* Posts by Joe Gurman

643 publicly visible posts • joined 21 Dec 2007


Now IBM sued for age discrim by its own HR veterans

Joe Gurman

Re: HR...

Rush to judgment? Moffat pleaded guilty.

Amazon unleashes Gen AI for product descriptions, curbs it for Kindle

Joe Gurman

Will this mean more or fewer....

....orders on which Amazon's fly by night third party "partners" don't ship the item pictured, described, and, sadly, ordered?

India set to launch Sun-spotting satellite on Saturday

Joe Gurman


Brexit propaganda on steroids? SOHO is an ESA spacecraft, and nine of the twelve instruments at launch (some have been shut down since, due to degradation of detectors or thermal issues over more than two decades of operation of hardware designed for 2 to 6 year lifetimes) had European principal investigators. The launch was provided by NASA, and spacecraft and science operations take place at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. In all, an outstanding example of international cooperation.

Reports of the PC's death are greatly exaggerated, says IDC

Joe Gurman

Don’t believe everything from IDC you read about Mac sales

Yes, they were down early this year over pandemic and Apple Silicon introduction quarters. But second-generation Apple Silicon (M2) machines are available now, and the there’s this about enterprise sales: https://appleinsider.com/articles/23/08/29/apple-hardware-is-a-benefit-to-enterprise-survey-reveals

Want tech cred? Learn how to email like a pro

Joe Gurman

And somehow….

…. Eudora is not even mentioned.

A Microsoft mail client for the Mac before Outlook? Who needed it?

Lost voices, ignored words: Apple's speech recognition needs urgent reform

Joe Gurman

Glad to hear that Dragon Speech, at least has improved with time

I recall using it a couple of decades ago on the Mac, and it ranged from almost passable to horrendous. Far too much work to correct all its errors, even after repeated trainings.

My principal complaints with dictation in macOS now are: its steadfast refusal to learn (e.g. that I use certain non-English words regularly — what, the voice recognition AI hasn't been trained for yiddish yet?), and scientific usage.... as in, the Sun is always capitalized in astrophysics, solar physics, and space weather journals. As a 'Murrican, the British periodical of the same name and capitalization has little to no resonance for me.

Cage match: Zuck finally realizes Elon is full of twit

Joe Gurman


Because nothing shields you from the reality of having to deal with other people like being filthy rich.

Want to pwn a satellite? Turns out it's surprisingly easy

Joe Gurman

CubeSats are low-hanging fruit

At the outfit I used to work for, considerably larger spacecraft — so-called “Small Explorers,” or SMEXes in the argot of that acronymophilic agency — were considered Class D in the hierarchy of risk management. That meant that individual components required less testing or could be adopted even though they had shorter lifetimes than the more expensive kit used in larger spacecraft, that schedules had less slack built into them, and that if I recall correctly, encryption was not required in communication between spacecraft and ground.

It was a totally different picture for even larger, more expensive missions.

Lower tolerance for risk drives cost and schedule (more testing and reviews required), higher tolerance makes the development faster and cheaper — bur also riskier.

Soon the most popular 'real' desktop will be the Linux desktop

Joe Gurman

I find your lack of evidence…. disturbing

There is no quantitative evidence at all that Mac users feel any need to use cloud implementations of macOS for but a tiny percentage of niche cases — and those are mere substituting cloud versions for what had been, for decades, hosted services, e.g. running your own mailserver.

The vast majority of Mac users use the OS on laptops and, to a lesser extent these days, desktops. And though it should probably go without saying, the number of users of macOS continues to dwarf the number of people who like to fiddle with Linux on the desktop. To each their own.

Twitter name and blue bird logo to be 'blowtorched' off company branding

Joe Gurman

Am I the only one here old enough to remember....

....that that "X" logo was the one use day Xerox in the 1960s? Wonder if they still own the trademark....

PyPI subpoenaed: US govt demands data on developers

Joe Gurman

5 points to Gryffindor....

....for the subhead.

Microsoft enables booting physical PCs directly into cloud PCs

Joe Gurman


.... making th boot process slower than it's needed to be since Windows 1.0.

Of course Russia's ex-space boss doubts US set foot on the Moon

Joe Gurman


How could NASA do 54 years ago what the Soviet Union3 was unable to might be a more appropriate question.

Google crams more AI into search as Apple, Samsung sniff around Bing

Joe Gurman


Is the Apple contract still worth $20B after Apple made data sharing optional, and ad revenues plummeted as a result?

Yes, Samsung 'fakes' its smartphone Moon photos – who cares?

Joe Gurman


There is no single “moon,” so the ML-assembled photo is misrepresenting the fact that the moon displays libration, up to 8° in longitude (from ellipticity in the moon’s orbit) and nearly 7° in latitude (from the inclination of the moon’s axis of rotation to the plane of that orbit). Except, of course, the evil geniuses at Samsung don’t know anything about the moon other than that there are lots of bona fide images of it. Prats.

Why our solar-storm sats corrode – and probably not what you expected

Joe Gurman

Why, you may ask, do this instruments have alumin[i]um entrance filters in the first place?

They reject visible solar light, which is many orders of magnitude brighter than the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light the instruments observe, while transmitting, as noted, most of the EUV light.

Why, you may ask, do we want instruments that observe EUV emission from the Sun? Most of it comes from the solar corona, the tenuous, outermost part of the Sun's atmosphere where a good deal of solar activity originates — and where variability in the solar output is much larger than in the visible.

Semiconductor industry: To Hell with the environment, start building fabs already

Joe Gurman

Still wondering....

....what genius at TSMC decided arizona, which has a critical water shortage problem, was the right place for a fab — or are they just looking for an easy excuse to back out?

Rugged satellite messaging phone Bullitt fired out ahead of MWC

Joe Gurman

You do know....

....satellite SOS has been a feature on iPhone 14 models since last September, right? https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT213426

And presumably, some of the recent models using That Other Phone OS do so as well, because everyone imitates everyone else, everywhere, all at once, right?

Who needs sailors? US Navy's latest robo-ship can run itself for 30 days

Joe Gurman

[D]isaffected English religious extremists?

OK, it’s typical El Reg snark, but for many, I suspect most readers, ignores the fact the reason they left England twice (first to the Netherlands, then to North America) was the religious fanatic tyranny of an English monarchy/head of established church who instituted a series of fines for anyone who didn’t attend established church services every week — that quickly escalated to imprisonment for repeated offenses.

I wonder how many readers would call people who wanted to escape a mind control regime like that “extremists?”

99 year old man says cryptocurrency is for idiots

Joe Gurman

So right

So far, cryptocurrencies have proven useful for only two things: speculation and scams (including ransomware payments and separating the credulous from their hard-earned cash in real currencies backed by national governments). So, yes, about cryptocurrencies, at least, the elderly gentleman is 100% correct.

200MP smartphone and first premium PC spearhead Samsung's pro push

Joe Gurman

So Samsung has finally figured out….

…. that while people may buy this or that piece of Apple kit because they find it so desirable, what keeps them buying more is the level of integration among its products. Having tried for years to slavishly copy Apple design language, they decided some years back to come up with their own, and now they’re back to copying — this time the integration experience and hopefully the customer loyalty it produces — at least if the experience isn’t built on the thin reed of how well Microsoft and Alphabet’s offerings work together.

World of Warcraft Classic lead dev resigns to protest 'stack ranking'

Joe Gurman

Microsoft used it in the naughties?

So that explains the Zune. Nothing else could.

It's been 230 years since British pirates robbed the US of the metric system

Joe Gurman

Re: Fear those who don't know what they don't know

Here's a clue, bub: the Climate Orbiter fiasco was created 100% all the way down by old, pale males.

Joe Gurman

And in this same day, El Reg....

.... has highlighted an article about a decrease in chip manufacture — on 8 and 12 inch wafers. Of course, the wafer size could just as well be defined in cubits or furlongs, since no one ever converts the wafer measurement to anything, other than number of chips one can contain.

NASA overspent $15m on Oracle software because it was afraid an audit could cost more

Joe Gurman

Once upon a time

I worked for the four-letter-acronym agency, and much as I cursed the extra work associated with the SAM requirements, I thought the group responsible for SAM (part of the NASA Shared Services Center) was extremely customer-focused, perhaps because the NSSC is staffed mostly by contractor personnel. It would be a shame if their excellent customer service (bringing on new software under license when requirements for such are demonstrated, negotiating reasonable license terms, &c.) were sacrificed to concentrating solely on the big-ticket items cited in this report. I know they helped the projects I worked on and many others to control costs and remain compliant with Agency requirements.

Forget the climate: Steep prices the biggest reason EV sales aren't higher

Joe Gurman

Prices of Teslas in the US

There's one repeat ONE and only one model/options offering from Tesla below US$50K, the Model 3 "standard" (that is, loss leader) range. If you want the extended range version, that's US$56K. Every other new Tesla vehicle is over U$50K.

That's meaningful not only for new-to-EV buyer buy-in, but for simple economics. The US last year enacted legislation, effective four days ago, that allows even manufacturers who had "graduated" out of federal tax credits to purchasers because of accumulated volume of sales. But th new tax credit is limited to vehicle with sticker prices of US$50K or less. Chevrolet Bolt/Bolt EUV, anyone?

NASA infosec again falls short of required US government standard

Joe Gurman

About that

"identified that low-budget missions scarcely think of infosec because they try to spend every cent on science"

As someone who's been there and done that, I wonder if most readers, who probably think of NASA Projects as rolling in gigabucks, understand that in "Phase E" (post commissioning activities that follow launch), most if not all NASA space science missions operate on budgets considerably leaner than during Phases A - D (formulation, development, testing, integration, &c.). After one or sometimes two Congressionally mandated Senior Review cycles, the operating budgets are almost without exception, even for scientifically highly successful missions, put on a life-support budget, that is, one that barely provides for paying the Flight Operations Team (the folks who operate the spacecraft), the science operations team(s), either at a center or the various Principal Investigators' (PIs') institutions, and any non-Deep Space Network tracking and telemetry services (DSN services are paid for at a higher level in NASA's Science Mission Directorate budgets), and so on.

At that point there's little or no funding for new science in project budgets, beyond the fairly routine analysis of sample software data to insure instrument health and safety and data integrity.

Thus, NASA's uncrewed, science flight projects don't have to make a tradeoff between science and risk management (including IT security, mandated and otherwise); it's been made for them. For at least a decade, at two year intervals in our division of SMD, as a project scientist I requested modest increases in finding to cover increased IT security requirements. Never got one. That could be explained by the fact that the Senior Review panels were made up of scientists, some of the university research scientists who'd never been in mission ops and had no clue why, in the words of one, "Why are these things so expensive?" We did our best to explain, but the requirements appeared to be so foreign to university scientists with no direct mission experience that it was like talking a foreign language.

I would hope that by now (I've been retired for four years) SMD management would take the IT sec requirements to heart and add people with experience in implementing successful IT security in mission/mission science operations to its Senior Review panels. And seriously consider what decent, thoughtful IT security


I'll just stop down off my soapbox now....

P.S. As an example of what the costs are like, I had to dedicate at least 1/3 of the time of my most senior system/net admin to security compliance (more like 2/3 in years with then required triennial reviews), while not having any funds to replace her time. And that didn't count my time, or the time of the PI teams and other sys admins — with no offsetting funds. I got the impression that my management chain didn't appreciate, however, my response that stretching the staff so thin was a significant risk for mission success and possibly even mission survival because I had to make it in the "risk assessment" section of annual budget reviews.

Women sue Apple claiming AirTags helped their stalkers

Joe Gurman

Just curious

Why no one has lobbed a sueball at Tile or other purveyors of Internet-trackable beacons, starting years before Apple came on the scene with AirTags. In Tile's case, about seven years. Are we to believe no low-life used a Tile tracker for stalking in the seven years they were available before Air Tags appeared?

Oh, right, Apple's pockets are much deeper than LIfe360 &c. Just like bank robbers rob banks because that's where the money is, lawyers will sue whoever is perceived as having the most cash.

NASA scraps budget-busting GeoCarb greenhouse gas observatory project

Joe Gurman

As noted elsewhere here….

“Sooners” is a generic name for Oklahomans, and specifically for the sports teams of the University of Oklahoma. The name derives from that given to people who jumped the gun on the announced start time for establishing land claims in the last part of the Oklahoma Territory to be opened to such settlement. Picture racing Conestoga wagons.

Of course, you’ve probably learned that already by doing your own web search.

Joe Gurman

“Had GeoCarb been allowed to finish development”

Assuming it had ever finished development. The combination of JPL, which has much less experience with earth science missions than with ones to other planets, and OU, which appears to have had modest experience in managing projects like this, should probably have given NASA pause six years ago.

Go ahead, be rude. You don't know it now, but it will cost you $350,000

Joe Gurman

Going to take a wild guess….

….that hardware vendor No. 2 (the epic c.s.fail) was Dell.

Back in the days when I was still working, I worked for a medium-largish US government agency. Somewhat unusually for that sector, nearly all of my group’s desktops and laptops were from a fruit company in Cupertino, California, but our servers, running Linux, were purchased from the likes of Supermicro and Dell. No one made it harder to get pre-purchase assistance (critical for our particular contract vehicle), often by having the voicemail for key personnel on the contract respond with an out of the office more or less forever message, and vectoring is on to another indefinitely absent employee, lather, rinse, repeat. I finally got a helpful person who worked only from home — this was half a decade before pandemic-induced work from anywhere, and made me think Dell was much nicer to its employees than its customers. But we did get the kit in short order once the order was booked, and were quite happy with it.

The service issue came on a RAID unit a clever fellow in the group who’d gotten his own grant funding and decided to purchase it on his own. Took Dell two years to replace the unit and drives completely, after several iterations of the “Must be a bad controller” …. Wait four months for a replacement…. Must be the drives…. Must be a cable cycle before they decided the hardware was obsolete and just shipped a new unit. They never evinced the slightest regret at delaying a customer’s project by two years.

As I used Fruit Company kit at home, too, I couldn’t help but wonder why their pre- and post-sales support (usually instant, and when not, staying with you until the issue was resolved) was so much better than the big server-shipper’s. Appears to have been reflected in FruitCo/Dell market cap growth of ~ 30:1 in over the last four years.

Stupid tax my left foot.

KFC bot urges Germans to mark Kristallnacht with cheesy chicken

Joe Gurman

Re: A double insult

In fact, the mix is the original kosher: You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.

Joe Gurman

Word travels slowly across the ocean blue?

Columbus enslaved and murdered indigenous people, as well as providing the Church the opportunity for forced conversions. Not exactly worth celebrating.

Husband and wife nuclear warship 'spy' team get 20 years each

Joe Gurman

The longer sentence for Mrs. Toebbe….

…. Was because she also lied to federal agents, a crime in the US.

Apple exec confirms iPhones will switch to USB-C because 'we have no choice'

Joe Gurman

Exactly right

Apple could improve the water resistance of their phones, add a smidgin of space inside otherwise occupied by a Lightning or USB-C chip, and just carry on with the MagSafe and Qi charging its phones already support. But no, the EU has to legislate means and not ends.

Loathsome eighties ladder-climber levelled by a custom DOS prompt

Joe Gurman


Well played, that man.

Lufthansa bans Apple AirTags on checked bags

Joe Gurman

Might want to update this article


PC shipments are still on the decline – unless you're Apple

Joe Gurman

So which Apple promo specifically are we discussing?

In general, Apple doesn't offer promo pricing, though sometimes they will throw in an Apple gift card if you buy one from column A (say, a laptop) and one from column B (say, Air Pods). They also offer, every year (repeat: every year) a smallish freebee of some sort if you buy your college-bound offspring a MacBook of one kind or another over the summer before the kid leaves for Old Ivy or Enormous State U.

Apple authorized resellers such as B&H, Adorama, Amazon, and the like regularly offer a pittance off the Apple list price on Macs, but again, I (and I may be getting hazy with age) haven't noticed any increase in the frequency or size of those discounts this year, or indeed at any time during the pandemic.

Disclaimer: I get too much email from the Cupertino Fruit Co. (I was going to type "far too much," but then I thought of all the email I get from political candidates and their friends every hour of every day in an election year in the US, and realized there was an order of magnitude difference), but I'd know if they'd offered serious discounts on anything. But Apple just doesn't do that. They might eat an unaccustomed hit to their much-celebrated net margin on a given product if there are supply chain-related increases in critical components (as is currently rumored to be the case for the mighty CPU chips in their iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max), but the prices rarely go down for any line of product; indeed, they got kudos from the media for not raising the price of the current crop of fondletoys in a year of 10% inflation, continuing supply chain issues, and mainland Chinese missiles flying over the island where all their CPUs are manufactured.

Scientists, why not simply invent a working fusion plant using $50m from Uncle Sam

Joe Gurman


What’s an ‘incandescent” bulb?

Open standards body for digital wallets announced

Joe Gurman

Right now, Tim Cook is right

In Apple Wallet, account information is kept only in the CPU’s secure enclave. Never goes into memory, much less the grimey, security-clueless hands of vendors. Does anyone else offer that hardware + software? If not, interoperability and openness is good for thieves, and not s good for everyone else.

Apple warned by US lawmakers over using Chinese YMTC chips in new iPhone

Joe Gurman

Re: Land of the Free...

Marco Rubio and his communist pals can take my fondletoy out of my cold, dead hands, but not before.

No, Apple, you may not sell iPhones without chargers

Joe Gurman

The Bolsonaro regime

....is pretty much about destroying the Amazon basin, and thus the world, so I wouldn't rush to trust their definition of "environmental benefit."

The crime against humanity that is the modern OS desktop, and how to kill it

Joe Gurman

And while we’re at it….

….let’s take sledgehammers to the looms, shall we?

There are certainly a plethora of poorly implemented or downright useless “features” in every modern desktop UI, but there are also a whole lot more features, full stop. Haven’t noticed that the percentage has really changed much.

Terminal downgrade saves the day after a client/server heist

Joe Gurman

Once fashionable?

Maybe all the Apple Stores the UK are in rehab ciliated, old buildings with good bones, but a number in the US are at ground level on public streets, and ram raiding is very definitely still a thing.

Microsoft, Activision Blizzard have days to show merger won't harm competition

Joe Gurman

Dirty pool, what?

Dumping a five-day response order on MS right at the start of a major, long holiday weekend in the US (Labor Day).

Joe Gurman

Re: World of Warcraft

It was very good of AB to port WoW to Apple Silicon, but how do we know that Redmond will be as generous?

Then again, since AB have only kept WoW going on the Mac because there are a substantial number of punters willing to pay for it by the month, we can at least hope MS won’t scoff at the added lucre.

Xcel smart thermostat users lose their cool after power company locks them out

Joe Gurman

"No so smart after all"

Smart for the generating company, and smart for its other customers. The stupidity was the subscribers', who clearly didn't read and understand the T&C — which were pretty obvious.

And that, kids, is why I'll never own a "smart" thermostat [*] or "smart" appliance that turns over control, without asking, to the leccy company, or anyone else for that matter. I may be stupid, but I'm not that stupid.

[*] In fact, a "smart" thermostat came with the installation of a new heat pump four or five years ago. I read the T&C for setting up a connection to the mother ship (in this case, the manufacturer of both heat pump and thermostat). It was when I got to the point where the "agreement" allowed the manufacturer not only to access all of my browser history, but to sell that information to anyone they chose, that I clicked "cancel" rather than "agree." Alas, I'll never be able to change the settings from afar (not all that terribly useful since the pandemic started) or put a pretty background on the colo[u]r display.

NASA scrubs Artemis SLS Moon rocket launch

Joe Gurman

Re: 200% trust in NASA

This is literally _not_ rocket science. It's 100% rocket _engineering_.

— Former employee of a four-letter acronym US gumming agency, and a scientist

The truth about that draft law banning Uncle Sam buying insecure software

Joe Gurman

Not really a change

At least at the US federal agency where I worked until about four years ago. You simply weren’t allowed to buy software or hardware that hadn’t been checked out by the FBI and certified as safe to put on machines on a government network.

Businesses should dump Windows for the Linux desktop

Joe Gurman

“Macs, which are, after all, expensive”

Particularly in business and government, try to get past this patently false assertion when examined in the light of total cost of ownership. Look at IBM’s experience in this regard, and consider the amount of handholding new Linux desktop users need.