* Posts by Mike 137

2590 posts • joined 10 Sep 2009

Google burns few hours of profit to disappear location privacy lawsuit

Mike 137 Silver badge

Biology updated?

""Google's parent company Alphabet""

By some strange evolutionary shift, Goooooooogle was able to engender its own 'parent'. Having done that that, there's probably no limit to what it can get away with.

Rather than take the L, Amazon sues state that dared criticize warehouse safety

Mike 137 Silver badge

Key question

"The Fourteenth Amendment states that no US citizen can be denied due process of law"

Are corporations 'citizens', so does the 14th apply to them??

India's Mars Orbiter Mission loses contact, burns all fuel, deemed 'non-recoverable'

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: A great achievement

Yes indeed. If nothing else, eight years of successful operation is pretty good going.

Google Japan goes rogue with 5.4ft long keyboard

Mike 137 Silver badge

Quite apart from the weird configuration

Any kit that encourages or supports "pair programming" should be viewed with extreme doubt. The entire concept of two folks thrashing out what the code should do and how it should work while actually keying it in is fundamentally flawed, although I suppose it coincides with the current view of programming as "coding". By the time code is keyed in, the decisions as to algorithm and mechanism of the code should have all been made. In real engineering, design comes before implementation (ideally via a design proving stage).

Don't mind Facebook, just putting its own browser in its Android app

Mike 137 Silver badge

Full explanation?

"comes at the cost of users' [...] browser settings related to privacy, accessibility, and extensions"

So no surprises there really. Once you've sold your soul to Farcebook there's no way back.

You thought you bought software – all you bought was a lie

Mike 137 Silver badge

"You own, at most, a serial number"

So non-fungible tokens are not a novelty at all. We've been forking out for them for years, and now, with the prevalence of the subscription model, we mostly only rent them.

Tesla has a lot of work to do on its Optimus robot

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: "Liability"?

"at low cost with higher liability"

Probably a phoned interview taken down in shorthand (or the electronic equivalent). Such "typos" have always been common under those circumstances. See Toseland M. A steroid hit the Earth, Portico 2008. He quotes a somewhat more impressive one from the telegraph: "The seaman, severely injured when the ship was three hours out, was taken to hospital and the hippopotamus removed".

HDD Clicker gizmo makes flash sound like spinning rust

Mike 137 Silver badge

$25 for what?

As I process audio, I've spent a lot of time, money and ingenuity making my workspace as quiet as possible (large slow fans in the computers, antivibration pads on the case sides, recording studio wall clock, wall padding and all the rest). So the last thing I'd want to do would be to spend hard earned bucks on something that makes gratuitous noises.

And in any case my HDDs don't click, they just hum gently.

Microsoft warns of North Korean crew posing as LinkedIn recruiters

Mike 137 Silver badge

"educating end users can go a long way in protecting personal and business information"

Such education as "don't bother with linkedin any more". It was once (a very long time ago) moderately useful, but since the MS takeover it's degenerated into a third class source of spam and fraudulent probes. Unfortunately though, a lot of recruiters won't look at you if you're not on it - probably because they can't be arsed to look at multiple separate reference points, but just go exclusively to linkedin as that's the least effort route to getting their commission. The candidate is just sausage filling.

Google challenges US ISPs with 100Gbps fiber broadband

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"what could go wrong?"

Most obviously, as soon as multi-gig speeds are available retail, web designers will immediately add so much bloat that anyone without these speeds will be left utterly stranded. It's starting to happen already, despite large swathes of the internet connected world still being limited to sub-100Mb.

UK, US slip down World Digital Competitiveness Ranking

Mike 137 Silver badge


"Knowledge – Know-how necessary to discover, understand and build new technologies;

Technology – Overall context that enables the development of digital technologies;

Future Readiness – Level of country preparedness to exploit digital transformation."

"the UK dropped two places to 14th despite its Technology and Future Readiness scores improving"

So apparently the UK is good at technology and prepared for digital; futures but no good at understanding or innovating the technologies. Supposing that somewhat self-contradictory picture is accurate, it doesn't bode well for Blighty. If it is realistic, it's probably due to our approach to education - fact stuffing for exam passes rather than instilling understanding that can be applied independently to new situations.

One of my lecturers at college (a long time ago) said "if you've really learned the subject, the exam is just a friendly conversation with the examiner". Pity that message is no longer imparted, and we may already be paying the penalty.

How one Ukrainian software maker planned for survival as invaders approached

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"Risk assessment is something every organization has to deal with"

A humungous problem well managed. However unless something has been left out of the picture this should not be described as risk assessment - it was hazard identification and incident response planning and jolly well done. Risk includes an element of likelihood (consequence times probability) that contributes significantly to the prioritisation among multiple hazards/responses. Almost the entire business community fails to recognise the distinction between hazards and risks, which may explain to some extent the parlous quality of much corporate risk assessment. But then even those experts that contribute to international standards assume hazard and risk are interchangeable terms, so it's not surprising the confusion persists.

Those screws on the Apple Watch Ultra are a red herring

Mike 137 Silver badge


"If Apple has its heart set on placing the battery beneath the display and above the SIP, it is the screen that should be the easy part to remove, not the backplate"

Apple obviously (and on cumulative historical evidence) is not committed to repairability. The battery is typically the first component to fail, and when that happens they want you to buy a new watch, not replace the battery.

Ever suspected bankers could just use WhatsApp comms? $1.8b says you're right

Mike 137 Silver badge

A privileged elite?

"Banking giants [...] agreed to pay $1.1 billion in penalties from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and $710 million in fines from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)"

Anyone else (except maybe a tech behemoth) would just be told to pay up, no agreement necessary.

Sophos fixes critical firewall hole exploited by miscreants

Mike 137 Silver badge

"a workaround, which included disabling WAN access to the User Portal and Webadmin"

Good thinking Batman!

Managing your firewall over an untrusted network to which all and sundry have access is not a brilliant idea in principle. However it seems that the webified end of everything that's web enabled is the big problem. Why is "web" code such cr*p?

Here's how crooks will use deepfakes to scam your biz

Mike 137 Silver badge

An easy fix?

"increasing numbers of complaints relating to the use of deepfake videos during interviews for tech jobs that involve access to sensitive systems and information"

Even in the absence of deepfake tech, you'll never know whether the person at the other end of zoom is the person you should really be talking to. So make a physical face to face interview a mandatory part of the recruitment process. I'd never engage even a commercial subcontractor without having a real physical meeting (preferably on their premises).

Teardown shows Apple iPhone 14 Pro is not pro-repair

Mike 137 Silver badge

Third party "displays causing artificial issues, disabled features, and warning messages"

This is an ancient problem. A while back I reboxed a Dell desktop of around 2010 vintage and found it objected to the front panel of the new case. It turned out that the otherwise standard pin header that connects the buttons and LEDs needs two additional undocumented links to recognise that the front panel is present. Made up a revised plug and everything works fine, so this is just another example of proprietary lock in.

City isn't keen on 5,000 erratic, traffic-jam-causing GM robo-cars on its streets

Mike 137 Silver badge

Alternative strategies

"if our cars encounter a situation where they aren’t able to safely proceed they turn on their hazard lights and we either get them operating again or pick them up as quickly as possible"

Stopping in their tracks, as opposed to Teslas, which preferentially seem to forge ahead when confused, including accelerating into obstructions they don't 'understand'.

Microsoft highlights 'productivity paranoia' in remote work research

Mike 137 Silver badge

"In short, there's a disconnect between employers and employees"

There always has been. In a competitive 'economy', the employer wants as much work as they can get for their money and the employee wants as much money as they can get for their labour (or to trim their labour to the money they can get). So both sides are squeezing each other and the larger the enterprise the stronger the squeeze pressure. The alternative is cooperation but it's a cardinal sin for capitalists. Forty-odd years ago Alvin Toffler suggested a collaborative model for work [The Third Wave, Collins 1980] but it hasn't happened yet except in very rare small scale instances.

Teams of aerial drones might one day help to build houses

Mike 137 Silver badge

Properties of materials

The big problem will be product strength, as there's no way to consolidate when 3D printing. Especially in the case of concrete, the majority of the finished strength results from compaction after pouring. And in the case of metals, the result of 3D printing is sintered (fused powder) which is both weaker and more porous than melted or extruded metal. So applications of 3D printing to building will be limited mostly to non-load bearing structures and infills. So there's a lot of potential but only in the right places.

Update your Tesla now before the windows put your fingers in a pinch

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: Autonomous here we come...

"these guys really expect us to believe they'll be producing cars that can safely drive themselves anytime soon?"

I suspect not, but rather that by the time the ostensible objective is scrapped having proved non-feasible, they'll have realised their inflated stock holdings and laughed all the way to the bank.

US accident investigators want alcohol breathalyzers in all new vehicles

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: Cars slapping on the brakes at the first hint of....

"In the case of breath-based detection, spectrometry is used to measure alcohol concentration in a driver's exhaled breath."

Also screen wash. The one I use contains alcohol to assist in clearing bugs off the glass. When used while driving, the alcohol can be smelt as it drifts back through the ventilation system. It would be a problem if that caused the detector to stop the engine.

China to launch space tourism by 2025, says industry veteran

Mike 137 Silver badge

suborbital "space" tourism?

Does suborbital really qualify as 'space'? Or is this another questionable superlative like "astronaut"? The latter means traveller to the stars, which nobody has done yet. I suppose if you're going to command something approaching half a million dollars for providing a short period of weightlessness with an interesting view, you need to use superlatives to make the sales pitch. However it's not likely to become mass tourism in short order (fortunately for the environment).

Excel's comedy of errors needs a new script, not new scripting

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: Who is to blame?

"Part of the problem is getting corporate IT to provide a proper solution"

Sometimes a very big part. Many times I've consulted with organisations that kept their sensitive infosec documentation on group-organised sharepoint, which meant there was no individual level control over who could get access to what. In every case but one, when I proposed segregated secure storage with individual access permissions this was either rejected out of hand or the "reviews process" continued until the proposal stalled and died. And in that one case the implemented storage was only used as a source from which to make floating copies of documents that finished up on sharepoint. I often wonder whether there might have been a more rewarding career than infosec managemnt.

'Last man standing in the floppy disk business' reckons his company has 4 years left

Mike 137 Silver badge

"Extinct media still in demand"

Clearly they're not extinct. Extinct means utterly gone for good, which they're obviously not if anyone at all produces or uses them. They could legitimately be called "obsolete" but not extinct.

Uber reels from 'security incident' in which cloud systems seemingly hijacked

Mike 137 Silver badge

Lack of adequate policies and training yet again

From the new York Times: "The person who claimed responsibility for the hack told The New York Times that he had sent a text message to an Uber worker claiming to be a corporate information technology person. The worker was persuaded to hand over a password that allowed the hacker to gain access to Uber’s systems, a technique known as social engineering."

If the policy says "don't share your password" it shouldn't make any difference who asks for it - you just don't share it. Plus of course there should be some way to distinguish between internal and external phone calls. It's obvious that corporate "user policies" still don't work - probably to a great extent because they're not backed by effective training, monitoring or incident response. The greatest source of failure in infosec is still not technical - it's sloppy management.

Ex-Broadcom engineer asks for house arrest over IP theft

Mike 137 Silver badge

Interesting assumption about competence

"the files [...] would not have been practically useful because Broadcom appears to have used customized Perl scripts for its datacenter ASIC designs, where Mersenne's devs used Python"

He's assuming there's nobody that can interpret a Perl script and replicate its functionality in Python? If so, it's a sad indictment of the state of developer expertise at Mersenne. Or is he just clutching at straws to get a lighter sentence? Three guesses probably unnecessary this time.

Microsoft Outlook sends users back to 1930 with (very) mini-Millennium-Bug glitch

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: Off topic but...

If you mean the "cookie consent" banner, it's actually unnecessary as it hides a link at the bottom of the page (Your consent options that should do the same thing. The myth that cookie banners are required by law is actually a massive con. The law requires consent to be sought for non-essential trackers (including cookies) but it's actually unlawful to try and coerce consent by interfering with access to a site (e.g. by use of intrusive banners). The problem is that if there were just a passive link, nobody would follow it and agree to non-essential trackers, so the industry has decided to make it annoying so we are temped to clock through thoughtlessly, giving them the supposed right to use non-essential trackers. I say 'supposed' because it's actually breaking the law. It's notable that the banner you are apparently objecting to is much larger than strictly necessary and obscures the foot of the page content.

The problem though is that the regulators don't really give two hoots about this kind of law breaking, to the extent that the UK govt. is trying to remove the consent requirement on the ironic basis that people don't like the essentially illegal cookie banners. So because people object to businesses breaking the law by coercing consent in order to track us, we're going to make what they're doing lawful by allowing them to track us without consent (so they won't need to use the annoying banners any more).

Mike 137 Silver badge

Yet another example

Yet another example of why automatic updates are a bad idea - particularly stealthy updates.

Former Cisco boss launches upstart to rattle old employer's cage

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: Until it goes wrong...

" I would not want a network with no network people around"

A mojor problem will be maintaining the expertise even of the best. The more that is automated, the less exposure even the experts have to day to day normality. Consequently, when the abnormal starts to happen it's less obvious and they're out of practice so the response will be slower and less effective. We have to keep getting our hands dirty to stay skilled.

Mike 137 Silver badge

Until it goes wrong...

"The intent is to deliver an out-of-the-box Zero Trust network with "no network operations required"

Once it's widely adopted, there'll soon be nobody with the expertise to cope when it goes wrong (that that doesn't just mean "breaks" - it also means when it makes bad decisions that stop work in its tracks). This is yet another exemplar of the theory that replacing people with machines automatically improves performance. While this may be valid where the people are not more than average performers, it certainly doesn't when they're the best. But of course the best people are expensive, so that's probably the primary incentive for replacing them with machines. However, in real emergencies where it's not obvious what's going wrong, only an expert human can take the holistic view and use inference to arrive at corrective action. Every "intelligent" automaton we've created so far has essentially been a one trick horse, but what's needed in such emergencies is flexibility - a broad appreciation of all the facets of the entire situation (even sometimes the seemingly irrelevant). That takes lots of human experience, intuition and attention to detail - attributes of the human mind at its best.

To preserve Earth's treasures, digital silence is golden

Mike 137 Silver badge

"Which actually means that true beauty needs to be reserved for a select privileged few,"

Ah -- sanctuaries. But they're only acceptable if one is included in the said elite.

Maybe a more effective and acceptable alternative is better education for all, so folks become aware of their impact and actively seek to minimise it. Then the numbers might not be such a problem. Intent to harm the environment is extremely rare. The common problems are lack of awareness and negligence, both of which can be amended by appropriate education. But the tourism issue is the peak of an "iceberg". If we don't as entire communities start minimising our impact on the environment we'll be a short lived species.

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: As Jean-Paul Sartre put it...

The same issue has arisen with B&B. I used to travel extensively around the UK and it was once possible to turn up in a small town and find a B&B for the night. On many occasions, if the first one found was full, they'd recommend another nearby. But since AirB&B you have to book in advance online every time. Gone is the freedom to roam. And let's not forget that Everest is littered with toilet paper.

The fundamental problem is that convenient access has reduced the need for a significant reason to visit places. Where once one had to be determined and therefore in principle really interested in a destination, it's now possible to just turn up without any such real interest and merely gawp at it. So the numbers rise, and the places get swamped and cease to be worth visiting, as was foreseen by John Buchan in his 1940 autobiography Memory Hold-the-door.

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: a black sand beach

Black sand occurs elsewhere as well (although not always totally black). E.g. the shell sand on some of Scotland's offshre islands can be about 50% black. The Hawaiian black sand is probably volcanic though.

SAP user group questions value for money amid plans to increase support fees

Mike 137 Silver badge

Who's the sap?

"solutions that were previously still part of the ERP are now increasingly being marketed individually and the customer, therefore, has to pay for them additionally"

"The full maintenance rate is still due for the older ERP solution, even though there are hardly any further developments for it."

One has to ask qui bono.Or maybe it's obvious.

Microsoft rolls out stealthy updates for 365 Apps

Mike 137 Silver badge


."if a user is working on a Word document at the end of the day, they may leave the document open and lock the device intending to continue working on it the next day"

What's the problem with closing the file at the end of the day and opening it again in the morning? Are we really getting that lazy, or is this M$ being patronising again? or could they be aiming to eliminate the concept of files just like they've effectively suppressed the concept of directories? The widening gap between the knowledge of the user and the vendor can only further tie the customer down to whatever regime (predatory, hazardous or whatever) the vendor chooses to impose. It's no longer our kit at all, we just have to keep on forking out for the use of it until the vendor chooses to turn it off.

WordPress-powered sites backdoored after FishPig suffers supply chain attack

Mike 137 Silver badge

What could possibly go wrong?

Anyone heard of PCI DSS (for the uninitiated, the obligatory payment card industry data security standard)? No I thought not.

NHS data platform procurement delayed for a second time

Mike 137 Silver badge

"For some people money (and power) are all that really matter"

For those who succeed in acquiring wealth and/or power, that's certainly so, and inevitable given the intense competition that underpins "growth" economies. Consequently the most ruthless and self-seeking rise to the top and get to make the rules.

SWIFT to trial blockchain – but not for its core payment service

Mike 137 Silver badge


Once there was the noun "trial" derived from the verb "to try". Then the verb "to trial" emerged, which implies that the associated noun should be "trialial". Not unique though - it has been pointed out that since the suffix "gate" has come to mean scandal, the original Watergate scandal should now be called "Watergategate" to distinguish it from a scandal about water. Strange how language evolves, isn't it. Or maybe it's just due to etymology and grammar no longer being taught in school.

Google faces fines of up to $25.4b in UK and EU ad tech case

Mike 137 Silver badge


Headline: "Google faces fines of up to $25.4b"

Para 1: "Google owner Alphabet could face claims of up to €25 billion ($25.4 billion)"

Para 2: "Law firm Geradin Partners yesterday announced it would launch action"

So I guess there might be a case, it might go against Gooooooogle, and they might be penalised to the tune of $25B. Hardly what the headline suggests though.

Ransomware gang threatens 1m-plus medical record leak

Mike 137 Silver badge

"not aware of any evidence [...] that any information has been fraudulently misused"

Doesn't attempting to extort based on illicit possession of the information qualify as fraudulent misuse?

Draft EU AI Act regulations could have a chilling effect on open source software

Mike 137 Silver badge

Oh no, not again...

""Open source developers should not be subject to the same burden as those developing commercial software. It should always be the case that free software can be provided 'as is'..."

Yet another example of confusion between open source and free (in the no license fee sense). They're not the same thing at all. They may co-exist but they're entirely independent.

Apart from which, there is also a reasonable argument that liability (in the broadest sense) for software safety should be commensurate with the potential for harm associated with its use, independent of its licensing regime.

Data tracking poses a 'national security risk' FTC told

Mike 137 Silver badge

laissez faire capitalism at work?

"... Big Tech isn't held to the same legal and ethical standards as, for example, telephone companies or postal services" - an actuality rather than a supposition right now.

Money doesn't shout - it screams. It screams so loud that the UK govt. is busy dismantling the potentially adequate protections offered by the GDPR, although of course it's never been properly enforced. Action is taken in only a trivial proportion of real cases, the penalties imposed so far on the big tech players have been derisory and no significant change of behaviour is apparent.

It appears that the preferred approach to regulation this side of the pond is emerging as "if they won't comply with the law, scrap the law". It's somewhat promising that the US might be taking a more robust stance.

Ad blockers struggle under Chrome's new rules

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: Dumb thinking

"If the request just fails, the website will keep trying."

Presumably, it's actually the browser that initiates the request on the basis of some statement in the content it's already acquired. Let's suppose it just chooses to ignore the statement. This is indeed what happens when I turn off automatic image loading in Firefox.

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: Advertising weary?

" footers & headers which contained static images hosted on the server"

The problem is that it's the brokers who make the real money once ad space is dynamically auctioned. Several researchers have found that the party that makes most out of this is the ad broker, and one research paper on this came to the conclusion that personalised adverts were quite ineffective as those who responded to them had a high likelihood of making the purchase anyway in the absence of the advert. But the ad brokers have got businesses hooked in just the same way as they struggle to get to page one of Goooooooooogle. The gigantic con works simply because nobody dare take the risk of dropping off the hamster wheel in case they lose business.

Halfords slapped on wrist for breaching email marketing laws

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: One of those places

"I am not sure why Halfords have been singled out like this"

Most likely because, instead of actively policing such matters, the ICO relies on complaints, and there seems to be a threshold for number of complaints below which investigation is not triggered. This is of course a perfect recipe for failure, but it's going to get worse if the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill currently before Parliament gets implemented.

The answer to 3D printing equipment on Mars might lie in the Red Planet's dust

Mike 137 Silver badge

So much for commercial space flight

"It cost NASA about $54,000 per kilogram just to get something into Earth's orbit using space shuttles [...] while SpaceX lists prices starting at $1.2 million to launch a 200kg payload."

The same order of cost is probable for returning anything from space, so I seriously doubt the economics of ventures such as using moon matter as a resource or asteroid mining (which, however, have been proposed). Space exploration is very valuable as an extension of science, but other than for simple tasks such as the provision of Earth orbital satellites I can't see how it has a commercial future.

California passes bill requiring salary ranges on job listings

Mike 137 Silver badge

Re: Will this actually help ?

"in the UK it was the norm that all job adverts gave a salary range, but that has been less common of late"

Indeed so but that's not the worst I've encountered. I was recently sent a spec for a within IR35 contract in a UK government department, in which the rate was quoted as so many GB£ per day "to the umbrella". Consequently there was no way to establish what one would actually receive. Not surprisingly, I ignored the offer.

Amazon drivers unionize after AI sends them on 'impossible' routes

Mike 137 Silver badge

Just like IR35?

'Amazon's AI software often dispatches drivers along inefficient routes ["...it] often doesn't account for real-world conditions like rivers or train tracks or roads that are too narrow for vehicles."'

"The delivery drivers, however, are subcontractors and technically work for a third-party logistics company. Amazon is not legally responsible for their working conditions."

Taken together, these two statements yield a disturbing picture. Clearly, in many places the influence of the megacorps is returning us to the working conditions of the 19th century industrial revolution. Given the spreading emphasis towards "free market economies" (a euphemism for those with the greatest power grabbing all they can) this can only get worse. Slavery doesn't cease to be slavery just because you get paid.


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