* Posts by Orclev

33 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Feb 2008

El Reg marks Steve Jobs for termination


Beer obviously

OK, it was late Friday, cut me some slack, I was only off by one vowel. Fail, as my ability to spot typos obviously did.



He's saying el reg is filled with a bunch of whingers. Maybe el reg should put out a USian to Brit and Brit to USian guide to help those of us on different sides of the ocean.



Nah, the guys just crazy. I've lived my whole life in the US (barring occasional trips) and it likewise says nothing of the sort to me. It's Friday, go get a bear and ignore the moron.

The Linux Chronicles, Part 1


Somewhat agreed

Personally I have no problem with Ubuntu (and I used it for a while on my laptop), but for my day to day work programming I find Arch to be better simply because there's less hoops to jump through to get the latest dev snapshot of libraries installed. Yes you can do it on Ubuntu, but it often gets cranky when you do. Now, for my relatives, I never install anything but Ubuntu (and the one time I made the mistake of installing Kubuntu thinking they might like the flashy graphics), and it keeps things nice and simple for them. On one of my servers I'm running Gentoo, but in retrospect I probably should have gone with Arch as the whole emerge system is slightly unstable in practice.

I think it's one of the great features of Linux that you don't have to start with a "one size fits all" version and tweak it till it somewhat resembles what you want. Instead you can get whatever distro happens to most closely match the experience you want, and then perform few if any tweaks to get it where you like.

In a related note, just so no one accuses me of being a fanboy, I do run Windows 7 on my gaming system (and it gets along quite nicely thank you), and my wife owns a MacBook and an iMac, which do very well (so long as you do things the "Apple way", god help you if you deviate from how Jobs thinks you should be using his hardware).

Zuckerberg sweats privacy criticism


The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

"There have been misperceptions that we are trying to make all information open. That's completely false,"

He went on to state "The only way for people to gain access to your information is to pay us top dollar for it. Rest assured, only the largest and best funded of companies will know every last detail of your personal life."

The Pirate Party is the shape of things to come


Finally, some good points

[I had more to say in this post, but I'm already at the limit for post size]

"The Pirate Party quite specifically restricts creators access to markets. It does so by removing the choices are creator has to sell their creations in the marketplace. It also removes the protections they currently enjoy."

No, not really. They aren't calling for abolishment of copyright, although a 5 year copyright period is a bit on the short side with a minimum of 10 years being far more reasonable. So, during that 10 year period the creator still has full control over when and how his work is sold. As for the "protections", there is some change there, although not anything your average person is going to notice, as most of the new "protections" are just attempts to prop up the inherently flawed (and massively abused) concept of DRM. Strip away all the stupid DRM laws and restore fair use exemptions and we'll be back to the reasonable copyright protections we've had in the past without losing anything that actually makes any difference to the creators.

"Care to name some? Korea doesn't count ;-)"

Napster, BearShare, iMesh, MP3.com, Pandora, etc. For some more you can check out the list the RIAA publishes [1], or just google for legal mp3 download. Some of those mentioned use a P2P model, some don't. The exact fashion in which the music is distributed is less important than the fact that it can be. Several times now the record companies have also attempted to establish their own subscription based P2P music services, although I can't say off the top of my head if any of them ever got beyond the planning stage. As for legal P2P services for other kinds of content, that's much rarer. For instance, I'm not aware of any P2P ebook service, although there are of course quite a few legal sources you can purchase ebooks from, and particularly with the launch of Kindle, Nook, and now the iPad those services should be seeing pretty good profits.

"More than 80 per cent of people here said they'd consider paying for a P2P music service, but there wasn't one on offer."

Mostly there isn't a good one on offer. The record companies are really shooting themselves in the foot over this one because they're so scared of piracy that they handicap everyone's efforts to offer a good service, and end up killing the services. Then they use the failure of the services they killed as an excuse to say "see, legal services don't work", when in fact they only failed because of the choices the record companies forced them to make. Apple has been a boon to the industry because they had enough weight to force the record companies to accept some decisions they didn't want to make, but even then there's a lot that even Apple can't force them to do. There's also the danger that the record companies are starting to realize which is that Apple will essentially replace them as the maintainers of the distribution monopoly.

"Oldies stations, which didn't exist until the 1980s, by definition play old records."

True enough, and yes, the musicians that created the music they play would not receive proceeds under a 10 year copyright. Once again though, I'd really question how much proceeds those musicians are seeing as it is. What might also be enlightening is how much the record companies receive as opposed to the musicians. My original point still stands though, as even an oldies station only plays a small fraction of the music that was produced more than 10 years ago, and therefor represents a relatively small portion of profits from music sales.

"A five or ten year copyright would rob performers and composers of their performance rights."

Actually no, the performers would still have their performance rights after 10 years, it's just that everyone else would as well. Just because they lose the monopoly on being able to perform a piece doesn't mean that they couldn't anymore, just that it gives others the opportunity to perform it as well, although realistically I don't think that's as much of an issue. Bands often play other peoples music (so called cover songs), and may or may not pay for the right to do so. Officially not paying (or otherwise obtaining permission) to perform the piece is illegal, but it's not particularly well enforced, particularly in small clubs with local bands.

"I think you mean "sound recording" - the CD is merely the container for the bag of rights that a recording encapsulates."

No, a CD is a container for the recording, the physical medium. The rights are held by the creator, or in most cases the producer the creator sold the rights to. This is one of the points where things start to get a little tricky, particularly with the fair use rights. The reason for this, is that you have two different sets of rights in one physical item. That is, you have the physical rights of the CD, which means for instance you're allowed to re-sell it (right of first sale), but you also have the fair use rights that cover the copyrighted work, which covers things like format shifting. Now, this wouldn't be an issue if there was only ever one true copy of the work in question, but that's not how things work. For instance, you can take a CD you've purchased, and rip an MP3 from it. So far, everything's fine, no rules violated yet. Furthermore, you could take a CD you purchased and sell it to your friend (without paying anything to the record label, or the artist), and once again, everything's still kosher. The point you begin to run into problems however is when you exercise both sets of rights at the same time, that is for instance you rip a MP3 off the CD, and then sell the CD to your friend. Furthermore fair use means that you could duplicate the CD for backup purposes, as well as other purposes such as having a copy you keep in your car, as well as one at the house, and maybe a third at your office. All those copies are perfectly legal as their exempted from copyright because you paid for the right to have that CD already, and you're merely making it more convenient for you to do so. Once again however you run into problems when you start distributing any of those copies. In short, it's never the act of making a copy that's illegal, rather it's the act of distributing copies.

"That's a bit like saying Van Gogh's pictures realised their true value in his lifetime."

They certainly realized their physical value in his lifetime. Collectible value is a bit harder to define of course. If I make a duplicate of Van Gogh's painting, and manage to sell it as an original (ignoring for now fraud statutes), does that make the true value of my duplicate equal to the original? Value is subjective and will naturally vary over time. Perhaps what I should have said originally was the production cost of the CD as opposed to its true value, as really there's no such thing as "true value".

"For sure, under a Pirate regime creators would be able to perform tricks for corporate sponsors, and perhaps even the State."

So, nothing new there? What do you call signing your rights away to a record label? The only difference would be how long those rights you signed away would last.

"But you've taken a lot of choice away from the creator and taken them several steps back from the economic opportunities they previously enjoyed."

No choices have been taken from the creators, except perhaps limiting their ability to sue for bypassing DRM (sort of a separate but related issue, I actually care somewhat less about getting all the stupid DRM supporting legislation off the books than I do about reducing copyright length). As for economic opportunities, a shorter copyright period would reduce the length they could enjoy those opportunities, but once again for the vast majority of content producers there would be little noticeable change there. On the flip side, a reduced copyright period would allow more works to fall into public domain, thereby allowing society as a whole to benefit from and expand on those works. For music, this is less beneficial as music tends not to really build on older works all that much, at least not in any way that's protected by copyright, but for television, books, and programs (in particular) this would be a major boon to creativity.

Anyway, I'm glad to see you arguing your points now without resorting for the most part to Ad Hominem attacks and other poor tactics, and you actually made one or two good points. I'd say the biggest problem with this discussion now is that there's so many different arguments going on it's getting hard to cover all of them. For instance, there's the discussion about what the Pirate Party hopes to accomplish, and how their policy choices would affect things. There's the discussion about whether copyright even needs to be reformed. There's the discussion that most people have been ignoring about privacy rights. There's the discussion about other alternatives than the Pirate Party's on how to reform copyright. Then to further muddy the waters there's the confusion within copyright itself that doesn't distinguish between music, books, paintings, television, movies, or programs, even though each of these is vastly different from the others.

I'm definitely interested in seeing your responses, but I'm not sure if I'm going to continue to comment anymore, as we could probably keep at this for weeks without getting too much farther.

[1] http://www.riaa.com/toolsforparents.php?content_selector=legal_music_sites


Not sure why I bother at this point

Well, lets just go through these point by point shall we?

"This Sixth Form cut-and-paste stuff really isn't helping you. You've arrived late, and missed the discussion. I'll recap for your benefit:"

This is irrelevant and is pretty typical of the sort of sniping you tend to do. But regardless, no, I didn't arrive late, I in fact have a post on page one (possibly page two now with all the replies) of this discussion, and in fact the post you're responding to would have been much earlier in the conversation but got rejected by the mods the first time around.

"My way means nobody needs to lose out, lose rights or choices or access to markets."

No in fact it doesn't, and you just saying so doesn't make it so. You propose that they create some legal file sharing services, which, they in fact have. They do OK, but not terribly well for a variety of reasons, most notably that people don't want to have to pay to share, rather they would rather pay to own, such as in the wildly popular iTunes market. Essentially your argument is that if they make legal P2P services (they have), then piracy will go away (it hasn't), and everyone will be happy (no one is). There are a variety of ways that have been proposed to deal with this, none of them particularly good. There's the route the music and movie industries are currently pursuing which is to in essence make non-authorized file sharing services illegal, never mind the fact that there's lots of things such services are used for on a regular basis that have nothing at all to do with violating copyright. Another tactic such organizations are pursuing is attempting to pawn off enforcement on ISPs, but that doesn't really deal with the problem, it just shifts who has to pay the fees off on an innocent third party. There's also the option being toyed with by a variety of nations including I believe Canada, which is to levy some sort of music tax on everyone and then divide the proceeds among the artists, never mind how exactly an equitable arrangement on how to divide those assets is supposed to be arrived at, or the fact that such a tax by its vary nature is unfair to consumers who may or may not be interested in listening to said artists.

"Your [way] means a lot of people do lose out."

The copyright holders on the whole will not be affected by a reduction of copyright length. Very little profit is ever seen by works older than 10 years, let alone 30. Some companies would be suffer more than others, such as Disney who derives a not inconsiderable portion of their income from artificially restricting the availability of their older movies thereby creating artificially low supply (which of course drives up demand, and in turn leads to higher perceived value). The music industry might also suffer somewhat although probably not in the way you imagine. Assuming for now a 10 year copyright, what it would do is demonstrate the true value of a CD. That is, because anyone could distribute a CD containing works older than 10 years, it would be a race to the bottom, and therefor the company that could produce a good quality CD (and associated packaging) for the cheapest price would be the most successful. I'd guesstimate that you could probably accomplish such for a few dollars including distribution costs to get it to the stores. Such a situation would lead to shelves on which the latest CDs would be sitting around at the current $10 to $15 a piece, along side much older CDs at $2 to $5. Such a situation would probably lead many to wonder why exactly it is that they should pay $10 for a CD, when clearly it's only costing the CD producer something less than ~$3 to produce the CD. Even in such a situation however I think most people would still be willing to pay the $10 assuming it was a band they actually care about, particularly if they knew a significant portion of that ~$7 markup was going to the band and not the distributor.

"You need to justify both morally and economically."

I don't really, but I think I have anyway.

"The Ladybird Book of Lessig will not be of much use to you here. Nor will nostalgia for pre-industrial Feudalism. Off you go."

More irrelevant sniping. I find it particularly hilarious that you invoke feudalism in this case, as you're position is closer to feudalism. Feudalism was all about maintaining a monopoly on land ownership, and you're in favor of maintaining a monopoly on content distribution.

Dead Vulture

Apparently adult discourse is too much for el reg

[snip - off-topic]

Copyright, is a monopoly (in theory a temporary one, increasingly less so) given to an individual (and thanks to the magic of corporations, companies) on the duplication and distribution of a work. In a free market, monopolies are bad because they distort the market, and hence they are generally regulated against. Things that are trivial to duplicate tend to have no value in a true free market because anyone that wants them can obtain them easily. Certain kinds of easily duplicated items, such as music, art, books, and now programs, however greatly benefit society, and thus need to have some non-zero value in order to encourage their production. On the other hand, it does not benefit society to have these resources locked up in perpetuity as the advancement of the mediums depends on being able to build on prior work (classic case of don't re-invent the wheel). Due to this inherit conflict between creating a monopoly in order to provide an otherwise non-valuable work with value, and the damage to society that a monopoly causes, a compromise was reached in the creation of temporary copyrights, and the establishment of a set of exemptions to said copyrights (fair use doctrine).

Over the years the length of copyright terms have been steadily increased, the scope of what can be copyrighted has increased, and the exemptions to copyright have slowly been eroded. Now we find ourselves so far removed from the original purpose of copyright that people don't even realize copyright was originally envisioned as a temporary right, and instead seem to believe it was created as a permanent monopoly. We have in fact come so far, that those who would attempt to push us back towards (and in some cases past) the original intent of copyright are treated as if they are hurting society rather than helping it. Yes, the monopolies will suffer somewhat at the reductions in copyright, but they were never intended to have profited so greatly from it in the first place, and more to the point the rest of society will benefit.

To be clear, I'm not advocating abolishment of copyright, and from what I've seen neither is the Pirate Party. Rather I'm advocating for a return to the original intent of copyright for the betterment of society at large, even if it means a reduction in profits for copyright holders. Even a reduction of copyright to 30 years would go a long way towards re-establishing a balance between copyright holders and society, although quite a bit of reform will also be necessary to restore the fair use and privacy rights that have also been eroded as well.

Lets see if you can respond to this without resorting to straw-man arguments, or ad hominem attacks, as you have to most of the other commenter's.


Uhm, no?

First of all, a foreign country can't prohibit imports, only the country in question can do that. The only thing a foreign country can do is put limitations on exports, but once something has left the country there's not very much control the country can exert on its final destination. As for Windows, you could use Windows 95/98/XP for free (although not SP1, SP2 or SP3, and not plain XP till next year as it was released in 2001), but you couldn't use Vista (who would want to?), or Windows 7 without actually buying them. Now pause to consider that Microsoft doesn't even want to sell copies of XP anymore, nevermind the previous releases and I think you'll see that a 10 year copyright wouldn't change much of anything really in the software industry. Well, it would allow programs to interoperate a bit easier, at least if software patent was eliminated or similarly limited.

Now, the music and movie/tv industry on the other hand would be a different situation. Well... not so much actually. How many 10+ year old movies are making major money? Oh sure, there's a number of classics out there that get milked fairly regularly *cough*disney*cough*, but on the whole most of the movie industry profit comes from new releases. The music industry makes a fair bit of profit off older music, but really shouldn't that be incentive for them to invest more in finding new good music rather than simply milking the old good music? How much of the music put out in the last 10 years actually sells? How much of the music in the last 20? I don't know, I'm a programmer not a musician. What I do know is there have been about 4 cds I've purchased in the last 10 years, and no I don't download music illegally (I do download some music from time to time, but it's being distributed legally as its primarily independent work freely given by the author).

Commodore 64 reincarnated as quad-core Ubuntu box


Depends on how bad your OS is

If you've got a decent OS (any linux in the last few years, OS X, and any version of windows since, I think XP SP1, possibly even pre-SP1) it's not a problem, most of them have rudimentary drivers for USB devices in the install media. For that matter, most of the current motherboard BIOS will support USB keyboards and mice as well. These days you really have to go out of your way to find a new system that won't work with a USB keyboard.

Are West Bromwich Borg pliers actually side cutters?

Black Helicopters

Title goes here

I followed the point at which the pliers "appear" on the camera to the point they seem to fall off as the google-mobile takes a turn. If you look at the frame just before the pliers show up, you can see a pair of youths standing on top of a green box of some kind and looking at the google-mobile. There's been some speculation that the drivers got out to tweak something and left the pliers, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the afore mentioned youths playing a prank that caused them to appear there.

How FBI, police busted massive botnet


They didn't get the head, they got the tail.

I'd be willing to bet that these guys are just the dumb patsies that got talked into running this thing by the guys that actually wrote it. Makes since if you think about it. You're a smart, talented malware author (of dubious morals naturally) so you know the odds of getting caught while running one of these things although slim are not worth the risk, so what do you do? You find a couple of morons and get them to pay you a nice fat chunk of money for your malware, and then they run all the risk should the C&C servers ever get backtracked as happened in this case. I'd bet you'll be seeing a mariposa mark 2 making the rounds before too much longer being controlled by a new set of patsies.

Old PS3s locked out of PlayStation Network


Oh Rly?

Nah, the god of gaming was trying to tell you you should have bought a Wii.

I know, I know, I'll get my coat.

Chuck Norris botnet doesn't infect routers...


You miss the point.

It's not the OS that's at issue here, it's the brain-dead way most of the devices are configured. The real core of the attack is just a brute force using a list of known default logins and passwords (the single D-Link vulnerability aside). It boggles the mind why these devices aren't configured to require you to pick a new password at least when you first log into them, and for that matter they really should disable administrative access from the outbound ports (there are however ways to get around that if you abuse UPnP or bounce through a compromised system inside the network). Ultimately nothing is going to make these devices 100% secure, but we could at least make them have to work for it a little. I can't tell you how many times I've been able to log into someones how router to fix an issue just by guessing admin/admin.

Experts reboot list of 25 most dangerous coding errors


Simpler than that

You're over thinking things a bit. The reason that web vulnerabilities are so prevalent is that this is a list of the top 25 most prevalent security bugs and, this being the age of the internet and all, websites are the front door to most networks. It's simple really, you don't start breaking into someones network by cracking their internal payroll system, you do it by exploiting a flaw in some web facing application, which invariably means cracking a poorly written PHP, Java, or .NET site. Once you've got your foot in the door so to speak, then you can worry about mucking with more traditional systems. Of course the variety of worms, trojans etc. making the rounds also contribute to the prevalence of more traditional vulnerabilities (E.G. buffer overflow).

Another way of thinking about it is in terms of surface area, which for a program is the amount of the code directly, or indirectly but shallowly, accessible from the internet. Web applications by their very nature have a very large surface area, where traditional applications tend to have a much smaller surface area. To use a popular target as an example, Adobe Reader has a relatively small surface area requiring the user to first download or view a malicious pdf file, but that small surface area is mitigated by the prevalence of the software, as well as the tendency to embed the viewer inside web browsers thereby increasing its surface area (by reducing it's depth).

Microsoft tests show no Win 7 battery flaw


Dud batteries?

Maybe part of the problem is also people buying dodgy "new" batteries from Chinese suppliers? It could very well be that their "official" battery is a cheap knockoff that really is putting out less than 60% of its claimed capacity and this new monitor is essentially tipping people off to the swindle.

Inside Microsoft's innovation crisis


Point of order

OK, I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but I do have to give credit to Microsoft Research, which to be clear is a separate entity from Microsoft proper. There's some really great work going on in Microsoft Research, including the work by people like Simon Peyton-Jones. Now, near as I can tell Microsoft hasn't got a clue what kind of things are going on in their own R&D labs, or if they do they seem hellbent on insuring the only bits of it that see the light of day are the boring and mediocre pieces. Remember all the cool features that were supposed to be in Vista but somehow got left on the floor? Microsofts biggest problem is that they're own momentum insures that anything interesting will die long before it reaches market because it will invariable threaten existing products, or break backwards compatibility. So, MS continues at their usual glacial pace, playing catchup with the rest of the industry while some truly talented individuals produce great work in their R&D labs that's practically guaranteed to never see the light of day, at least not in a MS product.


So many points, and almost all of them wrong

First of all, Linux isn't a clone of MINIX, Linus just used MINIX when he was writing Linux and used some of its POSIX documentation as a base for writing the POSIX layer in Linux. A lot of the early ideas in Linux are borrowed from MINIX, but just as many aren't, and the current versions of Linux and MINIX are completely different architecturally. If anything, Linux borrowed more heavily from UNIX than it did MINIX. Shall we next perhaps discuss how Microsoft borrowed most of its GUI from Apple, who in turn borrowed most of their GUI from Xerox (implemented on top of UNIX naturally)?

On the topic of OS X to even suggest that it stole ideas from Vista is ludicrous. There's nothing in OS X (barring maybe expose) that hasn't been around for years in UNIX/Linux, so if anything they copied from Linux (or UNIX or Solaris, at the application layer it's really all the same for the most part). OS X never claimed (to my knowledge anyway) that any of its features were new or particularly innovative, but in typical fashion Apple delivered a lot of existing concepts in a very clean and consistent finished package, something Microsoft still fails to achieve with astonishing regularity. Apple has a long history of taking other peoples ideas, polishing them up, and combining them in interesting ways to make finished products that provide a very nice end user experience. Microsoft on the other hand has a long history of taking other peoples ideas, using nasty marketing tactics to drive competition out of business and to jack up the price of their offerings, and then delivering a hastily slapped together beta^h^h^h^h finished product that quite often doesn't even make it through the install process without running into problems. There's a reason the industry standard for Microsoft products is to wait to buy anything till at least service pack 1 is released.

On the topic of MS Office, all I'm going to say is that I've never seen a genuine need for anything they have to offer, as everything Office does can be done better by other tools. MS Office is the MS Paint of the working world. It's finger-painting for middle managers.

.NET is not in fact a lightweight copy of Java, I'll give you that. It's a complete heavy weight re-implementation of Java with a couple new features of questionable merit tacked on. As such, all the things that Java gets regularly bashed for are equally applicable to .NET. There is nothing in .NET that hasn't been done as good or better in other languages, so the claim that it's genuinely innovative is absurd. Actually, to be clear we really should be comparing .NET to the JVM, and C# to Java. C# brings nothing to the table that's better than Java in any meaningful way. As for the implementation of .NET and the JVM I haven't seen that either one is particularly better than the other.

If I was going to point out genuine innovation, I'd point to in no particular order: L4, Singularity (MS Research, which is not the same as MS proper), Haskell, Scala, the original inventor of multitouch (no it wasn't Apple or anyone you've likely heard of), and LLVM. This is of course by no means a complete list and new and interesting things are being created all the time, this is just what I could pull off the top of my head in short order.

As a final point, Windows success has nothing to do with standard anything, it has to do with network effect, shrewd marketing, ruthless business decisions, and some very lucky timing.

Rattled Red Hat battles support impostors



I don't know how RHEL stacks up against Oracle, or the latest releases of SuSE, but I do know my experience with RHEL 5.0 has been worse than what I remember from my previous use of SuSE (number of years ago, something like 3.0 I think). I know for a fact that if we weren't tied to RHEL about half our office would jump ship to something else (my personal preference would probably be Gentoo or maybe Arch), but unfortunately our corporate mandated VCS is ClearCase (and don't get me started on what a flaming pile ClearCase is) which is only supported on RHEL (and I think one other distro but I can't remember what that is off the top of my head). Sure, I suppose RHEL is "stable", but being "stable" isn't terribly useful to me when I'm constantly having to manually install various unapproved packages just to get things to work. I'm sure RHEL is perfectly fine on a server where you probably don't need to keep anything much more demanding than apache and sendmail up and running, but it sure makes a lousy workstation.

To their credit, when the license servers work, things run very smoothly, however that's somewhat mitigated by the fact that when they go wrong there's not a whole heck of a lot you can do other than complain to Red Hat as loudly as possible. Compounding this failure is the fact that even if the registration server is working fine and you can connect to their update servers their package selection is less than inspiring. For the most part, if you want to install something beyond the most basic RHEL install, you're most likely going to have to download the applications tarball (or possibly rpm if you're feeling lucky) and associated libraries and build it yourself.

The entire value of a Linux distribution is in the package management, ease of installation, and automated update mechanisms, so what exactly is the value in a distribution with flaky package management, flakier update systems, and very limited package support?

If I was Red Hat, I'd be a bit more than nervous, but I suppose someone must actually like their distro otherwise I can't see it making the kind of cash it does. Surely not everyone has it forced on them due to their choice (or lack there of) of VCS?

Endeavour stays toasty in Florida chill


Not just cold

As has been hinted at in other comments it's not the cold that's the problem, it's the ice sheets that form on the exposed surfaces that are. Even though space is "cold" after a fashion that's not a problem because it's a vacuum (more or less) so there's no moisture to freeze into sheets of ice. Those parts of the shuttle that are sensitive to cold temperatures (like say the people inside) are protected by various layers of insulation and heating (or cooling as appropriate) systems so no problems there.

Incidentally the lows at night in Florida have been getting down below freezing lately, so it's very possible that ice sheets could form on the shuttle.

Pioneer puts Pandora Radio in your car



Via the magic of the intertubes El Reg also has a significant American readership. There's also the possibility that Pandora might become available in the UK sometime soon in which case you have this handy review.

US Navy spends $12m on electric hypercannon



Coil guns, or as their sometimes called Gauss Rifles, are harder to build, and less efficient than a rail gun. They both use electromagnetic forces to propel the projectile, but the need to switch magnetic coils on and off at incredibly high rates means a large scale high velocity gauss rifle is essentially impossible. To start with, a electromagnetic coil is naturally resistant to state change, so it's got a delay while it powers up and another delay while it powers down, plus a greater delay if you switch the polarity as that's essentially a power down coupled with a power up. To achieve the kinds of velocities you can with a railgun using a gauss rifle you'd need to switch the coils at essentially the velocity of the projectile. Even assuming you could manage to get the coils to switch fast enough, if you think it's difficult preventing the rails in a railgun from ripping themselves apart, just try to manage the same feat on a whole set of coils (hint, coils tend to deform when you put large pulses of electricity through them).

Primary schools hit by smut hack


@Nicholas Ettel

I don't see how you get

"It's good to see the wool is secured firmly over their eyes"

out of

"We are not aware of any vulnerabilities in our most recent versions."

It's not like they're trying to claim there are no vulnerabilities, just none they're aware of yet. Reading between the lines somewhat what he's saying is that they know about security flaws in some older versions of the software, and it's possible the sites didn't patch up to the latest version, or that there's an yet unknown vulnerability in the current version, but until they finish their investigation they can't say for sure how it happened.

Google on trial over Italian 'defamation' vid



The rest of the world is not going to filter the internet for you, and most certainly are not going to do so with your local laws used as the criteria for filtering. To do so would not only be incredibly expensive, but would in all likelihood violate laws elsewhere in the world. If Italy continues pushing this asinine point the proper response is for all companies to block access from Italy which handles the problem in a simple and effective manner.

Passport RFIDs cloned wholesale by $250 eBay auction spree

Paris Hilton

Probably a mistake

I'd bet that's supposed to be one meter, not one mile. In theory, with everything just right, a massive signal, and a big honking antenna (not to mention a really sturdy RFID chip that won't fry when the hyped up signal energizes it) you might just barely be able to read a RFID chip from a mile away. Reading from a distance of 1 meter however is entirely plausible, and in most cases fairly easy to accomplish.

Paris because she's not so good with those metric units either.

Firefox 3.1 release date hampered by cheeky monkey


Seems fine to me

I've been running the beta (currently 3.1b3pre) and haven't had any problems with it. Of course it might be because I also run Adblock plus and noscript so all the wonky JS and flash the ad companies put out to annoy the crap out of anyone with a brain (who aren't their target demographic anyway) aren't mucking up the javascript engine like they are for everyone else. Depending on how google does with implementing a extension system I might convert to chrome, but till I get the equivalent of adblock plus and noscript in chrome I'm going to have to forgo that option.

BitTorrent net meltdown delayed


@Richard Bennett

"The fact that BT, Inc. has abandoned TCP because it doesn't effectively manage congestion is a very telling admission, because it makes the argument that traffic shaping is an essential part of the Internet and not just an annoying means of monopoly rent-seeking."

It does no such thing. It makes the argument that TCP was never designed to provide "traffic shaping" in the first place, it was design to provide reliable communication over a loss prone connection. The fact that some rudimentary congestion control was tacked on after the fact due to a flaw in the design of the internet does not in any way imply that traffic shaping is essential to the internet. The only thing traffic shaping is essential to is the well being of some ISPs broken business model in which they sign contracts with customers to provide services that they lack the resources to deliver.

Business ISP blunders on BNP list


Parden the intrusion

But being from across the pond, think you might clue a yank into what the BNP is? Based on the comments I get the feeling it's some kind of fascist political party, but I've never heard of it before now.

Laptops to blame for Qantas jet plunge?


@Jolyon Ralph

Asking people to turn electronics off on an airplane has absolutely nothing to do with the plane. It's done for two reasons, first because phones used on a plane cause excess traffic and other problems on cellphone networks, and second so that people actually (in theory) listen to the mind numbingly boring announcements that are made during take off instead of playing with their gadgets. For more details see the article at: http://db.tidbits.com/article/9796

Google restores Chrome's shine


Not so nepharious

"Fair enough check for updates to a program, but isn't once a day, at startup of the program, triggered from the program itself, enough ?"

It's not checking for updates for the program (ok, it might be), but the main thing it's doing is constantly updating the anti-phishing list it maintains. It's really rather smart of them, because it sidesteps a major complaint people would have. They essentially had two options for anti-phishing, take the FF/IE approach of phoning home everytime you type in a URL to see if it matches with a known phishing site, or periodically download a list of "bad" URLs and do a local comparison. In the first instance, they'd be accused to spying on everything everyone does, which is exactly what MS is accused of doing with IE, and what people are already trying to claim Chrome does even without any proof. In the second case they have to make a trade off between constantly updating to catch a site as soon as it pops up, or updating less regularly and potentially missing a site for a while. Due to the inherently short-lived nature of most phishing sites (usually 24-48 hours), they need to update on a fairly regular basis or else they're not really doing much good, hence the phone home every 10 minutes or so.

Now that I've tossed some cold water on the tin-foil hat crowd I'll get my coat.

HD DVD sales still solid despite format's failure



Actually if you have a large 1080P HD set (bigger than 46" or so), then switching from standard DVD to BD really can make a noticeable difference (mostly in reduction of pixilation). Then again, if you've got a HD set that's smaller than 46" it probably isn't very noticeable so a upscaling DVD would probably work fine. That being the case though I don't know why anyone would buy a standalone BD player at all when a PS3 not only gets you a well supported and upgradeable player, but also nets you a game system at the same time.

Horror bestseller condemns videogame sales limit law


@Mad Hacker

I'd go with repealing the anti-porn laws. It's the parents right to judge what's best for their kids, and the parents responsibility for the actions of those kids. If little Johny goes on a killing spree, guess what, it's the parents fault. That being said, some people are really off their rocker and need medical and psychiatric attention, but the nanny state and anti-accountability climate that's prevailed as of late is seriously hindering the treatment of these individuals.

Major Linux security glitch lets hackers in at Claranet



The difference here between Windows and Linux is that when the vulnerability was discovered in Linux there was a hotfix and a patch out almost the same day, and every vendor should have a patch out in less than a month. It also doesn't affect too many production systems as it's only a very narrow range of version that are affected, it just happens to be that a couple of the biggest distros are currently using one of those versions. If it had been one of the smaller distros you probably wouldn't have even heard about any sites actually getting hit by this. Contrast that to Windows where the response is usually to sweep the vulnerability under the rug and put out a patch in a month or two. In Linux, if you were inclined you could compile the patch and install the hot fix as soon as it was released and you would have had a window of vulnerability of less than 2 days. In Windows you're at the mercy of Microsoft and there's nothing you can do about it until they decide to release a patch in a month or two.

As for this particular vulnerability, I find it interesting that production systems were hit, as it shouldn't be remotely exploitable. It's a privilege escalation attack that requires permission to compile (or download) a binary and execute it on the target machine. Sounds like maybe they're running something else in need of a patch, or someone brute forced or social engineered their way onto the system.

Also, despite what I said I do run Windows for specific things (gaming), but I also use Linux and OS X where appropriate (work and laptop respectively). I do think Linux and OS X are superior to Windows, but you have to use the platform your programs require.