* Posts by Fazal Majid

545 publicly visible posts • joined 16 May 2007

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Fancy climbing the peaks of Alpine Linux? 3.20 is out

Fazal Majid

People often think of Alpine only as a base for Docker containers but it runs perfectly on bare metal. The low footprint reduces the attack surface, being systemd and glibc free made it immune to the recent xz attack, for instance.

Europol confirms incident following alleged auction of staff data

Fazal Majid

And of course

It's the same incompetent buffoons who can't even secure their own HR databases who demand a master key to everyone's private encryption because "will no one think of the children"?

Amazon and Epson accuse a bunch of traders of selling knockoff print ink

Fazal Majid

Re: So, Epson joins HP in the golden ink deal

Eco tank ink is very reasonably priced and much cheaper than laser toner.

Malicious SSH backdoor sneaks into xz, Linux world's data compression library

Fazal Majid

Re: SytemD?

systemd is linked against liblzma, which has the backdoor. OpenSSH has nothing to do with systemd but many distros tamper with it to interface with systemd, thereby introducing this vulnerability.

Redis tightens its license terms, pleasing basically no one

Fazal Majid

Re: Open Source developers

You may not be "contributing" to these external projects but your employer certainly is, presumably they see value in doing so.

Still no love for JPEG XL: Browser maker love-in snubs next-gen image format

Fazal Majid

Frankly JPEG XL is much more attractive than the patent-larded monstrosity that is AVIF, but I get their point. Every new format, specially a niche one, increases the already large attack surface of the browser. Most of the exploits used by NSO's spyware are from bugs in image file format parsers used by iMessage, for example, and you can bet the JPEG XL implementation is nowhere near as robust and battle-tested as the JPEG or PNG one (which still deliver a steady stream of CVEs despite their maturity).

GPS interference now a major flight safety concern for airline industry

Fazal Majid

Iran

The Iranians used GPS spoofing to capture a US RQ-170 Sentinerl drone in 2011, so they would be a natural suspect for the attacks over Iraq-Iran.

How thermal management is changing in the age of the kilowatt chip

Fazal Majid

Mixed signals

Intel axed its proposed $700M liquid and immersion cooling R&D facility, so what gives?

https://www.theregister.com/2023/01/23/intel_liquid_cooling/

UK's cookie crumble: Data watchdog serves up tougher recipe for consent banners

Fazal Majid

Global Provacy Control

Global Privacy Control (GPC) is essentially the old Do-Not-Track header, only this time wiht force of law. It is already mandatory in California, and the EU is considering it. One browser setting to automatically reject all cookie banners. The UK should also endorse this. Of course this does not preclude enforcement against dark patterns like not having a "Reject All" button as prominent as the "Accept All" one, or making unsubscribing harder than joining.

Datacenter would spoil beautiful view ... of former industrial waste dump

Fazal Majid

England's planning system is a mess

Part of the reason why HS2 is a fiasco is every rural Tory local council NIMBY demanding (and getting) gold-plated tunnels to hide the trains. Same with power lines, there is huge wind farm capacity in Scotland or East Anglia that cannot be used in Southeast England where the demand is because of inadequate transmission power lines.

https://www.economist.com/britain/2023/10/26/britain-must-overhaul-the-way-it-approves-infrastructure

UK throws millions at scheme to heat homes with waste energy from datacenters

Fazal Majid

New datacenters?

Last I heard, new housing and datacenter plans were put on ice because of a lack of electrical grid capacity to power them. One big factor is NIMBYs objecting to the construction of power lines from Scotland, where wind power is plentiful but sparse population means little demand, to South-East England where the demand is.

When is a PC an AI PC? Nobody seems to know or wants to tell

Fazal Majid

A simple definition

My definition would be a computer that can run a GPT3-equivalent LLM locally, since GPT3 is the one that kick-started the current AI revolution. This would need at least 64 to 128GB of RAM accessible by a GPU or NPU. Thus the Mac Studio qualifies, as would a PC with a couple of nVidia 4070s. Today's price for such a config is about $5000, but expect that to fall quickly.

The home Wi-Fi upgrade we never asked for is coming. The one we need is not

Fazal Majid

Too pessimistic

The 6GHz band's failure to penetrate walls is a feature, as it means you are less likely to experience interference from other units in an apartment building, as 2.4Ghz is a lost cause and even 5GHz is congested in most places. It does require you to have a multi-AP setup, preferrably with wired or optical backhaul, but I am starting to see new build housing equipped thus.

Most consumer-grade WiFi gear is indeed ghastly, with numerous bugs that cause inexplicable (and practically undebuggable) authentication bugs and connection brown-outs. Most could do with a simple watchdog timer that performs a scheduled reboot at 3AM to maintain stability throughout the day.

Last rites for the UK's Online Safety Bill, an idea too stupid to notice it's dead

Fazal Majid

Re: "Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear."

Since pretty much everything they did was illegal, it’s not too surprising

Meet the guy trying to drag HM Treasury's data strategy into the 21st century

Fazal Majid

Using a Microsoft stack

Means they are probably unable to attract the best Data Scientists from Big Tech companies who are used to working with open-source analytics stacks like Jupyter notebooks as front-ends. At some level, basic BI capabilities are a commodity (and having Tableau probably means more people can actually access data without needing a data specialist to assist), but cutting-edge predictive analytics and machine learning are not available first on commercial products.

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

Fazal Majid

For a contrarian take

See this:

https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2023/06/28/the-working-from-home-delusion-fades

paywall-free:

https://archive.ph/KkojP

US vendor accused of violating GDPR by reputation-scoring EU citizens

Fazal Majid

Carefully parsed statement

GDPR allows a legitimate interest exemption for preventing fraud against yourself. Not for selling fraud-scoring services to others.

Mark Zuckerberg would kick Elon Musk's ass, experts say

Fazal Majid

Considering Twitter has never been profitable, a better question is why would anyone bother cloning it?

Google HR hounds threaten 'next steps' for slackers not coming in 3 days a week

Fazal Majid

Re: Coming together in person.

Boardroom tables are hard and it’s not as pleasant an experience as you’d think, beyond the transgressive thrills.

Brexit Britain looks to French company to save crumbling borders and immigration tech

Fazal Majid

Boris Johnson’s great-grandfather was a Turkish minister

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Kemal

Cisco Moscow trashed offices as it quit Putin's putrid pariah state

Fazal Majid

Goes both ways

The US used shell companies to buy titanium from the USSR as it could not source enough on its own to make the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane otherwise.

Russian developers blocked from contributing to FOSS tools

Fazal Majid

Re: Other major Russian open-source projects

Oh, and Zabbix also

Fazal Majid

Other major Russian open-source projects

Nginx, Clickhouse, quite a few contributors to PostgreSQL. Not open-source, but JetBrains was founded by Russians and had a lot of R&D done in Russia.

I realize the ban is Microsoft complying with US sanctions law, but ipmitool is critical infrastructure with privileged access to hardware that would be a prime vector for malware or root kits if compromised, so there is a sound national security rationale for a freeze there.

Fazal Majid

George W Bush was re-elected

So much for democratic accountability

Vessels claiming to be Chinese warships are messing with passenger planes

Fazal Majid

Re: Peak China?

And yet the Vietnamese, who lost 5M civilians and 1M military within living memory to the Vietnam war, are still throwing their lot with the US against China.

US government says Silicon Valley Bank depositors can get their cash on Monday

Fazal Majid

Re: Am I wrong in my thinking here?

It was forced to realize losses on bad bets on interest rates due to capital reserve requirements, that would not be an issue if held to maturity. As part of a larger bank with reserves, they will just hold those treasuries until they mature.

SVB has a unique skill set in catering to startups, some of which will be future unicorns or FANGs. Traditional banks are just too hidebound to address the]at market, and it is incredibly valuable. The problems did not come from the retail side. That retail expertise combined with a more diversified entity and competent risk management means whoever buys them will make a killing.

China's efforts to influence standards are mostly fake – and flopping

Fazal Majid

Re: chasing our tails

Indeed. I started my career at France Telecom R&D, and the guy who was responsible for attending standards organization meetings I wouldn't even classify as a C player. The UN's stewardship of the ITU also means one nation, one vote so Burkina Faso gets the same voting rights as the US or China, and usually ends up selling its vote to the highest bidder.

MacStadium brings macOS instances orchestrated by Kubernetes to AWS

Fazal Majid

Re: Hilariously expensive

The Intel Mac Mini is no longer available for sale, although refurbs will probably continue to be available for some time.

Sure looks like Beijing stole blueprints from chip fab world's ASML

Fazal Majid

Fairly obvious consequence

This was guaranteed to happen. The Dutch intelligence services are pretty competent (remember when they had hacked into the security webcams of the Russian troll farm that was trying to influence US elections?) and I’m sure they have intercepted far more attempts that we don’t know about.

Signal says it'll shut down in UK if Online Safety Bill approved

Fazal Majid

So will Element (Matrix)

Matthew Hodgson, CEO of Element, the home of the Matrix secure messaging platform also said he will move their HQ away from the UK if this passes:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=34923544

If you're struggling to secure email forwarding, it's not you, it's ... the protocols

Fazal Majid

It’s Outlook’s fault

Basically Outlook allowing an account unrelated to state.gov to launder forwarded email using an allowlist is the issue, but like GMail they are too big to fail and can get away with gross insecurity like this.

Securing email is pretty much impossible due to all the legacy and a fool’s errand.

Could RISC-V become a force in high performance computing?

Fazal Majid

Only if China pushes hard

The main driving force behind RISC-V is China's need to wean itself off dependence on Intel and ARM architectures subject to US sanctions, which is why all the major Chinese tech companies like Huawei, Baidu and Alibaba have RISC-V chip design teams, although how far they can get with the US also sanctioning cutting edge fab technology is anyone's guess. The Chinese government also obviously has HPC needs and will support this.

That said, RISC-V CPU performance is still far behind x64 and arm64.

The wages of sin aren't that great if you're a developer choosing the dark side

Fazal Majid

Not surprising

Most drug dealers would make more money flipping burgers for McDonalds. It's only the kingpins who make serious money.

Bringing cakes into the office is killing your colleagues, says UK food watchdog boss

Fazal Majid

Innumeracy

I fail to see how only 1/3 or 33% of Americans are overweight but 2 in 5 or 40% are obese, which one would presume also means overweight.

Intel, AMD just created a headache for datacenters

Fazal Majid

Balanced architecture

This problem has been ongoing for decades. Very few applications need the highest-speed processors, and data centers need to be designed with racks that have a couple of high-performance servers surrounded by more efficient (and thus likely ARM64-based) servers to balance out the energy requirements. Since most enterprise workloads have yet to begin the process of migrating to ARM, that is going to take some time.

Washington DC drags Amazon to court for 'yoinking' driver tips

Fazal Majid

Why the scare-quotes around 'stealing'? It's a clear-cut case of wage theft.

Fazal Majid

Re: Tips?

I grew up in France, and it's traditional for the firefighters, postmen, garbagemen and others to come sell calendars for the New Year.

Fazal Majid

Right. Simply paying back money owed is not enough, there should be a punitive deterrent. They should pay at least treble damages to the victims, and also be forced to cooperate by naming the guilty executives so they can be criminally prosecuted. When executives know they can go to prison for misbehavior that benefits their company is when the practice will end.

Killing trees with lasers isn’t cool, says Epson. So why are inkjets any better?

Fazal Majid

Support costs will go down as well

Considering 50% of all help desk support calls are printer-related, that will also yield savings (and job losses).

Epson zaps lasers into oblivion, in the name of the environment

Fazal Majid

Re: Can't help feeling it's more a bottom line thing than a green thing...

Consumer laser cartridges are much, much more expensive, and not competitive with ink tank inkjet printers.

Fazal Majid

Re: Which environment we are talking about?

I have tow inkjet printers. An Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16600, where the price of refills good for 6000 pages is $22 x 4, far cheaper than any cartridge-based printer,

The other is a HP OfficeJet Pro X551dw that has the HP PageWide inkjet head that is 8.5 inches wide and can print the whole width of Letter/A4/Legal paper without scrolling back and forth, and thus exceptionally fast, but because it uses cartridges, they cost $120 x 4, or more than the price of the printer itself. At this point, I am going to decommission it because it is not economical to repair or even refill.

Interestingly, HP decided to discontinue PageWide in favor of laser technology, whereas Epson, the last maker of full-wifth inkjet technology (sadly not for consumer-level devices) is doubling down on inkjet.

Massive energy storage system goes online in UK

Fazal Majid

Coire Glas

There is a pumped hydro storage project in the works in Scotland at Coire Glas that would have 1.5GW power and up to 30GWh capacity (for reference, the peak power consumption in the UK is about 30GW).

https://www.coireglas.com

Don't believe the hype: HP CEO says 3D printing hasn't met early hopes

Fazal Majid

Re: Perhaps it's because HP makes crappy 3D printers

I have a Prusa MK3S, and I wouldn’t call it plug-and-play. There is still a lot of art and black magic involved in getting decent prints and avoiding failures, specially when you move beyond PLA.

Linus Torvalds suggests the 80486 architecture belongs in a museum, not the Linux kernel

Fazal Majid

Heh, a blast from the past. I first installed Linux on my 33 MHz 486DX in 1991-1992 or so:

https://groups.google.com/g/comp.sys.mac.advocacy/c/7MdzcPwmPFs/m/r89Mb88DzsUJ

Most Metaverse business projects will be dead by 2025

Fazal Majid

I agree

My company wasted tens of thousands of dollars equipping every member of staff with an Oculus Quest 2. We used it once for a virtual meeting. Laggy, low-res, utterly pointless. They should have issued iPads and Pencils instead, whiteboarding using those at least has a fighting chance.

Meta mad as hell over allegations it let Indian politicians block content

Fazal Majid

Meta has zero credibility

First of all, Meta long ago forfeited the benefit of doubt. Despite knowing this, they still made at least two provably false or carefully parsed statements in their denial, thus providing The Wire with a huge stick to beat them. The DKIM signatures are particularly damning.

What I take home from this is that Meta is appeasing the Modi government with censorship privileges, not surprising since they are banned from China, losing ground in the West as they are shunned by younger generations, and India is their one real growth market, albeit only marginally profitable. This is unlike their involuntary abetting of the Myanmar junta's genocide against the Rohingya, but then again, perhaps we should reconsider if that was actually complicity. Furthermore, that program is probably not Xcheck but has another name, which is why the carefully worded non-denial insists so much on that irrelevant matter of terminology.

Linus Torvalds's faulty memory (RAM, not wetware) slows kernel development

Fazal Majid

The newest (12th gen) Alder Lake non-Xeon CPUs do support ECC

But only if you use an Intel W680 workstation (I.e. expensive) chipset, e.g. in the HP Z2 Mini G9.

Making ECC a Xeon-only feature was a classic case of market segmentation by a monopolist to allow them to extract maximum profits from enterprise customers willing to pay more for reliability.

Brexit dividend? 'Newly independent' UK will be world's 'data hub', claims digital minister

Fazal Majid

There is a very easy way to eliminate annoying cookie popups

And that is to give the Sec-GPC (Global Privacy Control) header force of law, something the old DNT (Do Not Track) header lacked, and ban cookie consent popups if it is sent.

But of course the real intention is to gut consent via opt-out as in the ineffectual US self-regulation free-for-all (except for enlightened states like California with its GDPR-equivalent CCPA/CPRA).

Nadine Dorries promotes 'Brexit rewards' of proposed UK data protection law

Fazal Majid

The damage is already baked in

Every company I know assume the UK will diverge from GDPR and lose equivalence. Thus the UK was ruled out from consideration for implanting our EMEA data operations.

W3C's planned transition to HTTPS stymied by legacy laggards

Fazal Majid

Wellnhofer is incoherent

If his concern is about loading schemas over the network, he should disable unencrypted HTTP as well.

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