* Posts by Fazal Majid

396 posts • joined 16 May 2007


A memo from the distant future... June 2022: The boss decides working from home isn't the new normal after all

Fazal Majid

Company culture matters

I suspect WFH can simply not be grafted onto a company culture not initially designed around it, unlike Automattic (makers of Wordpress), who sold their expensive San Francisco office a couple of years ago because no one was using it.

Ex-eBay security execs among six charged with harassing, threatening bloggers who dared criticize web tat souk

Fazal Majid

Re: Omerta among CEOs is alive and well.

If the King hadn't atoned, the Pope would have put England under interdict, as Becket had previously.

Fazal Majid

Omerta among CEOs is alive and well.

“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” didn’t work so well for Henry II, but CEOs will bend over backwards to ensure fellow members of the kleptocracy are not held to account for their abuses.

Facebook's $500k deepfake-detector AI contest drama: Winning team disqualified on buried consent technicality

Fazal Majid

Like all bureaucracies, Facebook must have parts that are super-anal about privacy and compliance, and others that couldn't care less. Most likely R&D that sponsored this contest fall within the former, whereas revenue-generating bits fall within the latter.

ITAM Forum opens: 'People just want to talk to other managers about how to defend against software audits'

Fazal Majid

The best way to avoid audits

Is of course to replace proprietary software with open-source alternatives wherever possible. Anyone still choosing Oracle for greenfield deployments in 2020 needs to have their head examined (and be fired).

Yes sir, no sir, 3 bags NoSQL: Aerospike, DataStax, ScyllaDB all freshen up as community preps for cloudy future

Fazal Majid

You have it backwards

Cassandra was written at Facebook by Avinash Lakshman, one of the authors of Dynamo at Amazon. DynamoDB is essentially the external version of the in-house Dynamo tool that predates Bezos' famous API directive.

As for ScyllaDB vs. Cassandra, if you are starting from scratch, why would you incur the overhead and GC pauses of Java if you don't have to? There's a reason why Facebook doesn't use Cassandra for anything critical in-house, even though they originally developed it.

The rumor that just won't die: Apple to keep Intel at Arm's length in 2021 with launch of 'A14-powered laptops'

Fazal Majid

Low-end, really?

The A13 in the soon-to-be replaced iPhone beats all Apple's laptops other than the highest-end 16" MacBook Pro. I can only imagine what the A14 in a thermally less constrained body can achieve, and I suspect the "low-end" laptops mentioned will actually be superior in all respects (speed and battery life) to the Intel ones. All apps submissions the App Store have been sending a LLVM Intermediate Language variant that can be retargeted to any architecture supported by LLVM, including arm64. Obviously, poor coding practices and assumptions can still cause the code to work incorrectly, but I would think the transition will be better than the PPC to x86 one was.

Work from home surge may work in Wi-Fi 6's favour, reckons analyst house

Fazal Majid

WiFi 6 is not enough

You need the additional 1.2GHz bandwidth from the 6GHz band That was recently allocated to WiFi (despite the LTE scum making a last-minute grab for it). Obviously it hasn’t been implemented yet by chipset and RF PHY makers, and it’s US-only for now.

Vivaldi browser to perform a symphony of ad and tracker blocking with version 3.0

Fazal Majid

Vivaldi is great

I’ve been using it for years now as my primary browser, with uBlock Origin, uMatrix and Privacy Badger.

From Brit telly presenter Eamonn Holmes to burning 5G towers in the Netherlands: Stupid week turns into stupid fortnight for radio standard

Fazal Majid

Re: (Humour) bypass

Well, listening to vegans prattle about their higher level of consciousness and ethical virtue makes my own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save humanity, want to leap straight up through my neck and throttle my brain.

Chips that pass in the night: How risky is RISC-V to Arm, Intel and the others? Very

Fazal Majid

The trade war changed everything

Trump's trade war, and the shock of Huawei being dumped by ARM as a customer was a watershed moment for the Chinese. They are now going all-in on RISC-V as both x86 and ARM have proven to be unacceptable chokepoints for the US to stymie China's ambitions.

Surprise! Plans for a Brexit version of the EU's Galileo have been delayed

Fazal Majid

Galileo is hardly a success story either

It’s had major outages and the atomic clocks in the satellites are failing much faster than expected, so the satellites’ lifetime will be curtailed.

The European Commission digital strategy wants to, er, take back control of citizens' data

Fazal Majid

Foreign control of the press

The single most important measure would be to ban non-EU control of the press (a certain Australian-American press baron comes to mind) or non-EU political campaign-finance contributions. The US does not allow foreign nationals or corporations to control its media and telecommunications firms (or airlines, for that matter), nor does it allow campaign contributions from non US persons.

After just one phone, Essential Products ascends to the great venture capitalist in the sky

Fazal Majid

The futility of premium Android handsets

It's clear from Samsung's dropping market share that there is no market for premium Android phones, and the winning formula is Huawei and Xiaomi's, near premium quality at midrange prices. As with PCs, Apple has captured the entire premium market.

There are already Chinese components in your pocket – so why fret about 5G gear?

Fazal Majid

Denial of service is one threat. All the others can be addressed with end-to-end encryption, which is becoming the norm on the Internet and should already be for sensitive government operations. Telephony for the general public is practically unencrypted, but that's because our spooks like it this way and have made sure that encryption remains inconvenient if not illegal, and thus they are responsible for this vulnerability.

As for standards, they are built on a baroque foundation of legacy telco crap designed by C-team standards committees, leading to grossly vulnerable protocols like SS7 (in addition to the laughable lack of security, the network also crashes if it is pushed above a certain traffic threshold). In practice, because they are so sloppily specified, interoperability requires access to the other vendor's equipment, which they make sure is not available to potentially disruptive new entrants. In the case of 5G, the 4G already deployed is predominantly Huawei, and since modern networks are essentially software-defined, they can mostly be upgraded but Huawei will do so only if you stay with them.

It would be best if 6G were totally software-defined to work on white boxes and got rid of the legacy ITU cruft, but chances are low.

As for telcos monitoring their network traffic, the author's naive faith in their technical competence would be charming if it weren't misplaced. Read Bert Hubert's excellent paper on how they have been so hollowed out technically through outsourcing:


You spoke, we didn't listen: Ubiquiti says UniFi routers will beam performance data back to mothership automatically

Fazal Majid

Not OK

I use a Ubiquiti USG as my firewall for the convenience of a single management pane of glass. This is completely unacceptable.

In the short term I am going to block them in DNS, and in the slightly longer term I am going to have to get another OpenBSD box with PF in transparent bridge mode to block them.

Apple: EU can't make us use your stinking common charging standard

Fazal Majid

You may be confusing audio and video. Unlike USB-C the Lightning connector has such risible bandwidth it cannot carry a full video signal. Apple's Lightning to HDMI connector actually has a full computer inside the dongle that decodes the compress (MPEG-2, H.264, H.265) video sent over Lightning to uncompressed HDM video.


Stand back, we're going in: The Register rips a 7th-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon apart. Literally

Fazal Majid

OpenBSD too

Thinkpads are pretty much the reference platform for OpenBSD laptops.

Since the FCC won't act, Congress finally moves on robocalls by passing half-decent TRACED Act

Fazal Majid

Unlikely to be effective

This will stop carriers from profiting off their own failure to implement SS7 and Caller ID security by charging consumers for anti-robocall services. It won’t stop the robocall scourge itself, as it is conducted by scam operators who are already criminals, mostly located offshore, and unlikely to comply with any fines levied.

Top American watchdog refuses to release infamous 2012 dossier into Google’s anti-competitive behavior

Fazal Majid


It is outrageous how executive branch agencies feel they can exempt themselves from Congressional oversight using transparently bogus arguments (it's not as if there are privacy matters like personnel files involved). Congress has subpoena powers and it's long past time they were exercised.

Apple insists it's totally not doing that thing it wasn't accused of: We're not handing over Safari URLs to Tencent – just people's IP addresses

Fazal Majid

It’s a GDPR violation, for starters

See you in Hull: First UK city to be hooked up to full-fibre broadband

Fazal Majid

Deceptive marketing

I find it astounding the Advertising Standards Authority actually endorsed OpenReach resellers deceitfully calling their shitty DSL offerings as "full fibre". How is a consumer supposed to know what is true fibre vs. fake?

For real this time, get your butt off Python 2: No updates, no nothing after 1 January 2020

Fazal Majid

The problem is not libraries dropping Python 2 support

But dormant libraries that are still in use that will never be upgraded to Python 3.

At some point, companies will have to bite the bullet. In my case, my migration plan is to switch to Go.

Fazal Majid

Re: The fork is already out there

Those people are wrong. The fact e^iπ==-1 shows π is the fundamental one.

MAMR Mia! Western Digital's 18TB and 20TB microwave-energy hard drives out soon

Fazal Majid

Can't understand why anyone would buy the 20TB drive

Shingled drives are horrendously slow, why would anyone get the SMR 20TB drive instead of the almost as capacious, but presumably much faster 18TB CMR ?(conventional magnetic recording, i.e. PMR before SMR)

Omni(box)shambles? Google takes aim at worldwide web yet again

Fazal Majid

One more reason I am happy I switched to Vivaldi

He's coming for your floppy: Linus Torvalds is killing off support for legacy disk drive tech

Fazal Majid

I'm old enough to remember when the 5-1/4" floppy disk was the fast alternative to cassette tape, and a floppy drive cost almost as much as the computer itself, until Wozniak's brilliant software-controlled design.

People of Britain: You know that you're not locked into using the same ISP forever, right?

Fazal Majid

Unless you are lucky enough to have Hyperoptic, all you have is a Hobson's choice of fake-fibre warmed-over DSL from BT or expensive cable with spotty reliability from Virgin. Switching from one lousy OpenReach reseller to another is not going to improve service.

The pro-privacy Browser Act has re-appeared in US Congress. But why does everyone except right-wing trolls hate it?

Fazal Majid

It has nothing to do with being pro- or con- privacy. It has to do with which industries she is shillng for. Telcos want to gut privacy laws that would block their ability to sell marketing profiles collected by deep packet inspection, but at the same time they want to hobble their Google/Facebook webco competition.

Enterprise hardware makers cry out as hyperscalers clip infrastructure spending

Fazal Majid

I thought hyperscalers didn't buy from Enteprise server vendors

Certainly Google and Facebook go direct to ODMs like Quanta for their servers, with none of the proprietary lock-in "value add" the enterprise vendors love to include. With projects like Open Compute, you'd think smaller hosters like Rackspace would follow as well.

Yubico YubiKey lets you be me: Security blunder sparks recall of govt-friendly auth tokens

Fazal Majid

FIPS stands for reduced security

It's well known among the security community that FIPS standards are significantly behind best practice, whether that is deliberate is open to question (e.g. how the NIST and NSA made DUAL_EC_DRBG with weak P and Q a requirement for FIPS certification).

That's a hell of Huawei to run a business, Chinese giant scolds FedEx after internal files routed via America

Fazal Majid

Re: the real enemy

They are not talking about human rights. They are talking about security. If I were Airbus, for instance, I would be far more concerned about government-abetted industrial espionage from the US than from China. That doesn't mean China isn't also a threat, just that the US is a bigger one. This is nothing new, Bill Clinton is the one who added "economic intelligence" to the NSA's missions.

Why telcos 'handed over' people's GPS coords to a bounty hunter: He just had to ask nicely

Fazal Majid

It's a hard problem

Much as I loathe to defend telcos, authenticating callers to determine if they are legitimate police officers is a hard problem. There are so many agencies that unless the States take charge of implementing some sort of authentication or 2FA challenge-response mechanism, the telcos have really no viable way to do so in an emergency situation.

Sinister secret backdoor found in networking gear perfect for government espionage: The Chinese are – oh no, wait, it's Cisco again

Fazal Majid

Belgacom hack

Cisco routers were actually backdoored by GCHQ when it spear-fished Belgacom engineers to spy on EU communications (whether for themselves or for their American masters is open to conjecture).

ood new, fanbys. Apple spds up n-str McBook latop kyboad rpairs, ccrding t hs leakd mmo

Fazal Majid

Stopgap at best

This is a stopgap, but since the flawed design of the keyboard hasn't been corrected, they will be back for repairs until AppleCare runs out, but if Apple wants to avoid the cost of class-action lawyers, they'd better put in place an unconditional warranty extension until the butterfly keyswitch can be corrected and all MacBooks and MacBook Pros made since 2005 recalled.

Idiot admits destroying scores of college PCs using USB Killer gizmo, filming himself doing it

Fazal Majid

Re: What a fucking idiot

If you are referring to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, he did in fact advocate against declaring war on the United States, because he was well aware of the US' industrial might and the impossible odds of winning, but he was overruled, on the basis that the superior Japanese warrior spirit would prevail.

That said, even his bosses were aware at a certain level that winning against the US was impossible, but a surefire defeat was less dishonorable than the alternative of surrendering when Japan's oil supplied dried out due to the US embargo, as described in this official US miltary history of the road to Pearl Harbor:


Do Martians dream of electric Nimbys? Selling 5G needs steak, not just sizzle

Fazal Majid

WiFi or 5G radiation is minimal compared to TV

The typical WiFi AP has radio power of 1 watt. The typical cellular base station will be under 100 watts. The typical digital TV broadcast emitter has power in the *hundreds of kilowatts*, e.g. 1.3MW total for the Crystal Palace transmitter that covers most of London:


Don't be too shocked, but it looks as though these politicians have actually got their act together on IoT security

Fazal Majid

Mark Warner has a tech background, even if he is not an engineer. He is no idiot.

I don't know how much consumer IoT the Federal Government purchases, though. I hope not too much, otherwise we are already 0wned by the Chinese and Russians...

Techie in need of a doorstop picks up 'chunk of metal' – only to find out it's rather pricey

Fazal Majid

During the WWII Manhattan Project, copper was hard to come by, and they needed huge amounts of conductors for the electromagnets in the uranium refineries. So they used silver from the Federal Reserve instead. 6000 tons of it:


Crypto crash leads to inventory pile-up at Nvidia, sales slaughtered

Fazal Majid

Machine learning or other GPGPU workloads usually written using nVidia's proprietary CUDA API (wrapped in TensorFlow et al) rather than the open OpenCL one. As another poster pointed out, nVidia imposed onerous licensing restrictions, you can no longer legally use CUDA on a GTX1080 or similar, you have to use even more overpriced Pro cards like Quadro or Tesla. A naked cash grab if there's one.

Post-Brexit plan for .EU tweaked: No dot-EU web domains for Europeans in UK, no appeals, etc

Fazal Majid

Or women to wear trousers.

French data watchdog dishes out largest GDPR fine yet: Google ordered to hand over €50m

Fazal Majid

They are also going to be taxed

The French tax authorities are finalizing a tax that will be applied this year.

Google's violations are so egregious and clear-cut, it's almost as if they were daring the DPAs. After years of impunity under their buddies in the Obama administration, they've developed a sense of impunity, and are going to be disabused. European Civil Law legal systems are not as vulnerable to abuse by capricious Common Law judges.

Real talk: You're gonna have to get real about real-time analytics if you wanna make IoT work

Fazal Majid

You can get a lot done with Redis

Specially since they added HyperLogLog support to calculate fast approximate unique counts.

Boom! Just like that the eSIM market emerges – and jolly useful it is too

Fazal Majid

Re: 300MB for £6 a day

When travelling, I use a Skyroam hotspot, it’s $12/day for unlimited data.

Fujitsu: Closes director's gate to Tait, 9 execs abdicate, and for German workers – a crap Weihnachtszeit

Fazal Majid


Whether the Bloomberg article about Chinese compromise of SuperMicro is accurate or not. It was good to have a made-in-Europe manufacturing source for servers not susceptible to American or Chinese interference.

Does Google make hardware just so nobody buys it?

Fazal Majid

Vanity project

Isn't ChromeOS untouchable at Googlebecause Sundar Pichai used to be its PM?

Perfect timing for a two-bank TITSUP: Totally Inexcusable They've Stuffed Up Payday

Fazal Majid

British banks seem particularly bad at IT

You don’t hear about anywhere as many incidents in other developed countries.

An artifact of outsourcing culture fostered by the liberal-arts elite that runs the country, perhaps?

Generally Disclosing Pretty Rapidly: GDPR strapped a jet engine on hacked British Airways

Fazal Majid

Re: re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

Only successful attempts have to be reported.

Whistleblower org chief quits over Assange critic boot demand

Fazal Majid

You've got to respect her for her integrity.

As for Assange, isn't it a rather big conflict of interest for him to be both trustee and beneficiary?

Julia 0.7 arrives but let's call it 1.0: Data science code language hits milestone on birthday

Fazal Majid

Gaston Julia

The language is named after French mathematician Gaston Julia, not horse face Roberts.



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