* Posts by Ray Simard

146 publicly visible posts • joined 4 Jan 2008


Google, MPEG LA kiss and make up in WebM patent spat

Ray Simard

What is MPEG-LA's take-away?

It's not clear from this what MPEG-LA is getting in exchange for its relaxing of its threats. In particular, I'd like to know what this bodes for the openness and royalty-freedom WebM currently enjoys, following from which if we're going to find ourselves back in the (possible) realm of being forced, if not now then eventually, to include closed-source elements in players to handle any or all WebM content.

Apple must be tried for the bug in every fanboi's pocket

Ray Simard

>>> "Apple's claim that the benefits of this outweighed the harm to the consumer would have to be tested in court, Koh concluded."

So what if they could prove, by some standard, that the benefits outweighed the harm? That's no excuse for either retaining the data or, more important, falsely claiming the feature was turned off. What's beneficial to you or me is our decision, not theirs.

Germany stalls over ACTA treaty ratification

Ray Simard


JCB33 may not be a troll, but if not, he/she/it is doing a marvelous impersonation of one.

The attitude in the first post is precisely what the lobbyists are managing to sell to legislators and representatives: that the voices in protest against these Draconian and hopelessly flawed measures are all freetards afraid of losing their pipelines to pirated products and may thus be safely discounted. Thank God for those like Helena Drnovsek Zorko who are obviously not in that number, who have the platforms where they will be heard and the determination to get the truth across.

( http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/03/acta_protests_grow/

http://metinalista.si/why-i-signed-acta )

The industries pushing this nonsense must know that they have already passed the point of diminishing returns, where each increment toward their (ostensible) the goal of preventing piracy, which can never be achieved but only approached asymptotially, costs them more than they can ever hope to save because of it. It's not business any more; its lust for power and dominance, for the pleasure of having it all their way.

Their histrionics have left the stratum of reasonable concern for what is rightly theirs and entered the realm of the ridiculous. They have become crybabies with clout, buttonholing those worth buttonholing to whine in their ears while voices of reason, unable to get in as close as they do, are ignored or written off.

Ray Simard
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For whom...?

Are you a troll, someone just in the mood for a fight, or one of those misguided souls who believes that if something is bad, any law* that opposes it must therefore be good?

*or treaty...

Ray Simard

"Anti-copyright protest is very much the flavor of the month..."

That is dead wrong, dear Sir. It is not opposition to copyright that is the so-called flavor of the month; it is opposition to unworkable, overbearing, overbroad, underhanded, insupportable and nonsensical measures concocted by a narrow sector of the business community managing to convince people in positions of power that a certain problem is a crisis and that any imposition of intimidation, denial of rights and freedoms explicitly promised within the written law, penalties grossly misfitting the crimes and imposition of requirements for personnel and resources in business and government (with no offer of compensation) making their own narrow slice of the totality of business and personal interest into a de facto department within everything from ISPs to search engines to government agencies (at their expense) just to look out for theirs, something no other industry comes close to enjoying is justified and needed tomorrow noon if their industry is to survive until the weekend.

(Author pauses to catch breath and ignore grade-school lectures against run-on sentences...)

Ray Simard

Of phones and steering wheels

"Oh look, there's someone driving while using a mobile phone. We need a new law to stop that from happening..."

Actually, here in California, U.S.A. we have precisely that. I'd like to extend your analogy slightly, so that anyone caught violating that law is stripped of driving privileges for life, put under house arrest and forced to wear an electronic tracking device to ensure they never come closer than ten feet to the steering wheel of a motor vehicle, and forced to register, like sex offenders, on a rogues' registry of menaces to the driving public paraded before the public at every opportunity.

Ray Simard
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No. In this case, stupidity is inability to distinguish between fighting bad things and fighting bad laws that supposedly fight the bad things.

Music fans not welcome in RIAA-backed .music

Ray Simard

I remain convinced that...

...an awful lot of this thrashing comes down to basic human passion for control and domination...ego, power and supremacy. The legal and moral justification of combating piracy is one thing; the visceral drive behind the energy and effort being thrown into one scheme after another-look at that cockamamie idea at


for just one recent example (yes, the link is misspelled) is another.

Notice the RIAAss, MPAAss, the studios rarely talk about what they truly consider their financial losses. Down deep, that's not what really matters.

I think they are so infuriated by the very idea of people trading in their product in ways beyond their control that they crave the emotional satisfaction of watching them squirm, standing tall and powerful over the cowering figure of a(n alleged) file-sharer, beating their figurative chests and reveling in the ego-orgasms of their victories, not for true moral or financial justice. Look back over the history of the "John Doe" lawsuit blitzkriegs, attempts to hoodwink some file-sharers (and innocents afraid of being tagged as otherwise) to pay "settlements" by credit card on a website, one thing after another-not to mention their amazement when their darling accomplishment, the DMCA, failed to halt file-sharing in its tracks, and it's hard to conclude otherwise.

Put two moral, if not legal, criminals side by side: someone with a few dozen unauthorized items on his computer and then a row of corporate giants eager to inflict fear and pain for their gratification-who is the worse?

If they want to get this TLD-something they can totally control-fine (though I have a general dislike of these niche TLDs, but that's another matter). What will they say when they can't show that it's put another dime on their own balance sheets-much less those of the artists in whose interest (HA!) they claim to be acting?

Chrome to weed out dodgy website SSL certificates by itself

Ray Simard

EDITOR:A couple of things

1. Suggestion: make mention of Diginotar a link to an article about it (like http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/09/20/diginotar_bankrupt/ )

2. In "Langely is proposing a more lighter weight method of ...":

"more lightweight" or "lighter-weight" would be more better English.

Greenpeace releases 'Cool IT' rankings

Ray Simard

Greenpeace: Part of the problem, not the solution

Over the years Greenpeace has tried to evolve from its almost purely ideological genesis into something commanding respect for its science and has succeeded-a little. Nonetheless, it remains, at the core, an anti-Establishment, flowers-and-beads outfit, and it lacks credibility as a result.

The environmental movement is opposed by a very well-organized and powerful opponent-the environmental movement. Yes, they are indeed their own worst enemies, and that's because they can't seem to help politicizing the issues they address. Too many of their so-called solutions to the problem of global warming seem driven more by lusts for wealth transfer from the more wealthy nations to the less so, the Occupy-Wherever type of mentality of revulsion for business--the industries that figure prominently in the global-warming debate are inherently very large and tend to be multi-national--and an idealized, romantic fantasy of a bygone world plucked from fairy-tale imagery than by the pure science underlying it. When they pick up the polemic bullhorn and start emitting blather that connects greenhouse-gas emissions with those bad, evil corporations making [enormous | obscene | you-pick-your-favorite-hot-button-term] profits, they delight those who agree with them and infuriate the very people whom they need to persuade to look more favorably upon their position, or, at least, that part of it that is actually relevant.

Media groups propose anti-piracy 'code of practice' for UK search

Ray Simard


These "media groups" must be power-drunk with the favorable reception ACTA, SOPA and PIPA are getting from certain quarters. Just who the hell is supposed to pay for all the people and resources in government, search engines, cyberlockers, torrent sites and God knows who else they want to do their dirty work for them? They're on a roll and it's hard to blame them for making the most of their momentum, but it's getting beyond insane. If piracy is the disease, their "cure" is pathological.

NZ ISP piracy law kicks in

Ray Simard

A couple of red flags

"RIANZ (which) directed the relevant ISPs to send notices to the offending customers."

"Telecom New Zealand confirmed it received notices from RIANZ to issue copyright infringement notices to 42 customers, while ISP Orcon also confirmed that it has been instructed to do the same."

If I'm reading this right, there are three, or at least two, instances here of a private, self-interested industry organization exerting what amounts to police power on ISPs. I am not at all comfortable with terms like "directed" and "instructed" in these cases.

Maybe I'm splitting semantic hairs here, or misreading this altogether, but I don't think so. If these were requests, then fine; the ISP can use the requests as a heads-up for instances of piracy on their networks. But "directed" and "instructed" read like imperatives, compelling the ISPs' actions, probably with time limits on compliance which would deny the ISPs the discretion as to when to investigate them, possibly resulting in acting on inadequately-researched claims if the ISP at the time was busy with other concerns. Compensated or not, ISPs are not the subordinates of the entertainment industry. When did RIANZ become a law-enforcement agency?

Hacker wrists slapped for stealing Lady Gaga songs

Ray Simard

Let's see now...

These guys steal the stuff and resell for profit and get wrists slapped.

Joel Tenenbaum downloads 30 songs and shares them on P2P. No resale, no profit. He gets nicked for $675,000 (later reduced, but the point is, that was the original sentence).


No further comment.

Rogue software consultant's vast stash of DIY explosives

Ray Simard

Mental state

Motivations and mental state do matter. This guy's hoard was a random hodgepodge of more than just explosives and there wasn't any evidence that he was trying to manufacture devices for any purpose. He was one messed-up dude. Even the bank robberies seem out of character.

Ray Simard

The house

I'm not sure what the article means by destroying the house with "low order explosive techniques." Unless they did a very nice job role-playing for our local news services, the FD simply burned the place down.

Site appeals feds' unprecedented domain seizure

Ray Simard

@world dns

I hear ya, but the question is, who would run it? Everyone operates within some governmental jurisdiction or another. A supra-governmental, apolitical agency running the non-country-code TLDs is a sweet pipe dream, but there's just about zero chance that could ever have come to be, and even if somehow it might have sometime in the past, it sure couldn't now.

We may see the day that enterprises in the U.S. start registering domains under foreignTLDs as a matter of course, much as businesses now establish operations in foreign countries for the sake of more favorable tax or regulatory climates.

Ray Simard

"Linking sites..."

A question I'd like to ask: When the Feds have raided brick-and-mortar enterprises trafficking in some amount of counterfeit merchandise, some of those shops have been in malls. Would the operators of the malls hosting those outfits also get whacked because they operated "linking sites" to the criminals--in the form of directories within the malls listing the names of the rogue operations and their locations within the malls? After all, isn't that what a link is: the name of something and a pointer to its location?


Whitehats break out of Google Chrome sandbox

Ray Simard


...that's only government customers (and no information as to which governments they mean). Meanwhile, until Google or some other white hat with better than half a clue burns time and expertise in a redundant exploration for the same problem so Google can fix it, everyone other than this government elite must slog along with a browser with a known vulnerability that its creator cannot yet fix.

Ray Simard

Am I missing something, or are they?

Is it not painfully obvious that the first order of business should be to __fix__ the problem?

They intend to warn these government customers about the problem, right? So instead of said customers using a fixed browser, they continue to use the vulnerable one, but with the benefit of knowing about it. ("Gee, Mr. Freebit, we won't fix your brakes but we will make sure you have a detailed understanding of precisely why you couldn't avoid rear-ending that school bus.")

CNET sued for giving kids LimeWire

Ray Simard


Can anyone remember any time in fairly recent history when any one single industry has been this successful at leading the government around by the nose?

US Senate weighs in on phone tracking

Ray Simard
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@Not their..

There's one hell of a difference between how something like Major League Baseball manages its own business and how something like Apple sticks its nose into ours.

Apple breaks location-storing silence

Ray Simard

Unintended consequences

Bearing in mind that location data are stored locally and unencrypted, take a glance at this:


Google Linux servers hit with $5m patent infringement verdict

Ray Simard


Because the plaintiff met the requirements for a favorable decision, specifically: filing in the Eastern District of Texas.

Penguin chief: Linux patent and copyright FUD 'not relevant'

Ray Simard

Ballmer FUD (siwwy pengwin)

Why hasn't Microsoft divulged even a few of these alleged violations? If they had a leg to stand on you'd think they'd be quick to divulge some or all of them, even if only to try to instill the fear of the Wrath of Redmond in the Linux community. I suppose that in other cases, for much smaller and evenly-matched opponents, a patent-holder planning litigation might hold back on the details to minimize the time the opposition has to put together a defense, particularly if their position is shaky. I can't see that applying to this case.

Maybe, as InsaneGeek maintains, Linux does tread on an MS$ patent or two. Perhaps they're assuming that the Fear of the Unknown will chill more hearts than visible evidence of a real infringement.

Then again, I suspect that they regret having made that claim in the first place. The more time passes with no attempt to substantiate the claim, the more it looks like empty saber-rattling.

Ray Simard

Just a guess, but...

...is it likely that Zemlin wanted to point out that foundation members were not a bunch of angels, rather than a bunch of angles?

Radioactive Tokyo tapwater HARMS BABIES ... if drunk for a year

Ray Simard

@C4 coverage

On the other hand, if you're talking about beer...

Ray Simard

@And in other Fukushima-related news....

They were evacuated as a precautions, but only briefly.

Ray Simard

@Strange situation

"There is a myth that because something is short half life that is a lesser risk.... whilst this maybe so with radiation when it is contamination and is in the eco system then its a different story."

I don't follow you. Half-life is the same regardless of where the radioactive material is. Radionuclides decay exponentially, dropping by half in each half-life period. How can anyone say that an element that decays to 1/1024 of its original amount in 80 days (iodine-137) is not a lesser risk than one that needs 300 years (ce-131) to do the same?

I wish that all the people who insist that the Japanese government or TEPCO is fudging the facts would share the more reliable information they apparently have with us, and where it came from. After all, how can you know they're fudging if you don't have some base of more reliable data that conflicts with theirs? (Not to say they aren't spinning things; the point is, how can you tell?)

Also realize that the main source of information about the status of the plant comes from operators who have better things to do than spend a lot of time trying to explain the technical esoterica to not-too-technical news agencies so they understand it.

Ray Simard

@You'd have to drink a lot of water

Radiation levels do not stay high forever.

1. As water is consumed, it is replaced from natural sources that are not contaminated. It is possible for this water to pick up some contaminants on the way if it passes through areas of contaminated rock, soil or whatever other geological structures it touches. Where it does, it should gradually dissolve and wash away the same matter that is contaminating it. Depending on just how natural water supplies work in that area, it may be possible for human intervention to help that along.

2. Radioactive decay will steadily reduce the radiation levels. Those with short half-lives with rather quickly disappear. Of course, not everything of concern has a short half-life, so it remains to be seen how much and how quickly decay will pull down the dose.

3. As Japan starts cleaning up the wreckage and residue of the tsunami, they should be continuously monitoring for radioactivity and, to the extent possible, decontaminating "hot" locations, including throwing away as much contaminated matter as they can along with the debris. If they don't drag their heels too long, it should be confined largely to the surface.

4. Bottled water is an option. People will still be subject to topical exposure, but that is brief and should be harmless.

5. Just keep those Geiger counters busy. There are undoubtedly plenty of tricks the people in the middle of this can come up with case by case, a lot more than we commentards can imagine here.

Ray Simard

The best source for information

I strongly recommend the IAEA website. It's factual, dispassionate and technically informative.


Ray Simard

@Nuclear power IS NOT DANGEROUS!

So, when human beings screw up, blame the reactor.

Ray Simard


It is acknowledged that radiation levels at the plant itself are very dangerous, or at least were a while. The operators are very courageous to stay and they are widely regarded as heroes now; it's essentially certain that many of them will suffer serious consequences.

Ray Simard

@could your reporting be more useless?


1. As the previous responder reminds us, you'd have to drink the water for a long time to get that exposure.

2. You couldn't do that if you tried, at least, for iodine-137. The half-life is only 8 days. (Ce-131 is much longer, though).

3. There is a tendency for a lot of people to interpret the boundaries at which an agency starts recommending taking certain actions for safety as the boundaries at which something becomes dangerous; that is, for example, if the government says that radiation levels have just increased to the point where they start evacuating people, that means levels have reached the point where it's dangerous to remain.

That is incorrect, at least, if the government is on the ball.

You make these decisions with a safety margin, that is, you start evacuating when levels are still well below the point where it's dangerous to remain, but on the rise. Going into chicken-little mode the moment someone says you should refrain from drinking the water or eating the spinach or breathing the air is overreacting.

BA jihadist relied on Jesus-era encryption

Ray Simard

@Re Re Rule #1

Yes; it's called a one-time pad, and it's the only form of encryption believed to be truly unbreakable, as long as the key is truly random and isn't left around somewhere where it can be found, and is never reused.

Ray Simard

@Re: Wrong algorithm

As long as they don't speak Arabic.

Ray Simard

@Yup, expect "blank" wax tablets being posted around the world. →

My dear Holmes!

Anonymous DoS attacks thwarted with Aikido hip throw

Ray Simard


If that defense is part of the Roboo tool, it's no secret anyway; Roboo is open-source.

Texas bank robber asked for ID

Ray Simard

It is indeed

Almost as good as the one who left a bank empty-handed when the teller told him he had to have an account with the bank to rob it.

Fukushima reactor shell ruptured?

Ray Simard


Good idea.


Ray Simard

@Jeez, people,

I wish people critical of the more optimistic reports and opinion pieces would stop characterizing their themes as "nothing's wrong, no problem." Nobody credible is suggesting that. Nobody credible is suggesting that there isn't the chance for a very serious outcome, or that there isn't the need for very careful, urgent and dangerous measures.

If you want to criticize something, please do, but don't rewrite it first.

Ray Simard

@Fundamental engineeering

Modern reactor designs work precisely that way; it's called passive nuclear safety.


Ray Simard


As of the last time I checked, which was some hours ago, it appeared that the story of a possibly cracked containment vessel at #2 was from Reuters. Could Reuters have gotten some bogus information? It's hard to imagine that TEPCO brass could keep a lid on this. If small but measurable radiation has been detected from the minimal amounts released by the ventings, this would mean orders of magnitude more leakage. Surely radiation levels just outside the evacuation area would have soared by now. There's no way that could be kept under wraps.

Site-saving workers evacuated from Japanese reactor disaster

Ray Simard

They're back in

Reuters says they were evacuated "briefly." They've now returned.


Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now!

Ray Simard

@Matt Hawkins

Just two things from a first glance:

>"'I'm sorry but they built reactors and didn't consider tsunamis? "

Of course they considered tsunamis. They didn't consider--or rather, they didn't design for--a tsunami as enormous as this one. It was about 5 times the design limit, and the safety margins are such that the plant came through very well, just not quite well enough to prevent this trouble.

This is not a one-in-a-hundred-years event. It's a never-happened-before-in-recorded-history event. You can't build anything infinitely strong; you have to determine a worst-case design criterion, add in safety margins and build to that. It turns out that the next time around it will be necessary to establish the baseline higher, and to retrofit existing facilities accordingly. An engineering challenge, but one that will be met.

Ray Simard

@Wayland Sothcott 1

The fuel did not explode. It was hydrogen. To get an idea of just how destructive hydrogen combustion can be, look up video of the Hindenburg disaster.


Ray Simard

@AC: hmmm...

Regarding moving the USS Ronald Reagan and 200,000 people out of the area:

In a few words, playing it safe. You don't wait until a potential threat becomes a real danger to start preparing for it. If it's reasonably possible to move people out from under tolerable levels of exposure to essentially zero exposure, that's the thing to do.

In the second place, exposure is cumulative, so it makes sense to minimize the time.

A helicopter flew right through the emissions from one of the explosions. On return, the crew were checked, their uniforms removed and destroyed, and they were thoroughly washed with soap and water. The result? Normal radiation levels.

Ray Simard

@AC: Nuclear : "not much impact" = 56 deaths

At Chernobyl, nothing happened inside the containment vessel because the reactor didn't have one.

Japanese nuke meltdown may be underway

Ray Simard


Let's wait until we find out what happened and then consider the status of the container, its contents and the fan.

Emergency declared at second quake-wracked Japanese nuke plant

Ray Simard

Diesel generators

The first plant has diesel generators but they are not working. The news didn't say why. I should think that this plant would be the same.

Patent attack on Google open codec faces 'antitrust probe'

Ray Simard

@Undermining HTML video

What the bloody hell are you talking about?

Forcing everyone to keep using Flash? How? Firefox 4 has native WebM support; so does Opera and codecs (free) are available for IE and Safari. Flash is only another alternative.

The only way companies in the MPEG-LA group would be "shooting themselves in the foot" by taking up WebM is that a chance for a stranglehold on HTML5 video they can exploit for their own benefit is lost. Are you suggesting that is a bad thing?