* Posts by Duncan Macdonald

1002 posts • joined 20 Mar 2009


Cyberattack shuts down unemployment, labor websites across the US

Duncan Macdonald

Backups ?

With decent offline backups, recovery from an attack should be easy. But of course beancounters see backup equipment (and the cost of running the backup procedure) as an unnecessary expense.

Where I worked in the 90's the computer system was responsible for the movement of a LOT of cash (over £500 million each week!!) so a rugged backup procedure was used - a full image backup of every disk to tape each night - the tapes were held for 30 days before they were reused (and 1 tape per month was pulled from the cycle and kept permanently) - the backups were tested by restoring each tape to a second system the next working night after the backup was taken.

This level of protection is now very rare.

Amazon fears it could run out of US warehouse workers by 2024

Duncan Macdonald

Unionise - NO - drop and break products YES. If Amazon managed to use prisoner labor then the breakage costs would exceed decent wage costs (after all Amazon can not dock wages or fire them!!)

Duncan Macdonald

Amazon own goal

If Amazon followed the simple options of paying a reasonable wage and having good working conditions then it would not have a labor shortage. Employees tend to be more productive when they like the place that they work at instead of felling that they are prisoners on a chain gang.

Of course Bezos like some other billionaires does not want his workers to feel that they are worth anything.

Tesla lawsuit alleges unlawful layoffs at Nevada gigafactory

Duncan Macdonald

Re: WARN employees they are being fired?

Either provide the warning as the act requires or provide the pay for the period. It usually takes at least weeks to find new employment and the warning (or pay) is to stop employees suddenly getting into debt problems while they try to find new employment.

Given the fact that getting health insurance as an individual in the US is very expensive, being suddenly terminated adds the uncertainty of no health insurance to the loss of income,

The requirement that Musk's companies obey the law is reasonable.

If you're using older, vulnerable Cisco small biz routers, throw them out

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Amazed


If both Cisco and the US government hate them then they must be better than Cisco !!!

TSMC and China: Mutually assured destruction now measured in nanometers, not megatons

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Test Your Backup

If the TSMC factories in Taiwan were destroyed it would take several years to replace their production capacity. There are several factors that limit how quickly an advanced fab can be built of which probably the worst is the production capacity of ASML, Their existing backlog is about 2 years and their current build capacity is 55 EUV and 240 DUV machines per year. To replace the production of the TSMC fabs would also require a lot of highly trained staff (and paying to properly train technical staff is anathema to many US companies!!).

My own estimate - 20% of existing capacity in 5 years - 100% would take ten years or more.

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Real TCO / impact on GDP

Most politicians don't think about anything beyond the next election.

Long term effective government planning is not something that democracies do well. (Some agencies of democratic governments can do effective long term planning when they are not too badly disrupted by their politicians.)

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Sure....

If China takes Taiwan it would still have a major problem - TSMC depends on ASML (Netherlands) who themselves depend on ZEISS (Germany). Without replacement parts from those companies, TSMC woud soon grind to a halt.

TSMC also depends on ultra pure chemical suppliers many of which are not on Taiwan

Duncan Macdonald

There are multiple critical points of failure

Some of the known critical points

TSMC - obvious - over 50% of high performance IC production

AMSL - producer of all the EUV machines and most of the DUV machines

ZEISS - makes the optical components (lenses and mirrors) for AMSL

AGC Inc and Hoya Corp - these make the blank photomasks

multiple companies producing critical ultra pure chemicals (with impurities in the parts per trillion range) and photoresists

EU lawmakers vote to ban sales of combustion engine cars from 2035

Duncan Macdonald

Re: The charger numbers seem a bit low.

They are a lapdog of whatever the current government is and support whatever its policies are, The bosses of the BBC depend on the current government to be kept in charge and they also depend on the government to approve increases in the license fee.

Duncan Macdonald

Re: The charger numbers seem a bit low.

Charging fast enough to do 200 miles from a 15 minute charge puts a lot of stress on the battery shortening its lifespan. If the charge rate is limited to half or less of the maximum discharge rate then the lifespan will be much longer than if it is charged at a very high rate.

If you have to have an EV then follow the rules below for maximum battery life when possible

1) Use a low rate overnight charge (7kW or below) rather than fast chargers

2) Do not discharge the battery below 20% (lithium ion batteries last much longer when they are not fully discharged)

3) If possible terminate the charge below 95% capacity (again this is much kinder to lithium ion batteries)

I know that the above rules are not always practical but when they are the battery lifespan will be much longer.

Duncan Macdonald

Re: The charger numbers seem a bit low.

National Grid is responsible for transmitting electricity over the existing lines and upgrading them when their customers (the generating companies and the local electricity companies) pay for the upgrades. They have warned repeatedly that the current infrastructure (both generation and transmission) is insufficient for mass movement from ICE vehicles to EVs and from gas heating to electric heating (heat pumps). However the government is currently lead by an idiot with a "green" idiot for a wife so messages that are against the "green" agenda are ignored by the government (and by its lapdog the BBC),

If (when?) people find that they cannot charge their cars or heat their homes because of insufficient electrical capacity they might finally realize that a lot of the "green" ideas are impractical verging on complete stupidity.

Icon for the "green" ideas of no ICE vehicles and no home gas heating ====>

Duncan Macdonald

Re: The charger numbers seem a bit low.

Ultra fast chargers reduce the battery lifespan. Ideally the charging rate should be less than half the maximum discharge rate thereby making the discharge part of the cycle the life limiting phase.

Instead there are chargers that charge at up to 250kW which puts a lot of stress on the battery.

Overnight home charging with a 7kW (or lower) charge rate is far less stressful for an EV battery than a 250kW fast charge.

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Planned car ownership decline

What do you think the government plan is ? It seems obvious that only the rich and powerful are going to be permitted to drive.

Remember governments take the 1984 novel by George Orwell as an instruction manual.

I expect that 2028 and 2029 will be bumper years for new car sales as people finally realize the coming problem.

Icon for what should happen to the "green" idiots in government =====>

Oracle closes $28.3b Cerner buy amid warnings of commercial challenges

Duncan Macdonald

Time for Cerner customers to jump ship

Given Oracle's record on "customer service" and audits it does not make sense for any Cerner customer to stay with Cerner.

Amazon not happy with antitrust law targeting Amazon

Duncan Macdonald

Re: "some Democrat senators believed it all may backfire on them in the mid-term elections"

Politics is ALWAYS about getting re-elected (and getting bribes!!!).

Politicians care about the public to about the same degree as a dog cares about a flea.

TomTom to chop 10% of workforce, blames automation tech

Duncan Macdonald

Re: "Lifetime Updates"

I had an early TomTom with "lifetime" updates - then they stopped them as they could no longer fit the map into the 256MB memory. (If they had produced a pruned map with just the road network (no places of interest) then it would still have fitted - but they would not have got their advertising kickbacks.)

Having been bitten once by them and their lies I have moved to Mapfactor Navigator Free which has a nice price tag of £0 !! It is more than good enough for my use. (A professional driver might need something better but for a home user it is better than the TomTom it replaced.)

Icon for TomTom lies about "lifetime map updates" ========>

California Right-to-Repair bill quietly killed in committee

Duncan Macdonald

Where would their income come from ?

To get elected to any senior political office in the US requires spending more in advertising than will be obtained in salary from that position. All US politicians (unless they are already part of the 1%) need sponsors to pay their campaign expenses. These sponsors expect to be repaid by the politicians passing laws that they like and blocking laws that they do not like.

The US - the country with the best government that money can buy!!!

Icon for what should happen to corrupt politicians (99%+ of them) =====>

AMD reveals 5nm Ryzen 7000 powered by Zen 4 cores

Duncan Macdonald

Goodbye GF

Global Foundries makes the current I/O chips for the Ryzen range - however GF does not have sub-10nm capability so this announcement signifies that GF will not be producing parts for Zen 4 and later.

Intel plans immersion lab to chill its power-hungry chips

Duncan Macdonald

Has Intel considered reducing the power consumption ?

All too many recent Intel chips have excessive power consumption (especially high end CPUs) - perhaps they should follow AMD which tries to reduce the power consumption.

Icon for the heat produced by Intel desktop CPUs ======>

Corporate investments are a massive hidden source of carbon emissions

Duncan Macdonald

Re: "Companies not responding to our pressure!" - ocean fertilization

One technique that was proposed to reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere - adding iron to the areas in the ocean where it is the limiting nutrient - was squelched by a number of the climate change groups who were horrified that a simple technological fix could remove their importance and salaries.

(Crudely each atom of iron can remove over 1000 molecules of CO2 from the atmosphere when it is added to an area of the ocean which is deficient in iron but has the other required nutrients.)

Lawmakers launch bill to break up tech giants' ad dominance

Duncan Macdonald

How much ?

How much will it cost Google in "campaign contributions" to kill this bill ?

The US - the country with the best government that money can buy !!

Telcos fear Big Tech will bleed them until they can’t afford network builds

Duncan Macdonald

Hardly surprising

Telcos are basically like shipping companies - they ship data instead of steel containers but the value of the contents makes little difference to their fees or profits.

Like electricity distribution firms they are utility companies with the same fairly flat income prospects. Their days of being high flyers has gone however much they may dislike the fact.

Looking at other utility companies suggests that their share price should be around 10-15 years annual after tax profit - not the much higher multiple that several currently have.

Icon for the directors faces when the market does downgrade the share prices ======>

TSMC, Samsung plan price hikes for chip designers – reports

Duncan Macdonald

Re: New foundries

The sub 10nm foundries will be owned by TSMC. Samsung and Intel - no one else has the capability.

14nm and larger node foundries may be built by GF or other companies but the above three have a hard lock on sub 10nm production.

Duncan Macdonald

Final device price ?

For most electronic devices (phones, computers etc) the foundry chip cost is a small part of the total device price.

The cost for a 300mm wafer processed at 7nm is in the order of $10k. This price is divided by the number of working chips derived from the wafer.

As an example given the size of a Ryzen chiplet it should be possible to get over 600 working chiplets from a single wafer giving a foundry cost for the bare chiplet of around $17 - if this increases to $18 (and assuming a similar increase in cost for the I/O chip) then the manufacturing cost of a Ryzen CPU would increase by $2 which is a small part of the selling cost of the completed CPU.

Given the inflation in so many things is running at several percent, the increase from TSMC is not surprising - they have to pay for electricity and consumables many of which will have increased in price.

GlobalFoundries’ chipmaking machine unfazed by global disruptions

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Giving up

When the required investment is over 10 years earnings and the ROI on the investment might well be negative then declining to invest was a sensible decision. GF is too small a company to compete with TSMC at the leading edge. (TSMC is over 10 times the size of GF)

Only TSMC, Samsung and Intel (finally !!) are able to finance sub 10nm manufacturing.

There will be demand for 14nm and larger process nodes for many years.

World needs multilateral chip tech export bans to hurt China – think tank

Duncan Macdonald

Another bully group

Another group that says that the US should use its might to make other nations their slaves.

150 years after the US Civil War there are still groups of Americans that want to own slaves.

FAA to airlines: 5G-sensitive radio altimeters have to go

Duncan Macdonald

What a surprise

Boeing 737 aircraft having crap radio altimeters - the frequency margin is so large (over 200MHz) that any properly designed radio altimeter would be completely unaffected by the 5G transmissions. Boeing would rather cut costs than buy good equipment.

Mozilla browser Firefox hits the big 100

Duncan Macdonald


Thunderbird is still useful as (unlike browser based email) it does NOT open remote sites automatically.

Emails that trick browsers to run malicious code are unfortunately still common - using Thunderbird stops them dead. It is also easy to view the source of any email where you are uncertain where it came from.

The ability to keep the email database locally makes it possible to keep emails as long as you like and look at them even if there is no internet connection available.

AI helps scientists design novel plastic-eating enzyme

Duncan Macdonald

Doomwatch episode 1

The first episode of the 1970's fiction series Doomwatch - The Plastic Eaters - had out of control plastic eating bacteria causing major problems.

If this enzyme is incorporated into a bacterium which manages to be released into the environment then a repeat of that program might be possible.

(Even worse an out of control PVC eating strain of bacteria could be fatal for civilization by destroying the insulation of lots of electrical cables.)

Icon for civilization without electricity ================>

VMware walks back ban on booting vSphere from SD cards or thumb drives

Duncan Macdonald

Failed system drive ?

If the system drive fails (and some SSDs die suddenly without giving any warning) or gets corrupted then some sort of removable drive is likely to be needed to restore operation. VMware should at a minimum allow for a "repair boot" from a removable drive to recover the system drive.

(Ideally the system drive would be in a RAID 1 configuration to survive a single drive failure - however beancounters often limit the amount of cash resulting in less than ideal setups.)

Happy birthday Windows 3.1, aka 'the one that Visual Basic kept crashing on'

Duncan Macdonald

Antique but still not forgotten

Would anyone like to guess how many systems STILL run windows 3.1 ?

Fintech platform flaw could have allowed bank transfers, exposed data

Duncan Macdonald

Defensive programming

Defensive programming (assume the input is incorrect or malicious until proven otherwise) used to be a standard feature of important software. Unfortunately this has fallen by the wayside as the urge to cut software development time down has overtaken the requirement that the software works correctly.

For any financial application that is responsible for significant amounts of money, common sense would suggest that the code should be built using defensive programming techniques - unfortunately "common sense" is not very common.

(For a simple example of defensive programming take the following example - paraphrased from the RSX-11M operating system

Is the function number in range - if not then reject the request

Does the call have the right number of parameters - if not then reject the request

Does the program have the right to call the function - if not then reject the request

Are all the parameters accessible - if not then reject the request

Only if the above checks were passed would the request be passed on to the requested function which may itself need to carry out further checks on the values of the parameters.


Web3 'contains the seeds of a dystopian nightmare' says analyst firm

Duncan Macdonald

Good report

Unexpectedly sensible report from Forrester Research.

Windows 11 growth at a standstill amid stringent hardware requirements

Duncan Macdonald

If you want to keep W11 off your PC

Disable Secure Boot in the BIOS - W10 does not care but it will block W11 from being installed.

Duncan Macdonald

Why move to Windows 11 ?

Unlike the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 8, Windows 11 provides very little benefit compared to Windows 10 and several reported disadvantages. A lot of the Windows 11 changes seem to have been done just to some designers whim not for any customer benefit.

So far Windows 11 is following in the tradition of every second Windows release being one to avoid (2000, Vista, 8 and now 11).

The only good reason at the moment for running Windows 11 is if the hardware is not supported by Windows 10.

Samba 4.16 release strips away more SMB 1

Duncan Macdonald

Old equipment

There is still a lot of old expensive industrial equipment that requires obsolete communication protocols as their control computers can not be reasonably upgraded (downtime too expensive/regulatory problems/lost source code/supplier gone bust etc). About the best that can be done for such a situation (assuming that there is the budget) is to use a small Linux box as a protocol converter (and firewall) for each such item. In the absence of such a budget then whatever connects to the old equipment has to talk the old protocols - and if this means they have to run Win98/Win2000 etc so be it.

Icon for one of the modern "agile" programmers faced with doing maintenance on a program running on Win98 in 2022 =======>

Microsoft investigates Lapsus$'s boasts of Bing, Cortana code heist

Duncan Macdonald

I hope the code is released

Having the code publicly visible might get M$ to fix some of the worst errors in it.

Quarter of a million lawyer disciplinary records leak

Duncan Macdonald

Re: What exactly is a "Disciplinary Record" anyway?

Washington DC is certain to hold the record !!!

Techniques to fool AI with hidden triggers are outpacing defenses – study

Duncan Macdonald

The training data is one of the problems - the source code for the DNN is another

If the training data for a DNN is generated by a third party then you are trusting that third party (which may be like trusting Microsoft to produce error free code!!). If a DNN is to be used in a critical job then the training data needs to be examined before it is used to train the DNN.

The source code of the DNN also needs to be checked for backdoors.

If either the DNN source or the training data is not available then the DNN should not be trusted in any critical job.

(Unfortunately there are far too many stupid bosses who will insist on a particular product despite security holes because they are bamboozled by the salesmen.)

Icon for what should happen to people who use untested DNNs for critical jobs ====>

NASA's InSight probe emerges from Mars dust storm

Duncan Macdonald

Slanted solar panels

If instead of horizontal panels the panels were tilted up about 60 degrees then the majority of the dust would just fall off the panels.

There would obviously be an efficiency penalty (which would translate into a weight penalty) as bigger panels would be needed).

Alternatively the solar panels could be mounted on the end of an arm that could be rotated to dump the dust off when needed.

Icon for the dirty solar panels ============>

Dear chip designers, if you're struggling to get components made, try 28nm. Supply set to overtake demand

Duncan Macdonald

Larger sizes ?

If a FAB is designed to make 28nm chips would it be capable of producing larger feature size chips (eg 40nm) or would the required processing conditions (eg temperature and chemicals) be too different ? If it is possible to produce the larger feature chips on a 28nm line then that could be a double win - use idle time on the 28nm line and produce some of the 40nm chips that are in short supply.

America's EARN IT Act attacking Section 230 is back – and once again threatening the internet, critics say

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful - a further problem

To get elected to any senior political office in the US requires spending more on advertising than the total salary that will be earned from the office.

This requires candidates to either be so rich that they can fund the campaign themselves or to have rich sponsors. Either way they are biased to support the rich at the expense of the poor. This is why there are so many tax avoidance measures available to the very rich in the US.

Icon for the US political system =======>

Website fined by German court for leaking visitor's IP address via Google Fonts

Duncan Macdonald


Arial, Times New Roman and Courier are sufficient for 80%+ of pages on the Web - of course it would upset some of the "designers" but it would make a lot of the pages more readable.

Some of the web pages that "designers" have produced are about as readable as a legal contract displayed in Wingdings font.

Please only use non-standard fonts where really required. (If a page has more than three non-standard fonts then it is normally time to sack the page designer.)

Despite growth, questions remain over whether SAP can get customers off-prem fast enough to appease investors

Duncan Macdonald

GPDR will be a problem for SAP cloud

If the SAP cloud offering is on any US owned cloud then GDPR could make it very risky for any EU company to use the SAP cloud offering.

The US CLOUD act allows the US government to access data on any US owned cloud provider even if the servers are not in the US. As repeated court decisions in the EU have shown, contract clauses that state that the cloud provider will keep the data secure are not regarded as sufficient for GDPR purposes if the US has overriding access because of their CLOUD act.

Unless SAP builds its own cloud not using any of the existing US based cloud suppliers then using SAP's cloud offerings is likely to be held in violation of the GDPR.

IPv6 is built to be better, but that's not the route to success

Duncan Macdonald

If IPv6 had just been a sensible addressing extension then it would have worked

Unfortunately the group who devised IPv6 threw everything (including a few kitchen sinks!!) into the mix and expected it to fly.

A sensible alternative would have been to just extend the addressing from 32 bits to 64 bits with a direct map from IPv4 address aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd to IPv6 address . This would still have been enough for every human being on the planet to have had over a hundred million IP addresses!! - instead IPv6 would allow each atom in every human being on the planet to have over a million IPv6 addresses!!! (WHY ????)

One obvious (to everyone except the IPv6 designers) result is that routing in IPv6 is a nightmare needing far bigger routing tables than IPv4.

The designers of IPv6 seemed to want to include all the rubbish that made the OSI network model unwanted and then add several dump trucks of its own rubbish to make the result even worse.

Do NOT allow theorists to design systems !!!

Icon for the designers of IPv6 ======>

(the icons unhappy, WTF?, D'oh. pissed off, and Eat this are also appropriate)

Intel plunking down $20bn for at least two chip factories in Ohio

Duncan Macdonald

Re: It is all about the taxes

Intel has a number of fabs - if the Oregon ones amounted to as much as $10billion per year then the tax on that would be the grand sum of $57million. Intel's profit for 2020 was $20.899 billion after tax (the biggest tax item was income tax of $4.179 billion). I doubt that $57million of tax is enough for Intel to worry about.

Secure boot for UK electric car chargers isn't mandatory until 2023 – but why the delay?

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Petrol provides more energy per £ than mains electricity

Heating is NOT low power - typically multiple kW - the original Tesla 3 heater takes over 4kW

(see https://insideevs.com/news/340327/lets-look-at-energy-consumption-of-tesla-model-3-heater/ for details)

Duncan Macdonald

Petrol provides more energy per £ than mains electricity

1 litre of petrol provides 34.2 MJ (9.5kWh) for a cost of approximately £1.43, With current electricity prices that same (9.5kWh) amount of energy costs over £2 even charging at home and well over £3 charging at ASDA.

Given the losses in an ICE engine (efficiency around 30%) the cost per mile in good weather is better for EVs - however in winter where heating and headlights are needed (taking power from the battery) the cost per mile of an EV rises considerably and the range is severely reduced. (For an ICE powered vehicle heating is effectively free as the cabin is heated by waste heat.)

Given that the UK electricity system does NOT have the generating (or transmission) capacity to handle the extra power consumption caused by millions of EVs, anyone buying an EV may well find themselves with an expensive unusable vehicle.

(Before someone says "use renewable energy", ask how much power the UK can get from renewables on a calm winter night (hint solar zero wind zero)).

Icon for governments that mandate EVs without the required generating capacity ====>

Samsung adds non fungible token trading app to its tellies

Duncan Macdonald

How about a NOT Smart TV

My own preference is for a TV that just acts as a TV - not with a load of badly coded flaky apps (and ads) messing up the viewing.

I have a Samsung TV and to overcome its "smart" features I have used the firewall feature of my Virgin router to deny it access to the internet after the initial setup. (It can connect to the router so it does not complain about no network but the router discards all of its internet traffic.)

If a TV has to be a "Smart TV" then I wish it would come with a "dumb" mode option that disables all "smart" features until re-enabled by the user.

Icon for the rubbish "Smart" features of "Smart TVs" ==========>



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