* Posts by Henry Wertz 1

3102 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

The Pentagon has the worst IT helpdesk in the US govt

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


I suspect (among the other issues plaguing gov't agencies in general) that DOD probably has special contracts with the expectation that the software will be secure. I know a relative of mine, when he logged into a system, they were still having to get computers with a cardbus slot in them because it was authenticating using some kind of physical smart card. I've seen the flags for that kind of thing in ssh etc. but honestly assumed it was obsolete (... and it likely is but they were using it.)

Amazon Linux 2023 virtual machine images still MIA

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odd, given that presumably they already have an image to deploy on ec2 itself, and people expecting it to run on site are probably using software that provides an ec2 style deployment environment.

Hold the Moon – NASA's buildings are crumbling amid 200-year upgrade cycles

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As a few have pointed out

As a few have pointed out, the main issue here is that a vast majority of this money is earmarked. Yes, NASA gets $26 billion so $250 million is only a few percent of the budget. No, they are not allowed to just shave a percent or two off those projects to keep their buildings are maintained, the money is earmarked and cannot be spent on something else.

Perhaps the easy solution would be if they could get a bill to run NASA like some universities do. With NIH money, a research project would get funded, but the university had line items for "overhead" and a university foundation and so on that'd take a nice percentage off the top. It could make it easy if NASA could get something passed that let them take like 1.5-2% off the top to cover infrastructure maintenance.

ISP's ads 'misleadingly implied' existence of 6G, says watchdog

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10G network

Oh I've got that beat... Mediacom cable (I mean "Xtreme" internet..) has been advertising their "10G" network for about a year. Knowing that there's no 10G wireless or wired spec, I thought maybe the marketers made a mistake meant 10gbps network. Nope, their highest plan is 1gbps.

What the hell is a 10G network you may ask? Total vaporware. CableLabs decided to use the term "10G" to refer to their plans to eventually, at some point in the future, provide some speed approaching 10gbps through future DOCSIS (cable modem standard) versions, future hardware for the cable headend to provide that much speed to begin with, and future hardware to cram into the cable modem so the customer can actually get that much speed. None of which exists now.

Mediacom of course doesn't mention any of this in the ads, but on their website they reveal "10G" is their plan to, over several years, put in more cable nodes (less users on each piece of cable); roll out DOCSIS 4.0 (once hardware to do that with actually exists, which it doesn't now); and do a "split" where they use a wider band of frequencies for uploads so they can have higher upload speeds. I must admit, this is a fair enough plan for them to do. Just don't like how it's being advertised.

There's no equivalent to the ASA here in the US! Can you imagine a company in UK saying "check out our 6G network!!!" Then a section on the company's web site noting network is actually 4G and 5G, it'll be 6G at some point in the future once 6G specs come out and they roll them out.

Chinese media teases imminent exposé of seismic US spying scheme

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a) Seismographic equipment doesn't seem like a very high profile target. As corestore (above) points out, this data is generally openly available anyway. Which isn't to say it wasn't hacked but again it just doesn't seem like a particularly juicy target.

b) As thames points out (above), well, take a look at even the NSA's public tools (no kidding they have a github). Ghidra is a really great, free and open source disassembler (which besides showing you assembly language, will make a fair attempt at turning it into C code so, if the program was written in C at least, you'll get something back at least vaguely resembling the source code that may have gone into the program to begin with.) They don't write these programs to NOT use them, I'm quite sure they're hacking plenty of things.

c) Not that I'm happy about China's behaviors, but do keep in mind the five eyes (US, Canada, Britian, Australia, and New Zealand) run what is probably the largest surveillance network on the planet. I've found the rhetoric of the last couple years to be hypocritical to say the least. Keep in perspective when you hear "I can't believe China is doing xyz" (in regards to data collection or surveillance) if the five eyes aren't doing the same.

Tesla is looking for people to build '1st of its kind Data Centers'

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So mixing the Tesla and Twitter operations again?

I'll be shocked -- SHOCKED I tells ya! -- when it turns out the first tenant in these data centers that Tesla investors pay or turns out to be Twitter.

Sparkling fresh updates to Ubuntu, Mint and Zorin on way

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6.2 update

I had one computer affected by 6.2 update -- ironically I used a live USB to do a live install to it, three days earlier and I would have had a semi-functional 5.19 kernel. This has a very old Nvidia chip (8600M GT), I ended up installing "non-HWE" 5.15 kernel and putting 340 nvidia driver on there. No comment on my other systems, just like Liam (article writer) found, on my other systems they updated to 6.2 and everything continued to run fine. I do think 6.2 might be running a hair faster than 5.19 for me but that might be placebo.

Let's have a chat about Java licensing, says unsolicited Oracle email

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I find it to be particularly disingenuous of Oracle to put in these E-Mails "Customers no longer need to count every processor or user name" then tell people they must pay for every employee at the company. I mean, OK, technically an employee is not a user name... but obviously that's what they are trying to imply.

Anyway, yeah, I don't think I used Sun Java since the 1990s, and I've never used Oracle Java. I can't imagine not just using OpenJDK or the like instead.

Two new Linux desktops – one with deep roots – come to Debian

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I have one!

I have a nextstation! I fired it up last week (after realizing I was wondering about Y2K compliance so I had probably not fired it up since 1999.) It powered right up. Then I realized I needed the password... luckily I remembered it after about 10 tries. One really nice saving grace (if you intended to actually use it rather than have it as a showpiece), it DOES support NFS, so rather than trying to find some 30 year old SCSI hard disk to replace the ~100MB HDD (and manage to get nextstep installed on it, which I think involves a boot floppy?), you can just access your terabyte after terabyte of modern storage over the network. I'm not a member of the "cult of Jobs" so I will probably sell it while the prices are high.

Bosses face losing 'key' workers after forcing a return to office

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Yup. Obviously, there's work you have to physically be present to do. But going into a dreary cubicle farm, only to log into a usually equally-dreary computer and spend all day on a computer coding and collaborating via instant messages and slack channels? Screw that, I can (and now do!) do that from home. As a bonus, the employer I work for now is in an area where wages are much higher than my area, so I'm getting a very good hourly rate. (No, I'm not working from India... it's a US employer and I'm in the US, they're just in a part of the US with higher costs of living than mine.)

Mystery Intel bug halts shipments of some Sapphire Rapids Xeons

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Agreed, but...

Agreed, but... the Z80 did have several bugs. Apparently, several bugs were fixed in a later revision... then reintroduced after they found some widely-shipped software relied on the buggy behavior, later Z80s were made bug-for-bug compatible and just listed that as the documented behavior. Per google, the 6502 originally had a buggy ROR (Rotate bits Right) instruction, it worked except the "end' bit did not end up in the overflow register as it was supposed to; so they just said it didn't have one and that it would be added in a later revision. These CPUs tended to have at least several "undocumented" instructions -- on the 6502, generally bits of hardware were selected based on the bits in the instruction so all the undocumented combinations did something -- sometimes just locking up the chip, or selecting unusual and usually useless combinations of functionality from other documented instructions. But on later revisions, they made them NOPs, then on even later variants used those to add additional instructions.

That siad, I do agree -- it'd be great to have some "middle ground" -- CPUs that are not as ungodly slow as the Atom-based E-Cores, but far less complicated pipelines, instruction reordering, etc. than the "performance" Intel and AMD cores (and probably no hyperthreading) so there's less scope for bugs, corner cases, and security flaws to creep their way in. Ahh well. At least the modern ones have microcode so you can usually patch around the "stepping 0" bugs with microcode updates.

Quirky QWERTY killed a password in Paris

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Ugh... AZERTY. I had the misfortune to use one of these things in Morocco. It was terrible. Leave it to the French to decide to move a few keys around just because.

Incidentally, I did find it odd that ALL the computers I saw there had AZERTY keyboards... I mean, it used to be a French colony so OK... but the primary spoken language there is Arabic and I never saw a single Arabic keyboard anywhere in the country. Do people there just E-Mail each other in French (or not E-Mail each other at all?) or use an on-screen keyboard or what?

One person's trash is another's 'trashware' – the art of refurbing old computers

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Smart. I mean, the minimum of core i3 is a LITTLE high, but I can see it as an easy cut off. My dad is still using a Dell Optiplex 755 with a Core 2 Quad (that is about to turn 18 years old) as a daily driver with Ubuntu 22.04 on it, and it gets a hell of a workout (he loads 100+ page documents full of graphs and figures almost daily, scans both photos and documents, lots of printing, and Zoom conferences at least weekly if not several times a week -- monitor-mounted web cam...) Zoom maxes out 2 cores, but luckily it has 4. It'll hit 200-300% CPU usage as chrome loads up those more bloated web pages (then dropping nice and low once the page is loaded of course.) It is VERY slow to boot however (it's not just because it's using spinning rust, the drive was priced very low when new because it was an unusually slow model. I guess my dad starts it up then just goes and does something else while it boots.) I think the top of the line Core 2's would be "OK" but I could see drawing the line at a Core i3 rather than seeing a "Core 2" sticker and taking the risk that it's a lower-end model that would not be fast enough to keep the user happy.

The first several Core i3/i5/i7 models, I think it's Sandy Bridge (2nd gen) where it could be SHIPPED with Win10 but after-the-fact upgrades are not permitted. So the first several generations of Core chips don't support Win10 at all. In addition, my understanding is that later Win10 releases REQUIRE "UWP" drivers, and the earlier Core series CPUs don't have them (since Intel dropped support for these series before UWP drivers became a requirement), so those series MUST use a several year old version of Win10 LTSB (Long Term Support Branch.) Of course quite a few can't run Win11. So I could see plenty of fully-functional systems that business will retire simply due to not being able to keep the (Microsoft) software on them up to date. Of course, you now have Zoom and software like this that will NOT let you conference if the software is more than about 3 months out of date (which I suppose is for both security reasons, and maintainability since you don't have to ensure backward-compatibility with years-out-of-date client software). So you don't have the option of just running older software for certain uses. I'm running a Ivy Bridge (3rd gen) right now and it's fully up to date; 16GB RAM, loads of storage (really, I have like 22TB storage hanging off this thing), and a GTX1650 video card; courtesy of wine/dxvk/vkd3d (and proton for steam games) it even runs every game I've thrown at it. I may expand it to it's maximum 32GB since the DDR3 RAM prices have utterly collapsed, I got the 16GB for like $90 a few years back, now the 2x16GB kit is about $40.

Red Hat strikes a crushing blow against RHEL downstreams

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Not bound

"But you are subject to a contract under which you have agreed not to distribute the code. As shown above, the GPL does not appear to prevent side agreements, only additional restrictions within the program itself or its components. You can guarantee IBM lawyers will have looked at this very closely before they proceeded."

Except you aren't subject to a contract saying you have agreed not to distribute the code, because the license for the actual (GPLv3) software specifically has a clause saying if those you got it from try to apply contract or licensing clauses restricting the right to redistribute the source code, those clauses are invalid.

Vodafone offers '5G Ultra' to users of very specific phones in very specific locations

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"ISTR that when 5G (or was it 4 or 6 or whatever?) being mooted it was said that because the range was so small the base stations could be like WiFi and instead of erecting the sort of masts they're now putting up they would be many unnoticeably small boxes similar to WiFi base stations on lamp-posts etc."

Yeah that was just PR hype. Microcells are small like this (and mmwave 5G does have coverage of a matter of city blocks.) But of course, just like 2G and 3G, 4G and 5G run on a variety of bands and for wider coverage the cell companies are going to continue to use the "cell towers" as well.

So there's (perhaps) 2 different technologies at play here (and I don't know if Vodafone is using both or not). 5G standalone is just as described, the cell cos started rolling out 5G for faster data before the spec was completely finished, so all "control channel" traffic ran over 4G, voice calls ran over 4G (if the company and phone support VoLTE, otherwise it could still run voice over 2G or 3G potentially). Running control channel over 5G is "5G Standalone", the battery life savings are mainly by not having to keep connected to both 4G and 5G. The 5G control channel does let it schedule time to send/receive data packets a bit faster so you get a slightly lower ping that way too, and save a slight additional bit of power since the radio can spend slightly more time powered down.

The OTHER technology is mmwave 5G. This is the stuff that gets easy multi-gbps speeds, Verizon got "in the lab" 5gbps over it 3 years ago and I've seen people posts for the last 2 or 3 years from places like Manhattan showing they could easily get 2.5gbps speeds in real-world use. The sites have a range of a matter of a few city blocks (because 28ghz+ frequencies get scattered and absorbed), but massive speeds. This isn't doing anything too fancy to get those speeds, they just run 400-800mhz wide channels versus the typical 4G/5G channels being 20-40mhz, so needless to say if you have a channel that's like 40x the size you can get much higher speeds over it.

The nice middle ground now, C-Band (5G bands n77, n78, n79 -- don't worry, I googled those bands I didn't have them off the top of my head.) This is 3.3ghz-5ghz range. It's used by satellite (not Sky Television, the giant dishes that went up first in the late 1970s and 1980s, and TV networks and such still use for uplinks), but in the US at least the FCC, cell cos, and satellite companies came to an agreement where the satellite companies are getting paid to move all their remaining C-Band stuff to one end of the band so the rest can be used to free up like 1500mhz or so for additional speed -- this is nice because it has FAR higher range than mmwave band, but (since it's a huge block of channels) should allow massive speeds. (For most cell cos, CBand alone will give them more spectrum than they have in all their other bands combined, so it should give a nice speed boost when they have it all up and running.)

Open source licenses need to leave the 1980s and evolve to deal with AI

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


This is nonsense. Open source writers do not have to rewrite licenses to accomodate AI systems memorizing their entire code and then typing it out for somebody. Any more than, a company could not just hire people with photographic memory to read some code, write it down verbatim then claim that this is new code and not subject to the license. Clean room implementation (i.e. one person writes a description of what the code, does, and a second writes code based on this description?) This is allowed. Copying the code over? It's still subject to license whether they want it to be or not, and that is as it should be.

And, to be clear, patent trolls are patent trolls -- companies that have not invented anything, just patents and lawyers, often abusing the patent system by extending their patent(s) so they can add things that are already being done by others but get it backdated so they can falsely claim they "invented" them first (.. I think in the US this was finally fixed, but the patent system did have that ridiculous bug where you could extend a patent for years WHILE adding things to it and everything in it would be backdated to the original filing date.) People producing code under an open source license enforcing their license against people who think they can incorporate their code into proprietary products without following the license? This is not trolling this is using the copyright system as intended.

As for developing new licenses for AI data sets -- that does make sense. It's still tricky, an AI that will spit out vebatim blocks of code without following the license of that code, putting the entire AI data set as a whole under a license does not change the fact that the code it's spitting out is still subject to the original license whether the AI company or people using the code the AI spit out want it to be or not.

(To be clear, I'm not hating on the article, Steven did a fine job writing up what's going on here. I'm objecting to the AI system vendors arguments that they should be able to pirate open source code for proprietary products because an AI read the code off, say, github, then spit it back out.)

US senators and spies spar over Section 702 warrantless surveillance

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Good. Section 702 was frankly unconstitutional from the start; allowing warrantless wiretapping while being able to *retroactviely* get a warrant from this closed court Simian Surprise refers to. Except, what do you know, it's been know for years that they don't even bother to do that!

Really both main parties can be blamed for this, from roughly the mid-1990s (at least) to very recently, both main parties have steadily given these surveillance agencies more legal authority, and kind of complain about every year or two about how much they exceed their legal authority but don't really do anything about it. Republicans have (possibly) talked a bit more in favor of bills giving more surveillance powers, but both main parties gleefully voted for them.. and on the other hand for years Ron Paul (also a Republican but really more LIbertarian) spoke out the most vehemently against these laws (and in fact voted against them). I do wonder some of this was initiated by Trumpists (who basically began being distrustful of the FBI and US surveillance once some of this was being applied to investigate Trump, file federal charges, etc.) Nevertheless, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, if this gets the mainstream Congressmen looking at this more closely then great. It's been time to reign this in for years.

Germans beat Tesla to autonomous L3 driving in the Golden State

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"My recollection is that a lot of the fuel efficient vehicles in Germany couldn't travel much faster than that going uphill anyway so German drivers are used to a lane of slow traffic" "I have trouble envisioning a 40mph vehicle being regarded as anything other than a damned nuisance by most Americans."

Indeed. Have to admit it was 20 years ago, but when I drove through socal, *in* LA it was gridlock and I was doing 0-15MPH. San Diego to LA? I was doing about 95-105MPH in the slow lane and I was holding up traffic (1985 Chevy Celebrity -- that was the one part of my cross-country trip where I was like "Wow I could really do with about 50 more horsepower"). Throttle to the floor, slower up hills and faster on the flat... speed estimated because that car had that stupid 85MPH speedo so at about 95 the needle would disappear into the dashboard. Seriously, 6 lanes and I could hear some vehicles in lane 3 bouncing off their 110MPH speed limiters, 4-6 appeared to be doing closer to 150.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Only up to 40 mph on the highway where everyone else is driving at 75 mph?

75MPH? When I drove through socal (this was about 20 years ago though), the SLOW lane was going closer to 100MPH -- I had my 1985 Chevy Celebrity flat to the floor basically from San Diego to LA and I was holding up traffic, it was the one part of my trip where I was like "damn, I could use another 50HP or so"... that car used a big, lazy 2.5L 4 cylinder engine that was like a 302 cubic inch (5.0L) V8 cut in half at the V to make 82HP and about 130 footpounds of torque. Gotta love US's odd power units. It had throttle body injection that was clearly just a carburetor with all the passages plugged up and an injector stuck above the throttle plate.). I could hear (some) vehicles in lane 3 (out of 6) hitting the 110MPH speed governors (GM, at least, after people started having tire blowouts at 120+MPH and then suing them for it, began putting speed governors based on the speed rating of the tires the car shipped with.) Of course, *in* LA it turned into gridlock and was doing more like 0-15MPH.

I wondered that too though -- what are they nuts, authorizing a vehicle to autodrive at 40MPH on roads with a 75MPH speed limit where traffic is probably going far faster? No thanks!

Red Hat to stop packaging LibreOffice for RHEL

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

a monster

Yes, indeed back when I used gentoo, the two packages that were so large they were like "you know what? Maybe you *don't* want to build this one from source" (and had the option to install a pre-built binary package) were firefox and libreoffice, and libreoffice was by far the larger of the two. That thing would take all day to build!

Starlink's rocket speeds hit a 50 megabit wall for large downloads

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Not discrimination

I don't think they'll find this is discrimination. The type of discrimination these policies were targetting (at least here in the states) was when Comcast began falsifying RST ("Reset") packets to close bittorrent connections (which also awkwardly triggered killing some people's remote desktop and VPN sessions) claiming this was equivalent to throttling (no, forcing a connection closed is not the same as throttling); some providers began slowing down everyone's video on demand services except their own to encourage uptake of their own services; AT&T thought they would try to charge Youtube Netflix, etc. for access to their network (... umm, not how it works guys, youtube does pay at those peering points just like you do); you had providers that intentionally interfered with voip to encourage use of their own phone service. Stuff like that.

Having a full-speed bucket then throttling after that bucket empties (regardless of traffic), you may not like it but it is not discriminatory. Personally, I'd probably notice but not complain; I'm getting 32mpbs down and 4mbps (40/5 DSL but a long line length) myself. And the price is over $80 a month -- the phone company here took "option B" in the telecom act that deregulating bell companies in the 1980s, they do not compete outside their local market but maintained their landline monopoly, no 3rd party DSL here!

Beijing proposes rules to stop Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks going rogue

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I could see including bluetooth. It's definitely unusual, but I've used bluetooth tethering between my phone and computer -- it uses FAAAAR less power than turning on the phone hotspot and gets about 2mbps which is slow but "fast enough". The phone claims to support up to 8 devices to tether on the bluetooth too. And (since my computer has the wifi/bluetooth antenna that runs around the display, giving it nice range) it seems to have enough range to reach from one end of a house to another. So I could see including it in the list, so some "naughty" provider didn't just decide to provide (slow but uncensored) internet service over bluetooth.

MediaTek accused of setting 'patent troll' on rival, says it will defend itself

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Tough tactics

Those are some tough business tactics that's for sure. A bit shady but *shrug* that's another good reason to try to legislate patent trolls out of existence IMHO.

Uncle Sam wants DEF CON hackers to pwn this Moonlighter satellite in space

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I wonder how long it'll take

I wonder how long it'll take? I recall, like 15-20 years ago, the military having a remote controlled tank that they were quite sure was secure, and had some people poke at it to make sure (expecting nobody to get in). Someone got full control in I think 15 minutes.

Barracuda tells its ESG owners to 'immediately' junk buggy kit

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Yes please

Yes please, buy more kit from us!!!

Umm, yeah.

Starlink bags US defense contract to keep war-torn Ukraine connected

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Not that I'm complaining, but how does it cost $80 million for the first 6 months (that Musk covered), $120 for the second 6 months, but then $400 million for the year after that? (Well, maybe the numbers of ground stations in use is steadily increasing. It still looked pretty odd at first glance.)

Malaysia goes its own Huawei, won't ban Chinese vendor from 5G network

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Factual discussion

"Huawei believes that there should an objective and factual discussion about how risks in cyberspace can be mitigated."

And I agree. The last audit I recall seeing of Huawei equipment, the worst they found was that some modules on it would have an up-to-date SSL version, while some other modules would have one that is somewhat out of date. But they found the same type of issues looking at telecom equipment from other companies too. No spyware, no unusual logs on the thing, no unusual network behavior. I mean, really, with the amount of traffic that goes through some of these things, even if the barest summary was being sent to Huawei or whoever someone would notice. (After all, if the equipment had a backdoor, how would they know what to request the equipment to send back without some kind of summary? Oh you (J. Random Politician) think it's sending everything do you? Yeah I'm sure it could send gbps of extra traffic with nobody noticing.)

Linux Foundation and pals – including Intel – back software ecosystem around RISC-V

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Re: Guys, Please use more paragraphs!

Indeed, I typed it out late, I see it now and I'm like "Damn what a wall of text". Especially on my phone. More paragraph breaks next time! 8-)

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

ISA Linux

I just had to expound on this; I started out with entirely jumpered cards; then a mix of jumpered and a few like a sound blaster that could be autoconfigured (it had a choice of 2 or 3 IRQs, 2 or 3 I/O ports, etc., but jumperless so you could specify these settings or let the driver select them.) ISA PNP came on the scene, some cards supported many addresses and irq choices through it, some just had probably the same 2 or 3 choices some previous jumpered model had, just under isapnp control. So for about 6 months it was rough, Linux would assign cards some addresses then find it did not have any free resources for some device or other. But they got it nailed, load the jumpered cards first, load the pre-isa-pnp but autoconfigurable ones next, then isa pnp would build a table of all isa pnp cards so it could make sure the ones that only support a few choices have one free to use. Smooth sailing. I briefly (this was like 10 or 15 years ago) had a system I was using as a home firewall/fileserver croak, and realized I had enough old ISA cards to build a temporary replacement -- 2 IDE ports, 2 ethernet ports, VGA, I think a SCSI card, I think it had a sound card in there too because why not, all sharing that 8MB/sec bus. That ran a tad slow (my recollection was getting about 2MB/sec off the hard disk but about 0.8MB/sec serving them over the ethernet... I'm sure that was a 10mbps ethernet card so it would have only maxed out at about 1.2MB/sec anyway). But it was faster than having no access to the internet or file storage until some replacement parts arrived.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Intel and ARM

I assume Intel is probably interested in use for embedded controllers. The infamous Management Engine, the embedded controllers to do thermal management and power distribution (any CPU that has a base and a boost clock probably has some embedded controller managing that), wifi controllers, ethernet chips, etc. But who knows? They certainly have the resources to make a ridiculously fast but low-powered RISC-V CPU if they wanted to do so, to compete with the ARMs that are digging into the datacenter sales.

ARM? Oh yeah, in years past the ARM Linux kernels were almost entirely model-specific; there was no standardization to what GPIO pins, what addresses devices were at on the various ARM busses, and no plug and play or ACPI-style data structures to find out (except the ARM Microsoft Surfaces, they used some PC-style ACPI tables since I suppose Windows on ARM could use them to find devices.). Like pre-plug-and-play ISA, the "board support package" kernel would just have I/O addresses, what interrupt the device uses, etc. hard-wired (but worse because NONE of the devices have standard addresses, on the ISA PC at least the keyboard, system timer, IDE controllers and a few other things had standard addresses, I used an ISA PC with Linux and devices with jumpers for IRQ and I/O port, I built the stuff as modules so I could feed the IRQ, I/O, and DMA channel as module parameters instead of having to stick junk into my kernel boot line.). Finally within the last 5 years or so, the Linux developers came up with a way to have a generic ARM kernel that'll boot on most systems... but it involved just putting this giant table of DTBs ("Device Tree Blobs") listing what addresses the devices are at on each and every older ARM board; the newer ARM boards finally started putting a DTB into the board firmware so bootloader and Linux can parse that to determine where the hardware is.

They standardized on u-boot on ARM many years ago to load the Linux kernel, but the early boot process on ARM was not standardized at all either, on some systems (quoted from u-boots web page) "U-Boot takes some responsibilities of a classical firmware (like initial hardware setup, CPU errata workarounds or SMP bringup)" while on others "it's main purpose is a bootloader".

So yes... it'll be very good for RISC-V to take care of this now rather than having years and years of systems that require model-specific kernels or a table that expands more and more every year as new boards come out, bootloader that may need to be way more than a bootloader depending on what board it's running on, and so on.

Watchdog calls for automatic braking to be standard in cars

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: And if the car behind you hasn't got ABS ?

Just an FYI, ABS doesn't magically shorten stopping distances* -- it prevents brake lockup. If you brake hard but don't just stand on the brakes so they lock up, compared to standing on them and letting the ABS do it, the braking distance is going to be very close to the same. This place I worked at as a student studied the effect of ABS on accident rates, they found it was a big positive but the one negative was (at least here in the US) was people assuming ABS made their cars stop shorter so they'd tailgate that much closer and brake that much later on the assumption that their random economy car (or even pickup truck!) would have sportscar-like braking in emergency stops due to ABS.

On gravel roads with loose gravel, I found some ABS-equipped vehicles (like 1990s-early 2000s so the car makers might all have this fixed now), that the loose gravel would "confuse" the system (since the gravel probably makes the wheel speeds a bit uneven even in regular conditions) and it'd let up on the brakes far more than it should, like you'd stomp on the brakes and get probably double the stopping distance you would if you braked hard but without full lockup. Probably fixed on newer systems though.

*A good ABS system can shorten it up a bit if you're on like patchy ice, where some wheels are on ice and some dry pavement, something like that, since it can individually vary the wheels while obviously your foot on the brake pedal can't.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

"Didn't a German newspaper just get hold of some Tesla internal documents revealing many complaints about phantom braking, including resulting accidents?"

Don't know but a friend of mine has a Tesla, they said like one day they're going down the road it's fine.. the next day, going down the same road, the thing had gotten an update overnight and every time they approached this bridge it would slam on the brakes, it somehow decided the bridge 20 feet or whatever overhead was lying on the road. I guess whatever was doing this there was an option to turn it off on there so they did but sheesh.

Anyway, I don't have automatic braking on my car but it sounds like a good idea. I do wonder why they decided on 37MPH for the pedestrian feature though, many roads in towns here have a 25MPH speed limit and I really can't imagine why they couldn't have a pedestrian detection system kick on at even 10 or 15MPH.

US Air Force AI drone 'killed operator, attacked comms towers in simulation'

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Earlier test

I do recall reading about an earlier test (like Iraq war era) with an automated machine gun -- test 1, the thing like immediately starts swivelling around on full auto fire and someone frantically pulls the plug before it turned 180 degrees and fired on the military brass checking out the demo. Test 2 -- they "figured out the problem", but just in case put put like a block of wood or something to stop it swivelling around. It rammed into the block, knocked it over and someone had to again frantically unplug it before it swung around on the spectators. Test 3 -- "it's definitely fixed this time", but they put an electronic limiter, i.e. if it his 90 degrees or whatever it cuts the power to the motor. It immediately started swinging around AGAIN and shut down when it hit the 90 degree mark. The brass decided to not pursue this project!

Get your cheap memory while growing stockpiles push prices low

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

DDR3 is cheap too!

DDR3 is cheap too, REAL cheap. I got 16GB for this system (an Ivy Bridge) a year or two ago, it was $90. Now I can max it out with 32GB for $40.

Eating disorder non-profit pulls chatbot for emitting 'harmful advice'

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Wrong disorder

Just taking a guess here, but I these seems like it would be sensible device if your eating disorder involved OVER eating. I wonder if it just didn't ask (or got the wrong impression) and went for that. If you're dealing with mental health, using an AI chatbot seems like a seriously bad idea.

Fahrenheit to take over Celsius

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Fucking with Google ?

Not in my experience. Scientists here generally have the sense to use entirely metric. And weed dealers (for reasons unknown to me) sell grams but still buy in ounces or "eighths"/"quarters" or "QP"/"halves" (1/8th, 1/4, 1/2 pound) so presumably they know their weights at least. Other than that? Kilograms aren't used at all, and I doubt many know how many pounds are in a kilogram. I know 62MPH=100KPH only because I'm a car enthusiast and everybody else uses KPH, kilometers and meters are not used here and I dare say I could easily come across people who do not know that 1 meter is about 3 feet. Oddly soda is sold (in addition to 16 and 24 fluid ounce containers) in 500ml, 1L, and 2L containers though. Milk, however, is sold in quarts or gallons!

(Edit: To add to the ridiculous, a US gallon is not that close to the old imperial gallons either... it took me a while to realize all these UK cars that had very high MPG ratings.. well partially, they DID get better mileage, but partially, an imperial gallon is a hair over 1.2 US gallons, so all these 40-50MPG cars were really getting more like 33-40 US MPG.)

Some Windows users say these 32-bit apps have forgotten how to save

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

I'd make a smart-assed comment but... (thanks snap!)

I'd make a smart-assed comment here... but, courtesy of snap, I had my (snap-based) copy of firefox lose it's ability to save files for a bit just last night! I had a swap-storm (from running entirely too much stuff), firefox then couldn't save. (This doesn't make sense but...) snap restricts where firefox can save files, so it uses "xdg-portal" to save outside that area... (to me it doesn't make sense, it's jumping through a hoop to just be able to save wherever anyway.. so why have the restriction to begin with? Anyway...) I suppose something timed out and it decided xdg-portal was gone... I don't know, whatever happened saves didn't work for a good while, then later on they started working again.

All Microsoft Surface Pro X cameras just stopped working

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Damn man

Damn man. Signed drivers for a camera? I mean, I use Linux so I don't have to deal with this stuff anyway (nothing to expire here!). But what hardware doesn't just have bog-standard USB-connected cameras that would not require special drivers, certificates or not?

Cheapest, oldest, slowest part fixed very modern Mac

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Bridge technologies

Agreed about reliability. I was REALLY not a fan of how they loved to keep changing connectors on it though! (Not even to add additional wires to the connector, just for... reasons.)

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Its always the simple things

Funny you should bring that up -- the University of Iowa here has an "IT fair" yearly (or at least they did in the past). In the 2000s it was lame, just a bunch of booths for different divisions of University ITS ("IT Services")... but in the 1990s, they'd have SGI, Sun, Microsoft, etc. there and it was pretty sweet. So I was there as a junior high/high school student in 1994 or 1995, and Microsoft had a booth showing a pre-release of Windows 95, by having it run a popcorn maker. Or not. The whole place reeked of burnt popcorn, at the booth was a blue screened computer and this poor computer-controlled popcorn machine with charred former-popcorn and whisps of smoke puffing out of it.

Hey Apple, what good is a status page if you only update it after the outage?

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Admitting the problem...

"Putting something on their status page is admitting they have a problem. No company ever wants to admit to that."

ESPECIALLY Apple! Back when I was in college, I encountered silliness with this twice. At my student job, I was running a Mac 6100, which (besides my using it for web browsing and such) ran tape backup to a DDS-3 tape drive. So, this department was well-funded so it didn't take too long for someone to have a newer hand-me-down system -- but the tape drive wouldn't work! Turns out (per Google, Apple never acknowledged the issue) the SCSI chip had a bug (I think with synchronous commands?) that affected tape drives (but not hard drives etc.); they actually had a few OS9 versions that worked around the problem, then it quit working again! Apparently, again per Google, the fix got removed -- it wasn't causing anyone else problems (it didn't fix tape drives but break something else), just some coder there saw this kludgey-looking bit of code, and there was no acknowledged bug so the code got removed.

Second time I had an issue, someone put statistical software on their Mac and it kept crashing! On that one, it turns out Apple installed cache memory that was like 0.5-1ns too slow, so it "usually" worked but if you had like compression, decompression, number crunching in general that would have run in a fast loop and accessed memory nice and fast, it'd crash! This was back when the cache was still in a slot so I just pulled the cache. Again, this came from Google searches, Apple never acknowledged the problem; I wonder how many people just dealt with this model being flakey on them, when it could be fixed for $0 (pull the cache) to $20 or so (replacement cache module) and about 15 seconds labor time?

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Apple page falls behind? I'm shocked!

An Apple page falls behind? I'm shocked!

Yeah, I'm not... the macOS release notes and XCode release notes pages also tend to be ridiuclously behind, to the point that a new release will come out, make it to the "Apple enthusiast sites", be out for several days to the point that even Wikipedia's pages are updated with the new release, while there's still no mention on Apple's release notes pages. Sooner or later (well, just later really), it finally shows up on Apple's pages.

Toyota's bungling of customer privacy is becoming a pattern

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

PDF/CAD files

"In which case would possession of a file that could print one, or a PDF or CAD file that allows someone to make one count as possesson of a machine gun? If so, could big tech execs be facing 110 years in jail for supplying those parts?"

Oh they had a case on that described here: https://reason.com/volokh/2018/07/10/us-government-drops-prohibition-on-files/

In short, restrictions on CAD files and the like were put in place in the US in 2015 or perhaps a year previously; a lawsuit was filed in 2015, and the gov't settled (dropping all restrictions on these files) in 2018. This lawsuit's primary argument was that this was a violation of first ammendment rights (which I think is a fair argument, freedom of speech in the US is guaranteed. Producing or dealing in illegal items is illegal; discussion on how they COULD be produced is not.)

India to send official whassup to WhatsApp after massive spamstorm

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


"India is the largest market for WhatsApp, with over 450 million users – many of whom have in the last couple of weeks received plenty of spam calls from overseas."

Revenge!!! The amount of illegal robocalls calls I received over the years from Indian call centers was extraordinary, I reported something like 2000 calls (and received a letter of thanks from the FCC for it actually.) They would falsify caller ID but (at that point) were using illegally set up VOIP services in Florida to make their calls to numbers in the US. I am just tickled pink that, at least for a few weeks, India is instead *receiving* mass robocalls from overseas call centers.

Microsoft signs up to buy electricity produced by fusion, perhaps in 2028

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


Interesting. I note that with fusors, the last research I saw suggested they were near breakeven (where it produces as much power as it consumes) with a large desktop model, with models suggesting scaling it up should have generated net power output. The first scaleup was going to cost $3 million, and second about $10 million.

This is not a fusor, it's using magnetic constriction; from what I've read that has shown promise too. Will it work? I don't know if they are in the pure R&D stage (still figuring out the possible ways of having it run for more than a few minutes) versus engineering (whether the current prototypes can run for an extended time or not, they know what materials and techniques must be used in a later prototype and ultimately production to have it keep running.)

LLNL and the like are essentially researching a large-scale reactor, they draw a large amount of power, charging up very high capacity capacitors, release a large burst of power to get a quick even larger burst out. Fusor and I think Helion are smaller-scale designs, they run at lower temps (still high, 100 million degrees plus, this is not some claim of cold fusion...), are much smaller, produce less power but take less power to fire up as well. And of course cost would be much lower, just as with a conventional nuclear power plant some 1GW plant would cost more than a 50MW one.

Dump these insecure phone adapters because we're not fixing them, says Cisco

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


So are anyone who bought extended service going to get a refund? A FULL refund going back to June 2020 when extended support began? I would expect one -- people pay extended support on "mature" products knowing that they will not get frequent patches, but under the assumption that when it DOES need a patch it'll receive it. Paying that for "Hey, screw you, we're not patching it anyway", well, it really seems like a problem to me.

Also, does Cisco realize this'll hurt them in the long run? Why would anyone ever pay for extended support if they know Cisco is going to just take their money and then not follow through?

Insurers can't use 'act of war' excuse to avoid Merck's $1.4B NotPetya payout

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Seems fair

Seems fair. I mean, to me it seems clear the "act of war" exemption is meant so, if some city got a nuclear bomb dropped on it, it wouldn't immediately bankrupt every insurance company in the country (that did any significant underwriting in that city). Not so an insurance company can insure for ransomware, and then weasel out of paying for it. (That said, $1.4B? Merck must have bought pretty good insurance!)

Telcos need another $3B in Uncle Sam's cash to remove Chinese network kit, says FCC

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Yeah I wouldn't replace dick without full funding

Yeah, I wouldn't replace dick without full funding.

Avon B7 is spot on here, this is political posturing. The ZTE and Huawei equipment had intense scrutiny placed on it after it was suggested it may have security problems, backdoors, etc. The worst that was found was some messiness (like, some software will have up to date libs, some other software will be using older, out of date libs.) But the equipment from domestic vendors does this too (just like access points, IP cameras... basically everything but dekstop, notebook, server, and phone/tablet software.. where they tend to just get some kernel and libs that work then just keep using them forever unless there's some real reason to update them.)

If they want to have companies ditch the ZTE and Huawei hardware, go ahead! But they can't expect to have companies do it for free, or have the gov't agree to pay half or something, when they could be expecting them to scrap equipment that has a decade or more of service life left on it.

Lucky that it's only $5 billion -- Verizon has used Nokia, Erricson, and Samsung back to the 2G days. AT&T has too. I don't know if T-Mobile or Sprint used any ZTE or Huawei in the past, but in recent times Sprint was buying all Samsung at the point T-Mobile bought them out, and T-Mobile is using a 50/50 split of Nokia and Erricson on their 5G network.

(For those who don't know, the 5G equipment uses SDR -- Software Defined Radio -- so the single set of 5G equipment can run 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G, basically all the old kit can be scrapped. Verizon shut down their last 2G/3G at end of 2022 -- after delaying it twice from original end date of end of 2019. AT&T has had their 2G/3G shut down for several years. T-Mobile is running a skeleton 2G network for now, to scoop up contracts from whatever alarm companies etc. still have non 4G/5G equipment out there, but I'm sure that's using the 2G functionality of their 5G hardware.)

Uncle Sam probes H-1B abuse surge: What do our vultures make of it?

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Almost all fraud or abuse

Almost all use of H1B Visas is fraud or abuse, and it was already 25 years ago when I was in college.

Many years back, Siemens brought in nuclear engineers from Germany on a 2 year H1B visa to train the locals how to use some shiny new nuclear power plants. Even the nuclear engineers and operators in the US would have probably been familiar with a GE nuclear reactor, they would not know the ins and outs the people sent over from Siemens did. That is a legitimate use.

What they usually get used for? Outsourcing firms bring masses of programmers (with no specialities whatsoever) over from India so they can pay them well below market rate. By the time they realize they are not even being paid a living wage* it's too late, they can keep working or get their visa revoked and sent back to India with no money and no job.

*The perverse part of it is a large part of this is that these firms bring their H1Bs to silicon valley... the pay they offered would be acceptable in the midwest where I live; they falsely claim they can't find anyone to fill these jobs without even looking in country. And in fact some of these firms lost a fair bit of business to other outsourcing companies that do just that, start up in a part of the US without the insane housing prices of Silicon Valley and hire talent in the region at prices that'd be a joke in Silicon Valley but acceptable where they are located.

Hyundai to develop a Moon rover (to launch, not because the roads are so bad down here)

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


I think it's sensible, if you are going to send vehicles to the moon or mars -- why not have a car company design it?