* Posts by Charlie Clark

8616 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Update Firefox: Mozilla just patched three hijack-me holes and a bunch of other flaws

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: I'd be happy

Printing multiple pages works fine here. Good printing of website pages is almost always dependent upon the website developers providing reasonable CSS for the purpose.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

We get it: you're happier running an older, less secure version because the newer versions have less features. I think we all do this to one degree or another for various bits of software. And, while I object, to the dumbing down of the UI in Firefox, I do understand the reasons they gave for dropping the older architecture, which is demonstrably safer because it is more restrictive. Fortunately, I didn't have any extensions that were permanently broken. Firefox is now faster and includes some features that were previously only available via extensions.

Spending watchdog doubts UK is capable of managing Brexit and coronavirus info campaigns at the same time

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Didn't that happen already?

I think that many of the people who voted to leave the EU (they understood "leave" but that was about it) were satisfied with the situation on 1st February and the last thing they want a campaign about is Brexit. If only there was some way to get an extension to the temporary arrangement without the humiliation of having to ask for one.

At some point the money will run out. The Bank of England has already started monetising government debt, so far with no apparent risk. Though anyone who thinks this is sustainable might want to review British finanances in the 1970s.

How many? 28 million fewer PCs and tablets to find a home in 2020

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Sure, but how many do you think are doing so at the moment?

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Evidence suggests that most employees who are pushed into remote working actually enjoy it

What evidence? Not those who have small children around that they're also supposed to teach… Then there will be the RSI problems associated with the fact that homes, for many, are not workplaces? Or is everyone also getting kitted out with external monitors, adjustable desks and office chairs?

PC hardware got a filip last year due to the scramble for Windows 10. It's been on the downhill slope ever since.

BBC voice assistant promises to summon streams even if you're just a little bit Brahms and Liszt

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Dear BBC

some news and current affairs coverage

I assume you're using the terms loosely as the quality of coverage seems to be declining almost while you read. The BBC News website used to be genuinely useful and interesting.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Alexa etc

Fortunately, the BBC Radio app still works fine if you're outside the UK. ;-)

We spent billions building atom smashers – and now boffins think nature's doing the same thing for free?

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Re: Fascinating stuff

Mass-energy equivalence (e=mc2) precludes it. Anything with mass effectively gets heavier and heavier the faster it moves and at the speed of light, it would be infinitely massive.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

I'm struggling to see the use, for us, in a neutron star.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

You already get extremely odd effects due to pressure and gravity in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. But in a neutron star I'd be surprised if you could really tell the difference between "sound" and anything else. Once gravity is sufficiently strong to overcome nuclear forces, comparisons really don't make a lot of sense and it's all just maths.

Contact-tracer spoofing is already happening – and it's dangerously simple to do

Charlie Clark Silver badge

I'm kind of the "every little helps" school of thought.

What about "every little error"? You can buy covid-19 antibody kits in the US with an accuracy of 50%. Do these help as well? Forget about walls – Bluetooth isn't directional so proxmity data is really unreliable: you get signal strength only. Add to this the problems due to extrapolating from insufficient sampling data.

Our biggest challenge with this virus is detecting it before symptoms show, which is why the Chinese have invested so heavily in remote temperature sensors. If we could quickly and reliably identify infected people then we should be able to reduce the spread of the virus very quickly.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Which again is flawed logic. When someone is infectious with an airborne virus, such as the flu, even brief close contact is sufficient to pass it on. This is why colds and flus spread so fast and why, the 1.5 metre rule is about the best we have.

The longer time really only makes sense in enclosed spaces where over time, even over distance you can expect to exchange biomes, which is why registers in restaurants and other places kind of make sense.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Well, that makes it a pay-to-play scheme. There are lots of reasons for wanting to spoof the MSN. For example, think of a crisis centre or somone who is being stalked. Networks could, however, do more to reduce scamming by comparing the real MSN with the displayed one but they don't like to do this without being paid for it.

The real problem, however, is with the providers who hand out blocks of numbers and provide access to the scammers. This is why in Germany regulation focusses on fining the providers because the scammers are often hard to trace or sanction, but whoever is providing their access to the PSTN must be registerted with the German network authority. As a result, AFAIK, there are far fewer phone scams here than in other countries.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

As a techie i find it staggering the the govt appears have just given up on a tracing "app" and just said

Well, maybe as a techie, you just don't understand the sketchy science (the heuristics both of the proximity calculations and the statistics required for results to be helpful) and the very valid concerns about data protection but still continue to place your faith in a technological solution.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: SMS falling out of use

I use it with my nearly teenage nephew and have seen known contacts spike recently.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

It's a thing because the networks have flexiblity built-in: there are good reasons for being able to change the CLIR: off-directory number, switchboard, etc. (My current mobile network provider has joined the "corona" bandwagon by changing its ident to "stay safe".) However, the networks routing the calls do know the actual originating MSN but have no incentive to do anything: they can charge for blocking and the punishments for letting traffic onto the networks, which is easier to trace once you know the actual MSN for the call.

'5G for Five Eyes!' US senator tells Parliamentarians the world would be better without Huawei

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Another nutjob hiding behind the flag

He's certainly all in on Trumpism - in the last week on twitter he's said military should be involved in quelling the protests

And isn't this precisely the reason for the second amendment? The right to bear arms against a repressive government? The NRA should be all in on the protests then!

There's no real need to take Tom Cotton seriously at the moment as Congress isn't usually involved in arms sales, only procurement. But it's nevertheless instructive about how the US will conduct trade negotiations with the UK, where Congress will be involved. So, to the list of chlorinated chicked, higher prescription charges, privatised healthcare you can now add shoddy telecommunications technology with backdoors.

Android 11 Beta 1 leaks on to handful of handsets days after official release postponed

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: New Icons, wooiaaahhh

Yes, but what else do you expect from this kind of report: new version gets installed without attendant changelog and developer event? It will take a while for anyone to export the ROM and do any serious comparison. So, in the meantime you get to see the A/B icon tests.

We could do with a snooze icon for this kind of thing! ;-)

Nokia's reboot of the 5310 is a blissfully dumb phone that will lug some mp3s about just fine

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Would this be a good 'phone to have ...

Many countries have already planned the reallocation of 2G (& 3G) frequencies for 5G services as it's the only way to provide sufficient bandwidth and soon you won't be able to buy much new equipment for 2G services. Note, reallocating some of the spectrum for 5G doesn't mean the emergency services can't continue to use it, as they only need a small portion.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Would this be a good 'phone to have ...

TV is generally moving from the airwaves to the interwebs to make way for mobile networks.

After 30 years of searching, astroboffins finally detect the universe's 'missing matter' – using fast radio bursts

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: ...but does it really "matter" given the state of Humanity?

This is demonstrably false.

Au contraire. There is a very strong inverse correlation between the fertility rate and the standard of living, as well as the level of education of women and their individual fertility rate.

But, basically matey, get off your high horse as I wasn't making a particularly serious point.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Astroboffins. Really?

Get a life.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: ...but does it really "matter" given the state of Humanity?

The birthrate of intellectuals is generally far lower than the average so this really is a foregone conclusion: the idiots will win.

Great news. Patch load drops 20% for the first time in 10 years. Bad news: Well, you've heard about coronavirus?

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Huh?

Software isn't a comestible like food or fuel.

Charlie Clark Silver badge


How many software companies have been laying people off? Software companies have had it by far easier than everyone else. I know it's fashionable to blame everything on the pandemic, but it doesn't make much sense here.

China's Tencent to order ONE MILLION SERVERS as part of $70bn digital infrastructure splurge

Charlie Clark Silver badge

How many orders for US chips?

Sounds like this won't lead to a full order book for Intel…

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Take a look at the Three Gorges Dam as a tiny example.

This is a particularly poor example as decline in rainfall in the basin has made it far less productive than initially intended.

While China is still building coal-fired power stations, it has also started to close them and sack coal miners as a result. It is also building lots of nuclear power stations, which is why it now seeks to build them for others. However, it has also recently become a super power when it comes to wind and solar, though given the power requirements for 2 bn. people, that isn't saying much.

Got $50k spare? Then you can crack SHA-1 – so OpenSSH is deprecating flawed hashing algo in a 'near-future release'

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Two hashes are better than one

MD5 was deprecated at least a decade ago. Once an algorithm has been deprecated it should be considered unsafe and no longer used. SHA-256 and something like RMD-160 are now more common alternatives.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Old devices

But a lot of things that will have it, will be boxes that you log in to, so updating the client is definitely required.

Ardour goes harder: v6.0 brings 'huge engineering changes' to open-source digital audio workstation

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lame was one of many mp3 implementations that were technically illegal.

In which jurisdictions? IIRC lame is fine in Germany, where Fraunhofer is based, because software patents are not enforceable.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: He's right

So use Qt for the convenience and portability. Use Gtk3 if you just need a GUI and nothing else or if your language isn't C++.

People are generally using the toolkits for portablity, which is why QT is so popular. And some languages, including Python, have excellent bindings.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

He's right

Much as I dislike GTK – QT is a far better choice – it's really a side issue for this kind of application.

You, Apple Mac fan. Put down the homemade oat-milk latte, you need to patch a load of security bugs, too

Charlie Clark Silver badge

I use it only for sharing key chain for some accounts on different machines. 5GB storage isn't enough for anything serious and the silent transferral of local files to a remote server is unacceptable.

Switzerland 'first' country to roll out contact-tracing app using Apple-Google APIs to track coronavirus spread

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Why bother?

Because, in the absence of a vaccine and a list of reliable and safe treatments, governments want to be seen doing something. And an app makes them look "modern" and digitally competent.

The rollout out for medical personnel also makes sense: a hospital is a great place to catch a diseaese, whether it's covid-19 or anything else, so you can imagine this, or something similar, becoming standard practice in future: instead of phones use some kind of badge for checking, controlling the hardware should improve the efficacy of any system because distance assessments should be more reliable.

But the general application of this app has moved further into the technological utopia.

IBM Sametime could rise again as HCL makes shortlist for India's home-grown Zoom clone

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Well, there's already Jitsi… and whatever Nextcloud is using.

Not going Huawei just yet: UK ministers reportedly rethinking pledge to kick Chinese firm out of telco networks by 2023

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Scepticism...

The risks are not quite that simple and multiple sourcing will only mitigate some risks, say at the base station level. When it comes to managing the network, it's a different issue. But the risk is probably still closer to the GPS one: disabling or disruption rather than mass surveillance. If you want to spy on people's communicatins it's far easier to do it if you can install something on their devices, or listening at the edge, which is what GCHQ is for.

The Huawei spat is a mainly "made for Twitter" issue that portrays Trump fighting for American's freedom and trying to gain leverage in trade talks with China. However, seeing as most of America's consumer electronics and a great deal of other stuff is made in China, it's that not that convincing.

If America is really worried about China working its way up the value chain, then it should start investing in the relevant areas. If companies spent less money on advertising and lobbying, they'd have more money for R&D.

Apple promises third, no, fourth, er, fifth time's a charm when it comes to macOS Catalina: 10.15.5 now out

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: It's UNIX

If you use something like MacPorts you can, indeed, replace a lot of components that Apple only updates with new releases. But much of the code, and all of the GUI, is Apple's own and it is frankly pretty shoddy. For the last three months I've been trying to confirm my Apple ID so that I can use FaceTime to chat with my nephew: no dice. How about replacing it? Again, no dice.

MacOS is for many people and many tasks a great OS, but it has definitely suffered from Apple's recent attempts to turn it into an extension of IOS.

US cable subscribers are still being 'ripped off' by creeping price increases – and this lot has had enough

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Competition

My residence is very fortunate to have two providers available.

That's so weird! Here, in "socialist" Europe there are a plethora of providers due to open access policies. Note, this doesn't mean that capitalism is dead as it still allows sports channels to earn lots of money through subscription, it just makes rent-seeking for the cable owners a little more difficult.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Cable and satellite TV are looking less and less like good deals when you compare them against having a Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video subscription.

Maybe at the moment, but you do realise that the aim of those companies is to get rid of the "or" by not licensing their content to their competitors?

Charlie Clark Silver badge


to which the only real answer of course, is – if you are able to

And this, from what I understand of the US market, is very often not the case with cable or phone companies guaranteed monopoly access in many states towns thanks to successful lobbying of state lawmakers.

cmd.exe is dead, long live PowerShell: Microsoft leads aged command-line interpreter out into 'maintenance mode'

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: simple shit so much easier with cmd

See also the related unix discussions about replacing Sys V init with things like systemd: some of this stuff may be 40 years or older and, while there have undoubtedly been improvements since then, in the world of system administration "working" trumps nearly everything else. Especially when you have systems that have up times for 10 years or more.

Charlie Clark Silver badge


We'll leave it to our readers to debate the pros and cons of writing a script that depends on the format of a copyright string in order to keep a production line ticking over.

The world runs on those kind of things quite often because text is all you get from the relevant system and if you've looked at a couple of bash scripts you'll see the same: query something for its version and parse the response. More annoying perhaps, is the lack of flags on command line tools in windows combine this with the prediliction for localisation on Windows and reliably getting system informatin becomes a chore. Though I've just found that systeminfo /FO CSV returns something nearly usable.

Twitter ticks off Trump with new 'Get the facts' alert on pair of fact-challenged tweets

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Ooh, fun!

Yes, a culture of accountability should apply to all. Then again, I've yet to see anything from any leading UK politician that comes anywhere near the shit the Trump posts on a daily basis.

In the long run, I don't think it matters that much, because I don't think a lot of people take Twitter that seriously. Trump seems to use the medium to court controversy which ends up shoring up his base.

'I wrote Task Manager': Ex-Microsoft programmer Dave Plummer spills the beans

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Why wasn't it in by design?

Somewhere on El Reg is a nice story of how Intel got Microsoft to delay versions of NT/2000 for Alpha, which helped kill it.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Why wasn't it in by design?

Cutler has hated UNIX since the year dot. Xenix was never going to get into NT as long as he had anything to do with it.

It wasn't about getting into NT, but NT being able to run other OSes on top, just as Windows was initially. This is where NT borrowed some of the good things from OS/2

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Why wasn't it in by design?

In many ways NT was already beyond unix when it started: Xenix was supposed to be able to run on the NT kernel. So, the OS could always do that kind of stuff, it just didn't provide the tools for the users. But it says a lot about Dave Cutler, who many credit with most of the better ideas in Windows NT, that he knew a good thing when he saw it. Sadly, however, we never really got Windows NT on DEC Alpha (yes, it was released…), so Microsoft was forced to cripple NT so it would run faster on Intel's less capable silicon.

Arm goes off road... map: 5nm Cortex-X1 touted for phone, tablet, laptop processors needing Apple-level oomph

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Gradual improvements

The A78 is a step up from the A77 introduced last year: nothing spectacularly different, just a whole lot of bandwidth improvements and changes to improve its efficiency.

Without any major new developments in hardware features (clock speeds, new geometries, new hardware acceleration options), this is pretty much what you'd expect. But what is different, in comparison with say Intel, is the speed at which those changes are delivered and presumably how low the overhead is for them.

TCL 10L: Remember the white goods flinger that had a licence to make BlackBerrys? It made a new own-name phone

Charlie Clark Silver badge


One cause for concern is software: although the TCL 10L comes with the latest version of Android, the firm remains somewhat of an unknown quantity when it comes to issuing updates and patches.

It's not an unknown quantity: it's completely shit and won't be any better with its customised UI.

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Minimum spec?

Please define efficient. Modern operating systems are very different beasts from the kind of control systems that were used for, say, early space exploration programs where everything was constrained by the available memory. Even for FORmula TRANslaton (writing the code that let computers do complicated mathematical equations), the advice was to use as much memory as you can. And once we got beyond simple mechanical computations it soon started to make more sense to let compilers and profilers do the optimising. Of course, that doesn't mean there isn't a load of inefficient crap in modern systems, just that it's differently inefficient!

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: AMD vs. Intel: War Games v3.0

AMD has always been the underdog to Intel, but with a superior product.

This has often but not always been the case and, as a result, AMD has struggled to raise the capital for investment. Nevertheless, it seems to have got a lot of things right over the last few years, while Intel has made several missteps.


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