* Posts by Merrill

44 posts • joined 11 Nov 2008

COBOL-coding volunteers sought as slammed mainframes slow New Jersey's coronavirus response

Merrill

I wouldn't necessarily assume it is an IBM mainframe

Until at least a few years ago, the local county's payroll ran on Unisys. And I don't know why it would have changed.

Gospel according to HPE: And lo, on the 32,768th hour did thy SSD give up the ghost

Merrill

Re: you never know when your SSD might be used in a time machine.

The IBM System 360 Model 20 in the story about the recent move could only do 16-bit integer add, subtract and compares, but it could do the full set of arithmetic instructions on packed decimal of up to 31 digits plus sign.

It woz The Reg wot won it! Big Blue iron relics make it back to Blighty

Merrill

The were discontinued for System 370 and replaced by the System 3s. The /20 was sometimes used to drive card readers, card punches and line printers so as not to tie up the bigger models which could then do their I/O with tape and disk.

Surveillance kit slinger accused of slapping 'Made in America' on Chinese gear, selling it to the US government

Merrill

Re: I'll bet this happens a lot

Most likely they were not a prime contractor, but a subcontractor to a prime that needed them to fulfill their obligation to throw a percentage of the contract to a "woman or minority owned business". I wonder who they were actually supplying the equipment to.

COBOL: Five little letters that if put on a CV would ensure stable income for many a greybeard coder

Merrill

Re: About 10 years ago...

But of course columns 73-80 contain a sequence number so you can resort your card deck after you drop it.

Incoming... Trump! Notebook makers ramp production to avoid next tidal wave of US trade tariffs

Merrill

Re: Aren't you forgetting...

Good point. At these rates, it appears to be about equal to the taxes that would have been paid by the manufacturers if they had produced the laptops in the United States. So it obviates the tax advantages of manufacturing offshore.

Plus, it is paid on the value at the border, so it isn't actually 25% (or whatever) of the retail price as the MSM reporting would leave you to believe. Depending on the product and how it is distributed, it is more in the range of half that at retail, given the distribution, marketing, retailing, and general and administrative expenses loaded onto the price within the US.

'Not productive for our business'... Michael Dell urges end to US-China tariff tit-for-tat spat

Merrill

It was US politicians that encouraged businesses to move production to China for geopolitical purposes to counter Russia and to nobble the Asian Tigers who had become too successful and uppity. Of course we had previously moved business to the Asian Tigers after the Japanese had become too successful and uppity. Now the geopolitical mandate is to move businesses to the rest of SE Asia and South Asia, since the Chinese are too successful and uppity.

Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, where to go? Navigation satellite signals flip from degraded to full TITSUP* over span of four days

Merrill

Failures of these sorts are vital since they cause providers to exercise their recovery procedures and they cause users to exercise their mitigation, fallback and recovery procedures. Absent randomly occurring failures at some reasonable frequency society would build itself up for real catastrophic failures.

Merrill

Re: Huzzah!

Unfortunately the Board of Longitude was abolished by Act of Parliament in 1828. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_of_Longitude

No Huawei out: Prez Trump's game of chicken with China has serious consequences

Merrill

Different CRC-32 Polynomials

It has never been clear to me why different countries don't require the use of different CRC-32 polynomials on the IP packets?

International gateways would then recalculate the CRCs only for permitted traffic.

Merrill

Re: Techno-balkanisation - PCM Standards

Back in the day of circuit switched digital telephony, the US used mu-Law non-linear Pulse Code Modulation and Europe used A-law non-linear PCM. I was told by a US member of the CCITT (now ITU) standards group that the US had offered to agree to and change to match the Europeans. He was told that regardless of what the US would agree to, Europe would be different.

Twist my Arm why don't you: Brit CPU behemoth latest biz to cease work with Huawei – report

Merrill

The Softbank Sprint-ARM relationship

Softbank owns 80% of Sprint, a US mobile carrier. Sprint is now the smallest, weakest and least profitable of the 4 major carriers, and is thought to be circling the drain. Softbank is attempting to get a merger with T-Mobile approved by the US Department of Justice in order to salvage its investment.

Softbank also owns ARM.

Boeing admits 737 Max sims didn't accurately reproduce what flying without MCAS was like

Merrill

Re: Work out required

I would think that most females and slightly built Asians and East Africans should not pilot MAXs. Pilots should resemble NFL defensive linemen.

A backup system of mechanically operating the tail surfaces may have been OK on the early, small 737s, but that is a strategy that fails on later, bigger models unless you impose severe physical strength requirements on the pilots.

Pushed around and kicked around, always a lonely boy: Run Huawei, Google Play, turns away, from Huawei... turns away

Merrill

Re: Over Due

They have Kylin, a version of Linux, and they have COS for mobiles. These find application in the government and military for obvious reasons.

For widespread use, there needs to be a commercial reason to more widely deploy them. This move by the US may be the trigger that is needed.

Merrill

Will Apps be Thing in 5G?

Apps, essentially special purpose client software running on the phone, were needed with early generations of mobile data, since they could conserve bandwidth while providing a rich user experience.

With 5G, bandwidth would no longer seem to be a problem, and most functionality could be delivered with a modern mobile browser.

The other purpose of apps seems to be to nickle and dime the user for this and that. However, most useful services can be had for free.

Finally, how many apps does the average smartphone user need? Clearly not the hundreds of thousands that are available in the stores. The vast majority must be downloaded only by the creator, his family and friends. Probably the top thousand apps account for almost all of app usage.

Hands up who isn't p!*$ed off about Amazon's new HQ in New York and Virginia?

Merrill

I don't see Long island City being attractive for employees

I've been to the building where Citi Corp is giving up 1 million square feet that Amazon will move into.

I guess it is part of the attempt to redevelop the Queens and Brooklyn bank of the East River.

Oracle cloud supremo Thomas Kurian extends temp leave to the heat death of the universe

Merrill

Re: Nothing new

If not for the IBM Service Bureau Consent Decree and the FCC Computer Inquiry II, we would have been doing cloud computing all along.

However, government distortion of technical rationality doesn't last forever.

Hello 'WOS': Windows on Arm now has a price

Merrill

Re: Be careful what you wish for...

This seems to be a Qualcomm Snapdragon Windows and not compatible with other ARM processors.

The chance that it isn't dependent on a Qualcomm patent somehow is essentially zero.

Detroit sh*t shifter's operating costs waste away with Oracle's cloud

Merrill

But can they collect bills?

DWSD has a lot of trouble collecting the money owed for services provided.

https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2018/03/26/more-than-17000-detroit-homes-face-water-shutoffs-official-says-the-problem-is-poverty

Julia 0.7 arrives but let's call it 1.0: Data science code language hits milestone on birthday

Merrill

Julia Computing

See https://juliacomputing.com/ for Julia products including Julia BOX, an online environment for coding in a browser using Jupyter Notebooks, and Julia Pro, an environment for science and engineering on the desktop including many packages. Note that it is still at 6.4.1, presumably until the package ecosystem is upgraded to 1.0 and fully tested.

Julia BOX is free, and it is the best way to get a feel for the language, especially if you are already using Python Notbooks.

The age of hard drives is over as Samsung cranks out consumer QLC SSDs

Merrill

What will be the data retention lifetime?

When you access that file that hasn't been rewritten since the OS was first installed ten years ago, will it still be there?

Broadcom, you've been punk'd: Qualcomm puts stockholder vote on hold for US security probe

Merrill

Qualcomm didn't need to tip CFIUS

Qualcomm started life as a supplier of secure comms to the DoD.

US govt staffers use personal gear on work networks, handle biz docs on the reg – study

Merrill

People are fundamental to security

Security depends on the trustworthiness, expertise, and diligence of people.

But any reasonably large group of people will include one who is a defector, stupid, or lazy. That is why secure organizations are organized in small cells.

Here's why online social networks are bad for humanity, the nerds who helped build them tut-tut

Merrill

Put them on the flat screen and they are just wallpaper

When my grandson watches youtube on a tablet or smartphone, he attends to it constantly.

When youtube is on the flatscreen, he plays with his toys, colors, talks, runs around like a madman, and generally behaves like a kid. He occasionally looks at the flatscreen.

We translated Intel's crap attempt to spin its way out of CPU security bug PR nightmare

Merrill

Re: Other CPU architectures affected by Spectre...

Interesting. I wonder whether SPARC, MIPS, Loongson, Sunway, etc. are vulnerable to Spectre?

We keep forgetting that 1) all scripts and executables shall be executed without modification only from read-only storage, and 2) the read-only storage shall be modified only by a trusted configuration management process.

Merrill

From Red Hat --

There are 3 known CVEs related to this issue in combination with Intel, AMD, and ARM architectures. Additional exploits for other architectures are also known to exist. These include IBM System Z, POWER8 (Big Endian and Little Endian), and POWER9 (Little Endian).

https://access.redhat.com/security/vulnerabilities/speculativeexecution

Russia could chop vital undersea web cables, warns Brit military chief

Merrill

Europe - Far East communications transit North America

Due to non-coincident busy hours, Europe to Far East cables via Eurasia are not needed. Instead, the Atlantic and Pacific cables are connected via North America taking advantage of the fact that the three continental pairs do not generate peak traffic at the same times.

(It also makes it easier for Five Eyes to keep tabs on things.)

Qualcomm sues Apple for allegedly blabbing smartphone chip secrets in emails CC'd to Intel

Merrill

Re: re: "We were told to ignore intellectual property rights when designing the modem."

If engineers/developers conduct IPR analysis, they open themselves up to willful infringement and treble damages.

It is best to ignore intellectual property and then have legal staff conduct a right to use study under client-lawyer confidentiality.

Or so I was told.

The developers vs enterprise architects showdown: You shall know us by our trail of diagrams

Merrill

There is also the matter of consistency

between:

- what the business needs to run

- what is installed

- what is running

- what operations is charging the organization to run

- what finance is charging the organization for depreciation

- what vendors are billing the organization for licensing

and now what various cloud vendors are billing the organization for.

These can be amazingly far apart in an corporation with a complex organizational structure and a few thousand developers.

Python explosion blamed on pandas

Merrill

Notebooks in the Azure Cloud

Microsoft offers free Jupyter notebooks in the Azure Cloud at notebooks.azure.com for those interested in investigating Python notebooks. There are also two very basic Python courses from Microsoft on edX suitable for the rank beginner that use the notebooks.

There are free Jupyter notebooks for the Julia language at juliabox.com for those interested in Julia, and there is a Coursera course on Julia that assumes you know other languages.The objective of Julia is to provide the ease of use of Python, R, and Matlab while running as fast as C or Fortran. See juliacomputing.com

El Reg gets schooled on why SSDs will NOT kill off the trusty hard drive

Merrill

What is needed is better data destruction policies

No one, including me, will ever read the roughly 100,000 files that I've collected. There is simply no reason to review the past.

Lots of storage will be freed up as people die.

PC sales still slumping, but more slowly than feared

Merrill

Users not interested in new ways to do old stuff

I've tried to migrate the wife off her 10-year old Win XP machine, but she's not having it.

SBU claims Russia was behind NotPetya

Merrill

Most likely state-sponsored?

Nations have been concerned about ranswomware used by criminals and terrorists to collect funds from the victims. One way to counter this is to release ransomware that does not have the ability to decrypt the files after the ransom is paid. This makes victims unwilling to comply with demands in the future, and decreases the effectiveness of future ransomware attacks as an economic crime.

This appears to be the case with non-Petya. Releasing it in the Ukraine for geopolitical effect is just gravy.

Cook fights for life after Google summit blaze

Merrill

Re: Good headline

Re: deep fry - just say no

Maybe something like an emergency drain, that would drop the hot oil into a fireproof holding tank would work?

Do we need Windows patch legislation?

Merrill

It should be supported for at least the life of the motherboard

The life of a desktop or notebook is determined by the life of the motherboard and the solid state electronics on it. The mechanical bits, such as fans, disc drives, connectors, and the power supply with short-lived capacitors are easily replaced.

The life of a motherboard is at least 15 years, so an operating system that is sold for 5 years should be supported with regard to security and safety defects for 20 years from first availability.

Tuesday's AWS S3-izure exposes Amazon-sized internet bottleneck

Merrill

Licenses are a big deterrent to proper BC/DR implementation

Too many vendors of proprietary software infrastructure charge full freight for deployments on the passive side of active/passive implementations. Even with active/active implementations, there are additional costs for underutilized licenses, and the design and operation is more complex.

This many standards is dumb: Decoding 25Gb Ethernet and beyond

Merrill

The age old question

Why do people have so much information in the wrong place?

Factories are too DULL for Google's robo-dreams: Behold the GATAMAMs

Merrill

The robot-maintained data center

Data centers have two big problems:

- clearances have to be allowed for humans to move about, and

- they have to be filled with air for the humans to breathe.

If you design the data center to be built out, maintained, and upgraded by robots, then the dimensions of packs, crates, racks, aisles, pods, floors, etc. can be done with an eye towards maximizing efficiency rather than designing for human access. Of course, this requires robotics compatible designs for cooling, power distribution, cabling, equipment mounting, etc. as well as servers and networking gear.

It may be possible to fill the data center with a liquid coolant instead of air. The advantages of doing so may be greater at the high densities of equipment enabled by using robots for all physical operations.

The design of the robots and the design of the data center would be done together to jointly optimize efficiency.

Why Google and Amazon could end up cooking their own chips

Merrill

Custom VLSI could reduce data center cost and power

Instead of having rack after rack of general purpose CPUs spinning endlessly through the same bits of code for low level functions, custom VLSI could do it a lot cheaper and more efficiently.

Incompatible IT systems blamed for bank sale collapse

Merrill

RBS replaced NatWest teller system in 2003

They must have lost a step.

Getting it right: the RBoS/NatWest takeover

http://www.resourcesbt.com/resources/global/issue5/transitions/story_2.htm

HP: Still choosing the wrong women

Merrill
Meh

The channel is probably in trouble

At least for peddling Intel servers, as companies cap their data centers and migrate applications to one or another of the various types of cloud computing and hosting. HP would seem to have no particular lock on selling servers to hosting and cloud companies, the largest of whom like to have a hand in the design of kit made specifically for them.

The "Larry vs Leo" matter also forced Leo into hiding for a month or more. Possibly this contributed to his reputation for being a "poor communicator", since it is difficult to get your message out while on the lam.

Merrill
Meh

How hard can it be to run a printer ink company?

Is it not true that most of HP's profits come from selling printer ink?

The rest of the company is a hobby.

Google open video codec faces second challenger

Merrill

MPEG 1 is just about 20 years old

MPEG 1 was completed by the end of 1991, so it must predate any patents that are still active.

True, it didn't have coding for interlaced fields, but interlaced fields should be as obsolete as the scanning electron tubes that employed them by now.

Nor does it achiever the compression ratios of the later algorithms. However, the costs of storage and transmission are dropping rapidly, and the simple decoding of MPEG 1 should be good for low power devices that can achieve long battery life.

Processing power is a steeply rising fuction of compression ratio. You can spend 10 years to standardize new algorithms that use 10 times the processing power to bring down the bit rate by 50%, or you can wait 3 years for the transmission and storage guys to bring down the price by 50%.

Vintage IBM tape drive in Apollo moon dust rescue

Merrill

Seems like an extreme solution

There were a number of drives that read 7-track 200, 556 and 800 bpi IBM tapes. The 729 had fairly agressive tape handling with vacuum column tape loops and servo motors that would start and stop tape movement very rapidly.

For reading old tapes it might be better to read at constant speed using a gentler drive mechanism, and simply digitize the read amp output as the tape runs past the head. After that, its all digital signal processing.

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