* Posts by Mike

150 publicly visible posts • joined 2 May 2007


Remembering the true* first portable computer


Helped more than you think

Many of these were given to colleges when they were retired, and there was a livley exchange of hacking tips, distributed as mimeographed newsletters. Many students got their first exposure to embedded computing from these systems.

I/O, IIRC was 5-level TTY input, Servo control output. Many of the early questions were of the form "How do I get human-readable _output_?"

Linux? Um, the Linux kernel is written not in ANSI/ISO C, but in gcc (A dialect, in the sense that Norwegian is a dialect of Swedish, or Bosnian of Serbian) gcc does not believe 24-bit computers exist.

Not to mention that /bin/true (even on an older FC4 system) is larger than this system's total memory, even when dynamically linked, and stripped.

Videogame history project successfully emulates CRT on LCD


TVs for developers

While it's good to have a few good TVs for developers to use (I still have a 13-inch Sony from those days), we (Atari) used to make sure we also had a number of Bargain Bin (will not mention the mfg, as they do much better these days) TVs, so we could make sure a game was still playable on what our typical customer was likely to have.

Sortof like when some folks on UseNet suggested passing the virtual hat to get Linus a kick-butt machine for development, to be answered quickly by a chorus of "NOOOooo!" :-)

Behind IE 8's big incompatibility list


Why IE?

Because the folks in corporate IT insist on outsourcing _everything_ to places that couldn't do a static page to save their lives, even if it's just the HR department's Holiday Schedule. Javascript? You wish. ActiveX all the way baby, if you want to check your paystub, put in for time off, apply for a job within the company, get design documents for Linux-based products (I kid you not), or claim reimbursement for the company mandated trip. Oh, yeah, and the ISO-9000 courseware. Oh dear lord _NO_!

The good news is that we all have a fair-to-middling chance of being unemployed by year end, and thus immune to "You must upgrade your browser to IE, and set all the security knobs to total web-slut to do your job. And when your PC gets pwned, IT _will_ blame you"

Almost looking forward to living under a bridge instead...

Gimme some (more) money, demand Spinal Tap


Just to point out

Although you would likely have only seen it if you were the barkeep, the on-screen volume control on many Atari coin-op games "goes to 11". (5-bit log attenuator + mute, how could I resist :-)

The HTML that says no - Joi Ito's pitch for a theft-free web


So, while they're back-tagging the catalogue...

I'm sure Disney will make sure to point all "Lion King" viewers at the Japanese film they stole it from, right?

And who decides where "My Sweet Lord" has to point back to? :-)

FCC fingers Comcast VoIP favoritism



If Comcast were carrying their VOIP on a completely distinct VLAN, then:

1) How would it get through the NAT-Box that most folks use?

2) How would that not make them a Telcom "carrier", and thus subject to FCC regulation and fees?

On a related note, how can they say that their "new, higher speed" PowerBoost(tm) has specific System Requirements? Why would a standards-compliant network interface only work with specific versions of Windows and MacOS?

Methinks they have a nasty web-proxy built into the Wonderful CD they include. Use it, and your traffic will be throttled to their advantage (e.g. ComCastBooks.com would be much snappier than Amazon).Avoid it, and you will get the lowest bandwidth they can plausibly give you, although they will still charge for the "boost". Feh.

C'mon, where's Richard Bennet to explain how by using their own proprietary electrons they can bend space and time, and while he's at it why slaughtering puppies on a children's TV show is "A good thing" (tm, Martha Stewart)

VeriSign remedies massive SSL blunder (kinda, sorta)



A few things to remember:

1) VeriSign have been complete wankers since they were formed, so any sort of rational behaviour from them would be highly unusual.

2) If you got an email, supposedly from VeriSign, which said "Please stop using your old cert, and use the attached one instead", how daft would you need to be to do so?

3) What are the odds that said email, probably tarted up beyond all reason in html and 27 fonts, plus fuzzy puppy pix, and allegedly from VeriSign but sourced from some unpronounceable domain, would get through your spam filters?

I'm just sayin'...

Anti-radiation phone chip withdrawn from sale


Fool and money, first cause

Daddy or Mummy, of course. Or perhaps daft old Aunt Edith.

Nine in ten emails now spam


Natboxes blocking SMTP

That would work for about 4 hours, and then the zombies would start re-opening it with uPnP. Just as they would start "authenticating" the emails as "paired", based on your Outlook address book.

Well, OK, maybe not _yours_, but the vast majority of folks who host zombies would be Outlook Express users (with the preview pane enabled, yet), would only accept "paired email" if it was completely transparent to them, and if they use a NatBox at all, would have uPnP enabled.

Tell Santa to bring more assault rifles


Rights, laws, parties

Scattershot here.

As others have noted, the Democrats (particularly DiFi) have been _more_ than willing participants in gutting the bill of rights. The Bush admin has, however, broken new ground in placing the executive branch above even what few tattered remnants remain.

As some have missed, the Dems and GOP switched in the South. Remember when the GOP was the "Party of Lincoln" and the Grand Dragon was the local Dem leader? How soon we forget. GOP was also the party of small government. And the Dems were guns and bubba and huge slabs of pork. Just swap the labels and you have today.

While one cannot legally purchase a full-auto rifle, anyone who can't find a conversion kit just isn't trying. I'd bet you-all even go to the one honest smog-check station in your county, instead of paying the "extra handling fee" to get old-smokey to pass.

Bittorrent declares war on VoIP, gamers


Reailty checks

1) According to Vint Cerf, UDP was in fact created in response to Danny Cohen's proposal, that it would be good for carrying voice traffic. In fact it is good for any such latency-sensitive stuff characterised by "better never than late".

2) A true full-bandwidth connection is not "50x to 500x" as expensive as a massively oversubscribed one. One can get a _real_ T1 from a competent ISP for about 5x what Comcast charges for my "6 to 16Mbps" connection that rarely tops 1.

3) UDP does not have all that much _wire_ overhead, so not much less bandwith. It has less "state" in the stack, but that is balanced by more in the app.

4)TOS field is not very "deep" in the packet. If an ISP wanted to profile traffic based on it, and total byte-count of a particular TOS per endpoint, a torrenting VOIP user would have only himself to blame. No black helicopters required. But it would require some state in, e.g. the cable-modem, so they'd cost maybe two percent of the rental fee instead of one. :-)

RISC daddy conjures Moore's Lawless parallel universe


Another Geezer checks in

I'd love to get a look at a 1962 IBM 1130, BTW. That would have been a very early lab prototype for a machine that was introduced in (IIRC) 1966. :-)

I do not remember DOS fondly, lacking, as it did, both the snappiness of RT-11 and the portability of CP/M.

My "graphical environment" in those days was a display client on an Atari 800 and a layout program in Fortran on a VAX. With continuous connection to teh cloud, that sort of things could come back.

OTOH, Javascript is moving things off the server and onto the client, mostly because of who pays for server cycles. If the carriers have their way, we'll see ever more of this as "reasonable bandwidth" (for the typical ever-growing "reasonable") will get more expensive much faster than the wires or waves get faster.

Eventually, your CFD codes will be written in javascript, by someone who knows sod-all about floating-point anomalies. That's why you need 64 cores in your laptop. And a 5kg battery. And a pair of nomex chaps.

What's lurking in your data centre?


Not that recent...

But back around 1999 (TaDum, TaDum), I got a call from someone who had been told I had IBM1401 experience. He had an _urgent_ need to reverse-engineer some 1401 binaries that had been running in a customer's workflow, under emulation, since, well, since that hadn't been a truly daft idea.

The latest release of the mainframe OS, required by the latest hardware upgrade, no longer (some 30 years after migration should have been complete) supported 1401 emulation.

After some discussion, he ended up just looking at the inputs and outputs and replacing those parts with Perl.

Yeah, when I hear "legacy" I think of it in terms of a Lovecraft story, where it refers to that hide-bound chest in the cellar of which it is best not to ask what sort of hide it is bound in.

FCC defies Dolly Parton, opens white space waves


Only Idiots?

Count me as an idiot then. What little TV I watch, I watch over the air, and since "the magic of Digital TV" has the effect of drastically shrinking the coverage area to, uh, roughly the folks who can, and do, have cable, I suspect my life will shortly become TV-free. I get a watchable analog signal on about 20 channels, versus maybe 6 of the alleged 40 digital channels from the same group of towers.

And BTW: my brother-in-law has Comcast for TV and internet, and has to switch off the cable-modem (not just his computer) to get a digital TV signal (over that cable) that doesn't look like it's in the witness protection program.

So, in summary, digital is not immune to interference, it just hides it until it goes completely sideways. Such as, when your neighbour's "Wifi on Steroids" starts up a big torrent because "Heck, that TV station is 20 miles away, I couldn't be interfering with it."

Free the airwaves, cries Google


Which hills?

Apparently Neil Briscoe lives in a place where all hills are nicely graded, with the transmitters atop the one tall one, and no other hill tall enough to block any house's line of sight. Or perhaps he has never seen a hill?

In California, there are many places where the "official" station of a given network, while closer, is not so well received as some far more distant one. With the coming of Digital TV ("You get it well or not at all"), this is going to be a real problem for a lot of people. And a big boon for Cable companies, who of course wouldn't think of jacking up their rates just because now they're _really_ the only choice.

Please ignore the net neutrality sideshow haunting Comcast's BitTorrent bust


Not only P2P

Comcast was "busting" (forging reset packets) on many "uploads".

My neighbour went through a lot of head-scratching until he figured out that was why his scp (Secure Copy) of largish _work_ files to his employer's computer kept going awry.

Apparently Comcast had made the logical leap "Encrypted traffic -> must be pirates". As Richard Bennet mentioned, but obviously did not dwell on, they had an issue with their modems not throttling (_real_ throttling, as in delaying or dropping packets so the normal TCP mechanisms could detect congestion and back off) per their spec, so they "fixed it" by randomly resetting any upstream connection that "lasted too long", _regardless_ of whether anybody else was using the wire at the time.

Since we are apparently doing car analogies: they sold a car with a 55MPH governor, but the governor didn't work, so people could drive 70MPH, which looked bad for their claim of a working governor. The solution was to randomly shoot the tires of any car not standing still, lowering the average speed a bit.

Cuil feasts on Salmon of Nonsense


Google Conspiracy

"...the work of a company that has shedloads of spare cash spending a bit of it to reinforce their position ..."

Oh, like MSFT investing in Apple. Thanks, I understand now :-)

US customs: Yes, we can seize your laptop, iPod


Reasonable amount of time

Presumably the "reasonable amount of time" that your laptop can be held and its contents shared with any of your competitors is roughly the same as the "limited time" that copyrights apply. That is, by SCOTUS interpretation, forever. ("Heckuva DOS, Brownie")

Although I agree that they are probably fishing for dissidents (e.g. registered democrats and libertarians), and the industrial espionage is just a nice perk.

Fugitive spammer in murder-suicide


Drugs and mental illness

Some drug-users got that way by self-medicating for conditions that they could not otherwise get treatment for. Attempting to draw a line between them and folks who just woke up one morning and decided to become speed-freaks is going to be "interesting". (My drugs of choice are beer and coffee, but I certainly can sympathize with the urge to do _something_ with my mental state)

Google unfurls less laughable Wikipedia



What did Google do to the Swiss? Move Scharfenberger to the top of the list for Chocolate?

BOFH: The PFY wants a reference


Meccano Difference Engine

But... Tim's got a nicely full beard, so hard to tell if he is PF. OTOH, 'Y' he is not. :-)

God makes you stupid, researchers claim


I'd be better able to believe this...

if I had never met Don Knuth. His is smarter and nicer than I will ever be, and is devout where I am an atheist.

I understand that it is foolish to argue from such a small sample size, but it is also foolish to believe that statistics can be applied to individuals. I am taller than the average adult Chinese male, but Yao Ming is a bit taller yet. :-)

AJAX browser wishlist call goes unanswered


Drawing API

Well, you could build it on:


(drawing pixels in javascript) Not that _I'd_ want to deal many pages like that.

As others have said, the best approach to Java(_we_control_the_vertical)script is noscript.

Fraudsters pool data to beat plastic fraud checks



Oh, you mean that number on the back that nearly every merchant demands these days, so it is almost certainly stored right next to the card number in the database that just went walkies? That one? How, exactly, does that help?

Red Hat shoots down brace of patent disputes


Prior Art

Wouldn't Englebart's (fairly well distributed) video from 1968 be applicable? Does the patent office even have folks who can watch TV, let alone read?

Billg bigs up SharePoint and Touch Wall


email vs meetings

In my personal experience, a corporate preference for meetings (either F2F or tech-mediated) over email correlates quite strongly with a culture of mendacity. The major problem with email, apparently, is that the person you promised something has a copy of that promise, so "you imagined my promising that" works less well.

SMS costs more than using Hubble Space Telescope


Alternative solution to SMS pricing

@Tim Beeber

Rather than pay an extra $20/month to get spam, you could consider the one-time charge (may be waived under some circumstances by Verizon) to simply disable SMS on your phones. They will whinge about it, and point out how you will be missing out on the opportunity to be spammed by them (er, missing out on valuable offers related to new service options), but they will do it, or at least they did, a year ago, for my sister.

IBM's Cell blade boosted by memory and floating point gains


Financial Software

"...pennies in the pound can't be represented exactly"

They can in BCD floats :-) (IIRC, some current IBM CPUs support them)

Or are you thinking of LSD? Ah, the pleasure that came of re-discovering the hack that allows mixed-radix calculations in a single register.

Babbage's Difference Engine hits Silicon Valley


One per desktop (et al)

The reason it is the size it is: the range in sizes of the various parts meant that for the smallest to be strong enough (great enough cross-section), the largest are, well, the size they are. It is possible that a 1/4-scale model could be built today, using today's materials, today's fabrication processes, and designed with today's clustered supercomputers running FEA software. However, the _point_ of the original exercise was to determine if _Babbage_ could have built it, with the materials and processes available at the time.

As to "It's a computer, just look at it", well, then EMERAC is a computer :-)

(NOT! Nor is this)

As to the "Swede" who built a difference engine, that one lacked many of the error-checking facilities of Babbage's and was as a result a bit "fiddly", IIRC.

As to crank effort: the current machine has a 4:1 reduction gear. It takes a bit of patience, "feel", or whatever to turn, but I have done so and I am no giant. It would be tiring to turn it at 1:1, and more prone to jams (error-detecting, again), because of the variance in load during the machine cycle, but IMHO, not out of the question. You perhaps underestimate the strength, stamina, and flexibility of the typical Victorian Navvy. :-)

Linux-guru's conviction fuels ReiserFS debate


Support and missing persons

Anybody who thinks that commercial products and "closed source" software are immune to this must be judging from inexperience. I've been on the bad end of that stick "I'm sorry, but frankly we don't anticipate _ever_ fixing that because it's purchased IP and the company we bought it from is out of business", "Sorry to here you have a problem with out hardware, but we can't really help you. Perhaps we could find out who wrote the Windows driver, at the HongKong shop we contracted to". And at my own employer at the time, a Very Large IT company, where a product was withdrawn almost as soon as it was released, because the principal architect just got tired of the debugging effort and quit.

DARPA wants microscopic atom clocks on chips



"DARPA is looking for a primary frequency standard in a 5cc volume"

Imagines the size of moth needed to discreetly hide such a device...

Holy $^&^%*(!

Boffins ponder 100-year archive made of TOMES


Access vs viewing

First-posting A.C. has it right, while JonB may be confused. The ethernet wire protocols are well defined and documented, in multiple places, as are the various (NFS, iSCSI, etc) upper layers and the metadata associated with the common filesystems. I can still read data from paper-tape, Punch-cards, and 8-inch floppy disks, and have friends I can turn to for both 7 and 9-track reel-to-reel tape. (OK, I'm a nerd), recovering filenames, dates, and contents... Again, all the info you need is available in multiple places. What is _not_ available (apparently even within MSFT) is exactly how to interpret the contents of a Word 1.0 file. Even PDFs are not 'P' across a decade or so, as Adobe fiddles with the format.

Ballmer bitch slaps Vista


Upgrading the OS, not the HW

I'd be more convinced that was a bad idea if I had not successfully put OS-X on a space-clam (which produced the crap performance I expected from a major new release, that's why I put this "test drive" on a "retired" machine), then eventually upgraded _that_ to 10.3, which has quite acceptable (better than the OS-9 it came with) performance.

_Sometimes_ OS upgrades really are. And before Webster gets his knickers in a twist, yes, sometimes Apple screws up, and sometimes MSFT does "actually making it better without loads of bloat" updates. Heck, I even remember a couple VMS upgrades that really were.

Boffins chomp noggin-nobbling narcotics


One of the meanest things I ever did

Playing for my roomate a tape of the "Brilliant Guitar solo" he played while high.

'nuff said?

(BTW: anyone who puts in their body something bought from a spammer is in _serious_ need of some common-sense pills)

Demo shows how web attack threatens fabric of the universe


Default passwords

Before y'all get smug, I'd like to mention that I binned one home router after the _third_ time I found it had reverted to the default password, without anybody pressing the reset button or any apparent power failure (other equipment on the same breaker was set to not reboot on power recovery, and was running the whole time). So unless you are in the habit of checking that your router still "believes" in the settings you last made, you may be one of the "muppets" you disdain. (Airlink, BTW, but since they are one of many that just crank out clones of chip-maker reference designs, I wouldn't suggest feeling smug yet)

OOXML approved as international standard?


Why you cannot simply ignore it

Those who say they will (or people in general can) simply ignore OOXML being an official ISO standard are missing something.

The whole point of OOXML becoming a standard is so that local councils firmly in Redmond's pocket can meet any pesky legal requirement for keeping official documents in a standard format for public accessiblity.

"It's no good you complaining now about the Vogons destroying your silly planet for a hyperspatial bypass when you would have been aware of the proposal months ago, had you only upgraded your copy of Office monthly, to keep up with the version used by your official representatives."

If you want to avoid legal problems, you _will_ update, as often as they decide to require it, at whatever price they ask (which will of course be substantially discounted for government I.T. organizations, out of patriotic good will)

Comcast admits it can do the impossible


A little history

Communication companies have been "overbooking" for over 100 years.

Rule of thumb is that Telco COs are provisioned for approximately 15% of their subscribers off hook, max, at any given time. Numbers are typically smaller for number of subscribers who can be setting up a call, and typically a bit higher for certain "class of service" lines (the technical justification for a "business line" being charged more than a "residential" line, although often the actual reason also considers some PUC artificially limitting residential rates, and telcos subsidizing them by jacking up Business rates, "because they can"). This was true when the "number of connections" limit was cord-pairs on a switchboard and the "number of simultaneous call-setups" limit was how many operators were on duty. It's still true when "cord pairs" are "fabric bandwidth" and "operators" are tasks running on the supervisory processor. Packet switching trades "setup" for "fabric waste", because those operators are getting cheaper by the minute (Moore's law), but TANSTAFFL. There is always a limit. The rise of modem-connected Prodigy (et al.) users put a real kink in those expectations, with results including the famous "Modem tax" that keeps resurfacing as urban legend.

Bottom line: If you want a dedicated OC768 to a non-"funny" peering point, and an SLA that guarantees it stays up or you don't pay, you can get it. Just not for $60/month. If you actually believe Comcast (or whoever) then I have a FTL flying car to sell you. More likely, you are like the guy who buys a $20 "Rolex" and tries to get it repaired under warranty. :-)

Pork and politics energise the biofuel delusion


Where's the Oil

"...unfortunately all the fossil fuel energy supplies are in the hands of peopel who don't like us."

You mean Texans, right? :-)

Spyware 'scammer' sued over PC pop-up invasion


@ FF Fanboi

"What's a pop-up?", well, you must not be employed, or not by a company over 100 people. I us FF at home and work, with pop-ups "mostly blocked", and essentially _every_ corporate "service", like finding the documents I need to do my job, or applying for PTO, or finding out what medical claims have been paid, or getting the ISO-9000/14000-required "training", are served via pop-up/flash/javascript-infested web-servers, nearly all of which have been outsourced to "solution providers", so even keeping up with the "allow web-rape from..." preferences is a significant time-sink.

Dear Hull, all your typos are belong to Karoo



Once upon a time I got so fed up with my ISPs flakey DNS that I hard-coded my employer's DNS into my home system's config. All was well until (years after I left their employ), the company that had acquired them shut down the servers. For a day or so I could not figure out why DNS was so buggered. Failing over to the "official" DNS was so painful that I had to wonder how my neighbors stood it. Now I just get used to the fact that my "always on" connection is only "kinda sorta usually mostly on".

AJAX patent threat to giants under the hammer



...does not actually exist. The term was popularized by BSD, which came out of Berkeley around the time that LSD was popular. TCP _does_ have an "urgent data" flag, and the RFCs discuss how to use it, but OOB it is not. Almost as much pain has derived from this misunderstanding as from the IBM PC using edge-triggered interrupts, or MSFT creatively violating the ESMTP RFC :-)

Of laptops and US border searches


Where to start?

The article baldly states that we all have passwords on our laptops. Not this geezer, unless you count the encrypted ones in my shadow password file, or maybe the one in .ssh that lets me pick up some of my email, _after_ I supply another password to the server.

Several comments to the effect "can they do that?". Yes, they can. At the very least, they can do pretty much anything if you consent, and despite the bravado of the aptly named "Anonymous Coward" who claims that he would "flat out refuse to tell them", I submit that nearly all of us would consent if the alternative were to be rotting in gitmo while our families wonder where we are. Or being waterboarded (Hey, even McCain has agreed it's not torture anymore). Or maybe a good old fashioned cage full of rats strapped to your face by MiniTrue.

Yes, there are technological "solutions", but all of them have the unfortunate side-effect of making the thugs even more determined to do you harm, if (when) they find out. The only actual solution is to vote the scoundrels out, if you happen to live in a country where they actually still have reasonably legitimate elections. Let me know if you find one, as I might like to move there. Too bad I only speak English.

AT&T and Verizon thrash rivals with $16bn spectrum swipe


Open Access

As others have already pointed out, but to toss in my "me too": Open Access to VZW and ATT will most likely mean "send and receive all the data you want, at about one dollar per kilobyte". At best it will work out like Local Loop Unbundling, which is to say, "not really". And where they now only txt-spam me once a month or so (on my dime), they'll probably start sending 3-minute Flash movies once a week.

SIIA slaps lawsuits on eight eBay Adobe sellers


Yeah, but...

do these "off the back of the truck" dealers sell my contact info to porn-spammers, the way Adobe did? It'd be worth dealing with them at full price if not.

(How do I know? single-use email address on registration form got porn-spam less than an hour after I "submitted" to Adobe. There is, BTW, no abuse@adobe.com, or wasn't at the time. Brings a whole new meaning to "customer service" :-)

Apple's Time Machine now works as advertised



If you mean "the ability to use Time Machine to a SMB/CIFS network share hosted by J. Random Windows box off a Platters R'us gray-market drive", then I think I can explain. The sequence goes something like:

1) Apple spends a bunch of time/money to get this working.

2) Sales of Apple hardware, at Jobs-level markup, drop off.

3) Next time Redmond makes an un-announced and undocumented tweak to SMB/CIFS, in the continuing war on Samba, all those customers going the cheaper route scream at Apple, driving up support costs and creating a bunch of bad press.

Exactly how would this be in Apple's interest? Not saying they will _never_ do it. Some hacker there has probably gotten it working in a bootleg project, but I wouldn't expect it to be a high _official_ priority.

Apple US retail sales leap past PC par


OS ages

If you want to snark about how old "Unix" is (and thus by extension that Mac OS X is "just a bunch of crufty old code", you might want to look at the provenance of Win-NT (which I presume most will acknowledge forms the base of XP, W2k3, and Vista). Most folks who care know it is based on (philosophically, and a large number of developers) VMS. A few know that VMS was based on RSX, which pre-dates Unix in any form.

But that's all silly. MSFT had to back-pedal on some of the nicer (micro-kernel-ish) bits of RSX/VMS, just as Apple did with Mach in coming up with OS X. Each also added some more modern improvements. Until someone makes a <$100 laptop with 2048x1600 OLED display and 12-hour battery-life, running a nicely intuitive GUI but based on Multics with Orange-book security, weighing <1kilo, and capable of running Windows apps like Autocad in a VM, seamlessly integrated, of course, ... there will be a market for more than one sort of computer. And you and I might not want exactly the same sort. Meh.

Your business communications are a mess


Eggs per basket

As a former employee of one of those "universal messaging" companies, who was forced to "eat our own dogfood", I feel that I need to point out than four or so ways to reach someone, some of which work, is better than "one service to rule them all" that throws a wobbly with great regularity. Not to mention that the way the "simple" interface kept mutating, I expected any minute to be presented with a Captcha every time I tried to answer my phone. Feh!

(Also agree that email is the way to communicate when either end of the conversation actually needs to _think_ to get the job done. I have noticed, though, that some sorts of organizations are "allergic" to it. Finally figured out that the problem with email is the audit trail. Cuts down on plausible deniability and "the beta is in the mail" :-)

Microscope-wielding boffins crack Tube smartcard


peeling and microscopes

Several misconceptions about this stuff floating around. From my personal experience:

1) A "talented amateur" can de-cap a chip and lap to various layers for observation.

2) While one wouldn't want to try it on the latest x86_64 or Power, jelly-bean chips are usually built with _much_ less advanced tech. Read "bigger features, fewer layers". Yes, probably less advanced than the ARM in your Mobe.

3) It is true that you cannot "see" doping (or worse, implant). It is also true that most (particularly low-end) design systems use transistor shapes that reliably clue you into types. And of course if you are extracting circuits from polygons, which rail a transistor is closer too provides another clue.

4) If you are dealing with a patterned area such as a ROM, the implant may indeed not be guessable. That's what stains are for. Yep. At least as far back as the 1990s.

5) There are ways to obfuscate the above, but a group that uses an LFSR for "crypto" is not likely to even be aware of them, let alone be arsed to use them.

6) If optical microscopes are truly not up to it, well, a co-worker of mine has a neighbor with a functioning electron microscope in his garage. Do not underestimate the passions of nerds.

iPod Nano electrical discharge sparks new battery fear



Nobody has verified that he is "here". Just that his IP address is in the block, registered to the University of Mars.

Bandwidth is decent these days, but the latency sucks.

Democrats refuse immunity for warrantless wiretappers


Presidential Pardon

I think those are only good for keeping co-conspirators out of jail.

Not for nullifying awards of damages in civil suits.

Not that I expect a hand-packed SCOTUS to make that distinction.