* Posts by K. Adams

396 posts • joined 5 Sep 2008


Explosion in iPad factory kills two, injures more

K. Adams

"Since when has China been a free market?"

I wasn't referring to China; I was referring to us here in the West.

That said, there can be no doubt that China's government has embraced (an admittedly very corrupt and twisted form of) capitalism... Otherwise, it wouldn't be the economic powerhouse that hit has become.

K. Adams


Hence my "vote w/ your cash" missive, above. Unfortunately, just about every electronic device one can buy these days has Foxconn parts in it... Makes me wax nostalgiac for more Luddite days.

K. Adams

Too bad Foxconn has become the GENOM or Omni Consumer Products of the real world...

... because just about every sizable electronic appliance or piece of computer equipment has Foxconn-manufactured components or assemblies in it, and there's nowhere else to vote with your cash.

I'm rather centrist, and generally support free markets, but the abject chain of events at Foxconn keeps getting longer, and I'd really like to buy products that haven't been built with blood investment...

Making a storage mountain out of a molecule

K. Adams

"... the El Reg storage desk thinks this is bonkers..."

OK, so you're probably not going to be able to create a working hard disk by painting a platter with this stuff...

However, if a way can be found to embed an SMM in a magneto-optical substrate, where the alignment of the molecule can be changed by heating the substrate with a UV laser, applying an external magnetic field to change the alignment of the molecule as it "floats" in the melted substrate, then turn off the laser to let the substrate cool and lock the molecule into its new orientation, then you'd probably have a pretty good shot at making an ultra-high-density archival medium. (The short wavelength of UV light would probably be necessary to achieve the desired storage density; it is likely that not even blue lasers would be fine enough to manipulate domains this small.)

The key to all of this is finding -- as the article indicates -- an SMM that can maintain its magnetic moment at room temperature. Since the uranium-based molecule mentioned in the article needs to be kept at 2 Kelvin to make this process work, it seems highly unlikely that it would be capable of being used in a phase-change-based storage system, much less a GMR-based hard disk drive. On the other hand, there are a number of other materials, such as certain samarium compounds, that may work for this kind of storage. (Some samarium compounds can maintain their magnetic moments at temperatures approaching 980 Kelvin / 707 degrees Celsius.)

Of course, when it comes down to it, if you're trying to pack that many bits into that small of a space, why not find a way to shrink a nanometer-scale lithography machine down to the size of a hard drive? Who needs magnetic or optical storage, when you can insert a cartridge of raw silicon, hafnium, and germanium, and carve your own chips? :-)

Massachusetts PCs infected by data-hungry worm

K. Adams

Well, at least Massachusetts is following...

... its own data breach notification law, one of the first enacted in the US, against intense lobbying by financial institutions and merchants offering online access to goods and services.

So, at least in this instance, there's no "Do-As-I-Say-Not-As-I-Do"-style mud-slinging (yet).

However, if the present State administration wants to minimise potential fallout, it better move faster than Sony did in offering some sort of ID-theft insurance. The fact that the infection worked it's way so deep into a government services agency that processes so much personal info makes responding to the theft in an urgent and efficient manner all the more important...

Cisco refuses to deny it will sell off Linksys

K. Adams

"Linksys always looked 'clunky' with it's case designs."


But it seems to me that the 'clunky-looking' Linksys boxes I've owned have always worked better than their new(er) router/access points which are stuffed into those slim "flying-saucer-wedge' cases.

K. Adams

Time to stock-up...

... on WRT54GLs.

Supreme Court: DNA database retention regs are unlawful

K. Adams

"... not appropriate to [require] a change in the legislative scheme ... or ... destruction of data"

In other words:

-- "We don't like DNA retention, either, but we'd rather let the politicians in the Commons get their own hands dirty and stay out of the fray, because we don't want to aggravate a bunch of CPOs or get the Peerage's knickers in a twist."

VIA double stuffs x64 clone chips

K. Adams

"... so hypervisors can run atop the Isaiah cores."


And while this dual-dual-core chip is still probably a bit too weak to use for serious application server virtualisation (in other words, you're probably not gonna run a bunch of Windows-based virtual servers stuffed to the gills with SQL on it), the ability to do true x86-64 virtualisation could make these chips very useful to real-time/embedded systems designers.

They'd also be a pretty neat way to do massively parallel number-crunching on the cheap. If you're computation task is a lot "wider" than it is "long" (i.e., you get more benefit from having more processors, as opposed to fewer really, really fast ones), then a parallel processing cluster constructed from a bunch of these CPUs may fit the bill quite nicely...

And as GoFaster mentioned, above, more competition is always a good thing.

Peugeot compo cam aids amateur espionage

K. Adams
Big Brother

Peugeot's Panopticon?




Shuttle mission: SPAWNING of the SPACE KRAKEN

K. Adams
Thumb Up

Wow... "Sheena 5"?

Now THAT's a phrase I haven't heard/read in a while...

K. Adams

Don't worry, Bernard Quatermass...

... will undoubtedly be on-call to deal with any contingencies.

AT&T spars with rivals over T-Mobile merger

K. Adams

"It's about having the capacity to drive innovation at competitive prices ..."

Here, fixed it for you:

"It's about having the capacity to drive innovation at competitive^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H prices ..."

(Count the backspaces carefully.)

Coalition signs up to passenger info slurp

K. Adams
Big Brother

"Papers, please."

"Hmmm... It appears they are not in order..."

Modest Patch Tuesday batch tackles Windows and Office issues

K. Adams

WINS really oughta be put to bed...

... and legacy software that relies on it for name resolution should be dragged out into the street and shot.

The problem is with WINS resolution cache update latency across WANs.

I've run into situations where the following command connects to one machine:

-- C:\>mstsc /v:MYMACHINE

and this command connects to a different machine:

-- C:\>mstsc /v:MYMACHINE.domain.tld

If WINS is enabled in the environment, the first version will use WINS/NetBIOS name resolution, while the second will use DNS. If WINS table updates don't track with DNS, it can cause a lot of "phantom" issues that pop-up, only to "fix themselves" a couple minutes/hours later when WINS resolution table updates finally make it across the WAN to your local site.

Right pain in the arse, it is...

TMS flash array blows Big Blue away

K. Adams

"memory is faster than disk"

For reading, maybe...

But once a flash memory device runs low on free blocks, sustained write rates can suffer greatly, and in many cases SSDs end up being slower on writes than a good mechanical hard disk drive:

-- AnandTech: The SSD Anthology: Understanding SSDs and New Drives from OCZ

-- -- http://www.anandtech.com/print/2738

Ubuntu eats OpenStack for clouds

K. Adams

"He anticipated a 'feisty debate'..."

Surely, Shuttleworth meant to say "oneiric?"

Do-Not-Track laws gain US momentum

K. Adams

Some would argue that merely visiting a web site...

... construes "having an established business relationship."

But that argument doesn't hold water; there's nothing stopping me from browsing my Public Library without a library card, or wandering through my neighbourhood Dixons without cash or credit card.

Now, if I want to check out a library book, I'll need a library card. And if I want to buy that item at Dixons, and it costs more than a few quid, I'll probably need to fish out my bank card. Both of which are methods used to track customers and their transactions, and on the whole are probably necessary for getting the job done properly.

However, the legislation itself is cumbersome and unnecessary. What's needed is more (or better) primary and secondary education on how to protect your privacy when trawling the Internet, and better distribution of information relating to tools that can help you do that.

For example, we all know that Mozilla Firefox is a pretty popular browser, but I doubt even 20% of Firefox's users know that an extension called "BetterPrivacy" can help curtail the usefulness of cookies stored as Adobe Flash LSOs.

Amazon and PSN outages won't halt cloud revolution

K. Adams

"Nowadays, the fad is on Java-for-everything and cloud computing."

You obviously have not drunk the "Ruby-on-Rails" kool-aid...


K. Adams

"Imagine setting up shop on a platform perpetually prone to security vulnerabilities."

Of course, you are referring to Windows with that statement.

As a hard-core GNU/Linux user and advocate, one may think that I would be inclined to agree with you.

And while it is true that Microsoft gets a lot of bad press (of which a given amount is certainly deserved), other platforms (including those running AIX, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD/NetBSD/OpenBSD, HP-UX, Mac OS X, Solaris, etc.) can be just as vulnerable to attack as Windows if not managed correctly.

Conversely, I have seen instances of Windows that, due to thoughtful application of security policy and deactivation of unnecessary services, were extremely difficult to exploit, and once actually exploited, properly contained and minimised the damage.

No operating system or platform is bullet-proof, and all operating systems are "perpetually prone" to security vulnerabilities of one kind or another.

New top-secret stealth choppers used on bin Laden raid

K. Adams
Black Helicopters

Blue Thunder wannabe?


Don't laugh... A lot of real-life technology inspiration comes from film and television:

-- Flip-phones = Star Trek (Original Series) communicators (depicted throughout the show)

-- 3.5-inch diskettes = Star Trek (Original Series) "data plates" (depicted in the two-part episode "The Menagerie," when Spock uses recordings of Kirk's voice to commandeer the Enterprise)

-- Very-high-density optical video storage = Rising Sun (w/ Sean Connery, depicted in 1993; the DVD format was released in Japan in late 1996/early 1997, and released world-wide in 1998, followed by HD-DVD and Blu-ray in 2006; Blu-ray won)

Seagate's terabyte platters make it the densest of the lot

K. Adams

"Why do hard drives only have one head assembly?"

Conner Peripherals (acquired by Seagate in 1996) tried this; it didn't work as well as expected.

At one time they did build (for a very short time) a hard disk drive with two HDAs, the Conner "Chinook" series. It had a couple of problems, namely:

1. It had an obsolete form-factor: Internally it used platters sized for 3.5-inch drives, but to hold the extra HDA it had exterior dimensions equal to those of a 5.25-inch hard drive.

2. The vibrations from one HDA could make cylinder seeking difficult for the other HDA: This wasn't a problem when transferring large, unfragmented files, because the HDAs didn't need to bounce around much looking for data. But if the drive was performing a lot of random seeks for small files (or fragmented large ones), seek times could actually increase and degrade performance.

Ubuntu 'Natty Narwhal' breaks the surface

K. Adams

"Unity sits on top of gnome shell." Huh?

No, it does not.

It sits on top of the GNOME library framework, which is provided by GTK+ 2.x and 3.x.

Unity, however, avoids using many of the specific components upon which Gnome Shell relies, like Mutter (the GNOME 3 Window Manager) and Clutter (the JavaScript-like graphics library used by Mutter to render its effects).

Unity 3D relies on Compiz for Window Management, and interacts with Compiz through the Compiz plugin framework. I am not sure what Unity 2D (the version for systems where OpenGL acceleration is not supported) is (or will be) using for its Window Management, but old-school Metacity might be an option.

K. Adams

Not fishing...

I like Ubuntu, but I'm steering clear of this one, mostly because of these issues:

-- Ubuntu Wiki: Natty Narwhal Release Notes:

-- https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NattyNarwhal/ReleaseNotes#Known%20Issues

-- -- The swap partition appears become unusable during some installations (UUID not set). This issue is under investigation. (709363)

-- -- The return_to_partitioning function executes and returns as normal, but seemingly fails to properly clean up after partman-commit and initialize partman. (740903)

-- -- During boot, on the cryptsetup passphrase prompt, every character typed causes a repeat of the prompt. (566818)

-- -- When installing the amd64+mac version, please do not use LVM. Also avoid using multiple linux instances at this time. (745960)

I need 64-bit address space AND the ability to use encrypted logical volumes, so installing an operating system with a broken partitioner and storage volume management system isn't an option for me.

Not to mention that, IMHO, Unity isn't quite ready for "prime time." Probably be OK after two more releases, though...

K. Adams

"... if you are using a big hairy Linux workstation with big screens you are using KDE anyway ;-)"

Or XFCE...

Or LXDE...

Or Fluxbox...

Or Openbox...

Or even GNOME 2.3x "classic"


Personally, I think KDE SC 4.x has made a lot of great strides (especially with regard to stability), but it's still a bit too resource-heavy for my tastes.

For now, I'll stick with my Lucid (10.04 LTS) installation, then make a decision as to whether I'm going Unity or XFCE when the next LTS arrives. I may even take another look at KDE SC.

All I know is that my next desktop will NOT be contaminated by Gnome Shell, unless something radically changes.

Besides, with LaunchPad PPAs, I'm not missing out on the latest-greatest; for example, I have installed the "official" Firefox 4 package provided by the Ubuntu Mozilla team PPA, for example. Works great...!

OCZ shares trashed by short seller's research note

K. Adams

"... Capitalism just doesn't work."

So what would your alternative to Capitalism be, then?

A soviet-style planned economy (like that used by the 1940's-1980's USSR)?

Or an economy built around artificial currency devaluation and restricted human rights (like that currently used by the People's Republic of China)?

How about an economy based on the blatantly corrupt redistribution of natural and agricultural resources by an entrenched dictator, where hyperinflation is rampant and the unemployment rate hovers around 80 percent (like Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe)?

OK, so capitalism may not work some of the time, but it works the vast majority of the time, and certainly a lot better than the alternatives...

End of the line for mechanical typewriters

K. Adams

Forgot a step... (between 5 and 6)

New 6, Call tech support because some of the labels peeled off the backing and got stuck on the fuser/feed roller/other vital component...

Google Linux servers hit with $5m patent infringement verdict

K. Adams

So what we have is a patent on...

... using a hash (globally unique identifier, or GUID) as a search key to identify a specific linked list, which contains a set of records, in which said records contain time-stamp/expiry information, and a collision detection algorithm thrown-in to make sure conflicting updates are not made on the linked list.

This is utter bollocks.

How to manage linked lists is part of Programming 101 (Structured Programming), using a unique key to identify a set of structured data is part of Programming 201 (Relational Database Management and Design), and collision detection and avoidance of simultaneous updates on a specific chunk of data is part of Programming 301 (Parallel/Threaded Programming).

Just about every operating system and relational database management system makes congruent use of all three methods; here are just a few that come quickly to mind:

-- Microsoft Windows: Active Directory object record updates in combination with AD replication conflict resolution...

-- Just about any clustered SQL server solution provided by Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Sybase, Pervasive, etc....

-- DNS record updates and scavenging...

-- 4ESS/5ESS telephone switching equipment state tables...

I am sure there are many more.

**Note: I am not against patents per se, as long as couple conditions are met:

-- Patent holders should be required to produce an actual product based upon their patents within X years of initial award (4 to 7 years to allow for commercial development seems fair; maybe a bit longer in the case of medicines that are stuck in double-blind-study-limbo by government drug safety authorities), otherwise the patent enters the public domain. ("Put up or shut up.")

-- Patents on software which provides general methods of manipulating data in various ways should be invalidated; after all, that's what general-purpose computers (and the apps that run on them) are designed to do. ("How I arrange my LEGOs is my business.")

Blighty's Skylon spaceplane faces key tech test in June

K. Adams

"But Musk's rockets ... must throw away huge amounts of expensive technology on every flight."

Not so, according to Elon:

-- -- Wikipedia Article: Falcon 9

-- -- -- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9

-- -- -- -- (1/4 of the way down)

-- -- Transterrestrial Musings: SpaceX Press Conference

-- -- -- -- http://www.transterrestrial.com/?p=27574

-- -- -- -- (near the bottom of the article, before the comments)

-- -- HobbySpace: Interview with Elon Musk

-- -- -- -- http://www.hobbyspace.com/AAdmin/archive/Interviews/Systems/ElonMusk.html

-- -- -- -- (near the top of the article)

Elon envisions the first stage of the Falcon 9 being fully reusable without a substantial impact on payload mass. He further indicates that the second stage could be also be reusable, but that making it reusable would most likely incur too steep a reduction in allowable payload mass.

However, since the bulk of a rocket's material launch cost (i.e., non-fuel/non-payload cost) is in the first (ground-launch) stage -- which is intended to be reusable -- the statement "must throw away huge amounts of expensive technology" would appear to be overkill, especially if it refers to the smaller and much less-expensive second stage.

NASA hands out second-hand shuttles

K. Adams

The Shuttles have earned their rest..

They were technological marvels for their time, but finicky and temperamental as well, and terribly expensive to operate and maintain.

Even so, I have no doubt that events like the momentous repair of the Hubble Space Telescope could not have been carried out without a vehicle like the Space Shuttle.

It's just too bad that we don't have anything anywhere near as "cool" warming up in the bullpen. However, this could change in a hurry, if companies like SpaceX and Orbital Sciences make access to low- and medium-Earth orbit an affordable venture.

Grabbing my coat; gotta take a last walk around the hangar before we turn the lights off... *sniffle*

Cisco Flips consumer unit out with trash

K. Adams


Cisco can do whatever else it wants, as long as it doesn't mess with our beloved WRT54GLs... :-)

GNOME 3: Shocking changes for Linux lovers

K. Adams

Gnome Shell? Not for me...

I've tried to "love" Gnome Shell. I've really, really tried. But in the end, I just can't.

GNOME.org has, IMHO, somehow gotten into its head that the whole desktop GUI paradigm -- as it stood before now -- is totally "broken," and that the only way to "fix" things is to completely up-end tried-and-true Human Interface Guidelines (HIGs) that have been developed through years (even decades) of ergonomic and semiotic research.

I believe that Canonical's Unity desktop environment, which admittedly still needs a lot of work (and contrary to popular belief, is or will be based on GNOME 3, just not Gnome Shell) has some neat ideas behind it, and seems like it could eventually become a great desktop environment. Even so, what Canonical is planning for or doing with Unity is nowhere near as far-reaching and radical as what GNOME.org is doing with Gnome Shell.

Even the KDE folks, when they started designing KDE 4.0, held certain desktop design and use-case elements sacrosanct, and provided basic controls such as:

-- -- window maximise/minimise/close buttons

-- -- a functional taskbar/application switcher

-- -- a working systray/notification area

and other familiar desktop features. Granted, when KDE 4.0 was released, it broke a LOT of stuff, and it didn't really "find its legs" until it evolved into KDE 4.3 or so. But on the whole, it wasn't really all that much different -- with regard to its HIGs -- from KDE 3.5.

Guess I'll just have to head on over to Xfce; pardon me while I get my coat...

Intel does fondleslabs with Atom 'Oak Trail'

K. Adams

"... announcing shipment of Oak Trail and the 45-namometer Z670..."

Intel will never be competitive in the tablet/ultra-mobile/smartphone market until it starts giving its Atom/mobile processors and chipsets the same love Intel currently gives to its desktop and server offerings.

In the tablet/mobile space, it's all about performance per watt.

While Oak Trail does seem to be better suited to this market than the previous Atom kit Intel targeted for the mobile space, Oak Trail still doesn't seem to go "far enough" to be a viable competitor to the latest ARM SoCs out there.

Transistor junction sizes being equal, the x86/x86-64 architecture has **historically** needed to move a lot more electrons around to perform a given operation than an ARM core performing the same task.

I just don't see how Intel can be competitive in the mobile space with a 45nm part; it would have been better if they held off until Cedar Trail was ready at 32nm. And even that might not be enough, given that nVidia's Cortex-A9-based Tegra 2 is already out at 40nm, and will have shrunk to 28nm for the "Wayne" series release in 2012.

Dell samples shrooms for server shipping

K. Adams

"... utilize common ag-waste products such as cotton, rice, and wheat chaff ..."

Seems like a neat idea, until you run into that one-in-several-million person who will suffer a severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) upon opening the box...

Of course, the more improbable something is, the more likely it is to happen, which means that Dell should be getting dragged into a personal injury lawsuit by some poor sap over this idea in reasonably short order.

It's the oldest working Seagate drive in the UK

K. Adams

Yup... Ran into a Chinook myself once...

Didn't last very long, as I recall. Seem to remember there were some problems where the vibrations generated from one of the HDAs (Head/Disk Assemblies) would be transmitted through the frame of the drive, and throw off the tracking of the other HDA.

Was that a stepper-motor drive? Or was it rotary voice coil w/ servo tracks?

K. Adams

I have a Timex Sinclair 1000 (Sinclair ZX81)...

... with the 16K RAM expansion pack and cassette tape drive/recorder, and they all still work. Does that count?

I also have a KayPro II and KayPro IV sitting in the basement somewhere...

Apple 'orders 12 petabytes of storage' from EMC

K. Adams

"... I'll have a 1.8 inch 200 PB hard disk for $35 twelve years from now."

That would be really cool...

Unfortunately, once the size of an individual magnetic domain:

-- -- Magnetic domain on Wikipedia:

-- -- -- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_domain

on the platter is shrunk to a certain point, the polarity/magnetic alignment of that domain can spontaneously change due to ambient kinetic (vibration, etc.) and thermal (heat/temperature change) effects.

Patterned media:

-- -- Patterned media on Wikipedia:

-- -- -- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patterned_media

will help keep the increasing storage density trend going for the near future, but eventually we're gonna have to move to a Spintronics-based technology:

-- -- Spintronics on Wikipedia:

-- -- -- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spintronics

like Racetrack Memory:

-- -- Racetrack memory on Wikipedia:

-- -- -- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racetrack_memory

to get to your 1.8-inch 200 petabyte drive...

K. Adams


Yeah, but what does all that storage **look** like?

I suppose to meet Apple's standards, all of the arrays will need to be encased in glossy Pearl White or Piano Black housings, with chrome or brushed-aluminium trim, talk to the outside world through proprietary Apple cable connectors, have industrial-strength MagSafe power cords, and be managed via an iTunes-approved, Safari-based GUI app...


Natty Narwhal with Unity: Worst Ubuntu beta ever

K. Adams

"... cheaper to buy eComStation and actually have all of OS/2 to open source."

Unfortunately, that will never happen.

First of all, Serenity Systems (the purveyors of eComStation) does not "own" OS/2. They were granted a license by IBM to take OS/2, update some of its technology so that it works on more modern hardware, and repackage it for sale.

Secondly, one must keep in mind that OS/2's source code isn't owned by just IBM. OS/2 was initially co-developed by IBM and Microsoft, and both companies have bilateral agreements regarding the ownership and disposition of the OS/2 codebase. One might be able to convince IBM to release both Presentation Manager and Workplace Shell to the F/LOSS (Free/Libre` Open-Source Software) community, but Microsoft would never allow it.

Historical note: Until fairly recently (Windows XP?), Microsoft included a library called "OS2.DLL" with each operating system edition based on the Windows NT kernel. This allowed shops that migrated from OS/2 to Windows to run console-mode/text-based programs written for OS/2 on Windows without modification. (Applications which required a GUI were not supported.) Rumors are that this was done at the behest of various banks, who had a lot of ATMs that ran on OS/2. Many banks were looking for an alternative to IBM because of licensing and support costs, and since most ATMs in the early-to-mid 90's had monochrome, text-only screens, basic support through a WinNT compatibility layer was a viable option.

K. Adams

"Er, like more keyboard shortcuts?"

No, like touch/multitouch, accelerometer input/motion detection, proximity detection, etc.

Mice and keyboards aren't the only game in town anymore.

Canonical/Ubuntu gets this. GNOME.org doesn't.

K. Adams

The world's going mobile...

Ubuntu designed Unity with today's man-machine interface/interactivity changes in mind. The goal behind Unity is to design an environment that is at home on larger touch-based devices like tablets, but still works well on full-fledged workstations. I like the ideas behind Unity, but I agree with the author that it's not ready for general use (yet), and it needs some added flexibility.

The GNOME organisation, on the other hand, just doesn't seem to get it. It seems like GNOME.org is changing things (especially with regard to its migration to Gnome Shell) for the sake of changing things, and is tired of doing things a certain way because "everyone else does it that way."

In a post on the Linux Mint forums:

-- -- http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=38536&start=0

I expounded on why GNOME.org is doing what it's doing, and included this excerpt from Lucas Rocha's blog:

-- -- http://blogs.gnome.org/lucasr/2008/06/15/notes-on-the-future-of-gnome-problems-and-questions/

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- EXCERPT BEGINS -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Position is about where we place GNOME in the innovation ecosystem. So far, the relationship between GNOME and distributors is so that we release our official modules (organized inside the desktop, platform, admin, devtools and bindings suites) and distributors adapt and package those modules to integrate in their systems. Normally, they also add a bunch of modules that were (fully or partially) developed with GNOME platform but are not officially part of GNOME suites. Then, when everything is integrated and stable, distributors release their products with GNOME. This model has two interesting aspects.

The first one is: GNOME is invisible to users. From end-users perspective, they are using Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Foresight, Debian, Gentoo, (add-your-favorite-distro-here) on their personal computers, not GNOME. (Note that I’m not talking about geeky users but about real end-users who don’t know much about technology). This is (and will be) even stronger on consumer products using GNOME platform such as internet tablets, cell phones, PDAs, etc. To verify that, just pretend you’re just an end-user and have a look at the websites of most of desktop distros: they talk about desktop but rarely mention GNOME. (Note that I’m not making any judgements about this here. I’m trying to just bring the fact to the table).

The second aspect is that distributors redefine the user experience. Most of distributors change in some way the default GNOME desktop to fit and integrate nicely with their products. openSUSE has a completely different panel layout and use gnome-main-menu. Most of distros use Firefox instead of Epiphany. Latest releases of the major desktop distros ship with Compiz by default instead of Metacity. Also, they integrate desktop modules that are not directly provided by GNOME: Pidgin for instant messaging, Rhythmbox or Banshee for music management, F-Spot or GThumb for photo management, Beagle or Tracker for desktop search, and the long list continues.

So, based on those aspects, what can we say? First: even with our current development process where we release suites of official modules to distributors, it’s not clear inside GNOME whether we are “user experience definers” or “component providers for custom user experiences”.

... ... ... (paragraphs excluded for some brevity) ... ... ...

This makes us stay in a unclear position: we kind of define the experience – but only on certain topics (this has a lot to do with the lack of a defined audience and our development process). That brings me the following questions:

1. Should GNOME be a “user experience definer” or “component provider”? Do we need to choose?

2. Does the GNOME decisions about the official modules really matter? If so, at what level?

My answers to those questions are:

1. We should be component providers – but in a special way. In my opinion, we should platformize the user experience in a way that our modules can be easily reused in different contexts or products. In practice, this means: providing highly configurable and pluggable core components; ... refreshed toolkit which embeds sexy UI elements and interactions; and more. In order to properly be component providers, we would need to provide a super-powerful platform though. ...

2. Yes, our module decisions matter. But they only *really* matter if they are related either to platform or to the “core” desktop components (panel, session, nautilus, keyring, settings daemon, capplets, etc).

So, in reality, the ecosystem around GNOME is demanding a lot of flexibility in the platform and desktop – specially from stakeholders producing mobile devices and other custom user experiences based on GNOME.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- EXCERPT ENDS -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

GNOME.org seems to be of the opinion that the whole desktop paradigm is broken, that people are still single-taskers (Gnome Shell makes you jump through a few hoops to open more than one discreet instance of the same application), that smart tags and behind-the-scenes indexing should essentially completely replace hierarchical application/document organisation, and that second, third, etc. monitors are superfluous (Gnome Shell is at present almost completely unusable on multi-monitor rigs).

IMHO, the only advantage to GNOME.org's current slate of work is that they've gone a long way toward cleaning up GTK/GTK+ and making things more consistent at the application/component library level with GNOME 3.x. (It should be noted that GNOME 3.x does not equate to Gnome Shell. GNOME 3.x is a framework; Gnome Shell is a desktop environment/manager.)

Unity is an interesting thing "to play with," and has some neat brainstorming behind it, but still needs a lot of work. So until it has a few major revisions under its belt, I'll stick with good ol' GNOME 2.x, with its "legacy" desktop paradigm that, for all intents and purposes, pretty much works the way I want it to, without getting in the way...

Google drops Schmidt for Elop, Android for WinPho 7

K. Adams

"... the fragmented mess that Android has become ..."

Unlike the rest of the article, this particular snippet is unfortunately anything but an A/F joke...

New York vows review of AT&T deal

K. Adams

Well, when it comes to antitrust reviews...

... that immediately kicks things up to the Federal Court System.

In the US, Federal cases initiated by the Federal government are usually filed in the District in which the corporation's primary headquarters resides.

AT&T's headquarters are located in Dallas, Texas, so any antitrust lawsuits filed by the FCC, FTC, or DoJ would nominally be filed in the United States District Court for The Northern District of Texas.

However, I'm not sure where New York would choose to file its lawsuit, should it come to that. Being that the New York Attorney General's office is located in Albany, New York (the state capital), they would probably file the case in the District Court for The Northern District of New York.

K. Adams

A.G. Schneiderman apparently didn't read the US Constitution's fine print...

For purposes of clarity with regard to the article, one must keep in mind matters of scope and ultimate jurisdiction.

It doesn't matter what New York's A.G. office does, Attorney General Schneiderman can investigate until he's blue in the face. Even if his office comes to the conclusion that the AT&T/T-Mobile deal is a Bad Thing, there's nothing they can do about it except file complaints with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), FTC (Federal Trade Commission), and/or DoJ (Department of Justice).

If they're really lucky, the state may be able to bring a lawsuit in the Federal Circuit seeking an injunction, presuming it doesn't get dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.


Simple: What we here West of The Big Pond call the "Commerce Clause" (Clause 3) in Article I, Section 8:

-- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_One_of_the_United_States_Constitution#Section_8:_Powers_of_Congress

-- -- -- -- "The Congress shall have power... To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;"

and the "Necessary and Proper Clause" (Clause 18) in the same Article:

-- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_One_of_the_United_States_Constitution#Section_8:_Powers_of_Congress

-- -- -- -- "The Congress shall have power... To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

in combination with the "Reserved Powers Clause" of the Tenth Amendment:

-- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution#Text

-- -- -- -- "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Since a merger among large, nationwide-operating, publicly-traded corporations is arguably an Interstate Commerce issue

-- -- ("Congress shall have power to regulate Commerce among the several States")

any judgements blocking the proposed merger must originate at the Federal level. Furthermore, Congress has created Departments, Agencies, or Commissions to oversee Interstate and Multi-National corporations:

-- -- ("The Congress shall have power to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers")

and has assigned the responsibility for regulating them to those Departments, Agencies, or Commissions:

-- -- (""The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.")

So, in short, the best that New York's A.G. office (or any state-level office) can do is offer an opinion, maybe bring a lawsuit.

German Green extracts tracking info from mobile operator

K. Adams
Big Brother

The Difference Engine

William Gibson's and Bruce Sterling's novel "The Difference Engine" has interesting allegorical significance with regard to living in an information-oriented and -controlled society.

In the novel, Charles Babbage managed to get the funding he needed to complete his Difference and Analytical Engines. This jump-starts the Information Age about 125 years too early.

-- -- (Note: I'm placing the start of our "real" information age at 1975, give-or-take, as it is around this time that medium-sized and larger businesses/government agencies started to make significant investments in minicomputers, mainframes, and process automation.)

By the time the 1850s roll in, the UK and French governments are using steam-powered, punch-card-programmed, mechanical computers to conduct surveillance on a massive scale. France has grown into a world-wide Empire, having won the Battle of Waterloo, and the UK's peerage system has morphed into a technocracy.

Very interesting read, and I highly recommend it to El' Reg's readership.

Jesus Phone brings the DEAD back to LIFE

K. Adams

App's named wrong...


Mystery hack pwns Australian government

K. Adams
Black Helicopters

Re: email cache circulating on Tor

I'm sure the ACMA will be along Real Soon Now to draft legislation targeting Tor and other privacy protection services...

Fukushima scaremongers becoming increasingly desperate

K. Adams

@Guido Brunetti: Wrong base? Maybe, but who knows for sure?

Well, the news reports that I have read have neglected to say anything even close to "10,000 times the normal level for X" where "X" is the qualifying phrase (i.e., "water in the cooling loop", "spilled water within the containment building", etc.).

They just say "10,000 times normal" and stop there.

As for the workers hospitalised by stepping into a pool/basin of radioactive water, I can grant that the level of radioactivity of the water in that pool may have been very high; enough to cause some radiation sickness, in fact.

However, I have not read any news report to this point that defines what "normal" is, so one must presume "normal" equates to "natural background radiation".

In my mind, "normal" most certainly does NOT equate with "contaminated water lying about a damaged nuclear reactor containment building".

So, even if the "normal" background radiation in the immediate vicinity of the plant (when undamaged) is twice the average found elsewhere on Earth, a person would still need to be exposed for almost 2 straight days to reach the 0.250 Sievert threshold, if radiation at that particular location was at a level 10,000 times "normal".

K. Adams

OK, Let's Do Some Basic Math...

OK, according to the Encyclopedia That Everyone Loves (Wikipedia), a human being will absorb, on average, about 2.4mSv (milliSieverts) per year:

-- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_radiation

-- -- Section: "Natural Background Radiation"

-- -- -- -- "The worldwide average background dose for a human being is about 2.4 millisievert (mSv) per year."

This means that, on average, that same being will absorb about 274 **nanoSieverts** per hour:

-- -- 0.0024 Sievert/Yr / 365 Days/Yr = 0.000006575 Sievert/Day = 6.575 microSievers/Day

-- -- 0.000006575 Sievert/Day / 24 Hours/Day = 0.000000274 Sievert/Hour = 274 nanoSieverts/Hour

So we multiply 274 nanoSieverts/Hour by 10K, and we get:

-- -- 0.000000274 Sievert/Hour * 10,000 Normal = 0.00274 Sievert/Hour = 2.74 milliSieverts/Hour

-- -- 0.00274 Sievert/Hour * 24 Hours/Day = 0.06576 Sievert/Day = 65.76 milliSieverts/Day

This means that to reach the 0.250 Sievert (250 milliSieverts) threshold, you would need to be exposed for 3.8 straight days in the location where -- according to the scaremongers -- "radiation levels are 10,000 times the normal level":

-- -- 0.250 Sievert / 0.06576 Sievert/Day = 3.802 Days

It should be noted that these exposures are for external "on-the-skin" radiation absorption only. The allowable thresholds for inhalation or ingestion of radioactive materials are lower, depending on the biochemical properties of the radioactive material in question.

One should also keep in mind that presuming the radiation source's location remains static (i.e., we're not counting radiation emitted by particles that are being distributed by fire, wind, steam venting, flowing water, etc.), the intensity of the radiation should decrease with distance according to the inverse-square law.

The problem is that we don't know exactly where these "10,000 times the normal level" measurements were taken. The world's 24-hour news channels ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H gossipmongers hear "10,000 times the normal level" and blast it over the airwaves, without taking the time to do any basic math first.

Oracle to HP: 'Liar, liar, pants on fire'

K. Adams
Black Helicopters

"... [Intel's] plans to replace Itanium with X86 are already in place."

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy:

1. Larry Ellison and Oracle believe Intel and HP are going to stop development on Itanium and get out of that market.

2. Larry Ellison and Oracle drop Itanium as a supported platform.

3. Having lost 25% to 40% of its Itanium customer base, further development of Itanium by Intel and HP is no longer profitable.

4. Intel and HP stop development on Itanium and get out of that market.

5. Larry Ellison looks like a genius prognosticator, and Oracle profits handsomely by finding a home for dislocated Itanium-hosted, Oracle-based apps on Oracle hardware.

So Intel and HP will end up being "liars" in the end, but not by choice.

Reminds me of that game Martin (Robert Redford) and Cosmo (Ben Kingsley) used to play, as depicted in the movie "Sneakers":

-- -- Cosmo: Posit: people think a bank might be financially shaky.

-- -- Bishop: Consequence: people start to withdraw their money.

-- -- Cosmo: Result: pretty soon it is financially shaky.

-- -- Bishop: Conclusion: you can make banks fail.

-- -- Cosmo: Bzzt. I've already done that. Maybe you've heard about a few? Think bigger.

-- -- Bishop: Stock market?

-- -- Cosmo: Yes.

-- -- Bishop: Currency market?

-- -- Cosmo: Yes.

-- -- Bishop: Commodities market?

-- -- Cosmo: Yes.

-- -- Bishop: Small countries?

-- -- Cosmo: With luck, I might even be able to crash the whole damned system...

And that's a shame, because Itanium, while definitely not a "household name" as far as server processors go, was finally starting to grow some real legs...



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