pluto was discovered.

Pluto got demoted for the same basic reason as Ceres and company - there were too many others just about like it, starting with Eris. I'd prefer Pluto to stay a planet, but I really can't come up with a convincing argument against this brute fact. If planets aren't clearly bigger and more prominent than non-planets, the term loses its meaning, and if there are hundreds or thousands of planets, that's a useless situation too.

Vodafone hounds Czech customers for bills after they were brute-forced with Voda-issued PINs

John Savard Silver badge


Since the miscreants have been caught, the law should bar the company from attempting to recover the money from anyone else but them. Even more so in a case like this, where the company itself set up the situation.

‘Very fine people’ rename New York as ‘Jewtropolis’ on Snapchat, Zillow

John Savard Silver badge

Re: Trump bashing inaccurate here

Well, Jesse Jackson became history after he failed to utterly denounce, repudiate, and abominate Lois Farrakhan.

There are two kinds of white people in the United States.

Those who are bigoted against black people.

Those who have overcome bigotry against black people because the evil of racial bigotry was dramatically brought home to them by the Holocaust.

Which means that non-bigoted white people in the United States, in general, are sensitive to, and hostile to, bigotry against Jews first - and bigotry against blacks second. There just aren't any who would turn a blind eye to a candidate who is in any way "soft" on anti-Semitism who would also consider voting for a black man as a candidate for President.

John Savard Silver badge

Re: Hate speech

That the motive was hatred is obvious.

It occurred by means of an unlawful breach of a computer system, which itself points to a malicious motive. And it's well known that there are many people with a violent hatred for Jews, and that many of them have a dislike for New York because it is a place with a vibrant Jewish life and, likely the most serious thing from their twisted perspective, which is home to many Jews who are influential.

VMware 'pressured' hotel to shut down tech event close to VMworld, IGEL sues resort giant

John Savard Silver badge

They interfered with items that were the property of the organizers of the Disrupt event? There should be criminal charges as well. And the lawsuit should be dealt with in such a way that no hotel, acrossthe length or breadth of the United States, will dare, at least for the next three hundred years or so, to behave in a similar manner.

How about just handing over the entire equity and assets of MGM to the event organizers? That should be a sufficient deterrent.

Tax the tech giants and ISPs until the bits squeak – Corbyn

John Savard Silver badge

Exactly the Wrong Way

While independent journalism is a nice thing, taxing new and innovative businesses to support older forms of media is clearly going to impede progress. And the BBC's television license fee should never have been instituted, and it should be repealed as quickly as possible, not extended.

Television was once the chief source of entertainment for lower-income households, and so a tax on television sets was a horribly regressive measure.

SentinelOne makes YouTube delete Bsides vid 'cuz it didn't like the way bugs were reported

John Savard Silver badge

Well, if the video included a picture of the box it came in...

If this was a DMCA takedown, there are penalties for false accusations.

Drama as boffins claim to reach the Holy Grail of superconductivity

John Savard Silver badge

Re: Even if this were true

Absolutely. But just because it won't work for power distribution - and given that it's a nanomaterial, the component metals will be a small part of the cost - maybe it will be useful in microchips, for example.

John Savard Silver badge

Re: Undecided

No, you have to go to North Korea to find unicorns. Seriously.

John Savard Silver badge

Re: @Milton ... Extraordinary claims—

I think the cost of putting up the wires once would be paid back by the savings eventually.

It's the cost of guarding them that is ongoing. After all, people are already tearing down wires just to steal the valuable copper in them.

John Savard Silver badge


"Let them give up their greed of earning a billion dollars in patent" - if they actually do have room temperature superconductivity, of course they would have to secure patents before they could reveal details; that is perfectly normal and to be expected.

Of course, since there is reason to believe their data is faked - the duplicate noise - and now the use of a fake E-mail account to try and subdue criticism - there is reason to suspect they may not have it. But if so, why waste money applying for a patent?

I am, therefore, a bit puzzled by all this. While it's easy to jump to the conclusion that the discovery was faked, the events don't quite fit with any obvious motive. Could the experimenters be victims of a prankster aiming to destroy their reputations by tampering with their experiment, to make them think they had found this discovery, and then doing underhanded things so as to appear they are done on their behalf?

Linux 4.18 arrives fashionably late while Zorin OS shines up its Windows

John Savard Silver badge


All right. I'm confused here. The article mentioned PlayOnLinux as something that lets you run Windows programs on Linux that won't run on Wine.

But PlayOnLinux is a front-end for Wine.

Maybe it's because the programs will run, but they're hard to install without the help of a front-end program like PlayOnLinux, as might be implied by some of what I saw in the description on their site, but it's not really clear.

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