* Posts by Brent Beach

83 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Mar 2009


Want Edward Snowden pardoned? You're in the minority, say pollsters

Brent Beach

The poll, while shameful, is probably correct.

Obama has been very weak in his support of whistleblowers across the board. He has hunted down and prosecuted more than any former President (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/16/whistleblowers-double-standard-obama-david-petraeus-chelsea-manning)

With no major political figure left who supports disclosure of illegal government activity, it is not surprising that the people don't support it.

The US is behaving like a state with a bunker mentality rather than a global superpower.

A sure sign of its decline.

Tech giants gang up on Obama over encryption key demands

Brent Beach

Re: This is the same Obama or a twin?

Using HTTPS is not a problem for NSA is only they have all the keys.

It keeps all the bad guys out but lets the good guys in.

Of course, only a total flake thinks that anyone will buy this.

But, Obama did make up the entire killing of bin Laden thing (yes bin Laden is dead, no it did not happen the way Obama claims), so perhaps he thinks people will accept this tortured reality as well.

Wikileaks publishes TiSA: A secret trade pact between US, Europe and others for big biz pals

Brent Beach

The article makes this offhand outrageous claim: "It is also a pretty logical decision given how the internet works. If you start breaking up data into locations, not only do you make it hugely more expensive for companies to offer their services but you also gain little or nothing from forcing artificial structures onto the internet via gateways."

I don't think there is anything in this sentence that makes sense.

First, the internet works by putting data near where it is used. Google has copies of its search DB all over the place. Companies make a business out of buffering data near users. So, the internet is an open architecture system that can do just about anything the law requires it to do. It can keep personal data in the country in which it is collected. If google cannot do it, someone will come along who can.

Second, when the laws on data retention and data collection by national agencies differ country by country and some countries - notably the UK and the USA - have no ethics about taking other people's data, then there is a lot to gain by keeping the data away from servers in those countries.

The internet is designed to be run for the convenience of the edges, not for the convenience of the big companies in the middle.

Hard to imagine any more wrong headed claims than the article lays down as "pretty logical".

Elon Musk's $4.9bn taxpayer windfall revealed

Brent Beach

Re: Seems legit

Looking at one company in isolation and you can condemn the government for pushing alternative energy.

How about looking at all companies?

For example, the government guarantees owners of pipelines a return on investment. They can set the price they charge for carrying fossil fuel products to guarantee 12% return. No market forces there.

So, before you get your knickers in a knot over the relatively small incentives for alternate energy, get the whole story on government subsidies for fossil fuels. The Koch brothers did not become beellionaires without a lot of help from government.

Samsung persuades US watchdog to review Smartflash legal dance over patents

Brent Beach

Not only are the patents silly - prior art all over the place - but the venues in which these trials take place are special. A few courts in rural texas that are famous for big settlements on patents.

A failed patent system and a failed legal system.

Brought to you by the leader of the free world.

Should online pirates get the same sentences as offline ones?

Brent Beach

Re: 10 years...

And Wall Street banksters stole a trillion dollars and not one of the bosses was every charged.

I prefer to base the penalties for all property crimes on the Wall Street yardstick.

Nothing says 'Taliban' quite like net neutrality, eh, EU Digi Commish?

Brent Beach

Re: He was just uttering lobby talk in public

Why would vehicle tracking need higher priority service? A location every few minutes should be fine.

No one could base an automated vehicle on the need for high priority internet service in real time. There are blind spots in cell coverage - would the vehicle just stop?

In fact, the makers of these systems want NN because it would prevent the ISPs from charging them more for assured service.

To me, the only people against NN are ISPs since it prevents them from blackmailing their customers.

$533 MEEELLION – the cost of Apple’s iTunes patent infringement

Brent Beach

That some podunk jury in Texas can make decisions like this and award settlements like this makes the US justice system a joke.

Justice for sale.

The good guys have to take this to the limit and break this freaky system of patent trolls.

The trolls have another half a billion to fund even more flaky law suits based on even more absurd patents. It will never end until the US congress does something.

Wait. Anything that relies on sensible action from the US congress is just not ever going to happen.

I'll build a Hyperloop railgun tube-way in Texas, Elon Musk vows

Brent Beach

Re: Let's be fair here

The tube needs to expand and contract lengthwise as the temperature changes, so there have to be seals, not welds.

Brent Beach
Thumb Up

Re: He's at least trying

Absolutely. The transition to a low energy society will mean that most of our expectations will have to change. In 30 years the low energy solutions for almost everything we do will make today's high energy lifestyle seem profligate. Our grandchildren will be laughing at us, not at Musk.

The internet just BROKE under its own weight – we explain how

Brent Beach

Is this really why the Y2K problem has a long shadow? "Globally, we handled the very real issues posed by computers being unable to comprehend the passing of the millennium so well that the average punter didn't notice the few systems that didn't get updated."

My recollection is that in fact there were no real issues, or almost none.

In fact, the Y2K BS storm inflated the computing market which then blew up in the dot com bubble.

The implication that Y2K was a success, rather than a much hyped non-event is certainly counter to my experience at the time.

FCC will have to drop a bombshell to solve net-neutrality conundrum

Brent Beach

This is of course the key point - "Controversial is understating it somewhat. Internet providers are going to fight such a move tooth and nail, since the prospect of such a ruling would wipe billions off their potential future earnings."

Billions off the bottom line, billions remaining in their customers' bank accounts.

Does the internet exist to allow people to communicate, or to allow companies to make humongous profits?

Silly me - forget it.

US govt watchdog slams NSA snooping as illegal, useless against terrorism

Brent Beach

Why is the NSA able to run illegal programs? Because the people selected for key oversight functions are so blindly pro-surveillance that the oversight function becomes a rubber stamp. From the article - "Mike Rogers (R-MI), who as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is supposed to oversee the activities of the NSA, was sharply critical of the report's findings."

When the person responsible for oversight has no vision, then it is time for him/her to be replaced.

Or they could rename it to the House Intelligence Rubber Stamp Committee.

Almost everyone read the Verizon v FCC net neutrality verdict WRONG

Brent Beach

Orlinksi's arguments completely misunderstand the nature of telephone companies. They are regulated monopolies. They maximize their profits within the regulations and lobby rule makes to change those regulations to ensure even greater regulated profits.

They are not innovators. Even though they were at the centre of the internet development universe, they created few of the innovations which sparked the growth of the internet we know today. I am saying few even though I can think of none, on the off chance that there might be one contribution out there.

However, as soon as the internet started to boom, they started trying to draw the intelligence from the leaves into the network. That would have put the internet into a black hole - the telecom black hole. Development would have ceased, costs would have skyrocketed. That is just how regulated monopolies work.

If changes are needed to handle the vastly increased data flows, those changes should involve the telecom companies supplying the well networked dump pipes and nothing more. That they can do without screwing up. Everything else should come from outside the network providers.

For me, network neutrality says to the telecom companies - your job is well networked dumb pipes.

For me, that is the recipe for continued progress.

MI5 boss: Snowden leaks of GCHQ methods HELPED TERRORISTS

Brent Beach

The assumptions/claims the NSA/GCHQ use to justify their excesses:

- there is an unlimited number of terrorists out there.

- surveillance has already stopped a huge number of attacks.

But, what if they are wrong? What if just about all the people who would perform a successful terrorist attack have already done so? What if they have all been caught?

The few "terrorists" caught in sting operations may have done nothing unless spurred on by the police sponsors. Grumpy folks who have a grievance that would, if not supported by a police informer, simply fizzle out.

So, few actual terrorists, none of whom have actually been caught before the fact.

Can we admit we cannot prevent most attacks but can catch the guys who do it and just dump all this NSA/GCHQ surveillance of the world?

Our heroic world leaders are simply terrified by the NSA/GCHQ boggyman threats. World leaders? Nah. Timid children, afraid of the dark.

Wikileaks Party scrambles to explain election decisions

Brent Beach

Re: Byzantine?

It has been shown that the very complex system has never produced a result other than that which the first past the post system would have produced. That is, if you ignore all but the first choice, you would get exactly the same result.

However, if people think it is providing better representation, then it may well be better.

Bootnote: It is possible that the combination of the preference system and the requirement to vote with the very high resulting participation is why the results are the same as first past the post. Perhaps in a low turnout situation - the rest of the world - the Australian voting system would make more of a difference.

US court rules IP address cloaks may break law

Brent Beach

Re: @condiment

The geographically focused results do not arise because of server location, they arise because google chooses those results most relevant to your location, independent of the server which it happens to use.

I think, but I could be wrong, that all servers are being continuously updated to the same content, with some getting the updates sooner than others.

Eco-nomics: Was Stern 'wrong for the right reasons' ... or just wrong?

Brent Beach
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Inept analogies abound - an entire ecosystem of them

To select just one - "But far more dramatic changes in the climate have been experienced within the past 20,000 years, Lilley contends, with humans able to draw on far more primitive technological resources, and yet survive."

Back then we had nomadic hunter gatherers. When it got cold, which it did gradually, people moved to warmer areas. When the local animals died or were killed, the people moved to the next valley or died. Many must have died - those who did not decide to move south.

With a lightly populated planet and far more animals (food) than people, it was an entirely different problem.

Today, without imported food, most of the northern parts of the planet would soon die of starvation. Any argument based on conditions 20,000 years ago is simply too stupid to be considered. Any writer who repeats it meets the same assessment.

And, yes, when I read the title on the splash page, I did guess that it was by Orlowski.

Satellite gives better picture of solar flares' effects on Earth

Brent Beach
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What is the point?

Additional hard facts can be used to change the climate models - that is a good thing.

With this new parameter value past observations of climate can used to better understand the rest of the model - what other parameters must be adjusted to bring the model results into conformity with observations.

Those changes to the model may even decrease the importance of these flares. If the flares contain almost twice as much energy, perhaps the adjustment is to cut the contribution of those flares in half with a net zero change to the model.

We don't yet know how the 10% probable maunder minimum will affect the climate. We do know how increased CO2 affects the climate.

The article appears to be putting its faith in the unknown result of a one in ten chance rather than start to deal with an absolute certainty.


Tablets will overtake consumer PCs, says Fujitsu CTO

Brent Beach


The number of people who are crazy about ipads, a device that I am it looks like most people responding to this column hate, continues to amaze me. However, I am also amazed by the number of people who think the cameras on phones are worth using. Or who can watch a video on an iphone.

As the article states, there will be several ipads around the house and only us nerds will be using a keyboard and a mouse to generate content. The rest will find that 140 characters is the upper bound on their creativity and will be happy with iphones and ipads.

UK's first Stealth fighter in successful catapult test

Brent Beach

What if the biggest customer cannot afford the planes

The article suggests hopefully - "if the F-35 programme survives at all, the plane will surely be sold in large numbers and that will eventually drive costs down."

By far the largest current customer is the US of Bankrupt. If they cannot afford the thousands of these planes they think they will buy, then the price will sky rocket. No stealth there - it will be blatantly obvious.

Can a country that is running 1.5 trillion dollar deficits but still refuses to tax half of the wealth in the country realistically be expected to have a viable economy in 5 years? Not going to happen.

The Royal Navy should buy a few F-18Fs and dump the whole F-35 program.

WikiLeaks sues Visa, Mastercard over 'financial blockade'

Brent Beach

Rolling over for Liberman

That both of these companies, along with PayPal, rolled over when a US Senator demanded action does not work for me.

The Wall Street arm of the US financial serial offender nearly bankrupts the US and most of the rest of the world and they are still everyone's best friend.

The Credit Card arm of the US financial serial offender cuts off access when ordered to by a US Senator and they are still everyone's best friend.

It seems to me that the rest of the world ought to have a say in how its financial institutions are run that is independent of the US financial serial offender.

With all the dire warnings of deaths that would result from Wikileaks, what has actually happened?

A lot of politicians outed for their private remarks.

Have any of the chicken littles apologized for use of scare tactics?

Malware endemic even on protected PCs

Brent Beach

The alternative - infect 100% of users

From Panda - "the use of cloud-based architectures is needed in order to stand any chance of keeping the growing volume of malware producers by cybercrooks and mischief-makers in check"

Which means, when the hackers inevitably hack the cloud, every single user is infected.

No thanks.

Firefox: freedom's just another word for 'kerching!'

Brent Beach

Chrome blocks trackers

Seems there is some confusion here. Chrome blocks this (recent versions) but Firefox does not. It cannot be a Google demand of Mozilla that has resulted in the refusal to block trackers. Who is getting to Mozilla?

White House forbids feds from reading WikiLeaked cables

Brent Beach

Boycott paypal and amazon

Show your support for wikileaks by cancelling your paypal account, letting them know that you will renew when they stop rolling over to threats from individuals. The US is still a nation of laws and threats from people like Lieberman must not be enough to affect any company's policies.

The day after I cancelled my paypal account I actually was on ebay and could not buy something because the merchant only accepted paypal.

Small price to pay.

As for Amazon, there are lots of other places that sell books. Perhaps not as convenient, but again small price to pay.

Microsoft confirms IE9 will shun Windows XP

Brent Beach

MS drops support for 1 year old OS

I bought an Acer Aspire One 6 months ago which came with XP installed. So MS is dropping support for an OS they sold 6 months ago. Not that I use IE, having using FF since it replaced Mozilla. The MS argument that the new IE must use Direct2D that must use the GPU makes as much sense as their original argument that the OS must have IE. It is a lie. The number of changes in IE required to work without Direct2D would certainly be within the capability of MS. Marketing made this decision.

Google says desktop PC is three years from 'irrelevance'

Brent Beach

This is one scout that won't be coming back

We could all be fooled of course by a massive increase in capacity and an accompanying improvement in voice recognition. If my phone would reliably hold my 62GB of files (not counting the other few TBs I have semi-archived) and give me keyboard and mouse type access to that information on a 22" monitor, I would switch in a second. If it all cost less than $500 of course. Sounds to me like this guy is like one of those Roman scouts who went off in some weird direction and was never seen again.

Why you subsidize Google's Soviet-style Net

Brent Beach
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Dumb pipes want to be paid for doing nothing

The telcos have yet to add value so they want to be paid for what Google does.

Absent google the net would have far less traffic than it does. Absent google people would not be able to find anything on the net. They would be using email and perhaps a few newspaper sites. The telcos would be providing 56K dialup to most of the world because most of the world would find nothing of interest on the net.

Instead of trying to leech off the google money tree, telcos should starting trying to innovate on their own. Absent telco innovation, google will walk around them to the customer within 10 years and they will be getting nothing but their extortionate cell phone charges.

Then google will start after that.

Lawyers scared of computers

Brent Beach
Big Brother

Get on with it

Lawyers are professionals - if there is a standard they must follow it. If the standard is updated over time, they have to adjust to that. They made the move from hand written to type written!

I wonder if there is a fee issue here. Are they paid at least partly by the page for paper documents? Are they not paid by the page if delivered on a disc?

Are they afraid that a client will not think they should pay as much for content on a disc as for FIVE inches of documents? The disc looks a lot less impressive.

Are they afraid that someone might dedup the machine readable copy and find that 4.99" is filler?

At the bottom you can bet it comes down to money.

Microsoft howls as Google turns IE into Chrome

Brent Beach

Chrome is worth a try

I tried chrome recently because FF was not rendering a website correctly. Chrome starts up in a couple of seconds, imported almost all my FF stuff, renders much faster than FF. All in all, pretty good. I keep it open on the desktop for certain sites. FF is still my main browser - better password control, better cross machine sync of bookmarks and passwords, better address bar suggestions from history. It is slower and uses 3 times the pages that chrome uses - so chrome on the netbook for sure. IE - not in the last 5 years except for occasional checks to verify that - yes, it still sucks.

Google's vanity OS is Microsoft's dream

Brent Beach

GM today, MS in 10 years unless

Like many of the other people commenting here, almost no one I know uses more computing than would apparently be available with the Google OS. Most would be very happy to not have to worry about all the crap on the MS machine. This includes both adults outside the computing environment (regular people) and people in their working lives. Most use just a couple of applications and use a very small percentage of the features in those applications. Having a WORD compatible program that was simple would suit them much better than the hodge podge of stuff in MS Word.

I think this Google OS, if they do it half well is the beginning of the end of the MS OS. It will take time, but people outside offices will move first, then people inside offices with lower requirements will move next. Enough will move that there are too few remaining power users to justify the monster MS OS churning and that process will gradually die.

GM today, MS in 10 years, unless they get their head around that people really don't need or want the SUV of OSes.

Microsoft ordered to pay $388m patent infringement damages

Brent Beach

RIM comes to mind

The law around this makes little sense. RIM lost a long infringement battle even though all of the patents on which the battle was contested were found - before the end of the appeal - to be invalid. At the time of the original case they were valid, so RIM paid $600+ million.

Microsoft claims Firefox- and Chrome-whopping IE8 speeds

Brent Beach

Ran a test

Downloaded the new IE 8 and initialized it with most options turned off - the plain browser. Got the biggest web page to which I have ready access - about 6.6MB - in a disk file, loaded it in both IE8 and FF3.07, then timed refreshing the page in Offline mode (neither should try to look to the net). FF3.07 took 2.3 seconds, IE8 took 3.4 (average time over few runs to reduce effect of operator timing error). FF never took more than 2.5 seconds, IE8 never less than 3.2 seconds. I like to keep IE on my machine to check the occasional page the FF seems to be handling strangely - but otherwise use FF all the time.